Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Alumnus

Only bits remained. Three stars, a bit of blue and two stripes, one red, one white. They left it to fly in mockery of the country they had defeated. Theirs was a country that valued pride above all. To lose face was worse than death. To them, the abused flag represented the decadence, weakness of the defeated. To fly such a rag was meant as a slap in the face. From the other side of the black, wrought iron fence, MSG Ray Coulter saw it as a sign of hope.

As he descended the steps to what had been an underground parking garage, thirty two men came to attention. “At ease. I’m not a fucking officer.”

“No, but you’ll do in a pinch,” someone joked. A ripple of laughter washed over the men.

“Knock it off.” He removed a set of greasy Carhartts, revealing a chameleon skin uniform beneath. He settled a tan Ranger’s beret on his head and paused the uniform’s camouflage. “They’re getting lax, now is the time. We go tonight.”

The men jockeyed for position around a battered banquet table as he pulled an Army issued computer from his pocket and smoothed it out on the pitted surface. It sprang to life showing an aerial view of the Asiatic Command compound. Red x’s marked their intended firing positions. “I want the MK19s placed here and here. Johnson, did you get that 203 fixed?”

“Yeah Sarge. Good as new.”

“Good. That gives us six. Twenty rounds each. With an automatic grenade launcher front and back; three hundred rounds each and three men with 203s on each flank, here, here and here,” he said, tapping the computer with a grimy finger. “We’ll have the place levelled before they know what hit them. The rest will provide covering fire for a hasty withdrawal. Don’t fire unless you have to. Conserve rifle ammo. When the shit hits the fan, the slopes will be on us like white on rice and we don’t have ammo to spare. Make those shots count. Questions?”

Most shook their heads or grunted in the negative. A tentative voice spoke up. “Hey Sarge, I know the place is filled with chinks, but it still doesn’t seem right to dest… OOOF.” He was silenced by a jab to the gut amidst muttered requests to “Shut the fuck up.”

“Any other questions?” Master Sergeant Coulter asked through gritted teeth.

“Uh… no Sarge. Sorry Sarge,” the duly chastened soldier gasped.

“Right. Let’s move out.”

MSG Coulter, crouched behind the MK19 crew on the compounds south side. He clicked his teeth, opening the company freq and subvoked, “This is Blue One. Cardinal positions report by the numbers, over.”

“Blue Two east. Patrol. Two men and a dog. Machine gun nest thirty metres forward and left my position. Over.”

“Blue Three north. Machine gun nest thirty metres my twelve. One Tank. It’s hover skirts are deflated and is grounded. It appears to be idling. Minimal threat. Over”

“Blue Four west. One nest. Two man one dog patrol passing my right. Coming your way. Over.”

“All right. Grenadiers. Take those nests out first. We don’t need to be lit from the rear during withdrawal. One round each. White One north. Frag tank first, nest second. On my command.” Coulter choked up uttering one single word. “FIRE.”

A Ranger, a decorated combat soldier of the Army of the former United States, a man used to divesting others of their birthdays, Master Sergeant Raymond R. Coulter, wept openly as the delicately rounded portico of the White House crumbled under a barrage of high explosive grenades.


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