YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE...MAYBE TWICE!
We recently finished evacuating downtown Chicago, IL and the next outer ring of the city. It's my first time in the Windy City and my first time back to the US in almost a year. Fourth Division was scrambled sometime between 'holy shit, you're joking' and 'life isn't worth living if i have to be awake right now' hours during the night, told we had thirty mikes to pack our gear, personal effects and weapons and rushed onto a plane. Not one of those cozy commercial flights, either. Nah, man, we were crammed into one of those uncomfortable as hell behemoths the military is so fond and in the air thirty five minutes after we were kicked out of our bunks. No one told us what was going on or where were going.
The two weeks before had been spent with MOB Clark on total lockdown and all non-military, non-official communications were restricted, at least to us anyways. No TV, no phone and no internet privileges. No patrols, no one leaving the gates. We fought off waves almost every day, I think. It kept us busy, running around the walls, shooting down at those vile bastards, hoping it's not you sent out that night to police and burn the bodies. There was a whole lot of reorganization as the COC tried to build a combat ready company out the bits and pieces of those still alive. A bunch of guys were transferred in from units that had so many casualties it was easier just to put the survivors somewhere else than to fill all the open positions. I was moved to a squad in another platoon that contained only a few of the previous personnel. No of us were really in the mood to get to know our new bunk mates either. Very weird times.
That was right after we spent a night in hell slugging it out with VDV security forces, local insurgents and swarms of undead assholes in what was called a city in the Ural Mountains, but was really such a slum, the FEMA camps during Katrina looked like Beverly Hills in comparison. It wasn't urban combat as much it was killing everything that came at us. One second you got three locals down the street shooting AKs made before my grandparents were born with the accuracy of someone that couldn't understand that sight alignment is a good thing and the next you got hard core Soviet Spetsnaz guys jumping out of second story windows from behind you while dropping guys at thirty meters with perfect shots while still midair. And this was all happening while crowds of locals rushed from any random combination of alleys, eating everyone they could catch. It was the closest thing i could imagine to hell on earth. Man, I wish it would've stay that easy.
I don't know how many we lost that night, but it had to have been at least half of company, easy. I lost my entire squad except for my Fire Team Leader. And that poor bastard just snapped after we had to put down one of our own guys. I had to put down the other one myself. Urban ops aren't easy under ideal conditions, but having to negotiate hostile territory on my own while trying to keep alive the guy that should've been dragging my ass around made it ten times harder. If I'd've been a normal rifleman, i wouldn't have made it. Carrying that 240LW kept us from going under more than once or twice, man.
We were on foot the entire way to the objective, which was about 2 miles inside the city. Contacts started right after we hit city limits, but it that was expected. Things started to get weird after we'd only make it about three blocks. We just thought the locals were drunk, on drugs or had been exposed some exotic Cold War era chemical agents. Then we thought they were rioting against both forces fighting in their shithole town. Then we didn't know what to think. We just kept moving, pushing forward, advancing offensively to our assigned position on a rooftop opposite the objective. God damn, it was dark. Street lamps were like the knock offs of those dim as hell lights in those all night diners that don't want you to see what your eating. And that's when there were street lamps. Some asshole had managed to shoot a round right into my NODs right as we kicked off, so I couldn't see shit all the way in. It never occurred to me to take the ones that guys from my team didn't need anymore.
I figured out what we were looking at right after i shot Corporal Rand in the temple while he attacked and bit holes in some private trying to bandage the holes in his chest some farmer had put there. Nothing else would get him off, he just kept going at the poor kid. Sergeant Adams told me to put him down, hard. I just reacted. We'd seen some really bad shit by that time, Adams told us he wasn't going to risk the team or the mission if we couldn't keep up. We'd been tearing through the assholes for half a mile of chewed up city blocks only to watch them shake it off. Not Rand though, he dropped and stayed down. I put a bullet through the eye of the private that been bitten repeatedly a few minutes later when his skin turned white and his eyes turned to wax before he growled at me. He didn't twitch once he hit the floor. That's when Sergeant Adams snapped, he just... wasn't there anymore. He looked like a little kid.
Those were bad moments, man. Real bad. I saw more soldiers die because they couldn't pull a trigger on one of our own more than I can ever forget. And that was after we figured out what was going on. That was the worst part, watching a man go down because he could do his buddy. That gonna eat at me every time i go to sleep for a long time.
Thing is, I didn't know these people. It was my first time out in the field with them. I had been transferred from 25th ID a hundred miles away because of an incident at a bar involving some marines, some harsh language and some broken beer bottles. Now THAT was a good night, haha. It was worth the beating just for getting to insult a marine officer in front of a packed house of joint ops enlisted and officers, heh. Jury's still out on whether or not transfer was worth it though.
Anyways, we finally make it out of that shithole town and hold down our exfil point while we waited for anyone else that could get out to show up. It got pretty bad there too, but at least we had open fields of fire on the only direction the toothy bastards were coming from. We also had the fifty cals and Mk19s on the Strykers, and we just chewed them wave after wave of them to pieces. Finally we were ordered to fall back, that no one else was coming back. That ride back was just... numb... like... you can't believe everything you just experienced.
Things didn't get better when we got back... the base had been a slaughterhouse, rushed by locals from the surrounding communities. It had ended before we got there, but blood was everywhere. Body parts were still being policed and spent brass covered the ground, linking all the scenes of carnage together into this huge, unthinkable picture of what went down. Soldiers were just... stumbling around the base in a daze, clutching their weapons, tears just streaming down their faces. I'll never forget their faces for as long as i live. The confusion, the pain, the sadness. It was awful. We're the fucking US Army, for fuck's sake! We don't get our asses handed to us, we do the handing out of asses while we're still pounding our enemies into the dirt just to make sure they know the score. Not that night, man... Not that night.
So yeah... we're in this plane for what feels like forever before we land, we don't know where or what for for. We weren't on the ground for five minutes, three of which spent figuring out that we're in California at some Air Force Base before we're ordered to double time our asses across the tarmac to a line of planes that divided us up by company, strapped us in and sent us on our way. Next stop was a National Guard base somewhere in the sticks where they toss us to drop everything but assault gear= water, trauma kit, weapons, body armor, shit like that. They loaded our asses up with ammo and packed us by squad into a flight of Blackhawks, then we were in the air again.
We still didn't have a clue what was going on. No one knew anything about what was going on in the world, what the hell was going on with this assholes eating everyone- nothing. "Move, move, move" was all we got.
Our squad leader finally got our OpOrd in the air and briefed us on our mission. We were helping the National Guard evac Chicago. And by helping, we were tasked as the security element. They were real slick about not coming out and saying it and we were still in too much shock from the last few weeks then getting shuffled around in some seriously fast re=mobilization efforts. But yeah, we were ordered to shoot people. American people that were 'infected.' Hell, after what we'd already been through, I wasn't worried. What I was wondered about what the thought that nine of us were backing an unknown number of reservists against possibly millions of hostile 'combatants'. And yes, that's the wording we were given- "Elimination of hostile combatants posing lethal threats to un-compromised civilians during the currently ongoing evacuation proceedings." I mean, what the hell does that even mean, 'un-compromised'? Actually, we knew what it meant, we're just amazed at the poetry used by the military to explain all kinds of shit. We still hadn't been given a briefing on what we were facing. The only thing we were told was to refrain from physical contact and report injuries immediately.
Damn it! We just got the call that the fences we're using to mark unsecured sections of the city are getting hit again. We're the QRF for the night, gotta clear the threat and hold the line until the engineers make it over and make sure it's still functional. The story about Chicago'll have to wait till next time.
Stand firm people, we're still kicking ass out there. Don't give up yet.
Bravo Co, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division
Currently attached to Delta Co, 178th Regiment, ING as Detachment 2