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This page last viewed: 2017-10-20 and has been viewed 2784 times
Rating: R for violence and a little language.
Summary: To survive out here you have to rely on the man next to you to watch your back. In turn you have to watch his; it's a brotherhood. It's something no one will ever understand unless they've been here.
Authors Note: This was inspired by the movie We Were Soldiers. An absolutely incredible movie! And I started writing this almost immediately after seeing it. So for those of you who have seen it and notice some similarities to the movie, that's why. Please, please, please give me reviews on this. I was a little wary of whether to write it or not because I didn't want to distort or dishonor the true story behind the movie. So I tried to steer away from that and make my own, but you will notice some similarities. I also had a thought to do a sequel to this. So let me know what you think. Thanks.
Side Note: Does anyone know of a way to separate parts in a story? I try using a whole bunch of asterisks but FanFiction won't show them after you upload the story. So I came up with small titles to separate each new section. Sorry. If anyone knows of a better way, let me know. Thanks.
Disclaimer: I don't own the A-team.... Despite how harmless that seemed, it was quite painful.
"Alright Captain. Let's go." The Colonel commanded over the screams of the rotor blades.
Captain Murdock, co-pilot, gave a curt nod to his buddy who swiftly lifted the Huey off the ground and into the air. "Hey, when do you think they'll let me take over one of these things?" he casually asked through his head mike.
The pilot shook his head as he kept a watchful eye at the surrounding hills. "Man, over my dead body will you ever pilot one of these things solo." He turned a grin to his friend. "They like these things to come back in one piece."
Captain Murdock chuckled and threw a glance back at the soldiers trying to swallow the anticipation and butterflies flapping through their veins. His grin faded as he turned back to look at the surrounding jungle. "Everything seems pretty quiet down there."
"Yeah," the pilot shifted in his seat. "Well we're about to make some noise."
Captain Murdock gazed intently as Captain Neison piloted to the left, around a large hill. On the other side a large valley sat in between three large hills, all covered in jungle. The tall grass in the middle of the valley was already flattened by frequent helicopter landings and feet trampling. Captain Neison brought the Huey down at an angle and made a quick landing. Four more Huey's followed suit from behind. Officers and soldiers jumped from the machines and ran to the nearest cover to regroup.
Captain Murdock nodded to a few of the soldiers who passed by from behind. "I thought there was supposed to be another group out here already."
"The 18th." Neison confirmed. He too was watching the surrounding hills and jungle for other signs.
Neison turned to the Colonel outside his window. "Yes sir?"
"I've got word the 18th is farther in than we expected." The Colonel had to yell over the loud engines and rush of wind from the chopper.
"Sir, there's no activity. We could wait-"
"No. Go back and bring in the rest of the 22nd. Intel say's we got two more platoons comin our way."
"Sir, what about the 18th?"
The Colonel shook his head. "Intel say's there's nothing we can do for them."
"Captain! If you think I'm leavin here without the 18th, you're outta your mind. Dead or alive, you won't see me again till all our boys are accounted for. Is that clear?"
Neison grinned and nodded. "Yes sir." The Colonel nodded to both Captain Neison and then Captain Murdock before he turned to join his men.
Murdock stared in respect after the Colonel. "So what do you think?" he asked.
Neison tilted his head as he lifted the Huey from the ground, the others following suit. "I think we should bring back a whole lotta of body bags."
"22nd ready to roll Captain!"
Neison nodded and lifted the Huey into the air.
"What's it like out there? Did they find the 18th?"
Murdock looked back to the Lieutenant kneeling behind his seat. "There was nothing going on when we got there."
The Lieutenant nodded and sat back, a grim expression on his face. Murdock turned back to watch the jungle underneath. Nothing had given testament to the hope that the 18th was still alive. Silence meant death. Captain Murdock hated silence.
He shifted in his seat as they neared the hill blocking the valley just beyond. As they turned the corner they could see smoke billowing from the jungle, sweeping through the valley. Americans were spread along the outer rims of the valley in small groupings.
"It's a hot zone guys. You'll have to jump." Neison called back as he maneuvered through the air, doing his best to avoid the enemy fire now directed at them.
The Lieutenant nodded, assessing the area below as he gave out orders to his men. As soon as they were several feet above the ground, the soldiers jumped out and rolled to their feet, running for cover.
Neison pulled up, leading the air brigade back to base. Captain Murdock stared in awe at the battle raging beneath. He could see the men who'd recently occupied his vehicle already joining the rest of their division taking heavy heat. He took a deep breath and swallowed hard as they rounded the hill.
"What the hell are they still doin here?"
"I have no clue." Neison along with Murdock glanced at the medic-choppers still sitting cold. "Hey!" Captain Neison yelled over to a small group of men with red crosses on their jump suits hovering beneath a temporary office tent. "What the hell are you doin? There's a war going on here."
One of the men held his hands up to calm the pilot down. "They just radioed in, there's too much enemy fire around the landing zone. We can't-"
"Oh that's bullshit!"
"We can't attempt to go in there." The man argued.
"They're dying out there! You can't just leave em." Murdock stepped forward.
"It's not gonna do them any good if we get shot down too!"
"That is bullshit!" Neison grimaced and turned, shoving some bottles off the table. He took a few steps and then turned back in frustration, jabbing his finger in the medic-pilots chest. "We just flew in 30 more guys. Half of em are probably already down. We can't just leave em there."
The medic-pilot shook his head. "It's not my decision. All medic-pilots are under orders to sit still until those guys secure the LZ again."
Neison growled in frustration and turned, walking away.
"Hey!" the man called after him. "Captain Neison!"
Neison stopped and reluctantly looked back.
"I said all medic-pilots are under order." He paused and then held up a set of keys.
"Captain Neison!" A young guy came running across the base. "They're calling in for artillery support. Here's the coordinates sir."
Neison nodded and took the paper from the soldier's hands. He glanced back at the man still holding the keys up.
"I can fly it." Captain Murdock stepped up to his friend's side. Neison looked at him in doubt. Murdock moved to stand in front of him. "Come on Mike." He whispered. "You're the most experienced pilot out here. You don't need me in there takin up space. I can fly in behind you. You can clear it out and I'll pick em up."
Neison licked his lips and looked at his co-pilot. "When's the last time you flew solo into enemy fire?"
"Never." Neison shook his head and turned away. Murdock maneuvered back in front of him. "And never will always be my answer until someone gives me a chance."
Neison looked him in the eye. After a moment he nodded. "Okay."
Murdock turned to the medic-pilot who tossed him the chopper keys.
Neison gave a curt nod to the medic-pilot who nodded in return as he watched the two Captains jog off to their choppers.
"Kasey and Dixon, you guys make sure you stay as far east to those coordinates as possible. Our guys are right along there. I'll clear out the LZ. Murdock, trail back until I give the okay."
Neison flew around the hill immediately spotting the Vietnamese crossing the valley from behind the American's. Swooping down, he and his gunners let loose on all their fire power. Neison did three run by's, spraying the field with bullets before turning back towards the hill.
"Okay Murdock. Let's get some of these guys home."
Murdock thrusted his chopper forward, soaring around the hill. He flew in low and quickly landed near the line of trees. American soldiers ran out from behind a small hill of dirt, carrying their fellow wounded soldiers towards the chariot. After as many bleeding men possible were stuffed into the back, Murdock took off. "Hold on!" he called back to the soldiers.
Neison moved in spraying the field again to cover the exiting medic-chopper. "Kasey, Dixon, we're heading back. You do the same as soon as you're done. We'll pick up some more ammunition to drop off and then head back here. Dixon, you and I are gonna continue to clear the fields. Kasey, you and Murdock are gonna touch down and evac em outta there."
"Captain, I can only take about 6 guys in this thing. If I'm not gonna be laying down any fire power I might as well take a medic-chopper when we get back."
Neison nodded into his microphone. "Agreed. Murdock, grab another set of keys from that guy when you get back."
"Roger that. This is gonna work Mike. It's the right thing to do." Murdock reassured.
"Hey you guys are really something."
Captain Murdock chanced a glance back at the soldier holding a blood soaked bandage to his shoulder. He gave the man a confident smile.
"I've never been more happy to see anyone in my life than when I saw you guys comin around that hill with the artillery. My unit was barely holding ground." The soldier explained.
"What unit are you with?"
"22nd. We're all 22nd. Are they saying anything about reinforcements?"
Captain Murdock shook his head. "No. You and the 18th were the only one's stationed at the base. I hear they've got more div's flyin in from Phnom Phen. But nothing's been confirmed. Intel doesn't know what the hell is goin on." Murdock began his descent as they neared the base. Medics and other soldiers ran to the chopper to help unload the dead and wounded. "Hey." Murdock grabbed the good arm of the soldier he'd been speaking to as he moved to exit. "Have ya heard anything from the 18th?"
The soldier grimly shook his head. Captain Murdock nodded slowly and then released the man's arm.
"Good luck Captain." The soldier climbed out, immediately being helped by another medic.
"Murdock. How many rounds have you done?" Neison's voice came over his headset.
"Six. And I fueled up last time so we can keep going."
"Right. Listen they're calling for another artillery strike. The LZ is pretty much locked up tight. Do you think you and Kasey can go it alone?"
"Uh, that's a definite affirmative sir."
Neison chuckled and pulled his chopper around again to head back to the battlegrounds. "Alright Kasey, you and Murdock, you're on your own this round. No heroics, just get in there and get our guys out. Dixon, you're with me."
"Hey Murdock. You heard anything about reinforcements?"
Captain Murdock adjusted his mike, the hill coming into view in the distance. "Last I heard they're flying in some more divisions. But who the hell knows?"
"How did we end up with such idiots working in Intel?"
"God knows." Captain Murdock's medic-chopper suddenly lurched sideways. "What the hell?" he murmured. He checked over the gages as the chopper lurched violently again.
"Murdock! What the hell are you doin?"
"Trying to stay in the air." He struggled with the stick as the chopper bounced and sputtered to the right. "Guess I took a hit last time." He tapped the fuel gage. The needle suddenly dropped to the 'E'. "Oh."
"What is it?"
"Fuel tank was definitely hit and who knows what else. I'm gonna have to take her back."
"Alright. I'll inform Neison when I get around the hill. Be safe Murdock."
"Same to you Kasey." Captain Murdock dimly saw the other medic-chopper round the hill as his suddenly pulled hard to the right. "Son of a-" The chopper's steering keeled out as it plunged for the jungle past the hill along the right side, far behind the valley.
Captain Murdock clambered out of the medic-chopper and fell to the jungle floor. Green debris littered the area around the fallen chopper. Reaching back in, he grabbed the radio handset. "Mayday, mayday. This is Captain Murdock. This is Captain Murdock; my chopper has gone down. I repeat my chopper has gone down. Coordinates-"
Bullets whizzed by his head ricocheting off the still smoking chopper and shorting out the radio in his hands. Captain Murdock threw himself to the ground and covered his head. Someone kicked him in his side. He rolled over and saw three Vietcong standing above him, screaming at him. After what seemed to be a few moments of indecision on their part, one of them aimed his gun at Captain Murdock's head. The Vietcong's chest exploded though before he had the chance to fire. The other two were soon falling to the ground as well, blood quickly soaking their uniforms. Captain Murdock reminded himself to breath and looked up again to see a young American soldier running towards him.
"You all right?" the soldier asked as he quickly extended a hand.
Finally realizing he was still alive, Murdock accepted the hand and climbed to his feet, slightly unsteady. "Yeah. Just uh..."
The soldier watched him a moment and then nodded in understanding, patting him on the shoulder. "It's okay. Just breath." The young soldier turned then. "Jackson, Bay, ya got any grenades left?"
Two more men emerged from the foliage looking just as dirty and haggard as the first. The two men, Jackson and Bay jogged up to the chopper and strategically placed their grenades within.
"Lieutenant Peck, grunt." The young soldier held out his hand.
"Captain Murdock...flyboy." He shook it.
The young Lieutenant gave a small smile then turned and headed back towards the jungle. "That's a medic chopper right?"
The Captain nodded as he followed the young soldier into the trees. "Yeah, they've grounded the medic-pilots so me and another guy took two of the choppers. Two of our guys clear the way in the Huey's and then we've been comin in, taking the wounded out."
"So you're not a medic?"
"No. Why?" He stopped short as the Lieutenant pulled back a fern bush to reveal another American soldier lying on the ground, his leg soaked in blood.
"Hey Lieutenant." The wounded man greeted through gritted teeth.
The young Lieutenant kneeled down. "How ya doin? The Tylenol kicked in yet?"
"Yes sir. I no longer feel any pain from the paper cut on my finger."
The Lieutenant chuckled and helped the man to a sitting position. "Montgomery, meet Captain Murdock. He's the pilot."
The wounded man coughed. "I didn't think there'd be anything left, after seeing that thing crashing through the jungle. Good to meet you sir."
Captain Murdock smiled and nodded in return. The other two soldiers came trudging through the foliage at that point.
The Lieutenant stood at that point and gestured to the men. "Captain Murdock, this is Shelby Montgomery, Grant Bay, and Ben Jackson; 18th division."
"You guys are from the 18th? We've been looking everywhere for you. They've got the 22nd spread out all over hell trying to find you. Where's the rest of you?" he asked excitedly.
Lieutenant Peck's smile faded. "We are the rest of us. The others are all dead."
"Jesus..." the Captain murmured. After an uncomfortable silence the Lieutenant took a deep breath and turned to his other two men.
"You ready?" The two nodded. "Okay. Do it."
Jackson nodded and knelt down, a long piece of string in hand disappeared into the jungle foliage. He jerked on the string and suddenly a loud explosion ripped through the air. They all watched the smoke rise into the air in silence.
"So uh... do you guys make it a habit to blow up U.S. Army issue Helicopters?"
"When they're down behind enemy lines we do, sir." Jackson answered.
"Standard procedure sir." The Lieutenant spoke up.
The Captain nodded in acceptance. "Well isn't that gonna draw more attention? I mean... shouldn't we be... I don't know, leaving?"
Lieutenant Peck nodded as he leaned down and with Bay's help, hefted his wounded comrade onto his shoulders. "We are sir."
"Okay lets get one thing straight here. I'm a pilot, I've never been in ground combat before. I've got no clue what I'm doin, but I can shoot a gun and I can follow orders. So let's just drop my rank okay? You're in charge Lieutenant."
"I was hoping you'd say that sir- er, Captain." He turned and started off into the foliage. Jackson held out one of the guns he'd picked up from the dead Vietcong soldier.
"Thanks." Captain Murdock accepted the weapon and followed after the Lieutenant and Montgomery, Bay and Jackson following close behind.
"Where exactly are we going?" Captain Murdock half whispered. The night was full upon them and they were exhausted.
"Hopefully back to the LZ."
"We're a little far south of them aren't we?"
"Yes sir." Captain Murdock let it slide as he was too tired to object to the formality. The Lieutenant went on. "But the Vietcong are spread out in a pretty thick line. We'll never make it trying to go straight through them. Plus if what you say is true, our guys won't be expecting us. The last thing we need is to be dodging friendly fire."
"Right. So we go around. There's a riverbed along the south side of the valley. It cuts into the jungle as far as I could tell when I was in the air. The Vietcong line ended a little north of there."
"For now anyways. I figure they're gonna wise up here soon and try to flank the 22nd from the southeast. If we get around there and at least attempt to make it look like we're more than just 5 guys, we might hold them off long enough for reinforcements." Lieutenant Peck stopped and carefully laid Montgomery down before dropping to the ground himself.
"Sorry sir." The wounded man meekly apologized.
"Hey, what did I tell you?" Peck asked firmly yet gently at the same time. "You just hang in there. How's it feel?"
"Delightfully pleasant sir."
"Good. I'd hate for you to come all this way to leave with only a paper cut on your finger."
"I'll take him next sir." Jackson spoke up.
"Kay." Peck quietly agreed and sat back for a quick rest.
Captain Murdock plopped down next to the Lieutenant. "How did you guys get so far out here anyways?" he asked quietly, not quite sure if the subject was one to be discussed yet.
The Lieutenant rested his arms on his knees and looked down as he sighed. "Colonel Lentz had us doing everything by the book. It was perfect maneuvering... there was just more than we could handle. We followed orders and put up one hell of a fight, but Intel had us believing we were up against maybe a 150 Vietcong, 200 tops. They just kept coming."
"There couldn't have been any less than 500 comin at us." Bay spoke up.
Captain Murdock snorted. "That's Intelligence for ya."
Lieutenant Peck nodded. "Yeah. So they flanked us from behind and pushed us farther back into the forest. We regrouped and held them off, but by morning we only had a fourth of our division left. Then you guys came and they backed off some, heading for the LZ. We tried holding off the ones coming at us from behind, but we got overrun. At that point an air strike came through. We're the only one's that survived."
They all fell silent. Captain Murdock felt as if something heavy had just settled in the pit of his stomach. "Oh God. We didn't know."
"No one knew." Peck encouraged. "All our radiomen had been killed and the radios damaged. We were cut off. There was no way you could've known."
"Jesus." Murdock whispered to himself, running a hand over his face.
Lieutenant Peck stood and took on some of Jackson's gear. "Don't worry about it Captain Murdock. We're just glad to know you guys haven't given up on us." The Captain nodded and stood. Bay helped Montgomery onto Jackson's shoulders.
"How far do you figure we are from the riverbed sir?" Bay picked up Jackson's gun and followed after the others.
"You mind if I ask you a personal question?" Captain Murdock came up beside the Lieutenant who he could barely see giving a small shake of his head in the darkness.
"How old are you?"
"Would you stop that?"
"Sir... quit calling me that. I realize I may look like I'm forty, but I guarantee you I'm still in my twenties."
Lieutenant Peck gave a small smile. "You don't look like your forty. I'd say 28 tops."
"Twenty-seven actually. And you, Lieutenant don't look old enough to have graduated high school yet."
"I get that a lot."
"I bet you do. So how old are you really?"
"I told you, twenty."
The Lieutenant threw a glance behind him and then to the Captain again. "Listen we're getting pretty close to the riverbed, I think we should keep quiet from here on out."
"Oh, right. We don't want to attract attention." He whispered sarcastically.
The small quintet came to a sudden stop near the bank of the riverbed.
"Where the hell's the river... sir?" a muffled voice came from Jackson's back.
"It's a dry river you idiot." Bay stepped up lightly smacking Montgomery on the head hanging upside-down.
"Hey, I'm from Florida. I've never even seen a river in my life. How the hell was I supposed to know?"
"I don't know, geography?"
"I never paid attention in class."
"Guys." Lieutenant Peck gave them a warning look. Taking a cautious step forward the young soldier made his way across the riverbed to the other side. Once laying along the bank, weapon ready, he motioned the others forward.
"What do you think sir?" Bay whispered
"Let's follow this down to the LZ. Then Captain Murdock can take Montgomery to the choppers and we can hold off their flank."
"I can still shoot a gun sir."
"Shelby- I swear to God- don't give me any grief on this. You're going back and that's an order."
The Lieutenant lowered his voice. "Just remember you've got somebody back in Florida waiting for you to come home."
"God knows why." Bay joked. "Can't figure why any one would be waitin for yer sorry ass."
Captain Murdock chuckled as Montgomery tossed a rock at Bay's head. A twig snapping in the distance instantly silenced the 5 soldiers. They brought their guns to arms and looked out into the jungle.
"Spread out. Don't fire until we get a good count of what we're up against and their positioning. And when you do, fire wide and across. Make it look as if there are a lot of us." The others nodded at the Lieutenant's whispered commands and then spread out along the riverbed; Montgomery staying put.
"Lieutenant!" Jackson ran down the riverbank towards the Lieutenant. "They're sweeping behind us. And I've only got one round left sir."
"Alright let's go, now!" Peck leaned down and hefted Montgomery onto his back despite the man's grunts of pain and sprinted as best he could down the riverbed. Captain Murdock and Bay followed, firing behind them. They could see the Vietcong trailing behind on both sides of the riverbed, quickly closing in on them. Bullets whizzed by their heads; the riverbed providing little cover.
Captain Murdock chanced a look back and wished he hadn't. The Vietcong soldiers looked like a horde of bee's closing in around them.
"There's the LZ!" Jackson shouted as he turned and let loose a few more shots. Ahead they could see where the jungle suddenly ended and the valley began. A large tree lay across the riverbed at the opening.
"Head for the tree!" The Lieutenant ordered. The soldiers pushed every last ounce of energy into their running, making for the cover of the fallen tree.
Montgomery lifted his head and watched as the Vietnamese soldiers closed in around them. "Oh my God."
Suddenly the front line of the Vietcong soldiers fell back as bullets slammed into their bodies. Looking up, Captain Murdock watched as a whole division of American soldiers suddenly appeared along the LZ line. The five soldiers crawled and leapt over the dead tree as more American soldiers joined around them, pushing the oncoming Vietcong back. Raising their heads they gave shouts of joy as two artillery choppers swept over their heads, spraying the jungle. The onslaught of Vietcong stopped dead and backtracked.
The five soldiers fell back behind the tree in exhaustion, heaving in gulps of air from their sprint.
"You boys alright?"
Lieutenant Peck looked up to see a Colonel standing before him. He pulled himself up and saluted. "18th division reporting for duty sir." Out of the corner of his eye he could see his other men following suit; Montgomery saluting from the ground.
Captain Murdock stood as well, not caring whether or not he was truly apart of the division. He grinned to himself, finally realizing what his daddy had meant all those years back when he'd joined. It wasn't about the war; it was about the warriors. If you wanted to survive, you had to rely on the man next to you to watch your back. In turn you had to watch his; it was a brotherhood; something you couldn't understand unless you'd been there. He didn't know when it had happened, but these four men, once fellow soldiers, had become his brothers.
"The 18th?" the Colonel asked in disbelief. "I'll be damned. I was beginning to think you guys were just a myth. Where's the rest of your division Lieutenant?"
"We're it sir."
A moment of stillness passed between the men, as the other American soldiers around them continued to push back the retreating Vietcong.
The Colonel eventually nodded and gently slapped the young Lieutenant on the shoulder. "You did good Lieutenant. I'm proud of all you boys. Looks like you held em off long enough for us to get over here. Sergeant!" The Colonel turned to look at his officer obediently coming towards him and standing at attention. "Grab some guys, get a stretcher over here, and take this soldier to the pick-up."
"Colonel sir, with your permission, we'd like to take him there ourselves." The Lieutenant spoke up, still staring straight ahead at attention.
The Colonel took another look at the soldiers before him and then nodded. "Sergeant, bring the stretcher over and show them the way. You boys load up and go on back to base... you look like hell."
"Thank you sir. However, excluding private Montgomery, we'd like to stay and help."
"That won't be necessary. The 34th and 26th were flown in early this morning. They're still hitting us pretty hard in the middle, but we've got word they're sending us another division this afternoon. I don't care if the North sends over half the Vietcong army, we're not losing this one."
"Colonel." The Sergeant returned with the stretcher and with Bay and Jackson's help carefully lifted Montgomery onto the simple device.
The Colonel nodded and then turned back, suddenly frowning as he saw the Captain. "You one of the pilots that flew us in?"
"Started out as a co-pilot yesterday morning sir, ended up a real pilot by afternoon, and by the end of the day I crashed my first chopper."
The Colonel chuckled. "You're the pilot that was flying the medic-chopper?"
"Your pilot buddies have been going nuts trying to figure out where you went down at."
"I like to keep them on their toes sir."
"I bet you do." He paused a moment looking at the two young men before him. "Alright go on. You boys deserve a break." He gave them each a pat on the back as he passed by them.
"Thank you sir." The two soldiers answered and then wearily trudged off to catch up with the rest of their unit.
"Son of a bitch! Murdock!"
Captain Murdock looked up as he neared the medic-chopper loading up with men. "Kasey? God, I thought I'd never see you guys again."
"Yeah ya jackass. Neison about ran his Huey into the side of the hill when he heard you went MIA. He's gonna eat you alive man." The two pilots chuckled.
Captain Murdock took Jackson's offered hand and climbed into the back of the chopper. "Looking forward to it as usual..."
"Every damn day." Both pilots finished with a smile.
The Captain turned and helped the large Sergeant and Peck slide Montgomery's stretcher into the chopper. Looking back he extended his hand to the young Lieutenant as he made to climb on board. Suddenly Pecks body jerked forward as one bullet ripped through his shoulder and another one through his side.
The Sergeant quickly caught the falling body and easily lifted it into the chopper. Bay immediately grabbed some gauze pads from one of the medical kits.
The Sergeant smacked the side of the chopper. "Go on. Get em outta here!"
Captain Murdock held on tightly to the Lieutenant and repeated the same thing the kid had said to him when he'd first met him. "It's okay... just breath." The chopper lifted into the air.
Captain Murdock ran a hand through his damp hair. As soon as the medic-chopper had touched down, he'd been whisked away to be checked over. Other than some scrapes and bruises, and pure exhaustion, he'd been given a clean bill with orders to get some rest. He stepped out of the shower tent and made his way to his quarters.
Spotting his bunk, he wanted nothing more in the world than to just pass out on the thin, springy mattress. He managed to make it the last few trudging steps to the bunk and then let his body fall to the thin strip of foam.
Murdock groaned instantly recognizing the voice. Captain Neison barged through the screen door.
"Captain Murdock! How the hell do you manage to solo pilot your first chopper and crash it in the same day?!"
"It really didn't take much effort." Murdock mumbled into his pillow.
"What was that?"
Captain Murdock reluctantly rolled over to look at his superior. "Mike, I'm tired as hell and I feel like I've been run over a washboard a couple hundred times. Do you think we could do this tomorrow?"
Captain Neison chuckled, his frown turning into a grin. "Congratulations Captain."
Murdock wearily opened one eye to look at his friend. "Huh?"
"I said congratulations."
"For what?" he snorted.
"For finding the 18th and leading them back safely and for also holding off the Vietcong along the riverbed. They're saying if it hadn't been for you guys, the Vietcong would've flanked them from behind, and the reinforcements would've never had the chance to land. It would've been a massacre."
Captain Murdock was already on his feet again, frowning. "Who told you that?"
"That I found the 18th and lead them back."
"Oh- uh... it was a Lieutenant. I don't remember his nam- Hey! Murdock, where are you going?" Neison watched as his friend pushed by him and burst out of the tent.
The Captain stopped and turned to see two soldiers looking just as tired as he saluting him and smiling. He didn't smile back. "Have you heard what they're saying?"
"Yes sir. You saved our lives." Jackson beamed.
The Captain paused, momentarily taken back. "What?"
"Don't look so surprised sir, you were bound to get the recognition you deserve. I hear they're gonna give you a medal sir." Bay slapped him on the back.
The Captain took a step back. "Have you all lost your mind?"
"I'm sorry sir?"
"You know that's not how it went."
The Captain turned really starting to hate the sound of his name. He rose himself to attention and saluted as did Jackson and Bay. "Colonel sir."
The Colonel gave a crisp salute back. "I need to speak with you for a minute."
"Yes sir." The Captain gave one last questioning glance back at the two soldiers before following the Colonel to his office. They made their way into the small office, the Colonel shutting the door behind the Captain before taking his seat. He gestured to the chair in front of his desk. "Captain."
Murdock slowly sat down, waiting. The Colonel seemed to be measuring him up.
The Captain sighed. "Colonel, request permission to speak freely sir."
"Sir, I didn't save the 18th. They saved me. I was about to get my head blown off when Lieutenant Peck came along. He saved my life, he ordered the chopper blown, he lead us through the jungle, he got us to the riverbed, he ordered us to spread out and stop the Vietcong flank, HE kept us alive!" The Captain listed off on his fingers, his voice raising with each description. "So why the hell does everyone seem to think I'm the hero here!" The Colonel stared at the Captain. After a few moments, the Captain's anger abated and he looked down. "I'm sorry sir."
The Colonel leaned forward, resting his elbows on the desk. "Actually Captain, that's how I kinda figured it happened. I just wanted to get your view on it all."
Captain Murdock paused, slightly dumbfounded. "Sir?"
"The boys from the 18th are all claiming you got em out of there. Personally I didn't believe it. No offense Captain."
"None taken sir."
"When we met up with you boys, I just got the impression that the kid was in charge."
Captain Murdock shook his head. "I don't understand this sir."
The Colonel nodded. "That's okay Captain. I think I do." The Colonel opened one of his desk drawers and pulled out a file, letting it slam to the desk in front of the Captain. He gestured to the thick folder, which the Captain opened. "Three weeks ago I was approached by a General Curtis. He's offering me a position with a... special unit." The Colonel seemed to choose his words carefully. "I accepted the position and for the past three weeks have been going through records, recruiting men for my unit. That's what those are."
The Captain flipped through the pages. There were several tabs within the folder, each labeling different officer/job positions. He stopped when he saw a page with the name Templeton Peck on it. He checked the tab it was under: 'Lieutenant: Requisitions Officer.' He noticed there were several other pages with other names beneath the same tab. He glanced up at the Colonel.
"His file was recommended to me by another guy. Seems he's got quite a reputation for getting practically anything you need."
Captain Murdock snorted out loud as he read through the Lieutenant's record sheet.
"Something funny Captain?"
"I'm sorry sir," he chuckled. "But I just refuse to believe this kid is 20." He leaned back in his chair still smiling.
The Colonel smiled and nodded. "Good... because he's 18."
The Captain's smile died. "That means he had to be about-"
"Sixteen or seventeen when he joined. Yeah."
"How did you find that out sir?"
"Something just didn't seem right about the kids record. I dug a little deeper and found out he's also been in the brig several times. Somehow he managed to cover that up too."
"Whoa. Sounds like he knows what he's doing."
"Exactly. Which is why I want him in my unit."
The Captain's head shot up to look at the Colonel. "I'm sorry?"
"It's also why I want you to go along with their story. You're the hero Captain." He pointed his finger at the man to emphasize.
"Captain, you realize this story is gonna be talked about and celebrated all over the United States. The press are gonna have a field day with it. They're gonna get involved and needle out every last detail they can about the hero of the day. Now I can't have my new Requisitions Officer's past being posted all over the news. If the higher ups ever found out, he'd be out of the army with dishonorable discharge, not to mention the time he'd spend in the brig first."
Captain Murdock listened intently to the Colonel's reasoning. After a moment he nodded his understanding. "Yes sir."
The Colonel opened another drawer and pulled out a cigarette, which he promptly stuck in his mouth and lit. "Besides, your record's pretty clean. And the press will love having a good 'ole Texas ranch boy turned Pilot as their hero."
Captain Murdock slowly lifted his eyes to the Colonel, staring at him. The Colonel puffed on his cigar and then leaned forward, grabbing a tab in folder and flipping it over. The Captain looked down to see a picture of him self connected to a record page. He glanced at the tab: 'Pilot'. He carefully read over his record and then looked back up to the Colonel.
"What do you say Captain?"
"I crashed my first solo flight today. Why me?"
"Because you're quick on your feet, you now have experience on the ground, and yes, you did crash the chopper, but you walked out alive. Most pilots don't. And in the line of work we'll be doing, I'm gonna need a pilot that knows how to crash a chopper. So what do you say?"
The Captain looked back down at the file again, and then grinned. "Show me where to sign sir."
The Colonel smiled and nodded his approval. He stood and held his hand out. Captain Murdock stood as well, grasping the hand firmly.
"Captain, welcome to the A-Team."
Captain Murdock, newest member of the A-Team, slowly walked down the long isle in the Mash unit. Beds lined both sides of the walls; almost all of them occupied. As he passed each one, he glanced at the name on the charts. Nearing the end of the isle he stopped a nurse passing by.
"Excuse me ma'am." He kept his voice low so as not to disturb the sleeping soldiers surrounding them. "I'm lookin for a Lieutenant Peck. He was brought in earlier today... uh, blond kid, had a shoulder and side wound."
The old nurse shook her head. "I'm sorry Captain, we've gotten a lot of blond kids in here today. And there are two other temporary Medical Units on the northern side of the base as well. Did you check through the room?"
The Captain nodded pathetically and gave her his best puppy dog eyes. The nurse looked down at the papers in her hands. "You said he had a shoulder and side wound?" The Captain nodded, still looking quite pathetic. The nurse rifled through her papers and then spoke up. "It looks like we had a guy come in earlier today with that description. Yeah, here he is. Lieutenant Peck. He's in the critical care room." She looked up and pointed. "Keep going straight, you'll hit another room. He's somewhere in there."
Captain Murdock nodded enthusiastically and thanked her. After stopping another nurse for help, the Captain finally found the Lieutenant's curtained off bed. He sighed as he stood there, staring at the pale, unconscious kid, looking quite lifeless on the bed. He silently pulled up a chair and sat down.
"Hey kid." He kept his voice low. "It's Captain Murdock... flyboy. Just wanted to give ya fair warning... you're about to handed an offer you can't refuse." He sat in silence watching the young Lieutenant. Taking one of the hands into his own he gave a small smile. "Welcome to the A-Team Lieutenant Peck."
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