Battlefield Stories...Damavand

A short story based within the intense battle for the infamous Damavand Peak of Iran

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5. Chapter Five

A friendly Huey chopper hovered overhead. With no obvious enemy threat present at the base, the pilot lowered the helicopter into a low hover, and then touched down on the helipad. None of our guys were waiting on the tarmac, so the pilot hopped out and made his way to find some troops to deliver to the base of the mountain. Within seconds of the pilot disappearing, the Huey’s engine whirled and whined and coughed into life. An enemy soldier had stolen the chopper! But the danger didn’t last long. The Huey came under fearful gunfire, LMGs spewing hundreds of bullets, and SMAW rockets smashing into the cockpit and the fuselage of the helicopter. The would-be enemy pilot took to his chute, but fared little better. I brought the M417 up to my shoulder and took aim. Firing three shots, I hit the falling enemy soldier as he was torn apart under the heavy weight of fire. But the Huey had gone, falling in clouds of dark smoke to the base of the mountain. There was only one thing we could do. We would have to make a base jump to drop the 500m to the bottom of the mountain to where our next objectives lay. With the light tactical parachute strapped tight to my back, I approached the edge of the helipad and peered over. I couldn’t see them, but the enemy soldiers were down there, preparing for our arrival from the sky. With a sharp intake of breath I leapt into the air, putting as much distance between me and the sheer mountain wall. The wind howled and roared at my ears as the ground began to rush up towards me. With enemy tracers filling the air, I had no choice. I had to free-fall and slip through the air as fast as possible, so that I would be under the silk of the chute for as limited time as possible. The buildings on the ground were getting bigger and bigger by the second. I pulled the cord and the shock of the opening thumped the air from my lungs and the vision from my eyes. The enemy base was only partially built and construction material and machinery dotted the area. Two large buildings dominated the centre of the ground, with semi-permanent and partial structures to the right. Objective Echo was positioned in the large factory building in the centre of the area and objective Fox was inside a storage container to the side of the factory. If I had timed my parachute opening well, I would land directly on the target building where I could get eyes directly on objective Echo from windows in the roof. The impact of the ledge jolted through my knees. I had made the roof, just. But I had been spotted. A thunderous stream of bullets crashed through the air, ricocheting around the concrete walls of the roof. I hit the ground, ducking out of the line of fire. The firing continued as I stayed low, hugging the floor. More feet hit the roof, members of my team were landing on the roof, and the enemy soldier shifted his fire to engage them. In a second, I was up and the stock of the rifle was at my cheek. I started scanning the area to the left where the machine gun fire was coming from. I could see the cordite smoke, and then the muzzle flashes from the light machine gun as the enemy soldier continued to fire. Time slowed down as I zeroed the centre of my crosshair on the soldier’s head. I had to hit first time, or he would tear the team apart with the LMG. The whole world around me turned completely silent as I exhaled and squeezed the trigger. I blinked with the recoil, and then re-centred the scope. The muzzle flashes were gone, the firing stopped, and the enemy support trooper was down. It was still quiet in the enemy base, so I moved into the factory building from the roof access. The interior of the factory was empty- for now. We had to press home the advantage of surprise. I sprinted along the raised gangway, and headed for the ladders, letting myself down quickly and moving swiftly across the factory floor towards the objective. Pulling the explosive charges from my pack, I carefully placed them on the side of objective Echo. I set the timer, and shouted ‘charges in place!’ over the intercom. Now we had to defend the area from enemy attack. I pulled back to mountainside entrance of the factory. From my new position I could see the objective, and also see through to the far exit-the only direction the enemy could approach from. More shouts in my ear confirmed that the guys had also set the second charge at Objective Fox. We had moved quickly and had the enemy on the run. Now they were forced to try and defend two objectives at once, splitting their strength in half. I crouched low in the dark shadows, peering through the scope of my rifle and horizontally scanning the lighted opening from the half-open shutter door at the far side. Two squad mates joined me in covering the entrance. ‘Enemy soldier spotted!’ exclaimed the squad medic as he aimed down sight and began to open fire. Three sillouettes dashed into the light, and I fired at the movement. To my right, the squad M60 joined in, spewing lead through the factory interior, the sound crashing and echoing through the building. The three enemy soldiers fell under the viscous hail of gunfire, just as the charges of both objectives exploded. The adrenaline flowing through my veins kept the exhaustion away as I jumped to my feet and prepared to advance again. Our whirlwind advance had secured 3 enemy bases, moving quickly before the enemy could react and organise their defence. Resistance had been light so far, we had attacked too quickly for the enemy to stop us. But the element of surprise had been exploited, and our final set of objectives would be the toughest yet. Built into the far hillside was a huge tunnel complex, housing enemy reinforcements. Destroying our objectives in the tunnel would be a huge blow to the effective fighting strength of the enemy in the area and would help secure peace for the entire region. The enemy would be ready, and they would be reinforced. We had to keep moving quickly. Speed and surprise would be our most deadly weapons.  To each side of the cavernous opening, there were two access tunnels. From our maps, it looked like the objectives were at the end of each access tunnel. Narrow and dark, the tunnels would be perfect kill zones if the enemy could cover the approaches and the exits. My squad and I moved left, sprinting into the dark entrance, bracing ourselves for enemy defensive fire that should come hurtling through the shadows. It didn’t come and our boots thudded down the narrow corridor, the sounds bouncing and reverberating off the walls. The rhythmic drumming of boots on concrete was shattered by the staccato clatter of gunfire. We had been spotted and were under fire. I had been second in the squad as we moved towards the objective, and our point man had been hit. I fired four quick rounds from the hip with the M417, and ducked into a small access opening on my left as the enemy soldier ducked right behind a large pillar. I moved towards the edge of the opening, and trained my rifle on the pillar. When the enemy soldier exposed his body to engage us again, I would take him. Our team medic worked furiously to revive our fallen team mate as I concentrated on the pillar. As a shadowy figure inched sideways, and a SMG barrel was raised, I fired three careful shots. I had hit the enemy soldier and the threat was neutralised. The medic had revived the point man so our squad could continue our assault through the dimly lit tunnel. Objective Golf was situated in a rocky opening to the left of the middle of the main tunnel. Surrounded by a rocky outcrop we had plenty of cover to defend objective Golf once the charges were in place. I moved to the left of the objective, ducking between rocks and positioning myself with eyes on the objective should the enemy try to disable the charges. The charges were quickly in place, and I covered the opposite side of the access tunnel. Two enemy soldiers charged out from the murky access tunnel opening, and I fired several shots, killing one and wounding the second as he ducked into cover. Within seconds the charge had exploded and I had held the enemy off for long enough. Our final objective sat on the right side of the main tunnel, in a metal temporary accommodation container. There were other structures close by, a storage container behind, and a similar two story accommodation unit to the left. An access tunnel was situated about 50m to the front and another lay 50m to the rear. The area in front of the two access tunnel openings, and to the left of the objective was open and difficult to cross without attracting fire. But we would have to cross the open ground to arm the final objective. The rattle of gunfire musically echoed inside the cavernous tunnel, but a far more ominous sound came from behind the enemy lines. The terrifying mechanical screech and clatter of a T-90 main battle tank advancing towards us filled our ears. Within seconds, the cave shook to the thunder of the tank firing its main cannon. I retreated back towards cover- there was nothing I could do against armour with just my rifle. As the egineers in our team moved forward to engage the enemy tank, I saw an opportunity. While attention was fixed on the tank, I would move up and assault the objective. Sprinting between the limited cover, I flanked right, darting between the shadows, ducking as bullet ricochets pierced the air and chipped the cave walls. Hooking left and entering the accommodation unit from the rear, I hit the floor and placed the charges. ‘Charges Set!’ I roared into my throat mic, and headed out of the building towards enemy lines, searching for a spot where I could cover objective Hotel. A series of huge explosions rocked the tunnel, and I could hear the tank on the move. I braced myself for the arrival of the T-90. Poking my head out of over and turning to look right, I saw the Tank, rolling towards the objective, the turret traversing directly towards me. The world slowed down and then completely stopped. I found myself looking down the barrel of the tank’s main gun. I closed my eyes and waited… the explosion ripped through the air and sent me flying to the ground. I opened my eyes and stumbled to regain my balance. The T-90 was a smouldering wreck, angry red flames and smoke pouring from its mangled steel carcass. My ears were still ringing at the explosion when a light tan brown M1 rolled into view, it’s cannon barrel still smoking. My jaw sagged and I stared at the friendly tank in amazement just as my charges detonated. We had secured all objectives. Cheers rang through the cave as the team realised that we had completed the mission. It was time to go home. To go home and train and wait for the next mission. It wouldn’t be long.

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