“Pa! Helena said yes! We’re getting married next year! Please tell mom for me! I gotta go!” ——
That phonecall. It shook Edward to the core in a blissful, I-can’t-believe-my-boy’s-gonna-be-a-husband way. He looked over at the nightstand, smiling at the picture of him, his wife Carol, and 5-year-old Tom.
Tom Morales, now 24, had always been close to his parents, especially his mom — which is why Edward felt thrilled to be the first to hear about the engagement. He would even tease Tom that he just got that news first because mom’s phone was probably busy or out of reach. Tom would then humor him in saying, “You’re my hero, dad. I gotta tell you that first!”
Growing up, Tom wasn’t a straight-A student nor a diligent one at that. But he was very obedient, gallant and responsible. He was quite a rascal, too. He’d always cunningly convince his mother into assigning him less chores at home, prank her into showcasing her singing talent at parties, and playfully harass her by sticking his finger into her armpits. It was, according to him, his favorite scent in the world.
Now, Tom is an Army Corporal of the Special Forces of Belcovia (SFB) 4th mechanized battalion. With all the training he’s had, it’s easy to imagine how physically fit he is. He’s got a fair tan, black army-cut hair, almond-shaped eyes that sparkle when he smiles and a tiny, obvious scar just below his left eye that’s surprisingly kind of cute.
By the end of the week, Tom’s going to be deployed to Mauruga, an island south of the country of Belcovia, which is currently invaded by terrorists.
“How bloody is the war in Mauruga?” Carol asked, her left foot tapping the floor as she sat across Edward at the dining table.
“Tom is a brave, smart boy. And he’s been trained for years. I know he can face the terrorists and reclaim the land of our country successfully.” Edward reached out to clench Carol’s freckled hand. “We’ll continue to pray for him everyday.”
On the first few days in Mauruga, the SFB were already out exchanging fires with the terrorist group who anticipated their arrival. Tom had already killed 3 terrorists, wounded at least 5, and thankfully, none of the 7 privates on his unit was harmed.
On the fourth night, after radio watch duty, Tom joined his soldier friends at the Combat Housing Unit. They were trying to relax, exchanging nonsense stories in jest.
“Morales, we’re heading to the war zone tomorrow. You gotta keep all your limbs on! Or else Helena wouldn’t be able to put that ring!” his friend slash groomsman, Corporal Andrew Chavez, teased.
Everybody laughed, but you can sense that deep down inside, each and every one of them are just trying to keep it light… to find the absurd humor in things… for comfort, for composure, for psychological defense.
They continued to kid around. From random jokes like catching up with chick flicks while powerlifting to morbid ones that may seem crass or even nihilistic to those outside of the troop.
It was a good thirty minutes of fun before they all went to bed…
Rrrring! Rrrring! Rrrrring!
Sergeant Barron received a call from the City Hall early morning the next day. An army of soldiers was requested to keep the City Hall safe, escort the mayor and people out and defend the Hall from anticipated invasion.
Tom’s unit was assigned to go.
Meanwhile, Corporal Chavez and his team together with several other units proceeded to the center of the war zone in light-duty trucks, an M-35 truck and an M113 armored carrier that features remote controlled weapons. They equipped themselves with rifles, pistols, grenades and lots of ammo. They also brought small artillery pieces as well as machine guns to mount on balconies of the building they’re going to set their position to. Of course, they had a couple of Snipers, too.
Their operation plan was carefully laid out, almost to the brim of perfection. Except, the enemy got to them first.
About 65 terrorists ambushed their convoy of 40 soldiers from afar. Incessant gunshots broke the silence. Bullets were raining everywhere, nearly wiping out all soldiers aboard the M-35 and light-duty trucks. Private Martin, a 26-year-old father of 2 and the lone survivor inside the M35, acquired a gunshot to his right shoulder and several others on his right leg. Despite feeling like his arm’s detached from its socket, Martin grabbed a huge scrap of metal for cover and radioed reinforcement. He then carefully reached out for his Officer’s machine gun and started to fire back. The convoy continued to advance, except the one truck which Martin was in. After a minute, the enemies retracted.
Corporal Chavez, who was in the M113 with his unit and platoon Officer, was controlling the M2 Browning 50-caliber machine gun attached to their APC. He fired in all angles and then suddenly, something dawned into him. The enemies’ attacks seem erratic, he thought. In fact, they seem to break contact fairly quickly. He handed the control back to his Officer and asked the driver to stop.
“Sir, I need to go out and do something first.”
“We have to move, Morales! This is a kill zone!” His Officer called out.
“I understand, Sir. But I need to check something and I need you need to trust me.”
The M113’s rear door opened and Corporal Chavez crawled out of it, armored and determined to fight. As soon as he got out, he noticed that the place was suspiciously quiet. He ran towards the next truck, which stopped at their command. Half of the soldiers were dead. Some of the soldiers were severely injured and a few were luckily unscathed.
“Hang on for a minute,” Chavez said.
He ran to the next truck. It was slightly off-road, and nobody seemed to be inside. He climbed to the driver’s seat, cringed in mourning at the lifeless body behind the wheel, and moved it aside. He was about to start the engine when he heard heavy panting. He looked at the back. Soldiers were down. A heartbreaking sight.
“Corporal…” a frail voice spoke, almost whispering.
Chavez scanned the truck. “Private Martin?”
Private Martin was badly injured and was bleeding severely. He had a machine gun and a radio, his face stained with blood from his hands.
Chavez hurriedly carried Martin, brought him to the other truck along with other surviving soldiers, and ran back to the life-empty truck. Suddenly, the enemies started shooting again. Bullets rained left and right and grenades lobbed into the air. The SFB vehicles motioned forward. This time only slowly as they waited for Corporal Chavez’s signal. Andrew revved up the engine of the truck he’s in, briskly drove it into the next block, and jumped off to roll into the abandoned building at the side.
The truck continued to run past several war-damaged buildings and… BOOM!!!!!! It exploded.
I knew it! Corporal Chavez suspected the enemies were drawing them into a minefield and he was right.
Enraged by the unsuccessful plot, the enemies fired what seemed to be their last sets of ammo. The SFB trucks turned around and sped out of the “kill zone” while their squad leaders continued to fire back.
SFB FA-50 jets arrived. They dropped bombs on surrounding buildings while maintaining contact with the SFB Command Center who’s also in touch with the soldiers on the ground.
Corporal Chavez got no way to go. The building he rolled into was where some of the enemies were stationed. The building next to it was also occupied by them. Across him was a building where a Sniper, who seemed untrained, was positioned. The Sniper kept on firing at him but he was lucky that the Sniper missed every single shot. Trapped in the enemies’ territory with no escape route, Chavez knew that if he goes out, he’ll be dead meat. But… these terrorists need to go.
“Checkmate 6 Romeo, this is Echo 4 Charlie 21. Radio check. Over.”
“Echo 4 Charlie 21, this is Checkmate 6 Romeo. I hear you strength 5. Over.”
Chavez radioed his Commander and told him about his dire situation. He then requested for an air strike and gave his coordinates to take out the terrorists. Despite the warning from his Commander about the zero chance of him surviving, Chavez acknowledged the possibility.
“Affirmative. Over and out.”
Chavez slowly took his phone out of his pocket and typed in a message for his best friend:
“I’m sorry I can’t make it to your wedding, Tom. I’m so happy for you and Helena.”
Then he sent another message. This time, to his mom.
“Mom, Dad, I hope I make you proud.”
RAT-A-TAT-A-TAT-A-TATAT!!! PEEEEEEEWWW BOOM!!!
Corporal Tom Morales was hiding under the M35. 6 privates under his unit as well as his Officer were already down, and only 2 of them were left. What appears to be a call for help at the City Hall was a trap. Have the terrorists taken over the City Hall? Or are the Mayor’s security personnel traitors?
While Tom was hiding under the truck, waiting for reinforcement, Private Prado was pretending to be dead, camouflaging under his comrades’ lifeless bodies. Several armed terrorists, about 8 or 9 based on the pairs of legs Tom saw from underneath, walked towards their vehicle.
“ANOTHER SET OF FVCKIN’ PATRIOTS DOWN!” one man exclaimed, loud and proud.
High fives can be heard from a distance.
Tom picked up his phone to make a call, not realizing he has a message from his best friend…
“Tom!” Edward sounded worried.
“Pa… please pray for me… I don’t think I’m gonna make it to the wedding…” Tom whispered, his voice shaking.
“What do you mean, son? If you are cornered, do not get out until reinforcement arrives.”
“They’re shooting us with RPGs, Pa, and I’m already out of ammo. I’ve tried to crawl to reach for the 50 caliber but now they’re walking towards us and… Sssshh..”
“Tom, my son, do not lose hope. Keep your mind in the battle and we’ll continue to pray for you. You can do it, okay? Our country needs you. Your mother and I need you.”
There seemed to be a cracking noise on the phone, but Edward didn’t mind. He continued to grasp his phone as if it was Tom’s hand…
That was the last thing Edward heard. Some gunshots and inaudible noise.
Reinforcement probably came and Tom made it out already, he thought, blocking all negative ideas that cross his mind.
The 9 men approaching their truck arrived on the mini pile of dead bodies in which Private Prado was in. One big man went straight to the truck, taking the wheel…
“Are we going back to the barracks right away? How about we take their Officer’s head and put it on a stick?” the big man suggested.
Horrible. Tom was cringing at their barbaric ideas.
“Let’s show these fvckers who’s boss!” said the other thug.
As one of the enemies grabbed the Officer’s body, preparing to behead it, Private Prado stood up. He couldn’t take what he was about to see. He lifted his rifle and aimed at the vile men. As he fired what’s left of his rifle, Tom crawled out from under the truck.
Prado was firing at the terrorists, hitting at least 2 men, before one of the enemies hit him with an RPG. Tom, on the other hand, was picking up the 50 caliber when an enemy shot his hand with a pistol. 2 men grabbed his shoulders, one of them spat on his face. He mustered all his strength to fight back. 7 against 1, he thought, trying to plot a fair battle or perhaps an escape.
“Too much love for your country, huh?” the big man pulled his head back. “Why don’t we make a flag out of you?”
. . .
Edward was quick to answer the call early morning the next day.
“Tom? Tom? Hello, —“
“Mr. Morales? This is from the Military Command Center…”
Carol entered the room, eager to hear updates about the war. Suddenly, Edward dropped to his knees. For a minute there, he couldn’t seem to find any strength in him. The world stopped, time froze and his entire body seemed to stop working. Carol sank to the floor with him and wept.
Corporal Tom Morales was found decapitated. Corporal Andrew Chavez’s body was still sought out. Private Jiggy Martin died due to blood loss. All in all, 34
soldiers heroes died that day.
SFB were able to claim the “war zone” back, but not the City Hall yet. They killed over 60 terrorists that day, based on the bodies found.
That phonecall. It shook Edward to the core in a painful, I-can’t-believe-my-boy’s-gone way. He looked over at the nightstand, staring at the picture of him, his wife Carol, and 5-year-old Tom.
“You are my hero, son.”
- ◉ This story is fiction. Some military details may not be accurate as my knowledge pertaining this is frankly minimal to none. Please excuse me for that.
- ◉ Parts of the narrative are inspired by true events, but characters’ names, attributes, etc. as well as names of country and city are all made up.
- ◉ This story is written in memory of those fallen heroes who fought for peace and defended their countries in honor.
- ◉ To all vets and continuing military personnel, we salute you. Thank you for your service.