Saturday, September 10, 2005

The (Mis)Adventures of Craig in the Middle East

** Bonus Story - This story was written during the First Gulf War for a friend who was serving in Kuwait at the time. **

The sun beat down mercilessly from cloudless skies. Near the horizon, a slowly moving plume if diesel exhaust marked the position of a patrol from the 82nd Airborne Division returning to base. The shimmering heat from the desert sand seemed to give the plume a life of its own, but from Craig's vantage point in the sweltering kitchen, he could see that it was moving ever closer, and it would bring a platoon of extremely short-tempered, hungry men with it when it arrived,

"Boy, I hate K.P.," muttered Craig as he returned to the mountain of potatoes. Sighing heavily, Craig began to peel furiously.

Later that evening, after Craig had completed his double shift of K.P. and sat idly around with his fellow soldiers swapping tall tales about drinking escapades and even taller tales about bedroom conquests, he gratefully remembered that he only had one more 16-hour shift of K.P. remaining. Craig sincerely regretted dropping the artillery shell on the General's foot, and thought that 30 days of double K.P. duty was an excessively harsh punishment. Nevertheless, he was thankful that he had not been busted down to Buck Private, like he was after the incident in Panama. Craig still cringed when he thought of Panama - the heat, the humidity, the insects, and the embarrassment, the humiliation.

"Private Smith!" demanded the sergeant.

Shocked out of his reverie, Craig leapt to his feet and snapped to attention, knocking a full glass of iced tea down the front of the sergeant's crisply pressed trousers, the lemon wedging in the fly of his trousers like some obscene parody from a bad movie.

"Yes Sir!" choked out Craig. Around him, stifled laughter and barely audible gasps broke the silence.

"Report to Major Jackson at once, you have volunteered for a mission," snapped the sergeant.

"Yes, sir!" Craig stammered, suddenly becoming very pale.

Turning smartly, the sergeant marched out of the room, removing the lemon from his zipper and hurtling it to the ground with a curse as soon as he was out of sight. Settling his face in a grim smirk, he was perversely satisfied that he had volunteered Craig for the mission. A mission, which stood little chance of returning survivors to the base.

Craig sat in the briefing room with seven other soldiers, each and every one "volunteered" by their commanding officer. As they listened to the objective of their mission, a sense of overwhelming futility overcame the volunteers. They were to infiltrate Iraqi headquarters, capture Saddam Hussein, and return him to the U.S. to stand trial.

Even with the best of support, the mission stood little chance of success. But aside from the eight privates, each one considered expendable by his commanding officer, the only additional resources allotted to the mission were two top-ultra-super-secret Stealth Jeeps and an assortment of experimental grenades and particle beam weapons which came out of the S.D.I. program.

Under cover of darkness, the "volunteer" commando team, code named "Gumdrop," secure in the command of P.S.C. Craig Smith, crept into the outskirts of Baghdad. Craig, dubbed "Licorice" for the duration of the mission, had split his team into two flavor groups. His squad consisted of Wintergreen, Peppermint, and Spearmint in addition to himself. They named their Stealth Jeep the Mint Mobile. The second group, known as the Fruit Assortment, was made up of Cherry, Orange, Grape, and Banana. They rode in the Jelly Jeep directly behind the Mint Mobile into the drooling jaws of the Demented Camel known as Iraq. Since the Stealth Jeeps were invisible to traffic radar, a technology singularly absent in Iraq, the primary advantage the Jeeps gave to the Gumdrop Gang was camouflage.

The Stealth Jeeps had the ability to change their appearance to blend in with their surroundings. They had undergone a transformation upon reaching Baghdad, from a camel shape into what could be charitably described as decrepit taxicabs. In the Mint Mobile, Craig, or "Lick," as he preferred to be called, consulted his map. Using a highly reliable communication technology, Lick stuck his head out of the window and screamed at the top of his lungs. "Hey Fruits! 3 miles to the turnoff. We split up there. Rendezvous at Camel Face's HQ 16 minutes after turnoff. Over!"

The driver of the Jelly Jeep acknowledged the message by surreptitiously flashing his headlights 15 or 20 times while tapping out "Shave and a Haircut" on his horn.

Fourteen minutes after the Mint Mobile reached the turnoff; it was safely parked disguised as a sand dune outside the Hi-Tech Headquarters of Saddam Hussein. The HQ tent was made of bulletproof Kevlar, had a triple wall construction, and to insiders was known as "The Belly of the Beast." Lick counted off the seconds and precisely 16 minutes alter the Gumdrop Gang hit the turnoff, he saw a sand dune slip into place opposite the Mint Mobile. Sizing up the situation, Lick briefly pondered his options. He had two plans ready to implement, one code named "Chuckles" and the other named "Jujube," noting that he had two escape routes from the HQ tent Lick chose Chuckles. He informed the Fruit Assortment of his choice via the Jeep-to-Jeep communication system and began to issue specific deployment commands.

"Wintergreen and Spearmint will breach the entranceway, using phosphorus and concussion grenades, Cherry and Orange will storm in using particle weapons, take, and hold the main corridor. Peppermint, Grape, and I will penetrate and capture Hussein, Banana will take the rear. Move out in 15 minutes!"

The two teams began strapping on their gear in the limited confines of the Stealth Jeeps. Each man wore two grenade belts, one containing phosphorus, and concussion grenades, the other equipped with experimental grenades, which gave off a dazzling light, and produced an electromagnetic proximity field, which disrupted the functions of an unshielded human brain, causing unconsciousness. To protect the Gumdrop Gang from the experimental grenades, each member wore a fine mesh hood under his helmet. Attached to their helmets were special light sensitive, quick-darkening goggles. In holsters each commando wore a .45 caliber automatic and a particle beam weapon, unbelievably powerful, but equally unreliable.

The two teams exited the relative protection of the Stealth Jeeps, assembled in formation, and attacked. Wintergreen and Spearmint burst through the unguarded outer flaps of the HQ tent, and tossed a pair of grenades at the surprised guards stationed at the inner flaps. As soon as the grenades detonated, Cherry and Orange sprinted untouched through both flaps. The CIA agents had provided flawless information, the layout of the HQ tent was just as Cherry, and Orange expected. Each held his particle beam weapon ready, and as Iraqi troops responded to the commotion, they mowed them down. Orange's beam weapon began to malfunction, and Lick, Peppermint, and Grape, who had been waiting at the entrance, made their move when they heard the first shot from Orange's 45.

The three kamikaze commandos ran screaming past Cherry and Orange, heading straight for Hussein's lair. They tossed disruptor grenades into each room and hallway they passed. The mission was unfolding exactly as planned, three commandos closing in on the madman, two stationed along the escape route, two more protecting the entrance, and as per Lick's order, Banana in the rear.

Lick was first through the flap into Hussein's private quarters, holding a weapon in each hand.

"Take that you Camel Faced Sand Eater!" Lick screamed as he disintegrated an elite Baath Guard who was starting to draw a bead on one of his commandos.

Peppermint and Grape both tossed disruptor grenades toward the corners of the Evil One's lair. Peppermint stayed at the entrance, where he was able to keep visual contact with Cherry, and Orange as well as monitor the capture of the Demented Madman of Iraq. Grape flanked Lick and side by side, they advanced toward the mosquito netted bed where a hung-over Hussein lay, groggy from a night of drinking and perverse ritualistic orgies. Near the center of the room, an Iraqi guard struggled against the disruptor fields to draw his weapon. Lick dispatched him with a suitably gory left-handed head shot from his 45, without breaking stride.

Grape threw aside the netting, and Lick thrust his 45 in Hussein's ear.

"Let's go, you scarab brained date eater!" screamed Lick, yanking Hussein to his feet. Grape grabbed the arm opposite Lick and they began to frog-march the Evil One towards the exit. Peppermint, seeing that the capture had occurred, signaled Cherry and Orange, and then turned to toss three disruptor grenades to cover their retreat.

Lick, Grape, and the captured Iraqi scumbag leader burst from the private quarters and headed for the main exit. Hussein's private guards, who were the most competent to be found in the Middle East, mounted a last ditch attempt to stop the kidnapping. But they were no match for the weapons of the Gumdrop Gang, or Lick's shrewd leadership. Concussion and disruptor grenades flew like a swarm of sand fleas toward the pitiful horde of Iraqi soldiers trying to stop the abduction of their Mad Leader. The intensity of the disruptor fields, overlapping, and reinforcing one another knocked the Camel Meister unconscious, and began to leak through the mesh hoods that the commandos wore. Peppermint came up behind Lick and Grape and helped them drag their insensible captive out of the HQ tent.

Spearmint and Wintergreen replaced the groggy pair of Lick and Grape at the arms of the Demented Weasel of the Oilfields. The two groups split up and returned to their respective Stealth Jeep. Lick spoke thick-tongued into the Inter-Jeep communicator and both Jeeps silently slid off into the sunrise. An hour and a half later, and Air Force VTOL transport craft rose from the sweltering desert, with the Beast of the Mideast safely shackled in her belly.

The trial and pending execution of Saddam Hussein became the largest media circus of all time. Both individually and as a group, the Gumdrop Gang were toasted, awarded, and rewarded. The largest and most impressive ceremony was held at the White House. Televised across the globe, 65 world leaders were present to assist in giving recognition to the Gumdrop Gang for single-handedly bringing peace to the Middle Ease, and reducing tensions worldwide. As commander of the Gumdrop Gang, Lick was last to receive his awards. In recognition of his leadership and bravery, he was awarded both the Medal of Valor and the Distinguished Service Cross.

In suburban Detroit, a mother's pride swelled as her son, Craig "Lick" Smith received the highest honors the United States of America can give a citizen. A tear of motherly joy rolled down her cheek, and as she momentarily turned away from the TV to grab a tissue, she missed seeing live what nearly every person on Earth saw, for when Craig saluted the President after the medals were pinned to his chest, he lost his balance and accidentally pushed George Bush face-first into the punchbowl.


At 12/14/2005 09:10:00 PM, Blogger The Conservative UAW Guy said...

About due for a post, eh? :)


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