This is Part II of a two-part series. You can read Part I here.
It was a new moon and overcast, so the light that the heavens gifted us was anemic for the lack of red blood cells. Wearing NODS I doubted they were even working, I clicked their power button off and on several times. I followed a dark mass that I believed could be the cargo, and when it slammed into the ground the dust plume it created was very visible so I vectored to land near it.
It was a pleasing thing to find the cargo (car) upright and not damaged as the other three jumpers collapsed down on it.
“Geo, what would you do if the cargo was flipped laying in the sand upside-down? What would you do?”
“Why Barker, my good man… I would just drive it to the objective upside down.” And that was pretty much all he wanted to hear.
Our Rigger truck allowed us to collect and pile on all the parachutes and rigging used for the airborne operation. We now had two complete sets of TNT for the Objective Beaver and abatis obstacle at the security/support site.
We had a full set of TNT in the cargo and another full set distributed among us four in case we lost our air cargo drop. The rigger truck chugged off and Barker queried:
“You got the keys to the cargo, Geo?”
“I thought you had the keys, Barker,” and he did.
That was all he wanted to hear; he grinned as he fired up the cargo.
While at the DZ we pulled fuzes and popped out light bulbs taking in mind that no white or red light — the trunk door light included — would shine out when doors were opened. The brake lights were disabled as well. We now had a safe cargo for moving through the woods with no danger of an accidental flare-up of unwanted light.
We fumbled that night through the woods surrounding AO Hangus-Hugh until we found the road to Mr. Ed’s spread of land. Barker was driving with NODs and Jo-Jo was navigating with a GARMIN GPS set. It was a choppy movement but that is just the way navigation goes at night, in the misty mid-region… the ghoul-haunted woodland of Hangus-Hugh.
As Jo-Jo announced Checkpoint One, we exited the cargo and let Barker back it up off of the terrain road and into the trees where it couldn’t be seen by passers-by, then proceeded on the march two by two.
Five hundred meters into the march Jo-Jo fell back to announce to Weez and me that we two were at Check Point Two. This was where Weez and I dropped off the march to prepare our vehicular obstacle and pull security for the attack team of Barker and Jo-Jo. They marched on until they were out of sight.
As quickly as we could, Weez and I prepared three trees for felling with TNT. We had an execution time so that all our blasts would detonate as close together, but we wanted to be ready as soon as possible to support the attack in case they had to detonate early.
We rigged three firing systems that were to fire immediately when initiated. We needed the trees to fall independently for fear they would get tangled up in each other losing the configuration of an abatis.
A short encrypted radio transmission indicated that Barker and Jo-Jo were already at Objective Beaver Dam. The following actions on objective Beaver Dam come from the details I gleaned from Barker and Jo:
Baker had popped an HC smoke canister and managed it into/under a nearby beaver lodge. Smoke was generating for a short while when a beaver pair came panting out of the stick pile hacking and gagging from the acrid smoke. There was not a directive for us to drive off the beavers before destruction but Barker plainly did not want any part of murdering a family of beavers — no foul; just admiration.
After a bit of a wait, looking like there would be no early blast, the hour ran out. But then, there rang the throaty blast of many pounds of TNT, followed by the swift and separate crack of the abatis trees going off in succession.
Sticks and branches fell to Earth for days.
Shortly thereafter came the shuffling quick-time steps of Barker and Jo not far off.
We pushed off to the side of the road and let them run by us. We watched their six for a time to see that they were not being pursued before turning about and running the roadside to catch up with them. There was the distinct sound of running water to our right as we jogged on — the sounds of the creek filling up again now that the dam was gone.
We four met up again finally at the cargo which Barker fired up immediately and backed out of the copes of trees that he had pushed into earlier to hide the cargo. The ride back to the infiltration airfield was quick. There our exfiltration AC had engines running and the flight crew ready to take us onboard.
Crew guided Barker and he pulled straight in forward to make his entry faster. (A cargo is backed in for infiltration and pulled in forward for an exfiltration for the sake of ease and speed getting on and off.) The frame of the cargo was chained to the floor of the AC and we lunched quickly back into the wild black yonder.
Back then at home base we intentionally left all the stand-down work aside for the following day, gathering immediately into a room or our After Action Review (AAR)— there was no getting lazy about it and blowing it off until a later day. Barker and Jo were the ones from whom I most wanted to hear.
From their perspective, the beavers had not hesitated one millisecond to launch their flat, slappy tails out of that lodge once the HC smoke was introduced into their headquarters. They sunk their explosive package into the water just down to the base of the dam. The charge blew a massive section out of the dam and water flooded back out the way of the former dried creek.
“How now are we going to dispose of the Cargo, Barker”
“We’re not going to get rid of it just yet; I have plans for it still.”
And I was sure that he did.
By Almighty God and with honor,
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Thanks Geo I really enjoyed this 2 part article. After Mic-Mac’s comment, looks can be deceiving, the beavers look cute and harmless, so I don’t blame Barker for driving them away.
george E. Hand IV says
RGR that, Ms. Irene.
I always thought the beaver to be rather benign until. Barker knew they could be pretty nasty so he put himself up front — good leader. gep sends
Jeff H says
I love the story, your style of writing and imagination. Big fan. although you do know that HC smoke is white and only white and is labeled HC Smoke. I do realize that you may not have been able to find a pic of an HC smoke grenade and had to settle for a yellow smoke. However a yellow smoke grenade would have worked just as well as HC to prompt those beavers to exit most pronto.
george E. Hand IV says
I assed-up that element in depth. I called it HC then showed a yellow smoke canister. To think I actually try a good bit to get the details accurate because I know there are brothers and sisters out there who are much wiser than I.
Thanks for realigning my lubber to course.
george E. Hand IV says
You’re very welcome, Mic-Mac.
Beaver are so cute with those buck teeth of theirs. But they can be aggressive little varment when invading their domain. Last year, in August 2021, the father of a friend of my son-in-law was swimming in a freshwater mountain pond that he has gone swimming in for over 60 years. He got attacked by a beaver and had to fight it off all the way to shore. He was many miles from a hospital but did get there on his own. The article in the paper showed the bites, they were unbelievable. It is assumed that the beaver may have been rabid,so he had to have the shots, but beaver will on occasion attack a human if they feel threatened.
george E. Hand IV says
Barker DID chase the beavers out to save them, but more importantly, he did not want the beavers attacking him while he placed the charge.
Great story, Geo. “Sticks and branches fell to Earth for days.”, gives an idea of how it went off.
Loved it. Thank you. Made my day!