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Old 03-06-2015, 09:05 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The next one:



1030 Hours: Headquarters, 4th Guards Tank Army, Harlingen.

General Suraykin woke from his sleep. His Chief of Staff had decided to let him sleep in, as sleep would be in short supply for the next few days. After a brief update from newly promoted Major General Golvoko, he freshened up. If this was to be his last battle, he wanted to be perfectly groomed.
His divisional commanders were waiting for him when he was finished. When he saw them, he saw that one of them, too, had been promoted. Gennady Markov had been a Colonel the previous afternoon. Now he was a Major General. Moscow's promoting everyone, it seemed to Suraykin. “Congratulations, Markov.”

“Thank you, Comrade General. Though I do realize it's a double-edged honor.” Markov said.

“Moscow's playing the same game Hitler did with Paulus' Army,” Golvoko observed.

“Quite so,” Suraykin observed. “Now, Comrades, to business.” His commanders paid attention to the map. “We're likely to be under Malinsky's command before too long. But our orders remain unchanged. Hold the Highway 77-83 junction at all costs for forty-eight hours.”

Heads nodded. “Any changes?” Markov asked.

“Only this: We may have some air support. The Air Force says we'll have some helicopter sorties, and some ground-attack aircraft. Not many, but some,” Suraykin told the assembled officers.

General Chesnikov smiled. “So the Air Force is going out with us?”

“Apparently so, Comrades,” Suraykin replied.

“What about civilians, Comrade General?” the commander of 38th Tank Division asked.

“Once the defenses are ready, let them go. Malinsky's forces are still in front of us, and there's not much chance of someone getting to the Americans with his forces still there,” Suraykin said.

The generals nodded. They knew what had happened already to some captured Soviet officers who'd ordered massacres. The Americans had tried them for war crimes, convicted most of them, and though a number had already been condemned to death, were waiting on the end of the war before executing them. That didn't apply to collaborators, though, as their intelligence briefings said.

“There's still some of those who have assisted us, Comrade General,” Chesnikov said. “What about them?”

“If they want to help, let them,” Suraykin said. “With luck, they'll get killed by the Americans, and save both us and the U.S. Army the trouble of shooting them later. If I had my way, I'd shoot the whole lot of those PSD swine.”

“If only we had the ammunition, Comrade General,” his intelligence officer said.

“Indeed.” Suraykin observed. “If any of them give any trouble, hang them instead.”


1050 Hours: Reynosa, Mexico

Major Mendoza had refused to be medically evacuated: his regimental surgeon was insisting that he needed surgery on his shoulder, but Mendoza was insistent: he was waiting to see if any survivors of First Battalion had made it across the river. And so far, very few had. Most, it appeared, had either been captured or killed. He watched through an artillery spotter's scope, as it was too painful for him to lift his left arm to use his binoculars, as American troops moved through the riverfront, and methodically cleared out the remaining Cubans in Hidalgo. Some of his men, he saw, had had enough and were willing to surrender. Others, though, continued fighting until they were blasted out. As firing died away, he noticed an American company team move along the riverbank, and take up positions facing his side of the river. The last thing he wanted was an assault crossing: he couldn't resist one if it happened, and he strongly doubted the Mexicans would, either. Then he saw two Bradleys pull up to the American side of the dropped International Bridge, and their commanders left their vehicles. And they appeared to be talking. One of the Bradley commanders threw down the helmet, and appeared to be angry. The other commander was talking to the angry one, and after a few minutes, calmed down his counterpart, mounted his vehicle, and drove away.

Across the river, Captain Nancy Kozak was in a rage. She heard from some locals who'd come out of their basements that the Rio Grande was shallow, and that her tanks and Bradleys could easily cross it. It may not be like Remagen, she thought, but at least we'd have a bridgehead in Mexico. Then her Battalion Commander had arrived to give her the bad news. They were headed east, not south, following U.S. 281. There were a couple of bridges across the river, and they needed to be seized to keep the Soviets and Cubans on this side of the river. And nobody was to cross into Mexico, except on orders from Division or higher. Hearing that, she had not been happy at that news. At least her battalion CO had been understanding: from what he'd told her, the other company commanders were just as pissed off as she was. Now, Kozak went into her Bradley and first, gave her crew the bad news. Then she radioed her platoon leaders: after refueling and resupply, be ready to move east.

“Ma'am,” her gunner said, “It could be worse.”

“What do you mean, Sergeant?” she asked.

“What would they say if we'd gotten across, and not only had a bridge, but had Reynosa, too?

Kozak thought for a minute. “Take a city in Mexico and then what? Give it back?

“Yes, Ma'am.” the gunner said.

“You're right: if we did that, and got orders to pull back, we'd have everybody in Reynosa coming with us.” She plugged in her CVC helmet, “Terri, crank us up, we're going back to the city hall.”


1130 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville


General Alekseyev was watching his map again. Powell's renewed attack was pushing Malinsky's forces south, a little faster than he'd thought. Given that the Americans had control of the air and sea, that was no surprise. And though the remaining Soviet fighters in the perimeter had shifted to the Brownsville International Airport, it was only a matter of time before they were either destroyed, or forced to fly south themselves. His thoughts were interrupted by Colonel Sergetov. “Comrade General, Admiral Gordikov is here, with the destroyer captain.”

“Show them in, Colonel.”

Sergetov nodded, then brought the two naval officers in. “Comrade General,” Admiral Gordikov said, “May I present Captain 2nd Rank Romonov, of the Boiky.”

Alekseyev came over and shook the destroyer captain's hand. “Comrade Captain, you've had an impossible job. I take it you've recounted your story to the Admiral?”

“Yes, Comrade General,” Romonov said.

“Very good, I'd like to hear it,” Alekseyev said.

And Romonov did so, recounting the first air strikes that forced his convoy to scatter, then seeing ships on the horizon succumb to either air or submarine attack, and even one ship take fire from an American cruiser. Then he told of his ship's final battle, trying to protect a group of stragglers, and having his destroyer seriously damaged in the process. And the final act, seeing a corvette blown sky-high by a mine, and then running his ship aground to become a shore battery. “Comrade General, all I ask now is that my wounded crew members get the attention they need, and maybe, just maybe, some can get flown out of here.”

“I can't promise the latter,” Alekseyev said, “But your wounded will get what attention we can provide.”

“Thank you, Comrade General.” Romonov said, bowing his head.

“There's one other thing. As Commander-in-Chief of the American TVD, I'm empowered to grant immediate awards in the field,” Alekseyev said. He picked up a small box on his desk in the Operations Room. “You deserve this, Comrade Captain.”

Romonov opened the box. Inside was the gold star of a Hero of the Soviet Union. “Comrade General.”

“You've done an impossible job, getting your ship to safety-a relative thing these days, but still...And you did your best to defend the ships under your protection,” said Alekseyev.

“My crew deserves this, Comrade General. I don't.” Romonov said, remembering those of his crew who had been killed in action.

“True, but you honor them with this award,” Alekseyev reminded the naval officer.


1200 Hours: Gulf Front Headquarters, Harlingen, Texas

General Malinsky knew the front was getting close. His headquarters was under American long-range artillery fire, and had been bombed three times since dawn broke. Malinsky knew that it was getting close to having to move his headquarters, but he hadn't expected it so soon. Then General Isakov came up.

“Comrade General, it's time to move the headquarters, before it's too late to move.”

“I know, Isakov,” Malinsky said. “Do you have anyplace specific in mind?”

“Here, Comrade General,” Isakov said, pointing at the map. “San Benito Community College.”

Malinksy studied the map. “All right, Isakov. Get the advance echelon ready to move. As soon as they're set up, I'll move there. You keep things running here, until I'm at the new location. Then get yourself and the remaining staff south.”

Isakov nodded. “Very well, Comrade General. At least it's got the room, and we can....” He was interrupted by a staff officer bringing a message form “Comrade General, the bridge at Hidalgo was blown. Before the Americans could take it.”

“Good, Isakov. At least that's not something we have to worry about. And how are the East Germans doing?”

“So far, they're holding, but barely. General Metzler will have to pull back within the hour, I would estimate.” Isakov said, pointing out Metzler's positions.

“I'm surprised they're still in the fight,” Malinsky said. “Knowing that the GDR no longer exists, but they're fighting anyway.”

Isakov nodded. “General Metzler's political department has been keeping a tight lid on that. Any rumor mongers in the ranks are shot. And he's got practically no cases of soldiers deserting to the enemy.”

“Compare that with the Nicaraguans. Now, guess who I'd want beside me in a fight.” Malinsky said.

“Yes, Comrade General. About the movement of the headquarters?” Isakov asked.

“Get that going at once.”
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