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Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Advice and Conscript

Gunnery Sergeant Mankowitz looked over the defensive lines of his...well their outfit. He couldn’t pronounce what they called it, but it was similar to a US Army platoon. He had been with these men for a good 80 days. He was one of the first to be assigned as an advisor to the Turkish Army and to this purgatory of a country. The local food was horrible and burned his insides up something terrible. He never would have thought that he would crave K-Rations but he did. They didn’t serve them here or even let them in country because they contained pork. He dreamt about pulled pork sandwiches at night, and don’t even get him going about pork chops.

What most bothered him was the smells. They were just different. It was amazing to him how much smell affected him. He could not get out of his memory, stepping out of that plane, and being hit with the many unfamiliar smells. It really shook him up. If he thought about it too much, it made him miss the smells of Milwaukee more. Beer, brats and sauerkraut were ingrained in his mind as home. Maybe that’s why he felt so at home in Germany despite shooting everything in sight.

Every soldier it seemed had a story about killing a Hitler Youth or some deluded youngster pointing a rifle at him. He had the unfortunate experience of doing it three times within a two-day period. There was something about the kids in Wittlich Land that made them perfect Nazi robots. Must have been a really good Nazi Scoutmaster or whatever they called them.

He had gunned down two of them when they fired at him at close range in a blown-out munitions plant. He came around a corner and from out of the dark recesses had come shots. He fired at where the muzzle blasts had come from with his BAR and that silenced them quickly. When he went to look see what he had hit he came across two of the cutest towheads you would ever want to see, twins by the look of them and all of 9 years old to boot. They had to prop the guns up on some rubble in order to negate the kickback and to hold them steady from the looks of the setup they were behind. They must have started running and had stood up just when his burst of .30 cal had reached them. Their guts were lying all around, but their beautiful angelic faces were spared just so he could see what he had done.

He knows he did no wrong and is not to blame, but he still can’t get their faces out of his thoughts. A few days later, he was covering his squad when a sniper shot his buddy Hal from a window right over where Mankowitz was standing. He lobbed a grenade up and into the window. After the explosion he charged up the stairs and God Damn if it wasn’t a little kid again. Same situation with the face perfectly preserved and angelic in death. This one sent him to the shrink which of course ended his military career until this little dust up started.

They were crying for vets, so he signed up and was sent here...God Here he was training these Turks and Muslims how to kill the godless commies. The twists and turns of life are almost comical if you add them up and can look at them from a distance. He was training heathens to kill godless monsters.

Individually, the men he was training were the best he had ever seen. If war was still hand to hand combat at close quarters that required little discipline or the need to stay in formation behind a shield wall, then he would bet on his boys every time. Modern war is not like that, for the most part. It is killing from a distance using bombs and bullets, or now liquid flame or even exploding atoms. Most of these troops could not read or understand the simplest commands even in their language. If it didn’t involve sex or sheep, 80% weren’t interested in his opinion. Hell, maybe 90% if something was going on involving both sex and sheep. They did know how to use those long ass knives though.

“Fazil, come here! That’s right, here.” He was using the universal pointing motion before he caught himself. Luckily, he did not point at Fazil. He had learned the hard way not to point at someone as it was considered very rude as was the OK sign. It had something to do with calling someone a homosexual. It took him a week to get used to the downward scooping hand motion to get people to move towards you. God forbid if you wiggled a finger at them. Corporal Frisk had been stabbed when he did the “I got your nose” trick to a little kid. Apparently putting your thumb between your fingers in a fist is the rudest thing you can do here.

“Hold gun here,” he told the young boy as he grabbed the M1 stock and shoved it back into the boy’s shoulder. “You have to keep it tight against your body like this.” He was sure that Fazil did not understand a word of English, but the physical demonstration seemed to work. Fazil was the best shot in the outfit. Which, wasn’t saying much. They practiced constantly with their knives but did not seem to be enthralled, as Meyers had commented, by the rifle...unless it had a bayonet on it. Then, they perked up and gave it their all. They did love their knives and swords. It was really too bad that you can’t stop a bullet with a knife.

He was pretty sure they would not run away when the Soviets started with the artillery or rockets salvos. They might even hold, when the ground attack planes started their deadly circles of death. But when those bullet-headed tanks started to come, after they had crossed the straits, he knew they would break. They had nothing to stop those machines. You had to get right on top of them to even damage their tracks much less get penetration with a bazooka.

What was even more unusual about Mankowitz was that his former unit was considered top secret. He couldn’t tell anyone, or he faced prosecution. He was part of “The Ghost Army” as the former members called themselves. They had even made an arm patch but were banned from wearing them.

The Ghost Army was a tactical deception unit that took its cue from the numerous British attempts at subterfuge. Their job was to create a fictitious army where there was none. The unit only consisted of about 1000 personnel and used various tactics to mislead the Germans into thinking that they were 100 times larger than they were. Along with British units they fooled the German command on the true site of D-Day. The Pas-de-Calais ruse was so successful that hundreds of thousands of German troops were kept away from Normandy for days and sometimes weeks. The unusual tactics greatly assisted the allies in finishing off the Wehrmacht by opening a much-needed second front.

The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops followed the invasion troops and played significant roles on the drive into Germany. By using inflatable rubber tanks, simulated radio, sonic deception and just plain theatrics, they had tied down major portions of the enemies dwindling forces.

The theatrics included walking around with false patches of units that were nowhere near their location, driving trucks around with only two soldiers in the very back so it looked like the truck was full, and having fake generals show up in public squares far from where the real generals were operating.

On his request, he was finally transferred to a combat unit where he killed exactly three people all under the age of 10. He had his breakdown and was put in the hospital which effectively ended his military career. He was sent home and nearly drank himself to death and then was saved by this latest world disrupting ruckus. He cleaned up his act and joined up soon as he could.

The military was desperate for vets and overlooked his mental breakdown. It was a very concealed, but well-known fact that many vets were having breakdowns caused by what they saw and did on pristine islands of the Pacific and in bucolic villages in France and Germany. Actions they could not talk about, but could not forget, night, after night, after night.

Besides trying to get these natural-born killers to become an organized army, he also was working on how to deceive the Soviets. He knew his troops wouldn’t stop or materially slow up the onslaught that was about to happen. His mission was to make the Soviets commit more troops than were needed on this front to draw them in further, away from their supply lines and homes. Just as the Germans were brought to a virtual catatonic state while marching over the seemingly endless Russian Steppes, the goal was to draw as many Soviet soldiers, as possible, deep into strange lands with foreign smells, odd sights and unfamiliar peoples. The overall objective was to psychologically defeat them, even before they met real resistance.

The Turkish people and before them, the British were being used as bait. They were not being told that of course, but that was what was, in effect happening. The plan had been developed by General MacArthur himself before his death. The concept was similar to his Island Hopping campaign where he would isolate strong points and bypass them. But, how do you do this on land to an army who did not have a history of world conquest? The Soviets were a people who did not have a history of invading outside of their adjacent borders. In fact, this was a culture that very rarely left its immediate borders even in modern times.

Mankowitz thought about these things. For a Sergeant, he was a pretty deep thinker as his fellow non-coms always kidded him when he tried to discuss world events or strategy with them. He would have to take advantage of that GI Bill again and this time really buckle down. He was a better and smarter man than most of these officers with whom he was saddled.

He chewed on the thought that perhaps the reason the Slavs didn’t venture so far from their homeland was because it was so big in the first place. It was second only to China in land mass and there was plenty of land for its comparatively small population density. For whatever the reason, the Soviets needed to be coaxed out of their borders, and that is why he was in Turkey.

The bombers became a burr in the side of Stalin. The four atomic bombs had almost been a knock down blow. However, the defense of the remaining oil production facilities had steadily been gaining ground on the bombers either by permitting the reclaiming destroyed facilities or by building new ones close by. It turns out that there was much more oil in the USSR than anyone thought and it would just be a matter of time until they got it out and processed it.

It was still nip and tuck for SAC. Now, maybe with the addition of the 15th Air Force, it would finally turn the tide but he doubted it. He had seen too many crippled bombers crash land just over the border from where they were. He had seen others fall from the sky in flames after being damaged over the targets and then being pursued over hundreds of miles by the unrelenting Red Air Force fighters. The Red Air Force fighters seemed to dog the bombers before they entered Soviet airspace, following them to the target. Then, they pounced on the bombers after they were wounded and all the way back, sometimes into Turkish territory. Those bomber crews were catching hell. He doubted that they even had it this bad since 1943 when they had stopped bombing after the raids on the ball bearing plants.

The Sargent had heard a few choice names for SAC’s commander when the local fighter group pilot’s based in Turkey got a rare night off. Their friends in the bombers flying out of Egypt where suffering high losses due to the decisions of General Curtis LeMay. DisMay, ReMay, DeMay, RePay, etc., were just a few names the General was being called.

Mankowitz was told that they had it pretty good relative to the bomber crews. The fighter pilots had it pretty good from what he was told. They only had to fly half as far as the bombers and were able to dodge the missiles everyone was talking about. While, the bombers were in the air for up to eight hours and just had to take it when the missiles got on their tail.  Luckily, the missiles weren’t the best, even a 10% hit rate meant your time was up statistically in only ten missions, if you didn’t know statistics that is. All the bombers could do, was pray.