Pro Aris et Pro Focis (P&S: New York City)
This is a story how a division died in a day.
It's happened before in history, of course; the legionnaires who were wrapped in the Cannae bear hug died in a day; so did the brave Tommies at the Somme. But they, at least, got a chance to fight back at their enemies. The 42nd Division of the New York National Guard never did.
Or most of them, any way.
11 February 1984. Queens, New York. 0300 hours.
"Who's calling in the middle of the night?" the young man asked, padding from one side of the railroad apartment to the phone hung up in the kitchen. Pete and Springtime woke up from their nap on the bed and followed the young man in. Maybe he was in the mood to give them a treat. It was too cold to go out and hunt bluebirds.
"Lieutenant? This is Captain Smith."
"Yes, sir. What's up?"
"Pack your gear and report to the Armory. We're being federalized."
Well, that was good news. The Army paid more money than he had been able to earn working in an office in Manhattan. Summer camp was always a fat time for his wife and him. However, he knew *why* they were being federalized.
"How bad is it in Europe?"
"Bad. No time to talk. Get in here."
"I'm on the way, sir."
He went to the bathroom, took a quick shower, brushed his teeth, combed his hair, and cleaned his glasses. His wife appeared.
"They're calling you in." It was more of a statement than a question.
She turned on WCBS Radio as he dressed. "The Soviet and American delegations met again in Geneva to discuss the deteriorating situation in Berlin. Press statements from both sides indicate that no progress has been made.
"Mayor Koch is meeting with the borough presidents, the City Council, and the NYPD, Fire Department, and Sanitation Department in an emergency session. There is expectation that Governor Cuomo may declare a state of emergency and call out the National Guard."
"Too late," the Lieutenant said. "They can use the State Guard." Good guys, but not enough of them and overage.
"Alternate side of the street parking remains in effect today."
"What's the definition of a tactical weapon?" the lieutenant asked his wife.
"One that goes off in Germany," she replied sourly. "It's an old joke, and these days it's not funny." She made him a cup of instant coffee. "Drink this before you go."
"You should go, too," he said.
"Where? My mother and father live in Geneva. That's too close to Seneca Army Depot, where all the nukes are. My sister and brother live in Philly. Where would I go? To some refugee camp in Kansas? There isn't anywhere safe on the East Coast, and the buses and trains and planes are already filled with people leaving. And your family -- "
"Live outside of Washington." He laced his boots and set his blousing rubbers. "Do I look all right?"
"You look fine," she said.
"So do you!"
"I should put something on." she said.
"Don't. I want to remember you as you are."
"I love you."
"I love you too," she said.
"I'll call you as soon as I know what's going on," he said, going down the steps, hefting his duffel bag and map case.
It was a damned bitter winter wind that blew him down the street to the J train.
The subway clerk waived him through the gate. "Orders from the Mayor. Servicemen reporting to duty ride free."
"Crap, things must be bad if they're waiving a 75 cent fare," the Lieutenant said. He put the token in his pocket. That, the Rainbow patch on his field jacket and the crossed rifles with "71" at the top, showed what he was. A New Yorker going to war.
Last edited by GAB-1955; January 26th, 2012 at 05:32 PM..
Part 2: Draw Your Weapon, Sir.
National Guard Armory
125 West 14th Street
New York, New York
050011R FEB 84
It was a cold Saturday morning. A few other soldiers got on the J as it moved into the city. The Lieutenant didn't notice anyone from his battalion.
From the J, the Lieutenant changed at Broadway-East New York for the LL and got off at Sixth Avenue. The Salvation Army across the street was as open as the Armory. Sallies were handing out coffee and donuts to the incoming troops. The Lieutenant wished for a cup, but he was an officer and he'd get something when all the enlisted men got something.
Besides, he was a junior officer. One more year and he'd have his silver bar. Although the saying was "Rank between lieutenants is like virginity among whores," firsts could get away with things seconds could not do. "A second lieutenant is an apprentice officer. Remember that," his boss said. "ESMA  could only take you so far. Watch and learn."
He climbed the steps to the armory. A sergeant and two privates were checking IDs as he came in. They came to attention and saluted as he handed over the card. This was unusual. Usually a National Guardsman wouldn't even salute unless he had to.
"How's it going, Sergeant Maldonado?"
"Fuster cluck, sir," the E-5 said. "The General's here, the brigade commanders are here, the Battalion Commander is here, but the EMs are only beginning to trickle in. You'd better get going, sir; the XO is looking for you." 
He took the elevator to the second floor, turned left towards the captured Spanish cannon, and headed to Battalion headquarters. It was filled with men roused from sleep, desperately going through checklists and rosters, and occasionally raising voices to be heard through the noise. The Lieutenant placed his bags by the door and entered the room.
The XO was drinking his fourth coffee and smoking his sixth cigar, based on the evidence. The Lieutenant waited until he was noticed, then saluted. "Lieutenant Boulanger reporting as ordered, sir."
"Boulanger. Good. Have a cup of coffee." The XO's cigar stub pointed to the percolator. "It's lousy coffee, but it will jolt you awake."
"So did the news, sir."
"What have you heard?"
"Nothing more than WCBS talking about the breakdown in peace talks. And alternate side of the street parking is still in effect, sir."
"Are you ready to take over the S-2 shop?"
"What? What happened to the Captain?"
"He's taking over Charlie Company. The CO of Charlie is in the hospital. He slipped on black ice and broke his leg."
"Shut up, Boulanger. You can handle the job. God help us if you were in charge of a rifle company."
"True, sir." He paused, and drank a scalding mouthful. No time to sip. "Sir, according to the plans, are we supposed to go to Campbell? Or will we deploy directly to Europe?"
"Campbell. The 101st is leaving now. Get the S-2 shop ready to roll. Travel light. "
He had dreamed of a moment like this... kicking the file cabinets out of the back of the truck.
"Get your crap out of my door, by the way, and put it in HHC . First Sergeant Stone will take care of it for you."
"Yes, sir." He saluted and got gone.
HHC was just around the corner from the Battalion HQ. First Sergeant Stone and Specialist Williams, the clerk, were arranging the bags. "Ah, Lieutenant... the CO says to go draw your weapon and keep it with you at all times."
"Fine, Top. What's the word with the men?"
"Confused, angry, scared."
"How many have reported?"
"More than you would think. A few of these guys seem to think a battlefield in Germany will be safer than New York City in a nuclear war. But a lot of them are worried about their families."
"They're right both ways. If we could get the families out of town, we'd be better off."
Stone shook his head. "I wish... but Fort Campbell is likely to get a nuke itself. There's no other place we could put the families. They'll have to risk it, like us."
"What can we do?"
"Draw your weapon, sir. You may have to use it before we leave the armory."
If he was going to carry his rifle, he was going to carry his load-bearing gear and his helmet. The M1's weight felt reassuring on his head. Tap. Tap. Yes, his head was still there.
"If you can keep your head about you, when others are losing theirs... you don't have a good grasp of the situation," he thought.
He handed the HHC Armorer his weapons card. He got his M-16. He performed a quick functions check. "Looks good," he said.
The armorer handed him two 20-round magazines and two boxes of 5.56 ball. "For officers and senior NCOs, sir," he explained very quietly. "Orders."
"We might want to stick bayonets on these rifles, then, Sergeant. They're better for riot control."
"Probably you stab each other in the ass, sir."
"Thanks," the Lieutenant said.
"NEXT!" bawled the Armorer.
He used his key and opened the S-2 shop. Staff Sergeant Hernandez was already there, in load-bearing gear, with his rifle. "Good morning, Sergeant Hernandez."
"Good morning, sir. Congratulations on your promotion."
"I just was made S-2, you mean?"
"Didn't the Colonel give you your silver bars yet?"
"I try to avoid the Colonel when it's five in the morning," the Lieutenant said, smiling. "What do we take with us?"
"The file cabinets - the one with the combination lock, anyway. I have it loaded with everything we really need. He pointed to the map room. "They're all obsolete. Maps of Germany."
"The Regulars should issue us new maps. Take the best large scale Europeans maps you think you will use. Leave the rest." He looked up on the wall at the poster of Cuban soldiers in their various uniforms.
"And our own stuff?"
For two years, he and Hernandez had been collecting and annotating manuals. A sort of large stack of Soviet Military Reviews was on the Lieutenant's desk. "We'll take these. We may need them."
There was a knock on the door. "FORMATION!"
"Let's go," said the Lieutenant. "It might be the last time we see the old Armory for a while."
 Empire State Military Academy, at Camp Smith, Peekskill, New York, was both an OCS and NCO Academy. Enlisted men would take a part time one-year OCS.
 This building hosted four companies of the 71st Infantry and Headquarters and HHC of the 42nd Division. There were three brigades: 1st, 2nd, and 27th (which was the remainder of the Orion Division from the first two World Wars). The 1st Brigade included the 71st and 106th Infantry. The 2nd had the 69th. (You won't hear much complimentary about the 69th from the 71st; they are rival regiments and have been since they were founded.)
 Headquarters and Headquarters Company.
Part 3: The Big Kid's Table and Moscow did What?
New York Army National Guard Armory
125 W. 14th Street
New York, New York
060011R FEB 84
Aha, thought the Lieutenant, I get to sit at the big kid's table, now. The battalion staff stood behind the Battalion Commander in one rank. He was, as the junior staff member, on the far left.
"BATTALION - REPORT!" the CO snapped.
"Headquarters Company all present or accounted for, sir!"
"Alpha Company all present or accounted for, sir!"
"Bravo Company all present or accounted for, sir!"
"Charlie Company all present or accounted for, sir!"
This was ceremony. Anyone who looked at the ranks knew damned well that all were not present nor accounted for. Some would come trickling in during the day. A few were out of town; international tensions seemed to lead to family visits in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic.
"At ease," commanded the CO.
"The Battalion has been called to federal active duty. This is to get ready to deploy to Fort Campbell. At Fort Campbell, we will bring the Division up to full strength and then deploy to Europe to reinforce NATO in Germany.
"I expect every soldier to do his duty. We belong to a regiment where the men have never let the country down in when it was needed. We've taken on Confederates, gangsters, Cubans, Germans, and Japanese. We're not going to let it down now.
"In case you are thinking 'Hell, this isn't what I enlisted for, I'm going home' - don't. Call your friends and get them in here, too. Let's be real. It's going to be safer with the Battalion than here on your own. And if that doesn't persuade you, then you should know what the UCMJ says:"
The Colonel pulled out a piece of paper from his blouse and held it in front of him.
"Article 85. Paragraph (c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, but if the desertion or attempt to desert occurs at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct."
"We are going to war. If you desert, you will be shot."
"Retire the colors," the Colonel ordered.
The color party about-faced, marched to the back of the drill hall, and then marched counter-clockwise around the perimeter of the hall, passing each company.
"Headquarters Company - Preee-sent, ARMS!"
"Alpha Company - Preee-sent, ARMS!"
"Staff - Present, ARMS!" The Lieutenant rendered the hand salute to the Colors. A feeling of pride swelled in him, despite the circumstances. I love the United States, damn it, and I'll fight for her even if I die. The Regiment had been in tight spots before. It would do so again.
"Bravo Company - Preee-sent, ARMS!"
"Charlie Company - Preee-sent, ARMS!" It was strange to hear Captain L over there.
"Sergeant Major, POST. Take charge of the Battalion." The officers retired.
"Lieutenant," the Colonel said, gesturing for him to come over.
"I have good news and bad news for you."
"The bad news is you're not going to deploy immediately," said the Colonel
"That is bad news, sir. May I ask why?"
"Yes. Division wants every battalion to leave a detachment behind to pick up stragglers and send them out to active duty. You are in charge of the 71st's detachment. Master Sergeant Williams will be your NCOIC, and I'm leaving Second Lieutenants Kingsley and Maggione with you."
"They just got out of ESMA," the Lieutenant observed.
"They aren't branch-qualified yet. They aren't ready to lead troops into combat." The Colonel paused. "Well, who is?"
"I suspect we will find out soon, sir. That's the nature of combat. You lead or you die and kill your troops."
"That's why you're in charge, Lieutenant. You can handle this detail."
"Which leads me to the good news." The Colonel reached into his pocket and pulled out two black bars and a silver bar. "You're now a First Lieutenant."
"Thank you, sir!"
"Call your wife and tell her, and then get with Williams, Kingsley, and Maggione."
"Yes, sir. Is there anything else, sir?"
The Lieutenant grinned as he saluted the Battalion Commander.
He found a open pay phone on the corner and dropped a quarter in.
"Hello?" his wife said.
"I've got good news and more good news," he told her.
"What's the good news?"
"They promoted me to First."
"And the other good news?"
"I'm staying behind with a detachment to pick up stragglers."
There was a pause on the phone. "Dear, I don't think that's very good news."
"What do you mean?" he replied, puzzled.
"I got bored, so I found your ICF-2001 - the shortwave with the digital tuner. I punched in Radio Moscow. You can pick them up on the fillings of your teeth, you know. Normally you know what sort of bullcrap they'd be broadcasting, especially since Ogarkov took over."
"What did they say?"
"It's what they didn't say. Not a single thing about the U.S. mobilization."
"They'd normally scream their heads off," the Lieutenant said.
"They're acting as if nothing happened at all. I listened all the way through the news to 'Moscow Mailbag'. Even Joe Adamov is his usual jovial self. Then the signal faded out."
"Well, it's about time the lower frequencies died off," the Lieutenant said, looking at his watch.
"I think they didn't bother to put on new programming this morning," his wife said. "They just repeated old stuff."
"Thanks, hon. Look, I don't know if they're going to let me go home tonight, but I'll see if I can get home."
"I hope so. Love you."
He hung up and headed back to the building. The Division Two needed to know about this.
Part 4: Silver and Gold/Another Saturday Night and I Ain't Got Nobody
He took the steps up to the Third Floor and headed to the Division Staff room. The G-2 was in conference with the G-3, but saw him and waved him in.
"What do you have, Lieutenant?"
"Sir, Radio Moscow has been repeating programs all day - including newscasts. There's no news about the crisis in Germany at all."
"When did you have time to listen to Radio Moscow, Lieutenant?" the G-3 said, giving him a cool look.
"He's the 71st's TIO, Jim. He's the one who has been providing us with the intel from the Soviet press."
"Oh. I see. Not a Commie, eh?"
"Can't stand the bastards, sir," the Lieutenant said.
"So, why is Moscow repeating itself?"
"The staff is busy elsewhere, and it's not to get the Party line, sir. I think Moscow's evacuating its second-line staffers from the city, and Moscow will resume broadcasting when they're in their relocation site, sir."
"Moscow may be evacuating? Hmm. I'll pass it on, Lieutenant. Now, get back to work."
"I'm on the stay-behind party, sir."
"There will be plenty of work," the S-3 said. "Such as what we all will be doing tonight. Don't ask yet. We have to do some coordination with the NYPD and the Feds."
"Yes, sir." The Lieutenant saluted and left.
His company commander intercepted him in the hall. "I put your stuff in your S-2 office."
"Thank you, sir."
"We're going to move out after we help something else important get out of town," the CO said. "Down at the Fed."
"Really? I heard that London had already done it. What took us so long, sir?"
"Evacuated the gold reserves."
"Keep your mouth shut, Lieutenant."
"And congratulations on your promotion." The Captain rummaged in his desk drawer. "Here are some of my old silver bars. It will give you something to do until we can get the gold bars moving."
Pro Aris et Pro Focis, Part 4a: Another Saturday Night and I Ain't Got Nobody
The Lieutenant watched the jeeps and deuce-and-half trucks leave the armory.
Second Lieutenant Maggione shivered. "I wish they'd left us a jeep."
"They are going to need them where they are going, sir." Master Sergeant Williams replied. "We need to process the stragglers."
"But they're only going down to Wall Street!"
"Liberty Street," Kingsley corrected.
The Lieutenant said, "And they'll be back when the trucks leave Manhattan."
"That's seven and a half thousand tons of gold!" Maggione noted.
"Shh. We don't talk about that," Kingsley replied.
"I don't think we'll be able to keep it secret. Did they leave the NCO Club open? There's a TV set in there," the Lieutenant said. "Maggione, you get a table and chair and I want you down here until 2200 to process anyone who comes in. Kingsley, you relieve him until 0000. I'll take over at 0000 until 0300; Master Sergeant, relieves me until 0600. By then we'll make better arrangements. Make sure your uniforms are sharp. Change into new BDUs, polish your boots, and look like officers for God's sake!"
There was a knock on the door. Williams opened it.
"We're with Channel Seven news," a reporter said. "Is there anyone available for comment about the activity going on tonight?"
"You need to speak to the senior officer," Williams said. "That's the Lieutenant there."
"No, it isn't," the Lieutenant replied. "That would be up at Division HQ." He went to the NCO Club, found the phone, and dialed the extension. "Sir, this is down at the first floor. Channel Seven News is here to talk about the movement."
"The PIO is with the Division Commander down at the command post at Washington Square," the G-3 said.
"Thank you, sir; I will refer him to the PIO."
"No, take him down there yourself."
"Maggione! I'm going with these people. I will be back." He adjusted his headgear, grabbed his rifle, and went out to the press. "I'll take you over there."
"Thanks, but -"
"Trust me, it will be easier if I do it this way. And it's cold. New York is like Stalingrad tonight."
"Sure, come along." A van was parked in front. The Lieutenant climbed in the back with the camera crew.
As the Channel Seven truck pulled away, two other vans pulled up in front of the Armory: Channel Two and Channel Eleven. The driver of the truck stopped. "Should we lose them?"
"How many lieutenants do you think we have left in the building?" the Lieutenant asked.
Pro Aris et Pro Focis, Part 4b: Off the Record
The Channel Seven reporter leaned over and asked, "What do you think of this operation?"
"Which operation?" asked the Lieutenant.
"Getting the gold out of Manhattan."
"I don't have any opinions while I'm in uniform, sir," the Lieutenant said.
"Off the record?"
"It has to be done. I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't being done at Fort Knox. London already did it. I bet they're doing it in Moscow." He refrained from commenting about his estimate of the status of the Soviet evacuation.
"Wouldn't you say that the priority should be people instead of gold?"
"I can't say."
"Again off the record."
"The gold, the artwork, the irretrievable corporate documents, and key government archives? We're going to need them after the attack and we're going to need them badly."
"You sound as if there will be a nuclear attack, Lieutenant."
"I hope not, sir. But you have the news sources we don't. All I have is a TV set in the NCO club and a radio. You have ABC and the wire services. Ask your Moscow correspondent."
The reporter paused. "I don't know if this is true or not - but the rumor is that no one has been able to get to ABC's Moscow correspondent for a day or so. The same for the Times and the Washington Post. They're citing technical difficulties."
"Lucky them," the Lieutenant said. "They're out of Moscow and out of immediate danger."
Two National Guardsmen halted the trucks. They were from the Seventh. "Where's the G-2?" the Lieutenant asked.
"Division HQ is three blocks that way, sir." said the Seventh PFC.
"I'm taking these gentlemen over that way."
"Yes, sir." The Lieutenant returned their salute.
The Division HQ was several jeeps and a deuce-and-half. The Lieutenant found his way to the PIO. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Escorting the gentlemen and ladies of the press, sir," the Lieutenant replied. "Making sure this operation continues without a hitch."
Three trucks glided past at twenty miles per hour, preceded by a jeep with four Guardsmen and a machine gun and followed by a deuce-and-half with more men. NYPD black and white cars blocked off the side roads ahead of them.
"All right. Get back to the Armory."
"I need to report new info to the G-2, sir, and I'll go."
"Do it and get gone."
He found the G-2 sitting in a jeep. "Sir. There's reports from the TV stations that they can't get in touch with their correspondents in Moscow."
"Who told you?"
"The guy from Channel Seven who gave me a lift."
The G-2 sighed. "It fits the picture. Lieutenant, get back to the Armory now; you've done what you could."
"Uh, sir, is there a jeep I can borrow?"
"I have a subway token if you need it."
"Thanks sir, but I'll walk."
Part 4c: You Can Get Anything in New York at 3 a.m.
"Hey, soldier. Going my way?" called the cross-dresser in the pink Buick.
"Sorry, I'm on duty," the Lieutenant called.
"Oh, honey, I'm not going to seduce you. But it's cold as hell out there and you're walking in the cold. I don't want to see our soldier boys die of pneumonia. Get in the car."
No one could see him. He got in the car, cradling his rifle.
"Where are you going?"
"14th Street Armory."
"I'll take you over there." The driver was wearing a blond wig, a Dolly Parton dress, and nylons and heels; the five o'clock shadow was a two a.m. shadow.
"What are they doing? Traffic was messed up over there."
"Moving the gold from the Federal Reserve."
"Really?" The driver's alcohol-fueled frivolity evaporated. "Are they going to attack the city?"
"If the nukes fly, we will be number three on the Soviet's list, after Omaha and Washington. And we're going to get more than one."
"Aren't you the angel of cheer?"
"Watch the enemy. God damn, Brezhnev was slow and stubborn, but this Ogarkov fellow is like that f'ng nuclear cowboy Khrushchev, threatening everyone in Berlin and that Dutch airliner."
"What do you think I should do?"
"Emulate the gold and get out of town."
"Thank you for being honest."
"I won't be able to for a while," said the Lieutenant. "Here is my corner. Thank you."
"Good luck, sugar," the cross-dresser said. The Buick sped up Sixth Avenue, dodging red lights.
The Greek coffee shop on Seventh was open. The Lieutenant fumbled in his pocket. "May I have a cup of coffee, black?"
"You guys are busy today?"
"We were federalized." He didn't go into all the details.
Taking his coffee, he went up the steps and stopped at the door. "Has anyone showed up?"
"No, sir," Lieutenant Kingsley said. "You're late."
"It couldn't be helped. Have there been any other press appear?"
"You get some sleep. I'll take it from here. Wait."
He went into the NCO Club and turned on the television.
"Reports from Moscow and other parts of the Soviet Union are not coming out, except for the official news agency, TASS, and Soviet broadcasting," said the ABC news desk. "The U.S. State Department called on the Soviet Union to remove the 'technical difficulties' and allow freedom of broadcasting.
"Demonstrations took place today in London, Berlin, Paris, Rome, and Madrid calling on the United States and Soviet Union to reach an accord to reduce tensions.
(Sound bite of a London demonstrator) We want Reagan and Ogarkov to stop saber rattling. We can't afford a nuclear war that will destroy civilization.)"
The phone rang. "Front desk, Lieutenant --- speaking."
"This is the Colonel."
"Has anyone reported?"
"All right. We move out in the morning. You report to Major Sholom at Division Headquarters. If the men won't report, we'll have to get them."
He started to say "We've never done that," but stopped at "We."
"We will be ready, sir."
"... and National Guard divisions throughout the nation are being called into Federal service. State governors are concerned about the ability to keep order with their forces deployed overseas. A Pentagon spokesman said that Federal forces will work with state governments to keep order, but the needs of the Army come first."
The Colors of War. The Hopes for Peace. The Trial Of The Prairie -- Land Of Flatwater...May 30, 2013.
P&S, if not a sub-sub-genre, has now become a "mode."
I look forward to the heart-breakingly depressing commencement of war.
Part 5a: A Perfect Score So Far
West 146th Street
New York, New York
121403R Feb 84 (Sunday)
The Lieutenant walked up the steps quietly, holding a clipboard in his right hand as he clamped the handrail with his left. Behind him were two NCOs from the 42nd Military Police Company. He was glad they were with him. One was a Housing Authority cop; the other worked for the Transit Police. Both knew what they had to do if there was a runner or if someone put up a fight. "I have the rank; they have the muscle," he thought.
They reached the third floor and opened the door. Quietly they walked towards Apartment 3F. The MPs drew their .45s and stood on either side of the door.
The Lieutenant knock on the door sounded as loud as a grenade.
The door opened. A Hispanic woman in her fifties looked at the Lieutenant. She was wearing a worn cotton housedress, a bathrobe, and slippers. "Yes?"
"Ma'am, we're looking for Louis Solon."
"He is not here," the woman said.
"This is his last address he gave us. His paychecks come here."
"I don't know where he is," the woman said, looking evasively.
"Ma'am, may we come in?"
"Yes," the woman said a half second too late.
The apartment was smaller than his railroad apartment in Queens, noted the Lieutenant. A television in the background showed the NBA game of the week. Two preteen boys were watching. The Celtics were leading the Knicks.
"He still gets his mail here," one MP noted, looking at a stack of letters on a linoleum table.
"Private Solon!" the Lieutenant said.
"He's gone," one of the boys said.
"Where did he go, son?"
The boy shrugged. "He didn't say. He said that he had things to take care of before he went into the Army."
"Do you know where he hangs out?"
"Don't know," the boy said.
"Who are his friends?"
"Don't know. Is he in trouble?"
"Not really," the Lieutenant said. "He's only AWOL right now. But if he misses the Division's movement out of the city, he's going to be in worse trouble, and we don't want that."
"Is there going to be a war, Officer?" the other boy asked. "Is he going to shoot Commies?"
"We hope not," the Lieutenant said. "I hope it's only a precaution. These things have happened before and people haven't fought."
The woman said, "What should we do?"
The Lieutenant took a photocopied brochure and handed it to the woman. "Here are specific instructions for him when he shows up. If he shows up by the end of the day, there will be no trouble. Things happen. People don't get the word. We don't punish people for not getting the word."
"Tell the President that," the woman said.
"I will tell Marshal Ogarkov that, too," said the Lieutenant.
On the street, they climbed into the government car. "Well, so far, it's been productive," the second MP said. "Zero for ten."
"I think they'll start showing up," the Lieutenant replied, "when they realize the alternative is staying here in Manhattan."
"Why are we even doing this?" the first MP said, putting the car into gear and pulling out into the street, dodging shoppers and jaywalkers. "We should leave them."
"We need the men," the Lieutenant said.
"They ain't going to fight."
"They'll give the f'n Soviets someone else to shoot at," the second MP said.
"We can say we tried - and then we can get our own butts to Campbell," the Lieutenant said. "On to the next one."
Note: All persons, places, and events represented in this story, with the exception of prominent public figures of the time, are fictional.
Part 5b: Top's Going to Kick Your Ass... Informally.
National Guard Armory
125 West 14th Street
New York, New York 10017
Sunday 121902 Feb 84
The Lieutenant recognized Solon as he came in the door of the Armory. He carried his duffel bags in as if they were made of lead. "Welcome, Private. Report to your First Sergeant. You've got some catching up to do."
Solon slowly saluted. "Yes, sir."
"Sir... why did you have to come to my mother's home?"
"Nothing personal, Solon, but we had phoned your number and no one answered. We had announced over the TV and radio that National Guardsmen were supposed to report to their armories. We had it over the radio. What were we supposed to do? You're lucky you weren't arrested."
"Lucky as hell."
"There will not be any official repercussions."
"Top's going to kill me," Solon moaned.
"No, he's just going to kick your ass," the Lieutenant observed.
"Sir... who's going to take care of my mother?"
"The paperwork should make sure you give her an allotment."
"What if the Russians kill me?"
The Lieutenant said quietly, "Solon... if we go to war, you're probably safer in a foxhole in Germany than you will be in Manhattan. You have a chance to save your ass then, and you have friends who will fight for your ass. You know we're in this together."
"But we're worried about our families."
"I know. Get going." He returned Solon's salute. Turning to 2LT Williamson, he said, "I'm going to report to our new boss, Major Sholom."
Major Sholom's office was a small cubbyhole on the third floor, where Division Headquarters was. The Lieutenant knocked on the doorframe.
"Enter," Sholom said.
The Lieutenant saluted and reported. "One more came in, sir. Private Solon from C Company."
"So, five came in from the 71st, three from the 7th, and two from the 106th," Sholom said. "We're going to discontinue the patrols tomorrow morning. By then we're going to be on our own."
"I'm concerned about the delay in moving to Campbell, sir. It's going to take three days road march to Campbell - I've done that. Getting the gold out was important, but..."
"I know, Lieutenant. You're not the only one concerned. The CG received direct orders from the Pentagon to assist this move. But that's not our immediate concern. We lost the time, but we saved the gold."
"Machiavelli would not like the decision, Major. He said in the 'Discources' 'Gold won't always get you good soldiers, but good soldiers will always get you gold.'"
Sholom chuckled. "Did he? Well, how good are we? We stay-behinds will find out tomorrow morning, when the work week starts."
Three-days march? From NYC to Ft Campbell?
Either that lieutenant has the endurance and speed of the Flash, or you meant a three-days drive.
You're also being way too formal among the officers. Officers usually refer to each other by first name, unless one outranks the other, in which case the junior calls the senior "sir/ma'am." And even then, there's leniency between line leadership and staff officers. Also, way too much saluting between officers.
The army is still under the Army of Excellence MTOE, right? In that case, there isn't an HHC at the battalion level; it's alpha company down to delta company, with A Co being the headquarters company.
Anyway, very good, so far. I've got this subscribed.
56th Brigade - the last line of defense is a group of over-the-hill men and women.
Thanks for your criticism.
Much of this story is based on my experiences as a junior officer in the 71st Infantry, though all the characters except well-known public figures are fictional and bear no resemblance to persons living and dead.
Three days - we called them "road marches" back then; New York to western PA; western PA to Cincinnatti; and Cincinnatti to Campbell. It was a time to listen to our favorite two cassette tapes as we went up and down hills: Willie Nelson's hits and Frank Zappa's "Joe's Garage." Even now the songs "On the Road Again" and "---- me, you Ugly SOB" remind me of those trips. I had a driver's license, so I was often on Advance Party.
Saluting and formality - the Lieutenant is a very junior O-2 (like two days); he's a bit scared of the Division staff officers. Note that he's not as nervous around the Battalion officers. As for the 2LTs, again, it's based on my experience; you have to ensure they know who is in command. Also note that the Battalion shares its armory with Division HQ and HHC, which means you can be on the elevator with the Commanding General; there is an emphasis on formality. This may relax when the CG goes in the morning.
HHC - Infantry battalions in the 1980s were five companies: HHC, A, B, C, and Combat Support Company. In the case of the 71st, CSC was on Staten Island.
I hope you continue to enjoy this story. It gets better, I hope, but things are going to get worse.
There's something sad, in a strange, quiet way, pervading the stories of Pro Aris et Pro Focis; that kind of melancholia you could feel in early Autumn, as time slips away from you. I hope to see this again in the future.
Noi non ci saremo - An Italian spin-off of "Protect and Survive: A Timeline"
Part 6: Miracles Do Occur
1109 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York
Monday, 11 Feb 1984, 0712 hours.
The Lieutenant stood on the corner. His M16A1 was slung over his shoulder and he had a coffee between his gloved hands. Next to him was Major Sholom, who had provided the coffee.
This was supposed to be a private matter, but Major Sholom had received a call from the Governor's office in Albany, who had in turn cleared it with the National Guard Bureau, after clearing it with the Chief of Staff. "They're asking us a favor," he told the Lieutenant. "How could we refuse?"
"We should be chasing down people who failed to make the movement, sir," the Lieutenant said.
"We will continue to do that, LT," said the Major. "But I suspect that most of our time is going to be spent helping out where a few extra men and guns come in handy."
The real security work was being done by the NYPD Highway Patrol and the other units of the Transportation Bureau, who provided roadblocks around the operation.
Carefully, but quickly, crated items were carried into trucks. Museum staff checked them off on clipboard... A horse figurine from Israel, 586 B.C.E.... Portrait of Sally Etting... paintings by Oppenheim and Sully...
"Where are they going?" the Lieutenant asked.
"Up to the Catskills," the Major replied. "They have arranged a place of safety for these works."
"Some folks would say people are more important," the Lieutenant said, "but I would say, 'Give us bread, but give us roses'. If the attack comes, there will be people who will be glad we spared these things."
"Art patrons?" the Major chuckled.
Master Sergeant Williamson came up to them. "The special shipment is ready, sir."
Sholom put down his coffee on a windowsill. "Come on, LT."
Six officers lined up, three and three, by the front doorway. Maggione was here as well; the other officers were the stay-behinds from the 69th, 106th, and 7th. The Major stood at their head.
They stood to attention as a procession of solemnly-dressed men carried out several Torah scrolls and placed them reverently in a special truck. The truck pulled away, to join the exodus leaving through the Holland Tunnel.
"Thank you, gentlemen," Sholom said.
Maggione said, "You know, Lieutenant, I'm glad. The Nazi bastards burned enough of those scrolls. At least the Commies won't burn these."
"Me, too. Wait..." The lieutenant retrieved his coffee. "It's still got some heat in it. Miracles do occur once in a while."
I just don't get this timeline.
It's chilling, don't get me wrong.
But the entire western world has an omnipresent sense of dread. They all know they are going to die.
Where are the Russians who feel likewise?
If this timeline has a bright note, it's that people aren't as damned foolish as portrayed here.
Noi non ci saremo - An Italian spin-off of "Protect and Survive: A Timeline"
Americans are incurable optimists, being all descendants of people who came out of misery and persecution and found an entire continent, open for them to find their place.
Read: Basileus' Interference Timeline - updated Apr 26th, 2009