Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Eleven
31st December 1971
It had taken a few days aboard the SMS Prinzessin Antonia, but the Surgeons had told Christian that his injuries were not life threatening. He had spent the flight from Fiambalá to Córdoba and finally to Buenos Aires completely out his head on painkillers and antibiotics, his arms and legs wrapped in gauze. The Surgeons had been unable to find all the small fragments of metal and stone lodged in the parts of him that had not been armored, mostly his arms and legs. Many of those fragments had started to work their way out on their own and the risk of infection was great, so Christian was being kept cooped up.
Christian had found that being a hero didn’t mean a whole lot here after the ten of them who’s injuries were relatively minor waited on the hospital ship in Buenos Aires while the Heer decided what to do with them. Aboard this ship, it seemed like everyone was a hero of some sort, so they were just the crazy guys who called in an artillery strike, from 15cm Evergreens no less, on their own position as a way to give the finger to the Chileans as they were being overrun. Laudable, sure, but still totally batshit insane.
That was why Christian was staring at the ceiling, deck, or whatever you called it on a ship. The others in the ward were watching a television that was playing a recording of a sitcom from back home. Christian wasn’t interested. Instead, he kept running the numbers of what had happened to the Squad he had led. Fred Moser, the Squad’s Radio Operator, Martin Kruger, one of their gunners, and Engel Brun, one of their Dragoons, were all dead.
Bruno Kundert had his face peppered by shrapnel. It was a miracle he had made it to the field hospital alive and the Surgeons had been unable to save his vision. He said that driving an Iltis was the only thing he had ever been good at. Florian Brodbeck had sustained similar injuries to Christian’s and was with the others watching the sitcom. Einar Tann was in a different ward recovering from the major surgery that had been required to save his life after getting shot in the chest by the Chileans. Christian had been told that he would eventually recover but that would not be soon.
Manfred von Mischner and Ralf Blecher had been in the same hole as Christian. Manny was in a private cabin and not just because he was an Officer. It was said that because he had been nominated to join the prestigious Order of the Pour le Mérite. When Christian had spoken with him last, he had been taking the deaths and injuries among the Platoon hard. He felt that he had made several mistakes starting with letting them volunteer to remain on the line. Ralf was in the bed next to Christian’s, and he was annoying everyone with his tendency to want to disassemble anything electronic.
Rainer Maus had somehow received only minor injuries and had been sent to 7th Recon’s Headquarters to wait for further orders, sort of hard to do with the rest of the Platoon out of action. Ralf figured that Maus was probably Oberstlieutent Schier’s gofer. As if Christian needed more proof that God loved drunkards and fools.
Feeling restless, Christian got out of bed and limped on bare feet to the door leaving the ward. Stepping out into a hot, humid night, he saw the lights of the City off in the distance. The Antonia was anchored out on the river for reasons unknown to him. He recalled that he had been flown from the airport to the helipad on the ship. It was something that he hoped he would never have to do again. It being New Year’s Eve, there was a celebration going on in the city. Leaning on the rail Christian watched the city and wondered if they did fireworks at midnight here like they did at home.
Christian’s own situation was a bit odd. He had been promoted again before leaving for Paso de San Francisco, but the news had not reached him before the battle. Then afterwards he learned that Manny had remembered saying that he would put him in for a medal after he had insulted that Chilean Officer. Like the EK1 and EK2, the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross was open to Officers and Enlisted alike, Christian getting nominated for one was huge deal though. He had also been recommended for a meritorious promotion and had his name broadcast over the Imperial Radio Network in a dispatch to the Reichstag. He had been informed of all this by one of the Nurses calling him Oberfeld Weise and had thought that she was talking to someone else. Later, when Generalfeldmarschall Dietrich Schultz had been visiting Manny, two of his Staff had spoken with Christian. They had said that with his service record, decorations, and after having received two meritorious promotions in two and half years he seriously needed to rethink the role he played in the Heer…
“You are not supposed to be up” One of the Nurses said as she approached Christian. “And look at this, you’re bleeding again.”
Christian looked at his arm from where he had been clutching the rail, the bandage had blood seeping through it.
“Sorry, Ma’am” Christian said, “I was just trying to get some fresh air.”