Chapter Two Thousand Four Hundred Fifty-Five
3rd May 1976
His name was actually Erich Johann Albert Freiherr von Raeder IV, but he was not about to tell those around him that. Instead, he had just told them that his name was Erich Raeder the same as his great-grandfather, and they had accepted that at face value. He already had enough trouble as it was without jokes about an aristocratic name being thrown around. The men only did what he asked because he was the Leutnant in charge of the 1st Platoon. The two Stabsfeldwebels who commanded the 2nd and 3rd Platoons had made it clear that the smartest move he could make was to keep out of their way which showed exactly how much authority he actually had within the Company.
As the helicopters landed in the early morning hours at what the briefing had was a resort town on the Mediterranean Erich had a bit of time to think how he had ended up here. His name had been enough to get him into the Naval Academy, but he had swiftly learned as his father and grandfather had, his great-grandfather was an impossible act to follow. Erich remembered that his grandfather had been a dull man, content with his bureaucratic job at the High Seas Fleet Headquarters in Kiel for decades until he finally retired, only to die of a heart attack a few months later. His father had been more ambitious but had been stymied by the politics of the Navy and his own pigheaded stubbornness. Erich’s father resigned when he learned that his next posting would likely be counting penguins at Wilhelm Station, the infamous research station in Antarctica.
With that knowledge, Erich had tried to sidestep what had become the family curse of mediocracy by opting for the Marine Infantry. It had only been a few minutes after arriving in Cuxhaven that he learned that he had hardly beaten the curse but had taken it right in the teeth. The training for aspiring Officers was supposed to supplement what they had already learned at Mürwik. The Feldwebels that were in charge of the program made sure that it was all that, with a massive amount of merciless abuse, brutality, and heaps of sadism thrown in. It had come as a relief when that had finally come to an end, only to get assigned to the 3rd Marine Infantry Division under the command of Hauptmann Karl Dunkel.
Erich remembered the brief period of time that the Mustang Officer had spent at Mürwik. Threatening to shoot anyone who dared to wake him too early, paying someone to take care of his kit, even make his bed, and how the Academy Faculty seemed to have completely ignored all of that. Erich just knew that he found Hauptmann Dunkel absolutely terrifying and the Company Mother, Hauptfeldwebel Nguyen, who was never far from Dunkel’s side wasn’t much better. Erich found himself in the constant presence of Oberfeld Muller, who he was certain had been tasked by Dunkel to keep him from messing things up as well as being one of the Squad Leaders of his Platoon.
The task was to evacuate the personnel of the Hospital, which was run by the International Red Cross. The trouble was the anyone capable of walking out had headed east down the Coastal Highway hours earlier. The remaining patents were those who couldn’t, and the Hospital’s Staff were refusing to leave them even knowing that noncombatant status didn’t exactly mean a whole lot in this particular war. That was why Hauptmann Dunkel was arguing with the Hospital’s Director as Erich approached.
Any second, half the Greek Army was going to arrive, and they were not going to want to be there when that happened.
The reason for the addition of the SMS Jupiter, a Landing Craft Tender that had been anchored off Cyprus swiftly became apparent as the Marine Infantry got themselves into a bind ashore. The evacuation of a few dozen Medical Personnel had gotten snarled by the presence of dozens of patents. The Doctors were refusing to leave without them and the Hauptmann in charge of the Marines had been unable to convince them otherwise. So, they had a lot of unpalatable choices to make.
Louis Ferdinand Junior ordered his ships to General Quarters. There was a single Company of Marines ashore and Intelligence said that several Greek Divisions were moving into Finike from the West. The three Corvettes and Fleet Torpedo Boat were a serious force multiplier, but not that much of one. If the Greek Army made a fight of it, it was Louis’ hope that he could buy the Marines enough time to retreat. It would also give the diplomats in Constantinople, Athens, and Berlin a major headache. Not that Louis minded too much though, the Greeks had gotten away with wanton destruction and indiscriminate killing for entirely too long because the Turks were just as bad. It was long past time for them to have that come around and bite them on the ass.
Louis ordered the launch of one of the ship’s Cuckoo drones. If it came down to it, they would need the drone for artillery spotting if it came to it. A few minutes later, Louis heard as the ship’s sections reported in one by one. Out in front of the bridge the 12.8 Centimeter gun swung towards the shore. Louis knew that the 40mm Bofors guns would be making similar moves, while they would not be able to pack the punch of the main gun they more than made up for it in volume. He held his breath for a moment, waiting to see what was going to happen next.