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A Strange Patrol

Combat! Fan Fiction
Mary Wright "Eagle Lady"


          "Saunders!"  Hanley yelled at the sergeant crossing behind the truck across the compound.

          "Yes, sir."  Saunders called back, changing direction toward the waiting lieutenant.

          "Bring Doc, Kirby and Caje with you."

          Saunders waved a hand in acknowledgment and turned back the way he'd come.  A few minutes later, the four men filed into the bombed out building where the lieutenant waited.

          "What's up, Lieutenant?"  Saunders asked.

          "This is Captain Wilson."  He indicated a  man seated nearby, wearing a red cross band on his arm, his helmet emblazoned with red crosses resting beside him.  "He's a doctor back at the field hospital.  He's asked for, and been granted, some time at the front."

          "What you wanna do that for?"  Kirby blurted, belatedly remembering to add the 'sir'.

          "Because I need to know what the men I'm treating have experienced, Private.  I'm a medical doctor and a psychiatrist.  I can treat their wounds easily enough, but I can't treat their minds if I don't know what they've been through."  The captain answered.

          "What do you want us to do, Lieutenant?"  Saunders asked warily.

          "I want you to take the captain with you on a patrol."

          "I can't guarantee to bring him back in one piece.  Or at all, Lieutenant."

          "I know that, Sergeant.  I know there are no guarantees in war.  I'm willing to take my chances. I don't want any special treatment.  Just call me Wilson, forget about the captain part.  The Lieutenant has already explained about removing my insignia."

          "When do you want us to leave, and where do we go, Lieutenant?"  Saunders asked resignedly.

          "A nice quiet recon patrol to start with, Saunders.  An earlier patrol thinks they spotted some Germans near that ravine south of here.  Go check it out, avoid a fight if you can, and get back here."

          "Yes, sir.  Okay, guys, saddle up."


          Saunders, Doc, Kirby, Wilson, and Caje crouched in the underbrush, close together, looking in vain for the group of German soldiers they'd spotted a few minutes ago.

          "Where'd they go, Sarge?"  Doc asked softly.

          "Why aren't they shooting?  Or running?"  Kirby demanded nervously.

          "Beats me."  Saunders answered.  "Ok, Kirby, Caje, you take the other side of the ravine.  Doc, Wilson, you're on me.  Work your way around in a loop to that big tree down there.  The one with the one dead side.  We'll meet you there."

          "Ok, Sarge."  Caje said.

          "Watch yourselves.  Something isn't right here."

          "Keep an eye on him, Doc."  Caje grinned.

          Doc grinned back and followed Saunders as he worked his way into the brush to the left, Wilson at his heels.  They quickly lost sight of the other two as Saunders quietly and carefully worked his way through and around the bushes.  Saunders stopped suddenly, holding up a hand for Doc to stop.  He listened for a moment, then started on and stopped again.  The two men behind him stopped and looked at each other.  They watched in puzzlement as he slowly laid down his weapon and raised his hands.  Looking up and past Saunders, Doc eyes widened in surprise.  Four Germans were in front of them, weapons lined up on them.

          "Turn around."  One of them ordered.

          Saunders hesitated a moment, then did as he was told.  His hands were tied behind his back while  the two medic's were left free, then they were jerked around and led off in the direction they'd been going.  The Germans stopped suddenly, shoving the three men to their knees.  Stretching up, Saunders saw that they were watching Caje and Kirby.  He took a deep breath to shout a warning when an arm snaked around his shoulders, jerking him back against a German's chest, a bayonet at his throat.

          "I have no desire to shoot your men.  If they move on, they will live.  If you draw their attention to us, they will die."  The German said softly.  "Do you understand?"

          Saunders nodded and the hold on his shoulders loosened slightly as they watched Caje and Kirby move on into the bushes.  After a few minutes, they were pulled to their feet and pushed forward.  A couple hundred yards later, the Germans began to run, forcing the Americans with them.  Saunders stumbled over a root and crashed heavily to the ground, unable to catch himself.  Doc reached for him and was pushed aside as one of the Germans aimed his rifle at the helpless man.  One of the others pushed the gun down, snapping an order at him, then grabbed Saunders' arm and pulled him to his feet, motioning to the others to move on. 

          They ran for nearly a mile, the German continuing to hold onto Saunders to steady him, then they slowed to a walk for another half mile or so, before stopping in a small clearing where a tent had been set up.  A soldier stepped out of the trees, rifle ready.  They talked for a moment, one of the men standing guard over Saunders who had been pushed to the ground, the other two squatting next to him.

          "You okay, Sarge?"  Doc asked softly.


          "You are doctors?"  The soldier who had waited at the tent was looking at the two medics.

          "Yes."  Wilson answered.

          "Our officer is injured.  You will care for him."

       They simply stared at him, saying nothing.  A rifle barrel was pressed to Saunders' neck, hard.

          "If you do not, we will shoot this man."

          "If you shoot him, your officer will die."  Doc said calmly.

          "You will care for our officer."  He insisted.

          "And after we do?  What happens to us?"

          "When he can travel, we will let you go."

          Saunders started to say something but the rifle swept up, the butt catching him on the cheekbone, knocking him to the ground on his back.  He lay still, eyes closed, blood gushing from a split on his cheekbone.  Wilson knocked the man with the rifle aside and crouched over Saunders, turning his head so he could see the cut.  One of the Germans grabbed his shoulder to pull him away.  Angry, Wilson jerked away and jumped to his feet.

          "Listen here, mister."  He snapped.  "If you want us to help your officer, you leave my sergeant alone.  If you touch him again, I can't be sure your officer will live.  Do you understand me?  After I take care of him, I'll look at your officer."

          "Hurry up."  The German gave in.

          Grabbing his bag, Wilson again knelt by Saunders.  He cleaned away the blood and bandaged the cut, then got to his feet.

          "Where is your officer?"

          "In the tent."

          Doc followed Wilson into the tent, glancing back at Saunders who was starting to stir.  A German officer lay on a cot, unconscious.  His left leg was badly broken, the bone sticking out.  He also had a bump on the side of his head.  Wilson glanced up at the German who'd followed him into the tent.

          "What happened?"

          "A rock gave way and he fell."


          "About three hours ago."

          "I need water, bandages, and a couple good, strong, straight branches about two feet long."

          The German ducked back out of the tent, returning a few minutes later, half-dragging, half-leading Saunders.  He more or less dropped Saunders at the side of the tent and handed Wilson a handful of bandages.


          Taking advantage of the fact that nobody was watching him, Saunders slowly scooted backwards until he had eased out from under the side of the tent.  He got to his knees, nearly falling over when a wave of vertigo hit him.  Shaking it off, he made it to his feet, and slipped into the nearby bushes.  If he could make it back to Caje and Kirby, they could rescue both medics.  He worked his way through the bushes till he judged he was far enough away, then broke into a run.

          Behind him, he heard one of the Germans yell, followed by the sound of gunfire.  Hoping he didn't break an ankle, he started dodging from side to side, still running.  A bullet slammed into his leg and he crashed to the ground.  He was struggling to get back on his feet when a gun barrel against his chest pinned him to the ground.  He looked up, expecting a bullet to tear into his heart.  To his relief, the German reached down, grabbed him by the front of his jacket, hauled him to his feet and started dragging him back toward the tent, impatiently jerking him back to his feet when his leg buckled.


          "I need more light."  Wilson said without looking up from the officer's leg.

          At an order from the English-speaking soldier, two others freed one side of the tent and peeled it back so that the sunlight fell on the officer. 

          "Where's the water?"

          "It is coming."

          A few minutes later, a soldier entered with two helmets full of water, a moment later another came in with two branches.  Wilson gave the officer a shot of morphine and glanced at his watch.

          "Give that a few minutes to work, then I'll get started." 

          Both he and Doc jumped at the sound of yelling and gunfire outside the tent.  Automatically looking to his sergeant, Doc was stunned to see he was gone.  He started out of the tent, but the German guard forced him back.  A few minutes later one of the Germans entered the tent, dragging Saunders by the upper arm. He thrust him to the ground and left without a word.  Saunders lay on his side where he'd fallen, breathing hard, his face twisted with pain.  Wilson took a step toward him, stopping when a gun barrel  rammed into his side.

          "Our officer."  The soldier insisted.

          "Let my assistant bandage his leg."  Wilson countered.

          "You will care for the captain."

          "Alright, I'll take care of your captain, but my assistant will bandage the sergeant's leg."

          The two men stared at each other for a long moment, then the German nodded.

          After laying out everything he needed, Wilson began working on the mangled leg while Doc knelt beside Saunders.  Jerking his jacket off, he balled it up and slid it under Saunders' head, then started cutting the bloodied material from around the wound.

          "How bad is it, Doc?"  Wilson asked.

          "Not good."

          "Do what you can, I'll take care of it when I'm done here."

          A few minutes later, Wilson cursed softly under his breath.

          "Doc, can you give me a hand here?"

          "Yeah, just a sec."

          He finished tying a bandage then joined Wilson. 

          "Did you give him any morphine?"  Wilson asked.

          "The sarge?  No, not yet."

          "No morphine."  Saunders said through gritted teeth.

          "It will help"  Wilson started to say.

          "No."  Saunders snapped.

          "He's been hit often enough, Ca, uh, Wilson.  When he's ready for it, he'll ask."  Doc said,  looking over at Wilson.

          "I still think he should have it."

          "No."  The sergeant glared at Wilson.

          "Fine.  Suit yourself."  He shrugged.


          When he had tied the last bandage around the splint, Wilson glanced at his watch, surprised to see that nearly four hours had passed.  He stretched his aching back and stepped around the cot toward Saunders, amazed to find him still conscious.  His face was pale and filmed with sweat, but he was watching Wilson with complete awareness.  Doc glanced around, looking for the English-speaking soldier.

          "Hey!  What's your name, anyway?"


          "Ok, Schwartz.  Can we have more water?"


          "Can we untie his hands?"  Wilson asked when Schwartz returned.


          "Why not?  He's wounded.  What could he do?"  Wilson protested.

          "That man could kill us all. You are a doctor.  I am  or was  a teacher.  Your sergeant is a soldier.  If I were to free him, he would do his best to kill us or escape again, or both.  It would mean some of us would be killed or injured needlessly."  Schwartz answered, studying the wounded sergeant.  "You have the water.  You may care for his wound.  You may not free his hands."

          Schwartz left the tent and Wilson turned to stare at Saunders, who returned the stare expressionlessly. 

          "I guess I have a lot to learn about soldiers."  Wilson said slowly.

          "Don't believe everything you hear."  Saunders managed a slight grin.

          Shaking his head, Wilson knelt beside Saunders, Doc at his side s he examined the wound.

          "I think he's crazy.  This man is wounded."  Wilson muttered.

          "He's not so crazy.  Saunders could do it."

          "He can't even stand up!"

          "That hasn't slowed him down any in the past."

          Wilson's hands stilled as he stared down at the injured man.  He started to say something, but Saunders beat him to it.

          "What's wrong with him?"  Saunders glanced over at the officer.

          "He fell and broke his leg.  Shattered it, actually."

          "He gonna lose it?"

          "Depends on how close their hospital is."

          "What do you think they're going to do with us?"  Doc asked.

          "I don't know.  Probably kill us.  Or take us back as prisoners."

          "Maybe they will let us go like he said before?"

          "Yeah, and maybe the war will end tomorrow." 

          "Sergeant?"  Wilson asked.


          "How long have you been in the Army?"


          "Did you join or were you drafted?"

          "Why all the questions?"

          "Just curious.  Sorry if I bothered you."

          "Got any water left, Doc?"


          Absently, Doc held the canteen out to him.

          "Um, Doc?  I need a little help here."  Saunders grinned.

          "What?  Oh, sorry."  Doc said sheepishly, holding the canteen for him.


          "How long before we can move him?"  Schwartz asked, returning to the tent.

          "I'm not sure.  At least a couple hours, to let him recover a little."

          "Do you have anything that will make him sleep for a couple hours?"

          "Yeah.  But he's already asleep."  Doc answered, puzzled.

          "I meant for when he move him.  Are you hungry?"


          "I said, are you hungry?"

          "That's what I thought you said.  Why?  Are you planning to feed us?"

          "Only if you're hungry."  Schwartz grinned at him.  "But you will have to feed your sergeant.  Or he can go hungry."  He turned and left again.

          "Are you hungry?" Doc looked down at his sergeant.

          "Always.  Wonder if they have any beer?"

          The question caught Doc by surprise and he started to laugh.

          "What is so funny?"  Schwartz asked, returning with several cans of rations.

          "He was wondering if you have any beer."

          "I would give a year's pay for a beer."  Schwartz sighed.

          "Expensive beer.  I wouldn't give more than a month's pay."  Saunders grinned.

          "Not that expensive.  I don't get paid much."  Chuckling, Schwartz handed the cans to Doc and went back outside.  Saunders glanced up at the young German soldiers standing guard over them from the doorway.

          "I wish he'd go for a walk."

          "Why?"  Wilson looked as if he thought Saunders was crazy.

          "So we could talk."

          "He doesn't speak English."

          "How do you know?"

          "What do you want first?"  Doc jumped in quickly.

          "What do you have?"

          "Beats me.  It's written in German for some reason."  Doc shrugged. 

          "You could try opening them and looking."  Saunders suggested.

          "It doesn't work for our rations.  Why should it for theirs?"

          "You got something against army food, Doc?"  Wilson asked.

          "I don't know.  I don't think I've ever had any recognizable food.  I'd sure like to get my hands on a roast chicken."

          "Shut up, help me sit up, and give me some of whatever that is."  Saunders chuckled.

          After they'd eaten, Wilson started to get up to check on the officer.  The young soldier snapped his gun up and Wilson froze.

          "Hey, Schwartz!  Call him off!"  Doc called.

          "What is happening?"  He asked, hurrying in.

          "I want to check on your officer.  Junior, here, didn't like the idea."  Wilson replied.

          Schwartz motioned for the soldier to leave, then nodded to Wilson.

          "Go ahead."

          Wilson spent several minutes with him, then returned to sit by Saunders.

          "Well?"  Schwartz demanded.

          "He's still alive.  Seems to be doing alright."

          "Good."  He left and a different soldier returned to stand guard.

          "Why don't you get some sleep, Sarge?"  Doc urged softly.


          "You need the rest now, Sergeant."  Wilson told him.

          "Not now."

          "Why not?  You can't do anything about the situation and there's nothing else to do.  I could make it an order."

          "What happened to 'call me Wilson and forget about the captain part'?  Besides, you can't order a man to sleep."  Saunders growled irritably.

          "Technically, no, you can't."  Wilson grinned.  "But he would shoot you if you tried anything.  Maybe there will be a chance later.  Rest now.  You, too, Doc."          

          Doc stretched out beside Saunders, using his bag for a pillow, and fell asleep almost instantly.  Saunders started to bend his good leg to ease stiff muscles, stopping when the soldier took a step forward.  Ignoring his protests, Wilson eased the wounded man back down to the ground, nodding with satisfaction when he dropped off to sleep a few minutes later.

          Schwartz wandered in and out for the next two hours, checking on the officer and the prisoners, finally squatting by Wilson, who'd also fallen asleep, and shaking him awake.

          "See if he can be moved."

          "Alright."  Wilson got up, stretched and moved over to the officer.  "If you're careful not to jar him too much, I think he will make it."

          "Sit back down."

          Wilson returned to the other two and sat down, watching the German warily.

          "Now what?"  He asked.

          "When we're ready to leave, you will give our officer morphine.  After we are gone, you may take your sergeant back to your lines."

          Saunders opened his eyes and started to sit up, dropping back with a bitten-off groan.

          "Stay down, Saunders."  Wilson told him.

          "What's going on?"  Doc asked, sitting up.

          While the Germans prepared to leave, Wilson explained.

          "Save some morphine for the sarge, huh?"  Doc asked.

          "Of course."

          "We are ready, Doctor."  Schwartz motioned toward his officer.

          When Wilson had finished with the officer, Schwartz nodded towards Saunders.

          "Now you will do the same with him.  I do not want to have to shoot any of you."

          "I don't want morphine."  Saunders protested.

          "Shut up."  Wilson snapped. 

          Ignoring his protests, Wilson turned him onto his side, freed his hands and injected the morphine.  A few minutes later, Saunders' eyes closed and he lay still, breathing evenly.

          "Thank you for caring for our officer, Doctor.  I hope for both of your sakes that your sergeant really is asleep.  If he tries to follow us, you will be killed.  Is that clear?"

          "He's sound asleep.  We won't be following you."

          He and Doc sat on either side of Saunders, watching the Germans move away.  When they were out of sight, Doc released a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding.

            "Well, let's see if we can rig up a stretcher, Doc."  Wilson got to his feet.

          Using their jackets, Doc and Wilson made a stretcher and eased the limp body of the sergeant onto it, then headed back home. 


          It was nearly dark when they reached their camp; Doc calling out to the guard as they approached.  Doc, at the head of the stretcher, paused at the doorway to the partial building the squad was using.  Caje, Kirby, and Littlejohn were sitting in a dejected circle, ignored coffee cups dangling in their hands.  Lieutenant Hanley was also there, apparently just leaving.

          "Doc!"  He yelled in surprise.  "Saunders and Captain Wilson with you?"

          Littlejohn, Caje, and Kirby jumped to their feet, rushing for the door.

          "We thought you were dead!"  Kirby exclaimed.

          "Sarge is wounded.  We're okay."

          "How bad?"  Hanley's grin turned to worry, as he brushed past the men to reach the litter.

          "In the leg.  We gave him morphine and he's asleep right now, Lieutenant."

          "We don't have any transportation right now, so you might as well bring him in here.  What happened?"

          Caje, Littlejohn, and Kirby quickly made up a pallet for Saunders and helped transfer him to the blankets.  Hanley handed Doc and Wilson cups of coffee, pulling the one chair in the room over for the captain.

          "What happened?"  Kirby demanded.  "You guys just plain disappeared."

          "You tell 'em, Doc."  Wilson sipped his coffee appreciatively while the men listened in silence to Doc's story. 

          "You got a little more than you bargained for, Captain."  Hanley grinned.

          "It was a little unexpected."  He paused.  "Tell me, Lieutenant, is the sergeant capable of doing what the German was afraid he would do?"

          "Yes, sir.  He's done it several times."

          "Well, Lieutenant, when Saunders is ready for duty again, I'd like to go out with the squad again."

          "You would?"  Kirby gaped at him. "Sir."

          "Yes, Kirby, I would."  Wilson grinned.  "I assume this wasn't a normal patrol."

          "No, sir, it sure wasn't."  Caje agreed.

Copyright 2001


Story Copyright Mary Wright. All Rights Reserved.

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The CombatFan web site thanks Mary (aka "EagleLady") for letting us share these fan fiction stories on this web site.