The sun was slowly rising in the East. Of course, the sun would not be seen in Burlington until at least 9AM, but its rays were spreading over the tops of the mountains. Ben and Preston waited in the shrubs until Joe and his guest and then the Army Sergeant and Danny emerged from the back of the State Police barracks."Ben, Preston, think you can set up and put eyes on the Russians and put some rounds on them?"
Danny asked the brothers as he neared them.
Master Sergeant Morse added his two cents, “wonderful idea. Let’s get the fuck over to them woods before this thing blows up. I suggest you all double time. We need to get the fuck out of this AO as soon as God Damn possible.”
The southern squad ran to the power transfer station near the highway. Unbeknownst to Danny’s cell, Pete Couture’s boys rigged C4 to blow up the transformers corralled in the fenced in area.
When the Giguere brothers reached the woodline, they could not see the firefight going on near the Longhorn Steakhouse at Maple and St. George. “No Line of Sight!” They ran into the woods and found the terrain gently rising. When the reached the top of a slight hill; an elevation of only twenty meters, they could see the burning trucks and tracers flying back and forth between the militia cell and the dismounted Soviet soldiers.
“This is good, we have line of sight. Range is closer to three hundred yards,” Ben shouted to Preston and those who could hear him.
“No problem, Ben. Shimmy up these trees for a better view,” Preston announced. The two hunters slung their rifles around their necks and hustled up a pair of pine trees. After a two-minute climb they found themselves another ten meters up. They had a very fine clear line of sight, nestling their rifles in tree branches to help steady them. Using a tree branch was a trick their father taught them when they were boys. It was much better than using your own hands and arms. Nerves could wreck an easy shot.
The Giguere brothers, from their lofty perches took aim on the Russian soldiers fighting with the militia cell led by Ray Gagne of Essex, VT. The brothers began slowly engaging targets as they appeared. The Mark 14 was an outstanding platform for engaging distant targets like this. They had no problem hitting the Russians armed with their AK-12s
. The shots were slow and methodical, like taking down a buck at three hundred yards. Only these targets didn’t jump into the brush every time one was struck. The Soviets had no idea two snipers
were picking them off at range when they had immediate targets fifty to a hundred yards in front of them. For the Giguere brothers, it was like shooting fish in a barrel.
Burlington International Airport
The Rangers had gathered on their respective assembly areas on the tarmac and began moving out as squads and platoons towards their objectives. The rapidly moving Ranger Special Operations Vehicles, looking like well-armed dune buggies quickly took up positions at the corners of the airfield as well as the roadways leading in. Their job was to prevent anyone from reinforcing or relieving the East Germans stationed there.
A small group of sappers with prepared blocks of explosives and hand grenades ran along the rows of neatly parked MiG-31s, Su-27s and Mi-24 helicopters. While the combat engineers destroyed fighters, another platoon of rangers headed towards the buildings on the north side of the runways where the East German Stasi and air crews were located. They began systematically clearing buildings and shooting the enemy. The entire affair was organized chaos.
Captain Dean Baker, was the first Ranger to exit the C17 when they jumped. He was the A Company Commander, a 31-year old graduate of West Point Military Academy. He grew up in suburban Detroit, but somehow avoided the stereotype of living the life of an economically depressed African American. He focused on his school work and played both football and basketball for his High School. He graduated from the top of his class and had two varsity letters upon graduation. It was an easy appointment for US Senator Carl Levin (D) Michigan. He knew choosing a black candidate with an excellent academic record would help him as the senior senator from his home state. Today, the retired Senator was probably at home somewhere in Detroit or making his way towards Chicago or St. Louis to avoid being swept up by the advancing Soviets. The retired 84-year old Senator was aware of the Arleigh Burke-Class destroyer
named for him and wondered what the fate of the ship was. Captain Baker also graduated near the top of his class with a degree in Engineering.
Unfortunately for Captain Baker, he neglected to hook up to the static line on the starboard side of the aircraft. He never saw the C17 take hits from the Soviet built Air Defense Artillery system. He stepped out into darkness awaiting the impact of his chute opening. He counted the obligatory four seconds, but nothing happened. Due to the thousand-meter distance, Captain Baker’s body struck the tarmac below at terminal velocity, 129 miles per hour killing him instantly.
Unaware of his commander’s fate, 1LT Armando Lopez lead the assault force through the buildings commandeered by the East German Stasi. Obviously, he did not jump with the Rangers, but made his way onto the base with his security squad to mark the Drop Zone, taking precaution not to be detected.
“Darby zero six, this is Darby zero five,” Lieutenant Lopez spoke into the radio.
“Darby zero five, this is Darby zero six Lima. Be advised Zero six actual is dead, over.” Private First Class Wayne Pipps of Germantown, TN responded to the Company Executive Officer.
The report from the company commander’s RTO was deadpan, without emotion. The reality of it struck him hard. Dean is dead! No! That can’t be. He was such an intelligent man. He had such a promising future.
The thoughts infuriated the Mexican American Infantry officer. Dean Baker was one of his closest friends. He wondered how many people they lost when the Globemaster burned in or from this raid. As the shooting dwindled down, he then put it together, he was the company commander and needed a situation report from his platoon leaders. He got on the radio tuned to the company’s frequency. “All stations this net, all stations this net. This is Darby zero five. Zero six is KIA and I am assuming command. I am now Darby zero six. All stations acknowledge, over.” The company first sergeant, communications NCO, each of the platoon leaders and the light weight company mortars as well as the attached personnel, the sapper squad all responded with a roger that
acknowledging that First Lieutenant Lopez was now the A Company Commander, Third Ranger Battalion at Burlington International Airport in Vermont, a state currently occupied by the Union of Soviet Socialists Republic.
Once the acknowledgements were over, the company commander asked for a SITREP from each platoon and section. After receiving the message traffic from everyone, he wrote down notes on what he heard and realized the status of his company. First platoon, employing the RSOVs numbered 42 soldiers, taking no losses during the insertion at Jaycee Park. Second platoon was the main effort to clear the buildings on the north side of the airfield took eight casualties during the raid with two WIA. Their effective strength now numbered 32 soldiers. The third platoon, responsible for clearing the buildings on the south side of the airfield sustained seventeen KIAs and three WIA also numbering 22 survivors to complete additional operations. Their losses included soldiers that could not get out of the transport aircraft. The sapper squad reported eight personnel with zero losses. The LWCM section reported six personnel with no losses. The Anti-Tank section reported ten personnel with no losses and the headquarters personnel lost the company commander and the Operations NCO, SFC Gilberto Alverez. The company first sergeant, Robert Marsh sprained his right ankle on the jump, but was otherwise fine. The company, which numbered 160 prior to the operation had 125 soldiers ready to continue, six wounded and 29 KIA. Ammunition was still in decent shape with cross loading and the soldiers were able to top off their canteens from a local source.
Lieutenant Lopez called up his two RTOs, PFC Pipps and Specialist Philip Gaither of Palo Alto, California. “Specialist Gaither, I want to talk to Battalion headquarters, at Concord, NH.” The 20-year-old pulled out the Satellite Communications equipment which was a hardened cellular telephone. He dialed up the Tactical Operations Center and handed it to his new Company Commander.
The conversation with the battalion commander was encoded not requiring seven second transmissions or any other communications security measures. “Colonel Eddings, this is Lieutenant Lopez at Burlington. I have a SITREP for you, sir.”
“Go ahead, Lieutenant,” the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel David Eddings responded to the Alpha Company Commander.
“We have secured Objective ALLEN and consolidated our personnel. Captain Baker is KIA and we have lost a total of 29 Rangers during this operation. We have 125 soldiers fit for duty. We destroyed all OPFOR combat aircraft on this objective, a total of 42 fighter aircraft and eight attack helicopters. We have crippled the enemy’s combat effectiveness in this region. We will initiate Operation Wolverine on your command, sir.”
“I am very sorry to hear about Dean. I know you were close to him, Armando. HE was a good man. He should have outlived all of us. Take care of your dead and begin Operation Wolverine as soon as possible. I’ll see you when I see you, Lieutenant.”
“Roger that, sir. Good luck to you as well.” Lieutenant Lopez handed the SATCOM phone back to the specialist and ordered his company to begin Operation Wolverine. For the 125 Rangers of the Third Battalion, they would split up into squad formations and melt into the Vermont countryside. They would seek out The Green Mountain Boys, the local militia and become members of their unit working with the 10th Special Forces soldiers leading them. The largest item several soldiers had a difficult time parting with were the Ranger Special Operations Vehicles which mounted both a .50 caliber machine gun and an M240 machine gun. Before the sun would rise above the Green Mountains and shine down on Burlington, VT, the 125 Rangers would be in civilian clothing blending in with the locals of Northern Vermont.
“Commence Operation Wolverine!”
The radio transmission went over the net to the 10th Special Forces soldiers working in the Burlington, VT area.