This is my first time trying my hand at this kind of story so don’t expect a work of art. Constructive criticism is appreciated, enjoy.
Captain Julie Hawkins circled her C-130 doing a personal inspection of every control surface. The C-130 was by no means a sleek streamlined aircraft so sought after by cadets with dreams of becoming the next great fighter ace but it held special meaning to her. It’s large clumsy design contained a kind of simple beauty that few others saw. As she completed her circle and climbed the ramp up into the cabin a low crinkle followed her footsteps. While it wasn’t terribly uncommon for female aviators to wear a diaper she still found herself embarrassed by the concept of it, but also found it the most convenient of choices regarding the matter. Especially given the fact that accommodations onboard the C-130 were not very accommodating, and even more so for females. Climbing up into the cockpit she was greeted by her copilot and flight engineer as she sat down and began to perform instrument checks along with them. She hummed to herself quietly as her hands brushed over a number switches, buttons, and gauges while, unbeknownst to them, she dampened her diaper turning a slight shade of red. Confident they hadn’t noticed she continued to work unable to believe her luck that she got to do this for a living.
On the other side of the base Senior Airman Joseph Howerton was attending to his own equipment, instead of ailerons and altimeters he was sorting through an array of first aid supplies ensuring they were all well within their expiration dates before packing them back into his trauma pack. Being a PJ (Pararescue Jumper) was by no means an easy job but it was the one he loved the most. In his mind it was the most righteous of missions, to enter in combat not for the sake of politics but for the sole purpose of saving lives. With his supplies sorted and packed he picked up a container of 5.56x45mm ammunition and began to clean the individual rounds before loading them into magazines. While overkill for a weapon he kept spotless it only reduced the likely hood of jam that much more. When finished he would run and do his workout for the day, PJs are religious about physical fitness and it’s not hard to figure out why when the closest thing you have to an ambulance is a stretcher and what ever you can carry on your back. Finished with his job he carefully placed his gear in a place where he’d be able to access it quickly should the call come in. And while it would be a shame to never get to do his job he never wished a call would come.
The last rays of the sun were lost to the horizon as Howerton scrambled to pull on his gear quickly pulling on his body armor with MOLLE pouches attached to the front for his magazines and slinging his trauma kit onto his back, before grabbing his weapon and sprinting for the C-130 along with his fellow element members Airman Thomas Aldridge and Tech Sergeant Mike Redding. The C-130 already had everything onboard for their low level static line jump and the navigator was in the process of preparing the final pieces of information for the drop. As Howerton and the others boarded and began rigging their parachutes Hawkins reviewed the mission briefing. Five men badly injured including their medic with two believed to be critical. They were no longer in contact but if they didn’t receive aid soon it was likely they wouldn’t survive the helicopter ride to a field hospital. Two C-130s containing three PJs’ each were prepped the first to go being hers and the second one as back up should there be mechanical failure or a bad drop. At the same time Blackhawks from a nearby forward operating base would be dispatched to medivac the injured along with the PJs. Reports indicated light anti-air fire in the area they would cross before the drop point, nothing worth worrying about. Her mind at ease she finished her final procedures on the check list and began to throttle up. The C-130 rolled forward it’s turbo props slicing through the air as it built momentum before finally enough air flowed over the wings lifting the beast into the air. Hawkins controlled the aircraft’s ascent with a practiced hand before leveling off at cruising altitude. It was dark out but with no clouds she could see for miles The ground beneath her was covered in trees although the occasional clearing offered a look at the ground below, it was very relaxing. She continued to survey the scene when a familiar warmness caught her attention as her diaper swelled slightly. Maybe it was a little too relaxing. The C-130 continued to glide through the air with little turbulence to disturb it’s progress. Hawkins began descending to the drop altitude when suddenly the ground opened up and fire poured into the sky. Hawkins almost yelled in surprise, this was light AA? Ahead flack bursted into small black clouds, her copilot grabbed her attention,
“Hawkins we need to get this thing turned around right now we can’t get through this,” Hawkins bit her lip,
“I’m going to press it a little farther, we need to get the PJs to the drop zone,” he nodded. More flak bursted around the aircraft as the C-130 pushed through the storm. Shells buffeted the aircraft as the volume of fire increased. Hawkins finally drew the line between taking a risk and suicide and agreed to turn around. She began a 180 degree turn and increased altitude to throw off the flak rounds. Hawkins remained cool as she conversed with the navigator on their alternate path when a line of tracers ripped through one of the C-130’s engines causing the whole airframe to shudder, Hawkins attempted to compensate but her efforts were in vain as flak shredded a second engine. Smoke billowed from the aircraft as it sank towards the ground Hawkins just barely managing to keep it level. Her copilot yelled into the radio,
“This is Ditka 01 we have sustained major damage on two of our engines and are rapidly losing altitude, I say again Ditka 01 is going down!” Hawkins watched in horror as the ground loomed before them, she only had a moment to notice her copilot wasn’t wearing his restraints before she was rendered unconscious by the impact.
Howerton’s ears buzzed and he felt himself swallowed by darkness. He couldn’t decide whether or not he was dead when he heard a distant voice calling to him. Slowly his mind began make sense of his surroundings and he opened his eyes to see Redding standing in front of him. The cabin of the aircraft was filled with smoke causing him to cough and burning his eyes. Redding helped him out of his restraints,
“You all right?” he asked casually. Howerton took a moment, every muscle in his body ached in some fashion and he could hardly breathe.
“Just fine,” he answered. Redding nodded,
“Go help out Aldridge in the cockpit I’m going to try and get the ramp open,”
“Hooyah,” he replied and took a step, a shot of pain lanced through his muscles, yep he was definitely still alive. He took a moment to shrug off his parachute before heading for the front of what was left of the aircraft. Aldridge was busy with the Flight Engineer and Navigator leaving Howerton the pilots. He passed into the cockpit, the copilot was draped over the console in front of him, his head at an odd angle, dead. Howerton next went to the pilot, she was still strapped into her seat unconscious. He checked her pulse, it was strong. He tried gently shaking her and slowly she began to wake. He looked over at the body, she didn’t need to see it. Taking a body bag he respectfully picked the man up and placed him inside zipping it shut. When he returned she was awake still strapped into her seat clearly dazed. He walked over to her taking a glance at her name tape and the silver bars on her shoulders,
“Captain Hawkins?” he asked. She looked back at him a blank look in her eyes,
“What happened?” she asked
“We crashed, can you tell me what hurts ma’m?” She took a moment to think,
“I’m really sore and my stomach really hurts,” she managed to say with some effort. He nodded, she was lucky she hadn’t injured her back. He helped her out of the restraints and eased her into a half sitting position on the floor to better inspect her injuries. Sure enough there was bruising on her abdomen from the restraints but from what he could tell that was the extent of the damage. Her eyes wandered around the cabin of the aircraft as if she was confused. As he was finishing his evaluation something caught his eye at about waist level. It looked like a white piece of plastic. He quickly shifted his gaze not saying anything, it wasn’t uncommon for female pilots to wear them, no need to embarrass her. Satisfied there were no serious injuries he helped her back up before proceeding towards the door. Before leaving he turned,
“I’ll guard the door if you’d like to change ma’m,” she looked at him puzzled for a moment, not quite understanding before turning bright red. Blinking a couple times she responded,
“Uh yes if you would,” he shut the door leaving a very embarrassed Hawkins in a very wet diaper. She quickly grabbed a bag she kept with supplies and began to sort through it. With out much thought she retrieved another diaper before quickly swapping her wet one for the dry. It wasn’t until that she began to pull on her flight suit that she ahd realized what she’d done and quickly went back into the bag digging through the supplies with a degree of frustration. “Surely I had the foresight to back one pair…” she thought as she reached the bottom of the bag. She looked in the bag again, a package of diapers stared back; no dice not a single pair.
“Great, looks like I’m stuck in diapers,” she thought kicking herself. Taking a breath to calm her frustration she zipped up the pack and slung it over her shoulder, it’s not like she had to use them, it was just a matter of comfort. She opened the door into the cargo bay and stepped out, Howerton stood nearby and gave her a nod,
“Feeling all right ma’m?”
“I’ll be fine, just a little sore,” She stumbled as she walked and gave a small yelp of pain, Howerton quickly caught and steadied her,
“You okay?” she nodded,
“Yeah I just caught my foot on something, I’m a little unsteady,” she added. He quickly moved to support her and helped her the rest of the way out of the aircraft. Outside Redding and Aldridge were making plans for their escape. Enemy QRF (Quick Reaction Force) was expected soon so time was of the essence. With such a large volume of fire from AA search and rescue birds would not be risked meaning they’d have between one and two days hike before they were with out a doubt out of the fire zone. Realizing this Howerton proceeded back into the wrecked aircraft taking a moment to ransack a case of MRE’s that had been left onboard as the other PJs went about clearing the aircraft of any confidential material.
Outside Hawkins circled the wreckage of the aircraft amazed at the carnage, it wasn’t until this that she noticed a black bag on the ground, she froze and stared at it for a couple seconds. She had already seen her flight engineer and navigator but now she realized that left one crew member missing. She sank to her knees sitting on her heels staring at the black plastic as light from a nearby fire played off it’s surface. Her throat became dry and she felt a lump in her chest. She heard Howerton approach, and looked over her shoulder at him,
“Water,” she asked, her voice raspy, “please,” Howerton reached on to his belt and removed a canteen handing it to her. She drank from it greedily emptying a quarter of it before handing it back. Howerton took a knee next to her,
“I’m sorry, we can’t bring him. We need to get moving before QRF arrives,” She only nodded, Howerton offered his hand and helped her up. As he helped her steady herself a sharp crack from an AK-47 echoed through the night as a 7.62x39mm round impacted the earth next to them. QRF had arrived. Adrenaline flooded Howerton’s veins as he scooped Hawkins into his arms and sprinted for the tree line. Redding and Aldridge returned fire but with no possibility of gaining fire supremacy they beat a hasty retreat with the flight engineer and navigator in tow. Bullets whizzed through the trees as Howerton’s legs pounded the dirt trying to get away from the fight. He ran until his legs burned but would not stop until he could no longer hear the gunfire. Finally content they had distanced themselves enough he slowed and let Hawkins down. She walked a little unsteadily and balanced herself against a tree. She was scared but for some reason she could not control herself. She also really needed to pee and, with out much cognitive thought, emptied the contents of her bladder into the padding of the diaper. Her face flushed red as the warmth began to spread but she didn’t try to stop. So much for not using them,
“Ma’m?” she jumped a little as Howerton called to her, “we need to get moving, we’ve got a bit of a walk before we can stop for a break,” she nodded before stuttering,
“If we could I need to um… go and… uh-” Howerton looked her in the eye,
“If you need to change go ahead, but make it quick,” her face reddened a little, he had noticed the diaper when carrying her,
“Thank you,” she stammered. He nodded,
“No problem Ma’m I’ll give you some privacy,” he turned and walked a distance away. Hawkins quickly pulled her pack around and pulled out a fresh disposable undergarment. Undoing her flight suit she quickly undid the wet diaper before applying powder and taping on the dry. She was done in only a few moments and quickly stood back up before going over to Howerton. He looked over at her,
“We need to cover some ground before we can stop for a rest, can you walk?” she tested her weight on each leg,
“Yeah I’ll be fine,” he nodded,
“All right let’s move,” Howerton lead the way deeper into the forest Hawkins following with a light crinkle accompanying her movement. The trees seemed sinister to her and every sound caused her to jump ever so slightly. She felt the heaviness of the darkness surrounding her as if it was threatening to silently strangle her. Her mind played tricks on her, she would see dark figures moving through the forest at super human speed and it took great amounts of will to keep from screaming. She was more terrified than she ever had been and she could not find in herself the answer as to why. She stayed close to Howerton at all times and constantly kept an eye on him lest she lose sight of him. When they stopped several hours later she felt a wave of relief wash over her. Howerton gave her a few hours to sleep assuring her he would keep watch. Hiding away in some thick brush she used her pack as a makeshift pillow and to her surprise managed to fall asleep with little effort. Howerton crouched only a few feet away observing her. She lay in a very natural position, not appearing to avoid placing weight on any one body part, and her breathing was steady. He couldn’t quite figure out why she was wearing a diaper but figured it didn’t really matter. Besides it meant they wouldn’t need to stop as often for a bathroom break. He shifted his thoughts back to their task ahead, pulling out a map. They’d have about a days hike before they’d be out of the AA’s range and they were separated from the rest of their group. Radio contact was a no go, as the enemy would likely be listening meaning the only way they’d meet up with the other group would be by sheer luck. They hadn’t had time to agree on a location for use as an LZ (landing zone) so for all Howerton knew the other group could be going a completely different direction. They’d have to make do with just the two of them. Once out of the danger zone they’d simply need to activate their distress radio to attract attention, with luck there would be search and rescue birds patrolling the area. He’d scavenged enough food to last them the duration of the journey and the map showed nearby water sources, they were lucky in that regard. Finally he put his mind to rest and continued to scan the woods. He let his mind sink into a level just above sleep allowing him rest but remaining alert to the smallest sound.
Hawkins stood on a bed of gray ashes, around her a whirlwind of fire raged burning everything it touched as the earth shook violently to the point she could not stand. She was trapped in the middle of it all unable to move as the circle of flames slowly drew tighter, a distance away from her stood her copilot apparently unaware of what was happening as the flames approached him. She cried out in warning to him but it was too late, the flames covered him as he evaporated into ash. The earth shook even more violently as the ring drew ever tighter, the heat growing more and more unbearable. She cried out for help but could hear no answer, yet she continued to scream into the distance in sheer desperation. Looking up she could see the tops of the spinning flames and reached out above her. Suddenly a force took hold of her hand and with super human strength pulled her from the eye of the storm as the flames overtook everything. She awoke nearly hysterical her eyes wide and unfocused staring at the figure above her, Howerton, who was clutching her left hand. Tears welled in her eyes and she began to sob uncontrollably, burying her head in her arms. A bewildered Howerton attempted to calm her but with little success. The crash had cut her more deeply than she could ever realize. Finally she managed to take control of her emotions and calmed herself. Sheepishly she looked at Howerton,
“Don’t worry about it, we’re in a tough spot right now you just needed to vent a little,” he said trying to comfort her, “Go ahead and try to get a few more hours rest, I’ll keep watch,” she nodded. It seemed strange to her that her mind was suddenly at ease and she found sleep came very naturally. Just before a moment before losing consciousness she felt her diaper grow in warmth and begin to swell and was sound asleep the next.
Shafts of light filtered through the trees as Hawkins awoke and immediately felt a hand placed firmly over her mouth. She gave a muffled cry of surprise before following the arm up to Howerton’s face, one finger resting over his mouth. She nodded and he removed his hand pointing out in the distance. Hawkins, who had good eyes even by aviation standards, had no trouble spotting the man with a rifle slung on his shoulder. It was obvious by his uniform he wasn’t friendly, likely local militia or even a mercenary. The man took a long drag on a cigarette, casually blowing smoke into the air. Hawkins looked at Howerton, he had his M4 (which had only recently replaced his GAU-5/P) leveled at the man with the safety on and his finger out of the trigger guard, he wasn’t going to engage unless absolutely necessary. Following suite almost subconsciously Hawkins drew her anything but standard issue M1911 from it’s holster pointing it at the ground. Howerton looked over his shoulder at Hawkins, she was calm and collected. Her momentary meltdown had acted like a reset button allowing her to fall back on training. Both held their breath as the man made a lazy attempt of searching the area before finally walking out of sight oblivious to the two’s presence. Hawkins sighed and then noticed the pressure building on her bladder. Thinking at this point it didn’t really matter she relaxed and felt the already swollen diaper expand and grow warm again. She gave a little sigh of relief and then noticed Howerton was staring, she turned red before realizing he was looking at her weapon.
“Where on earth did you get that?” he asked. Smiling she handed him the one hundred year old handgun which he took and carefully inspected.
“It was a gift from my father,” she replied, “he gave it to me just before me first deployment, he’s a bit of a gun nut. Custom built it himself, he said he didn’t trust anything the air force would give me,” she giggled a little bit, “He’s probably sent me a few thousand hand loads in the mail, he’d throw a fit if I even thought of using any other ammo,” For the first time since the crash she thought about her family. Surely they had been told by now what had happened. She thought about her mother and father hearing the news that their daughter’s plane had been shot down and how they would fall apart when they were told that she had been killed while trying to escape… she shook her head to clear her thoughts. There was nothing to be gained from thinking like that, focus on staying alive. Howerton finished his inspection and handed the pistol back
“This is quite a piece of work, I’m impressed,” she accepted it placing it back in it’s holster, “All right,” he said shifting his pack around and digging into it, “let’s get some food in us and get moving,” he handed her a MRE and one of his canteens. She ripped it open and began eating quickly, she knew they didn’t have time to be sitting around enjoying breakfast. She also drank plenty of water to stave off her thirst. As she finished eating she began to wet again, and at this point realized she had better change immediately before it ended up in her flight suit. Howerton had dug a hole to bury the remains of their MREs when she asked him to wait before filling it in saying she’d be right back. She quickly found a place to lay down and removed a very swollen and yellow diaper, quickly swapping it for a dry one. She returned with her wet diaper rolled in a ball and deposited it in the hole turning a little red. Howerton didn’t say anything and quickly covered the hole and placed branches over it.
“Ready to go Ma’m?” he asked. Hawkins nodded in reply, “All right let’s get moving,”
Hawkins pulled her back pack on and followed Howerton into the woods, her diaper crinkling. The terrain ahead was uneven, partially due to Howerton’s choice knowing that the enemy would likely search places with level terrain. Hawkins was still a bit unsteady and had some trouble navigating steeper inclines but with Howerton’s help was able to keep a good pace. Neither spoke much along the way, neither had much to say either. Despite prior worries Hawkins found traveling in a diaper wasn’t too incredibly uncomfortable, although after a second wetting it became much more of a burden. The next time they stopped the sun had risen to it’s highest point in the sky casting short shadows. They stopped a few meters away from a stream, finding a well concealed place to rest and eat, as well as replenish their water supply. While Howerton was filling his canteen Hawkins found a secluded area to change her soaking diaper. It took only a moment to remove the wet and she quickly replaced it with a fresh dry one, snugly taping it in place. She prepared to stand up, diaper secured when movement caught her eye.
Howerton heard Hawkins’ startled cry and bolted through the underbrush weapon up and ready. What he saw took huge amounts of professionalism to keep from dying laughing. Hawkins stood with her flight suit around her ankles wearing only a simple olive drab undershirt and a fully exposed diaper while hesitantly observing a green snake. While they weren’t one of her greatest phobias its sudden appearance had been a less than welcome surprise. Seeing Howerton she quickly pulled the flight suit up around her waist, tying it off; although the top of her diaper was still barely visible.
“Sorry about that, he caught me off guard,” she said smiling despite her embarrassment, Howerton chuckled,
“Can’t say I blame you Ma’m, I’m not particularly fond of snakes myself,” Hawkins’ facial expression changed,
“You know I do have a name besides Ma’m, call me Julie or Hawkins at least,”
“All right Hawkins,” he replied, “let’s get some lunch and take a few seconds to rest,”
Howerton fished a couple MRE’s from his ruck and tossed her one which she quickly began to devour. They had made good time and would likely be out of the area in a few hours march according to Howerton. She was relieved to hear that but was also worried for the rest of her crew. Howerton had assured her Redding and Aldridge would take good care of them but the death of her copilot still weighed heavily on her heart. She also thought of the lone man searching the country side. It wasn’t just him they had to worry about, there could be hundreds or even thousands of people looking for them. These types loved taking POWs when they could, and she didn’t want to think about becoming a female prisoner. She took a sip from the canteen deciding that if they got into a fire fight she’d take one round off the top of one of her magazines and place it in her pocket, that way even if she emptied all her magazines she would still have one round left to make sure they couldn’t capture her. The thought of it coming to that left her feeling cold, despite the warm weather. She had finished her MRE and after a few minutes they would start their march again, she only hoped it lead to their salvation and not destruction.
They had been walking for some hours when Hawkins requested they stop so she could change. She quickly hurried to a semi-secluded area and dropped her flight suit revealing a leaking, and yellowed diaper. The inside of her flight suit was only a tiny bit damp, but she still kicked herself for not keeping track of how many time she had wet. Discarding the soaking undergarment she had a dry one on in a few seconds and pulled her flight suit back on. When she returned Howerton was kneeling his rifle leveled aiming at a distant target. She immediately dropped down and drew her pistol her heart racing. Using hand motions he signaled her to move back to where she had come from as he slowly side stepped toward more concealing cover. Only a few minutes later a foot patrol consisting of three men passed through joking and laughing. Hawkins’ heart jumped into her throat, her temples pounding. She could still just barely see Howerton and fixed her eyes on him trying to stay calm. The group stopped, and continued to chat in a language she did not recognize. She held her breath trying to remain motionless her pulse rapidly rising. One of the men’s eyes wandered over the area when he looked over her position and seemed to stare for a moment. Terror took hold of her. He looked hard and a light of recognition lit his eyes. His rifle started to come up, she froze unsure of what action to take when Howerton’s rifle cracked and sent a round smashing through his skull. Hawkins snapped to and brought her pistol up to bear on the second man. The front sight lined up perfect with the rear dovetail, right on the man’s torso. She breathed out and pulled the trigger, the pull was neither too heavy or too light. The round spiraled out of the barrel at over 800 feet per second, her father’s hand loads would not fail her. The round lanced through the man’s aorta, a second shot punctured a lung. The man bled out almost instantly and fell. That left the third, Howerton triggered his weapon on burst striking the man center mass. The rounds tumbled through him creating grievous wound channels. He would die before hitting the ground. Howerton, knowing the other hunters would home in on the report from their firearms, stood and quickly waved to Hawkins,
“Come on we need to get out of here now!” Hawkins shoved her pistol into it’s holster and chased after him as they sprinted through the woods. Howerton slowed his pace to allow her to keep up as they tried to outpace the enemy. With no other options they would run for an area Howerton had marked as a possible LZ and hope they could raise a chopper. Behind them shots rang out as the enemy blindly fired in their direction. Suddenly up ahead a lone enemy combatant sprang from cover and let loose several rounds into Howerton’s chest. He gave a cry of pain and immediately fell to the ground as Hawkins drew her weapon and hammered the man with several rounds. She rushed to Howerton who, with some difficulty, sat up. Three rounds had punctured his kevlar and embedded themselves in his trauma plate. He was in quite a bit of pain but was still alive. She helped him up and they continued to flee the enemy. Ahead the trees abruptly ended leading into uneven terrain covered with rocks which would provided good cover. Beyond that was a downhill slope leading to a flat area where a helicopter could conceivably land. Taking cover behind the rocks Hawkins activated her emergency radio while Howerton scanned the tree line. There was no response, she looked to Howerton, his face was pale and his breath seemed uneven.
“You okay?,” she asked,
“Yeah,” he replied, “this freakin smarts though,” She turned her attention back to the radio, when fire began to break from the tree line. Howerton’s rifle banged away on burst fire trying to suppress the enemy as best he could. Bullets ricocheted off the rocks. Hawkins stared desperately at the radio, no response. Howerton gave out a cry of pain and fell down as a round lanced through his left arm, he lay on his back struggling to get back on his feet. Hawkins drew her pistol and emptied the magazine in the direction of the enemy but was forced back down by the return fire. Pulling out a new magazine she slipped it into the magwell, hesitated and then pulled out another, removed one round and slipped it into her pocket. Howerton watched as she did so,
“Hawkins you won’t need that bullet, I promise you,” She looked at him as he finally got back onto his feet, steadied his rifle on the rocks and began to fire pausing only to reload. Blood trickled down his arm as he desperately tried to protect her, his own life was of little consequence to him now. The volume of fire from the tree line increased rapidly, they were fighting a losing battle and Howerton knew it. Enemy fire forced his head down and he locked eyes with Hawkins, he was down to his final option,
“Listen to me, I’m going lay down as much fire as I can, when I do I want you to run while I cover you got it?” Hawkins hesitated,
“No, I’m not leaving you behind,”
“Please Julie you don’t need to die here, just do it,” he pleaded. She continued to look at him, unsure of how to respond. Finally she reluctantly nodded. Howerton raised himself over the rocks and went cyclic, spraying ammo downrange. Words began to spill out of Hawkins’ mouth in the form of a prayer, one begging that Howerton be protected,
“Run!” he yelled as tracers spider webbed through the air. She made ready to run, her heart full of sorrow, when suddenly the radio crackled to life. With lightning quick reflexes she snatched it up and held it to her ear,
“This is Razor 05 I have your distress beacon respond, over,” She screamed into the radio over the gunfire,
“This is Captain Julie Hawkins, we’re survivors from Ditka 01, we’re in contact and need immediate support! over,”
“Roger Ditka 01 we’re on our way,” Hawkins yelled to Howerton,
“We’ve got a friendly helo!” she announced a smile working its way across her face as her prayer silently shifted to one of thanksgiving. Howerton smiled back and continued to fire, they had a glimmer of hope. In the distance the distinct thumping of chopper blades could be heard as an Air Force Pavehawk burst into view it’s .50 caliber M2’s pouring lead into the trees suppressing the enemy. Immediately fire shifted from the two survivors to the helicopter forcing it to break off. The radio crackled,
“Ditka 01 that LZ is too hot, we’re going to put in forces on the ground but we cannot, I say again, cannot land, over,”
“Roger that Razor 05; Howerton we’ve got friendly reinforcements!” she said almost joyfully. Behind them the Pavehawk hovered just above the ground as three men, two PJs and one combat controller, fast roped down. They quickly sprinted towards Howerton and Hawkins to join them in the fight.
“How you doing,” one of the PJs said in a friendly voice. Howerton responded,
“Just fine and dandy, care to help kill some bad guys?”
“That’s what we’re here for,” the two PJs’ quickly added their rifles to the fight while the combat controller pulled out one of his many radios and began cycling through channels trying to raise any aircraft, taking breaks only to fire his weapon. They were still woefully outnumbered and even with passes by the pavehawk the enemy continued to be reinforced. It would be far too easy for them to overrun the survivors, they needed close air support. The three PJs kept their rifles constantly working trying to keep the enemy at bay. Some of the soldiers became bold and rushed from the tree line into the cover of nearby boulders. One of the PJ’s had an M203 mounted on his rifle and quickly fired several 40 mm grenades, dispatching some enemies and forcing the others back. Hawkins took potshots with her pistol, trying to conserve ammo as the combat controller continued to seek aircraft. Finally he got an affirmative response, a flight of A-10s were being redirected to them from a previous sortie. Hawkins could hear snippets of the conversation over the gunfire,
“Diamondback 2-1 this is Hammer lead we’re a flight of two Alfa 10s. We’ve got two canister of nape, and about half a load of 30 mike mike each. We’re good on fuel so we’re with you as long as we’ve got ammo, over,” The controller responded,
“Roger Hammer lead, be advised we have a pavehawk in the area, keep your eyes open. Our position will be marked by red smoke, no ordinance within 30 meters of the smoke, enemy is to the west in the trees, approach from the south parallel to the tree line and break east. 30 mike mike first, nape after. Target will be lazed, call target and friendlies before run and go through dry if I don’t clear you, we’re working danger close here gentlemen let’s keep the fratricide to a minimum, over,”
“Roger danger close Diamondback, we’re standing by for your laze,” the combat controller quickly aimed a target designator at the tree line, “I have your sparkle, Hammer lead has target and friendlies, starting my run,” Hawkins watched as the A-10 barreled towards them, “Roger that Hammer lead you’re cleared hot guns; everyone get your heads down!” The five Americans quickly found shelter, the A-10 thundered towards them as it’s 30 mm cannon unleashed a torrent of fire that chewed up trees and infantry alike. The depleted uranium rounds were designed to destroy tanks, when used on infantry the results were truly devastating. Even more amazing was the fact that the enemy continued to fire as the A-10 pulled off, leaving the PJs to resume the fight. Suddenly there was a bright flash of light from the tree line as a rocket propelled grenade sizzled towards them, Hawkins briefly heard someone shout, “RPG!” before Howerton jumped on top of her, covering her with his body as the rocket exploded nearby leaving her ears ringing. Howerton rolled off his face creased by pain. Hawkins looked at him and felt sick. In addition to shrapnel wounds scattered across his body, the rocket had torn apart a good portion of his right leg exposing bone. Blood pooled around him as he lay unable to move. His eyes locked with Hawkins’ and somehow he managed to smile before lapsing into unconsciousness. The combat controller once again announced incoming air support. This time the salvo from the second A-10 would decimate the enemy, forcing them to retreat as the A-10s circled back around and napalmed the area setting the tree line ablaze. Hawkins rested on her knees looking at Howerton as the two PJs rushed to attend to him and make him ready to move while the combat controller marked the LZ for the pavehawk. Billows of smoke rose in the background as the fires raged. When they had boarded the chopper the PJs wasted no time in providing trauma care to their brother, even under the bumpy conditions they had to fly in they started an I.V. on their first try and began a blood transfusion while they tried desperately to stop the bleeding in his leg. Hawkins sat out of the way watching and praying, praying for the man who had given so much to protect her.
Julie Howerton awoke in a cold sweat her eyes darted around the dark room surveying for threats, there were none to be found and she allowed herself to relax. The nightmares never completely stopped, images of the crash and Joseph’s broken body still haunted her in her sleep. She placed a hand on the front of her diaper, it was warm from the recent wetting. That came along with the nightmares, though things had been slowly improving. Ignoring the soaking diaper taped around her waist she climbed out of bed to, ironically, get a glass of water. She made a point of turning on as many lights as she could along the way, the dark was unnerving to her when she was like this. Reaching the kitchen she filled a glass up and took sips of it while staring out the window into the cold night sky. Memories from the escape swam in her mind despite her attempts to banish them. She heard footsteps behind her, one heavier than the other and felt a wave of terror seize her. Summoning her courage she turned to face her attacker. Visible relief crossed her face when she saw Joseph standing in the door way, light reflecting off his prosthetic leg, a worried look on his face. Neither spoke for a moment until Joseph broke the silence,
“Again?” she nodded, a single tear slowly rolled down her face. With a metallic click accompanying each step Joseph made his way over to her and placed his arm around her. They exchanged no words just enjoyed being in the company of the other, Joseph silently praying. Both had lost a part of themselves and both considered the other’s loss to be greater than their own. Together they made life bearable for the other when nothing else could’ve. Joseph had nearly given up everything to protect her, and she had given him a reason to fight after he considered his life over when he lost his leg. Now he was here for her again as her own mind battered her around, and he would not abandon her. They stood in the kitchen for some time before finally going back to bed, Julie taking a moment to change into a dry diaper before going back to sleep.