LRL and Neo-Soviets hunting for survivors
By late Spring of 2182 the LRL offensive aimed at claiming the whole of Crossland Island finally ground to a halt in the suburbs of Centerville, the capital of the Crossland Territory. LRL's offensive inflicted terrible losses on the combined forces of the US's Taskforce Bataan and those who weren't destroyed or driven back were cut off many miles behind the front line in hostile territory. Many small units were destroyed by ambushes launched by Liberty insurgents while others disbanded and scattered themselves in the forests and swamps of eastern Crossland where they suffered from starvation, disease, and isolation.
However others managed to stay together, unite with other stragglers and survivors, and began the long, perilous march back to friendly lines. Perhaps the largest of these ragged bands centered on 2nd Platoon, Dog Company, 1/4 Marines led by Staff Sergeant Avery Strong. Strong's platoon deployed to Crossland during the fall of 2181 and conducted search and destroy operations in Summer County, Crossland Territory. Based out of Forward Operations Base Trigger, Strong's platoon carried out a vigorous search and destroy campaign that destroyed dozens of insurgent cells which led to the pacification of coastal Summer County. On December 20, 2181 the exhausted platoon received a FRAGO directing them pack-up and to get ready to return to Centreville for some well deserved R&R. Unfortunately for Strong's leathernecks the LRL had other plans.
By the end of December the LRL had landed its 2nd Brigade and began a blizkrieg right across the island, cutting off the platoon. Calls for resupply were refused because embattled TF Bataan simply couldn't commit the resources. It was barely holding on to Centreville and needed every round of ammo and every MRE pack for itself! Worse still, the insurgents in Summer County decided that this was the time to take the war to the enemy. Through out December and January 2nd Platoon, Dog Company repulsed 8 separate assaults on FOB Trigger. However each victory costed the gyrenes more men and resources. By February Sergeant Strong knew the jig was up. His men were down to their last few mags and ration packs. Avery was stuck with a very stark choice: surrender his depleted garrison or try to escape.
This choice led to a grim, 3 month long odyssey in which Stong's marines battled to breakthrough enemy lines to get back home. For three grim months Strong's exhausted survivors trekked through the dense rain forests, malarial swamps and dark jungles of eastern Crossland all the while dodging LRL, then later Neo-Soviet, patrols. Along the way Strong picked up survivors from several different US units ranging from grunts from the 31st Infantry to half-starved stragglers from the 45th ANG. By the time Strong reached Freeman's Farm in Cullman County he'd rescued some 60 survivors and organized them into an ad hoc infantry company. However his battered band was always, barely, a step ahead of starvation and the next enemy patrol. His luck ran out at Freeman's Farm.
On May 15, 2182 Strong's survivors made camp in the forest near the farm, looking to grab a few hours of rest and a chance to resupply. However they were just a little too slow this time. The LRL, embarrassed that Strong's men had made it so far, managed to collect a powerful task force drawn from 31eme RI and the Neo-Soviet 67th Rifles. The 67th dug in at the farm while the 31eme RI swept through the forest, looking to drive Strong's band into guns of the Neo-Soviets and their own heavy weapons platoons. By the time the weary sergeant found out what was happening it was too late, he and his men were cornered. It was checkmate. There was no where to go and the men knew what the LRL did to American prisoners... there would be no surrender. All he and his men could expect was a violent death and a shallow grave in this dark corner of Crossland. The mixed band of marines and GIs dug their fighting holes, counted their rounds, and quietly made their peace with their Maker.
A running fight through the woods
It was in that desperate moment that Sergeant Strong heard something over the command push, something that he hadn't heard in months... hope!
"If you blokes want to live then grab your kit and move along azimuth 015 toward the fields just outside the farm. We'll cover your move and set-up a LZ. Now move your arse!!"
More to come...