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From the Book "White Passage: Red Sun" by Matt Rowe


On the left side of the fire and maneuver training lane, Sergeant Holt pulled off the plastic cap connected to the fuse of a hand grenade simulator and yanked the string. He held it for a second, and then tossed it between two of the Sinchis of team alpha. 

One of the policemen had decided to move again...over to the nice dry pile of wood and sand bags from which his teammate was firing. The two men were now only a few feet away each other.

The loud explosion from the unexpected location scared both the students and caused a brief lull in their fire.          

Holt used the opportunity to shout, "You guys are close enough for one grenade to kill you both!" 

He pointed an accusing finger at the policeman who made the mistake of moving a second time. "And you! Unless your life depends on it, never move when you're supposed to be covering someone else!" 

"Sí, mi sargento!" shouted the young man grinning from ear to ear. He was thoroughly enjoying himself. 

Team bravo had taken cover behind three of the sandbag positions on the right side of the lane about fifteen meters ahead of the covering team. As they began firing, Cabo Nuñez looked around to see where he was going next. Two more grenade simulators detonated over to his left, and he saw that one of the gringos had thrown a red smoke grenade. It was becoming difficult to see the end of the lane through the expanding cloud of scarlet smoke. He finally decided to try for a nice dry sandbag position to his left and shouted for the alpha team to begin its advance. 

Holt could barely keep from laughing when two of the students on the left side jumped up simultaneously and ran directly into each other. He did not want them to see any humor in the potentially deadly mistake, but it was awfully funny to watch just the same. One man had actually fallen down and the other had stopped dead in his tracks, standing straight up and making himself a nice target. The third man advanced all alone. Fortunately, neither man had been moving with his finger on the trigger this time. 

"Comunicación! Comunicación!" Holt shouted slapping his forehead. "And you two," he shouted to the men at whom he had tossed the grenade simulator and who had run into each other. "You two were so close together you could have whispered! Don't forget to talk to each other and cover your buddy's movement!" 

The two young men continued forward much more cautiously. They took up positions on either end of a long dead tree lying on the ground just to the right of the third man who had dropped behind a large rock. This time all three were far enough apart to avoid another one of Holt's "friendly" reminders. Seeing that the alpha team was finally down and firing, Cabo Nuñez crawled to the left side of the sandbag pile from which he was firing and began crawling forward. 

Gatewood detonated another charge just in front of the cabo. 


Again, dirt and rocks rained down. 

"Damn, Woody!" shouted Sergeant Crossman knowing that he was too far away to hear it. "Give the poor guy a break." 

Gatewood stood on top of the dirt mound watching everything that was going on and was still somehow oblivious to what he was doing to the poor cabo. Master Sergeant Kriz had come out to watch and was standing next to him. Other students were spread out along the dirt mound as well, all of them watching and listening to Gatewood as he pointed out any mistakes made by the first fire-team. 

"How's it going, Woody?" asked Kriz. 

"Not bad, Top. But these two guys on the left are about as fucked up as a football bat. They were too close together, so Holt nailed'em with a simulator, and then one guy ran into the other and knocked him on his ass. I've been tryin' not to laugh. I'm glad I'm back here where it's safe," he added. 

Gatewood looked at his range diagram carefully and entered the code number for one of the pits on the right side of the lane. He looked up, making sure that no one was too close and pushed the firing button. There was a flash and a loud explosion as dirt and smoke filled the air above the pit. He laughed when Irons threw another grenade simulator near two students from bravo team who had come too close together. Irons tossed a white smoke grenade in front of them as well. From the dirt mound, it really did look and sound like a battle was going on and Gatewood was enjoying his little part in it very much. 

"Watch this, Top," he said. "There's a charge just behind the tree where those two clowns who ran into each other were." He entered the appropriate code. 

"Behind? Where?" asked Kriz straining to see through all the smoke. "Right there next to Holt...see?" he pointed as he flipped up the cover of the firing switch, and pressed the button. 

"You might want to wait..." began Kriz, but Gatewood had already detonated the charge. 


The nearby explosion caught Holt completely off guard, and he dropped to the ground instinctively. Like all the other pits, this one too had accumulated a small puddle of water in the bottom. When the charge exploded, mud and smelly water blasted into the air, raining down again and soaking Holt and the two closest students. 

"Son-of-a-bitch!" cursed Holt as he got back up to his feet. 

The front of his uniform and equipment harness were covered with muck from the hole and dripped water. Both Gatewood and Kriz could hear his curse all the way from their position on the mound. Holt turned around, wiping the mud from his face, staring at Gatewood menacingly. 

"Oops," whispered Gatewood sheepishly. 

"Smooth move, Ex-Lax," laughed Kriz.

 Copyright © 2008 Matt Rowe - All Rights Reserved