For His Self-Interest
A First Lieutenant Displays His Mettle Fending Off Insurgents at the Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware
Pickup trucks by the dozens bombarded the gates. Personnel guarding those premises fell by gunfire and rocket-propelled grenade attacks. Barriers moved out of the way of the trucks once the men had employed a special machine to separate the obstructions with hydraulic rescue tools. The flow of enemy personnel swarmed the base like wasps. The Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware braced for an attack by foreign aggressors. This night in April called the best men and women in uniform to action.
In the Air Force barracks, the Airmen could hear the commotion just a few hundred yards away. The Marines, in an outpost, on the base heard the noise, too. The outpost actually would be put to use in this case. With all those certified rifleman equipped with weapons, who would dare threaten the lives of the Marines and Airmen? Lance Corporal Quinto Culls looked up from his tablet. He hopped off of his rack and left his room, rushing. He headed straight to the armory where other Marines found their rifles.
“What the hell is this, Staff Sergeant?” Culls asked.
“We’ve got heat coming from the main entrance. Two Airmen are confirmed dead. We’re going to be facing hundreds of casualties if we don’t act fast,” Staff Sergeant Penny Groves said.
She grabbed her weapon and started running towards the blasts.
Culls received his rifle and followed her. Corporal Ronald Vasquez and Sergeant Phil Deakins all charged to areas of cover while rounds whistled through the air.
Sergeant Deakins yelled at Vasquez, “Get over to that cement structure. I’ll lay down cover fire.”
Culls had to think. Sergeant Deakins lay badly wounded in the left leg and Corporal Vasquez had been shot in the arm. Staff Sergeant Groves was hit in the torso but it must’ve been a flesh wound only because she was still laying down fire. He thought about running to help the two injured Marines but he had to calculate the proper timing between bursts of gunfire and the ability to grab the corpsman and run with him. Eric “Doc” Yin teamed up with Culls.
“Look,” Culls said. “According to the data from these smart rifles, Sergeant Deakins seems to be in the worst shape. You’re going to run with me to address the sergeant’s needs. Then, we’ll see about Vasquez.”
“You’re bleeding,” Doc Yin said.
“What?” Culls looked down at his chest and saw trickles of blood glistening in the night.
“I’ve got to get that patched up before we go anywhere,” Yin said.
“It’s just a flesh wound. It’s like the staff sergeant. Let’s move,” Culls said.
The Officers Club let out and accompanying them, more sergeants carried the smart rifles to their superiors. First Lieutenant Wynn Sweeney became the first Marine officer to reach the barracks armory. He picked up his pistol and rifle and headed towards the banging and clanging. He reached where Culls and Doc Yin had found good cover. The enemy still advanced.
“Sir, we’ve got to get to the three Marines who have been hit.”
“You don’t look so untouched yourself, lance corporal,” Sweeney said.
“I’ve tried to tell him,” Doc Yin said.
Sweeney grinned. “Alright, goddamnit, you and the Doc stay here. I’m going to bring some order to this madness.”
“Yes, sir,” Culls said.
The first lieutenant paced. He could see there remained one of the positions that had not received any fire on the base, the hospital. He made mental notes of where the Marines under his command could go to suppress the opposition. He trained his sights on an assailant encroaching near their space and dispatched him with one shot to the head.
“Let’s go, goddamnit,” Sweeney said. The first lieutenant, the lance corporal, and the corpsman all got up from their positions and journeyed over to the wounded Deakins. Doc opened his kit.
“You’ve got to hold still,” Doc Yin said.
Deakins grimaced. He held his breath.
“Breathe,” Yin said.
Deakins pushed out air. Doc cleaned and dressed the sergeant’s wounds.
“That’s better. You’ll survive, but we’re going to have to get you to the hospital with speed,” Doc Yin said.
Lieutenant Sweeney clutched his side pistol. “Alright you two make a quick cut to where Vasquez is. Get to the hospital and Culls and I are going to get to where Staff Sergeant Groves is. She’s still laying down fire. Bless her mind.”
“Sir, we’re going to need mortar men, grenades, and a SAW out here. They’re coming in quickly. We’ve got to stop their advance.”
“I’m aware of that, son. We’re going to have to do this swift and clean. Doc, sergeant, move! Culls, stay with me.”
The lieutenant and the lance corporal both found another form of cover, a car.
“You should’ve let the Doc dress your wound, Marine,” Sweeney said.
Culls smiled, “I’ve been hit with worse before. It’s just a—”
“‘Flesh wound. I know. What does your smart rifle say?”
“It reads that there are about 40 enemies and that they’re moving closer. But we’ve got Marines and Airmen both overpowering them with a consistent force about 300 Marines and 900 Airmen, sir.”
Sweeney switched back to his pistol and made the adjustments where he could see via night vision supplied by the optics on the smart firearm. He grinned. “That many for the Air Force, huh? Who said Airmen couldn’t shoot?”
Lance Corporal Culls gave out a small chuckle, but felt the pain of the grazed round.
“Doc’s over there, helping Vasquez now and it looks like Sergeant Deakins is going to continue. Let’s join the advance out of here, Marine.”
The officer and the enlisted Marine pushed buttons on the smart pistol and the smart rifle that sent lead down range and carbon into the air.
Enemies dropped like stocks on the Wilmington Stock Exchange (WiSE) in a weak market. Both of them found a rhythm. One would shoot while the other reloaded the magazine into the pistol or the rifle. Once they came to the place where Penny had battled with just her own rifle, the two men took a break.
“It’s good to see you sir, Culls,” Penny said between gulps of air.
“What you did out here is nothing short of spectacular. Outstanding, Marine.”
“Thank you, sir,” Penny said. She looked up at Lance Corporal Culls. “Looks like we each took a bullet across our bellies.”
“Yes, Staff Sergeant.”
Then, an insurgent leaped over the barrier that the three Marines had occupied. He shot Sweeney in the arm and the round went through his wrist. Sweeney withdrew his pistol with his other hand and knocked down the threat with one push of a button.
“You two stay back here and cover me. I’ll be back for you both. I’m going to do that to a few more of these bastards,” Sweeney said.
“But you’re hurt, sir,” Culls said.
“I’ll be fine. You two just fall back. You didn’t know I was ambidextrous, did you?” The staff sergeant and lance corporal looked on with pride at their officer.
He reached a parapet alongside one of the administrative buildings. He switched for his rifle. By way of the information screen, he could detect that there remained five different insurgents slithering up near him. His position behind the barrier allowed him to lay low and at exactly the precise time, he popped up and dropped rounds on all of them. Their bodies slumped. Sweeney removed himself from the barrier and found more Airmen and Marines. Blood trickled from his wound. As he found more cover, she could blast every single enemy with expert rifle skills. The smart rifle just aided in the data but his own ability with the weapon proved to be a boost in this desperate hour.
Sweeney met up with an Air Force officer, captain Galina Gore as he fired away at the insurgents.
“Ma’am it’s nice seeing you here. I’ve got two Marines a few yards back that would love to seek some further medical attention. They’ve been fighting all night like the rest of us. Let’s say we knock out these last remaining vermin and get back to them. Okay?”
“It’s your world now, Lieutenant, but I think you’re going to need a corpsman,” Galina said.
“Think nothing of it.” Sweeney took off his blouse, cut off a sections of it, and wrapped them around the affected arm and wrist.
The two became like owls screeching with their rifles through the torrent of rounds going every which way. Their cover remained sufficient so they stayed behind a barrier for a good 40 minutes.
They saw a few injured Airmen, 11 to be exact. They braved the onslaught of hot lead and rescued the US servicemen from danger. They formed a chain of bodies that helped to bring the men and women in United States uniform to the base hospital. While Sweeney dragged the chain of service members, Galina offered the brilliance of her rifles. As the advance subsided, there remained even more Marines and Airman who had caught some bad ones during the fight. Some had perished while others lingered. So, the chain consisted of 21 live service members. Sweeney struggled with the weight. His good arm allowed him to continue with the chain. He built up enough force and the ones with lesser wounds struggled right along with Sweeney. The firing finally ceased. The quiet that hung in the air remained a spookiness for the chain of bodies and minds linked together in pain and anguish and some elements of relief.
A cheer rose up from around the base. Bodies lay about the base and fires burned. But the worse seemed to be over for the Marines and Airmen of the Dover Air Force Base.
The hospital became inundated with the wounded and also processed the dead. Doc Yin worked on two personnel at once sometimes. The officer surgeons found new ways to stitch up and heal mangled bodies and addressed the minds of the injured. For all of the commotion that had lasted throughout the night, this bastion of health had been left untouched by a single round or grenade.
Lieutenant Sweeney sat at a chair while a doctor tended to his arm.
“You know you’re lucky that it just went in and out, lieutenant,” said Major Hampton Downing.
“I’d say I’m fortunate, sir,” Sweeney said.
The doctor smiled.
Sergeant Deakins received care for his leg and was laughing with Corporal Vasquez who stretched out his arm to allow the doctor to heal it. Staff Sergeant Groves stood outside of the hospital with an e-cigarette pushing the vapor into the fading night sky.
Once things had become relatively normal again, the tension on the base between Airmen and Marines eased. There came about a sense of camaraderie and renewed respect amongst the two branches. When it came time for the awards to be announced for the heroics of a given individual, Captain Sweeney, Staff Sergeant Penny Groves, Sergeant Deakins, Corporal Vasquez, and Lance Corporal Quinto Culls all received the Purple Heart. Also, Captain Galina Gore earned the Air Force Cross and the Silver Star Medal. Staff Sergeant Groves received the Navy Cross, and Lance Corporal Culls received the Bronze Star Medal.
Captain Sweeney's name became listed as the laureate of the Medal of Honor. For his heroics that night, Sweeney would be the first recipient of the updated code for citations. On it, he found that he, “Selfishly and boldly fended off enemy fire while also saving the lives of 25 Marines and Airmen. Despite being injured himself, First Lieutenant Sweeney fought valiantly. His might and presence of mind produced a gallant display that inspired his fellow Marines as well as Airmen to show bravery also. His actions confirm the boldness and efficacy of the human mind while under duress. With intrepidity, coolness, and egoism, First Lieutenant Sweeney reflected employed intelligence and valor under extreme circumstances. His mettle permitted the lives of Marines and Airmen to continue. He braved the enemy’s advance even when the fighting was at its worst. For his self-interest regarding his fellow service members, he is granted the nation’s highest military award and has reflected well upon himself and the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”
Sweeney accepted the citation and it was well with his mind.