Philippine Hardpunch

BOOK: Philippine Hardpunch
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“BETTER TAKE SOME
OF THOSE BOYS
OUT QUICK, SARGE!”

Murphy grunted over his shoulder as he worked the chopper’s controls. “One lucky round will—”

Cody didn’t hear the rest, for even as he swung the Ingram on those below, more soldiers spewed out of the house, their M-16s
raised. Cody took aim, pulled the trigger…and nothing happened.

The Ingram jammed in his fist!

“This I do not believe,” he snarled.

The main house drew back below and behind in the rainy dark backdrop. The chopper gained the north wall.

But those saffron winking pinpoint flashes of M-16s below did not stop.

Cody could not hear the reports, but he felt the sudden lurch of the chopper when the lucky round Murphy had mentioned hit.

The chopper started to tilt crazily.

“Got us!” Cody heard Rufe snarl like a curse.

Then the engine noises stopped altogether, and only the airy
whirrrr
of the rotors could be heard as the chopper plummeted downward…

Also by Jim Case

CODY’S ARMY

CODY’S ARMY: ASSAULT INTO LIBYA

Published by

WARNER BOOKS

Copyright

WARNER BOOKS EDITION

Copyright © 1987 by Warner Books, Inc.

All rights reserved.

Warner Books, Inc.

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017

Visit our website at
www.HachetteBookGroup.com

First eBook Edition: September 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-56629-2

Contents

“BETTER TAKE SOME OF THOSE BOYS OUT QUICK, SARGE!”

ALSO BY JIM CASE

COPYRIGHT

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINTEEN

CHAPTER
ONE

I
t reminded John Cody of Nam.

He led his team stealthily along the narrow trail that climbed and dipped across rugged, mountainous jungle.

A tall man, sturdy, heavily muscled, his eyes steadily probed the muggy gloom for danger as the unit moved swiftly along.

Each man toted a CAR-15, the fully automatic rifle similar to the army’s M-16, only shorter and lighter.

Like his men, Cody wore camou fatigues and, in addition to the CAR-15s, a U.S. Army issue Colt 45 automatic, holstered at
his hip, and military webbing strapped across his chest with an assortment of grenades, wire garrotes, pouches with spare
ammunition, and a combat knife sheathed at midchest for fast crossdraw.

The four men hustled soundlessly along the trail, their bootfalls muffled by the loam and the incessant chatter of birds and
insects that made the dark a living thing, tangled vines merging with the inky closeness overhead where the fronds of thick-trunked
balsa trees joined. The jungle sweltered, claustrophobic.

Behind Cody, Rufe Murphy, Richard Caine, and Hawkeye Hawkins maintained an evenly spaced distance from each other, avoiding
grouping in case of ambush, each man hustling through that gloom with his CAR-15 held up and ready in firing position, sweeping
from side to side as the unit jogged along.

A half-moon shimmered vaguely behind low, scudding clouds, bathing the jungle in a misty half-light.

Cody made out a barely discernible widening of the trail just ahead. He slowed his pace and held up a hand.

The men trotting behind him saw it and spread out, falling away from each other, cutting from the trail into the bush, leaving
only the whisper of separating vines and branches to mark their passage.

Cody reached a spot where the trail fed onto a clearing. He crouched at the treeline, concealing himself behind the gnarled
trunk of a mango tree that towered into the stygian gloom above. He parted tangled vines with his left arm and with the barrel
of his CAR-15, stifling the impulse to gag at the nearly total lack of oxygen this close to the jungle floor and the overpowering
stench of decay, rotting vegetation, and animal life.

Across a distance of no more than eight hundred feet, the bamboo wall of the perimeter of a military compound slept exactly
where he expected to find it.

The intel he had on the place said the ten-foot-high wall surrounded several hut structures, constituting the headquarters
of the regional New People’s Army, the communist insurgency guerilla force which more or less claimed control of this isolated
province.

He sensed movement at his either side and seconds later the hulking form of Murphy crouched down to his right and to his left,
Hawkins and Caine materialized.

“Looks like Pete’s intel is on the money once again,” Caine noted, his precise British accent pitched to a low whisper that
would not carry beyond the four of them.

Murphy, a hulking black man of linebacker proportions, grunted, “The question now is, do we strike it rich and find Jeffers
and his family in there?”

“There’s only one way to find out,” Cody growled.

A gate was set midway in the wall facing them across the moon-washed distance. A guardhouse stood past the wood-frame gate
draped with concertina wire.

Cody counted four sentries down there and figured there could be a couple more he could not see.

The red pinpoints of cigarettes indicated not so nearly a tight security as did the shadowy shapes of the sentries leaning
in nonchalant attitudes against the wall of the guardhouse, the slightest murmur of idle conversation between them carrying
across the clearing.

Hawkins nudged Caine with his elbow.

“You have heard the sarge, teabag,” the Texan drawled with a grin. “Let’s do it.”

He and the Englishman eased further off from Cody and Murphy to quickly disappear from sight into the gloom along the treeline,
heading out inside cover of jungle, moving parallel to the walled perimeter across the clearing.

Beyond the clearing and the compound, the craggy, mist-shrouded terrain began taking on the first warm pink tint of approaching
sunrise.

“Another ten minutes and that base starts waking up,” Murphy opined.

“Let’s hand them a wake-up they won’t forget,” Cody grunted.

He and Murphy pulled back slightly deeper into the treeline. Cody had been paying close attention to the jungle around them
as well as to the walled perimeter.

A U.S. Army helicopter gunship had set down the team two kilometers south from here on a mountainous plateau.

The chopper had set them down at such a relative distance for several reasons, the primary one being the element of surprise,
but also because the primary reason for this hard hit on this NPA base camp was to rescue the three American hostages being
held inside by the communist insurgents.

The possibility existed, of course, that the hostages Cody and his men had traveled halfway around the world to rescue had,
for one reason or another, been already whisked away from this site by their captors.

The first order of business here was a soft probe of that perimeter, a quiet penetration of the compound before the fireworks
commenced, to first locate the Americans being held here and then pull them out safely. A full thrust assault, Cody and his
men ferried in by gunships strafing the compound as the commandos struck, could well have meant the immediate execution of
the hostages and so it had been done this way.

The NPA personnel at this compound must have heard the chopper that set Cody and his men down in the distance, but they would
not have been alarmed, chopper noises nothing new in this remote corner of the Philippines, the helicopter a common means
of island-hopping within this archipelago of more than seven thousand islands.

And if the intel Pete Lund had channeled to Cody was, in this instance, outdated, if Jeffers and his wife and daughter had
been moved by the insurgents to another location, then Cody knew there was still a chance that he and his team could learn
of the Jefferses’ present whereabouts before they pulled out from here.

But first and foremost came the welfare of the three American hostages they had come all this distance to rescue.

Cody and Murphy jogged along, just short of the treeline, pushing their way through dense foliage, not using their combat
knives as machetes because such sounds would carry to these sentries standing guard at the gate. This slowed their progress
some, but not much, and they made their way parallel to the wall of the compound across the clearing, heading in the opposite
direction taken by Richard Caine and Hawkeye Hawkins.

The trek to here from where the chopper set them down had been uneventful, but Cody understood that this did not mean that
the NPA commander, Colonel Locsin, would not have roving patrols moving across the region as a security precaution, and such
patrols would be every bit as stealthy and skillful at jungle warfare as his own team. At this point, he preferred to engage
them, alerting those within the compound, if such a patrol would appear on the scene in the next few minutes. They had been
lucky so far but he knew from hard-earned experience that luck rarely held on a mission for very long…

He and Murphy paused when they reached a point on the treeline a couple hundred feet beyond one corner of the bamboo wall
of the compound. They paused for a quick visual sweep of the clearing around the walled perimeter.

Everything appeared as it had since the two minutes or so since their approach.

The sentries at the front gate were no longer in sight from this angle, the clearing surrounding the base bathed in gloom
as yet untouched by the soft gray creeping up from the eastern horizon of craggy jungle-carpeted ridges.

It reminded Cody of Vietnam, where he and the men of this team had first served together on missions such as this one, often
behind enemy lines, often without mention in official files, a “dirty job” unit, individually and as a unit responsible for
an impressive record of enemy kills and a 100% success quota on every mission the brass had seen fit to throw their way; a
unit recently reorganized to counter world terrorism in decidedly off-the-record capacity for the U.S. government, which had
become increasingly frustrated by its inability to effectively thwart the worldwide terrorist activity against Americans and
American interests abroad, activity which threatened to move closer to home if allowed to continue unchecked.

Computer searches of government files, including all sectors of American intelligence and counterintelligence agencies, had
registered one man’s name at the top of every list too often for the president and Pete Lund to ignore. Fed into their computers
had been their most stringent requirements for a leader for a small, hardpunch strike force designed to deploy anywhere around
the world at the first indication of a terrorist action, a force which could only effectively be met by such a team that would
function with full covert support from any and all arms of the government, including military, with full authorization directly
from the man in the Oval Office itself.

Pete Lund functioned as liaison, and it was his directive that had sent Cody and his team into this latest mission for the
unit that had been dubbed “Cody’s Army” by the select few even aware of its existence.

Cody and Murphy broke from the treeline together, on a run across the clearing toward the wall, advancing in fast zigzags
around the comer of the wall and out of the line of vision of the sentries at the front gate.

Like Nam, Cody thought again. Not just the jungle and the sweat, but that tight ball of anger tempered with combat cool in
the pit of your gut in these last heartbeats before a strike.

BOOK: Philippine Hardpunch
11.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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