July 25, 1985: Thursday
Jake looked out the window of the day room in his barracks and saw that it was beginning to rain. The first time since he’d been in country and man did it look good. He had finally gotten to make a phone call home and talked to Glenda and the kids. It was so good to hear their voices and he assured them that everything was okay. Before he hung up he told them that he loved them and that he would be home soon. He sat down immediately and wrote a letter. He finished the letter and was about to go down to the mail bag and put it in when he saw Howard coming down the hallway. Jake smiled at him but got the same response he always did from him, a straight face.
“So, what’s up big ‘H’.” Jake asked.
“Well,” Howard said as he approached. “I’ve got some bad news for you.”
“Okay, so what is it?”
“You know that sniper . . .”
Jake’s heart jumped. “Yep.”
“Well, he is no longer in custody.”
“Okay, so what.”
“He has escaped and is once again at large, and you know what that means? He’s gonna be gunning for you.”
“Is the base on lock down or do you know?”
At that moment Pete, Hammer, Kidd, Hawks, and McCall came through the main door and hurried down the hall where they saw Jake and Howard standing. Following them was a Chief Master Sergeant. Jake sensed what was about to happen.
“You get the news?” Pete asked as he came into the day room.
Everyone else gathered around in excitement. The Chief came in and stood in the doorway.
Jake acknowledged him, “Chief.”
Chief Master Sergeant Davis motioned for Jake to come to him.
Jake walked over. “Yes Chief.”
“Colonel Christopher wants to see you and First Sergeant Steel in his office asap.”
“You mean the Commander sent a Chief to get me and Pete. He must have something top secret on his mind.”
“You and Pete need to follow me right now.”
About ten minutes later Jake and Pete were standing at attention in the Colonel Christopher’s office.
“Sir, Sergeant Anderson and First Sergeant Steel reporting as ordered.” Jake said smartly.
“Have a seat gentlemen.”
Jake and Pete did so as Colonel Christopher went and closed the door. He walked back around to his desk and sat down on a corner facing the two men. He cleared his throat.
“Gentlemen, what I am about to instruct you to do is classified top secret and is to remain only between us and your men when you brief them.” He reached behind him and picked up a folder. When he opened it he read from the paper inside. “The team, known as the Reapers are to hunt down and eliminate, with extreme prejudice the North Korean Sniper.” Colonel Christopher stopped and looked up and into the eyes of Jake and then Pete. He saw blank expressions on both their faces and then, a smile.
“When do we start?” Pete asked.
“When you leave this office you will be on mission.”
Jake turned to Pete. “What are we waiting for, let’s go and take care of business.”
Jake and Pete stood up saluted, turned around and left. They went immediately to find the rest of the team. Jake felt the excitement flow through his body.
After his escape, Lei Chung headed straight to his safe house managing to avoid the base lock down as he did. He knew that the Americans would search the entire base and taking hours and maybe days to do it. Meanwhile he can just sit back and cool his heals and when the time is right, he can get back in and go after his target again.
The Reapers were gathered in the team house waiting to find out what all the hush hush was about.
“So, anybody got any idea what is going on?” Kidd said as he went behind the bar and got an A&W Root Beer out of the fridge. He popped the top and took a long swig.
The door opened and Jake, followed by Pete, came in.
“Everyone gather around this table.” Jake said as he stopped at the nearest one.
The men pulled chairs from around the other tables and placed them beside each other in a semicircle and sat down.
“Gentlemen,” Jake paused and looked at each one, seeing the stern look on some of the faces and smiles on others, except Howard, no expression. “Here it is. The sniper. . .”
“Has escaped.” Howard said not knowing that what he said was true.
“That is correct.” Jake said. “You trying to steal my thunder?”
Howard genuinely looked surprised. “I was only kidding.” He said.
“The sniper,” Jake continued. “Has escaped and is now at large.” He paused to let that sink in. “Now, what I have to say next is not to leave this room.”
Everyone perked up when they heard that.
“We have been given the unofficial go ahead to track down and terminate this sniper. That means that everything we do until he is eliminated, will be to that end. Now, for assignments. First Sergeant Steel will be our intelligence, Kidd I want you on communications, Hammer, you and McCall weapons, Howard team lead, Hawks medic and I am Tactics. Any questions before we continue?”
“How do you know the sniper isn’t long gone. I mean he could have packed it up and high tailed it outta here.” Hammer said looking at the others.
“Not a chance,” Jake said. “You see, he is on a mission. He’s been on one since the hill and he’s not about to stop now, especially since our close encounter here. No sir, he’s definitely gonna try and finish the job.” Jake said without any doubt.
In The Safe House:
Lei Chung thought about what he needed to do. For the time being, lay low and let everything cool down. That would give him plenty of time to work out a plan. Let the Americans develop a false sense of security, then he would strike. He sat back and sipped his cup of tea.
Kunsan Air Base:
For the next couple of weeks the Reapers walked and studied the base looking for possible sniper positions. There were several points that looked promising, but he really didn’t think the sniper would be bold enough to try.
Jake briefed the Commander on the activities and the results.
“Sir, we’ve conducted extensive searches of the base and it has yielded negative results. I think we should take a look off the installation. Go into the local villages and ask around, maybe we’ll get something from that.”
“Alright,” Colonel Christopher said. “But.”
“But . . .”
“There has been a change, a time table. It’s no longer unlimited time.”
“So how much time do we have?”
“If you haven’t made contact with, and done what you are tasked to do in the next fourteen days, then we have to go back to normal ops.”
“Yes Sir. If we don’t have it done in that time then it can reasonably assumed the sniper is not in the area.”
Aug 19, 1985:
It has been almost a month since the death of Captain Beckman and the beginning of the search for the sniper with still no sign of him. Jake was beginning to wonder if Hammer was right about him high tailing it outta here. He was sitting at a table in the club house drinking a cup of coffee thinking about the briefing with the Commander and working on his next plan, a recon of the neighboring villages. If this didn’t yield anything then . . .
“Hey, you still trying to figure out the answer?” Pete said as he walked through the door. He’d seen Jake through the window and was glad he was there.
Jake looked up from what he was doing and smiled. “Hey Pete, come on in and help me with this dilemma.”
“And what D-lim-a is that.” Pete said as he went over to the coffee pot, picked up a coffee cup that was beside it, removed the coffee pot from the coffee maker and poured him a cup.
“Well, it’s for sure Clyde, or the sniper, is not on this base. That means a couple of things. One, he’s laying low in one of the villages until the right time, or he has gone on to better hunting. Either way we can’t find him.”
“I see you’re working on something which means you probably have a plan. So, give me the low down.”
“We have only fourteen days until the Commander pulls the plug. That means we have got to find and terminate him before then. So, I asked him if we can begin some search and clear operations within the local villages and he said yes.”
“Okay, so when do we start?”
“As soon as we get the team together and lay out the plan of ops.”
“Then what are we waiting for, let’s go . . .”
“They are already on the way.”
At that moment the phone rang. Jake went over and picked it up. “Sergeant Anderson.”
Pete heard Jake say yes sir so he knew he was talking to an officer. He heard him answer some questions, and tell whoever he was talking to that the team was about to be here, and then he said they would be waiting for him. Jake hung up.
“So don’t keep me in suspense, who is coming over?”
“Colonel Christopher. He says he has some information that might be helpful.”
During his laying low time Lei Chung made several recons around the outer perimeter of the base. He was looking for any activity that might suggest he was being looked for. He was also looking for any signs of mister strange hat. When he didn’t him he was puzzled. He had even gone back up to the hill he had taken his last shot from and scanned the base, but nothing. Then he had an idea. Just for the sake of doing it he’d go back to the village just outside the base perimeter where they were when his team last attacked the base.
Colonel Christopher talked to the Reapers and told them about the attack on the base before the war started, and where he believed the infiltrators had come in from. He suggested they go out to the perimeter fence section where he could point out the village that was four hundred meters outside the base.
Lei Chung was up in the loft of the farm house where he was the first time he scouted the base. He saw some improvements from the last time. Some new constructed bunkers, more lighting and active walking interior patrols. He smiled. As he was looking he saw a vehicle coming down behind one of the closest revetments. He watched it as it approached one of the bunkers and when it stopped several men got out, one of the men was an officer, a Colonel he thought. The men approached the fence and the Colonel pointed. Then, he saw him. Mister strange hat. He wasn’t wearing the hat, but he knew it was him, and him without his rifle.
“Right here is where they came in and there is the village. I think if you start there you might find something.”
Jake looked around. He noticed the distance and thought the Colonel could be right.
Some questions came to Jakes mind. “Sir, were the attackers ever identified?”
“Yes, some of them. They were locales who worked on the installation. There were others but they escaped.”
“So you don’t know if the one we are looking for was one of them?” Pete asked.
“No Sergeant Steel, we don’t. But, we don’t know he wasn’t either.”
Jake felt a chill run down his body. He turned around and looked back at the village. He reached into his pant cargo pocket and pulled out a small tactical pair of binoculars. He focused in and carefully scanned back and forth. Four Hundred meters was sort of a long way, but with the power of the binocs he had a good clear scene. He felt that chill again. The sniper. “He’s here, or at least in the vicinity.” Jake said.
“The sniper,” Pete said with his tone going stone cold.
“How do you know that?” The Colonel asked showing some skepticism.
“Jake here has a sort of sixth sense. You see, he gets this here chill, and when he does, there is the sniper.” Pete said smiling.
“Sir, with your permission we’ll begin right now and we’ll start with that village.”
“Let’s get back to the squadron.” The Colonel said.
Lei Chung could only watch as the men loaded back into the truck and drive away. But he knew that they knew he was here. As he thought about it he began to formulate a plan. Maybe I need to let them come to me instead of the other way around. Yes, that is exactly what I will do. He smiled at the idea. He got up slowly and went down from the loft. He would put his plan into motion, leaving, as the story goes, little bread crumbs right up to his door step. What a beautiful idea, now, for the bread crumbs.
Jake and the men returned to the club house to lay out their plan of operations.
“Alright, we are still doing this with one thought in mind, find that sniper. I know he‘s still here and I believe he is now operating out of one of those farm houses that we saw today just outside the perimeter. So here is our teams. Howard, you McCall and Hammer will be support, Pete and Kidd, the over watch, Me and hawks will be point. The object is to go into the villages and ask the people for information. We need to get a name and if they have heard anything. Does everyone understand?” He got nods from everyone. “Okay get into your teams and lets go.”
Lei Chung’s bread crumb plan was to talk to as any of the farmers as he could and tell them about him. He didn’t want to make it too obvious though, so each farmer would be given just little bits of information, that way, when the Americans added it all up they would come to the conclusion he wanted them to. Like a fisherman, using the right lure or bait, to attract fish. He smiled because he knew it would work. The Americans were just that gullible. Of course he could just tell the Americans where he was, but then what would be the fun in that.
Jake and the team left the main gate and began making their way around to the villages. On his map he had drawn a 1000 meter circle and the farms within the circle were the targets. He figured starting at the outer rim and working their way in.
For the next five days it was as Lei Chung had planned. The farmers were indeed contacted and they gave the information he desired them to give. The final piece of the puzzle was about to be revealed, the exact location of his new base of operations, and that is where he would be waiting.
Jake and the team had been working together trying to piece all the information together. It was slow but they thought they had the snipers location identified.
“According to this last bit of information it looks like he might be hold up on this hill right here.” Pete pointed. “It’s just off the south end and has a commanding view of the approaches from both directions. I think we should go and check it out. Do a little recon of the lower areas and then work our way up. If he is there we should be able to find him.”
“We’d better find him because our time is almost up.” Jake said in a slightly sharp tone. Just then something occurred to Jake. “Hey Pete, wait a minute. Let’s take a look at what we have and see if it all adds up.”
“Okay,” Pete said wondering. “Let’s see.”
They went over all the information they had gathered and laid it out, and then went over it again.
“Okay, so it all points to the same conclusion, he’s on the hill.”
“That’s what I mean,” Jake said with suspicion in his voice. “It all leads to the hill. You know what it brings to my mind?”
“What?” Pete said still looking down at the information on the table.
“Yep, bread crumbs. Like when you were a kid and set that trap for some animal or bird, you put bread crumbs out, or something to entice it to the trap, then you spring it.”
“So you think that all this has been bread crumbs laid out for us to come to the conclusion that the sniper is on the hill. He’s leading us into a trap.”
Jake looked sideways at Pete. Pete looked at Jake and saw the seriousness in his eyes.
“So, what’s our next step?” Pete asked.
Jake smiled. “Let’s not keep him waiting.”
Pete smiled. “Let’s not.”
“Pete, go ahead and brief the men. I’m going to talk to the Commander and update him on our progress.”
“Roger that.” Pete said and walked over to the men.
Jake left, but on his way back he went by the barracks first. When he got to his room he opened the door. As he stepped in he was met by one of the South Korean workers. Jake was a little surprised.
“Can I help you,” Jake said as he stood there in the doorway.”
The Korean worker handed Jake a piece of folded paper. Jake took it and opened it up.
“His name is Lt. Lei Chung. He is the man for whom you are searching. He is with the North Korean Special Operations.”
Jake looked up and into the man’s eyes.
“It says, you and him meet alone, no one else. You see a map where he is. He say, one on one to finish.” Said the man. “He want very much to look into your eyes and watch you die.”
From that last statement Jake took to it mean up close and personal. “Are you his messenger?”
The man nodded.
“Good. You go and tell him that I agree. I will meet him there.”
The man nodded again, and left.
Jake stood there a little dumb founded. Well, this is another fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into. Jake forgot about what he came in here for so he sat down and pulled out a piece of paper and began to right down some instructions. When he was done he left and headed straight back to the others.
“So, you’re going solo,” Pete said not at all happy. “Does the Commander know?”
Jake shook his head no.
“Not a good idea,” Howard said shaking his head.
“Boss,” Kidd said. “Do you have a death wish or something?”
“Listen, I know you don’t like it, I don’t like it, but . . .”
“Sarg,” Hawks chimed in. “If what I’ve been hearing about you is true, then you have the advantage. No one can dodge death like you do unless some higher power is involved. So, all I can say is, sniper beware, ‘The Reaper’ is a comin.”
Everyone said together, ‘Woo-ah.’
Pete went over to a bag on one of the tables, opened it and reached inside. When his hand came back out it had in it his 9-mm Berretta with a silencer attached. He placed it on the table and reached back into the bag and pulled out six full 15 round clips.
Jake went over to him.
Pete looked up. “Go get him Jake,” and reached out to shake Jakes hand.
Jake grabbed Pete’s hand and shook it as well then picked up the weapon and ammo.
“Listen Pete, if something happens to me, I want you to contact my wife and tell her. Then I want you to escort me home. All of my instructions are in a folder on my bed.
Back at the Veterans home In Dublin Georgia:
Allen Scott listened intently at the account.
“So, the sniper called you out, like a gun fighter.” He said as he looked at Jake.
“You bet he did,” said the man that stood in the doorway.
Scott looked over and so did Jake. A big smile spread across Jakes face. “Howard,” Jake exclaimed. “Man it’s been a long time, how you been and what are you doing here?”
“Well, I was thinking about the old days and I heard someone say the word reaper. Don’t know what the conversation was about, but the word brought back a lot of memories, so I thought about you. I got on the old computer, you know the information pipe line, and I looked up your name, and after a couple of days of diligent search I located where you were. I made some phone calls and was told that you were here. So I hopped the next thing smokin and here I am. And mister . . . Scott is it?”
“Well, you are talking to the only true living legend there is. So, you listen up. Jake, it sure is good to see you. Oh yeah, you were being called out like a gun fighter.”
“Yep, just like that.” Jake responded. “Only this wasn’t going to be Matt Dillan and an outlaw, this my friend was the real deal.”
Scott thought, legend, oh yeah. “So, what happened next?”
“Well, I left the guys and went to the armory. There I picked up a GAU, 240 rounds of ammo, a radio, camo paint, and two canteens for water. Once I was done there I loaded it all into a small Jeep and drove to the main gate. The instructions were clear. I was to . . .”
On a Hill overlooking Kunsan Air Base:
When Jake arrived at the designated spot, he stopped the vehicle, but did not turn it off, he sat there for a minute taking it all in. A chill ran down his body, he’s here, close. Jake turned off the Jeep and slowly got out. He reached into the rear compartment and retrieved all of his gear. He laid it out and pulled the camo paint out of his shirt pocket. He turned the side mirror around and began applying the camo to his face, neck and all other exposed flesh. Up to now he hadn’t thought about a strategy, largely because he didn’t know the terrain and didn’t have time to come out and do a little recon. That meant he would have to do two things at the same time, recon, and hunt. He finished applying the camo, put his gear on and made sure everything was where he wanted it and could easily be gotten to. He got down to a knee and did another quick survey. He waited to see if he got any chills, but nothing. He got up and stepped off.
Lei Chung, watching from his vantage point, saw the little Jeep come up the road and stop. He saw mister strange hat get out and go through the preparations for battle. He could have killed him right where he stood, but where would be the thrill of the hunt. Besides, he wanted it to be up close and personal. This man had taken him down one time before, but never again. I will be the victor. Chung slowly got up from his hide and backed back into the tree line. It is time now to do what I have come here to do, kill.
Jake moved slowly around to his left. He figured on making a circle recon and then work his way in toward the center. He didn’t know just how big the area was so he would go for about 700 meters then go around to the right. Jake knew that the sniper had the advantage of knowing the terrain because he has been up here before, so he was going to have to rely of his instinct and of course that sixth sense. Jake took a deep breath and let it out slowly, then got up and stepped off. The Hunt was indeed on.
Two days have past and still no word from Jake. Pete and the others were getting concerned. Did Jake kill the sniper or was it the other way around.
“Well,” Howard said. “We might as well go and inform the Commander.”
Pete thought about it. “Let’s give him another day.”
“Another day,” Kidd exclaimed, “I for one say we go and find him.”
At The Main Gate of Kunsan Air Base:
Staff Sergeant Wilks was checking the IDs of several personnel in a truck. He always did it the same way. He would hold the ID up and compare the picture with the person who was requesting access to the installation, when he was satisfied he would let them pass. Sergeant Holloman was the over watch and was looking down the row of cars. He was about to move to a secondary position when he noticed a man in uniform, a cop, he thought, walking slowly toward the gate. The man had a weapon slung over his shoulder and had an LBE hanging loose. The man looked like he could hardly move.
“Sergeant Wilks,” Holloman said as he brought his M-16 up to the ready position.
Wilks stopped what he was doing and looked in the direction Holloman was pointing. He immediately put his hand down to his 9-mm and challenged the man. “Halt.” He shouted. The man did not.
“Holloman, go around.” Wilks shouted as he pulled his radio from its pouch. “Control this is Echo One, we have a man approaching our location with a weapon, Challenging same.”
“Echo One this is Control, we copy, patrol in route . . . Control to all post and patrols hold radio traffic, Echo One has a possible situation, Alpha One do you copy?”
“Control this is Alpha One, I copy.”
Sergeant Wilks and Holloman approached the man slowly and when they were within 50 meters Wilks shouted again, “Halt.”
This time the man stopped. So far Wilks has not seen the man’s face because he kept his head down and a non-regulation cap pulled down low was obscuring it. Wilks looked at the cap and realized It was from the civil war, an old gray infantry cap.
Holloman was now at the man’s rear position and approaching.
“Sir, I need you to raise both hands above your head.”
The man slowly complied.
Holloman approached him slowly.
All the Reapers were at the club house when they heard the radio traffic.
“Turn that up,” Howard said as the word ‘challenge’ was heard.
Kidd went over and turned it up. As the situation developed everyone’s ears perked up. They heard man, weapon, and then they heard gray civil war infantry cap.
“Did you hear that? It’s Anderson. He’s the only one I know with that cap.”
“Let’s go,” Pete said as he jumped up followed by the rest.
When they arrived Jake was sitting down in the back of the ambulance being treated. Colonel Christopher was there along with OSI and a couple of patrols. Pete and the men pushed their way through until they reached Jake. He looked terrible, uniform torn, him with cuts and scratches. He looked to them like he’d been through the worst of the worst.
“Alright, every one step back.” Colonel Christopher said.
As Pete and the others watched, the ambulance pulled away.
“Well, let’s not just stand here lets go.”
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