Maybe a lot of people have read this story in the Internet. The readers call three names of the man (Bearded tankman), who is mentioned in it. Let us this story will be a legend about the soldiers, who always find common ground, even if they wear different uniforms. This story is dedicated to the veterans of the unknown wars of the twentieth century.
My name is Michael Forgetti, I am a captain of Corps of Marines* of the USA in retirement. Not long ago on the pages of one magazine, I saw a photo of the Russian monument from Treptow-park in Berlin, and remembered one of the episodes of my military life. This story was happened thirty years ago in Africa. After carrying out a special (military) operation, my platoon received an order to wait for evacuation at a given point.
It was hot in the district of the Gold Horn in all senses of this word. It seemed, one revolution was not enough for locals, and they want minimum three revolutions, pair of the civil wars and one religious conflict into the bargain. We have executed an important task and hurried to meet a boat, which must arrive to the place of our evacuation. But a surprise was waiting for us. On the outskirts of a small seaside town we were met by a few small groups of armed men. They only looked at us, because a column of the machines, which consists of five jeeps with the weapon of М - 16* and М - 60*, was causing a respect. The passenger cars with the tracks of fire met us on the streets, but exactly these objects caused main interest for the inhabitants of the city, and the armed marauders had obvious priority before unarmed. When we have seen a few dead bodies of Europeans near the buildings, I ordered the soldiers to be in readiness, but forbade any actions without my order. In this moment a white woman with a little girl on her hands ran out from a narrow street. Three local wild insurgents with a loud laughter followed her. We decided that we do not have a time be polite with those people and at once pushed the woman and her child to the jeep. Then we have threatened her pursuers by a weapon. But the impunity and the blood have played a bad joke with these scoundrels. One of them heaved up G - 3* and was ready to shoot, but Marine Colone automatically pressed on the trigger of machine gun. One minute later we were racing under increasing fire. It was good for us, that these freaks could not shoot straight. We went up on a hill, on which the town was located, and saw the panorama of the port. The most striking fragment of this panorama was a fragment burning ship at the pier.
More than thousand European civil specialists and members of their families were in a port. Everyone wanted to be evacuated as quickly as possible, because the neighboring region declared its independence, and at the same time - jihad. As mentioned above, the ship, which had to evacuate refugees, blazed merrily, all outskirts of the city were filled the insurgents. Only my platoon with six machine guns and dead portable radio transmitter were the friendly force. We had a water-carriage, which was ready to the hike. Also we had a disguised boat, but we could fit only. We could not leave women and children to the mercy of fate. I described a situation and said that I remain here. I added that I have no right to give orders to stay with me, that the order of our evacuation is valid, and that the boat is ready to move. All guys remained with me. I counted our forces: there were twenty nine persons together with me, seven French legionaries who were demobilized, and 11 sailors from the sunken steamship, two dozen volunteers from a civil contingent. During the Second world war this port was a transshipment base. A few ten of stone warehouses, which were surrounded by a solid wall with turrets and other architectural excesses of the last century, though descended from the pages of Kipling and Bussenara looked quite reliable and were suitable for defense. This complex has become for us a new fort Alamo. Also here were accommodated the warehouses with the humanitarian help of the UNO. There were old barracks with running water and sewerage. Certainly it was not enough toilets for such amount of people, not to mention about the soul, but it is better, than nothing. The half of one of warehouses was hammered by boxes with quite good whisky. Probably someone from public servants of the UNO did here the business. Otherwise speaking the situation was normal, and a military situation was following...
More than three thousand insurgents, consisting in Revolutionary Guards, irregulars and just rabble wanted to plunder us, they periodically attacked our perimeter. They had three old French cannons (they managed to scupper an unhappy steamship), but legionaries were able to take a battery and blow up guns and battle complete set. We had 23 rifles of М-16, 6 machine guns of М- 60, 30 Kalashnicov automats (made in China) and five Russian machine guns of the Chinese production, with the cartridges of fiftieth caliber. A weapon helped us to keep an opponent on necessary distance, but the cartridge for this weapon became less with horrific speed. Frenchmen said that another steamship will suit after 10-12 hours, but we had to survive this time. There was one large stimulus for the insurgents: these were warehouses with a humanitarian help and hundreds of white women. All types of these commodities valued here very much. If Insurgents will decide to attack simultaneously from South, and West, and from North, we can repulse only one attack, but on the second may not have enough ammunition. Our portable radio transmitter "has caught" a bullet (when we only drove up to port), Walkie -Talkie could hit the target practically only on a few kilometers.
I left a sniper and the officer* Smith (he was our god of the radio) on an old lighthouse. He did something of two portable radio transmitters, but any sense from it had not happened.
Our opponent did not have snipers and it made me very happy. A town was higher than the port, and territory, which we occupied, was in full view, but a situation was in our benefit. Five streets led down to the wall, which we were defending. The next attack began and was very strong. Previous failures that were before had taught something insurgents. They kept our machine-gun under heavy fire. During five minutes three machine gunners were injured, another machine gunner was killed. In this moment the enemy had inflicted blow on the central gate of complex: they tried break a gate by a truck. It almost succeeded. One Gate wing was partly knocked out, into the yard ran dozens of the armed persons. Department Corporal Westheimer (the last reserve of Defense) - repelled the attack, but three persons were injured, one of them was injured heavily. We understood that a next attack can be for us the last: we had two gates, and there were a lot of heavy trucks at the city. We were lucky that it was time prayer. We began to strengthen and close a gate, all facilities that we had. Suddenly there was a call on the portable radio: Smith called me.
- Sir. I have a strange call, it seems to me, they are Russians. They want to hear a senior in military rank. May I connect them with you?
- And why did you think they are Russians?
- They said that the sunny Siberia asks you, but the Siberia is in Russia.
- You may - I said and heard in a headphone English speech with a lung, but obviously the Russian accent...
- May I know what does United States Marine Corps do on the territory which entrusted to me? - a question followed.
- I am a Marine First Lieutenant* Michael Forgetti. And who are you?
- Lieutenant, you have the honor to speak with me. I am only one, who has tanks in this part of Africa. It can radically change a situation. My name is Tankman.
I had nothing to lose. I described the situation, but I said nothing about our "force". Russian response said that he understood that my minor report was a request of a help. Firing around a perimeter rose with renewed strength - it was the massed attack of insurgents. I remembered Winston Churchill.
He said once, " that if Hitler intruded in hell, then he, Churchill*, would have concluded a contract with the devil". I answered affirmative. And heard the following...
- You must mark positions of opponent red rockets and wait. When tanks appear, it will be our tanks. But I want to warn you: if you make at least one shot in my tanks, all that local insurgents want to do with you, it will be nirvana compared with what I'll do.
I asked when they will appear into the zone of line-of-sight. The Russian officer asked where I was born (maybe in Texas?), and had received a negative response, expressed confidence that I know that Africa is more than Texas, and that I was not offended on him. I ordered mark the red rockets of accumulation of opponent, but don't shoot on tanks. In this moment insurgents begin to shoot. Part of insurgents began to run to our side to rescue itself from explosions. And we met them, already not saving the last live ammunition. On the street the tanks T-54 * appeared. Fighting vehicles raced as fiery chariots. The danger, which recently had threatened, dispersed as a smoke. Soldiers-paratroopers jumped out the tanks, and began to check up the houses. The deaf explosions of grenades were audible in the buildings. From a roof of a house suddenly struck shots, three tanks immediately turned their towers toward shots, where the last refuge of the crazy jihad was: the explosion stripped the city of one of the architectural excesses. I thought, I would not like to become the target of the Russian tanks attack. Even if we had a battalion of soldiers, for these swift monsters with red stars, we would not be a serious barrier. And a problem was quite not in fire power of the Russian fighting machines... I saw in the binoculars the faces of the Russian tank crew members who were sitting on the towers of the tanks: there was dead certainty in victory over any enemy on the faces of these persons. And it is stronger than all other. The commander of Russians was the same ages as me, he was very high and had a beard. He said me his surname, but I didn't catch it. He shook my hand and invited me in his tank. We were inside the tank. Suddenly the Russian officer sharply pushed me aside. He jumped, blew off off-shoulder an automat, and I heard the whiz of bullets, more and more.
The commander jerked, the trickle of blood had run down on his forehead, but he heaved up an automat and began to shoot. Then he excusing to me smiled, and showed to the balcony of custom-house, going out on an area before the wall of the port. I had seen the body of the man in a dirty clothing, the barrel of automatic rifle glittered alongside. I understood that the Russian had just saved my life. A dark-haired girl, who was dressed in a camouflage jumpsuit, meantime was bandaging a head of my savior. She was saying in Spanish that sir captain constantly climbs the bullets, and I felt a sudden burst of the soul and took from my inside pocket the copy-duplicate my Purple Heart *, which I never parted (it was my talisman), and had given it to Russian tankman as a present. He accepted a gift that was for him unexpected, and then cried something in Russian in the open hatch of the tank. One minute later a hand holding a huge plastic holster with a tremendous handgun, had appeared from a hatch. The Russian officer smiled and stretched it to me. The Russian tanks already deployed along the wall, turned guns to the town. Three machines rode into on territory of port through a gate that was open again. I was on the first tank. The refugees ran out from warehouses, women cried and laughed, children had jumped and squealed, men in a form and without, yelled and whistled. The Russian captain bent over to me and, said: "You see that who never entered on a tank in an exempt city, he did not test the real holiday of the soul. This is not from the sea to land". And he slammed me on a shoulder.
People were hugging with tankmen and paratroopers, and gave them different presents. A little girl of six years old walked up to the Russian captain. She bashfully smiled him and stretched to the captain a chocolate from a humanitarian help. Russian tankman caught her and gently lifted. A little girl hugged him for a neck, and a sense of déjà vu visited me suddenly. I remembered how a few years ago I was in a tourist trip in Western and East Berlin. The Russian monument was shown us in Treptow-park. An elderly German woman with an angry face was our guide. She showed a huge monument to Russian soldier with a saved child on his hands, and talked contemptuous phrases in bad English. She talked that it all is a large communists lie, and that Russian soldiers brought to Germany only an evil and violence. A shroud had fallen off from my eyes. The Russian officer stood ahead of me with the saved child on his hands. And it was reality, and so, German woman told a lie in Berlin and that Russian soldier from a pedestal, in that reality rescued a child too.
Maybe our propaganda says lie that the Russian people sleep and dream to destroy America? I was an ordinary lieutenant of Marines and such high matters were difficult for me. I clinked glasses with Russian the bottle of whisky, which unknown how has appeared in my hand. Later I contacted with the French steamship which went to us under the aegis of the UNO. A ship came at two o'clock of the night. We were loading a ship all night. A steamship cast off from an inhospitable coast, when a sun was already highly enough. For a long time the little girl was waving to Russian soldiers who were on the shore. Smith said thoughtfully:
- I do not want that Russians began to be at war with us. Maybe it is unpatriotic but I feel that they will tear off our bum necessarily.
He thought a minute and added:
-They drink whisky how we can*t dream. Look, they had a drink a bottle of whisky and are in either eye. And nobody would believe us, they will say that this even Davy Crockett * does not come up.