There was a storm brewing; they were on borrowed time.
But they were on a mission.
The troops were already fatigued and in low spirits when they arrived on the battlefield. The General and Officer oversaw the unloading and packing of gear and made sure there were enough rations on hand, then they set off.
They trudged through muddy trenches and seemingly endless fields. The icy winds whipped around them and tugged at their uniforms. It was hard to take in the natural beauty of their surroundings from under the weight of their collective burden.
Barely halfway to the rendezvous point, two of the weakest soldiers began to break down. There were flashbacks, tears, and one even collapsed in a mud puddle of despair.
There was brief talk of deserting the fallen solider. Perhaps another unit would take her on.
Enough! barked the General. We never leave a solider behind! On my count, heave!
There was no other option- she was carried by the General herself. Later, she’d receive a bronze star for her heroism (The General, not the solider).
More began to fall, and again, they were carried. It began to feel overwhelming. They didn’t think they could go on. Some were pressing to turn back, scrap the mission.
No. We’ve come too far. We’ve sacrificed too much!
Their objective was clear – keep going.
The General ordered the Officer to break out and distribute a portion of the rations, which were to be eaten during the march. There was to be no stopping. Delaying the arrival at the rendezvous point could prove a foolish mistake.
The hard tack revived the troops. They kept marching with renewed vigor, even loud, boisterous whoops of hope and joy.
And then, through the clouds, they could see it. Their destination. A warm welcome, fresh food and water awaited them.
They had made it, and they lived to fight another day. (The return journey back to their transport would be another story, of course.)