The colonel addressed the regiment while showing them new Puerto Rican flags. He read out loud the note accompanying the flags.
“The Communist enemy does not have enough ammunition to tear down the Puerto Rican flag. We are sending you another flag to replace our glorious colors now under fire. The flag will continue to fly as long as it continues to inspire a Boricua’s heart.”
The soldiers cheered.
Someone shouted “We will retake Kelly and rename it “Los Jíbaros!”” A chant started “Jíbaros, Jíbaros, Jíbaros.” The whole regiment joined in.
Cordero screamed on the microphone: “And as Los Jíbaros shall be known forever!” He certainly knew how to inspire his men.
Cordero announced, more to the Stars and Stripes and the war correspondents the island had sent than to his men: “From this point onward, if you are chosen to lead an attack, you will carry our flag to victory.”
There would be no retreat for nobody could defeat Puerto Ricans defending their flag.
Most of the men cheered filled with national pride- ready and willing to retake Kelly and raise their island’s flag for all to see.
Camacho and González grinned their teeth. There was no new strategy. They had seen the plans as they were part of the mission. It would be another massacre.
The next night, two platoons from E Company assaulted the outpost. By late afternoon, one platoon had fought its way to the top, while the second platoon was slowly making its way to the crest. The Chinese sent reinforcements and succeeded in slowing down the second platoon. The Borinqueneers at the crest soon found themselves under heavy machine-gun and mortar fire. After taking over thirty casualties, both platoons withdrew to the main line of resistance.
Cordero was ready. He had ordered the first battalion to be ready to launch a full counter attack. As soon as it was dark, A Company approached the hill from the south, while C Company advanced to the base of the hill. Enemy mortar and artillery fire grew heavy as the two companies approached Kelly. The reconstituted B Company, now led by Camacho and González, more as a punishment if anything else, started to move toward Kelly to support the ascent of A and C Companies.
The Chinese artillery scored several direct hits on B Company. Who would order a third company to walk the path two others had taken? “Battling Baker” was reduced to twenty-six men by the bombardment. No matter what Camacho and González tried, their company was in disarray. They have had less than two days to reconstitute a company with cooks and mechanics, and the always excedent replacements, whom, though eager, were so green they were more of a problem than help. B Company’s mission was cancelled, Cordero called it out.
Camacho made sure that the rest of his green company made it back to safety. Then, he started walking towards Kelly again. González followed him.
“End of the road kid” said Camacho.
“I’m going with you sargento, you don’t like it, shoot me” said González.
Camacho said “okay, keep your eyes open.”
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I will- thanks Ernest