My calls to them to desist are rebuffed. What can I do? They must be covered, and no one is near but I. But it is not to be. These foolhardy, brave Georgians will be left alone. I am called by Overlord, the AWACS controller. I am ordered by our Commander to divert to Gudauta, to see Vasily there.
“But sir, the Rooks are alone…”
“711, divert to Gudauta at once! You can do no more. I will not risk a MiG along with them. They were told to break off. The consequences are theirs! Acknowledge this command!”
“711, wilco. 712, 711, status.”
Vasily is on a straight-line path for Gudauta.
Behind me, I hear the valiant Georgians fall, one after the other, to the Shilka guns.
My Commander is right — I could have done no more. I look at my right wing, at the useless Kh-25 impotently hanging there and choke back bitter tears. I could have killed one of them. Vasily could have bombed the other, were he not damaged himself. We could not save the Georgian pilots. They killed themselves, throwing themselves against their hated foe.
|I see Vasily into the pattern, and he lands smoothly, without incident.|
|…and I follow.|
|As I taxi in, I see the American SH-60 helicopter landing, with the British aircrew from the downed Tornado.|
I must see the Georgian Commander, and tell him how his lions died. It will not be a pleasant meeting, I fear.
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