It was really interesting at the water tank. We were on top of them before they knew what hit them. No, we didn’t attack them, we just had them surrounded before they had any idea we had gotten that close. Two things motivated us to approach them; 1) we had to have water, they were guarding the water, they were a threat, 2) our ROE #4 was met. But, Jim had an idea that appears to have been right on target…a rabbit.
Jim wanted to take them a peace offering…a fresh rabbit that was in one of the snares this morning. I thought it was a great idea…if we didn’t have to shoot them all just to get water.
It was a pretty straight forward operation. The entire group would stop about 2 miles out. The IntSec folks would take over security for the Day Care Unit. The 3 Ops teams would conduct the operation. Jared would act as sniper and overwatch. Alpha and Charlie teams would come at them from the west and southwest forming a “V”, Bravo team would be held in reserve and provide security for Alpha and Charlie. Once in position we would call out to them to surrender. They would surrender. Bravo would bring up the cart with the water containers, fill them up, and retreat towing the water cart. Charlie team would withdraw while Alpha covers, we would leap frog back to our camp. They, they group at the water tank, would go back to their normal camp activities, and no one would become a casualty. Ah yes…what a plan!
Mike Tyson once said,
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
We got luck, no one punched us in the face, it worked!! It got a little dicey when we called out to them to surrender. For a minute it looked as if they were going to try for their weapons. Alpha team got up and started a tactical approach in a line abreast, guns up, looking as bad as we could. I hollered out that we had another team on their flank and they stood no chance. They believed us and put up their hands. They are both stupid and incompetent!! Where was their security? Why would they give up that easily?
Once we had them rounded up, their kids crying of course, we got our water, and Bravo left with the cart. As Charlie was withdrawing I had Annie hand them the rabbit and thank them. I told them not to try and follow us…we would be watching and didn’t want to kill anyone. They never said a word the whole time…none of them.
We were almost back to camp when Jared shows up. I started telling him about the operation in camp and mentioned how stupid and incompetent they were. He got this real smirk on his face, “Really?”
Turns out they did have security out. A teenager, probably 18 or 19. He had been hidden on a little hill about 400 yards from camp. Jared said it was obvious that he was a hunter and knew what he was about. He had a semi-auto 30.06 Winchester (Winchester SXR Super-X) with a Leupold scope and he looked like he knew how to use it. Jared caught him by surprise. The kid had been watching the east, using binoculars most of the time. If he had seen us approach he could have easily warned the camp via the signal mirror he had. Or had he seen us in the camp he could have opened fire on us. We would have been easy pickings at 400 yards with that weapons system. That 30.06 round would have put huge holes in us…one shot – one kill. Fortunately for us that he was looking the wrong way at the right time.
Now how is this for irony…They were looking for bad guys. Seems there was some gang in the area, local Hispanic teens and 20 somethings, roving around looking for cattle. They had been rounding them up and sending them to Las Cruces. In the process, anyone that tried to stop them became “entertainment.” With Jared guarding him, Jared has him watch our encounter via the binoculars to let him know we were not going to hurt anyone. He actually said thank you when he saw the rabbit exchange.
So I guess the real irony that I was talking about…the Jones’. This group, two families, had actually had run into the Jones’ a couple weeks ago. They saw how rough the Jones’ looked and tried to approach them to help. But, the Jones’ ran off before they could tell them they wanted to help. Jared told the kid what had happened. He seemed genuinely happy that they had found help, but sad that two of the kids were dead.
So they were just another group, two families, just trying to survive. No threat to us, no threat to anyone, just trying to survive. One thing I mentioned to that group before I pulled out…I suggested they not camp right at the water tank. It was too much of an attraction for bad guys. No one thanked me.
I never got their names. I can’t help but think…have we fallen so far into tribalism that we don’t even want to know who anybody else is anymore? We don’t want to put names with faces? We don’t want to see others as real people anymore? Are they just threats all the time now?
As of this morning at least we have water, they have a rabbit, and no one died. I guess that is now the new standard for a good day…no one died.
So, we have made it to Akela Flats late in the day. We stopped just west of a place called Sand Well. It also has a stock tank, nasty water but we can filter and purify it. Sand Well is about a mile north of I-10 and about 1.5 miles east of the Solo Ranch off Good Site Road. When we head out in the morning we are going to swing north of the Solo Ranch, and head WNW towards Plank Well about 5 miles away. If we are still up to traveling tomorrow we will head due west to Hannigan Well. About 2.5 miles further. Hannigan Well is on the northern side of Lewis Flats…some very barren land…true desert…wide open. About 1/4 mile north of Hannigan Well is a power line that goes due west skirting around the north side of Deming, NM. That keeps us away from Deming and the powerline runs back into the railroad tracks about a mile on the west side of Deming. From there we will head to the Tanner Ranch. Well, technically it is called the Three Fingers Ranch. The strange name comes from a guy named N. Eldon Tanner who was working a bunch of cows a long time ago, fell off his horse, dislocated three fingers, pulled them back into place, and kept right on working the cows. I don’t remember exactly who that guy is. They tried to explain it to me when I was there but I just don’t remember much. They are Mormons too, Jim will be glad to hear that! Maybe they can pray a bunch together 😉
Once we get past Deming we have about 20 miles or so till we hit the Ranch. I hope I remember all the details on finding the place. It was both dark and a little stressful the first time…to say the least. I picked up I-10 when I left the ranch so I should head to the northwest once we hit Gage, NM. Hopefully Jared can get it sorted out as we get closer. I am guessing 40 – 45 miles. I am really, really hoping we can do that in 5 – 6 days. Tanners have supplies that maybe we can buy from them with some of our precious metals or work for it while we are there. But, I know they will take care of us, they are good people. And, it doesn’t hurt that I got Ashley safely to them.
It will be good to see that little munchkin!! SHe’s a turd but I have missed her. She is one cute kid, and really something special! Beans…well, if she has quit farting I would be glad to see her too. She is one special dog. Actually, it’s been my experience that if you treat them right, all dogs are special.
I will be glad to see that whole family again! They have a great spirit about them. Dang!!!! Now I sound like Jim.
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Getting good.. Glad the group is on the move. That is interesting country between Las Cruces and Deming. I used to hunt small game in that area. water is the key. we carried a lot of water and tried to drink it all before we got home.