May 1, 2015: Others Like Us?
Pete and I were able to make it to the southern end of Union Creek and back without incident today. We went by the place where the Marines said they were attacked. Sure enough, there was a burned out HMMWV carcass in the middle of the road. After poking around in the wreckage for a bit, Pete and I decided that the story we had heard fit with what we saw. The topography made for a good ambush site. We found blood on the nearby hilltops, but no bodies. There was a sizable chunk out of the road where the IED must have been detonated.
Everything seemed to add up.
Once we finished looking over the ambush location, we headed southwest to a farm owned by a family that had lived in the area since the late 1800’s. If I remember my local history correctly, the family arrived about the same time my great-grandfather arrived and homesteaded the farm under the same program that helped our family establish itself as some of the first residents of Union Creek.
The Homestead Act was signed into law in 1862. The new law required homesteaders to file an application, improve the land and file for deed of title. Any U.S. citizen who had never borne arms against the U.S. Government could file an application and lay claim to 160 acres of surveyed Government land.
That was how my great-grandfather acquired the land now supporting our survival. When he returned from the Civil War, he filed the application and settled on the land. He built the farm-house that still stands a few years later.
Our farm was the first in the county to be terraced to prevent erosion. The terraces themselves slowed the flow of heavy rains down the rolling hills as did the trees and native grasses planted on the terraces. Initially, the farm supported an entire family and then some. As time wore on and corporate farms replaced family farms, we decided to lease the farm ground to another nearby farmer. Until just recently, the price of crops simply wasn’t good enough to support a family. As the crash loomed large, the price of corn and cattle skyrocketed, but it would still have been difficult to support an entire family on less than 160 acres of dry land farm.
As I mentioned, the Swensons settled right around the same time. Like our family, they have occupied their farm since it was settled. They too leased out their crop ground prior to the crash.
Oddly, our two families have never been close.
At the Swenson farm, we found the team of twelve Marines exactly as described. The giant of a man leading the team was named Tanner. The other eleven members of the team all seemed quite capable. Being around them made me miss Ariela. Their military bearing, the way they spoke, the way they thought … all of it reminded me of how Ariela acted, spoke and thought.
I hope she’s doing well.
Tanner and I sat down for a chat while Pete made friends among the other team members. From what Tanner said, they are members of a community south of Omaha. The community is somewhat similar to ours but has been more aggressive in taking in strangers. Apparently, another former Marine, Gunnery Sergeant Jonathan Hood, grew up in the area and initially established it as a retreat and training location for his former Marine buddies.
After the crash, several of Hood’s former Marine cohorts gathered at the farm and began to take in crash survivors. The community had expanded to the point where it was somewhat difficult to maintain. They had no real problem with disease or violence inside the camp, but they had started to see a sharp up-tick in people leaving the nearby cities.
So, it seems the urban exodus is in full swing.
Tanner indicated that his group has had to resort to turning away anyone new. It’s been difficult, but they simply won’t be able to survive if they continue to take on more mouths to feed.
In a lot of ways, we’re in the same boat. We’re surviving as it is, but we can’t take on many more families.
There’s a lot of geography between us and Hood’s farm, but I wonder if there’s a way we can work together to help more survivors.
When I pressed Tanner on their reason for traveling this far north, he became evasive. He was pretty straightforward about being evasive … if that’s possible. They were on a specific mission. That much he confirmed. However, he stated simply that their mission was strictly on a need-to-know basis and we didn’t have a need to know.
I didn’t like that very much but I could certainly understand. I would most likely have responded in much the same way in a similar position.
We do seem to have a lot in common with the Freeman Militia. I wonder if they’re truly like us.