As so it starts
Country was the first to land out of the five steadfast friends, then Sandwich, T.I was then next after that and then finally Seminole. He saw that Bang-Bang leave the action with a damaged wing as well as spoke to him, wishing him luck in making it back safely. As soon as he rolled open the canopy of his cockpit his first words to the ground crew was, "Where's Lieutenant Morgan?"
The fact that he was not there already told him that the news was not good. A mechanic said he heard Bang-Bang was coming down back by the coast, but they lost communication and didn't know anything more than that. They all looked back at him with sad and worried eyes, Sandwich with his head held low spoke up anyway, "We're going to have to go look for him Captain."
Seminole tried to not let his emotions show. He had to maintain some civility and reminded everyone around him the possibility that Bang-Bang was alive and making his own way back. Regardless, they still had to escort the B17s home later that day and as a Captain his first duty was to the mission and the US Army Air Corps. However, each of them better believe he was not about to leave one of his brothers out there alone.
Only a few hours had pasted when the 99 Fighting Squadron went out again to meet the bombers upon their return and the flight home went without an incident. When they reached the coast of Africa Seminole and T.I. broke off from formation while Sandwich and Country returned to base to cover for their friends and begin their part of a pre-arranged plan the four guys had put together earlier that day.
Seminole would breakaway under the guise of having engine trouble and T.I. would go with him to make sure he was okay. This would give them a little time to search for their missing brother or at least the plane itself. Country would fly back with Sandwich and use their resources to gather what they could go looking for Bang-Bang if Seminole and T.I. were unsuccessful.
It was not that Seminole and T.I. could see where the plane crashed landed from the sky. They made an educated guess as to where they could possibly bring down a P-40 safely. They thought of which route they were instructed to have taken during the mission briefing early this morning and combined that information with what patches of land were large and flat enough for an 'injured bird' would most likely have found as 'a suitable place to rest'.
After circling off the coast Tunisia for a short while, before they flew inland, low, trying to find any signs of wreckage. They came across the first stretch of land flat enough to accommodate landing a plane. Seminole and T.I. first noticed the wreckage of the burnt-out as they got out of the cockpits of their planes but approached it curiously. In stoic silence, they looked around and then examined the scene. Seminole, with the eye of a hunter and T.I., with the eye of an intelligent and patient man.
T.I. noticed that the body was straight, perpendicular to its wings, well one wing at least. The right wing had broken off a few paces back and was unburnt like the left wing and main body of the plane the wing was still attached to. Like a long straight trail leading up to the aircraft, there was a wide skid mark left by the belly and second inside it and not as wide left by the tail itself. From which T.I. was able to surmise that the undercarriage failed, but plane did not come down in a ball of fury. As it came down on its belly and being unable to fix or move the vehicle, Bang-Bang, as was the protocol to do to stop planes ending up in Enemy hands, must have set fire to it.
Seminole noticed this also, but he also noted that the footprints around the wreckage which were made by the standard issue army regulation footwear that were distributed to all the pilots. To confirm a thought Seminole placed his foot alongside one of the footprints and it seemed to confirm that it was the same size Lieutenant "Bang-Bang" Morgan. This was another indication that their friend was alive, or at least he was at the time of his landing. The next question that Seminole thought to himself was then, 'Why didn't he wait by his plane?'
"Unless the standard issue army air corps boots are the fashion around here, these sets of footprints belonged to Bang-bang. That's the good news."
"What's that supposed to mean?" asked Lieutenant "T.I." Williams.
Seminoles then pointed towards tracks as he was explaining that he believed that Bang-bang had been picked by somebody riding a large even toed animal that left in a hurry. "A dromedary camel" T.I. interjected.
Seminole shrugged and said, "If you say so…" and then continued to point out that there was no sign of a scuffle and that the reason why they left in a hurry was because of the following set of tracks, this time left by a vehicle.
"What really concerns me is who's driving that vehicle. The only guys that were most often driving around in North Africa were the British, Germans, Italians and US."
Again T.I. interjected as if to finish off what Seminole was saying, "…And if it were the Germans and the Italians, then of course Bang-Bang would have got the 'hell' out of here."
Going through the markings on the ground always brought back memories of when Seminole's father taught him how to hunt. These lessons were not just in catching food, but in how to learn patience, to care in what he did and to always be aware of all that is around him.
"What do you see?" His father would ask him and Seminole, barely ten years of age, would point out a doe and two fawns. However, his father corrected him, compassionate in his teaching and pointed out a third set of tracks indication that there were three fawns not two. They tracked the family and finally through the forest and finally caught up to them at the forest edge. While keeping an eye on the mother and it's three young both father and son were deliberately slow, methodical and careful to not be seen or heard. They took great care remain downwind so the doe would not pick up their scent. Finally, the father and son got to a place where the young Lester "Seminole" Freeman could get a clear and precise shot. He raised the bow and aimed down his arrow. His father gently placed hand on Lester's arm to lower the bow and asked in Muscogee, "Did you not eat today?"
The boy, a little confused, replied that he did and then his father asked a follow up question, "Will there be food tomorrow?"
To this young Lester Freeman replied in the affirmative. Seminole's father went on to explain the value of a life and that those three fawns needed their mother much more that he needed to prove he was a capable hunter.
It took Lieutenant "T.I." Williams a short moment to get the Captain's attention and bring him back to the present. "Captain? Captain? Captain? Seminole!"
"I think our brother's in danger. Let's get the others and bring him home."
Seminole nodded in the affirmative and they immediately got in their planes to head back to base.