POD: c. 1867
|Type of Appearance:||Direct|
|Date of Birth:||19th century|
|Military Branch:||United States Marine Corps|
George Veliotis was a corporal in the U.S. Marines. He was part of the force the United States sent to Siberia to fight the Red Army during the Russian Civil War. Years later, in June 1929, Veliotis participated in the liberation of Siknazuak from Soviet occupation.
Veliotis and his company were part of the first wave, disembarking from the SS Liberty Glo in motor boats, and landing on the beach. They made their way up the Siknazuak River, encountering their first fight in a small hamlet nearby. They continued to receive air support from the USS Lexington as made their way towards Siknazuak.
While the Marines successfully disembarked, they immediately landed in a bog along the beach. Weighed down as they were, the men couldn't move forward very quickly. When Veliotis suggested corduorying a road through the muck, Sgt. Houlihan reminded him that there weren't any trees nearby. The mosquitoes also began to bite them.
Almost immediately, a Maxim gun opened up from one of the nearby houses. The marines returned fire, and quickly began to entrench. After fierce fighting that included aerial bombardment of the machine gun, assistance from an armored car, and multiple mortar shots, the nest finally was destroyed. However, the attack claimed the life of company commander Captain Reardon. The Bolsheviks who could run retreated back towards Siknazuak proper.
With the break in fighting, Sgt. Houlian informed Veliotis that he would be in charge of the section, while Houlihan determined if he would be in charge of the platoon or the whole company. Velitotis agreed to whatever Sgt. Houlihan needed.
They reached the final barbwire line when the sun went below the horizon, although it wasn't actually completely dark the way it would be in lower latitudes. More Bolshevik Maxim guns opened up. For the next hour, the Marines dug trenches and attacked the machine gun with mortars and two armored cars While the Maxims were defeated, the majority of the Reds had ample time to retreat back to Siknazuak.
With the way apparently clear, the new company commander, Lt. Grover Whitfield, led the men down the road to Siknazuak. After about one hundred yards, Whitfield stepped on a landmine and was killed. Another marine joined him. The rest of the marines waited for sappers to dig a trail through the minefield. Even so, an armored car drove over a mine a was disabled. None of the crew was killed. Bombers continued to attack Siknazuak proper, even as the Marines slowly made their way to the city.
Three hours later, the sun was back up, and the Marines were on the eastern edge of Siknazuak. Fires burned from the bombing, but the Marines were met by defenders. Another Marine captain waved a white flag, initiating a brief truce. The Bolsheviks confirmed they could understand English. The captain promised that if they surrendered, they'd be treated as prisoners of war and sent back to the USSR. One Bolshevik officer asserted that they would take back what was theirs. When the Marine captain reminded him that Lenin had ceded Alaska and that they had no business this side of the Bering Strait, the Bolshevik replied that the U.S. should not have been in Siberia in the first place. Thus ended the parlay.
Once again, Veliotis and his fellow Marines were in combat. They soon received help from two M1917s, which did level buildings and send the Reds running. Nonetheless, one brave Red climbed onto one of the tanks with a whiskey bottle full of a flammable liquid. He dropped the bottle on decking, the liquid spread flame to the engine, the tank began to burn and the crew had to evacuate. The other tank held back, although it kept firing. Houlihan was dismayed that the Marines would not have an easy time of it, after all; Veliotis nettled him a bit for complaining.
As they moved on, Canadians and Americans who'd lived under the Bolsheviks fled to the marines. One Yank described how the Bolsheviks were prone to executing people who angered them, or sending them off to the mines and working them to death. The Yank said that one reason he'd survived was that the Bolsheviks went after the local Russian population harder than other groups, claiming that the Russians were Whites. Houlihan directed him toward the back of the lines.
Houlihan and his men then made their way to the most densely populated part of the town. With the Bolsheviks putting up their stoutest resistance yet, both sides soon engaged in close quarters combat, with the marines using their bayonet and trenching tools. Only when the marines reached the middle of town did the Bolsheviks begin to surrender. Some still managed to retreat into hills north of town. While Veliotis was certain they'd surrender once they were hungry and cold enough, Houlihan had his doubts.
With the break in fighting, more Americans and Canadians made their way to the marines. One was plainly a New Yorker. He was also an admitted moonshiner. He offered to tell Houlihan and Veliotis where the graves of the Bolsheviks' victims were located. They brought him to a Captain Green. The whole group followed the moonshiner to a series of graves that looked more like trenches. The moonshiner explained that past the four-foot depth, the ground was frozen solid.
Upon seeing the graves, Green announced that they needed to find photographer so all the world would know what the Soviets were. He also stated that the marines would be there to protect the town from remaining Reds in the hills. Both Houlian and Veliotis were unhappy about the prospect. Veliotis went off to find a camera.
- Asimov's Science Fiction, July/August, 2018.