Hannibal Smith was out helping a friend round up cattle on his ranch outside of Bad Rock, CA. He had gone to see Maggie Sullivan for a lovely, relaxing weekend, but Jacob Johnson asked him to help with the roundup in the upper pasture to get the cattle closer to the ranch and easier to get feed to during the winter snows and Hannibal, of course, agreed to help him. He wanted to spend some quality time with Maggie, but since Jacob asked and Maggie was busy with a pregnant patient, Hannibal decided to assist the old rancher to find his cows, and he got the benefit of relaxing on the back of a horse.
Hannibal loved riding horses and found it very relaxing, but he didn't get to ride as much as he would like to because of his somewhat hectic and unusual lifestyle being AWOL and a fugitive from the US Army. He had been on the equestrian team at West Point and invited to the US Olympic Trials in 1956, but due to his lack of experience in international competition, Hannibal was designated as an alternate for the US Olympic Team that year in jumping and dressage. And to go along with his inexperience, the Olympic Committee didn't think his academy horse Firefly was up to the task in a world-class competition since the animal was a former thoroughbred racehorse who no one thought was special until Hannibal made the team and started riding him during his first year at the academy in 1953. The war hardened young man and the former racehorse meshed perfectly as a team and won a lot of meets for the Point together to get invited to the Olympic trials in 1956.
But that year the Olympics were in Melbourne, Australia and because Australia had a strict six-month pre-shipment quarantine on horses and the government refused to change the quarantine laws for the Olympic horses, the competition for the Olympics was in Stockholm, Sweden in June 1956. And since Australia is in the southern hemisphere, the summer games were held in November. As an official member of the team, Hannibal traveled to Stockholm for the games and had a lot of great memories from the trip, but because he was an alternate he didn't get to ride and compete. But he looked at it as somewhat of a blessing since it wouldn't have mattered anyway because the judging was so biased towards the Germans and the Swedes, the International Olympic committee suspended the judges a few months later. And Olympic dressage almost didn't make it onto the schedule the 1960 games because of the controversy. Hannibal was just proud to have made the team at all on what everyone considered an average horse. The Point even had a picture of the two of them on a wall at the stables taken during the opening ceremonies at the games.
Hannibal was proud of the fact he did officially make the Olympic team riding a donated academy horse, and none of the so-called experts thought he was an Olympic caliber horse, but together they proved all the experts wrong by defeating several Olympic riders and their horses during the eventing season. Firefly was an extraordinary horse, and with Hannibal on his back, they were a talented team of horse and rider. Hannibal adored Firefly, and the horse followed him around the pasture like a dog follows its owner and always nosed his pockets for the peppermints he kept there for him.
So as Hannibal rode along the fence line on the ridgeline overhanging the valley in the upper pasture looking for stray cattle on his big bay quarter horse Shotgun, who by chance looked like Firefly, Hannibal spotted something in the distance and stopped at a break in the trees. As he watched from a distance, Hannibal saw one of the small hunting cabins Jacob kept on his land for hunting season, and there were several vehicles and a couple of tents erected next to it. Since he already cleared the area around the cabin of cattle, Hannibal knew whoever had moved into the cabin shouldn't be there because Jacob would have mentioned someone renting the hunting cabin since it wasn't hunting season and even more unusual was the cabin would be inaccessible when the winter snows began in a few weeks.
So, Hannibal picked up the binoculars hanging from his saddle horn and focused on the camp from the upper ridge when a truck pulled up to the elevated wooden deck surrounding the building, and two men were forcibly pulled from the back and dragged inside. Both men were tied up tightly and forced into the cabin by men on both arms lifting them because they refused to walk, so they were apparently not there by choice. The hairs on the back of his neck started standing up, and Hannibal's gut told him something was wrong, but he couldn't get any closer to the cabin during the daylight without being spotted by the numerous armed men positioned around the camp. And dressed as a cowboy wearing leather chaps, blue jeans, a denim shirt and matching jacket with a white cowboy hat and on the back of a horse didn't lend well to sneaking up on the men during the daylight hours.
To go along with the only weapons, Hannibal had with him were his S&W 9mm pistol on his hip and a lever action 30-30 Winchester rifle in a scabbard on his saddle to take care of any predators going after the cattle. Not enough firepower with no backup for men walking around with automation rifles. So, he would have to return to find out what exactly was going on after the sun went down because the darkness would hide his approach and then he would be appropriately dressed and adequately armed for another kind of two-legged predator.
Trying to keep an air of normalcy, Hannibal continued riding along the fence line and rounded up the rest of the visible cattle, so he would not attract any undue attention by deviating from his task. After locating most of the cattle, he drove them to the lower pasture where Jacob wanted them quartered for the winter. When he herded the last cow into the field and closed the gate, Hannibal casually mentioned to Jacob what he had seen at the cabin and Jacob told him the cabin should be empty. And that spurred Hannibal into action, so when he got back into town, his first stop was the sheriff's office to speak with Hank Thompson about the occupied cabin and the two hostages inside.
"I'm going to recon around the camp to see if I can find out what's going on, Hank. I'll come back for you later." Hannibal told the sheriff.
"I want to go with you, Hannibal." Hank Thompson stated.
"It'll be easier and quicker for me to go alone, Hank you know that. I have more experience at doing this than you do." Hannibal stated.
The sheriff knew Hannibal was right because he was a former Special Forces Green Beret and trained in the art of not being seen, so the sheriff reluctantly agreed with Hannibal's decision, but he still didn't agree with Hannibal going alone.
"Okay, Hannibal. You're right, but be careful, will you. I don't want to have to rescue you. You'll never live it down." Hank stated with a chuckle.
Hannibal snorted in return. "That won't happen, Hank and you know it. They'll never know I was there."
Of course, when Hannibal arrived at the house and briefed Maggie, she wasn't happy about him going alone into the lion's den of unknown again given his propensity for finding massive amounts of trouble and attracting bullets like a magnet. But, he was a trained and deadly commando, and the lives of the captured men could depend on someone getting inside the camp and accessing the situation without being seen, and the best chance of accomplishing the mission was Hannibal going in alone.
After a quick dinner, Hannibal changed into a dark green and black tiger striped fatigue shirt, a pair of black six pocket fatigue pants and a pair of matching combat boots, then blacked out his face and put a black stocking cap over his head to cover up his silver hair. Glancing at the mirror, Hannibal grabbed his army dog tags from where they were hanging since they always brought him luck. And he would need all he could get, so he put the chain around his neck and tucked the two silver tags under black his t-shirt and went into the living room to finish putting on his equipment. Laying everything out on the table, Hannibal placed a green web equipment belt around his waist with his 9mm pistol in its black holster, pouch with two extra magazines, a canteen and his double-sided combat knife. Afterwards, he slung one Ruger mini-14 .223 rifle over his shoulder with an extra one on his back and then walked outside where he gave Maggie a passionate kiss and climbed on the back of his horse. He wanted to use the horse because he was well trained and could travel much quieter in the open fields than attempting the dangerous approach in a motorized and loud ATV.
Once the pair took off across the field behind Maggie's house at a gallop towards Jacob Johnson's upper pasture, Maggie watched them leave from the back window in the kitchen, hoping her beloved would stay out of trouble since he was alone. But she knew for Hannibal Smith staying out of trouble was utterly impossible especially given the fact he was going out alone on another impromptu rescue mission. And she hoped he wouldn't attract another bullet or two in his scar-riddled body and wind up on her operating table again.
Inside the rustic hunting cabin, Stringfellow Hawke and Dominic Santini were tied up with their hands behind their backs and attached to the wall with a rope. Their ankles were also bound together and attached to the same cable to prevent them from attempting to escape. Both men had multiple bruises on their faces from at least one earlier beating trying to convince them to give up the information on the location of Airwolf, the state of the art attack helicopter Stringfellow Hawke kept hidden in the Valley of the Gods.
It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the men holding Stringfellow Hawke and Dominic Santini hostage were Russian operatives due to their accents and butchering of the English language. But String and Dom knew these men wanted the location of the helicopter so they could take it apart and learn all of the secrets of the helicopter's advanced avionics and weapons systems and determine how the chopper traveled at speeds rivaling the newest jet fighter aircraft in excess of Mach 1.5. So, during an overflight of the small valley around Bad Rock, the agents noticed the hunting cabin and decided to use it as their base of operation while they violently and painfully coerced the information out of their victims through varying and sometimes deadly means. Since hunting season was over and the winter snows were hinting on the horizon, the Russians knew the cabin would be the perfect out of the way spot to obtain the information they needed from Hawke or Santini, even if one of them had to die to force the other one to talk. But, these agents hadn't foreseen or anticipated a former Army Special Forces commando named Colonel John 'Hannibal' Smith spotting their new hideaway or their hostages, because they just became part of the legacy of Hannibal Smith.
Neither of the two men would willingly tell the Russians where to find Airwolf, but it was only a matter of time before things got nasty for the both of them. The Russians would use any and all means necessary and that included drugs and other methods to get the information they wanted. Given enough time, torture and pain one of the men was sure to break and spill his guts about where to find Airwolf.
Since Hannibal knew the area and the lay of the land after spending many hours in the saddle rounding up cattle, when he got close enough to the camp, he got off his horse and then walked the rest of the way after tying up Shotgun close enough for a quick getaway, if needed. After securing the horse to a small tree, Hannibal belly crawled along the little creek bed, which ran next to the camp along the tree line, listening and watching for the guards who were walking around, but away from the perimeter for some reason. As he watched from his creekbed vantage point, Hannibal noticed the guards were very casual about how they carried out their watch duties; not making any concerted effort to make sure no one was around or inside their perimeter. Even with the lackadaisical attitude of the men to their responsibilities and their unguarded outer boundary, it would be hard to sneak up on the camp by vehicle due to the noise and the flat open ground outside the camp, which is why Hannibal chose to come by horseback.
As Hannibal worked his way slowly around the camp on his stomach, he came across the three small open-topped jeeps parked near the cabin. Since he only needed one vehicle for the captured men to escape in and he had his own way out with his horse, so he needed to disable the other two four-wheel drives to delay the pursuit. Hannibal never intended to go back to get the sheriff; his plan was always to get the men out by himself, he just told Hank Thomson he would come back for him to keep the man from tagging along with him. He didn't want to hurt the sheriff's feelings by telling Hank; he would be a hindrance more than a help to get in quietly and save the two men from their captors.
Hannibal continued crawling around the camp, scouting it out for anything he could use and found a small box of grenades in one of the empty, unlocked vehicles. How thoughtful of them to leave these for me to use, he thought to himself. So, he took several grenades out of the box and used a ball of used bailing wire to attach them to the undercarriage of two vehicles, so when the transmission was engaged, the grenades would go off and take out the axel and the transmission, thus immobilizing the jeeps permanently. Since the Russians didn't expect anyone to be inside their almost unguarded perimeter, the keys to all of the vehicles were in the ignition for quick access and therefore available for the escape. Hannibal watched from underneath one of the jeeps, and except for a couple of guards roaming around the area around the cabin, everyone else appeared to be asleep inside the two tents erected several feet away from the main cabin door.
After completing the task of wiring the vehicles to explode, Hannibal crawled on his back under the raised floor of the wooden cabin and peeked through the spaces between the wooden slats of the floorboards. He needed to know if the two men he saw earlier were the only ones inside, so he stayed still and listened intently for several minutes because if the floorboards creaked it meant someone was walking around inside. Once he heard two whispered voices inside the cabin, Hannibal inched closer on his back to the sound and listened to the two men whispering, and if they were talking to themselves, it meant they were the only ones inside the cabin. As he continued to monitor their conversation, Hannibal thought he heard something about the Russians and caught the older gray-haired man say something about 'the lady' and the word 'Airwolf,' but those words meant absolutely nothing to him, yet. Now when the two men talked about the Russians, that was, of course, was a whole other kettle of fish and it meant Russian operatives were involved and operating inside the borders of the United States and his little rescue mission could get really dangerous for all of them if he got caught.
When Hannibal was sure the two men were alone, he decided it was time to test the floor slats for a loose one to get into the building. Hannibal crawled around the outside perimeter of the floor from underneath and checked the wooden slats one by one for an unsecured floorboard. He got lucky, thank you for my lucky dog tags he thought to himself and noticed Jacob had installed a wooden trap door that opened into the cabin. Now, Hannibal realized he just had to release the locking pin on the door from his position underneath the floor. Luckily, the slats between the floorboards were wide enough for him to get the tip of his knife blade through and managed to hit the pin and unlocked the door.
Hannibal pushed up on the door slowly and quietly and then held it to make sure it didn't slam back to the floor and alerted the Russians he was inside the building. Once the door was open and secure, he popped up inside and noticed two tied up men watching him, but keeping their mouths shut. So, after putting a finger to his lips to make sure they stayed quiet, Hannibal hoped his luck would hold out, and no one would enter the cabin while he climbed inside since it left him quite exposed and unprotected, as he had to use both hands to hoist himself through the open trapdoor.
Once inside, Hannibal took his combat knife and cut the captives restraints and whispered, "There's a black jeep just on the other side of the cabin, and the keys are in the ignition. Take that vehicle because the others have explosive surprises wired to the undercarriage, then take off as fast as you can towards the main road and I'll cover you."
"What about you, mister? How are you going to get out of here?" Hawke asked because he wanted to know who this man was and make sure this wasn't a Russian trick to gain their trust. But now was not the time to find out who he was and why he was helping them in case he wasn't a plant because that could get them all captured or killed.
"I've got my transportation tied up on the other side of the trees. I know my way around this area, so I'll be fine." Hannibal replied. "Just head for the main road and keep on going south as fast as you can until it forks, then take the right fork and follow the road all the way into the town of Bad Rock and get to the sheriff. His name is Hank Thomson, and you can trust him. I'll be along right behind you after I delay your friends."
"But…" Santini started.
"No buts, just go," Hannibal ordered as he handed the extra Ruger mini –14 rifle to Hawke with an extra 30 round magazine. "It's fully loaded, locked and cocked and ready to rock, so let's make tracks."
All three men lowered themselves through the hole in the floor, crawled underneath the cabin and snuck out the other side. Hawke and Santini saw the black jeep their new friend had indicated as safe to drive, and belly crawled over to it to stay out of the sight of the two guards walking around the camp. To cover the two men, Hannibal removed the rifle from his back and covered the rear as the two men climbed into the jeep and started it up.
As Hawke turned the ignition and the engine roared to life the two perimeter guards converged on their position. So Hannibal opened fire into the dirt at the men's feet to make them hit the ground and cover their heads, but the sound of the weapons fire alerted the rest of the camp to the escape attempt and his presence as an outsider. When the jeep containing Hawke and Santini took off towards the road and cleared the outside perimeter of the camp, Hannibal backpedaled towards his horse still firing his rifle, keeping the heads down of anyone or anything pointed in his direction. It seemed the Russians were more concerned about their escaping prisoners than him, except for one guard who continued firing in his direction. The other men were running towards the two remaining jeeps to start the pursuit their escaping prisoners.
Hannibal managed to backpedal his way across the creek while firing his rifle and turned to grab the reins of his horse when he felt the impact of a bullet striking his left shoulder, and the immediate white-hot pain felt like someone just pushed a red-hot poker the size of an ax through his shoulder. Knowing he had to keep going, Hannibal climbed on the back of the horse, turned him around leaving his back exposed and took off a dead run. The other men jumped into their vehicles at the same time, and within a few seconds the explosives went off with one jeep plowing into the dirt, and the other went soaring into the air coming to rest on its side.
As Shotgun picked up speed across the field towards Bad Rock, Hannibal heard the two explosions in the distance as Shotgun and already in extreme pain, he hung onto the saddle horn and his horse for dear life as he guided him through the pasture in the darkness. At full gallop, Hannibal hoped Shotgun wouldn't step into a hole, break a leg and spill the both of them, leaving the both of them out in the open, injured and unable to move.
Stringfellow Hawke and Dominic Santini followed Hannibal's instructions correctly and took the right fork, which steered them into the town of Bad Rock. When they saw the sign for the sheriff's office on Main Street Hawke stopped their captured jeep in front of it as Hank came running outside when heard the sudden squeal of the brakes. And when he saw the two beaten men get out of the jeep, he knew Hannibal didn't come back to get him like he promised he would and had gone ahead and rescued the men by himself. The first thing Hank noticed was Hannibal wasn't with them, and that worried him since he might have to rescue his friend after all, and if something terrible had happened to Hannibal, Maggie would be inconsolable.
Hank met the men on the sidewalk near the door to his office, and while he was talking with them trying to find out what exactly was going on, he heard the sound of galloping hooves on Main Street behind him. So, Hank grabbed the flashlight off his belt and shined it in the direction of the noise and saw Shotgun sprinting into town with blood all over his shoulders with Hannibal barely conscious and slumped over in the saddle on his back. Hank ran out into the road to get the horse stopped, but Hannibal noticed the sudden movement, straightened up and pulled back on the reins himself, right handed and this move brought the horse to a stop in front of the sheriff's office.
Hank stayed on the road and grabbed Shotgun's bridle to keep the horse still. "You didn't come back and get me, Hannibal. You intended to do it yourself all along without me, didn't you?"
Hannibal looked down at Hank and nodded, the pain evident in his voice, "Guilty as charged, Hank. I'm sorry, but I didn't have the time to come back and get you."
"Yeah, right Hannibal. You know Maggie's going to rip you a new one because you caught another bullet. This is getting to be a regular and unwanted habit with you." Hank stated.
"Yeah, I know Hank. Let go of the bridle, and I'll ride over to the house and bring those guys with you. They've taken several pretty good beatings, and Maggie will need to check them over and clean them up."
"Not until she takes care of you first, Hannibal. Shotgun's covered with your blood. When we get you inside, I'll take care of your horse." Hank stated as he motioned for the two men to climb back into the captured jeep as he released bridle. Hank jumped into the driver's side and followed Hannibal as he slowly rode over to the doctor's house a couple of blocks away. When they arrived in front of the house, Hank hit the horn of the jeep to let the doctor know they were outside and she needed to come out.
Maggie heard the horn and walked out onto the porch and was immediately worried at the sight of an unmoving and slumped over Hannibal on the back of a sweat covered Shotgun standing in the driveway behind her GMC Jimmy. To make matters worse, she spotted a black Jeep pulling up behind them, but she recognized the driver as Hank Thompson with two men she'd never seen before. But her first concern was Hannibal, so as she got closer, Maggie saw the blood all over the horse's shoulders and Hannibal nearly falling out of the saddle, and she knew what it meant, Hannibal had caught another bullet to add to his collection of wounds and scars.
Once Maggie got to the horse and grabbed the reins, Hannibal noticed her on the ground at the horse's head, swung his right leg over with his left foot still in the stirrup and slid off the left side of saddle holding onto the horn with his right hand. When his feet touched the ground, the only thing keeping him from falling down was his hand locked onto the saddle horn. Hank, Hawke, and Santini got out of the Jeep and ran over to the injured man. As Dominic and Hawke each took a side, Hannibal released his grip on the saddle horn allowing the two men to carry his weight. Hank took the reins from Maggie, and he led the horse towards the barn behind the house. Maggie waved for the two men with Hannibal to follow her inside into her small clinic at the back of the house.
Once they were inside the house in the light, Maggie could see the other men were in pretty bad shape themselves, and she also saw the giant hole in Hannibal's left shoulder as he stood between them, as the blood drained through that hole and soaked the dark tiger striped shirt he was wearing. So, as they made their way towards the back of the house and the clinic and the two men helped Hannibal onto the gurney and assisted him with laying down.
"Could you help me get his shirt, pants, and boots off while I get an IV ready?"
"Sure doc," Dominic stated as he unlaced Hannibal's muddy boots and pulled them off with Hawke removing Hannibal's web belt with his equipment, and both men helped Hannibal to sit up and take off his shirt. Dominic then pulled off Hannibal's black fatigue pants, leaving him only wearing a bloody black t-shirt with a large hole in it and his underwear. Seeing several blankets on a shelf, Santini grabbed one to cover the injured man and keep him warm since there was a chill in the air.
Hawke placed Hannibal's clothes with his pistol and the two Ruger mini-14 rifles on the table next to the back door because he didn't know where Maggie or Hannibal wanted them, so he just put them on the empty table for now. A few minutes later, Maggie returned to Hannibal's side and inserted two IV lines in Hannibal's right arm, one for a saline solution and one for plasma and gave Hannibal several injections, one of the antibiotics, another one for the pain and a sedative. She knew she would have to contact the hospital in White Rock to have a couple of units of Hannibal's blood type delivered. So the plasma infusion would have to do for now until she could get the blood delivered to give him a transfusion.
Hannibal looked up at her from the gurney and flashed a tired, crooked smile as Maggie put an oxygen mask on his face to aid with his breathing before getting a wet towel to wipe off the black face paint while she waited for the sedative to take effect. Needing some more help, Maggie handed Hawke a pair of scissors, "Could you cut his t-shirt off, please while I get the rest of my instruments ready.
So, Hawke took the scissors, cut off the t-shirt and saw the bleeding bullet wound in Hannibal's left shoulder before looking over at his face and noticing his eyes closed, and body relaxed. Hawke took note of the dog tags around Hannibal's neck, so he picked up the two silver tags and looked at the name on them, John J. Smith, US Army, to which Hawke smirked at the cliché of a name and laid the tags gently back down on the injured man's chest.
Maggie returned to the gurney to check Hannibal's pulse and breathing and saw the tags on the chain around his neck and shook her head. "He always puts those on when he thinks he might get hurt. He likes to think they bring him luck."
"Did he serve in Vietnam?" Hawke asked.
"Yes, he did," she replied, "Korea too." Dominic Santini's ears perked up at the mention of the Korean War.
"Was he old enough to have even served in Korea?"
"Just barely. Hannibal enlisted at 17 and went to West Point after coming back from the war in 1953." Maggie stated since Hannibal had told her quite a bit about his early life before Vietnam, but it was much harder to get anything about Vietnam, especially the POW camp out of him. He was very tight lipped about the Vietnam War, but so was she until she met Hannibal and opened up to him about her feelings.
For the next few minutes, Maggie kept on working on getting Hannibal ready for surgery since she needed to get him stabilized first and wanted his blood pressure to level out before she removed the round from his shoulder, so she waited for a few minutes while the plasma and saline boosted his blood pressure.
"What was his rank and unit in Korea?" Dominic asked, curious.
"101st Airborne. He arrived in the country in 1952 and made it to sergeant by 18 and went to West Point in 1953." Maggie replied.
"Young sergeant," Dominic replied.
"Yes, he was. There's a long story there, but that's his story to tell not mine." Maggie stated.
"What was his unit in Vietnam and his rank?" Hawke asked, curious about where else this man had served.
"His unit was the 5th Special Forces group, and I think he had four tours. He went to Vietnam in 1967 as a major and was later promoted to Lt. Colonel and given the command of the group after their CO suddenly died, but that's another long story if you can get him to talk about it. He's extremely tight-lipped about some of the things that happened to him in Vietnam, especially about being a POW for a year."
"He was a POW?" Hawke exclaimed since his brother Saint John was still missing in action in Vietnam, maybe there was hope he was alive.
"Yeah, just two weeks shy of a year from late August 69-70, then he escaped with three of his men. As I said, he's very tight-lipped about it because they tortured him pretty badly and he barely survived at the hospital after they escaped due to the torture and starvation among other things." Maggie stated as she checked on her patient and found his vital signs somewhat stable.
Hawke was intrigued, the Special Forces part made perfect sense on how the colonel managed to rescued them from the Russians by himself and Hawke wanted to know more about him, but before he could ask another question, Maggie moved them into the front room. Before she went back into the to removed the bullet from Hannibal's shoulder since his blood pressure and stabilized Maggie, pulled a small folder out of her desk, she kept about the man she loved and handed it to Hawke. There was something about Stringfellow Hawke and Dominic Santini that told her she and Hannibal could trust them and they wanted to know more about the man who risked his life and saved them. "This should answer some of your questions," Maggie stated as she handed the folder to Hawke and went back to the clinic.
Hawke and Santini went into the living room and sat down as Hank Thompson came through the front door. "Is Maggie in there patching up Hannibal?"
"Yes, she is," Dominic asked. "Hannibal?"
"Yeah, everyone calls him that. He picked it up in Korea from his buddies in the 101st. They started calling him that after a battle and he was honored to get the nickname from the brave men he served with, so he continues to use it." Hank stated and noticed the unopened folder in Hawke's hands, knowing Maggie must trust them a lot for some reason for her to let them see that folder. "Did she tell you what's in that folder?" Hank asked.
"No, we were asking questions about your friend, and she handed me this when she made us come out here. She wanted to get the bullet out of him. What's in it?" Hawke asked.
"Open it up and find out," Hank stated since he already knew the top page was a picture of Hannibal with the President of the United States taken in the rose garden with the Medal of Honor around his neck, and the photograph was the most telling thing in the folder about Hannibal Smith. It was the photo from the press release, and Amy had obtained it for her. The later pages were newspaper articles Maggie saved about the team; its exploits and other reports she had managed to accumulate about Hannibal since she'd met him.
So, Hawke opened the folder, and the picture on top told Hawke all he needed to know about the injured man in the other room and Santini looked over his shoulder at the picture. "Is that what I think it is around his neck."
Hawke looked over at the sheriff for confirmation, and he nodded, "If you're looking at his picture with the Medal of Honor. Yeah, it is. Hannibal doesn't say much about it, except he didn't do anything special to get it."
"What did he do?" Santini asked.
"From what little I've gotten out of him and the press release that came with the photo is that he saved a 16 man navy seal team from an ambush by an NVA platoon single-handed and nearly wiped the entire NVA platoon off the map, along with getting shot three times in the process and almost died."
"Yeah, right. That is nothing special. Colonel Smith just saved us all by himself. I'm guessing he has a habit of doing things like that and getting shot in the process." Dominic stated bluntly.
"Yep, he does much to the doc's chagrin. I need to get back to the office. Tell Maggie when she comes out I fed Shotgun, got him cleaned up and he's good for the night. I'll come back by in the morning to check on Hannibal and feed his horse." Hank stated.
"Will do, Sheriff," Dominic replied then added. "Does he have any family who might want to know he's hurt?"
"He just has a few friends he served with in Vietnam, but I'm sure Maggie will do that. Both his mother and father were in the military. His dad was a Marine Corps colonel and believe it or not, also a recipient of the Medal of Honor in WWII. He died in Korea with the 1st Marine Regiment, and his name was James David Smith. Hannibal's mother Susan was a nurse, and she went back into the army when he enlisted, and she deployed to Korea with a MASH unit. She died when her jeep ran over a landmine, so he lost both of his parents in that war, and at the time he was only 17. The military is a family tradition, and his older brother James Jr. went to the Naval Academy and died serving in Vietnam as a seal while Hannibal was a POW. He has no immediate family still alive, so the only real family he has left are the men who survived the in the POW camp with him in Vietnam. They are very close friends and will do anything for him." Hank stated.
"He lost both of his parents in Korea. What were they both doing there together?" Dom asked.
"Different branches of service, Army, and Marines. I guess they didn't talk to each other back then since they deployed at different times. I don't know, and neither does he. He's always wondered about that himself since he and his brother were also both deployed in Vietnam and different branches. His mother wasn't deployed during WWII because she had the two children. You know, Hannibal got shot the same day they died and almost joined them in death. But he completed his combat tour and returned to the states to go to West Point." Hank stated. He'd always been impressed with Hannibal's sense of duty to his country, even after losing both of his parents in the war.
Hawke and Dom both nodded since they were also impressed with the man in the other room who had saved their lives, and they wanted to know more about him.
Hank Thompson nodded to both men; left the house and went back to his office because he had a lot of paperwork to do before he went home for the evening.
The two men continued to look through the folder and found the newspaper articles about the A-Team and made the connection to the injured man in the other room. The leader of the infamous A-Team, Colonel John 'Hannibal' Smith and the man who saved them were one in the same, which didn't make a difference to Hawke or Santini. Colonel Smith just saved their lives and Airwolf from the Russians, and they didn't care about him being a fugitive from the US Army. Hawke had his own problems with the government since he wouldn't give Airwolf back until they found his brother who was still an MIA in Vietnam.
The last thing in the folder was a medical record about Smith while he was recovering in the hospital after escaping from the POW camp. Dr. Sullivan had somehow used her medical connections and managed to get a full copy of Smith's medical record, and from all accounts and the notes in the file from the doctors, Colonel Smith should have died. The doctors were all surprised he survived the long and painful recovery with one of the doctors even writing in his report it must have been Smith's pure stubbornness and the refusal to give up on why he managed to survive and walk out of the hospital under his own power on his own two feet.
Both men shook their heads and closed the folder since the report made perfect sense after having met the man in question and his refusal to give up.
"We need to do something to thank him. Do you think Archangel could help?" Dom asked.
"I don't know, Dom. All we can do is ask. I would like to know why they were arrested in the first place. I don't think he's guilty; it just doesn't fit with what he just did for us or his character from what's in that folder. But I would like to know his side of the story before we ask Archangel for help." Hawke stated.
"Okay String, I just want to give it a try. We owe him that much."
"Yeah, Dom we sure do."
Since Maggie was still in surgery with Hannibal, Dominic picked up the phone and called Caitlin O'Shannessy at the Santini Air hanger to have her pick them up in Bad Rock. Dom looked at his watch and checked the time because it would take her at least two hours to get there from their hanger at the Van Nuys airport.
Thirty minutes later Maggie opened the door from the clinic and walked into the living room. Dominic and Hawke stood up from their chairs to meet her, and Hawke handed her back the folder, so she returned it to the drawer she kept it in. "I hope it answered a few of your questions."
"It did doctor," Dominic replied. "How's he doing?"
"He's stable now. I stopped the bleeding, removed the bullet and stitched up his shoulder. The courier brought some blood over from the hospital, and I'm in the process of giving him a transfusion now. He's asleep and will be for another hour or so. Now, both of you come with me, and I'll get you cleaned up."
"We're both fine doctor, so just take care of Colonel Smith. The sheriff told us to tell you he took care of the horse and will be back in the morning to feed him." Hawke stated.
"I'll have to thank Hank later for taking care of Shotgun because he's Hannibal's baby. Like I just told you both Hannibal's stable and you two don't look so fine, now march and that's an order to the both of you. I was a captain in the army in 'Nam, and I expect my orders to be carried out, so do I have repeat myself." Maggie ordered, hands on her hips and eyes flashing.
Dominic and Hawke looked at each other, and both men got up and went back into the surgery room. After seeing Maggie and the look on her face, she was a strong-willed woman, and they knew better than to argue with her.
When both men entered the clinic, they saw Hannibal lying on the gurney propped up on a couple of pillows with two IV lines in his right arm with one of them hooked up the unit of whole blood. He still had an oxygen mask on his face, and his left shoulder was heavily bandaged with his left arm in a sling, immobilizing it, but he was relaxed and appeared to be sleeping peacefully.
Maggie led the men over to two chairs she'd set up next to the sink and cleaned up their bruises and abrasions from the beatings the men received from their captors.
After Maggie cleaned them up the two men remained inside the clinic watching over Hannibal as he slept while Maggie went into the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. She wanted to move Hannibal into her spare bedroom while Hawke and Santini were there, but she needed to wait until the blood transfusion boosted his blood pressure and he woke up from the sedative.
So when she returned from the kitchen, Maggie handed Hawke and Dom each a cup of coffee before retrieving one for herself. Then, she snagged a semi-comfortable padded chair and moved it closer to the gurney to sit next to Hannibal to keep an eye on his condition. Once she sat down, she made herself comfortable where she could observe his breathing and her guests with ease.