0630 sometime in the 2000’s:
“Down, up! Down, up! Down, up! Down. Keep your backs straight! Why are you moving?” Agitated, I stand to my feet. Looking over the fresh faces of my soldiers, the number those never deployed seems to keep growing.
I glare at my troops. “On your feet! This morning, we have all been called in for some breaking news, boys get your minds right, we are probably heading to war! Get your game faces on, it’s time to separate the men from the boys.”
“Sergeant Freeman, do you know that for real or are you just guessing?”
“Are you calling me a liar private?” The color drains from his red cheeks and his eyes grow large, for some strange reason he reminds me of Odie from Garfield.
“No Sergeant. I just need to know what to tell my wife.”
“You ever hear of OPSEC private?”
“Then shut your mouth and get ready for formation.”
My squad and I form the second rank of the platoon, and we watch as the commander and First Sergeant walk slowly to the basketball court. You could almost hear the thunderous roar of the new soldiers’ heartbeat.
In unison over 100 soldiers come to attention.
“Alright, listen up. The commander has some important information to put out to you all. Don’t think for one moment that y’all are skating out of PT. Due to us being late getting started, formation has been shifted to 0930 at the motorpool. Sir!”
The commander walks up and returns the First Sergeant’s salute. Taking one step forward, he executes a flawless about face and puts us at ease.
“Guys we have come down on orders to deploy to Afghanistan. We have no date of departure. Kiss your wife and children goodbye. We will be spending all our time training for our combat mission. However, at the end of the training period, we will take block leave so you can make up some of the time you have missed. The best gift Top and I can give your family is to make sure that you are prepared and trained to survive the rigors of combat. That is all.”
Cheers erupt from the ranks; the new guys look like they have seen a ghost, and in my heart I wonder if I have what it takes to survive another year in hell.
“Here we go again.”
06 August 2019