I imagine you must be in some sort of shock at the moment -- it has indeed been a long time since we last spoke. I know you and mother are still very upset with me. And I know I have said it to the moon and back, but I am truly sorry. I promise that I will take my deployment money and put it towards a down payment on a new house for you. If someone told me that mixing alcohol and pre-deployment leave could leave in its path such destruction, I would never have done it. If only someone from my command had briefed me. Shame. I should have listened to you, dad -- your wise words about Vietnam and your time in the Corps never rang truer.
That brings me to the impetus of my writing you. I fear that I will not make it back home from this desolate wasteland alive. The Taliban are skilled fighters, no doubt. But it is not the enemy without I fear, it is the enemy within. I never told you or mother, but our squad received a new squad leader from MAR-SOC-COM-SEALs before we left (that's what he said it was called) -- Sgt. Trump. At first, we all loved him -- he was the antithesis of "moto," if you will. He rallied our affection by making all of the other high-and-tight sporting squad leaders look like assholes. It was capital fun. He would mock them incessantly, spewing buckets of gibberish and mono-syllabic tones in their faces when they attempted reproach. He was the first squad leader I had ever seen who actually said what all of us were thinking. Sometimes he would get us to participate in his version of squad competition -- mostly urinating in other Marines' boots as they sat on the catwalk, airing out after a hump. Another time, one of Sgt. Trump's team leaders actually defecated into Sgt. Clinton's pre-workout powder. It was all excellent fun at the time.
But since getting here, our squad doesn't find Sgt. Trump so endearing any longer. You see, we thought he was joking -- all those times back in the rear, his mocking the other squad leaders. We thought he was being ironic with his ambling and rudderless rants -- making fun of how higher is always in disarray. But he was not joking. Those were his most deeply held, devoutly followed beliefs and principles. He delivered a Frag-O before our very first patrol, and as he began speaking, the pit in my stomach swallowed my mind.
"Look, I don't know what this terrain model is. Ok? It doesn't matter. Ok? Believe me. The Taliban? Weak, low energy, very easy to kill. Sgt. Clinton’s squad is scared shitless. I heard she got captured in Vietnam. I was having a beer with the BC earlier today, he told me she once lost a Chinook during rifle qual. Incredible."
He paused, waiting for our slack-jawed mouths to laugh or our trembling hands to applause or, who knows?
"Ok. Grab your guns. Let's go shoot some ISIS."
That was his entire Frag-O. He didn’t know we were not fighting IS. We left the wire without having the faintest idea of what we were supposed to accomplish. We patrolled to a nearby village, and Sgt. Trump took our 'terp to the bizarre and the two of them looked for Afghans to, in Sgt. Trump's words, "do deals with", as the rest of us were set in security. He came back six hours hence with the rights to build a high-rise apartment complex in Marjah-proper and a goat that he admonished us for wanting to eat. "I'm going to dip it in gold," he said. That was two months ago. I am afraid to report that things have only gotten worse.
Beyond our own squad's safety, he's given me due cause to fear for the safety of others as well. Sgt. Trump has taken up a peculiar distrust of the Afghan chickens. He blames them for his tragic dysentery -- as opposed to blaming the canal water that he regularly drinks from and uses as a crude sort of mirror. He gathered up all of the ANA's chickens in our patrol base, painted inverted crosses on their foreheads, and punted them one-by-one over the eastern wall of the PB -- and this was after crushing Wagner's soul for not having enough RFID chips to "keep an eye on them, make sure they don't get anyone else sick," as Sgt. Trump put it. His words and actions are nothing short of absolute madness.
It is only a matter of time before he gets one of us -- or all of us -- killed.
Our 1stSgt wrote him up for a Navy Cross yesterday. My fellow squad members and I have no audience among us to hear our terror and discontent. Which is why I must ask you humbly, shamefully, to contact Mothers of America in an effort to bring attention to our plight. I fear that they alone can deliver us from the madness of Sgt. Trump's leadership.
I beg of you, father -- please help us.
LCpl Puller II
Dan Willis was an infantryman in the Marine Corps from 2010-2015 after a tumultuous and short career on Wall Street, serving with Fox Company 2/9. He is currently working on his undergraduate degree in economics at Columbus State Community College, and expects to finish at The Ohio State University. Dan humbly serves as RTB Media's Creative Director and Co-founder. Follow Dan on Twitter.