e headed east, out the back gate. 2nd got into some heavy shit earlier that day in the Eastern Village, the grand conclusion being HIMARS falling from the sky like righteous fury. We hooped. We howled. A roof flew hundreds of feet in the air, like a bird trying to escape a predator. Another small victory for 3rd Platoon, but higher can’t help but to fuck up a good thing.
“Battalion wants a BDA done,” our young LT proclaims. Grumbles and moans accompany the idea of another stupid patrol, but this is the Marine Corps, and “stupid” is a hobby. Stinson gathers us in for PCCs and PCIs, Patrol Brief, and the rest of it, another day in the fabulous life of the United States Marine Corps Infantry. Why did I sign up for this? I hate this place, fuck Afghanistan. I take it that my buddies feel the same, from the way they bitch all the time. Great minds think alike. Stop daydreaming, get your shit together. Gear is donned, rifle is slung, and outside the wire I go.
We headed east, towards that damnable village. It was empty, hollow, devoid of life except for when we and the Taliban decided to meet up and exchange hatred and high-velocity rounds. Hopefully we’d find a dead guy, validation that we were better, not that it was needed. These people live in mud huts, shit in fields, and made less money in a year than just the gear I carried on my person was worth. I’m civilized, they are not. I have compassion, they do not. So why are we still here? I don’t know.
I don’t have much time to contemplate it as we head east, and a canal is in our way. 1st team posts security. 2nd team posts security. The squad leader, Doc, and myself reach the canal. I’m on point. Stop, check the area, and watch their backs. Keep them safe. Stinson posts too close to me, it’s dangerous and I’m uncomfortable. I move back to get some dispersion between us. Don’t get fucking grouped up. A tight group is an easy target. Be distant. Be safe. I end up behind him, enough space between us to settle the nagging voice in my head letting me know we were fucked up. Hush now, its OK. We have dispersion, we are safe.
We headed east, approaching the wall before the village. Shitty little thing, about 3-4 feet tall, built of shit and mud. They’re too poor here to afford anything else, too uncivilized to know any better. It disgusts me. Shit in the fields, shit in the houses, shit in the canals, shit shit SHIT. We approach a gap in the wall. I’ve walked through it more times than I can count, as if it was ever significant enough to remember. Watch your step, canal on the other side of the Great Wall of Mudshit. Don’t fall and break your ankle like a dumbass. 1st and 2nd teams have posted security; Guns Is on the hill about 200 yards back and our Assaultman has an AT-4 on him. We are safe. My squad leader walks towards the gap, he’ll be the first one to break the gateway.
What the fuck? Where am I? Why am I on the ground? I can’t see Doc. I scream, Doc answers. We’re good. I don’t register anything until those sounds start. Crying? Yea, but it sounds like a baby. Why is there a baby out here? What the fuck is going on? I run up to the wall, and look over. There’s something on the other side, I’m not sure what it is.
FUCK. FUCK FUCK FUCK!
My squad leader is down; on his back between the wall and canal. He’s hurt. I think he’s crying. I need to spin the CASEVAC, get him the fuck out of here. WHERE ARE THOSE FUCKS? COME HERE, I'M GOING TO KILL YOU! I give one of the team leaders my radio; I can’t think straight, feeling my soul overflow with fury. FUCK ALL OF YOU! I post on the wall as we take fire from the tree line about 200 yards off on the north end of the village. My right index finger dances on the trigger, trying to empty the magazine as fast as it will allow. DIE YOU PIECE OF SHIT! I’m out of ammo. I yell at the point man for a mag, and he obliges, but the gun is not satiating my blood lust. I want to walk to that tree line, wrap my fingers around that fuckhead’s delicate throat, and rip his esophagus out. It won’t fix my buddy, but one step at a time. I HATE ALL OF YOU. I HATE THIS COUNTRY.
My eyes burn, half tears and half gunpowder, but I don’t care. I am not myself, and all I want is for this shit country to burn to the ground. While I took out my rage one 5.56 at a time, 3rd Squad showed up. One of their team leaders fires an AT-4 at the tree line, but fall about 50 yards short. Thanks. No, really, thanks, good fucking job, dude. I’m irrational, and he’s doing what he can to help us, but none of that crosses my mind.
Staff Sergeant has gotten the CASEVAC sent off. We hold security, and continue to hold for what seems like an eternity. WHERE ARE YOU PEDRO? GET THE FUCK OVER HERE BEFORE MY BUDDY DIES! Anger flows through me, but the gunfire has since stopped. There is a sense of calmness in the air, and the enemy seems to have scampered off. We wait. The bird is awfully slow today, and I’m sure there’s some shitty excuse for it, and obviously it doesn’t matter they get here in a timely fashion. 45 minutes, A long time for a poor soul to be in pain, and a long time for those trying to help him have to worry if they’re doing everything that they can. 45 minutes after the CASEVAC is sent off, and those beautiful, gorgeous Blackbirds touch down, and get my squad leader out of there. But it’s ok now, the medics will take care of him, and he’s safe. 3rd squad offers to hold security so that we can make our way back to base.
We headed west.
Blake is a Co-founder and Staff Writer for RTB. He served in the USMC as an infantryman from 2009-2013, deploying to Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011. The constant onslaught of new lieutenants forced him to leave active-duty. He presently works in asset protection in Georgia, where he lives with his dog. His views are his own. Follow Blake on Twitter.