Make America Great Again…….. Suck start a Shotgun

MAGA20Hat

I am going political, so sue me.

History, have you heard of it?

I just have to say from the get-go in this piece that if you are a Trump supporter, then go fuck yourself.  You are an ignorant piece of shit and should be put down.  The President is a fucking moron and should be impeached for his stupidity alone.  He makes W look like the best thing ever.  And by extension any fan of the new Republican party is an asshole too.

Now that the shitheads have stopped reading except those that want to get madder at being called out on their bullshit, I will take the chance to point out that I said supporters.  I don’t think those that voted for him are bad people.  I get it, everyone was sick of Clinton and all that and Trump was an unknown.  He said a lot of centrist things and might have appealed to a lot of people.  Even those just looking for a change.  Well now anyone with a brain knows better.

If you don’t know any better, then do us all a favor and go for a swim with cement blocks tied to your feet.   This goes for the new emboldened conservative party.  The days of respectable Republicans like McCain, Dole, and dare I say Bush are over.  Now they are the party of hate and oppression.  They want to reclaim the days of the Christian straight rich white man’s supremacy.  It is just that simple, and if you can’t see that then you have been brain washed by the propaganda.

I mean I hate to tell you white people, but you have lost all of the battles in the past where you tried to stay in control.  You still hold a lot of sway and you might prevail still, but history has shown you that you will lose.  Instead of trying to cut your losses and try to find a way to coexist and be peaceful, you continue to try and reclaim what you took by force.

Just to point out a few things, since you seem to have forgotten them.

Native Americans, the genocide wasn’t quite complete and now they have more rights than you.  Of course, you are still to oppress them and make their lives difficult.  Shame on them for living here first.  You killed them, you broke treaties with them, and tried to “civilize” them, but they are still here and fighting back.  History has shown that you are wrong and assholes.  Have they won?  Maybe not in the way most would hope, but the character they have shown compared to you makes them winners in the eyes of history.

https://www.history.com/topics/native-american-history/native-american-timeline

The Chinese Exclusion Act.  They come here and help build this country and they you ban them.  Eventually it gets overturned and you rack up another loss.

https://history.state.gov/milestones/1866-1898/chinese-immigration

This goes directly along with the Japanese internment camps.  Years after you had to pay reparations and issue an apology.  What is your problem with Asians?  Oh yeah, they aren’t white. Piss off then.

http://www.ushistory.org/us/51e.asp

Don’t have a dick?  Then you get no rights.  Remember that?  You lost that fight too.  They are no longer your property and can not only vote but hold office.  The thing is you aren’t trying to take the vote from them or force their genocide, no you need them to make more white people.  Out breed them, the tactic of the Catholic church.  If they aren’t going to be the rich ones though then they can be the ignorant masses that vote for you.  No, you just want women to be property again, forcing them to be your brood mares.

I think that all of the anti-abortion laws show the true colors of those passing them. They don’t care. If they cared these laws would have additional measures to help. What about adoption?  Do you know how expensive it is? Why are there no provisions to help offset costs for people? If you are a middle-class family who could easily afford to raise a kid or two, you won’t after paying all the fees.  Those things could cost from $10k up. Make it less expensive and it would help.

Full on Sex education. Want less abortions? Teach real, comprehensive sex ed. Abstinence only has been proven not to work. This with cheap and easy access to birth control would lower accidental pregnancies by the boatload, ask Colorado about the success of this and look as Mississippi at the failure of the lack of.

The point being, I can’t believe that legislatures who are “pro-life” actually care when they don’t address the other things that would help lower unwanted pregnancies to even start with. And of course, once the baby is born, they could care less as well. If they were truly “pro” then they would help the whole way as well as try to make sure that abortions were never needed in the first place.  This is basically a way to relegate women back to being owned.  If not outright, then their bodies.

https://nationalwomenshistoryalliance.org/resources/womens-rights-movement/detailed-timeline/

I would go on about the African American population, but we all know how you have treated them.  Slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and everything else you can think of.  Now you just allow open season on them and keep pardoning the hunters.  Yes, their communities might not be what you think they should be.  But former presidential aides have gone on record stating that those communities were targeted with drugs and then police in order to oppress them.

https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-milestones

I could sit here and tell you all about the things you’ve done to groups that are different than you, but you wouldn’t listen.  I have provided links to reputable sources for you to read, but that would require more than skimming a headline or listen to the Bigot News Network, yes I mean Fox.  So, you mouth breathing piece of shit I will continue on, to point out your small dicked concepts of being better than everyone one, even though you are nothing but a toxic piece of shit.

So, what if someone likes the same sex as them?  Do you?  No?  Then why give a fuck?  What consenting adults do in private is none of your damn business.  Most people are just like you.  They partake in intimate relations in their homes. Well, maybe not like you, you see they actually respect their partner(s) and see them as equal.  And they don’t care what you are, because in their minds you are free to love as you choose.  You are the one hung up on what other people’s genitals are up to. But if someone that is one of you is a pedophile or a rapist, then that’s fine, sorry I meant accused but you only allowed 1 week for vetting if any at all..  Yeah, Roy Moore and Brett Kavanaugh.

Then there is gender.  There are more than two you goddamn Neanderthal.  I am not saying that as an opinion, that is a FACT!! I know facts don’t matter to you, you inbred piece of donkey shit.

https://www.who.int/genomics/gender/en/index1.html .

Now if we could only get the difference between gender and gender identity across to you, you knuckle dragging feces slinger.  You might say it is mental illness, and I would take your opinion into account since you suffer from some kind of self-delusional complex.  Guess what though, the LBGT+ won, they can marry, but you are looking to take that away too.

Here is the news of the day.  Anyone who still supports Trump is essentially a Nazi.  Sure, get offended (like you already weren’t).  Most of the Nazi members were just everyday citizens like you.  It can be argued that they didn’t know about the camps or the death squads, and that is fair.  But they did know about the party’s beliefs.  The anti-sematic jargon as well as anti-communist and all the other hate politics.  You know Trump is a racist and misogynist, you know he promotes violence against those he hates.  So, like those Nazi party members that were just everyday people, you know what your party stands for.  The difference is that they didn’t know millions were being purged by that party.  You have the past to learn from and know where it can go.

That alone should make anyone that sees the similarities shiver with dread.  But not you, you embrace the hate full force.  I mean really, what does an immigrant (illegal or not) making shit money picking the fruit you eat have to do with you?  I’ll tell you, you get cheaper fruit.  They take the jobs you won’t.  Illegal immigrants are statistically more likely to obey laws than you, because they want to stay here.  None of this makes a difference though, because perfectly legal immigrants are harassed because of the blind hatred.  If they were asked if they were legal before getting harassed, maybe (and that’s a big maybe) you could say you are truly anti-illegal immigration, but since no one does then its just racist.

It’s called deflection, straw man, red herring, take your pick.  You are so dissatisfied with your life or the state of things that you need a scape goat and [insert group] here fits the bill depending on your brand of hatred.

How about another Nazi comparison?  Joseph Goebbels said, “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”   He started the modern version of bullshit politics and the Republican party has mastered it.  Want to see it in action?  Watch Fox News (though CNN can be as bad at times) or listen to Trump.  He lies so much I’m surprised he remembers his own name, then again, he may not, he just has it printed on everything to try and sell and I’m sure the people around him can tell him.

The point is, if you still support him, fuck you.  He’s an idiot, and a fucking despicable human being, and so are you for still following him.  You are immune to the truth (as is he) and believe the shit spewing from his pie hole.

There is no benefit to try and reason with people that support him either.  If you can’t see that hating minorities and women is a bad thing, then you have no reason to you.  Facts are obviously not going to help, so instead I think just calling you names and telling you how fucking stupid you are is the best way to go.  You are already shooting others, hitting them with cars, mailing bombs, so what are you going to do that isn’t already being practiced by the hate mongers?

The true problem is that the other side is failing to do anything of substance.  They see the hate filled rhetoric as a chance to capitalize politically instead of what it truly is, a sign of how divided the country really is.  Being so impotent to the real cause while trying to scrounge for the table scraps of their corporate overlords makes them about as worthless as Trump.  Inaction is the same.

Some are trying, but they are fighting with their “peers” and can’t get to the real problems and even when they do call out the assholes with strong language, they are chastised for it.  Trump can basically tell natural born citizens to “go back to their country” and get away with it, yet when he is called a racist, those that do it get chastised.  That is how fucked up we are.

So, in closing.  If you are a Trump supporter, go suck start a shotgun and do us all a favor.  If you are not, then do something about the others.  Support a politician that isn’t a piece of shit, or run your damn self, or at least let those that are willing do the job they were hired/elected to do.

One Sunny Day In the Ass Crack of the World

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One Sunny Day In the Ass Crack of the World

We hauled ass down the road taking pot shots at anyone in front of us that didn’t stop as we honked. Just warning ones, but it didn’t matter, they either move, we blow their tires, or worst case aim for heads. Between the time I saw the cloud and now was less than five minutes, but it felt like a couple of hours. It’s times like this that your training just kicks in and you stop thinking. Stop feeling. Reacting in a way that makes it seem like you are riding along in your own body.

As we approached the scene I could see that a Mobile Assault Platoon (MAP) is already there. Five gun trucks and a highback, like an armored pickup, making up the unit along with about twenty-five Marines. They had already secured the area and were forcing all of the regular traffic back. We pulled up and the Iraqi Army (IA) guys were on point. They knew what had to be done, I’d told them on the way over. Since they were locals they could do a better job keeping the citizens in check than a bunch of on edge Marines looking for something to shoot. It was chaos, even in hindsight there is still a lot I can’t remember clearly, if at all.

* * * * *

One thing about the desert, especially the one in the Middle East, is that it’s HOT. I mean damn hot. Hot to the point you wish you could get in the proverbial frying pan to cool off. I spent almost two years of my life there over the course of several trips. My second time was the worst. I had been assigned to our headquarters company to be used for whatever. This usually meant the crap jobs. I was assigned to work at one of the Entry Control Points to the city of Fallujah. A shining gem of Iraqi society and favorite destination for international travelers.

It made sense in regards to what i knew. I had previous experience as a security guy, not the mall kind, but the kind that did background checks, worked with and destroyed the classified papers, and even was in charge of Security during the invasion for one of the Generals, like the Secret Service, but with none of the perks. I had a ton of training in it too, this included counter terrorism and physical security of buildings, locations and what not. So when I first arrived at my new job I saw the things that were wrong. Like a good little Marine I pointed out what I saw. And was ignored.

The problem was that our main post was set in the middle of one of those clover leaf on/off ramps of a highway, the ones that make a huge circle. It was sunk enough so even a leprechaun walking up the ramp could look down over the eight foot concrete barrier into the little checkpoint. It was like opening the hen house door at night and then expecting the fox to go to Applebees instead. I didn’t have to worry about it, they sent me half a click (kilometer) up the road to be in charge of the satelite post that checked commercial traffic.

I did it again, pointing out what I saw was wrong. I was ignored again. It got to the point that I was threatened with punishment if I kept it up. One of those things where they would punish you for something that you really didn’t do like disobeying an order, but where the order was to stop talking about the gaps in security. It sounds asinine, but it was the military. It’s about who is in charge, not what makes sense. The higher ups (bosses) are always looking to make themselves appear better, just like in the real world. And in that regard they could care less about those beneath them in pursuit of that appearance. In corporate America this means the workers might get stiffed some hours, benefits or what not, in the military it can get you killed.

* * * * *

I was lucky when it happened. On this morning we were just waiting, because we were a satellite outpost it took awhile for ride to come by and grab us during shift change. We had opened the post for the morning rush. The gates open at 6am and the trucks start rolling in. No rest for the wicked, or the jarheads in this case. So, it was like any other morning, but nice and sunny. I was out in the main area supervising, just waiting for our ride. Then I saw the cloud from an explosion. Moments later the shockwave came and knocked me on my ass. I was up in a jiffy and yelling at the guys on the towers if they saw anything.

No one had a clue. We suspected what had happened but wanted to know. I ran into the trailer while shouting to shut everything the fuck down. We turned all the trucks around that were in the post and the ones waiting. I also gave the clear to go hot, loading all our guns, and no more escalation of force procedures. We had certain Rules of Engagement we had to follow. This could be waived if a situation arose and an officer said to ignore them. I wasn’t an officer, but none were around and I could answer for it later, because that meant I would still be alive. So the new rules were, if something looked wrong, just shoot it. No warning shots or anything. If it moves kill it, if not, shoot it till it moves, then kill it.

I tried calling on the radio but wasn’t getting any details. We had long range walkie talkies as well to try and call over to the base, which was less than a mile away. I was trying to get hold of the main post anyway I could. I called in the explosion to headquarters, but they were trying to figure out what to have for breakfast or something. Finally, after about three minutes I got a message, “They hit us.” From the radio. It wasn’t a lot, but enough. We didn’t have any transportation, but our IA guys had a truck, more like an open bed cargo truck, but close enough for government work.

It was a piece of shit to boot, we had to push it to get it started. Luckily it was a day when it did it on the first try. Maybe having a dozen people pushing it instead of the usual three did the trick. No one was in the mood to figure it out though. I passed off the reins to one of my Corporals, barked orders to the IA guys to load up, and took off in their transportation with half a dozen of them. I wanted my guys to stay behind and secure our post, plus they had just been assigned there, a rotating post. Only a couple had been there as long as me and they needed to stay to run it, plus none of them were infantry. None of them needed to see the shit that might be waiting. Plus, I was the only one that could speak any lick of Arabic.

* * * * *

I saw the cause for the mess as we pulled in. Halfway up the on ramp was a large orange dump truck. The ramp went to the right of the post and up at about fifteen degrees until it met the highway that ran across the bridge right before it. There was nothing but desert on the other side from the edge of the asphalt, down the embankment, and then out as far as the eye could see. The truck had been loaded with explosives. It had pulled up right next to the post, just above the concrete barriers and detonated. The on ramp was two lanes, it was the outer one.

There was one car between it and the post, and a couple behind it. They were all on fire. I could see the engine from the truck about 200 meters further up the on ramp. The only thing I could tell about a couple of the cars were what kind they were. The explosion had ripped the one next to it apart so bad, just saying it was a sedan was a 50/50 gamble. The three bays we used to inspect vehicles were all collapsed, these were on the opposite side on the post on the road that entered the city, about 150 meters away from the ramp.

The thing about a landscape that had just been devastated by a large explosion is it takes time to adjust to the new scene, like trying to understand calculus the first time they throw it at you. I know I saw the wreckage when I first got there, but I still can’t remember seeing all the dead and injured until a bit later. If it was my brain trying to put it all in place, or just it trying to protect me I can’t say, the type of cognitive dissonance you get when you are first told Santa isn’t real. It eventually had to settle in though. With the changeover happening there was almost thirty Marines on the post.

The first big thing, aside from the wanton destruction of structures and cars, was seeing my Gunnery Sergeant crawling out from the rumble of our little building. It wasn’t the best built thing in the world, just a bunch of plywood really, but it was covered in sandbags and surrounded by smaller concrete barriers and hesco barriers, canvas square boxes held together by wire framing that are then filled with dirt. The Hescos are great because they absorb shrapnel. There were a ton of them around the building.

It wasn’t until I saw the corpsmen (Doc) from 3rd MAP lining up the wounded that I began to realize how bad it was. There were maybe five or six at this point. A bunch of others were wandering around in a daze. Being that close to hundreds of pounds of explosives going off would do that to a guy. I had to put everything out of my head and start doing my job. The site itself was secure, the other platoon had set a perimeter and no follow-on attacks were happening so that was done.

* * * * *

I was the highest-ranking member of the checkpoint crew that wasn’t injured or in a daze, so I had to do the head count. This part is always shitty. The headcount usually is the last act when you are done training or doing something that involves moving a lot of people around. You have to make sure you didn’t lose anyone, like a kindergarten teacher. After an attack it was the first thing, to see how many you did lose.

I also had to work with our Iraqi counterparts because the post also had Iraqi Police and Army guys. We all started going around taking count of our people. How low is the bar that each time you see one of your people your only thought is, he’s alive, regardless of how fucked up he is?

You don’t think about it initially, you just want to make sure that everyone is alive. Fixing them up is secondary. I took a mental roll call and found most of them, we had to get a couple out of the building. That was where the shift change happened, everyone else waited outside, so not too many were in there. One thing I can say about our engineers, they overdue structural support, which wasn’t a bad thing in this case. The guys in the building were just trapped under stuff, but not really hurt, aside from the blast wave that gave them a concussion and maybe a headache from random stuff that might have fallen on their heads.

Then I made the way to the Tower that had been closest to the blast, it had collapsed. I saw one of the last guys I was still missing. Well part of him.

Most of the Marines that were outside had been sitting behind the 7-ton, which was armored. Think monster truck, but more practical. The angle of the blast based on the height of the on ramp was higher than where they were sitting. The truck was taller, so when the blast went off it shielded them from a majority of the shrapnel. The tower on the other hand would have been almost level and nothing was in the way.

LCpl Short had nothing in his way to stop the incoming fragments. The only solace I could take was that he probably didn’t even know what happened and that it was quick. Seeing something like that first hand, right after seeing the cause, and knowing the guy, is one the hardest things most of us had ever been through. In all we lost one Marine, and three Iraqis. This was just the service member fatalities though. There were easily a dozen wounded, that number would grow to over thirty Marines alone in the next day or two.

* * * * *

The blast had turned the concrete barriers into tiny shrapnel, debris from the bomb and vehicle. The larger bits that hit people were obvious, but some guys didn’t start reacting to the smaller bits for a while, once their systems started to force it out and they became sick. The blast had been so large that this eventually was the cause for most of the wounded. I never did find out how many of our Iraqi co-workers had this problem. They were all sent elsewhere, and a new crew came in.

It’s not like I hadn’t seen things like this before, it was just a little more personal, but I was still rolling with it. The thing that still haunts my dreams was yet to come. Once I knew where all of my people were. I started to survey the damage outside of our post. The ambulances and other first responders were showing up now.

Most Iraqis are decent human beings who have to live in conditions you can never even imagine. Despite this they carry on and react to situations like true heroes and help each other. We had been so conditioned to see them as an enemy that you can’t imagine them as anything else. Look at the basic math for this scenario, the bad guys got one Marine and wounded a bunch more, but they also killed three Iraqi service members and I don’t even know how many civilians.

* * * * *

We’re trained to expect death and losses. It’s part of the job. The thing they can’t prepare you for is all the other shit. At least half a dozen cars had been taken out in the blast. They were just going about their business when it happened. I had seen burned bodies before, nothing new on the experience scale, but the thing that hit me came almost out of nowhere. Even had I known it was coming I couldn’t have prepared for it.

The paramedics were pulling a guy out of car that had been right next to the truck when it went off. I mean it was right next to the post and was just to the left of the truck. The explosives were likely packed to detonate to its left. I say this, because the damage to the right of the truck was minimal. They knew their target and how to get the most carnage in. That car though had a family in it. Mom and Dad in the front and two kids in the back. If the kids were older than ten I would have been surprised, it’s hard to tell though when all that is left is smoldering flesh.

The medics were working on the dad. By some miracle, if you would even call it that, he had survived. Looking at him though, covered in burns and his clothes melted into his flesh I can’t imagine that it would be a very lengthy or pleasant existence. His entire right side was burnt, his left side still had some skin. The thing that hit me the hardest though was that as he was placed on a stretcher he rolled towards an ambulance and started yelling.

This was one time I wished I didn’t know Arabic. He was calling for his wife and children. Here is a guy that should be in intense pain, burnt over a majority of his body and all he can think of is his family. It was a testament to what true love is. And because of it I don’t think I could ever feel it myself again. There are things that can scar you, this is one of them. Because now when I turned and looked at was left of his family I saw them as the people they might have been before the blast took them. I had names now, I had a family member wanting to know if they were still alive. He couldn’t tell, shit he probably couldn’t even fathom much at this point. I never did find out what happened to him.

The smell of the burning flesh of children has a way of changing how you look at the world. It also lingers for the rest of your life. You might have defining events, but stuff that alters the very core of who you are I don’t wish on anyone. The compounding of all the events of that day are still the biggest cause of my inability to effectively reintegrate back into the real world.

* * * * *

When I finally got back to my post I had to gather up all my guys and give them the news. I was just blunt about it. In hindsight I could have been subtler, but we were Marines, just do it and get it over with. I told them, “We lost one, he’s dead.” Nice and simple. Most of them took it in stride, but one of my Corporals just broke down. He was LCpl Short’s friend. They were basically inseparable when we weren’t working. A fist through a wall, then crying. Sights like that can be just as heartbreaking because you know that somewhere a family will be doing the same thing, but worse.

None of it made sense. No rhyme or reason. Do you want closure? Tough luck. Life is rarely wrapped up and topped with a bow, sometimes it just never makes sense, no matter how long or hard you think about it. So get over it.

Existential Crisis

EXISTENTIAL CRISIS

One of the things about being new to a unit, and a retread, and a lateral mover is that you already had three strikes going in.  So each one needs a word I think before we move forward with this one.  Being new?  Nuff said.  A retread means you got out and came back in, which was true in my case.  The lateral move was not my choice initially.  When I came back into the Marines Corps they said they had openings for infantry.  I was an Admin clerk.  So a step up  in some cases.

That was one of the weird things about the Marines I never got, “the Needs of the Marine Corps” was always a thing.  So when I first went in I didn’t exactly pick my job, instead I was offered a “group” of jobs that included Legal services, air field services, and administration.  I was thinking legal clerk or air traffic controller would be tight.  After taking my ASVAB, Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery, and seeing my scores I had high hopes.  After boot camp when I was told what my job would be.  Needless to say I was perplexed, mainly because the job I was given was based on a score from my test that was also my lowest.

Needs of the Corps my ass, I bring this up because when I went back in I wanted to be an intelligence analyst.  They had made me retake the ASVAB, which I got a perfect score on, and I already had a Top Secret Clearance, so I thought it was a no brainer.  Nope.  I was offered infantry, and only infantry.  So I did what any guy who had a wife and two kids to support would to, I took it.  I later found out they still had over forty openings in the job I wanted.  I can say going infantry was good for me, but at the same time it’s a matter of principle about not getting what I wanted and what they had.

The silver lining was I was offered 0352, anti-armor assaultman.  We shoot big ass missiles at tanks, so that was cool.  The other bonus was that it wasn’t a job that was in a line company.  You know the rifleman you think of when you hear infantry?  Well a Marine Battalion had three companies full of those.  We call them crunchies because that is the sound they make when they get run over by tanks and other big vehicles.  My job was mobile, we were in the weapons company.  Where if you can’t truck it, fuck it.  We put our missile launchers on top of HUMVEEs and drove around being supported by machine gunners.  Plus you needed a Secret clearance.

We were the “smart” grunts.  The ASVAB had a high score of 99.  You only needed a 33 to be a grunt, to be a TOW gunner (our fancy title based on the weapons system we shot) you needed at least a 50, a driver’s license, and not be color blind in addition to the clearance or ability to get one.  The additional down side for me was that even as a Sergeant they made me go through the entry level training with all the boot camp fresh Privates.  That was an experience.  The class was also tougher than I thought it would be, mostly because they crammed so much into three weeks.

The worst was the armor identification.  We had to know over 50 different vehicles not only by their picture, but also heat signature, because our weapon had a cool thermal site that was like a really bad Virtual Boy.  The same colors too, but blurrier.  It was a hoot though.  This was a case where rank did have its privileges.  I mean I basically outranked most of my instructors, but since I was a student they could tell me what to do.  It didn’t much matter, I got to eat with the regular Marines during chow and when the boots (new Marines) were getting thrashed I got to sit back and chill.  I also got to keep my cell phone.

When I graduated I did have some words with an instructor or two that were kind of pricks when I was a student.  Once that ended though I got to have my own fun.  Ahh, the uber macho systems that we have.  They can be stress relieving if you know what to do.  Sorry, I got side tracked there, it does have relevance to the main story, which we will now get back too.

I had gone through a lot of shenanigans so far.  Well, I thought after my new job training I could get back to the business of being a Marine.  I wasn’t in bad company, they were so hard up for TOW gunners that I think we had about seven lateral movers in my unit.  So the shit I got for being one didn’t last long once all the others started to show up.  What I did do though, was show my prowess for learning and adapting.  The addition of already having a combat deployment under my belt didn’t hurt either.

Soon I found myself in charge of a team.  Each platoon in the company had six trucks, made up of two three truck teams.  I was moving up the food chain.  There was that one guy though, isn’t there always?  Gunny Vice, we’ll call him.  He was always riding my ass.  Most of us saw him as a giant douche, but I got the brunt of his focus.  Not a good place to be.  I never did find out why, I always assumed he saw me as a dirty retread and thought I lacked the skills to lead Marines.

That all seemed to change though in the Summer of 2005.  We were in California at 29 Stumps, the Marine base where all the fun desert training took place.  It was during a training evolution that simulated IEDs and an ambush that my bosses in the platoon were hit and “killed”, I had to take charge.  At the end of it the Gunny came up to me and said I did a fine job.  That was a good day.  Of course, if something didn’t happen later I wouldn’t even be mentioning this.  On to that part.

We get back to North Carolina and are getting ready to deploy to Fallujah, Iraq for the first time.  Remember early when I said if someone was asked to give up bodies they usually went for who they saw as not their best?  Well, three weeks before we are set to deploy we get a new guy.  He was a reservist that had volunteered to go active for a deployment.  He was active duty and was in the invasion and was also a TOW gunner and a Sergeant.  Well he joined our platoon.  A couple of days later Gunny Vice told me I had been reassigned to Headquarters Company and that the new guy was taking my place.  I guess I didn’t impress him that much in training.

The new guy Sgt Buck, was a nice guy and had actual combat experience.  I don’t knock him, but I was and in some ways still am butthurt.  I had busted my ass to prove myself and earn my position.  Now I was being relegated to possible shit duties, like Camp Guard, the shittiest assignment that an infantry Marine can get while on a deployment.  Luckily? I didn’t.  Instead I got to man an Entry Control Point (ECP).  So we got to check papers and cargos of commercial vehicles going into the city.  Talk about a waste of training.

This is where the sad part comes though.  About two or three months into out stint in the sunny deserts of the ass crack of the world, I find out that Sgt Buck had died from shrapnel caused by an IED that his truck hit.  At that time and to this day I still wonder if that would have been me had I not been sent to checkpoint duty.  It’s one of those things that stick in your mind long after the events happened.  The thing was, it didn’t really hit me until about a week after words when I finally got to talk to the guys in my former platoon.

It was sad that he had passed, and it still kicks me in the gut, but knowing that the person that took your spot may have taken something you would have gotten kind of makes you rethink everything.  Thus my existential crisis.  All the what if’s and should have been’s linger in the back of my mind.  Also, where would he be today if he didn’t make the choice to come back?  All the little choices that were made for the events to unfold as they did just make me think, and not nice thoughts.

What security?

One thing about working in the security field, especially after 9/11, was that everyone was paranoid.  And they had a right to be, we were just attacked and a lot of people died.  That also meant that security measures all over the country were being increased.  In my case that meant a lot of additional training.  I attended a lot of courses and my responsibilities went from a few to a fuck ton.

This covered personal security, physical, communication, information, operational, and a lot of other keywords.  Training is one thing though, using it in the states and then during the invasion meant I had a lot of knowledge and practical experience when it came to matters of staying safe.  One would think that this kind of expertise would be useful to a Marine or his superiors when looking at check points.

Where are our weak spots?  Where could we be hit by the enemy?  Which of our policies can be improved to ensure more safety?  Questions like these always seemed like they would be a constant factor in a hostile environment where people will just walk up to you and blow themselves up.  Giving them fewer opportunities to do so was a good idea.  Apparently not for everyone.

Since I was passed off to Headquarters Company I always assumed they saw me as the weaker link.  Just look back to the reference I made to being the one picked when asked for bodies.  I can’t say I blame them in this regard, it was SOP.  That being said I was more untested so passing me off at face value might have been the best thing in my previous company’s eyes.  In any case I was now working for people who ran the two main checkpoints for Fallujah.  One was for regular traffic the other was for commercial traffic.

I had the fun task of running the Commercial one.  I guess it was cool in the fact that I was running it.  Even though I was sent over the guy I worked for saw I wasn’t a total moron and basically gave me my own little command.  I had six Marines and about a dozen Iraqi Army Soldiers (IA).  So a good amount of bodies.  I had taken an Arabic course so it kind of made sense too.  I think I was the only guy out of the forty Marines working the check points that had taken it.  We had a translator too, but only one and he was oat the main post.

Anyway, we were split into two shifts.  Each shift had about twenty Marines, when they took over the main post, six would be sent to the smaller checkpoint, then our day long shifts would start.  We worked day on, day off.  Not too bad a gig really, aside from the fact people in the area wanted us dead.

There was a weird way that all of this was set up though.  It kind made of sense, but not really.  This is the point where it can get kind of boring, but the setup has to be clear.  Entry Control Point – 1 (ECP1) was the main entry into the city for all regular traffic.  It was right at the meeting point of two major highways.  One road ran straight through the city, we called it Fran.  We had names for all the roads to make it easier than trying to learn all the Arabic names.  Well, as Fran entered the city it ran under a bridge that had the main highway going over it.

The on ramp to that highway off of Fran started right before the checkpoint and went up to merge with it.  The couple of buildings that made up the checkpoint were in the space between Fran and the onramp, which is again elevated as it goes up to meet the highway.  We had eight foot concrete barriers making a wall around the ECP, but the height of the on ramp made it so even going on it in a sedan, you could look down inside of our area.

It might seem obvious from the description what could go wrong here, but Marines in general are not known for shall we say their intellectual prowess.  To be fair when we first got there in September of 2005 it wasn’t that big an issue, because the on ramp was closed.  Then someone had the bright idea of opening it.  Something about convenience for the locals.  The command had met with local representatives and it had been brought up, at least was my understanding.

I personally understood their point, but being a former security guy I raised concerns about the problems that opening that ramp would present.  Simple things like a car load of insurgents could drive slow and spray us with small arms fire, or the worst case of stopping there with a bomb.  I brought this to the attention of the two Gunnery Sergeants, one ran each shift.  They of course saw my concerns and agreed with me, because it seems that enlisted Marines in general can see common sense.

Now we start running into the problems and the start of the problems I would have with authority in the future.  It’s not like a lowly enlisted Marine can get anything done on their own, they have to bow down to the all might officers.  In our case our Company Commander.  We called him Captain America, because he acted like he was.  I can’t for the life of me remember his real name, but he was kind of an ass out for personal glory.  If that came at the expense of those under his command, so be it. The kind of Officer that would have been shot by his own men in Vietnam for being a liability.

That is one thing about an unconventional war like we were in, the opportunities for “friendly fire” accidents or blaming the enemy were far and few between.  When they happened it was usually sudden and you didn’t have time to set anything up.  I’m not advocating for anyone to be taken out, I’m just saying that some tales I have heard from Vietnam vets would have made this guy a prime target for a trip home.

The concerns were brought to him and dismissed off hand, I am talking about at the moment they were pointed out to him.  There were other occasions on which we told him again, each time he said no more harshly.  At one point he did say it would be a hassle to get the Engineers out there to do anything, which was bullshit as will be pointed out later.  I was even personally threatened with punishment when I approached him on the subject, so I dropped it, because that is what good Marines do.  I still regret it to this day, and I think he is still an asshole.

Shit, one time we were driving the perimeter of the city on the roads we used to take to our posts.  He couldn’t get a good radio signal so he stopped our little three truck patrol, got out of his truck and got on top with his portable radio trying to get comms.  I was praying the whole time he would get taken out.  We had sniper activity in the area and had already lost two Marines too it.  First off, stopping three vehicles on the edge of the city was stupid, we were in the old Humvees, no armor, no mounted guns.  Secondly what he was just checking signal, it’s not like he had anything important to call back about.

This was the kind of asshole we worked for, the kind that seemed oblivious at to where he was and what we were out there to do.  I still shake my head at how worthless this guy was, he came out to the checkpoints maybe once every other week, so he had no idea what we were even doing out there.  I guess the Marines will give any asshat with a college degree a commission.