Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fallen Friends

Rob Embury

The heat of the Arab sun burned at John’s neck. Cool sweat ran down his face obscuring his camouflage face paint. The sun heated the cool trigger on his M24 and the glare of the sun disfigured the reticle of his scope. They had spend the past 34 hours sneaking into position. They had to be as furtive as possible to stay unnoticed. Troy, his spotter, was giving him the wind measurements about 400 yards down range. With the “Kentucky Windage” John needed to move the turrets on his scope to left by 8 clicks. John’s military training kicked into action. He flipped the safety on his gun to “Kill”. He lined up the crosshairs with the small leader’s head when he heard Troy begin his chant which he had heard so many times before. “Fire, fire, fire” Troy chanted. On the third “fire” command John squeezed the trigger. The 7.62mm NATO round flew through the Arab’s head leaving nothing but the pink mist. From the lofty plateau they sat on they could hear in the distance a siren begin to scream and the once quiet and lifeless enemy camp sprung to life while nearly 5 dozen soldiers jump out of their tents from the turbulence of siren and gun shot. The anarchy below made John jump.

“We need to get out of here now!” John harshly whispered to Troy. Troy replied with a nod. Troy got on the radio and said.
While trying to keep his composure Troy said.
" This is Echo team we have been compromised, I repeat we have been compromised. We are proceeding to LZ 4!!!!”

They packed the M24 SWS into a drag bag and John exchanged his rifle for his M16A3. Once they began to run they could hear the sounds of motors racing towards them. The sound of screaming people and gun fire made John’s heart pound. He put on his Kevlar and flipped down the helmet mounted GPS system. They were about 1 klick away from the LZ. Out of the corner of his eye John saw a flash of red and heard a thud. He stopped to find Troy with a bullet hole straight through his chest. John immediately proned out and looked for the man who shot his friend. He saw a lone gunman holding a battered Ak-47 wearing a blue dress shirt. John crawled over to his dear friend. He checked for a pulse but found nothing. He turned and looked up to see the mob of anger soldiers running at his position. He pulled the radio off Troy’s back and said

” This is Echo team!! Troy is hit.”
After a few moments command radioed back.
” What’s his status, over?”
“He’s, he’s….” John tryed to hedge witht the answer.The thought of pronouncing his friend dead tore at his soul.
“He’s KIA sir. I need an immediate air evac.”
"Affirmative, sending in the UH64 Apache transport now. The Apache will converge on LZ 4. Estimated Time to Arrival: 5 minutes." replied command in a calm voice.

John then pulled Troy's lifeless body behind a rock and they picked up his M16. As many spotters had, Troy's M16 had a modified heat shield to accommodate the M203 40mm Grenade launcher. John loaded a grenade into the M203 and took aim at a fast moving truck heading straight at them. He pulled the trigger and the grenade left the barrel with a THUD. Although the flight time of the grenade was merely a second or two John watched it spiral toward the oncoming truck and finally explode on impact. John loaded another grenade into the launcher and took aim at a small group of militia that had assembled in their previous sniping position. This grenade killed 5 of the 6 men with the last bleeding out of his newly severed arm. The radio clicked on and John heard command say

" ETA 90 seconds, mark you position with a flare."

John reached into his vest and found the flare. He pulled off the cap and ignited it then placed it on the ground. In the distance he could hear the Apache helicopter. He could hear the roar of it's 2 onboard M134 miniguns cutting down enemy personnel while it performed elegant strafing maneuvers. Another group of about 8 or so men appeared. This group stood out more to John than any other. The man leading the group towards John was holding a battered Ak-47 and he was wearing a blue dress shirt.The nefarious man was the one who had shot his friend. Anger consumed John as he raised the barrel of his service weapon. Carefully he lined up the aperture with the front sight post and the front sight post with the man's chest. John flipped the safety from "safe" to Semi-automatic. John inhaled and squeezed the trigger on the exhale. The bullet left the barrel at 2,800 meters per second and hit the man in the blue shirt in a fraction of a second. Because the M16 shot such a small round the bullet punched straight through the man but it did not drop him. The man continued to run at John's position. As John lined up the sights again on the man the rifle jammed. He tugged at the charging handle with all of his might but it wouldn't budge. John quickly dropped the gun and reached for the drag bag with his M24. As he pulled it out of the bag the radio came on again.
"ETA 10 seconds"

The crosshairs of the scope were pointed directly in between the eyes of the man now only 50 meters from John. In a quick pull of the trigger the man fell to the ground about 10 pounds lighter. The M134 of the Apache tore apart the rest of the group. Then the helo hovered and touched down for John to get on. He loaded the body of his friend onto the Helicopter , then the rifles and finally himself. As the Apache took off again it spun up a cloud of dust that blinded the rest of the men on the ground. He now deplored the desert that took his friend frow him and he thought to himself.
"This mission was a success but at what cost???"

Friday, January 1, 2010

2nd Quater ORB review: Jarhead

2nd Quarter Outside Reading Book Review
Rob Embury
Jarhead by Anthony Swofford. Scribner, 2003 Genre: Autobiography

Swofford is a 22 year old who can't find a college that will accept him so he enlists in the USMC like his father and grandfather before him. Due to his "intelligence" he is offered to take the most prestigious course in the USMC to become a Scout Sniper. The class starts with 60 and after 4 months of grueling training he is in the top 8. Paired with Troy, another of the top 8 they are quickly deployed to help fight among the mounting numbers in the Persian gulf as part of Op. Desert Shield. Swofford is stationed in the Gulf for 180 days before the U.S. goes to war with Iraq. During the 5, or for the 180 days he spends in Iraq Swofford never once fires his rifle. After finding out that the war was over and they were going home Swofford tells troy he never fired his rifle. Troy responds with "You can now". The whole company raises their guns into the air and unloads them. The book ends with the quote "A story. A man fires a rifle for many years. and he goes to war. And afterwards he comes home, and he sees that whatever else he may do with his life - build a house, love a woman, change his son's diaper - he will always remain a jarhead. And all the jarheads killing and dying, they will always be me. We are still in the desert."
"By turns profane and lyrical, swaggering and ruminative, ''Jarhead'' -- referring to the marines' ''high-and-tight'' haircuts, which make their heads look like jars -- is not only the most powerful memoir to emerge thus far from the last gulf war, but also a searing contribution to the literature of combat, a book that combines the black humor of ''Catch-22'' with the savagery of ''Full Metal Jacket'' and the visceral detail of ''The Things They Carried.''"(New York Times)

Swofford uses a humorous attitude to convey a serious message. In his book he writes very little about the horrors of '"his war" while putting much emphasis on the "stupid" mistakes and irony of his time in the Persian Gulf. An example of his comical description would be just about all of the dialogue, it's focus on the reality of war is displayed through crude humor. This is what gives the book it's easiness to read in my opinion. The dialogue breaks up the description of the brutality of the desert and allows the reader a slight chuckle here and there throughout the entire book. On several occasions while reading I found myself laughing over the passage I had just read which in my opinion makes a good book even better. "A story: A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands, love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper; his hands remember the rifle." (1)

I feel as though Jarhead has given me a more accurate look into warfare of the late 20th century. His firsthand account of the average Marine changes my views on how warfare is conducted. Instead of the Rambo like warfare I've read in books before this I now see that not all warfare is as action packed as I had previously thought. It saddens me to find that Swofford has only written this book so I cannot continue to read his books although this book has driven me to find out more about "Modern" Warfare.