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Published October 31, 2011 More Info »
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Published October 31, 2011

I ran out into the wide-open. “POP THE WHITE STAR, CHEWY!” My platoon sergeant screamed.

I grabbed the ten inch canister with one hand, put it up to my crotch as I leaned back, and smacked the bottom of it. SUCCESS! I sent a 300-roper of glory into the dark sky and lit that bitch up like the wrath of God.

“Hey, Staff Sergeant, did you see that massive load I just shot? I just gave the atmosphere a bukkake!” I yelled with a retarded short-timer smile on my face.

He just smirked and shook his head, “Get the fuck to your position.”

A Few Days Earlier

“Hey, Chewy,” my platoon sergeant said to me in a staid tone as I was smoking a cigarette. “We’re taking the platoon to a little town outside of Twenty-Nine Palms to do some opfor [opposing force] stuff for one of the grunt battalions leaving on deployment. I need you to get your gear together.”

I was within a month or two of my permanent exit from the Marine Corps and had a lot of logistical things on my plate, “Staff Sergeant, I just got done cleaning my gear and need to get it to CIF [Consolidated Issue Facility] within the week. I’m down to the wire here.”

“Yeah, I know, and to be honest with you, I don’t care,” he responded. “We need bodies.”

“What do I have to bring?” I inquired. “What are we gonna be doing?”

“One-Four [1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment] has to do a raid package… it’s their final test before they go on deployment. We’re just gonna show up in this town and act like insurgents, along with like thirty air-wingers who are playing the local people, and we’ll just walk around for a few days and be bad guys while Recon observes us from a distance. Then, One-Four will come in on forty-sixes and we’ll have a battle royal on the last night. Then we go home.”

My interest was piqued, “We get to be insurgents?”

“Yep. All you have to do is act like all the dickheads you dealt with in country, except you get to do it toward Marines,” he stated vigorously. “Look, we’ll be out there for a few days or so and I’ll get you a seventy-two [three day pass] when we get back… plus you don’t have to shave.”

Music to my ears. “I’m in.”

“I know you’re in, it’s not up to you.”

It was a Friday afternoon. Ten of us from our sleepy little camp in the secluded Camp Pendleton hill ranges boarded a bus for Amboy, CA. We took our seats at the front, leaving an invisible barrier between ourselves and another thirty or so Marines who were in the back—a group of folks from the Mainside of our gigantic base. Uncomfortable silence was in the air during the four hour drive into the heart of the Mojave Desert, with our two sides trading awkward glances every so often, and wondering to ourselves what they had planned for us.

All I knew was we were all being used for an opfor operation. Opfor is a military concept where you take members of your own armed forces and use them to play enemy forces in various war game scenarios. I always found it to be one of the better training concepts, because pitting Marine against Marine (even if one group of Marines are “bad guys”) can do a lot more to benefit training than simply going out and shooting at imaginary targets. I knew that we (our group of ten) where going to be playing insurgents who must terrorize the local villagers (the other Marines from Mainside) in order to produce an all too real—and sad—atmosphere of your average Iraqi village. We were doing it for a group of Marines going on deployment, and the best thing we could for them was give them the most realistic training environment as possible.

Recon would be observing us from the hills that surround the village, so staying in character was imperative because they would be passing back what they saw us doing to the helo company Marines who were going to be coming in to assault the town on the last night.

“This is it,” the bus driver yelled as we pulled into a lonely parking lot. “Amboy, right?”

“Yep, off the bus, guys,” my platoon sergeant bellowed as we reached for our gear.

This is it? I thought to myself. It wasn’t really anything I expected—not that I was expecting anything great.

Amboy is in the middle of nowhere… a ghost town that sits off of historic Route 66. Our bus dropped us off outside of an abandoned café, the decaying sign breathed the only bit of whatever color was left in the rotting village, and it read: R O Y S. To the right of the diner were six crumbling motel cabins, sitting behind them was another tiny building with another row of rooms, and an office where—I can only assume—the town once had a vibrant highway economy and an abundance of traffic during the early days of the post-WWII economic boom and migration west. As you looked more down the road about fifty yards or so, an old schoolhouse sat with no one to occupy it… just the sound of a creaking fence replaces the laughter of children. Behind the school sat a few more houses… and that’s pretty much it, minus the tiny post office on the other side of the old road.

“Oh my God,” I heard come from my buddy Mark the WOP in his South Chicago brogue. “Lady Liberty took a dump on this place.”

“Alright, gents, gather around,” our platoon sergeant yelled. “This is the deal. The wingers are going to go take up residence in those old motel rooms and get settled in for the night. We’re going to head over to the schoolhouse and billet there as part of the insurgent group. They’ve got some old chocolate chip cammies [desert storm era camouflage uniforms] for us to wear during the next few days. The scenario officially starts tomorrow, so let’s get settled in and get our game faces on. We need to start acting like dicks.”

When we entered the back door of the one-story house of education, I felt consumed by its loneliness and the musty smell in the air. Just a tiny little gym and single classroom consisted of its floor plan. We threw our stuff in the classroom, where in a very eerie way, decorations and learning tools were still pinned to the wall… remnants of the ABCs still adorned the fading chalkboard… like as if the people who had deserted the town expected to come back to something.

“This is the beginning of every horror movie that’s ever taken place out in the desert,” one of our younger Marines, Stinky Matt, said under his breath.

“Yep, this here’s rape country,” I responded. “And these hillbillies will conquer any hole they can find. Too bad we’re only using blanks for this exercise.”

“You hear that?” One of our higher ranking Marines, Sergeant Tapeworm, chimed in.

“What?” I asked in a serious tone.

“… I hear children laughing in the background.”

“Ah, fuck.” That was the worst thing I could have heard. When I was sixteen, I got stoned in my parents’ garage one night in the summer, right after I got done watching Children of the Corn. BAD IDEA! I spent that night running around the garage, clinching a pair of garden sheers, looking out the side windows and back door, hysterical and on the verge of a mental breakdown while hearing (or at least I thought I did) the tiny little pitter-patter of demonic younglings with bloodlust—their laughter is still seared in my memory. I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from that night—not just because of the fear I was in, but the completely pussified nature of my actions. I can handle bucktoothed inbreeds trying to rape me, but creepy little children send me into a root of trepidation that’s unfathomable for a grown man. “Sgt. Tapeworm, I’d rather just piss myself in that classroom than have to go outside to take a leak at night.”

As the sun drew down, boredom stung our tiny group like a sharp knife. Stuck in the pitch black of the classroom, we got claustrophobic. We needed to get out. Be on the move! Be on the hunt! It’s instilled in Marines from day one. We could train. There were the houses a few yards away that we hadn’t been in yet. Night ops. Room clearing. We had new guys that needed to be trained up. I could have cared less, I was almost out of the big green machine, but staying alone in the school wasn’t an option for me.

We set off into the pitch black. We moved toward the first house, a tiny little cottage that was falling apart at its foundation. Five of us (Stinky Matt, Mark the WOP, myself, Sgt. Tapeworm, and Bobby Junk) stacked against the front door, while the other five held security a few meters away.

“Move,” whispered Sgt. Tapeworm.

Into the mysterious abode we rushed with precise military footing—safeties off, fingers on the trigger and aggression in our hearts.

“AH FUCK!” Screamed Mark the WOP as we just entered. “I FUCKIN’ HIT MY KNEE ON SOMETHIN’!”

“Stinky Matt, shine your flashlight over there,” I said.

He popped the light on . . . . Shrieks from the five of us instantaneously rang out in sheer terror! Effeminate screaming ensued. Our wrists were going limp, we were stomping our legs up-and-down like panicked kindergartners.

“That’s not what I think it is, is it?” I asked in a whimpering tone.

“Yeah, man… it’s a fuckin’ coffin,” responded Bobby Junk.

At that point, the other Marines standing watch had rushed over to the entrance of the doorway and saw the large black casket resting in the middle of the living room.

“Jesus Christ,” said our staff sergeant with somber tone. “Those stories are true.”

“What stories, Staff Sergeant?” asked Sgt. Tapeworm.

“I guess Charles Manson grew up out here or somethin’. People come out here to do satanic shit… like worshipping Charles Manson and shit.”

“Oh that’s fuckin’ spectacular,” Mark the WOP said in an angered manner. “You mean to tell me we’re sleepin’ in the same fuckin’ classroom where little Chucky Manson sat?”

I started freaking out, “Nope! Fuck this shit!”

“Calm down, Chewy,” Sgt. Tapeworm said to me as he started patting my back.

“Fuck it, let’s open the coffin,” said Bobby Junk.

Mark the WOP reached for the lid and started to push the heavy cover off.

Not wanting to seem like the biggest bitch in the world, I leaned down to help him.

“OH FUCK,” I shouted once the top popped off. “That’s like that Tales of the Crypt looking guy!” A skeleton-like dummy dressed in a suit laid in the coffin. What kind of sickos pinpointed this little town to do their gay Halloween festivities in? I thought to myself as Stinky Matt started to slowly back away.

Sgt. Tapeworm began to state, “This place is starting to get a little weir—”

“IT’S GOT ME—IT’S GOT ME” Screamed Stinky Matt out of the blue. “FUUUUUCK!”

We glanced over, only to see the light from Stinky Matt’s flashlight shooting in all directions. In the sporadic moments the beam would land around him, we saw that some sort of hanging film had tangled him up like he was in a spider’s web.

“WE GOTTA GET OUTTA HERE!” I screamed.

The four of us (Sgt. Tapeworm, Mark the WOP, Bobby Junk, and I) went sprinting for the door and all hit the exit at the same time, making it look like one of those scenes when The Three Stooges used to do the same. Four NCOs, all combat veterans of Iraq, where bitching out on one of their PFCs while he was getting tangled up in Charlotte’s Web… one of my low points as a leader, but a necessity given the grave type of fight we were in at the time—Lord knows the Iraqi insurgency doesn’t have the ability to use witchcraft in order to mind fuck you.

We made it out of the house, panting and on the verge of collapse… waiting for Stinky Matt to come out on his own. Within a few seconds, a shadowy body emerged, walked into what little light there was, and made his exit. He was covered with bug strips, they stuck all over his body, and he looked at us with a thousand yard stare, “I’m not taking point again and someone else is holding the flashlight from here on out.”

“Fair enough,” Sgt. Tapeworm responded.

“Next house,” demanded our staff sergeant.

Oh, God. We’re doomed. I kept thinking. Doomed!

We approached the next house. Muddy gloom awaited us inside. Our anticipation was growing to dire proportions. Nobody wanted to do it, but the orders, “just push,” came from our staff sergeant… and orders are meant to be followed—even when breaking them makes sense.

Instead of going in with a measly five Marines like earlier, we decided to go ten strong—the complete Monster Squad—into the next house.

Men of multiple deployments, mixed with newbies, went storming into house number two with rifles up (although none of us had any real ammo) and a rejuvenated willingness to secure the evil obstacles. Nothing but darkness, barely able to see your own hand, and one light that guided us from one appalling discovery to another.

“Jesus titty fuckin’ Christ, is that blood on the wall?” Mark the WOP shouted after the light hit the living room wall.

I turned over to our platoon sergeant and wanted to pose a serious question: “Staff Sergeant, this might not be a good idea. What if there are actual booby traps or other dangerous items from the freaks that come he—,” I paused for a brief moment when I saw Sgt. Tapeworm shine the light at an old dining room table. “… Fuckin’ blowup dolls? These freaks are playing with blowup dolls?”

“It looks like this is the sex house,” said Sgt. Tapeworm. “Blow up dolls, ropes and shit everywhere… I guarantee you that they do all sorts of weird ass orgies in here.”

“Why is that rope hanging from the wall like that?” I asked.

“Oh that’s for auto-erotic asphyxiation,” shouted a voice from the back of the room.

“Auto what?”

“It’s when people choke themselves when they’re spankin’ it… it’s supposed to give you extra pleasure or something.”

I was flabbergasted, “What kind of idiot chokes his ass while he’s beatin’ his shit?… that’s like slittin’ your wrists while you’re eating escargot… pain and pleasure aren’t supposed to mix. That’s exactly why I keep it simple, a magazine and tissue paper. How can jerkin’ off be so complicated?” I also think deep down inside I knew there were other reasons why I wouldn’t attempt self-pleasure in that manner. Mostly because I inherently knew I’d screw it up and my family would have to live with the embarrassment of the local news headlining their “hero” son: Marine and Iraq War Vet kills himself during botched attempt at masturbation… more at 11.

We eventually left the Pleasure Dome, with blowup dolls in tow, and cleared the other two adjacent homes. It was the same old story: grown Marines and combat veterans jumping around like schoolgirls and getting freaked out by every terrifying decoration we encountered.

By the time we made it back to the schoolhouse, everyone was burnt out from that exercise and we racked out pretty quick.

0300

I woke up with an unpleasant urge to piss. Sleeping Marines were sprawled out all around me. Alone in the silence of the dark classroom, I had to start making choices, but I was in a tricky dilemma. On one hand, I was about to piss myself—that was a relatively simple problem. The hard part was I knew I’d have to walk across the dark gym, blindly feel my way for the door outside, and have to spend an unknown known amount of time outside while relieving myself—and this, no matter how much of a bitch I sound like for writing it, played right into my primordial fears of laughing demon children… and my fear was further pressed after I found out I was sleeping in the same classroom that one of the most notorious criminals in American history got his early learnin’ in.

0600

I had been pacing back forth for three hours at this point. I made the call to bitch out and put myself in situation where my bladder would explode. I took a quick peek out the window and determined that enough daylight had come up that the evil children had disappeared. I went outside and let out a stream of yellow glory that would humble a horse.

While I was in the middle of my leak, Stinky Matt came outside to do his own business, “Corporal Chewy, when are we going to start this training?”

“I’m not sure. Head inside and wakeup the guys and we’ll start from there.”

0900

The crate showed up to our platoon as we were milling around in the rising desert sun.

“Pop that fucker open, let’s see what we got,” said Sgt. Tapeworm.

We opened the casket… JACKPOT!

Inside there were multiple militia uniforms, thousands of rounds of blank ammunition, a few dozen non-lethal flash bang grenades, and other goody yum-yums of fun.

“Fuckin’ A, we’re gonna be the most fucked up insurgents of all time,” exclaimed Bobby Junk.

Our platoon sergeant had a little smirk on his face, “Alright, get into these uniforms and let’s start this thing.”

1000

KABOOOOOM!

The explosion from the flash bang rocked the center courtyard in front of the little motel rooms that housed the local population (Marines).

“EVERYBODY OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW!” Screamed our staff sergeant. “Alright, gents, go get ‘em.”

With furious violence and intensity, like a Mongol horde, we entered the rooms that housed the villagers—shoving the barrels of our rifles into their necks, pushing them with the butt-stocks of our rifles, and screaming in indecipherable gibberish in order to round them up… treating them like brachiated cattle.

“Move it, Fuck-luck,” I said to a startled villager as I prodded him in the back with my rifle.

We gathered the thirty or so locals into a group in front of the motel office and our staff sergeant began a speech that came out sounding like some sort of medieval lord in front of his peasants: “Now see here people of Amboy. You will not leave this immediate vicinity for any period of time longer than ten minutes. When we enter your village, you will gather at this very spot and give us the proper respect we deserve. If you fight us, resist our wishes, or give any type of flippant attitude… you will be executed. We expect full cooperation. That is all.”

Then Mark the WOP jumped in, “Yeah, and bring us the amulet.”

Our group began walking back to the schoolhouse and I walked up next to Mark the WOP, “What the hell is the amulet?”

“I don’t know, I just always heard that in old movies, so it’ll give ‘em something to do.”

1300

We enter the town again, guns a blazing, counting heads. Everybody conforms, but still no amulet.

1600

We enter the town again, guns a blazing, counting heads. Everybody conforms, but still no amulet.

1900

We enter the town again, guns a blazing, counting heads. Everybody conforms, but still no amulet.

2100

The sun finally begins to settle down. We decide we’re going to cut the villagers some slack for the night.

“Hey, let’s build a fire,” Bobby Junk brought up.

Within minutes, our tiny group had accumulated a decent sized mound of wood and it was time for a bonfire. We got a nice one going. The crackling pops of wood, the smoke rising to the sky, a temporary break in the insanity of our chosen lives, and an opportunity to bond with each other. But there was other bonding to be done.

“Hey, Stinky Matt,” Mark the WOP said to the lower ranking Marine. “Go get us some of the female Mar—I mean females from the village.”

“Uh… can we do that, Corporal?” Asked the young Marine.

I stepped in, “We’re fuckin’ insurgents; we can do whatever we want.”

“Yeah, they’ll respect our authority,” added Mark the WOP. “And Make sure you let the male villagers know that we want the amulet.”

Nobody actually thought Stinky Matt was going to get the female villagers. But sure enough, twenty minutes later, Stinky Matt came walking up with all the females—all two of them. The Marine Corps isn’t exactly known for its abundance of female personnel, and I can only imagine being a female Marine is like being a lone lioness in a troop of ten or eleven male lions. It was made even worse with the fact that our group of guys served in a unit that was restricted to females, so nobody had ever worked with or been around female Marines before, causing us to vie for attention like savage hooligans.

“Come take a seat,” Mark the WOP said to the young ladies.

It didn’t take long until we were hovered over them, creating a constant pissing contest of masculinity. I could tell they were getting uncomfortable, yet they were holding their own at the same time. One of the young ladies decided to divert the obvious idiocy that was taking place.

“Where did you get that wood you’re burning?” She asked.

“Uh… I think we got most of it down by the railroad tracks,” Mark the WOP responded.

Her face went straight, “Are those railroad ties?”

“Yeah,” all of us mumbled.

“Probably shouldn’t be burning that stuff. It’s caked with creosote.”

All of us had a perplexed look on our faces.

She continued, “My dad works for the railroads. Creosote is a preservative they put on wooden railroad ties. It’s one of the most toxic things on this earth and we’re all breathing it in right now.”

“Ah, it can’t be that bad,” I responded in an attempt to quell any fears.

“Yeah, its fuckin’ retarded,” she shot back. “You guys are all oh-threes, right (03-Marine Corps classification for infantry MOS’)?”

“Yep,” we responded proudly.

“That figures. They need to send more of you to hazmat classes.”

As midnight approached, the female villagers made their way back to their home and we decided to all head back into the classroom for a few hours of sleep. As everyone was walking into the school, I whispered to Bobby Junk, “Hey, bro, I gotta take a piss. Why don’t you hang out here with me for a second?”

“What?” He said with a confused look on his face. “You want me to stare at your junk or something?”

Not wanting to openly admit that I didn’t like taking a piss alone in the creepy desert, I responded: “No, just bullshit with me for a few seconds.” It was pretty pathetic. I was acting like a chick that needed to haul her friend with her every time she needed to go to public restroom. He was kind enough to keep me company and we all turned in for the night.

The Next Day

We woke up, got dressed, and carried on our tyrannical behavior throughout the day: terrorizing the villagers, scrounging for war loot in the discarded houses, and burning railroad ties caked with dangerous carcinogens. Nothing out of the ordinary really happened, but we did spend a considerable amount of time devising a plan for the upcoming night.

“Alright, gents, we’re settin’ our alarms for 0230 tonight,” our platoon sergeant said. “We’re gonna shake things up a bit. These villagers are used to waiting around for us in the day, but let’s create a little havoc and catch them off guard. Executions and interrogations will follow.”

0245

KABOOM!

The loud bang of the non-lethal grenade went off in front of the sleepy hotel as our tiny group of violent insurgents rushed into the motel rooms like a pack of rabid pitbulls. Unlike the previous day, we had a complete element of surprise as all the villagers were sound asleep when our reign of terror whisked them out of their deep slumbers. Confusion. Mayhem. We were acting like complete dicks!

“GET OUT OF YOUR BED NOW!” I yelled to a waking Mari—villager as I yanked him out of bed and drug him outside.

Insurgents were doing a hasty job of gathering everyone in the square… nobody wanted to question us. As the startled townspeople sat on the ground facing the motel, Sgt. Tapeworm walked to the entranceway of one of the rooms and tossed a flash bang inside.

KABOOM!

It was almost like slow motion. Sgt. Tapeworm was facing the crowd with his hands on his hips, standing with his back to the door, when the concussion from the blast blew all the glass from the front two windows—he didn’t even flinch, an example of scary military bearing. They were in awe of the power he commanded in that very moment. LIKE A BOSS!

“Corporal, Chewy, is everybody in the crowd accounted for?” my platoon sergeant asked me as the deafening noise from the flash bang was still ringing in my ears.

“Looks like we’re missing one local, Staff Sergeant,” I responded.

He looked angered and immediately lashed out at the confused civilians, “Where the hell is your missing friend?”

They sat in silence, genuinely unaware of anything.

At that moment, a shadowy figure emerged from the room where the blast had just taken place. He was coughing and staggering around like a town drunk—a result of the disorientation caused by non-lethal grenades. It turns out this individual, during the confusion of our initial assault into the village, jumped out of his bed and ran into one of the closets to hide. When the blast went off, he was not expecting it… and it fucked. His. Brain. Up!

“Oh, go sit down and drink some water, Marine,” our platoon sergeant sympathetically said in a brief moment of breaking character. He then turned back to the crowd, “You see, this is what happens when you’re not cooperative.”

“Hey, man, you can’t do this shit to us,” one of villagers piped in.

Our platoon sergeant looked at him for a brief moment.

TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT!

A burst of blank rounds came from his rifle and landed, notionally, right into the chest of the lippy local.

“You see? This is what happens when you don’t listen. You die.”

TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT!

Another burst of rifle fire randomly came from the corner. It was Mark the WOP, “Yeah, and we better get that amulet by tomorrow night.”

We retired back to the classroom with big shit eating grins our faces. The fact that one of the villagers/Marines broke character and genuinely felt insulted meant that we were breaking them, and in the grand scheme of things, it meant we were actually providing the realistic training the Recon Marines observing us from the mountains needed to see in order to report back how fucked up we were.

Of course, before we went back to the classroom, I had to take another leak. “Hey, Sgt. Tapeworm, I gotta question for you,” I said as I started relieving myself.

“What’s up, Chewy?”

“What’s it like being a sergeant?”

“What? What kind of retarded question is that?” He asked.

It basically became a thirty-second game of me asking stupid rhetorical questions until I was done peeing, just so I had an excuse to have someone with me in the dark emptiness of the night.

The Next Day

A late wakeup. There were big plans on the docket. It was judgment day. One-Four was going to be inserting that night via helicopter and we were going to have to fight them off. We had to get everything ready for the battle—prepare for the defense. These were our advantages, prior knowledge of the enemy advance, and knowing that no one would actually die.

We spent the majority of the day setting up for the fight, which allowed the townspeople a much needed break from our cruel presence. We put tripwires in doorways, boarded up windows, canvassed the town for perfect ambush points, loaded ourselves up with ammo like we were going into Iwo Jima, and strategically placed the blowup dolls around for diversionary purposes.

“Hey, gents, get in the classroom for a little course,” our platoon sergeant announced.

We gathered in the tiny space and took a seat. Our staff sergeant, who had been an instructor at SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) School, began to teach a quick hip pocket class on interrogation techniques—not for the purpose of us learning how to deal with them incase we’re captured by Marines, but so we could have a last bit of fun with the villagers.

As he was talking about certain methods we could use to break a human, I heard Mark the WOP murmur under his breath, “These motherfuckers are gonna get me my fuckin’ amulet now.”

As the sun began to set on us, we got into teams of two and headed into the town.

“EVERYBODY OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW!”

The villagers came stumbling outside, startled that we were calling them one last time before the Marines came to their rescue.

“If we point at you, you will come with us without resistance,” bellowed our staff sergeant. He then turned to us insurgents, “Have at ‘em boys.”

The insurgent teams began plucking members from the group one by one. I stood there with Bobby Junk, trying to determine which villager would break the easiest, “Eenie, meenie, miny, moe, catch a local by the throat, if he squeals let him pay, prison blowjobs everyday… (I looked at a random villager and pointed) You! We blindfolded him and brought him back to the side of gym at the schoolhouse.

Pandemonium began. Rabid insurgents, screaming at ear shattering levels, were hell-bent on getting what they wanted… which was nothing in particular—other than Mark the WOP’s obsession with finding his precious ghost amulet.

I could hear insurgents from different points of the schoolhouse interrogating the villagers with a host of techniques. It seemed like their villagers were holding up pretty well, so Bobby Junk decided to see how good our intimidation techniques were. He looked at me with a smile as the prisoner was on his knees, still blindfolded, hunched over in anticipation for what we were going to do to him. Bobby set his rifle to burst and put the barrel a few inches away from the unsuspecting villager’s ear.

TAT-TAT-TAT…TAT-TAT-TAT…TAT-TAT-TAT!

“STOP, STOP!” The villager screamed. Then something I hadn’t anticipated happened. He started sobbing. I mean, we were being dicks, but I honestly didn’t think it would be that quick before we broke this kid.

Even Bobby Junk felt a little remorse. He took the blindfold off of the young man, “Uh… you’re good, bro. Why don’t you just head back to your room and lay down.”

“Well, that was easy,” I said to Bobby Junk as we exchanged a quick fist-bump.

Down the way a little bit, Stinky Matt was giving it good to his villager. While Bobby Junk used mental intimidation to break his guy, Stinky Matt was flat-out hazing the piss out of his guy. Even though Stinky Matt was one of our youngest Marines, a PFC, he had complete discretion with this villager—who was a sergeant in the Marine Corps—and there was nothing he could do about.

That’s the beautiful part of opfor: rank structure goes out the window. Just two years earlier, I was doing opfor for a training cycle out at March AFB. The Marine in charge of the event handed me a camera and car and told me that my job was to play a BBC reporter with complete access to all of the Marines. That was the worst possible power they could have given me. I drove around the base for three days, shoving my camera in high-ranking officers’ faces and asked them the hard hitting questions without any repercussions.

Anywho, Stinky Matt had this villager doing every single conceivable Marine Corps exercise in the books. Once he would run through the list, he would start over, eventually getting to the point where the local was heaving on the ground from exhaustion. A PFC hazing a sergeant… WINNING!

Up by the creepy houses, Mark the WOP and Sgt. Tapeworm where doing the same, but unlike Stinky Matt, they had a purpose. “Where’s the amulet?” Mark the WOP kept demanding.

“I don’t know what you’re talkin’ ‘bout!” The scared villager shot back while he was in the middle of some side-straddle-hops. “We’ve been lookin’ for two days… we don’t even know what we’re looking for!”

“You know exactly where it is! You see that big rock over there? Go bring that to us!” He said after pointing at an arbitrary piece of earth.

The villager ran over to the fairly large boulder, lifted it up with all his strength, and brought over to the WOP.

“Hey, thanks, man. You cracked the case of the missing amulet,” he said as he patted his palm against the weary villager’s cheeks. “You can go now.”

This went on for a few hours. Once we’d be done with one villager, we’d run back into town and grab another for interrogation. Every so often, we’d indiscriminately (notionally) kill one of them, which after a while would have caused the place to look like Jonestown. The good thing about training like this was we could have these people re-spawning in no time.

When the hoopla finally died down, we were about an hour away from our encounter with the Marines. My platoon sergeant approached me, “Chewy, I’m gonna need you to pop this white star [cluster] when you hear the birds [helicopters] coming.”

The M159 white star cluster is a ten inch aluminum tube that, when hit from the bottom, sends a charge three hundred feet in the air. Once the charge reaches its highest altitude, it explodes into a light that has 30,000 candlepower. It’s typically used to light up battlefields for friendly forces, and in our case, to send a signal to the other insurgents that enemy [Marines] forces are on their way.

It was completely dark at this point. The villagers were back in their homes and the insurgents were tactically bunkered down in random spots of the town. We had nothing but eerie silence and eagerness for about a half-hour. At around 2315, I could hear a distant purr in the sky. I waited a little longer and the noise grew louder. They were coming. It was two CH-46 Sea Knights carrying Marines for the assault.

I ran out into the wide-open. “POP THE WHITE STAR, CHEWY!” My platoon sergeant screamed.

I grabbed the ten inch canister with one hand, put it up to my crotch as I leaned back, and smacked the bottom of it. SUCCESS! I sent a 300-roper of glory into the dark sky and lit that bitch up like the wrath of God.

“Hey, Staff Sergeant, did you see that massive load I just shot? I just gave the atmosphere a bukkake!” I yelled with a retarded short-timer smile on my face.

He just smirked and shook his head, “Get the fuck to your position.”

It began.

I went running into an adjacent building right as the choppers were descending on the opposite side of the empty highway. It was just Stinky Matt and I manning the dark house, but we were hyped up for a brawl. As we crouched in waiting, we could hear gunfire starting to be exchanged outside. We couldn’t tell who had initiated it, but the fight had officially begun.

Moments passed… with all the fire going on around us, we still felt lonely because of our agonizing wait to be part of it. Then we heard it. Voices creeping up to the door. I knew they were stacking. They entered.

PAP!

The training tripwire exploded at the knees of the first Marine to enter.

He let out a shriek, “AH SHIT!”

They came barging in through the door, and I can’t lie, I was mildly intimidated considering I’d never been on the receiving end of a Marine assault.

TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT!

Fire was being exchanged from both sides.

TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT!

“You’re dead,” screamed one of the Marines.

“Nuh-uh, we shot you first,” I responded.

“No, I shot you as soon as I came through the door.”

“No, you died from the trip wire.”

“Oh yeah? The grenade I threw in before we entered blowed you all up!”

“I don’t think so. We put our deflector shields before your stupid helicopter even landed.”

From his rifle: TAT-TAT-TAT

“Well now you’re dead,” he said to me after he shot me at pointblank range.

From my rifle: TAT-TAT-TAT

“That only wounded me, so now you’re dead,” I responded.

Now, you need to understand something. When Marines do these types of training operations against each other, it’s really no different than little kids playing war in the back yard. You just get into childish pissing contests about who has the upper hand. We were standing at point blank range from each other, pumping each other full of blanks and it was like one of those Gettysburg reenactments you hear about when the guys playing Southerners are doing Pickett’s charge and they know they’re supposed to die, but instead they keep advancing and it ends up with people from both sides just awkwardly standing around in a make believe stalemate. We were hell bent on bending history for pride’s sake.

The battle went on for about an hour, with both sides getting their asses handed to them. But since nobody was really going down, we ended the fight with a lot of confusion.

The Marines gathered their gear and headed back to Camp Pendleton. They had (notionally) liberated the villagers from our tyrannical presence and peace was at hand. It was our last night there and everyone was turning in for bed. I don’t know what it was, maybe the adrenaline from our mock battle, but I finally worked up the courage to go to the bathroom on my own—like a big boy… sooooooooooo big.

I was standing outside of the classroom as my stream began.

Chook-chook-chook-cha-cha-cha

“Hello?” I said in a startled voice.

Chook-chook-chook-cha-cha-cha

“Hello?” I said again with more fear in my voice. Silence.

………………. “HEY CHEWY WHATCHYA DOIN’?!”
Screamed Mark the WOP as he came sprinting from the corner.

I freaked the fuck out. Screaming. Jumping around in circles as my Johnson was still dangling out of pants.

“WHAT THE FUCK YOU ASSHOLE?!” I screamed.

“Ha-ha-ha, I got you good, fucker!” Mark the WOP responded.

“You bastard! I got piss all over myself.”

“So I literally scared the piss out of you?”

“Fuck off.”

When we arrived back at Camp Pendleton the next day, we started telling all of our friends about our awesome weekend as insurgents like we had actually just done something great in Marine Corps history. Oh, and I went over to the internet to read up a little about Charles Manson, too. Turns out he was from Amboy, New Jersey.

Jack Mandaville
www.gusmcoy.com

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