Author Topic: Story - Neighbours  (Read 9195 times)

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Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #40 on: April 21, 2014, 08:58:26 AM »
Chapter 38 – Soldiers…

The voices shouted the Soldier’s Creed as the graduating class of Fort Sill’s BCT stood at attention on the parade ground.

I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

“Hooah” shouted the soldiers.

Jan clapped as she watched her crew match in formation across the parade ground. Heather beamed with pride as she watched her brothers march.

At home their letters had been read and re-read with interest.

Kyle always talked about the weather… 
It’s hot today and always windy.  The dust is something else.  It blows through the ranges and barracks. You always feel like you have grit at your collar and boulders in your eyes.  I am so glad that I have a ton of Visine.  My combat buddy’s eyes are always streaming, which got him nicknamed Baby… short for cry-baby.  Since he’s 6’4” and 250-lbs it’s kind of funny but he is letting it go which is standing him in good stead.  He’s hoping to do something that will get him a better name.

Eggie was obsessed with the bathrooms…
When we arrived and were at reception they called the bathrooms Latrines.  The stalls are just about the only privacy you get.  You sure don’t get any in the showers.  It’s just one big room with a bunch of shower heads coming out of the wall.  You sure don’t want to piss off the Drill Sergeant or you’ll end up on your hands and knees with a toothbrush cleaning out the grout.  Once we got over to Basic, the showers had stalls.

Eric seemed to be concerned about sleep…
When we started at reception at the 95th, we slept in these large rooms called bays, in bunk beds.  The guy above me was enormous and we were both terrified that the bunk would collapse and squish me.  We asked to switch and were told no. Thank God! When we got over to Basic we all had single beds.

We had to wake up at 5am when we were at reception, some days it seemed earlier.  I am so glad that we had been doing it at home and it was a part of our routine.  Some of the guys have really struggled. When we got basic, we were up at 5am with formation at 5:30am and PT at 6am.  PT is such a cake walk after the routine we put ourselves through.  The twelve of us from Lincoln County High School have shown ourselves well.  Adam gets in trouble here too but I think he may be finally learning to keep his mouth shut.  The Drill Sergeants work us heard but they deserve a ton of respect for whipping us into shape.  Lights go out by 10pm and by that time we are all wiped.

They had been able to spend family day together.  Eric’s combat buddy’s family were not able to come, as they were behind the blue/red lines.  Max was welcomed by Jan and she took the boys out for lunch at Burgess Grill.  The guys had been told the burgers were fantastic and they were right.  Jan didn’t mind the cash only sign as she didn’t have a credit card.

The two days were a gift.  The guys were headed out to AIT training.  Eggie and Kyle were going on MOS-13B, a 5 week cannon crew course.  Eric and Max were headed to MOS-13R, a 7-week FireFinder Radar Operator course.  Jan suspected that Eric was going to prove extremely good at his job.  She was glad that his leadership skills were being recognized.  But she worried about Eggie and Kyle.  They were going to be learning to operate howitzer cannons.  Perhaps it was just the word canon that concerned her.  She didn’t want to lose any of her boys and fodder was the word that was coming to mind.  Regardless of her thoughts, she smiled and encouraged and supported them in their eagerness.

She was exhausted though as she and Heather headed back to their hotel room.  Heather had taken the opportunity, while at Fort Sill to speak with the ranking medic and review her course load.  She would be finished by December and head to BCT at Fort Sill in January and then on to Fort Sam Houston for her ATI. 

Heather was glad of the chance to see Eric before he headed out.  Her brother was suddenly growing up and the young man who had left home ten weeks prior was morphing into an adult.  She wondered what he would be like when he came home again.  The war was heating up again and the Mississippi was being fought for town by town.

****
“My mother and Heather had been home two weeks when they got an excited call from Kyle and Eggie.  They were pulling out the next day.

“But you are supposed to be in training for another 3weeks!” exclaimed Jan.

“Well we’re needed now,” Eggie told her. “There is a big offensive coming up and we are headed in. Thanks again for coming to Grad!  Here’s Kyle…”

Jan could hear them all laughing. 

“We’re off Tante Jan!” said Kyle with a smile in his voice. “Pray for us and keep the wood stove burning.” 

There was huge background laughter to this and Jan recognized the bravado.

“You boys go do your jobs and come home when you’re done it,” said Jan. “Watch your backs and each other and remember that… well remember to come home no matter what happens.

*****
“As I told you before,” John said to the Committee, “Eggie didn’t survive that first engagement.  His howitzer took a direct hit and they were gone.  All the training in the world would have made no difference but my mother always felt that if he’d had the last three weeks training, he would have been sent somewhere else and perhaps survived.  Kyle just said that there is a bullet out there with everyone’s name on it and some day it will be fired.  If you are lucky, you’ll be tying your shoe lace or ducked into the latrine, but otherwise you just need to be ready to meet your maker.

“Mom was angry for a long time about Eggie’s loss.  She felt like she had failed somehow in her duty to protect him.  Finally Todd Stewart got her to talk to the shrink that the police used after a shooting.  He got her straightened out.  But meantime the harvest had to be brought in and with the boys gone it was a lot of hard work for us all.  The steers and hogs had gone down to the Lower Valley Processing Company, although Martin had since left for BCT with an ATI in MOS-13M learning about multiple launch rocket systems as crew.  Martin had pulled out in September.  With Eggie’s death, he had gone to his recruiting officer and asked that he go immediately rather than wait until his 18th birthday in October. My mother cried but she did understand.  She was just grateful that I was too young.”

“Word also began to filter through that had been deaths and serious injuries amongst the Wehrpflichtiger and that the communities were having difficulty coping with how to treat them. It had not been a one time grab, and the recruiting officers swept through the colonies several times a year.  The community struggled with how to integrate these young men after they had been forced to break a principle ordnung and there were fracture lines showing in the West Kootenai Colony over this.  Six families who had not had sons forced to serve, broke away. Upright and ridged in their purity of ideal and terrified that the Army might come for their daughters next. Meanwhile, the rest decided that what had been done before baptism, like all sins, would be washed away by the waters of baptism. With the souls of the Wehrpflichtiger sorted out, there remained only their physical bodies to deal with.  In the spirit of community assistance, my mother went and opened the boy’s bunk house for these young men.  Dr. P and Dr. Flute worked with them daily with Heather spelling them on weekends. Bishop Miller came several times a week to minister to them and their families came and went. With space to lick their wounds so to speak, the young men began to heal much more quickly.

“Over time the break-away colony began to have issues.  More than once, we had young women arrive at our door in the night seeking safety from hard physical abuse and attempts at forced marriage.  My mother sheltered them and helped them with the legal emancipation and then helped them find a family with the CoKL or the West Kootenai Colonies.  Gradually the Wehrpflichtiger settled back into the community, marrying and building lives.”

... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!