Winter’s bite was strong. Snow piled up along the highways thanks to the salt and clearing trucks. In the country, the Marines waited for the cycle to end. They had six more months left. December in this mountainous region of the world seemed as bitter as ever. What could warm Marines more than a few singers and comics from the American Entertainment Organization? The AEO flew in about two dozen entertainers to lift the morale of the battle hardened Leathernecks. First Sergeant Paul Denny had enjoyed the shows ever since he first enlisted and experienced a combat zone. This was no different. Only the names and faces changed. He sat at a makeshift SNCO bar where the barkeep cranked the heat up to eleven. No other SNCOs populated the place. It was about two am.
Rocky terrain meant nothing to these intrepid souls. Without an infantryman or woman in sight, these POGs traversed the landscape. Squad Leader Sergeant Brenna Sharpe kept her Marines in tight positions in order to obtain their objective.
Lance Corporal Justine Phillips woke at 7 AM. In the somewhat cramped barracks room, there wasn’t much space for her and her rackmate Lance Corporal Ronetta Minnow to move about. Once she roused out of her large green blanket from a rack that just needed the corners to be tightened a bit, Justine made a grim discovery. Ronetta had hanged herself. A scream expelled from Justine’s lungs like a train whistle.
Around the room, officers in ranks from second lieutenant to captain all sat in airline armchair seats. Most bitched about their wives and husbands. Some seemed to be right on the edge of sleep. Still others remained like eager Devil Dogs salivating over a steak, they awaited their orders for the upcoming mission. Second Lieutenant Kenan Lloyd grinned. He was about 5’9” and possessed oak colored skin.
Corporal Adam Cohen lead the two PFCs to a section of the shop which resembled a tiny library. It was like a nook with thick binders. Corporal Cohen picked up a binder.
At the smoke pit, Staff Sergeants Ariel Puzo, Samantha Caan, and Sergeant Frederico Ruiz enjoyed their last few moments of their smoking breaks. Suddenly, the hatch to the shop burst open like a flash grenade had exploded.