As Sharp as Bayonets
Could you sober up enough for formation?
Bottles of beer stood up and empty ones remained like fallen glass trees. Twenty-two-year-old corporal River Hecht and twenty-five year old sergeant Phil Billingsley drank another beer together. They toasted.
“To the Axis powers from WWII being allies in this war.” The bottles clinked.
Hecht said, “I could see the Italians and Japanese, Riv. But Russians should have just fought it out together. And everyone that feels that there is animosity between nations have to remember that Japan and Germany didn’t produce sons and daughters that hated America. At least not in significant numbers.”
“Exactly,” Billingsley said. “Stalin could have put the Soviets to use and maybe spared widespread hunger and torment.”
“Hell, I’ve got this video game console from Japan, my car from Germany-–”
“What that old, used thing?” Billingsley asked.
“It’s still German engineering. Anyway, we became allies and look at all of the brains that produced goods that we Americans enjoy.” Hecht took another swig of the brew.
“Yes, we’re in a new age right now. We’re on the cusp of something great or something FUBAR.”
“I hear France is getting in on the action,” Billingsley said, his eyes saucers.
“Ha! Those Froggies can fight with me any day. I know people like to dump on them for their past efforts or lack thereof, but I’m ready to play in the sandbox with them this time.”
“Have you ever wondered if we could just nuke everyone that ever looked at America wrong?”
“Yes, sure, but having us with boots on the ground is way more effective and a lot cheaper,” Billingsley said.
“Is there a solution to all of the wars that we fight, Phil?” said Hecht.
“Wait, before I answer that, you’re German aren’t you…Hecht’?”
“Jewish. But I’m obviously part black.”
“So, anyway...can’t we just drop bombs?”
“Well, we do. But then they wouldn’t need us to be the tip of the spear and battle it out. Goddamnit, I would be honored to actually fight, though. Schools and sewer systems and making sure that these people can vote should not be part of the job description,” Billingsley said.
“There’s a word for it,” Hecht said. Another swig.
“Yes. Altruism,” Billingsley said. “It’s a part of our age. It was placed in our blood system and hasn’t left. We get help get it out of our system by being individualistic. All we have to do is follow the ‘right’ orders to keep in this combat zone. At the same time, we can disobey orders in the thick of the fight. I’m sure of it. So we can go against all of the altruistic ideals and we’ll still get medals beyond the CAR.”
“The Combat Action Ribbon. Yes, I think most POGs are even picking those up now.”
A knock at the door came. “Hecht, Billingsley time for formation,” Staff Sergeant Plunkett said. Hecht opened the door.
“Jesus! This room is a mess! Get your blouses on and come down here. Jesus!” Plunkett said.
Hecht and Billingsley threw on their cammie blouses and proceeded down to where the rest of the Marines stood at parade rest.
Gunnery Sergeant Matthew Watson saw the corporal and sergeant coming down the ladder well.
“It’s a pleasure that you decided to join us sergeant, corporal,” Watson said.
“Alright, we’ve got everyone here.” Gunny said. “I want all of you to know that we’re going to have a revamp of the current way we do business. Now, I’m sure that you know what allies we will have on this journey from here on out. You will train with them. You will learn from them and they from you. Do you understand that?”
“Yes, Gunny!” the Marines said, their voices as sharp as bayonets.
“That’s good. So I’m going to need you with a head on a swivel and ready for working with our new brothers and sisters in arms. Atten-hut!”
The Marines shifted from parade rest to the position of attention.
Hecht and Billingsley returned to Hecht’s room. They began to pick up bottles and righted overturned chairs. Hecht placed his uniforms in his closet.
Billingsley spoke up. “If there’s one thing about being in the Corps, it’s that you have to adapt your environment to yourself then improvise and overcome.”
“Yes,” Hecht said, "That’s true.”