Marine Corps Stories: Far-off Northern Lands
The Marines experience cold weather training.
The Marines hiked their way through the whiteness. With packs on their backs, the snow pulled them down to the ground. That same snow blanketed the ground for miles around in Pyeongchang, South Korea. First Sergeant Kiki Larentz briefed her Marines on this trek into the cold and wet.
“You’re going to need to use your cold weather gear the entire time. To prevent hypothermia, you’ll need to take off your warming layers and set them aside. You’ll make security and beds possible with your E-tools and your elbow grease. Don’t be afraid to dig deep enough. Your beds will undoubtedly suck, but what doesn’t, right?”
The Marines chuckled. Kiki continued. “So you’re going to want to stay as warm as possible without overheating in your sleeping bags, good to go?”
“Yes, First Sergeant.”
Corporal Esther Straussberg humped. She had double packed to alleviate one Marine who was falling back. With all the gear on her body, you couldn’t make out her cocoa butter yellow skin or her brown locks.
“Straussberg with the Mossberg,” Sergeant Phillip Linden said.
“Shut up, Phillip,” Esthr said.
“No, that’s good that you’re helping out Wills. It’s very selfish of you because you’re taking care of a value.”
“I’d rather be self-interested than not. Goddamn these boots are clunky.”
Their cold weather boots looked like the kind the astronauts wore on the moon. They were tan and yellowish-white, and made it difficult to traverse the snowy terrain. Finally, the Marines made it to a place to set up their beds and security.
“These heaters are giving me life,” said Esther.
“I made a shelf with my gear on it in my snow hole,” Linden said.
Lance Corporal Dahlia Wills trudged up to Esther. “Thanks for carrying my pack back there.”
“It’s nothing.” Esther replied.
“You really didn’t have to. I was fine once I got these boots on properly. I just kept falling.” Said Wills.
Esther empathized, “Who didn't fall back there?”
Wills responded, with admiration in her voice. “You.”
“I was just helping you out as a fellow Marine.” Esther said.
“What do you have cooking?” Asked Wills, inhaling deeply.
“Some hot cocoa and then some chicken and rice.”
“Now, I can smell it. Look, how can I make it up to you for doing something so selfless?”
“By calling me selfish.”
“But you helped me out. I fell at least six times, and you went back and kept my rucksack from being a burden to me. How were you thinking of yourself?”
“I joined this Corps knowing people would need help from time to time. If I can provide assistance, I provide it. It’s that simple, Dahlia.”
“On this next hump, I’m going to carry your pack.”
Esther looked at Dahlia. “You don’t need to worry about that. If you carry your pack, cool. If you can’t, then I’ll go back and help you. Let’s keep it at that.”
Dahlia headed off to bed while Esther took a sip from her cup of hot cocoa. When she got back to the scooped out hollow in the snow that was her own bed, she saw none other than Dahlia.
“What is it, Dahlia?”
Dahlia didn’t say anything. She just saluted Esther.
“Now, I know you’ve lost it. Do you see any officer stuff on my collar?”
“Alright then. Did you go through the same Boot’ I did?”
A blast of cold wind swept over the hot cocoa, knocking it off of the heater.
“Goddamnit. Look Dahlia, I really don’t have time. You said thank you, I said it was nothing, let's move on, shall we?”
Dahlia lowered her arm.
“Yes, First Sergeant!”
“Get down in your bed!”
“Aye, First Sergeant!”
“Thanks again, Esther. Good night!”
Esther scooped up the clumps of cocoa ice.
“Ooh-rah,” she said with a sigh.