Excerpt

Peacemaking: Chapter 1-8

Once our training began, there was no escaping.  We would wake early, eat, drill, eat, P.T., practice M.C.M.A.P. (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program), drill some more, P.T. some more, and then sleep.  Every now and then we would do something special like Field Week or Team Week or Range Week, but for the most part we stuck to the training guidelines.  I was not cut out for this lifestyle, but what was I to do?  As Thor had said, I was now property of the United States of America.  During our myriad training sessions it was customary to respond to our instructor by shouting, “Kill.”  Like playing high school sports and shouting “TIGERS!” after jumping-jacks: “T—I—G—E—R—S, TIGERS!”  They were brain washing us.  They were teaching us two things: one, instant obedience to orders, and two, to unflinchingly kill.  This raised some questions for me.  I had come to believe before Boot Camp that I was supposed to love my neighbor, turn the other cheek, and go the extra mile—not put a bullet in “Habib’s” head, not that my ability to put a bullet in one of “Habib’s” eyes from about five hundred yards was lacking.  During our seventh and eighth weeks at Recruit Training we were schooled in the art of the long distance snipe.  As the Marine Corps is fond of saying, “One shot, one kill.”  In week seven, we learned how to take apart a rifle, clean the s#*% out of it, put it back together, and perform a function check.  We also learned about windage knobs, trajectory, sighting, breathing, and locking-in.  The latter was the endless exercise of switching between the prone, kneeling, and standing positions while aiming our weapons at a barrel and dry firing.  I have a vivid picture of locking-in one evening for two or three hours as the sun set behind Camp Pendleton, splashing orange hues as cars on the nearby Interstate Five sped by.  I-5, I thought, while sighting in my M-16, one-thousand miles north is home, the rifle clicked as I squeezed the trigger, I wonder what my Dad is doing?  I pulled the bolt back; I bet he’s watching T.V., click.  I breathed, paused: click, I wonder where all those people are going.

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