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Presumed straight girl gets a bit drunk...
She read the letter, smiling as she did. She choked back a laugh when she read about Ryan, obviously torn between her sadness and the writing before her.
"I'm sorry," Lauren said at length. "I'm just so scared for him, I don't know what to do. I feel so helpless."
"Because we are helpless. We can't control what happens over there any more than we can control the weather. All we can do is be strong and support them in any way they need."
Lauren hugged me hard, sobbing into my shoulder. It was going to be a long eight months.
November 18 was a foggy morning for the Pacific, the coast of Guam barely visible as a large grey shape in the distance. Tyler had woken me up early to have a smoke with him before Gunny was going to brief us. Our orders had changed and I had a feeling of what they would be.
"Bet ya a pack of cigarettes that we have a field exercise here," I said to Tyler, braking the sleepy fog surrounding us.
"Why would they do that?" He asked. "We can't shoot here."
"We can run drills. There is an abandoned airfield we've used before."
"Fuck it, you're on."
When we finished our smokes we flicked them over the side, watching them fall the 60 feet or so to the sea below. We returned to the berthing as everyone else was getting up, camouflage clad zombies moving about their morning routines of showers, shaves and brushing teeth.
We gathered around the quarterdeck of our berthing, mingling with several staff NCO's and a few of the platoon commanders as we waited for Gunny Sanchez.
"How's it hangin' Anderson?" Lt. Price asked.
"A little to the right this morning sir, how are you?"
"I'm fine, just fine. How're your Marines?"
"Doing well so far sir, though I'll bet we will find out more in the next few days."
"Why would you say that?"
"Because Gunny is gonna tell us we have drills on the airfield sir."
"How do you know that?"
"Matter of deduction. There aren't any resupply missions going, we haven't made for port yet, and Gunny is going to brief us. Seems like a training exercise to me sir."
He smiled at me. "Very observant Sergeant. Now I see why the other officers have so much faith in you."
"Thank you sir," I said rather proudly. "It helps that I've made this journey twice previously."
"Of course you have," he said, shaking his head and laughing. "Any words of advice for this training exercise?"
"I'll given you the same advice I give all officers, listen to your Sergeants. Odds are that between them, they've seen just about everything sir."
"I'll keep that in mind."
"Sir, can I ask you something?"
"Have you been to combat?"
"No, this will potentially be the first time."
"OK, if you wanna go outside the wire, come with my men sir."
"Very well, thank you."
The door to the berthing opened and Gunny Sanchez came in, followed by Captain Varren. The two of them came to the front of us, with Captain Varren standing in front of Gunny Sanchez, obviously the one to break the news to us. The room got quiet, everyone waiting to hear what he had to say and those of us who had been on this route before hoping that it wasn't orders for a training exercise.
"Morning Marines," Captain Varren said, receiving a chorus of good mornings in return. "We have a slight change of plans. Tomorrow morning, three gun sections will load their guns and trucks onto LCAC's and make for the shore. They will then spend the next few days training on an abandoned airfield, where they will be tested and timed.
Once they have finished, they will load back up and we will make port in Guam. Those who stay behind will be doing maintenance and preparing training for the next time we unload the guns."
Groans filled the air, the men not hiding their displeasure at possibly of having to do more training. I had mixed emotions about it; not wanting to do the work, yet wanting to see how well our gun performed.
"Guns 2, 3 and 6 will be going, the rest will stay," Gunny Sanchez said, stepping forward.