|Cpl Eliud RuizReyes scans the horizon for threats.|
Well my wished were finally granted. I will be the security commander for a task force going north to do maintenance on helicopter landing zones (HLZ) which will be needed for a winter offensive. I finally get to leave Camp Cupcake and do what they pay me to do.
There are a lot of reasons to hate leaving the comforts of an air conditioned room with an actual bed and a chow hall with three hot meals served each day. There are equally as many reasons that few who haven't served will understand to be as excited as my Marines and I are to leave these creature comforts behind and venture off into treacherous unknown lands for at least a few weeks. We have convoyed up to a little patrol base called “Alcatraz”, which is much more like what most might envision when they think of Marines in combat. There is no contractor constructed fancy perimeter fence here. We have bulldozed berms and mud walls as our protection. We are here staged so we can leave “the wire” and perform at least four missions before heading back to Camp Leatherneck.
Gone are our air conditioned cans...replaced with cots under the stars. Gone are three hot meals a day...replaced with two hot “tray rat” meals and one Meal ready to Eat (MRE). Now weighted down with vests containing heavy Sapi Plates, faces filled with sweat, my Marines couldn't be happier. Why, you ask? These Marines were excited to come to this third world country. However, they were not excited to show up, sit around for seven months, and come home. These Marines are more than willing to leave their loved ones behind for lengthy amounts of time as long as they feel they are here for a purpose. Lounging at Camp Leatherneck and standing a gate is not their desire. As I write this from the inside of my MRAP and look at the dust filled cots and exhausted Marines I know they are finally getting exactly what they wanted.
It's just like anything we do in life. If you work hard and accomplish your goals then you have experiences to be proud of. If you live life performing the bare minimum necessary to get by each day you will have little to take pride in as the years go by. A lot of people would say that just being a U. S. Marine is enough to be proud of for a lifetime. The problem with that statement is if a Marine takes on that attitude, he or she has lost sight of the mindset which allowed them to earn that title in the first place. No! Once that mindset imbeds itself in a human, it is hard to get rid of. These Marines constantly seek out difficult tasks and more complex goals to achieve. No matter what they do or accomplish they will never be content or satisfied and I love them for it.