02 Kaneohe Bay Hawaii - Arrival

Captured: Dreaming of home

© Copyright 2008 – 2009

Written by Banzai Ben

ben@banzaiben.com

 

Chapter 2 – Sniper School Saturday 01 September 2007

 

Khudabah, Pakistan – Night three

 

I never thought I would say that it feels good being tied up to the ceiling, but this beats the hell out of the shit the fucking camel jockeys did to me today. First, they tied me to a chair, brought in an interpreter, and started asking me questions. I wouldn't even talk to the fucker other than to say his mother was a whore and his father was a pig. They beat the shit out of me for saying that. After that, they would ask me a question, and when I wouldn't answer, they beat me.  That went on all fucking day. I think they wore out three guys beating on me. I'm pretty bruised up, but I don't think they broke any of my bones; at least, not yet. The fuckers can beat me to death before I'll tell them anything.

 

They stopped about an hour ago, gave me some shitty tasting food and some water, and now I'm back, tied up to the ceiling. Once it gets dark, I'll immerse myself in memories until I manage to sleep. With luck, I’ll dream of being home, and the rats won’t interrupt the dreams . . .

 

Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii - Saturday Arrival

 

My life as a civi was over, and I was headed back into the loving arms of Uncle Sam. I said goodbye to my friends from Leadville, caught a puddle jumper to DIA (Denver International Airport), and was soon flying coach to MCBH (Marine Corps Base Hawaii) on the lovely island of Oahu. I know what you're thinking – it's nasty flying coach – but it's better than flying space available on a C130 Hercules.

 

Since winning the Leadville Trail run, I’d become some sort of celebrity in the Corps. Shit, not only in the Corps; I was amazed at the number of people who accosted me at DIA for an autograph. Not only that, a certain female flight attendant made it known that she would be willing to join the “mile high club” with me. I wasn't interested in that slut.

 

Women. They just can't keep their hands off a man in uniform, and in my opinion, there isn't a more beautiful one than the Blue Dress uniform. Normally, I would've traveled in something less formal, but because I was a celebrity, the brass wanted me looking my best.

 

A number of years back, the sniper school was moved to MCBH and they incorporated cross training with snipers in other branches of the service to “keep the Marines on their toes.” The brass has always pushed me to come here and train the newer snipers, and I've always resisted, telling them that I have more important things to do than nursemaid a bunch of baby snipers. Well, that's not quite true. Actually, I'm a terrible teacher and I know it. I'm just too hard headed and impatient to put up with students.

 

I don't know what you know about sniper school, but it's only about twenty percent shooting. The rest is about tactics and concealment and how to endure all the incredible shit that occurs when you're waiting for the kill. There are some targets for which you end up waiting in your ghillie suit for a week to get a shot. It's hot and sweaty, and you can't move. If need be, you even shit and piss right in your suit.

 

People might wonder what sort of person in his right mind would ever take a job like this. Well, I'm not in my right mind. And all the crap that I have to go through for the kill is worth it for the couple of seconds it takes to make the shot. I'm one messed up mother fucker. Those people should just be thankful that I work for our side.

 

Interestingly, I couldn't get much information on Sergeant Donaldson, or DLP (Daddy's Little Princess), as I'd started calling her. I knew only that she graduated top of her class at the National Guard Sniper School at Camp Robinson in central Arizona. But after all, that was the fucking National Guard – not even the real military – so how hard could that school be. She’d had one deployment to Iraq and had a verified four kills. Shit, I think I had that many in the first week of my first deployment. Then she transferred to the Marines and recently was promoted to Sergeant from Corporal. I was sure that her daddy had something to do with that promotion.

 

It didn't matter. The MCBH School was between classes so we had it all to ourselves, and I figured I would have DLP crawling back to daddy in about a week. Then, I could get back to finding a real spotter and then, of course, back to Iraq.

 

After an uneventful flight, we touched down at Oahu airport. A Lance Corporal was waiting for me as I exited the plane, and we boarded a waiting chopper to fly us to the base. It’s sort of nice being a celebrity.

 

Having been at MCBH before, I went right to the office of the Base Commanding Officer (BCO) to check in. While the Lance Corporal dropped my gear in my barracks. After a short wait, I was called in. After the proper attention and salute, I was shaking hands with Brigadier General Thompson.

 

"Sir, it's good to see you again and to be back in the Corps" I said.

 

"Sergeant Major Blaine. We’re so glad to have you back. I thought that we'd lost you when you resigned, and that would've been a great loss to the Corps. I also wanted to congratulate you on the outstanding win at the Leadville Trail 100. Enlistment in the Corps is up over fifty percent since that remarkable event."

 

"Thank you, sir, but I really couldn't have done it without the help from the other Marine, Jens. To be truthful, sir, I feel extremely bad about it because I didn't even get to know her full name or thank her."

 

"Yes, Ben. We know, and there's a reason for that." He pressed the intercom button on his desk, but didn't say anything. The door opened, and in walked Sergeant Jennifer Donaldson. She snapped a perfect salute to Brigadier General Thompson and then turned to me. Standing in front of me in her Dress Blues Marine uniform was not Sergeant Jennifer Donaldson or DLP, but Jens, who had run the Leadville race with me. My jaw must have hit the floor.

 

I couldn't think of anything to say. Brigadier General Thompson saved the situation when he said, "Come on, you two. Stop staring at each other and sit down. We need to talk."

 

We both sat, and Brigadier General Thompson looked at me. "Banzai, I've known you for a very long time; in fact, for the entirety of your ten years of service to the Corps. And I know that you resigned, rather than take Jens as your new spotter, and I also think I know you well enough to know that you came here planning on getting her to quit the sniper program. Let's see . . . I bet you were thinking if you made it hard enough, or bad enough, or nasty enough on her, she would quit and run back to her daddy. Am I right?" 

 

I nodded my head, and he continued. "And I bet that you're feeling double-crossed right now, and that you're starting to get pissed off. Am I right?"

 

Damn, he could read me; he knew it, and I knew it. I also knew that if I answered, I’d be in trouble. I clamped my mouth shut.

 

"Before you go opening your mouth and saying something that you'll regret or something that might get you court marshaled, you need to listen to me. This is an exceptional young lady and perhaps one of the best damned Marines I've ever met.

 

“She didn't get here riding the General's coat tails. Everything that she has done, she has done on her own, other than getting assigned as your spotter. She did that because she wanted to work with the best so that she and you could become even better. She came up with a tactical plan where she has followed you, stalked you, and if she so chose, could have killed you many times over, in the last month when you were in Leadville.

 

That’s why it felt like someone was watching me!

 

“Between her being so good and you getting sloppy, you made it easy for her. I can tell you that there's only one sniper I know of that's a better shot than her, and it's you. She even came up with the tactical plan for both of you to win the Leadville race. She has spent years studying you, and – shit – she knows you better than you know yourself.

 

“She knew that with some egging on and competition added to a bunch of mystery, you couldn't help but compete at a level beyond your abilities. Come on, we both know that by yourself there was no way in hell that you could've won that race, and by herself she didn't stand a chance.

 

“But together, something synergistic happened, and you both performed at an athletic level beyond the level of Olympic athletes. Shit, I'll bet my star that your records will stand as long as I'm still living.

 

“So I want you to cut out any bullshit you had planned. You have two choices, Marine: you can work together with Jens as a team, or you can spend the next ten years that you re-upped for in the stockade."

 

Shit. It was no fun getting my ass chewed by the Brigadier General, but he wasn't done yet.

 

Now he turned and looked at Jens. "Jens, I've known you even longer than I've known Banzai because the General and I go back a lot of years. I know that you've always been a different young lady. While the other girls were playing with their Barbies, you were playing with GI-Joes or Cowboys and Indians. I know the deepest desire in your heart has always been to be a sniper, and not just a sniper, but the best sniper.

 

“The General and I have gone crazy for years trying to keep you from it, but after you ran off and joined the National Guard and then set new records in their sniper school, we knew we couldn't. So we decided if this was your wish you would get one chance at it, and this is your only chance.

 

“You've been headstrong in the past and it has always helped you, but I'm going to warn you, that shit won't work with Banzai. He's the most bullheaded son of a bitch I've ever met, and if he wasn't so damn good at what he does, he would've been in the stockade years ago.

 

“So, Marine, he outranks you, and you will obey him without any questions or bullshit. If he says, ‘jump,’ you had better say, ‘how high,’; if he says, ‘duck,’ you had better say, ‘how low,’ and if he even says to suck his dick you had better say, ‘how long.’"

 

Well, at least this was an equal opportunity ass chewing. Man, the old man was on a roll.

 

He continued. "I have one more surprise for both of you." He pressed the intercom button on his desk. "Bring in the surprise."

 

The Lance Corporal walked in holding a trophy that was about three feet tall.

 

The Brigadier General looked at Jens and me. "I know you were told you would have the sniper training area all to yourself, but we have a surprise for both of you. Two weeks from today, we are hosting the first international sniper competition. We have the best of the best coming from all the free world. Of course we have the Army and the Navy Seals, but we also have the Mossad from Israel, the Spetnaz from Russia, and Germany, France, Great Britain, all the Scandinavian countries . . . shit, even Switzerland is sending their best.

 

“It's a week-long competition that focuses on every area of being a sniper. I expect you two to win this trophy for the Corps. Failure is not an option. If you fail . . . Ben, you will be assigned here as a trainer, and Jens, you will become an administrative assistant.

 

“Now. Here are the keys to my car. Get the hell out of here. Get to know each other, and come back tomorrow ready for your indoctrination."

 

"Yes, sir," we both replied.

 

Then I added, "Sir, might I ask one more thing? I haven't had a chance to see Sergeant Donaldson's full service record. I'm asking for complete access to it."

 

He smiled, picked up a large folder on his desk and handed it to me. "I know you'll be surprised. I was."

 

"One more thing, sir. Thank you for the offer of your car keys, but we don't need it because training is starting for us now.” I turned to Jens.  “Sergeant Donaldson, you have twenty minutes to meet me at the NCO club for dinner."

 

Knowing that the meeting was over, we stood, snapped to attention, and saluted. Brigadier General Thompson returned our salute, and we turned and left. I let the sergeant open the door for me; after all, rank does have its privileges.

 

I was thinking to myself, "payback is a bitch. Let's see how Jens runs in those flats she's wearing.” I figured that I could just make the NCO club in time without breaking a sweat, so when I hit the street, I took off running, with Jens trying to keep up. It must've been quite a sight to see two Marines running in full dress uniform, because everyone who saw us stopped and watched.

 

Finally I heard Jens say, "Fuck this shit." She stopped and took off her shoes and started running barefoot, and it didn't take long for her to catch up with me.

 

We passed a platoon of new recruits. As luck would have it, my old Drill Instructor (DI) was leading it. He recognized me and yelled, "Hey Banzai, are you molesting that poor woman?"

 

"Hey, yourself, DI Anderson," I shouted over my shoulder. "I heard that you were so old and ugly they sent you to the Navy to swab the decks!"

 

"I'll show you old an ugly. PLATOON! 'BOUT FACE! DOUBLE TIME!"

 

Jens and I, DI Anderson, and the platoon all got to the NCO club at the same time. DI Anderson stalked over and ordered, "Drop and give me a hundred, Banzai."

 

I took one look at him, flashed my sleeve with the new Sergeant Major rank, and replied, "DI Anderson, I now outrank you. You and your platoon drop and give ME a hundred! You, too, Sergeant Donaldson!"

 

I was gloating in my newfound power when – of course – Brigadier General Thompson drove up in his Cadillac STS, he rolled down the window, and yelled, "Sergeant Major Blaine, I see that you're abusing my troops. Drop now, and give me two hundred."

 

Oh well, you can't win them all.

 

When I finished, DI Anderson shook mine and shook Jens's hands. "You're a sight for sore eyes." turning towards Jens he said, "Sergeant Donaldson, I'm so glad I could finally meet you, but how in the hell did you get mixed up with this sorry excuse for a Marine?"

 

Jens laughed. "DI, please call me Jens. I requested it, but now I'm not so sure it was such a good idea."

 

The DI yelled, "PLATOON! AT EASE.” Then he turned back to us. “Banzai and Jens, do you have a couple of minutes? I would like to introduce you to my new platoon. They’re new recruits that signed up after you two won the Leadville Trail 100."

 

We took the time to meet and greet each new Marine, thanking them for joining ”The few, the proud, the Marines.”

 

"DI Anderson", I said, "This is a fine group of Marines. I know you'll turn them into lean, mean fighting machines."

 

Turning to the platoon, I addressed them. "Platoon, you're lucky to have one of the best damned DI's in the Corps. You’d be wise to listen to him and do what he says." With that, we said our goodbyes and went into the NCO club where our table was waiting.

 

As we walked in the club, the whole room stood up and started cheering and clapping. I'm not sure which of us was redder, Jens or I. Thankfully, it didn't continue, and we could sit down to a great dinner.

 

Once we were settled with our order and drinks, Jens turned to me. "You owe me a new pair of nylons. These were brand new, and I ruined them running after you."

 

"Hey, I didn't tell you to take off your shoes. It was much more fun watching you run in your flats." I grinned.

 

Dinner was pretty good, and we made small talk, spending most of the time laughing about the Leadville race.

 

"So, you were up in Leadville watching me all last month?" I asked.

 

"Yes, I was; you were my assignment. Ben, you may not know this, but you're a target. Many countries would like to see you dead, and even in Leadville you weren't safe. It was my job to make sure you didn't get eliminated. Besides, it was sort of fun watching you train."

 

By the time dinner was over, a workable rapport had developed between us. I looked over at her, realizing, "You know, I don't even know where I am billeted."

 

"Don't worry. I do – we're sharing a house on base. But before you get any ideas, we each have our own bedroom and bathroom. And I always sleep with a pistol and Kabar under my pillow," she said, smiling sweetly at me.

 

"Let's go," I said. "O'dark thirty comes early in the morning." I went to pay the bill, but someone had already paid it for us. I could get used to this star treatment.

 

The house they gave us was quite nice; much bigger than I thought it would be. It was a three-bedroom rancher. Each of the main bedrooms had a nice new bedroom set, including a queen bed and a desk. The third bedroom had been turned into a workroom, with two workbenches with a full set of tools, and two large gun safes bolted to the floor. Jens gave me the combination to the safes. I opened them, and was I surprised – They were fully loaded.

 

I looked for my first love, the M40-A31 but there wasn't one. Instead, I saw a funny-looking Barrett. I took it out and looked at it.

 

1 (The M40 is a bolt-action sniper rifle used by the United States Marine Corps)

 

 

Jens said, "Surprise! That’s a brand new 98 Bravo2 from Barrett in .338 Lapua. They aren't even available for sale yet."

 

2 (The 98 Bravo is Barrett's newest long range sniper rifle. Designed from the ground up to be the most accurate long range rifle available. It's modular, fully adjustable, weighs over thirteen pounds and has a ten round detachable magazine,)

 

 

"I like the .338 Lapua. How’d you know?" I asked, lovingly holding the Bravo.

 

"Did you forget what Brigadier General Thompson told you? I've been studying you for years. I know that you like the added range of the .338 Lapua. The trigger is set to 3 lbs just like you prefer. They've already been sighted to 600 meters, and the most accurate loads have already been created for both of them."

 

I have to say, I was beginning to like being taken care of. I looked through the rest of the safe. It was well-supplied – I had several Kimber M1911s3, an M44 and even an M1075 Barrett – but what touched me the most was when I unzipped a couple of soft pistol cases and they contained my dad's old Colt revolvers in 45 Long Colt, and then I noticed all my old hunting rifles. In fact every gun from my safe at home was here.

 

3 (The M1911 is a single-action, semi-automatic pistol (handgun) chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. It was designed by John M. Browning, and was the standard-issue side arm for the United States armed forces from 1911 to 1985, and is still carried by some U.S. forces.)

4 (The M4 Carbine is a family of firearms tracing its lineage back to earlier carbine versions of the M16, all based on the original AR-15 made by ArmaLite.)

5 (The M107 Barrett is the USMC 50 caliber LRSR (Long Range Sniper Rifle), according to the USMC the M107 has a mission of 'engaging and defeat material targets at extended ranges to include parked aircraft; command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) sites; radar sites; ammunition; petroleum, oil and lubricants; and various other thin skinned (lightly armored) material targets out to 2000 meters.' Basically it's a shoulder mounted cannon that lets you reach out and touch someone without becoming a target yourself)

 

"So, what did you do, break into my cabin while I was gone and rob me blind?"

 

Jens looked apprehensive. "Ben, don't be pissed. I wanted to tell you this earlier, but the Brigadier General wouldn't let me.

 

“The day you left, your cabin was hit in a multiple RPG attack. The only thing left was your gun safe. I had it moved here and opened it. I had your combination from when I was watching you. Gunny looked over all the guns and made sure there wasn't any damage."

 

I stared at Jens, feeling the anger rise in me."I want to know who did it! Someone is going to pay for this."

 

"You're too late; it's already been taken care of." She frowned. "I'm sorry that we didn't stop it. It’s my fault, and I take full responsibility. I told you that you’re a target. Perhaps now you'll believe me. We do feel that you are safe on this base, but I would still recommend that you carry a sidearm at all times."

 

"I wish you would have told me that earlier," I said. "I probably should have been carrying one tonight."

 

She opened her purse and pulled out an M1911. "I had your back tonight," she assured me.

 

Well if that didn't suck donkey dick! Nothing like finding out that almost everything you owned is gone. I picked up the 1911, made sure it had one up the pipe and a full mag in it, and cocked the hammer.

 

Cocked, locked and ready to rock. I thought a bit more and grabbed a M10146 made sure it was loaded. "Well, this is enough god damned excitement for one night, I'm going to bed."

 

6 (The M1014 Combat shotgun is a lightweight, gas operated, tubular magazine fed, 12 gauge, semi-automatic shotgun capable of firing 2.75 or 3.00 magnum shells with a telescoping tubular butt stock,)

 

With all that had gone on, I couldn't get to sleep. After an hour of tossing and turning I got up and turned on the light, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I didn't have anything to read but Jens’s service record, so I picked it up. I would have to get some books tomorrow. For now, this would have to do. I sat at the table and started reading.

 

The first page of a service record for a sniper always lists the kills – after all, that's why they have us. I was shocked when eight kills were listed, instead the mere four I’d heard about.

 

Something wasn't right here. The details of the kills are listed in a reverse-chronological order with the newest being first. I turned the page and saw three kills listed today, with the location of my cabin in Leadville, Colorado. There was even a greater shock when I turned the page and found a single kill on August 12th, also in the Leadville area. Photos were provided for each of the kills, and they all looked to be Arabic. I was trying to get my mind around all of this when I heard a knock at my door.

 

I’d spun around, grabbing the M1911, before I heard Jens.

 

"Hey, it's me. Can I come in? I couldn't get to sleep," she called softly through the door.

 

I opened it. There she was, standing there in pink flannel pajamas with white bunnies on them and two cups of tea in her hands. "I figured you might need this. It’s your favorite, peppermint." Seeing that her service record was open on my desk she added, "We need to talk some more."

 

Most of the time I could care less about talking to a woman – it seems like all they want to do is talk – but this wasn't one of those times. I needed information and I needed it now.

 

She sat in the chair next to my desk. “Once the towelheads discovered all the important muslims you had killed, you became a target. Intel discovered after you retired that several fucking towelhead Ayatollahs had issued a fatwa against you. It promised instant martyrdom, and of course, the bogus seventy-two virgins crap, for anyone who could kill you.

 

Apparently there was a clerk in records who was a Muslim spy, and had leaked your records to them. The Marine traitor was taken care of, but word of the fatwa made it to several radical muslim sleeper cells in this country, and they set out to collect on it.

 

I went to my dad and convinced him to assign me to you for protection, and it was a good thing I did. The first one tried to snipe you on a training run, but I got him first. I didn't kill him with my shot, just wounded him, to see if we could get some intel out of him. But when I walked up to him, and he started screaming allah akbar and how he was going to die a martyr and get his seventy-two virgins, I took out my Kabar and cut his dick off, shoved it into his mouth and told him, "Try to fuck them now camel-jockey,” as I slit his throat."

 

She continued, "I was making sure you got to DIA safely today when the other three blew up your cabin. I guess they didn't know you'd left. I got word at the airport, so I handed your security off to the air marshal on your flight and caught a Harrier back to Leadville. We landed at the cabin site. I called the General and told him about the destruction; that the only thing left was your gun safe, and that I wanted it moved to MCBH before you got there.

 

“The three towelheads had hiked in, so it wasn't hard to follow them. I caught up to them in about ninety minutes and gave them the same treatment as the first ones. The Harrier picked me up and flew me here; I arrived just before you did."

 

With fire in my heart, I growled, "I want revenge. What about the sleeper cells?"

 

"It seems that they both had 'unexplained explosions' that totally destroyed their bases. One was in Alabama, and the other was in Oregon," she said with a twinkle in her eyes. "It also seems like the two camel-jockey Ayatollahs have both died from 'mysterious' causes and their followers have been scattered. Intel feels that you're relatively safe now – at least when you are on the base – but the General won't let you leave the base by yourself."

 

Shit. Nothing like finding out that you are a target, were almost shot, and never even knew about it. I looked down and shook my head. When had I let myself get so sloppy? If not for Jens, I'd be dead.

 

I looked up at her. "I don't know how to say this, because I've never had to do this before, but thank you for being there and saving my life and thank you for making sure my guns were brought here."

 

She looked into my eyes. "I know you, and that you're kicking your ass right now. You’re wondering how you ever got so sloppy. You were home, you thought you were safe, and you let your guard down. Plus, like it or not, you've become very predictable. Shit, you wake up the same time each morning, you go to bed the same time each night, you always go to town on Saturdays to the same places, you always drive the same routes, and you always run the same trails. We need to work on making you less predictable.

 

"Thanks for the tea – it was nice – but I think I'm going to need something a bit stronger to get to sleep tonight," I said.

 

"I'll be back in a minute." Jens stood up. About a minute later, she walked in carrying two glasses and a brand new bottle of Knob Creek Bourbon, again my favorite. She didn't use the piece of strapping tape to open it, instead she reached up and over behind her head pulling out a Kabar from a hidden back sheath. Slicing off the seal and pulling the cork, she poured each of us about three fingers, handed me my glass, and clinked hers against it.

 

"Semper fi Marine!" She drained it in one gulp.

 

"Orraaahhh!" I drained mine, feeling the 100 proof bourbon light a fire in my belly as it traveled down my throat.

 

"Get some sleep, Devil Dog. O'dark thirty comes early." She pivoted and left the room.

 

I went to the bed and stretched out, and sleep finally found me.