I enlisted in September of 2013. Dropped out of college for it too. Probably not the smartest thing to do for a 20 year old with a girl he wants to marry. With the grades I had I could have done some ROTC bullshit, but I wanted to work for a living. I told my friends it was about the money, but that wasn’t true. I just couldn’t see myself doing anything else with my life. You grow up in a military family and that option I guess becomes a lot more relatable for you. My dad is… was retired navy. His father before him was as well. Shit, I even have a couple cousins in the Coast Guard, so tradition played its role you could say. But like many sons, it is also tradition for me to disappoint my father. So I joined the Army.
82nd Airborne, 1st Brigade, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. That is what I was made to memorize. It didn't take us long before we found ourselves in Takistan. As part of Operation Black Gauntlet, my squad departed the Loy Manara Greenzone to the village of Chardarakht. It was one of the last attempts the higher ups made at mending our ‘friendship’ with the royalists. So as you could imagine we were shot at. Accurate sniper fire from the southern hill overlooking the village. The locals conveniently disappeared, except one. A kid, whose name I’d later find out was Hakim Sarraf. Before the first shot was fired the kid somehow came within 10 meters of us and started waving. Cpl. Garner waved back just before he was shot. My buddy, Snyder, and I threw smokes to cover our retreat while the rest laid hell into the hilltop. But every time we fell back to try and get a new vantage, the kid would show up after the smoke had cleared and started waving at us again. He kept on revealing our position to the guys shooting us to shit. By the third time we fell back Garner was KIA with another four wounded including Snyder. It wasn’t long after that the sniper shot the kid. At least that's what the official story was. We finally managed to reposition ourselves without the enemies knowing and none of the other guys were hit afterwards. The brass found out the kid was shot from a 5.56 but nothing ever came of it. I wanted something to. Sometimes I still want some higher up to barge through the door in the middle of this bombed to fuck country and put me in cuffs. I broke off my engagement with my girlfriend, stopped writing my friends and calling my parents, everything I could do to send a red flag to someone. Everything a kid that's too afraid to turn himself in could do to get attention, but nothing ever came. Just a pat on the shoulder and a "good job" to give it company. It was my first and only firefight and I really wonder if i’m cut out for another. You do this kind of thing dreaming about being the good guy, but every morning you wake up and remember you’re not. I would think being stuck here is my punishment, but only art students fall for that melodramatic bullshit.
In 2017, my regiment was stationed in Utes at base Garrison. Most of the guys there were meant to provide security or aid in engineering the reconstruction of the country, but word was we were going in to relieve another regiment with the 10th Mountain in Takistan. You could imagine how moody I was. I hadn’t been there in two years and I had no wish to go back. I was almost thankful Russia started getting our attention instead. Then the rumors started. Takistan closed their border and it became clear the 10th Mountain was being relieved anytime soon. It was around that time we started piecing things together… Jesus, how many of us laughed at the idea of fleeing in fear of an early flu season? When we arrived in Chernogorsk and saw their faces, we all shut the fuck up real fucking quick. Two days later and we redefined mute. With Riots to our backs and those things at our front, there was no holding that city.