50. My God Given Calling

My God Given Calling

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.

Ecclesiastes‬ ‭12:8

“What time is it?” I asked, as I paused digging for a moment. Stonewall glanced at his watch.

“About noon,” He said before continuing to scrape the inner walls of our hole.

“We made good time,” I said, “It looks pretty good to me.” Stonewall stood up and set his E-Tool down on the rim of our masterpiece.

“Yeah. One of the best fighting holes I’ve made.”

“Same.”

“I just don’t know what else to do though, so we may as well keep improving it. I think we can make the bench bigger.” He pointed to the corner with a makeshift seat carved out of the rear wall of our dugout. 

“Yeah, may as well,” I said. “I gotta piss and grab some water I’ll be back.”

I hopped out and headed up the line to the water buffalo.1 As I filled up my Camelbak, I turned my head when I heard Shepard shout before tossing his E-Tool on the ground.

“Fuck, you serious?!” 

Sergeant Gordon spoke more words to Shepard though I couldn’t make them out. More curse words spewed out of Shepard’s mouth as Sergeant G continued down the line. I returned to my position.

Several minutes after returning to work, the sergeant approached.

“Hey, y’all ‘re gonna have to move your position up about twenty yards.”

“Seriously?” I said. “We just finished.” 

“Yeah, we need to adjust the line formation. Just bring it up to about here.”

“Roger,” we said.

Stonewall and I let out sighs after looking bleakly at each other. “This fucking sucks,” he groaned.

“Yeah. The Green Weenie2 strikes again.”

I climbed out, walked up about where Sergeant G pointed, looked back longingly, said goodbye to the first foxhole I ever loved, and started digging again.

The ground was softer here. As we dug our position, firm walls were much more difficult to establish, causing sections to cave in and angle outward as we dug. Frustration and exhaustion mounted as we continued, but the short rainstorm reinvigorated us to press on.

With some motivation refilled in our sweating bodies, we continued. Stonewall and I  were half way done with our second hole when a humvee parked thirty yards ahead of us. Shortly thereafter Sergeant Suever walked up.

“Hey guys, you’re going to have to move up again.”

“You’ve gotta be shitting me,” Stonewall said.

“Nope. You’re in the back blast3 of the TOW4 missile.”

“Can’t it move?” I asked.

“No. But the good news is you won’t have much digging. Sergeant G is working his way up with the excavator. Just stand by.” Sergeant Suever spat brown goop on the dirt from his chaw before walking away. The blinding sun rays failed to reignite the light in our eyes that was just snuffed out.

I sighed. “The TOW missile is mounted on a freaking Humvee. Why can’t it move?”

“This is fucking bullshit.” 

We waited for at least an hour before Sergeant G gouged a sandy pit for us, dumping the dirt in front. We attempted to modify the mess into something usable but after nearly an hour of rummaging through the softened sand, and being pricked by remnants of thorny tumbleweeds we realized that our attempt to mold this into a beautiful bunker was futile. Rather than conduct the training exercise in our proud workspace, we were forced to abandon it, and instead we scurried up a sandy hill and layed half prone pointing our rifles out in the distance to defend our territory against a non-existent enemy.

What a waste.

We camped out at a small outpost for a few days between training evolutions. During the down time, I mostly stuck to myself. I couldn’t fraternize with the boots, and I didn’t know how to relate to the rest of the guys in my platoon. For some reason, I let my guard down for my teammates in RTT,5 but once I joined the fleet, I erected barricades.

I judged them. The stereotypical grunt was not a guy I respected, wanted to be, or could relate to. Curse words and profane humor flung out of their mouth as often as booze and tobacco flowed in. 

I distanced myself from the guys because not only was I unable to relate to them, I didn’t want to. By this point, faith in God took highest priority and from my limited perspective, this meant reading my Bible constantly and listening to sermons by the captivating church leader Mark Driscoll. I downloaded over a hundred hours of sermons and lectures onto my Ipod, and floated off in my Christian bubble.

Being a good Marine was low on my priority list as I delved deeper into the depths of faith. I begrudgingly suffered through training and rarely interacted with my brothers except when talking about God. Rather than take the opportunity to hone my skills with the radio, optimize my gear, mentor the junior Marines, read military history, brush up on combat lifesaver techniques, or take initiative in any way to better the chance of my own or my brother’s survival, I rested my head on my pack to listen to the ramblings of a preacher who would one day abandon his church after his elders found him guilty of plagiarism, siphoning church funds, and verbally abusing his staff behind closed doors. I must have assumed learning the hidden secrets of the Song of Solomon would serve me better on the battlefield than actually being good at my job. 

I pursued God to the detriment of those around me. In my blind pursuit, I forsook those who depended on me, thinking I was obeying a higher calling when in reality, I once again fell prey to my inclinations to escape. This time though, rather than melting my brain with video games,6 I clung to a baptized addiction, one that once again sheltered me from the world in front of me I so desperately wanted to avoid, the world that ironically, in that moment, was my God given calling. 

  1. A 500 gallon potable water tank on wheels.
  2. This is a term Marines use to describe the truth that the Marine Corps will always prioritize the Marine Corps.
  3. Any weapon that shoots a rocket has a danger zone called a backblast area. For example, when shooting a shoulder mounted rocket such as an AT-4, one must always check behind the tube of the rocket because the blast of pressure will wound or damage whatever is behind within a certain distance.
  4. TOW stands for Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided missile. It usually is mounted on a humvee and fires an armor penetrating rocket capable of destroying a tank. The TOW missile has a considerably large backblast area due to the size and power of the rocket.
  5. I join RTT platoon in blog post 37. Bowl of Veggies.
  6. See blog post 9. Alternate Reality.

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