29. Oorah, Corporal

Oorah, Corporal

The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know.

Matthew‬ ‭24:50‬ ‬ 

A few months after I entered second platoon, a new corporal from the fleet1 joined our ranks. A first generation Russian immigrant, Corporal Trushkov was a character to say the least. As is usual for NCO’s, he could certainly pack heat behind his voice, get in our faces and put us in our place if we got out of line. He though had his own unique flair distinguishing him from the rest.

My first hint of his peculiarities happened when watching the show Dexter in the common area during our break from guard duty. This series is about a blood spatter analyst who, during the hours of darkness and with great care, murders evildoers that escaped the justice system. Much of the show is spent in Dexter’s head listening to his inner machinations . After one such scene delving into the mind of Dexter, Corporal Trushkov laughed. The scene wasn’t funny.

Sitting to his left on the next couch over, I turned my head towards him with a raised eyebrow. “I love this guy.” he said. “He reminds me of me.”

As Corporal of the Guard, he was required to visit our posts for routine inspections. One day he walked up to us during our roving post in our vehicle and kindly requested the Marine in the front passenger seat sit in the back. I stood up in the turret listening in on whatever he might say. Corporal Trushkov turned his head and began to speak.

“Sixty-eight thousand, five hundred dollars.” Nobody said anything for a few seconds having no clue where this came from or where it was going. “Sixty-eight thousand, five hundred dollars every day.” We still were puzzled. “That’s how much money you’d make every single day for forty years if you won a billion dollars.”

“Wow, never thought of it like that corporal,” Johnson said, attempting to break our streak of silence.

“Now… two midgets,” he continued.

“Midgets?” Miller asked.

“Yes, midgets. Two midgets… For one billion dollars – keep in mind how much money that is – would you let two midgets have their way with you for two hours?”

“Uhh–”

“Nobody would ever know, so take that off the table. And they would disappear. Only you would know what happened. But… they could literally do whatever they wanted sexually.”

“Well, hell yeah I’d get sodomized by two midgets for two hours for that kind of money!” Johnson shouted.

“Alright,” Corporal Trushkov smiled, “What about you guys in the back, would you?”

“Probably,”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“And you in the turret? Is that Decoupcrank?”

“Yes, corporal. I don’t know, if nobody ever knew I might, but man it would haunt me for the rest of my life.”

“Yeah, but just think about the money, it would totally be worth it,” he said.

“I’m still not sure,” I said, thinking about the possible terrors of two midgets cracking whips in their black leather bondage gear. Who knows what kind of horrific devices they could bring to the table. Sure I’d watched a decent amount of porn up until this point, but there’s some crazy stuff out there I’d never heard of that makes what I’ve seen look like a Disney movie.

“Okay, I respect that,” he said. “That is all, you can drop me off here, continue your post.”

The driver plopped him in some random section of the road as Miller took his spot.

“The hell was that?” Miller said.

“I don’t know, but that was fuckin’ hilarious,” Johnson said as he turned up the radio.

Not only did things feel a bit off with him, the thought crossed my mind he could have been a Russian mole. After all, Russia and the U.S. have large stockpiles of nuclear weapons, so it would make sense for Russia to send over an undercover informant disguised as a Marine. I’d often see him on the phone in uniform chattering in Russian, wondering what he was saying. Noticing I’d been staring at him, he turned to me.

“Do you love your mom Decoupcrank?”

 “Uh, yes corporal.”

“Me too. That’s why I call her every day.” Suuuuuuree, your mom is who you’re calling every day. Sounds like something the KGB2 would say!

My suspicions were heightened when the Russians inspected our base. The U.S. has an agreement with Russia called the Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty, or START. This allows both the US and Russia to inspect each others’ stockpiles of nuclear weapons in an effort to limit nuclear weapons accumulation. During my time at Bangor, the Russians came to inspect us. While they toured our base, Corporal Trushkov wound up mysteriously absent. Apparently he took leave to visit his hometown in Russia the exact moment this inspection took place. Quite the coincidence, Corporal Trushkov. Are you really having dinner with your mom or divulging all our secrets to Putin?

In all likelihood, all of this was a fabrication of my own mind. He truly was a good NCO, but I had fun imagining the what-ifs of scenarios that could end up in some television drama. KGB spy or not, Corporal Trushkov was in charge of us and we respected him as we should any NCO.

One week myself and Lance Corporal Tumath were tasked with taking at the end of a long pier. Nearly every day, around the same time, Corporal Trushkov would perform his routine inspection. He could be easily identified as the one approaching because our bunker stood at the end of a one-way pier. The walk from one end to the other took about two minutes so we had ample warning to ready ourselves as he drew near.

On our way out to perhaps our fifth post of the week, I remember standing in the turret of the vehicle venturing towards our drop off point, recalling that I forgot to take my multivitamin and hadn’t had any coffee. Today is going to suck, I thought, as I considered what standing post would be like without my multivitamin pack. One of the pills in the pack was designed for energy and focus, and my all too caffeine dependent brain relied on such a supplement to maintain adequate attentiveness.

Post was, as always, uneventful. Standing in a relatively small space with only one other person and an outstretched waterfront leaves only the mind and a casual conversation with your post-mate for entertainment. Once life stories were exhausted on both ends, we, or at least I, would retreat to daydreams.

At some point during post, Tumath took the PAS 13-Delta3 storage case and stood it upright so he could ease his discomfort by sitting on it. He also detached his flak jacket to air out his torso and unbuckled his Kevlar and set it on a ledge. Having seen him sit down and undo his gear, I felt a bit uneasy because we were not allowed to do any of this while on post. I didn’t say anything.

The makeshift seat was there only for intermittent breaks. I refused to sit down, but we did at some point remove our uncomfortable eye protection. I secured it on my flak jacket so that if I did see anyone coming, I could quickly put them back on.

On the adjacent pier behind us, a man stood motionless and watched us from across the water. Seeing a Marine sitting with his flak open and Kevlar removed and the other zoned out staring off in the distance, he maintained his watchful position. For fifteen minutes the Marines in his view remained blissfully oblivious to everything around them. Then he made his way to our position.

At about a quarter to 11 o’clock, I glanced to my backside down the long stretch of the pier, and as I did, I noticed a man walking toward our post. “Hey Tumath, Corporal Trushkov is coming,” I said. After I mentioned this, Tumath tightened up his gear and I stood upright to observe my sectors. We sought to give off the impression that we were so intent on constantly observing our sectors of fire that we were unaware of any approaching visitors.

I was startled to hear a knock on the door, as I successfully fooled my dilapidated mind into forgetting that someone was coming. I, being closest to the door, with my head down reached for the knob and opened it glancing only at a pair of boots and the door’s threshold to the pier. Unbeknownst to me, Captain Smith awaited us at the door. As I shifted my gaze from the floor to the waterfront, I let out a greeting. “Oorah Corporal.”

  1. The fleet is a term for the main body of the Marine Corps, which in the case of an infantryman, is a unit that rotates on and off deployments.
  2. The KGB, which has a long unpronunceable full name, when translated into English is Russia’s “Committee for State Security.” Essentially, this was Russia’s CIA/FBI. This group was dissolved in 1991, though I had no idea at the time. The modern day equivalent is FSB.
  3. This is a thermal device used to see at night.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *