I have gone through half a large bag of sunflower seeds and I still have more than twenty hours left in this field operation. Handful after handfuls of sunflower seeds disappear into my mouth as I sit, bored, while manning the radio. The radio emitted short bursts of message traffic between the COC and the road guards, barely audible from the mechanical growl of the military trucks and the sound of fighter planes flying overhead.
All around me are sleeping marines, exhausted less from actual toil and more from the oppressive heat and, not the norm in this desert clime we grudgingly acclimated to, humidity. The weather has been comparatively gentle and training will be mercifully short. Only forty-eight hours stands between me and civilization, and I am already past its halfway mark. A hot shower and my soft pillow awaits me back in garrison.
At the moment, however, we are discussing Preston’s bounty of children and lack of rank. He is not sure he should be proud that he is the only non-staff non-commissioned officer who has more than one child. The merits of various contraceptives were discussed and the consensus was that the onus was on the female to prevent pregnancy. Her choice, after all. Though, as the usual with marines, talk inevitable turned to food.
“Anyone tried those mini-sirloin burgers from Jack-in-the-Box?”
And so on. There is the obligatory “Which is better? In-and-Out or Sonic?” debate and then, in a change of topic, the much-trodden “Which Hollywood babe is hotter?” Jessica Alba is consistently the winner.
→ View photographs from this training evolution.
The ample cloud cover was a welcome respite from the sun’s heat. What might have otherwise been a miserable day is now tolerable. And as of eventful. There was a bit of excitement earlier when Travis discovered a species of sun spider making itself at home within Martin’s flak jacket. The marines took turns taking photographs of the invader, sharing with each other their collective arachnophobia.
“Fuck this shit. I ain’t sleeping on the ground anymore!” Ernest promises.