I graduated from high school in 2000 and floated around a bit. My school was Columbine High School’s rival and I was a junior in 1999 when the shootings happened. We all seemed to float around after that, some of us having personal connections to the event, some not, but all being affected by it.
Come late 2003 I made the decision to join the Marine Corps. A good friend had joined in 2000 and was deployed to the invasion. I thought the war was over, but a large insurgency started up late 2003, and I knew I could have a piece of history.
I shipped to boot camp in April 2004, 9 days before my 21st birthday. I was sent to Camp Pendleton’s Infantry Training Battalion and then assigned to 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines Fox Company, based at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Oh yeah.
Which turned out to be a pretty terrible place to train for a counterinsurgency in the desert. We were pretty damn good at hiking through the jungle, fastroping from Super Stallions, and running radio hill.
I deployed to Kunar Province, Afghanistan in June 2005. It was hotter than I was prepared for. The mountains were steeper than we had been prepared for. Some of the trucks didn’t even have armor. And there were only 1,000 Marines in the entire country. This was a few months after the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq. We felt sidelined. Still, we would soon discover that the Taliban and Al Qaeda forces were also more proficient at engaging us in conventional warfare: coordinated mortar fires, plunging machine guns, and RPG gunners “talking guns.” This is chronicled in Ed Darack’s Victory Point. It’s a very thorough book that will certainly get you up to speed of Afghanistan’s history, and then take you on a whirlwind ride that I remember quite well.
I returned to Hawaii, became a squad leader, and deployed to Iraq in September of 2006. There we encountered a different kind of warfare. The close-in, extremely violent, level playing field of counterinsurgency. Across the river from us, Haditha had been the scene of violence that changed the rules of engagement. We couldn’t call for fire support in the city. It was rifles, hand grenades, and rockets. The insurgents were just as well armed—but they had had the upper hand of fighting for 3 years at that point. I kept a journal that is now the basis for my book.
I left the Marine Corps in 2008, and headed back to school for a creative writing degree. I figured I should learn to write in order to add to the discussion our society has about war, morality, and human nature. That’s why the book is taking so long.
I also started my own business and have several projects coming soon that I am excited to feature.