The Legacy Ch. 01bykingkey©
I would like to thank Lazlo Zalezac for allowing me to post in his Damsels in Distress universe.
Here I am, lying in a hospital bed thinking for about the hundredth time: 'just what the hell am I going to do now?'
Maybe I should introduce myself, and give you a little background. My name is staff Sergeant Jacob Thompson USMC. I will soon be medically retired after twenty-three years of service as an expert in special weapons, in the Second Recon Platoon, First Marines. We were on one of those 'super hush-hush' missions that no one is allowed to speak of, when we came under heavy fire. Of the eight of us in my squad, only two of us made it out. I've been here in Bethesda Naval Hospital for the last four months.
I was hit three times. Two of them were minor, but the third took a chunk out of my right leg and nicked an artery. They said that even though I had nearly bled to death, they had been able to save the leg. However, due to the extensive muscle damage, I would have to be discharged.
What had me worried, was that I had been in the service since I was seventeen years old, right out of high school. The service was all I knew.
In my last year of high school, I had gotten in some trouble with the law. There had been a fight. I knocked the other man down, resulting in him hitting his head on the curb, and splitting open his skull. That put him into a coma. Although the man lived, they said he suffered brain damage.
The judge ruled that since the man was older, and the evidence said that he started the fight, that I was not responsible for his coma. However, since I had been drinking, and since I had been trained as a fighter, I had the choice of either joining the military for four years, or serving that much time in jail.
My father was a Marine Close Combat Instructor. He had been training me, since I had lost my first fight, in the first grade. He didn't teach combat skills as a sport. He taught how to win.
He had often said that was what he admired most about Bruce Lee. On screen Bruce did the impossible. Off screen, in Martial Arts tournaments all over the "Pacific Rim", he fought to WIN!
The judge gave me the choice of either joining the military for four years, or serving that much time in jail. To me, it was a NO BRAINER. I was sick of school, and only two weeks until graduation, anyway. My father signed the papers, and I was allowed me to join the Marines just three days after graduation.
I wanted to go right away. Dad told that without my diploma, all I could ever get were shit jobs, even in the Marines. So I stuck it out for the last two weeks, and graduated in the top twenty percent of my class.
My next stop was Parris Island S.C., for basic training. I found that I liked it. As for the other recruits, it seemed as though all they did was bitch about how unfair the Drill Instructors were.
I felt right at home. My mother was killed in a traffic accident when I was seven. I was raised by my dad, whenever he was stationed stateside. Dad's brother (also a Marine) and my Aunt Helen took care of me when Dad was overseas. I guess it was inevitable that I would also become a marine.
On the day we had our first Close Combat Class, the Drill Instructor asked if anyone had any prior training in self-defense. No one answered. I knew, at a very young age, the old adage about never volunteering for anything. I figured he was just looking for a practice dummy. I never thought he would know about the trouble I'd had. Those records were supposed to be sealed, as I had been a minor.
After a couple of moments he said, "Private Thompson, I know that you have had training, and that your training is one of the reasons you are here."
I just stared at him for a second and then said, "Sir! This private has never had any formal instruction in any fighting skills. Sir!"
"My source tells me that you were in a fight, and that the other man was badly injured, and that you had special training that made you a deadly weapon. Now are you trying to tell me my source is lying?"
"Sir! No, Sir! This Private has not had any 'Formal Training.' I was in the fight you mentioned, and the judge sentenced me to either join the service or go to jail ... that much is true. But the only training I've had was informal training, at home. Sir!"
"And who gave you this 'informal training' as you call it, Private?
"Sir! This private was trained by his father, Marine Master Sergeant Jack Thompson; and by his Uncle, Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Thompson. Sir!"
"Your Uncle was one of my Drill Instructors. I meet your father on a few occasions. When you write home. Please express my best wishes to them, and to their families. However, even though I know them, don't expect me to cut any slack with you. In fact, since I now know your background, I'll expect more from you. Plus, if they trained you, I think we can consider it 'formal training.' It's just not one of those pansy-ass fighting styles," he said. The look on his face was like he'd just tasted something really bad. "Since you've had training in what we are here to do today, I'm sure you won't mind helping me demonstrate to the rest."
"Sir! Yes, Sir! How fast do you want to do this demonstration, and how much do you want me to hold back?"
The Instructor said with a smile, "I have been training for many years so go for your full speed. NO kill or permanently disabling blows. This is a demonstration after all, and not actual combat. I'll do the same. In addition, since this is a demonstration, there will be no repercussions. I know how most of you would like to take a swing at a DI."
Thinking that I was probably faster, but he was more experienced, I knew I would more than likely have my ass handed to me. I decided to try to surprise him by doing what was unexpected. When he went for a chokehold, I dropped to the deck and swept his legs. Then I threw an elbow toward his throat, stopping just before contact was made, and holding my position.
As soon as we got back to our feet, he said, "I can see you've been very well trained. There is not much I can teach you about Close Combat that you have not all ready been taught. However, I think you may make an excellent teaching aid ... but don't feel that you will have an easier time of it. You can count on getting a few bruises, and I see, that I will, also. Normally, we have another DI assist. But with you here, that won't be necessary."
Upon hearing this, I silently groaned.
And so it went. As I said, I just breezed through basic. I soon became a squad leader, due to the training I'd had while growing up.
A week before graduation, I was called into the senior Drill Instructor's Office. I found both of my Drill Instructors there, plus Lt. Davis, our Company Commander.
I came to attention, and said, "Sir! Private Thompson reporting as ordered. Sir!"
Lt. Davis said. "Stand easy, Private. It has come to my attention that you have led in all phases of your training, here, and that you will graduate as the Platoon Honor's man, and will be promoted to Lance Corporal upon graduation.
"I have an offer for you to go to Recon School. It's not normally offered to people until after their first tour of duty; however, with your background and recent excellent performance reviews, an exception is being made.
"Recon is purely voluntary, and should you refuse, there will be no repercussions. By graduating in the top ten percent of your class, you will be promoted to be corporal, but don't think that things will be easy. The Raiders take only the best.
"If you fail to make the cut, or decide that it isn't the right choice for you, you will be sent to another field of training. There will be no fault held against you."
After looking and seeing the divers helmet and jump wings on his dress blouse, I noticed for the first time that he was a Ranger.
I said, "Sir! Both this private's father and uncle were trained as Recon! This private wants to be a Raider, too, Sir!"
"Yes, I know. I served with both men. If you turn out to be half the Marine either of them are, you will do fine. That is one the reasons you are getting this chance. But, don't forget, you will only have one chance. If, for some reason, you quit or wash out, that's it. The rule is: no stigma is attached to you. There are some that it's just not the right choice. However, this is a one-time offer, only. There is no second chance."
"Sir! Yes, Sir! I understand that, Sir!"
"I thought you would. Will your father and uncle be here for graduation, next week?"
Since he was speaking to me about personal matters I spoke in the less formal way than that which we were taught.
"Sir, my Uncle will be here ... but my Father was KIA, three weeks ago, Sir."
Looking startled at this, the Lieutenant turned to the others and barked, "Why wasn't I told about this? I could have arranged the emergency leave for this young marine?"
Sgt. Wells said, "We didn't know, Sir."
Looking puzzled, the Lieutenant turned back to me.
"Sir, my Uncle wrote to me and informed me that my father was killed in combat, in Iraq. The funeral was last week. I did not inform the drill instructors, because it was personal. I knew that my father would have wanted me to carry on. He knew that I had a job to do, and would have wanted me to do it to the best of my ability. My uncle understands, and I believe my dad would have understood, too, Sir."
Uncharacteristically, Lieutenant Davis stood and saluted me, then said, "It's good talking to you, Private. I hope to serve with you, as I have served with others in your family."
Over the next week, most of the training wound down. It was now mostly Physical Training, final fittings of our dress uniforms, plus having all stripes sewn on. I had graduated as Platoon Honor Man and was promoted to Lance Corporal. I received my chevron with crossed rifles. As I was standing with my Uncle and Aunt after the graduation ceremony, Lt. Davis approached my Uncle and offered his condolences on my father's death.
My Uncle simply said, "He was a Marine."
That seemed to say it all.
Lieutenant Davis stayed talking with my Uncle Joe and Aunt Helen, while I joined the rest of my platoon, going back to the barracks. I had to pick up my orders, and all my gear that I had packed earlier that morning.
After being released, most of the other Marines had thirty days of leave before their schools started. Unfortunately, my school started in just ten days, so by the time we would get home, I only had a day or two before I had to leave for my next training at Camp Pendleton in California.
Six months later, I met with my uncle for another graduation. This one was from Marine force recon school. I wasn't the top of my class. However, I was in the top 5%, so I was a newly minted corporal when I meet my uncle.
That was twenty-three years, three wars, and more 'hush-hush' missions ago than I care to count. Now it was all over. I was going to lose the only life I really knew.
My family was mostly gone. Uncle Joe and Aunt Helen had retired to Florida to live out their golden years together. I knew I would go there and visit, often, but that part of my life was also over.
I didn't know what I would do with my life.
I felt lost.
The ward orderly came up and said I had a visitor. He said the man was a lawyer, who had things to discuss with me.
Edited By TeNderLoin & The Old Fart