June 6, 1995
This is crazy. Belkan war rages on, consumes the world, yadda yadda yadda. Today, I'm sitting there, watching OBC, in the rec room. The captain pretty much yanks the remote out of my hand. I was watching that, but he's my CO, not going to whine about it. He switches to some news channel, then goes back to OBC. There the anchorwoman is. I remember the words exactly. "The plan calls for 3.3 billion Zollars to be...what?......Oh, I have just recieved word from my producer. The...Belkans have...detonated seven nuclear weapons along their southern border, killing 40,000 in the process. They did so to close the border off from invasion. More to-ah, a video is being streamed live from a town 20MI away from a nuclear explosion. More to this story as it develops." Great. My orders are to set foot on a River Patrol Boat to go over there in 5 days--5 DAYS!--and then they do this. Man I'm going to die. Radiation poisoning, stuff like that.
June 9, 1995
Wish I could write every day, hope I live for that. Been packing for a few days, they're shipping the guys out over THERE. We'll all either get radiation poisoning, get shot or get bombed to death. Yeah, no reason to worry. I've said goodbye to my parents, my wife, and Clem. Did I forget anyone else? Hope not.
Valais AFB, Ustio
Here for an hour. Already I can tell this war will stink. Probably not going to have time to write everyday. The C-130 (At least that's what Comb says) shook for most of the way here, rivets shaking and then pilot says prepare for landing, that stuff. The plane just freakin' nosedives from there, straight down to the runway. We land. Snow. In June. This place is miserable. I managed to see some gnarly fighter jets. One guy, (Comb says he's an F-16), took off. Then an F-15 (Comb again) took off. Everyone was clapping and cheering when he went up. Whatever. Now they give me coffee and say the next plane comes in 4-5. Great. Almost lose my lunch, been traveling for forever, and I get to sit on a bench for five minutes, shivering. Now I doubt why I joined the Navy. I don't have friends here, except Comb. His name's Cooper, but he had lice or something, so he borrowed my comb. Well, no one's given me a name yet, so I'm good. Heck, I don't even know who's on the same boat as-
June 15, 1995
Haven't written for so long. Well, they put us in Belka. Put us on a riverboat. On the river. It's so hot here, the pencil feels like it'll melt. Sorry, the boat is called Sweet Sunshine. I'm a supplyman/turret gunner. And I finally got to know all of the guys. There's the captain, his three commanders Rangel, Merriwether, and Schiff. RTO, Navigator, and Engineer certainly not in that order. Then- there's the little people. The five of us. Me, Comb, Speedy (Naval track runner), Little Tim (linked to an accident in a mess hall that made him look like a kid), and Sushi (also another mess accident). We have dual roles, like one of us is a cook, or a mechanic, or an assistant, so on. It's so humid here, and it's June, too (better than snow). We're heading North to a Yelnats mine (was it? Got to pay more attention.) to clean up after an air squadron's work. After that, we move to a checkpoint to get new tasking orders.
June 16, 1995
So hot. Oh man. Must be like radiation. (Got to stop thinking about these nukes.) We started today with a level two alert, meaning that there must be one person at every station. I had to sit at my turret for fifteen minutes. It slacked off, and we were at a level one alert, meaning that I got to play cards. I suck at most of the card games here, save for hearts. I'm beast at hearts. Captain said we were passing into the Yering Mine area, so we were on level three (EVERY gun must be manned.) I'm still sitting here, still writing. I am BORED. Man oh man. Tried talking to Sushi (sitting next to me in the machine gun turret) and still got bored. The launcher in front of me bores me too. I've only fired a launcher like this once. It was training. The gun -er, launcher is LOUD. It sounds like a plane crashes in front of me everytime I fire it. The ammunition is about 15-20 lbs and has an impact radius of about a house. But I have to do MATH before I fire it. Distance to target, elevation of target, elevation of launcher, angle of flight, environment, so on. Would help if the Navy said "Go to Belka--do math." We've downgraded to a level two. Level 1 will come soon, so I'll stop writing and get my cards out.
June 19, 1995
It's not like there have been any skirmishes or anything to keep me from writing. It has been boring, with nothing new to report. Once in a while, planes'll fly overhead, but they always leave. The captain and his officers have slacked up on us little people, they're treating us as equals. What else...hmhmhm......well, I've taken all the ammunition out of the launcher. Don't need it. Looked back at my other entries. I decided I need a description of the boat, just to keep readers interested (like anyone'll read this). The boat is called the Sweet Sunshine (in case you haven't heard.) It is thirty feet wide, one hundred feet long. There's the bow. Twenty feet from that (yes, I do measure due to boredom) there's the front (or bow) turret. There's a launcher like mine on the right and an M1919 on the right. Then comes the inside (bridge) that takes up most of the deck space. There's a helm, a comms area, a mechanic area, and a map area in there, and there are stairs that lead to the quarters underneath. On top of the bridge is the top turret. Same layout. On both sides of the-
June 20, 1995
Yesterday there was a small barge that came towards us, so we had to get on and inspect it. None of us speaks Belkan save for the captain (he sounded like he had to take a class for that). I just sat ready at my turret, but this is the first excitement we've had in forever. What was I going to write? Was going to say something...oh. So, on both sides of the bridge (yes, description continued) are the napalm turrets (awesome, yet scary). Finally, there's the stern turret that points the opposite direction. And today, we got new tasking orders. I thought there was a big port up here with command, but it's a small collection of barracks. Sushi asked where we would tie our boat. Haha. "It is a SHIP! Run it aground to keep it from floating away, and later, we'll literally SHOVE off." Two days from now, we're joining, not like a fleet, but more of a small collection of riverboats like ours. One's from Osea and the other's from Sapin. Uha, here comes an alert.
June 21, 1995
It's so hot here...
June 22, 1995
Still too hot. (Radioactive...no! Must resist!) We met up with the others and are now preparing to push into a place called Anfang. They signed a peace treaty, two days ago! We're all going home soon. We have to take out about three strongholds left that just won't stop fighting. Our fleet (yes, that's what I'll call it) is responsible for the protection of a ground unit that is responsible for destroying one of these strongholds. I hear that's in a week or two.
June 25, 1995
Today was the first time I used my weapon in war. Now I can call myself a veteran. We were on level two alert, and the two other boats were further north than us (we were bringing up the rear). All of a sudden, a line of Belkans on the shore open up on us. I fired two (considerably large) rounds at the line. Then the napalm came. I think the Belkans left by then, because all I could see were burning trees. That napalm stuff burned maybe thirty yards away, but the smell was really acrid, even from here. My face got a bit warm, too. Better not mess with that stuff.
June 26, 1995
I'm getting used to the heat here. I don't think the other guys are, though. Every day, Sushi and Comb go through their whole canteen before noon. I hope they suffer. The jerks cheated me out of a pack of beans that I bet in hearts. I haven't written much about the other guys, I noticed. Maybe it's because when my parents gave me this journal (so don't call it a diary), it was for my PERSONAL thoughts. So what am I thinking about? I'm thinking about how I've been on this tub so long, I'll never set foot on terra firma again. I'm thinking about how I've not recieved letters (maybe they're at the ports). Also, maybe I won't live long enough to tell stories (that's all I joined the Navy for). The other guys, they don't care. And I'm thinking...I'm dreaming...of..a white christmas (just kidding, I cannot possibly imagine Christmas to be celebrated in such a hot place). Officer (since I don't bother with ranks) Schiff says that his grandmother took a vacation here in December 1945 and there was so much snow, she almost lost her son in it.
June 30, 1995
Ok, so it's in two weeks. Doesn't mean that I'm bored out of my mind. When I'm not managing my very small gambling hall (I won peanut butter and a clean loofah, by the way,) I'm fishing. I never much enjoyed it until Li'l Tim introed me to it. These rivers are alive. Makes me feel guilty that we're over here to kill. Tim says that when we're all happy (give it a month or two,) he'll go home. In 2010, when the fish have come back, he'll come back here with his kids. He showed me pictures, and his daughter is three months old. I was planning to tell him that maybe he should not plan so far ahead, but I kept it to my thoughts (since this is where I record them, right?). Then Comb leaned over and almost shoved him into the water. The idea's actually not that bad...
July 1, 1995
I'm writing a lot more than I ever used to. All of my English classes are coming back. I was up last night thinking about this journal, and so I'm writing in paragraphs (to begin a good habit for the new...month). The idea was so stupidly obvious, I started laughing in my bunk, resulting in punishment from officer Rangel's palm.
Started with a level three alert, just to keep the nine of us on our toes. That means doom on the sixth. I've not paid too much attention to it, but the thought is there. Are all of us going to live or die? Which ones? Would it be over quick? Would it hurt? And the 60,000 jackpot question. How about me? I asked Comb. His response? "Man, thanks for ruining my life. Before you came over, I was reading the WAF magazine, and I was HAPPY."
We've also visited ports! Two of them! I can remember the first port. As soon as we docked, Sushi, Comb, and I (haha, grammar in a war) got on our knees and hugged the ground. Tim and Speedy (second apperance in this journal! I'm actually really good friends with him.) took a moment to realize what we were doing, then laughed. We got to a center for 15-min paperwork. Then, we checked our mail. I got so many letters. From my parents, asking if I was ok or if I needed anything. From my wife, the "I love you" and "please be safe, I miss you" trip. From Clem. My my my. He said, "If you die, videotape it." He said he was joking, but with my tension? The jerk. Better tell him to shut up, I am a trained soldier, strongly-worded letter. I got some more paper, pens, soup cans, such.
Level two, wish me luck.
July 4, 1995
D-Day, T-minus 2 days.
The little people are nervous. The further-ups are nervous, but don't show it. Cap, he-he's scared, but does a really good job of hiding it. He was breathing real hard last night, tossing and turning. In the morning? Morning is hot, and he couldn't be anymore sarcastic. Then again, we're all sarcastic at this point.
Timmy and Comb say that the Belkan treaty is signed and that when we attack them, we'll actually be starting a new war with them. I say, "No, we're cleaning up." Argument, 45 mins. Officer Rangel breaks us up, says either way he have jobs to do. I think the man would make a good friend if he wasn't one of my CO's. The whole group (the five little people) were just all talking on the stern today about life back home. I mean, we always do, but I'm actually publishing it. We miss home. A lot. Just to be back in the square at Colton, that just makes me wanna cry (but I'm a sailor. Haha.). Anyway, I found out that Speedy and Sushi are Coltoners, too! We talked for an hour and a half. Then, Comb showed us his newspapers that his mom mailed him. Finally, something to read. We've had magazines on board, but these are papers, and they are fuh-RESH. (The mags were published about mid-March.)
After this, we're all going to the Captain's house, and we are gonna PARTY.
July 6, 1995
It's happening this evening. Pray for luck to the crew of the WMV Sweet Sunshine, may we all find fourtune, glory, and honor in battle.
July 12, 1995
I finally found a mood to write today, and that motivation came from a 32 second PAINFUL talk with Captain Schmidt. Sigh.
We started on a level two, then we downgraded at noon. I didn't feel like talking. I just made an entry and wrote my family. Then I wrote Clem. I've always joked with him, but I wrote a serious, sincere letter this time. I didn't write my wife, since...she'll worry more than I will.
As soon as the sun set, we all went on level three. I remember it so well...it took me a whole week to process this. The Captain was at the helm (as normal). Me and Sushi were on the top turret, Tim and Officer Merriwether on the Napalms, Comb and Officer Rangel in the bow turret, and Speedy and Officer Schiff in the stern turret. Schiff was also on the radio, talking about what was going on over there. After ten minutes, Schiff told us that the place was already being attacked by an Osean batallion. They were largely outnumbered, and the thing truned into an ambush against the Oseans. There were three other river patrol boats...
July 14, 1995
Just lost the strength to write, maybe I'll try again.
There were helicopters and planes haunting the battle zone. I saw a couple fly overhead. Cap yelled, "Action, 3 mins! Starbord side!" That meant that the enemy was on the right bank of the river, so we turned our guns to the right. Officer Merriwether was obviously incapable to point right (since he would have to fire into the bridge), so he picked up an RPG we had and took up a position next to Rangel.
We got there. There was a continuous pinging on the hull, and the noise was unbearable. Right away we started shooting. I destroyed a road between the area of attack and a munitions bunker. I also squeezed off a mortar at a machine gun nest atop a hill. Tim had already started firing his napalm, but I didn't care. The bullets were raining all over us, like the Belkans were tired with the other targets and had found a new target to shoot. Under fire, felt like I should duck. But I didn't. There was a magnetism about firing my weapon that doing anything else would seem unreal. There was machine gun noise, mortar noise, rocket noise, and napalm smell. Cap ran out of the bridge, got an assault rifle, and opened up. The three other boats we heard about had now become two (it wasn't sunk, there was no wreckage in the water.) Planes were dropping missiles on to the place. Helicopters strafed it. Schiff was shouting into the radio like crazy. A riverboat there had already gone North to secure an evac LZ. The Oseans had only lost about ten, but it seemed like it was a whole lot more. I shot a round into a clearing, and it turns out that the place was a dig-in (trench.) I reloaded, and shot at an assault vehicle they were using. A second helicopter landed, with reinforcements. After about ten minutes, it got quiet. I was sweating, bleeding, breathing, had the pulse of an overworked jackrabbit. I was still alive. Schiff and Speedy...weren't so lucky. They were both sniped, but the sniper probably was only able to get to them. Cap said that we ALL did a good job, and that they were finer than any of us could hope to be.
Lieutenant Commander Robert Schiff and Midshipman Daniel Neder were better than everyone else on the Sweet Sunshine.
July 16, 1995
There's only one more position. Someone else is taking care of that. Us? WE'RE GOING HOME. I've HAD it with Belka!
July 23, 1995
I left the Sweet Sunshine this morning. We were at a port (I won't try with Belkan pronounciation) that was safe. So I got mail, food, and a shower. Then we got on a C-130 and headed for Valais. Then from Valais, back to Tucson. Hero's welcome. Best part. We all went our seperate ways save for Sushi and me. We got on a small plane back to Colton. Sushi met his family, and I met my wife and parents! So happy. They said there was a dinner waiting for me at home. So I went home. It was lasagna with a side of mashed potatoes. I don't care. That's the best meal I've had in months. Threat of nukes are gone, and I can eat and sleep well, knowing that I, along with ALL of my shipmates, have made my country safe and free.