Chasing Alpha – Chapter THREE
Hello, hi, and hoo-rah ooo-rah! Yeah I know that’s supposed to be the marines, but I take whatever I like and I make it my own. It’s just the kind of thing that I do. I see it, like it, then give it the props it deserves. Just how I roll. Gung ho full out gone, lead the way. That’s the rangers maybe but me too. It ain’t always the rangers that lead the way. So do I. Aw yeah. And with charisma. Them boys won’t forget that.
Really I don’t care to edit myself. So whatever is on my mind, it goes on the page. I am not a writer. Heck, I hate it really. But I’m just going to spit some words out and some might be sunny, some might be colder than ice, and maybe a little venom mixed in there too. I don’t care. People just have to take me as I am.
This is about honoring a comrade. I was asked to lay it all out in the black and white and so I accepted the challenge. I was given a mission, and I am prepared to execute it beyond flawless. Leave it all on the page, and get rid of the anger and rage. Something like that. Besides… If I don’t do it, someone else is going to try. And they will be far beyond fail since nobody can write it like me, since it’s me here and my P-O-V. They’d just get it wrong.
But for me, I’m always far beyond driven I guess. I know. It’s just how I am. Going hard is in my blood. And also about doing things right too. Ha ha ha. Just yanking to get a rise. That’s just my style. I like to be funning. An army may travel on their stomachs or whatever, but it’s really the funny stuff that can get a man through all of the stuff out there. Emotions can be like quicksand out there. It can be deadly but- There’s always a way to get out of quicksand. Just have to use smarts and a cool head too. In my opinion, it’s humor that ties a group together and keeps it going. Not that it’s all laughs. But when things get real bad? Sprinkle a little bit of funning. Then it breaks things up just enough to get things through. Sometimes there’s a price. But you have to see what the value is. I can go into that all day really, and heck I did a few things myself. But the heavy lifting wasn’t me. That’s for another time but I know I’ll get to it. I miss those guys.
What got me interested in the service really is… Just the fact of kicking some tail and taking some tallies. Lots of folks say I must just have it in my blood, but I just am the way I am. Far as I know, none of that is in my family tree. Lots said I must have been nurtured for it, but it’s all nature for me, all the way.
The start of it was watching cartoons I guess. And playing with war guys. G.I. Joe. All of that stuff. That’s one cartoon that I loved. Most of the kids I knew were into some of the space shows or stuff that had robots. That was not my thing. I am more of a right here and right now kind of guy. No bones about that one. I don’t even remember any of the stuff the other little rugrats would watch or try to convince me to watch when I was that age. I’d be there and polite. I like to have manners and that whole nine yards. I’d have been whupped otherwise. But I would do it anyway on my own. Don’t want to get banned or whatever the heck happened. But some were like those Japan robot shows or stuff in space. It was not my thing. Or fantasy. I live in the real world so I always liked stuff that was where I lived. Wizards or science fiction just isn’t my thing. Make it real and I’ll pay attention.
For me, G.I. Joe was where it was at. I’m not some grubby little child anymore, so it’s not like I still care about it. But I still remember it the way I do. Yo….. Joe! Heck yeah.
That was my bread and butter. Probably why I ended up enlisting. It was that cartoon that planted the seed for me. I never had a daddy who did it, or any pressure. I just made the decision. And whether my mammy or daddy or best friend, you can’t talk me out of something when I am committed. No in the H way.
People would tell me I was watching a future show, but I don’t know. They fired lasers and stuff, but that was always because of the whole bent out of shape thing about violence in cartoons though I guess. But the lasers were where it was all at. I always figured it was like when I turned eighteen, then they’d have lasers by that time. There’s this shirt I saw that was like this circle chart. And it said THE BATTLE. Then it was 25% RED LASERS. 25% BLUE LASERS. Then it was 50% KNOWING. That cracked me up. It was all because they’d have the do goodie spots at the end of every episode, maybe since they just were too lazy to have a full story or some stupid law. But they’d have this part after the commercial break where some bad kids were doing stuff. Then one of the Joe team members would catch whoever was causing the ruckus or doing some bad thing. Then the kids are convinced that Snow Job told them not to light fires in the woods or slugbug their sister, whatever it was. The only good thing about it was I’d like to figure out whoever the Joe was. Roadblock or Tripwire. Cover Girl, Rock and Roll, Mutt. Whatever. Quick Kick, Crankcase. That’s all just from whatever I had locked away in the old organic computer of mine. My own brain.
Most of all, I was just into the cartoon. I didn’t waste my time collecting all the figures or any of that. Usually I would be able to join some school battle with it, since I already knew so much. It made me a shoe-in to play. But I was mostly into the cartoon. I’d get some of the comics here and there, but that was mostly from relatives or however it goes. No complaints here. The comics taught me how to read maybe. And you never had those stupid messages to flush the toilet or wash your hands. Those comics would be off the chizzy. Dark wish a capital D. People would die in them. A bunch of them. It taught me the dark side of war, but it also reinforced me to buck up and put my head down. Hit full force and don’t abandon your bros. Joes and bros, before these and those. That’s where it’s at! I may have even had a subscription by now but I know they tried to have the Transformer robots show up and mess the whole story and tone up. No telling if it ever recovered. What’s done is done, and it was did to death in these eyes.
But as far as military or soldier school, any of that- It’s not in my family tree or DNA I guess. It’s just a choice I made since nobody else I know was in the service, not related. I guess it’s my own way to be a patriot. My sense of duty. Some vote, some are judges and some are cops or whatever to show their pride. I want to be the Joe in the camo. And that’s what I did. The biggest bummer I guess was how it wasn’t that pattern you are used to seeing. The G.I. Joes would usually wear their own thing, but it was that tried and true old style camouflage when one of them made it a part of their outfit. Guess it goes to show I made up my own mind, since I was more set on running with the pack than the freelancer way they did it in the cartoon. Maybe a lot of mercs were brought up that way come to think. But not me. But I never intended to just be a follower. I’m a born leader in my own way, but it’s all about the pack itself. Wherever I am serving my men is what I want, whether up front or alongside. That’s what morale is all about. Fight amongst the men and they always want to put themselves in front of you. That wasn’t from some crusty old book. That’s the way I think.
A lot of what got me to enlistment was that cartoon. Maybe I have a debt to pay to it or penance come to think. But a lot of my style was based off it, good and the bad. That’s another page from my book. I learn twice as much from mistakes than I do from success- But that’s the failure of others more than myself. I flip it and use the experience of others. I’m a loudmouth at heart and a good old kind of boy I suppose… But I surprise people because of being observant. They think I’m just a bumpkin or some backwoods kind of guy, but I have some education rattling around inside. Who’d’ve thunk it.
There is way more I learn or implement from seeing what doesn’t work or what I don’t like. Failure is the best teacher. And for leadership? That goes back to the Joes. Once again it’s under the book of what not to do. I have to be clear and cut to the point, even if a cartoon. Leadership in that cartoon was always flawed. Maybe it made better tv, or the people writing that show just didn’t care. This is all from my head, but it’s about as accurate as can be I guess. I still learned the lessons no matter what. It was from how I saw the lay of the land.
The first real leader I remember was Duke. In the cartoons he was the first I think. He was a decent leader but hardly memorable, and he seemed to never have much in the way of help to the rest of the Joes. And he always seemed to be switching out with Flint. It didn’t make any sense since someone who is a leader should hold onto it, embrace it. He was also having something with Scarlett- which was also something it seemed too many commanding Joes did. Not her but always taking up with one. It’s not good amongst the ranks. But from all of them, I’d take Scarlett. She had a nice outfit an stood out from the pack. She also used her own kind of weapon. It was a pistol grip style of crossbow. That was one hot firearm, even if it did still shoot lasers. But the most obvious feature on her was the hair. She was a redhead that could take on almost anyone she came across. She’d have it in a ponytail or braid kind of thing. And she would charge as hard as any of them into battle. I was never the kind of guy that told girls they were less or any of that. Just most girls wouldn’t rise to the challenge anyway so I would not encourage it. But heck, I never encouraged anyone. A person either did it or didn’t. Simple enough in my book.
There lies the problem. Duke was too easy with easing off with the yoke. Those are for oxes. Oxen. If a farmer loosens the yoke, then oxen go willy-nilly. They tear the furrow out of the land. Cutting their own groove. Unacceptable. And speaking of losing the track of the groove… Duke was also teamed up with Scarlett. That was bad news.
Often Duke was swapping out leadership with Flint. They’d back and forth with who was in charge. Then sometimes even Scarlett was in charge. No chain of command should be so lax. I come from that ‘cold dead hand’ way of life. I do it ’till I can’t. And that’s when it’s usually too late. I am not saying I’m the type to get corrupted from a taste. But I go whole full on things. Hull deep into anything I do. Do it to the best and to the hilt. Never would mess with some woman in the area due to easy access. It’s all job all the time. At least the contact would be from the outside, and nothing long enough to hamper my damper- not to get in the way with my leadership. I have priorities, and everyone around me just has to accept that.
Scarlett in charge is favoritism. If not, it can’t be seem as perfect in the eyes of the other men. They should be snap-brimming to just Duke. Or to whoever the chain of command dictated. The worse thing about it all was the chain itself. And it’s not a hundred percent but I think there was even something up between Flint and Scarlett, or maybe it was Cover Girl actually. They looked so close as it is, and Cover Girl did have a sort of thing for Duke anyway. Talk about breeding deceit. Any whose… Duke was in a coma later on. He was supposed to die, but blame that on those dang robots. A robot dies in a movie and then parents get all miffed. So then a whole different movie gets put on television instead and a big cop-out happens with a character. Duke was supposed to die, and all of that is not for the fact I disliked him as a leader. It was supposed to show the outcome of war. High prices men and women sign a cheque on when the country has a bill come past due. It’s the darker side but the truth of when a person dedicates their life to the cause. It ain’t the ultimate price for nothing. I hate those Transformer robots. Seethed up my veins. Rawr!
The other thing to be steamed about is Flint. He was second in charge. There was a mythical guy named Flagg. That or F.L.A.G.G. was this ginourmous base that was as expensive as a gold plated Big Wheel. There was a guy Duke was supposed to have taken over for. He was like the Richard Lionhearted of G.I. Joe. Some fabled guy. He was more in the comics when mentioned, not the cartoon. From all I know, Flint was probably the best of the leaders I knew. Not that he was perfect or fantastic- but of the ones I kept track of, he was at least the less worst of them all. The four.
Flint had a cool beret and did airborne stuff. That was pretty trick in my opinion. He was also a little less hardcore or rough on the other Joes- something I am more tuned to be like. For all of the letting go of control, Duke sure bore down hard on those guys. As far as life usually goes yeah, Flint was pretty good as far as looking at him on paper or a data file. There is one thing that made Flint on the outs in my book. A fatal flaw in the way of leadership.
Just like Duke, Flint had his own gal. This one was Lady Jaye. She was not given the same sort of privileges as Scarlett from Duke, which meant Flint at least could keep his female in check. At least not giving any special treatment. Far as I recall, nothing for the other Joes to get all bent up about.
The real coffin nail is… Flint ended up third in command later on. And it wasn’t even because of Scarlett being bumped higher in the food chain. It’s when Hawk rolled up on the scene and became the shot caller all the Joes snapped to it for. It was very uncool and unwise to put up with that. Duke was in the coma maybe so he couldn’t have pitched a fit over it. And it makes no difference because he seemed to like changing leaders like general issued skivvies. Heck, all anyone knows Duke could have even brought Hawk in. Seemed Duke didn’t have too much in the way of strong feelings. But Flint should have.
As a leader, nobody should be willing to step aside. Even if there’s no real option in a chain of command, a man’s got to show his sense of self worth and importance. If that’s me at the hitching post, my men are going to see I’m a molten hornet nest. Buzzing and fuzzing with fussing. Ain’t no easy in it. Too bad for the so-sadders. Just ain’t no way I’m going to roll that way. Arms crossed and feet planted.
Then comes Hawk. Hawk was making some eyes at Scarlett if anyone bets two against one. He stepped in and slides Flint to third in command. That is pretty far down the ladder. Scarlett dropped into the ocean of the unknown or something. Duke wouldn’t have been happy one bit. Duke had to be conked out especially if he did defend the honor of the gal he loved. This Hawk joker slid into something good and planted his talons down basically. Dissension amongst the troops is a very bad thing to let show its almost never reversible head. There’s a lot more to all of it, but I was a follower of the cartoon and those animated movie miniseries episodes- not the comics so much. But I know the comics made things way more what I wanted. I knew the hard side and what a soldier has to lose in order to win. I probably need to sit down more with a pen or whatever. I can write my own Art of War book. Maybe when I am too old to do it all on my own. That old Chinese book is way out of date. I read that thing but it’s more like a poetry book or trig in school. You have to pick it apart and figure out what this and that means. Just say it already! If it was my book, I should update that thing. Tell them why people fail and what succeeds. I am not general commander Dr stuffed shirt, but I survived a lot. Who better to show real combat. When that Chinese book was written, they were still riding horses and swinging samurai swords. Now there’s flamethrowers, drones, and kill bot stuff not that far in the future. True I thought we’d have lasers that shot the same color, but I prefer the feel of those rounds zooming through the barrel. Terminal velocity heat and then blam blam. Heat making heat. That is the real feeling of turning the tide. Whap whack cack. K to the pow.
What Hawk did right was keep his eyes on the pries and nose to the grindstone. He wasn’t taking up with any of the Joes or Janes, and whatever personal life he had was kept away from the soldiers. He kept up morale so it seemed, and was a good leader. He held tight to his grip on the team. The biggest issue over here on my end is Hawk just sliding on in. Did not seem right. All I know is what I can see with the peepers I have. No matter the case, what I see is what I learn. And sometimes I apply it the same or I flip the script up and reverse it. Or my own little spin. To be a leader is to lead. Set the example and tone. And to ask no more from men than the leader is willing. Sacrifice for the squad, taking one for the team. Die a hero or live a coward.