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A combat-tested Marine experiences a life-changing event amidst the chaos of battle in Iraq. Based partially on real life experiences and fully on the healing that the Word of God can provide. Romance, action, spirituality and Faith work hand in hand to assist Gunnery Sgt. Walter Mack complete his most important mission.
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The Story of Walter and Vanessa © 2006 Tyrone V. Banks “Come on boys! Do you want to live forever?”
The deafening sound of explosions and gunfire filled the air as the elite team of Marines traveled through Iraq after days of heavy bombing and artillery fire. These sounds were of no concern to the Gunnery Sergeant leading his team towards their objective. In the orchestra of combat, he was a conductor. He dominated the battlefield with his own weapon and the weapons of others that he directed to the appropriate targets.
Gunnery Sergeant Walter Mack considered himself to be a Marine’s Marine. Fearless, tireless and a walking library of military tactics and procedures – his platoon was the first to arrive in Iraq to liberate the people and probably the last to leave. He had an outstanding service record and was the recipient of enough pins and medals to cover two uniforms or more.
Many of the Marines that he took under his wings were sickened by the bloodshed and carnage that they were involved in on a daily basis, but “Gunny Mack” as he was called, considered it “all in a day’s work.” He had a “sixth sense” for detecting attacks from all directions. At times, when things were quiet, he would fire a random shot in any direction. This discharge of his weapon would oftentimes be followed by an enemy soldier tumbling out of or down from the burnt out village ravaged by the combat.
He was skilled in improvising plans that the lieutenants assigned to lead his platoon did not learn in OCS. The officers trusted him and his Marines revered him. He was a tenacious fighter and a very careful one. He would never lead his Marines into an ambush that his men weren’t prepared to defend themselves against. The U.S. Forces dominated the battlefield and Gunny Mack was certain that this would be an in and out operation.
After an unknown amount of days and nights of fighting and sometimes even resting, they reached Baghdad. They entered a large palace under tight security. This palace was the former home of the President of Iraq who was currently on the run after speaking fierce words to the United States War Machine. A soldier reclined behind the ruins of a desk damaged by looting as the conflict unfolded with his weapon on this lap and his hat pulled over his eyes. Once the men stood before his “desk”, he recognized their leader and saluted him.
“Mack, party of forty-two!”
“Gunny Mack! We’ve been expecting you!”
Gunny returned the salute.
“Good morning Captain!”
“We hit a little traffic jam and were delayed! Is our room ready?”
“Take your pick! We’ve got hot chow, coffee, showers – and if you hurry, there might even be a movie starting! We have you guys over in the eastern wing!”
“Sounds good! Alright men, fall out!”
The men removed their helmets and wiped the sweat off of their foreheads and headed towards their room.
“Oh, and Gunny…the mail’s been held up for a while but you have one letter!”
The captain handed Walter the letter that he promptly folded and placed into his pocket.
“Thank you sir!” He saluted and departed.
The exhausted platoon did their best to relax in their temporary “safe haven” as the Corpsman examined an assortment of small wounds and lacerations sustained by the men during their last operation. A few men smoked cigarettes while others wrote letters or drank from their canteens.
Lieutenant Melvin Wolf entered the room drinking from his large canteen cup.
“Man, this is the nastiest homemade beer I’ve ever tasted! Remind me to get some more later! Corpsman, what’s up?”
“Sir, just minor injuries – nothing big!”
“Excellent! Where’s Gunny?”
“Sir, He was at the desk checking in about one hour ago. He hasn’t arrived yet sir.”
“Very well Corporal!”
Another marine spoke up; “Sir, may we ask you a question sir?”
“About what marine?”
“About Gunny Mack, sir!”
“Go ahead? And please, drop the formality for now, just speak freely! Lord knows you guys deserve that at least!”
“Yes Sir, we were wondering about him. What’s his story?”
“Story, what do you mean?”
“Where does he come from and why is he probably the best dark green marine walking the face of this earth?”
“I take it that you’re smitten with him Private?”
“I just like his style!”
“Understood! Well let’s see!”
Lieutenant Wolf sat on a bunk and removed some of his gear.
“Well, I met Gunny while in OCS. At first I wasn’t too fond of him but he has a habit of growing on you!”
“I remember the day I met him as if it was yesterday! I had just arrived in Quantico after a long ride from the airport. All of the Officer Candidates were quiet and nervous and no one knew what to expect. Well, we arrived on base and the bus pulled to a stop. A lot of us looked around and examined our surroundings but were afraid to move.”
“The bus driver slammed the door open and stood, yelling at the top of his lungs; ‘Move! Get off of my bus now!’ just as a group of Platoon Sergeants ran to the bus yelling and screaming and creating a scene of pure chaos and panic. Yelling things like, ‘pick up that bag! Put it down! Move it! Stand still! Stop! Go!’ Man, I almost crapped myself and I didn’t know if I was coming or going.”
“In the middle of the whole scene we somehow ended up in a squad bay in front of our bunks. The next thing you know we were at the barber shop getting our hair shaved off and then we were sent into a room where we’re signing papers and got our company and platoon assignments. Man, I was so scared and confused that they had my name down as Alvin Smith instead of Melvin Wolf, but I was too scared to correct them!”
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