I am writing to you from the battlefield known to us only as “The Hollow.” It’s hard to believe that it has been one year since my deployment—one year since I held you in my arms. I must tell you, my love, these twelve months have been among the most challenging of my life. I have scaled mountains with a heavy backpack, crawled through fields like a bear, carried cinder blocks as if to build a mighty tower and pushed my body to do things I never thought possible. As I look back over my time in this war, I can’t help but think about some of those we’ve lost along the way. I recall, Tan Lines. I knew him years before, in what now seems like a previously life. Sadly, he only made it through one battle before he was gone from us forever. But, my dear, I don’t want you to think it’s been all bad. During my time, these men I’ve come to know have become brothers to me—ones that I know I can count on to be by my side no matter what the enemy may send our way.
Martha, this very morning, in the gloom, I was tasked to lead my faithful brothers in arms. It was cold, I tell you— ###redacted### cold—the kind of cold that makes the pink flesh of your #####redacted###### stand up at attention. Thankfully, though, the fog from the previous battle had finally lifted, and the stars twinkled in the cool morning sky. I was proudly accompanied by All 9’s, Hoist, Slum Lord, Iron Mary, Wild Hog, Cramps, Scotch, Meatball, Fuzzy Navel and a new guy, Kyle, we now call, “Barista.” As many of my fellow soldiers will be embarking on a 60-mile convoy in mere days, I knew that a Valentines Day Massacre wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture. Thus, rather than engaging in full-out warfare, we went out on a light training mission.
The morning began with our usual disclaimer (“Do what you can. We want everybody to come back alive. If you don’t, it’s not my fault.”) Then we prayed to the Good Lord Above for safety throughout this mission. From there we formed a circle and began with our morning routine—Side Straddle Hops, Little Baby Arm Circles (both directions), and Through the Tunnel. After getting fully engaged, we made our way to the block pile to procure our tools for the day. We gathered back together and I was able to utilize the little candy hearts you sent me in your last care package. Rather than randomly going about our day, we assigned our duties based on the color of the heart that was eaten—White for LBC’s, Yellow for Curls for the Girls, Pink for Gas Pumps, Purple for Carolina Dry docks and Green for Merkins. Based on the candy, we would do 15 of each task. In the meantime, we would pass the cinder blocks around in a circle as if in a fire brigade. One time we attempted to pass the blocks over our heads to the person behind us, but when Iron Mary almost caught a block to the face, we decided it was best to take another route. In the end, dear one, we completed our mission and were better for doing so. I can’t say it was without struggle, but we did learn a few things along the way.
Upon returning to base, we debriefed to announce a few things like: Dam2Dam this weekend, the P200 the convergence scheduled for March 2nd, and of course, the ill forgotten 2019 Christmas party. We then congratulated our newest FNG Barista. He’s a likable chap, and I hope he decides to stick with this merry band of misfits. In closing, my love, I ask you to pray for Juice and his family as his father-in-law continues to struggle and his mother is also in poor health, for Grave Digger’s mother and the injury he sustained to his foot during an unfortunate hop-scotch accident, also for Muggy Tape, Argyle and Kenwood, and the rest of the soldiers who will be at Brag this weekend along with those making the trek from dam to dam. Also, Martha, pray for marriages, like our own. For you know, I love you my dear, and I long to once again hold you in my arms and ###########redacted##########.