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His first mission, p.1
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       His First Mission, p.1

           J.R. Martin
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His First Mission
His First Mission

  Copyright 2012 by Jason R. Martin

  Chapter 1

  Ready!!! Aim!!! Fire!!!

  The marines in the funeral detail looked resplendent in their dress uniforms. Many things had changed since the founding of the Marine Corps. The way marines carried themselves with pride and discipline had not.

  Ready!!! Aim!!! Fire!!!

  It was Sgt. John Gallagher's understanding that many individuals in the command structure of the Fleet Marine Striker Battalion (FMSB) would forgo individual funerals in favor of more expedient group funerals. Given the large number of casualties in the war, it was somehow thought to be more practical. Sgt. Gallagher thought the very idea of such a thing was ridiculous. He thought every marine should be remembered for his individual service, not lumped into a larger group for the sake of convenience.

  Ready!!! Aim!!! Fire!!!

  How would he be remembered? As a fair and capable leader? Hero? Or something else entirely. It was funny. As much time as Sgt. Gallagher spent dealing death and destruction, he rarely thought of his own mortality. He didn't know why that was; maybe being around death so much had hardened his heart and made him too callous. Maybe he was just in denial. He didn't know.

  What he did know was that the subject of today’s funeral would be a loss to the FMSB. Corporal Frederick Dahlstrom “Doc D” was loved by third squad and would be missed. His easy going, fun loving manner made him popular with everyone. During his eighteen months with third squad, he had treated every member for some sort of injury. He had pulled some marines back from the brink of death and made the passing on of others as easy as possible. It was extremely sad that after all the good he had done, to have died in an instant from a sniper’s bullet.

  The enemy had learned early in their many conflicts with the FMSB to target the squad combat medics. Once the medics were either killed or wounded, the marine force would be at their mercy. Without a medic to care for their injured and dying, they would be vulnerable to a battle of attrition. The enemy knew they could win that battle and often did.

  Doc D's body was cast into the abyss of deep space to join the countless others who had gone before him. Sgt. Gallagher would miss him and knew he would be hard to replace.

  After the funeral Sgt. Gallagher carefully placed his dress blue uniform into his locker for safe keeping. That's where it would stay until the next funeral or parade event. Fleet marines rarely wore dress uniforms otherwise. The majority of a fleet marine’s time was spent in his battle armor, weapon in hand, on the battlefield. It wasn't their way to spend their days wearing dress uniforms with shiny brass highlights. Sgt. Gallagher had never felt comfortable in a dress uniform. He thought marines belonged in their battle armor, fighting for whatever causes were deemed important by FMSB command.

  After carefully stowing away the dress uniform, he decided to go to the exercise facility for a workout. It always made him feel better and gave him time to think while he exercised.

  “John, how are you?” Sgt. Cook of second squad asked as he stopped him in the hall. Sgt. Gallagher had just finished his workout and was headed for the showers.

  “I'm alright, Tom. How are you? Long time no see,” Sgt. Gallagher replied.

  “I know, we're in the same platoon, but it seems like we're always going in opposite directions,” Sgt. Cook said.

  “Occupational hazard, Tom, you know that,” Sgt. Gallagher responded.

  The way platoons were structured now in the FMSB, the days of platoon actions were not as frequent as they had once been. Sgt. Gallagher had been a marine for a little over ten years. Things had changed drastically since he had been in the fleet. Squad actions were the norm throughout the FMSB. Marines were better trained, better armed and, with the newest body armor, extremely hard to kill. A squad could do the work of a platoon or even a company of marines if they were deployed properly.

  “I guess so, John, sorry to hear about Doc. D,” Sgt. Cook said. “He was a good Marine, well liked.”

  “Yeah, thanks ,Tom,” Sgt. Gallagher replied. “We're all going to miss him.”

  “So John, when are you guys shipping out?” Sgt. Cook asked. “I hear that there's heavy fighting on some of the nearby colony worlds.”

  “I haven't heard anything yet,” Sgt. Gallagher said. “I've been too busy with Doc's funeral to keep track of the latest rumors.”

  “Oh they're not rumors,” Sgt. Cook continued. “We'll be getting our feet wet soon. Vehicles are being prepped, supplies are being loaded; and ammunition stockpiles are bigger than I've seen in a long time.”

  “Then it sounds like we'll be getting our traveling orders soon enough,” Sgt. Gallagher responded.

  “I just wanted to tell you how sorry I was about Doc D,” Sgt. Cook said. “Keep your head down, John, wherever third squad ends up.”

  “Thanks ,Tom. It's really good to see you,” Sgt. Gallagher said. “Keep your head down too. I'll see you soon.”

  “See you, John,” Sgt. Cook said as he turned and walked down the hall.

  Sgt. Gallagher got dressed after taking a nice hot shower. A young Private First Class approached him in front of his locker.

  “Sgt. Gallagher?” he asked.

  “Yes, I'm Sgt. Gallagher. What can I do for you?”

  “Lt. Collins sent me to find you. He wants you to report to his office as soon as possible.”

  “Tell the lieutenant I'm on my way,” Sgt. Gallagher said.

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