Late last night, laying there with my hed on my enormous pillow and totally unable to sleep, I did what any guy would do: got up and clicked on the TV.
Not wanting to flip endlessly from channel to channel, I went straight for the video on-demand to check out a show I’ve been wanting to watch, but consistently missing: HBO’s Generation Kill.
If you’re unfamiliar with GK, here’s the background: Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Rolling Stone writer Evan Wright embedded with a platoon from Bravo Company, 1st Recon Battalion, 1st Marine Division (oo-rah). The first part of a three-part article he wrote for RS, “The Killer Elite,” eventually morphed into the episode I watched early this morning: “Get Some.”
Now I don’t know how accurately Wright portrayed the invasion or the incidents and firefights he experienced along the way to Baghdad, but I’ll tell you one thing he got right: He absolutely, positively, 100 percent nailed the Marines he was with. He may not have gotten them individually correct; in fact, some of them later took issue – they physically threatened him after the articles were published – with how they were depicted. I think this is the best indicator Wright got it right. His subjects looked in the mirror and didn’t like what they saw.
But the overall picture of life as a Marine getting ready to go to war? Right. The fuck. On. It was fun to watch, and a whole hell of a lot better than Jarhead (Swoff's a good writer, but me thinks he's full of it).
I found myself smiling (and laughing) at the Marines' behavior and comments, things most people would probably cringe at seeing or hearing. Why is this you ask? Because I remember doing, saying, hearing and seeing similar things in January of ‘91 when my unit, the 2nd Marine Division, was getting ready to invade Kuwait the first time we tried this whole regime change thing.
Holy crap! Has it really been 17 years since the first go round? Damn.
To put things in the proper context, I’ll point out that although I was a Marine I was not, nor have I ever claimed to be a Marine infantryman. Let alone a member of one of the Recon battalions. But I have friends who were and as hyped and manic as my platoon’s antics were, I imagine the Marines shown in GK actually were that...and probably much more.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Marines are not soft and cuddly. Their job, if I remember my brainwashing correctly, is to “locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver.” Marine (reservists) may collect Toys for Tots every year and look nice in their dress blues doing it, and that’s nice, but their real job is finding and killing America’s enemies. Period.
I have six more episodes left and I’m looking forward to them. Not so much for the trip down memory lane, but to see something I’m guessing is as close to the truth as you’re going to get in this day in age.