There was always weapons maintenance.
It was not a fact that most Marines, if any, thought of before enlisting, but modern firearms got dirty. The kind employed by the US Military did not function well, when coated with the carbon and gunpowder that was a result of their use. And they needed to be cleaned.
The Marine Corps weapons maintenance kit consisted of the following items:
1. A small green toothbrush
2. A long metal rod that could be broken down into three sections
3. Two wire bristle brushes to attach to said rod.
4. A small bottle like the kind used for eye drops, of gun oil labeled CLP, the acronym standing for Cleaning Lubricant Preservative.
These items were the only such items authorized for weapons maintenance. They were almost wholly inadiquate for the task at hand. CLP was an acceptable lubricant, and a questionable "preservative". But for cleaning it was wholly unsatisfactory. Especially in the small size bottles handed out by the armory. Which was why, to clean his M249 SAW, Conner had the following:
1. A black brush with wire bristles
2. A large, spray bottle of gun oil
3. A can of shaving cream
4. A shower stall.
Out of all of it, nothing worked as well as the shaving cream.
The most effective method for cleaning a SAW after time in the field, and heavy use, was as follows. You take the weapon to a shower stall and break it up into its individual components. Cover everything in shaving cream, especially anywhere where carbon has built. Let it sit for a minute or two, then run the water. Most of the carbon will come right off. To disguise the smell of Gillete, spray down entire weapon with the CLP. Rub in in good. The shaving cream will also work on rust. The M249, M16, and M4 all possess a singular desire to turn to rust as fast as possible. But the wire brush can prevent it. It is said that the AK-47 can fire after being buried for a week in the mud. Our weapons will not fire, if simply used too much. This is the price for a manufacturer defect, much time is spent scrubbing away mindlessly on a weapon. When you think your done, you can present it to the squad leader for inspection. He will rub his pinkie in the chamber, flick of the black, and tell you to keep working. No, the best thing for it is to simply continue your scrubbing, kill time until the platoon is dismissed, or something more important comes along.
After the meeting with Major Fight, Sgt. Lazirko's head felt like it was going to spin around. So much had changed on this, the other side of Phantom Fury, that it seemed like another unit.
Staff Sgt. Kurre had fractured a vertebrea in his back just before the actual building assault in the second objective in Fallujah. He creaked around the Company office conex without body armor or helmet, per doctors orders, and would most likely leave for surgery back in the states ahead of the company. Lazirko could see him becoming a pogue, and living out comfortably from this point on. Kurre was a good Marine, and Lazirko knew it would hurt him.
The doctors in Germany had been forced to amputate Lt. Easter's arm, just below the shoulder. He was done. After watching him get shot in the house, Lazirko was suprised that the officer was still alive. But he would make a full recovery soon enough. Lazirko wondered how Easter's wife would take the news that she was now married to a cripple. She looked to be the sort of woman that married for status, above all else. And a crippled Marine was only good for status in newspaper interviews and tribute ceremonies, and was truly wretched in everything else. Easter would be getting divorced, soon enough.
Sgt. White was dead. This news shocked Lazirko, who had been somewhat indifferent to the braggert back in the states, or here in the field, but no one expected him to die. He had been shot in the leg, after all. But the Navy Corpsman had failed to notice that White's femoral artery had been torn, and he had bled out in the back of the humvee, evacuating him from the assault. All the man's blood, being pumped out on the floor, with his heart working against him. A traitor.
Lance Cpl. Lopez was dead, and Fight was going to recommend him for the Medal of Honor. This didnt suprise Lazirko that much at all. In boot camp when citations were read Lance Cpl.'s and PFC's were always getting the Medal of Honor for jumping on a grenade and saving their platoon. Which was exactly what Lopez had done. It wasnt something Lazirko had ever thought to see in real life, but he realized he would have taken that flak if not for Lopez. He felt sorry for giving the kid crap for the little commie flag of his, that red star on a black field.
Lazirko was being put in for a Silver Star. "But it will probably be a Bronze Star." Fight said ruefully. "Thats just politics- the way things are."
"What about the rest of the platoon?" Lazirko asked.
"Give me the names of every one that was on that assault." Fight said.
"For the Combat Action Ribbon?"
"No- for a NAM. That's going to be easy to do."
Lazirko thought about it and said, "You should give Kurre something as well. He trained everyone, after all."
"Dont you worry about the Staff Sgt." Fight told him. "He's taken care of. Just get me those names."
So for the tribute formation, Lazirko found himself in the Platoon Leaders position. They stood at attention when ordered, and at parade rest when ordered. There was a row of tribute stands, twenty-six of them, for the fallen. A rifle and helmet, with a pair of dog tags, and tan desert boots. Lazirko could spot the details. It was the old model helmet, a defunct M16A2 rifle. The only things that were authentic were the boots and the dog tags. There had been working parties for either, to scour the dead's things and retrieve those items.
For most the items of the KIA; they were placed in plastic bags, and then in white boxes. To be shipped home to the US. There was a warehouse for it, in Camp Fallujah, which was most likely identical to every such warehouse in FOB's across Iraq.
Lazirko's mind wandered back to the objective, as he stood at parade rest, and listened to the Colonel speak. Everything had gone wrong. Or rather, they had started out doing everything wrong. You were never supposed to assault from the main entrance. You were never supposed to go into a room without a grenade, first, or stacking at the entrance, or having a tank or explosive make a breach for you. Finally, there was a certain way you were supposed to clear a room. It was like a dance- first the corners, to the center, and the ceiling. But none of that had happened. Easter shot, Lopez on the hand grenade, and then he had Conner had simply aimed their weapons upward. A revelation on his mind, had they even cleared the rest of the building, after shooting the haaji's in the roof? No. No they had not. They could have all died, victims of their own errors, but they had not and were now getting medals.
The colonel spoke. The chaplain spoke. General Mattis even spoke, although briefly. So much of being a Marine was attending these sorts of things, standing and listening to people talk that you didnt really know, and standing in a less comfortable position, when they told you to do so.
After the ceremony Sawyer and Conner made their way into something that they had never known existed. There was a recreation area in Camp Fallujah, and it had video games.
The Xbox 360 was old, first generation, and susceptable to the red ring of death. The red ring of death was a glitch that caused the Xbox to lose power, and possibly never turn on again. There was another, fatal, glitch to the video game system. The Xbox 360 was designed to be put either upright or on its side. But putting if you happened to tip the system over, while it was standing upright, a grinding screech would issue from the system. When you ejected the game disc there would be a circular scratch embedded on its outer edge, which would in all likelyhood prevent the game's function. No one quite knew why the Xbox had been shipped with such serious errors, the best speculation was to get it to markey before Playstation or Nintendo.
Sawyer, Conner, and Fonseca are all engaged in a four person Halo deathmatch, along with some other guy from second platoon no ones quite familiar with. The rules of a Team Deathmatch are clear cut; you and your teammate kill the other guy. Unlike Fallujah, you will respawn after you die. Sawyer likes Halo, even though the hero carries the Navy rank of Master Chief Petty Officer. There are Marines in the game, after all. There have been Marines in every game he can remember. He would have liked a set of power armor. Ra could have used one. Then the grenade would only have taken down his shield, and he could be here today, lecturing on his left wing bullshit or listening to Rage Against the Machine for the upteenth millionth time. Unless you were playing on the hardest difficulty setting. But in real life, you were always playing on the hardest difficulty setting. With no exception.