Adrian Moss Posted September 25, 2011 Share Posted September 25, 2011 Captain Phillips, battalion S-4 of third battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, sat in his tent inside Camp Zulu, Afghanistan. It was dusty, hot, and dry - in other words, just another day in the armpit of the world. It was another day of letting some other lucky bastard get out of this Hell Hole, while he remained behind. At least his latest case was something new. Usually you got out when your enlistment was up, you had Emergency Family Leave, or you got promoted. This order was something ... else. [Private First Class Paul Rivets - no middle initial] Serial # xxxx-xxxxx Date of Birth xx-xx-xxxx Enlistment Date xx-xx-xxxx Current Assignment - A Co./4Ba./23Reg./2ID/CFLCC Reassignment (effective immediately) - SSG/21SW/CMD/AFSC/USSTRATCOM --Upon receipt of these orders, the above mentioned person(s) is to be directed without delay to the assigned departure depot for immediate reassignment to the above mentioned facility. Travel Status is Grade I. Personal equipment is to follow per procedure SMC 9.1C. Any inability to follow this order is to be immediately reported to the above command. (blink) The Captain had to look up most of these command designations and the more he looked up, the less he liked these orders. He reviewed Rivets file then read it again - it didn't take too much time. The Private had all the right certifications without accumulating anything special in his three years of service. No commendations except a notation for no sick leaves and a selection for holiday duty. Nothing to warrant a promotion, except longevity. There were no demerits either, which was a tad unusual. Hardly worthy of promotion. Hell, if it wasn't for the facts staring him in the face, the Captain would have not even believed a Private Paul Rivets had been in this unit for - three years. Phillips had only been in the battalion for two. Phillips went back further. The guy had low grades in high school, barely graduating. He scored low in his Entrance testing, qualifying for Combat Infantryman. He failed to qualify for any other designation. Clearly this guy wasn't going anywhere on his intellect. Further back than that: the family history. There was nothing. Nobody in his family stood out. Everyone was alive. There were two brothers - one in prison and one ... apparently unemployed. His mother worked in a canning factory. His father was on disability from a car accident seven years prior. The guy was poor white trash. There was no indication that he had ever met anyone of any influence what so ever. This guy wasn't a cipher. He was a non-entity. "Private Paul Rivets, reporting as ordered, Sir." Within hours, the Private was back at battalion and standing before the Battalion's Logistics officer. The S-4 let him stand there for a moment while he pulled up the relevant material. Phillips looked over the orders again: SSG was Special Studies Group: 21SW was 21 Space Wing (blink); CMD was Cheyenne Mountain Directorate (wasn't that NORAD?); AFSU was Air Force Space Command (blink) (blink); and USSTRATCOM was United States Strategic Command (what the he-ck?) 'The anti-brainiac grunt is going to Space Command? God, there has to be another Paul Rivets in the US military.' So, Phillips looked. No such luck, he had the only Paul Rivets in service. Hell, the only other Rivets was a female dive instructor down in Pensacola. So what did they need a nobody like Rivets to do? Kick the tires on a Space Shuttle? Wait, those were in Florida. Maybe he was going to chase birds off the runways. The dusty, weary looking soldier snapped a salute and remained at attention. Phillips looked him over. Not ugly, or handsome. He was a grunt's grunt. He had the look of a man who did his duty, no more-no less. 'How totally unremarkable.' "Like Afghanistan, Private?" Phillips began. He leaned back in his seat and studied the man before him. "Not sure, Sir. I go where they send me." "Know anyone in the World, Private? Someone who owes you a favor? A BIG favor?" Paul seemed perplexed, furrowed his brow, and seemed to be thinking really hard. After nearly thirty seconds he finally spoke. "Can't say I do, Sir." "Not very verbose, Private." Verbose seemed to confuse the non-com. "Maybe you can help me with something that's bothering me. Why is someone with your qualifications being sent to an Air Force facility in Colorado Springs?" Paul looked perplexed. "That's Space Command, Private." "No Sir. I mean, I don't know anyone like that, Sir." Seeing the Captain wasn't satisfied, the Private added, "Not a clue. Never volunteered for anything like it. I don't much like flying for that matter. I'll go where they send, Sir." There was a long silence. Phillips was hoping somehow the Private would enlighten him, but it was clear the orders were as much, if not more, a conundrum for him. The man stared blankly over the Captain's shoulder, as per standard military drill. "Okay then, Private. You're off to Space Camp. Have fun back in the World. Anything you need taken care of before your go?" "No Sir. I'm good." "Your mail will be forwarded, as will your belongings." Phillips handed Rivets a packet (it had come with the orders). "Take these. They are your transit papers, as well as your assignment documents. DO - NOT lose them." "Sir! No Sir. This Private will not lose his orders, Sir." The Captain stared at him for another long second. "Get out of here." Rivets gave a strong salute, spun around, and marched back out the door. The smallest amount of dust swept its way in, as usual. This day was going to be another long, hot one. The dust kept sneaking in. Some grunt would come in and sweep it out. Everyone's war went on. Phillips went back to the mountain of paperwork that an army ran on. The nature of that strange re-assignment would last in this Captain's mind for a long time, but somewhere around lunch the name of Paul Rivets had already receded into the fog. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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