One of the guys was seriously injured by a machine gun misfire during training. His arm will never be the same again and he’s lucky his lung wasn’t punctured. So much blood. There’s a strong chance he might be exempt from active duty before we leave for Corpus Christi.
Is this what I have to look forward to in one month? I can’t even trust my own weapon!
The Little Miss and a couple other guys were sharing some photos of their girls from back home. I was surprised to learn the Little Miss is married to a riot control officer. She’s dealing with the crowds in the capitol even now. Nobody would know it by looking at her—she’s such a little thing. He says she’s got a much more intimidating presence up close. I guess she’d have to if they’re sending her out to the wolves like that.
The Lischke brother joked they should have sent her to the Navy instead of the husband. The Little Miss said the Navy pays better than his old job but wouldn’t look us in the eye after that. He won’t say what he used to do, but something about his expression seemed deeply troubled when we asked. He was quiet for a long time before muttering that he had to provide somehow. The others keep pressing him for answers, but I get the feeling I’m better off not knowing.
We took a short trip in our assigned vessel today, delivering some supplies to a nearby port. It was just an exercise in our ability to follow procedure en route to the invasion. We did pretty well, I think, though Petty Officer Henschel looked strangely pale on the way back. Could she be prone to seasickness?
Emilie will be pleased with what I send back in the mail this time. I managed to get hold of a camera and Bauer took a few pictures of me standing in front of the ship’s railing as we sailed out of the bay. She’s been asking so much about what the ocean looks like. She probably wouldn’t like it so much if she saw how the port is always packed with towering Navy vessels, guards, and rusty old buoys, but on the open water, the sea is clear and wide as the sky.
How warm the weather has become! It’s turning out to be an unusually hot spring and no sign of winter remains. Surprising, when just a few months prior we saw some of the worst snow in the last five years. It’s good news for the people, though. Early spring has been good to this year’s crops. The crisis has brought much shortage. We need this good weather so desperately. I can only pray it continues and that the farming in Birkenhain will be as fruitful as it is here.
The Lischke sister said she overheard Petty Officer Henschel shouting at a superior officer earlier. It’s so strange. As strict as she is, I never hear her yell. Even so, Lischke swears she sounded absolutely outraged about something. We pressed her for details, but she said all she really caught was something about violating regulations. She tried to listen for more, but she got caught and sent off to kitchen duty as punishment.
I know Lischke likes to play jokes, but she seemed earnest this time. I must admit I’m concerned. Petty Officer Henschel always keeps a cool head and I’ve never seen her defy authority, much less get in a shouting match with her superiors. What could have set her off?
They’re working us so hard I can barely keep my eyes open right now. The last two days have seen such an increase in training intensity. I know the invasion is soon, but why would our superiors assign such a grueling regimen now, so near the end? It’s almost as if they’re trying to cram weeks of training into just a few days.
Petty Officer Henschel has informed us that the Mexican army has informants that have gathered military intelligence on how to best invade the refinery. It seems there’s a gap in their defense they can take advantage of, but not without numbers to back them up. They fear the enemy might find out about this and fill the gap soon, so the invasion is being moved forward by a few days. We leave on the last of the month.
It’s not regulation. It’s a direct violation to send us to active duty before our training period is up. Why would they do this to us? Are we really so desperate? Are all our forces so spent that they must rely on untested sailors to carry out such a crucial task?
The only good news is the UK has already sent ahead forces to take the front lines and organize plans before the rest of us arrive. We’ll already be situated and have a full battle paradigm before my group even steps onto our ship. It doesn’t ease my worries about the invasion, but it’s at least reassuring to know we’ll have a safe port waiting for us.
I’m so exhausted. How do they expect us to be fighting fit if they wear us to the core before sending us off?
I had some time to go into town today, so with the little money I had, I got one of the photos Emilie sent me laminated to keep it safe from the elements. I know it’s not going to save my life like a gun might, but it’ll give me a reason to not do something stupid out there. I should thank Radnitz—I was short by a little and he lent me the rest. He says I don’t owe him for it. He has no idea what I owe him.
The service in the chapel was unusually somber today. Most of us didn’t even bother to come. We’re all exhausted from the end of our training and it only gets more difficult from here on out. All I can hope now is the Americans will be so shocked they won’t be able to react in time and the invasion will be mercifully quick.
I hope, but I cannot bring myself to believe it.
After the service, I asked the minister what he supposed God must think of the crisis, of this war it’s turning into. He looked me in the eyes and with a sad sort of smile, answered—how would you feel, boy, if your children were hurting each other?
This ship won’t stop tossing and my hands shake so badly I almost can’t write. I’m surrounded by all the others and most of them are trying to be distracted by the Lischke twins singing a particularly terrible folk song in a particularly terrible key. Others are tense and nearly hyper with pent-up energy and still others silent and drawn. As for me, I seem to keep moving between the three without warning. The Little Miss says I should join the Lischke twins’ act with how theatrical my mood swings are. I’m probably going to have to apologize for that right hook later, but Radnitz seemed to think it was funny. Most of the crew did, actually.
My hands are shaking again.
– It’s easy to see from the author’s words how tense and desperate the situation had become. And such poignant insights into human nature.