Story of John Mason

April 29, 2010
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I was never really that smart. In elementary school I could never get above a C-average. There was one other kid that wasn’t very smart like me too, and he hated me. He was a lot older than me too. Hanson was his name, and he seemed to hate everyone but he hated me especially because I wasn’t smart like him. He wanted to be different from everybody. When I got to high school I had to get tutors and extra help constantly just to avoid failing completely. In my senior year when everyone was sending out college applications to big universities, I was sitting around thinking about how bad my future would probably be. All of my teachers just kept telling me the same thing “not everybody is meant to go to college”. That really put me down, but I knew it was true.

When my class graduated and everybody was shouting for joy, I was about to just head home when a man in a uniform walked up to me. He handed me a letter that he was passing out to all of my classmates, and of course none of them were interested. The letter was an offer to join the Marines. They were in need of soldiers because less and less people were volunteering. Then, was when I realized the Marines were a way to make something out of my life. The next day I went and enlisted.

Two months later the bus came to take me to boot camp. I still remember how scared I was when I got on that bus, I didn’t know what to expect. As I took my seat someone snorted behind me “who’s this hotshot”? I turned to see Hanson from my elementary school glaring at me. I couldn’t believe how unlucky I was. When we arrived we were greeted by screams from our drill sergeant, Sergeant Pierce. I can still hear his screams, “Mason! Why aren’t you in uniform! “Why isn’t your bed made soldier”! And we would always have to respond “yes sir! No sir! Or I don’t know sir!” If we responded in any other way that was fifty pushups. At first I thought it was a mistake joining with gruesome work and the constant bother from Hanson, but I knew this was something I had to work hard on and finish. I was good at shooting though; when we practiced at the range I would hit every target, setting company records. Pierce was very impressed with my work and he even asked me to stay and teach new recruits how to shoot properly. But I refused politely. The night before graduation I just sat in my bunk, starring at the ceiling. I couldn’t sleep because I had just completed one of the hardest things in life, and I had thought I couldn’t complete anything. When I was dozing off something grabbed my shirt and threw me onto the ground. I looked up to see Hanson standing in front of me, with that usual glare. But he had tears in his eyes. He said “So you think you’re a hotshot huh? You think you can come to my camp and make me look bad? I’ve been at this camp for five years Mason! Five years! They wouldn’t graduate me because they knew I wasn’t good at anything! I thought you were like that too Mason! Do you know how that makes me feel!” He burst into tears and walked out of the room. I just laid there thinking about what had just happened.

But Hanson managed to do it this time. He graduated with the rest of us. Then we boarded the plane to take us to Kuwait. When we landed it must have been around 100 degrees. Everyone was sweating and it was awful. The next day we got in our HumV’s, Pierce and his men in front, and me, Hanson, and some other men driving close behind. At first Iraq didn’t seem that bad until we reached the cities and that was when there were burning vehicles, strange looking people watching us, and lots of gunfire in the distance. We always had to watch for road bombs which were detonated with cell phones. We heard many stories from other soldiers about their friends getting blown to bits by these bombs. Suddenly, when I was thinking this, out of the corner of my eye I saw a man looking at us from a two story building to our right. He was holding a cell phone. I scrambled as fast as I could up onto the gun mount and opened up on the man, but I was too late. Pierce’s HumV exploded in front of us. I shot in every direction but that did nothing, everyone in that HumV was gone. We quickly jumped out of our HumV and ran over to the burning HumV. Hanson went into the building to find the killer which was a mistake. I heard I dreadful scream and it was Hanson. I ran into the building and he was lying on the ground holding his leg, screaming in pain. The terrorist had his pistol out to finish off Hanson; I held up my rifle and fired a burst at him, throwing him backwards. Hanson had a bad bullet wound in his leg, I picked him up and carried him back to the HumV. Just as I put him in the seat gunfire exploded from all around us. The rest of the men in our squad went down. Some of the gunfire was hitting the HumV and it caught on fire, so I pulled Hanson back out and carried him into another building. I put Hanson on the ground and checked the bottom floor. Hanson’s pain was getting so bad that he was losing consciousness. I ripped off some cloth from my pack and put it around his wound. Then I heard a noise upstairs, it was like a very feint beeping. I crept up the stairs and came to the door that had the beeping noise behind it. When I opened the door in front of me there was the biggest bomb I had ever seen. It had a timer on it and there were five minutes left. Suddenly someone jumped on me and tackled me to the floor. The man had a knife in his right hand and he was choking me with his left. I could see the cold look in his eyes, like the one Hanson used to give me. I was using all of my strength to keep the knife from going right into my chest. But I couldn’t hold much longer and as I slowly started to get weaker the knife got closer and closer to my chest. When the knife was about an inch away from my skin, two gunshots fired from behind me and the knife dropped and the terrorist flung backwards dead. I turned around to see Hanson limping towards me holding my rifle. He was going to say something but he lost total consciousness and fell onto the floor. With only about a minute left until detonation of the bomb, I picked up Hanson and ran us out just as the bomb exploded. The flames leaped over our heads and thankfully didn’t hit us. Then to my horror terrorists poured out of the buildings in front of us, firing. I put Hanson behind some cover and began to fire back because there was nowhere to run. I thought it was the end. That was when the first bomb exploded right in the middle of the terrorists, the more bombs following all around their area. I looked up to see our beautiful planes soar high above us circling around to finish them off. It was the greatest thing I had ever seen. Medical vehicles pulled in behind us and took us to the field hospital. Amazingly I wasn’t wounded but Hanson was in bad physical condition. It took him three months to recover, and by that time I was already sent home.

About a year later, there was a knock on my door. It was Hanson. His right leg was amputated but I could see that he was happy to be alive. I was very shocked to see him. He said “Mason, I never did thank you for saving my life”. He had a case in his hand and he held it out to me. “I shouldn’t have treated you the way I treated you, I didn’t know what was really inside of you”. He held out his hand and I shook it. He limped away. I opened the case and in it was the Purple Heart medal he got back in Iraq. From then until now we are still the closest of friends. And that is how I got my confidence. I might have not been school smart, but the military made me smart for more important things in life.

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jessi said...
May 8, 2010 at 11:33 am

this is good. one of the only things that i didnt like, is that the main character went from a mediocre guy to an almost superhero in Iraq.

the bootcamp part was really good, i must say. you definately captured the essence of bootcamp, such as it is. once they go to Iraq, though, John (1) sees the terrorist, (2) saves Hanson from terrorist, (3) finds a huge bomb, (4) fights dude with knife, (5) escapes from the building before bomb detonates, while carrying unconscious Hansom, and ... (more »)

jessi replied...
May 8, 2010 at 11:34 am
okay, sorry if that screwed up and posted twice in one post, did not mean for that to happen....
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