Life n War

October 12, 2017
By DJKerr BRONZE, Ashland, Wisconsin
DJKerr BRONZE, Ashland, Wisconsin
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Michael (Mich) Johnson
Marine Recruit
5/29/2018  18:39
San Diego, Ca

“Move it, Johnson!!” DI Hinckley yelling at me from my left as we ran down the trail, I was near the back of my platoon. Boot Camp in 2018 is hell. I mean what else was I supposed to expect in the Marines. They are the toughest, meanest, and stubborn branch of military there is. I’ve been told after Boot Camp you are consider immortal, hard to kill as some may put it. “Johnson quit daydreaming and move your a**, now!!” Hinckley yelled at me even louder. I pick up pace and the adrenaline started  pumping, I feel as if i could run for days now. I run to the head of the pack and stay up there for the rest of the run. “Johnson, your going to make one hell of a Marine when I’m done with you!!” He patted me on the back, grinning from teeth to teeth. “Maybe your brother was right, we’ll make a Marine out of you yet!” DI shouted so the rest of the recruits could hear. I know he’s right, I said to myself. “Let’s head back, Maggots” DI Hinckley’s voice shook us all, it could scare a bear a mile away. We headed back and I was at the head of the platoon again, breathing heavy. This is the Marines, don’t ever give up, fight through it all, you put your life on the line for your brothers and sister on your left and right…. These battles we win aren’t always on the battlefield, They are won amongst ourselves.


Sgt Maj. Michael (Mich) Johnson
1st Marine Division: Grim’s Dogs
6/8/2020  23:57
Baghdad, Iraq. 15 miles from the city

“Hey, Sgt!! How far till we get to our objective?” O’neil yells from the back of the Humvee. “About 10 miles now.” I say shaking my head from a 20 minute nap. Carters voice from my left. “You good, brother?” I look at him shaking my head. “Yeah, I’m good, C.”  I look back out the window looking at some wreckage still burning from probably two days ago. “Yo, Johnson, what are we doing here again? We already kicked these hajis once.” 30’s voice breaks the silence. I turn to him, I go to say something but Carter's voice starts before I could even stretch one word. “ The Russians and Chinese have taken Northern Baghdad and were entering to the south to hit them with a blockade of armor, troops, and firepower.” 30 nods his head and leans back in his seat, he comments “So no Hajis this time.” Carter stops, looks at me and, nods his head indicating for me to speak the rest of the objective, I nod back and continue from where he left off. “The Chinese and Russians are not working together as far as we know. We do know that they have heavy forces in the city. Right now we are heading up the road that leads us to the center of the city, our objective is to maintain the south and don’t let any hostile troops push us back. Any questions?” I move my eyes slowly left and right to see if there were any. “When is lunch, Sir?” Nix’s smart a** voice comes from the top where the .50 is. I look up.  “Maybe someone should listen when I tell them the MRE’s are here instead of jaw jacking around and trying to be a comedian.” I say with a serious but joking tone. Everyones grinning and chuckling after I had said that. Shogun taps his leg indicating it was a joke. “Understood, sir.” Nix’s voice comes through the gun hole with a little chuckle. “5 miles out, ladies, let’s lock and load!!” I hear everyones guns cocking. “What are we?!?!” I asked loud and clear. “Devil Dogs, the Reaper’s best friend!! The team says. “What do we go for, Dogs?!?!”  There was no silences after I asked that. “The throat!! Semper Fi!!! Oorah!!” The shouts echoed through the vee. We’re ready... So I thought.


Cpt Johnson
3rd Marine Division “Greenbacks”
6/9/2020 0:15
Southern Baghdad City Border, 5 miles ahead of Divisions 1, 2, 5, 10. Baghdad, Iraq

“Alright, gentlemen. We need to head up this highway to the center of baghdad. From there we will clear building to build and set up perimeters for when the rest get here. You will be in 10:5 man teams to clear every building. Mark the buildings with green after cleared and move to the next. Do I make myself clear, Greenbacks?!?!”  I get a loud “Sir, Yes, Sir!!” from my platoon. “Let’s move out!!” Sgt Brinker leads them while me and my four men stand guard at the objective point. “Get on the radio and let the others know we’ll be on the right side of the road with a green flare, Pvt, make sure that most of our Abrams tanks stay on the side and main roads and that we only need 5 of them going through the alleyways.” Pvt Vin nods his head and relays the message. He gets the affirmative from my brother.

Wish there was more to say but that’s all I can really think, right now. He is my brother but we’re keeping this strictly professional so there’s no emotion unless one of us get hurt. If we don’t keep it professional then feelings get in the way and the mission could end up going south. “Here they come!!” I here Lanny yell from the top of the building. “Get ready to move with the armor, Men.” I make it clear to them. We were given 30 M1 Abrams along with about 50 Humvees and a couple APC. My brother is giving us his two humvee to take up with the tanks. His team of ten is going to to run up mid way from the center of the main Baghdad road. He is our line of defence if the enemy pushed us back. They would cover us on the main road from the buildings on the sides. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.


Sgt Maj Johnson
1st Marine Division: Grim’s Dogs
6/9/2020  0:30
Southern Baghdad Border, Baghdad, Iraq.

“Let’s hop out, we’re gonna head to midtown on foot.” I tell everyone as we stop where my brothers at. The Humvee stops, I open my door and get out of it. “Afternoon, Dogs” I hear a familiar voice that i haven’t heard for what seemed like years, it’s my brother David at the front of our Vee. He’s grinning and I grin back. “Long time no see, old man, you look like someone just torched an already burnt marshmallow.” I say sarcastically. “Yeah, you too and old man, really I’m only five years older than you, kid.” he replies.  “I know, brother, you know what you gotta do??” I say sternly. “Yeah, you better get up there, I’ll give you 15 minutes to get up there.” I reply with, “I only need five!” I wink and gesture my guys to follow me up the road, they do. We get up to the buildings were supposed to be at and breach and clear them.

“Okay, Carter, 30, Shogun, and Tex. You're with me. O'neill, Knox, Vegas, and Ortega, you’re with Nix. The rest of you stay on the ground and stay in cover, watch the alleyways and corners. Move out, and watch every corner on this street!!” I tell everyone and start to move before Nix has a sarcastic comment. We get into our building formation(from top to bottom 1,2,2) with 30 and ortega at the top of both buildings. Me and Carter at center, then Shogun and tex at the bottom. Nix has his guys set up and flashes the laser twice giving the ok. My brother and his team driving our vees goes by. I watch as they drive about halfway up. Something isn’t right, I go to get on the radio and two streams of smoke come from both sides taking both humvees out. “RPGs!! On the ready, watch the road and the buildings!! Open up!!” I hear Carter yell through his comm.

Sgt Maj. Johnson
1st Marine Division: Grim’s Dogs
6/9/2020 0:45
City of Baghdad, Iraq.

“Right side!! Right Side!!” Carter yells and opens up. The sound of that M16 gets me going I look out the window and I see the tracers from both sides hitting targets and the ground. A spray of Ak-12 rounds hits our windows and I duck. I get up and light em up with my M14A1 hitting a couple enemies, the adrenaline is pumping, I can feel it going. “Suppressive Fire!! Move to the street!!! 30 and Ortega, stay on your tops!!” I yell into the radio, Got an affirmative from both as we moved to the street in an attempt to push them back. One of our Abrams comes from one of the alleys behind us and opens up on them. “Move to cover, Our M1 has our backs!!” The Abrams stops about 10 yards behind us and continues lighting them up. The sound of that .50 brings music to my ears as I continue to fire. They moved about 75m back, they start to move back up. “Why are they coming back?” 30 Said. Just then two T14s bust through both sides, aiming their turrets at us.

“TAKE COVER!!” Our Abrams lights one of them up, damn thing stopped dead in its tracks as the other on fires and barely misses our Abrams. “Devastator” (the tank helping us.) lights the other one up, the hostiles start to move back as the .50 lights up again. After what seemed like forever they fell back to the center. “Cease Fire” I yell at my team. As we look around for a couple minutes to make sure it’s clear. “Clear left!!” 30 yells. “Clear right!!” I hear Carter yell, voice is a bit shaky. I stand up as the hatch of the tank opens up and Dolly pops out. “Hey, Mich, we get em!” as his feet touch the ground he says. I nod. He smiles. “I got a call saying I need to tend to some wound up that way a couple blocks and these guys don’t have a driver now” he winks and nods his head back indicating I drive. “You know I haven’t driven a tank for about a year now right?” I question his judgement, but I smile. “You’ll figure it out.” he says as the Vee to pick him up stops, he get in and waves. I look at my men and they all nod their heads. “Ok, let's move, Ladies!! 30, Ortega, you guys stay put and watch this road, we got more men moving up to help you.” They both confirm through the radio. I get in and there’s Martin sitting in his seat grinning with some dirt smudged on his face. “Howdy there, Sarge, Dolly is taking a break I suppose?” He says with his southern tone and winks. Two other troops chuckle a bit, I don’t know them. I move to the driver seat and sit. “Not as comfy as I remember, what you do to it, Martin?” I smile and look back. “Dolly Messed it up!” He says Joyfully. “Now Let’s move!” I start it up and he sounds like hell just got unleashed. We move up to the center of the city and it looks like a bomb went off. “Sir?” Its Carter on the radio. “Martin, I need you to drive, is that alright?” He smiles “Yes, Sir!” I get out,  he hops in the driver seat, and yells before I close the hatch. “I’ve been waiting to drive this all day!!” he chuckles. I laugh and close the hatch.

I jump down and go to the side of the road. Martin speeds on ahead and opens up on a few buildings. “Let’s Move!!” We start clearing building to building. “RPG!!!” Carter yells and pushes me down as he goes down as the round blows up behind us and blows a hole in the building. “Light em up!!” As we get back up we pepper three guys with led. “Move! Move! Get the led out!” I yell “Find cover and light them up!!!” As I kneel down behind a wall I look over and start lighting hostiles in front of us up. “This is Echo team and Giggles, awaiting for your command, Johnson! We are moving from the left, Watch your fire!” Don yells through the comms. “Roger that!! Watch the left our guys are moving from the left!!” I see a few rifle barrels out the window to our left lighting up the enemy, Giggles the tank busts through a wall and helps Devastator bring the enemy down. “Incoming!!” Giggles gets taken out by an artillery round, bursting into a metal ball of fire. Martin on the comm. “I have eyes on the artillery, it’s about half a click away!! Firing for effect!!” The Abram’s gun goes of, a second later we here a devastating boom from the Devastator’s shell. “Target is down, I repeat, Target is Down.” Martin moves the tank back down the main road. “Be back in a bit, need to refuel.” I give him the affirmative. I wish I didn’t.

Sgt Maj. Johnson
1st Marine Division: Grim’s Dogs
6/9/2020 3:30
City of Baghdad, Iraq. Central District.

  We were getting shell and hammered. “Wheres Martin at, its been about 3 hrs.” I’m thinking to myself. I’ve lost half my team and have Tex tending to the wounded- those very few men of mine who are gonna go home. For the others, I will have to notify their families what has happened. What is going to happen now? Echo team has been completely wiped out. I’ve got 5 guys out of 20, and 5 are wounded to the point to where they won’t make it. 3 are treatable, and the rest of them are dead. We got them lined up next to one another, we’ve taken their ammo and grenades. We are gonna make it. Stay strong, you can do this, you will get the team home, Johnson. Don’t lose it now.

“T14, TAKE COVER!!” Nix’s voice right before a shell hits by him and Tex. “Nix!! Tex!!” I get pushed back from the blast. I get up and grab my gun. “We need to move, now!!” Carter and Shogun look at me and grab wounded O’neil and we start moving through the buildings. “Mich, me and you are the only ones that can breach and clear, Shogun’s got O’neil.” Carter’s voice is heard through the gunfire tiredly, “Ok, let’s do it, we got this.” I shake my head and tap his shoulder. We get in formation. “On three. One. Two. Three!!” The bottom of my foot nails the door and it flies open. I go back to the side, letting Carter go first and I follow in right behind him. “Clear left!! Clear Right!!” we both say. Shogun wobbles O’neil through the door. O’neil goes lip right after Shogun stops. “Damn it, O’neil, don’t you do this!! Not now!”

Shogun lays O’neil down on the ground, opens up O’neils MCU and checks the bullet holes in his chest. “What is this, Shogun, I thought you checked him!” I yell at him. “I did, but I didn’t have time to check his chest, remember the tank!?!?” He looks at me, I nod and start to help him. “He won’t stop losing blood, all of these were clean shots!” O’neil stops breathing, I put my head down and stand up “Kick the tags in.” I speak shackedly. “We need to move- the Medi’s will pick him up, Let’s go, now!”

Sgt Maj. Johnson
1st Marine Division: Grim’s Dogs
6/9/2020 5:12
City of Baghdad, No clue on location.

“Breaking radio silence, 30, Ortega, are you there?” I question over the radio. Nothing for at least 2 minutes. “This is 30 loud and clear, gentlemen, where have you guys been?” 30 sound like he was gonna die from the joy of hearing my voice. “Good to hear your okay, it’s just me, Carter, and Shogun.” I tell him, radio goes silent for about a minute. “Well it’s good to hear you guys are ok, me and Ortega are in the same building, we have a claymore on the third floor. We’re on the roof, which is kinda the fourth floor if you consider it that.” He says with a little chuckle trying to seem happy. “Ok, well we don’t know of our location, T14 chased us out after it blew Nix and Tex up.”  I lean my head back. “Ok, Mich, we’ll keep watch here till you get, over and out.” I give him the affirmative.

“So what do we do now, Mich, Start asking Ruskies for directions? Cause that’s the only reasonable option I came up with, brother!!” I turned to him he was just living it, just a gun cocked back and ready to go at any second. “Watch it, Shogun, you best use that anger towards the enemy not us!” He looks at me sternly, gets up and smashes his hand through a window. “You have my attention, Sarge.” Shogun has an anger issue when it comes to losing people, we all do but he’s gotta channel it now or it’ll get him and even us killed. “Shogun, Channel it now! I need you to keep your head or we’ll end up in a body bag going home” I said, he looked at Carter, then at me. “Better me than you, now run, get back to 30 and Ortega, I’ll meet you there.” He check his gun, headed out the door and started shooting. “Go!!” He looked at us and smiled, we nodded and headed towards where we thought the main road was. “Come on, eat lead, Ruskies!!!” His M249 was all we could here mixed with AK-12s. Everything went silent, we could hear Shoguns voice. “Do it!! You don’t have it in you!! Do….”  The sound of that last shot shook me. Shogun is gone, I shouldn’t have let him do it. “Mich, we need to go.” Carter put his hand on my shoulder assuring me he had my back. I nod my head and we moved toward the main road. “Breaking radio silence, Sarge we are engaging enemy forces, there hammering us really good, Sir, where are you!?!?” it’s 30 on the comm. “Where about a half a click from your position, we’ll be coming in hot, so be ready to cover us. We’re coming from the left we see the road and some enemy troops. 30, Shoguns gone, he distracted the enemy so we could make it to you.” 30 went silent and we heard the SAW just a rapping away. We move quietly and 30 tells us he’ll cover us as much as he can.

We get to the road and see 30 lighting them up. “30, we are on your left moving up towards you, watch your fire” he gives me an affirmative. A few rounds hits by Ortega and another few by 30, they don’t jump a bit. We get by the building and see a stream of smoke and it hits the middle of the building, sending concrete at us, I look at the last second and see one hit the concrete beam by Carter launching him forward at me, catching him, my back hits the the the wall behind me sending us both through. “Damn it, Carter, are you okay?” He rolls to the side and tells me he’s fine. “We gotta go, 30, move now!! We have the ground covered for now!” I yell through the comm as I start shooting out of what’s left of a window. “Ortegas gone, Sir, I just kicked his tags in and am heading down now!!” I look at Carter for what seems like a half a second, lighting up the enemy as I look back, Reload, empty rounds into the enemy, repeat. We needed to hold this spot until we got the affirmative to leave.

“Carter, get on the damn comm and tell them we need an ordnance drop at these coordinates, now!!” He switched his channel and radioed base the coordinance, he got confirmation from base. “2 minutes!!” Carter relayed the message to me. 2 minutes, a lot can happen in 2 minutes, including death, but we don’t die unless the Reaper tells us to. “Open fire!!” I yell as I start shooting steadily until I empty that magazine and grab my second to last mag. Carters just letting them have it, he’s got Ortega’s SAW, 30s just burst firing from the window next to me, I turn around and watch the back door, I start laying ruskie after ruskie down, they toss a grenade in, not even hesitating I pick it up and throw it back. Boom, I see a body fly through the door. “30 seconds!!” Carter yells at me. Bullets fly through 30’s window and pepper him completely in blood. He looks at me as he falls and winks as he holds a grenade as 3 enemy soldiers go towards him. “30!!! NO!!” I yell, just as the grenade goes off. The blast rings my ears. I look at Carter and i see him mouth, “Ordnance drop inbound!!” As it hit the ground the blast knocks me and Carter to the wall and knocks us out.

Sgt Maj. Johnson
1st Marine Division: Grim’s Dogs
6/9/2020 6:00
City of Baghdad, Iraq, in a building by the main road. Have been knocked out for a hour.

“Johnson?” I hear my name very faintly, I try to open my eyes but don’t have the strength to. “Johnson?” I hear my name again. I force my eyes and see Carter half crushed by part of the building. “Carter!?!” I get up quickly trying to regain my right in mind. I get by Carter and hold his hand. My vision cleared more, I could see what the damages that were done, and I look at his face into his eyes. “Carter, you’re going to be Okay, you understand don’t quit on me, you got that!!” He smile at me with what was left of his face. “Mich, You know I don’t like it when you lie to me.” He chuckled and i couldn’t help but laugh with him a little. “Yea, Carter.” He looked at me with a serious face. “Mich, I want you to go home and tell that beautiful wife of yours that you love her… He started coughing a bit… I want you to remember us all and don’t do anything that you’re going to regret. You got it, brother” He said with a serious tone i’ve never heard him use. “Yes, brother, you have my word.” He smiled, turned his head forward, I now only could see his good side, I watched as the smile went away and the final breath fade slowly. I got up and head down the road, I listen but there is only silence. I kneel down, the pain is unbearable and I just noticed I had no feeling in my left arm, I look and notice my hand was really torn down to bone. Is this what I fought for. I don’t know what to do anymore, I get up and keep going to our FOB…. It’s over.

Sergeant Major Michael Johnson
1st Marine Division: Grim’s Dogs
The White House, Washington, DC
“Sergeant Major Michael Johnson, I hereby relieve you of your duty, you have done a great service to your country and made her proud by your Heroism, Courage, and Determination. You have made you, your friends, family, and country proud. We thank you and are forever in your debt, I hereby present you the Medal of Honor for you to wear proudly and to show of you bravery and service. May god always be with you.” I saluted him, President Carter had told me a few months back. I told him I tried my best to get his son back home and that he was my brother and Nick will never be forgotten, he thanked me and then left. I visited him occasionally to see how he was holding up. He says every time I walk up the road I look just like his son, I smile everytime he says that. It means alot coming from my best friend’s dad. But what haunts me is that I see him in and out of my dreams, In his uniform saluting me with the straightest face. I know it isn’t real, but I believe in an afterlife, it haunts me that it may be true. I am glad that he is watching over me. It doesn’t haunt me as bad though. Never forget, Always remembered, My brothers in arms.

To The Last Good Fight I’ll Ever Know.

“There will always be an ending to a battle but there will never be an ending to a war, the wars that I speak of are the ones within ourselves and we always find a way to beat those battles that help decrease the war inside of all of us. It never goes away though that is why we keep fighting to better ourselves for the uneasy soldiers we are. I fight the battles that people can no longer fight by themselves, I fight the battles that are out of us and are in this world as well, to keep those who want to cause harm to the country I love, my friends and family. I fight for them, they don’t understand that’s why I do it but they know I will keep the wolf at bay. Till the last man, Till the last magazine, Till the last bullet, To the last good fight i’ll ever know I will fight, TILL THE END!!”

- Sergeant Major Michael Johnson.

The author's comments:

I wrote this piece over the summer when I had free time and i had a few friends read it and the said to put on here, so thats what i'm doing.

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