December 16, 2011
By , Lakewood, CO
Let me begin with, I, Kyle Clark, am an atheist. Never have, nor ever will believe in anything or than this world here. But more about that later.
Today was the day. I was going to be shipped out into the foxholes. I was going to get to be in the action, fighting for my country, being the here. I was going to get to shoot the big guns and be the person who comes back to the States in great glory.
And I couldn’t wait.
Now let me explain how I got to this point.
In high school, I never really knew what I wanted to be. I thought about a doctor, lawyer, and mechanic, really everything. There were a lot of choices, but none of them really felt like what I wanted to do. I asked around and, of course, heard of enlisting deadlines. I put in an application, took the test, and got into a good military school far from home, which was a bonus. I’ll spare you the details of all the actual stressfulness of filling out what felt like hundreds of applications, mailing things, receiving letters from different schools, not to mention all the school work I still had to do.
My squad was called, breaking me out of my dreary revere. I grabbed my incredibly large, cameo, duffel bag and headed onto the plane. My clothes matched my bag, which matched everyone else’s bags, which matched everyone else’s clothes. All our heads were shaved down to a buzz cut. We all looked like the stereotypical army boys that you imagine when you think war.
The plane was stuffy and full to its hypothetical brim. There had to be about two hundred boys on this flight out.
For the past three years, I spent my army life sitting at computers and desks, doing paper work and documenting progress. Of course I had been trained as an intelligence corps operator, but no, I was behind this desk instead of interrogating Vietnamese war prisoners with information that I needed to save the war.
But no more, oh no sir. I was going to be that hero.
Though the flight was long, and I’ll leave out the exact location for safety’s purpose, but finally, we made it to our destination.
“Clark!” barked the officer in command.
“Sir!” I called back sharply. We were “at ease” at the moment, bags beside us and all in a line. We were at the base now and all were dripping with anticipation of where we were to be assigned.
“Fox holes!”
I was going to be up front! I can hardly contain my exhilaration. The officer continues down the line, yelling out the names of a hundred other men damned to be serving up front in the action, or behind yet another desk.
After about another half and hour of yelling of names and calling of roles in our little beehive of an army, the Officer spoke.
“Men! You will start in your position in forty-eight hours! Be prepared!” After his final announcement, the Officer leaves the room and leaves us to settle in.
Now a buddy of mine next to me, Sam Wright had been assigned about a third line job out behind the foxholes. I can tell he is not thrilled.
“I work my butt of on all that paperwork and stuff and they put me in the baby lines!” Sam is a big, burly black man and he stands about six-four. This man is the spokesperson of intimidation. He has a dark black, closely shaven mustache and he is bald.
I stay quiet, silently stowing my things in a locker so I would be ready to be transported out front. I only had to wait forty-eight more hours until I could begin making my dreams come true.
“Yo man, you don’t talk much lately, huh? Watsup?” Sam said, holding a white tee-shirt in front of his bare abdomen. He looked at me with his head cocked back, a look on his face that knew something was up.
“Alright, dude,” I said, also bare-chested. My white skin was in complete contrast with the darkness of his, though our muscular frames were the same. “I’m happy,” I said opening my arms at the elbows and giving a minute shrug.
“Happy? Dude you should be ecstatic.”
“Oh believe me, I am.”

Two days later, I am sent out. I, along with about a hundred other men, are piled into tanks and taken out to our destinies. I ride with all strangers and find the ride to be quite dull. There are no gun shots or bombs dropping. No tear gas and no gas masks needed either.
It takes us about two hours to drive out. We sit, clutching our weapons and helmets. We are clean, which is unexpected. Most would assume that we would have probably been covered in mud and fear in our eyes. Nope. We sit there in boredom for the entire time, twiddling our thumbs at the lack of action.
Once in the actual foxholes, not much is different. We sit around in the dirt, not doing much. We crawl around and hide when there are reports of bombings, but there is no action for months. Until today.
The ground shakes. There is finally action for us to take part in. We can finally shoot and crawl in the mud.
Another explosion.
I run to my position, clutching my gun to my chest and nestling myself into the mud around me. Guns are fires and my hearing becomes almost abstract. I turn around and see the other side pounding towards us, shooting and screaming bloody murder. Bombs explode behind them and planes flying in the background. The sky was red and the sounds were all overwhelming.
I turn back around; the adrenaline pumping through my veins and making me shake. My heart races and I can feel the fear settle in me like a parasite. My breathing became quick and my mind races right along with it. I am going to die. I know it. I am going to die along with all my fellow army men. I heard screaming, but not from the men behind me, from my fellow men. They were being murdered. Mustard gas was being dropped on us and the dust was horrible. It flooded our lungs, making us throw up and cough till no end.
Bullets hit the wall of mud behind me and creating little burrowing holes in the mud. I could feel the rumble of hundreds of feet pounding towards us. The bunker next to me was blown out with a grenade.
God, don’t let me die. Don’t kill me off now. I want to live. I’ll believe, I promise. Just let me come out of this.
There was more screaming and another man’s blood splattered onto my face. I clawed through the mud, trying not to swallow much of it.
God, don’t kill me. Please let me live.
Even I, Kyle Clark, crawled through the mud, praying to a God that I truly didn’t believe in. I never wanted there to be a God until this exact moment. I prayed so hard, I was sure that the Big Man had heard me. He had to have heard me.
If the sounds could have killed me that day, they would have. The gunshots strangling me, the bombs exploding would have slit my throat and the screams would have broken my spine and stopped my heart.

I made it out of that fox hole, believe it or not. I lived with only a gunshot graze and lots of bruises. When I came out and got back to the base, the crowd there was clapping like crazy for the forty survivors that made it out.
Sam was there to greet me. I shook his hand and he patted my back hard. Same was a hard core Catholic and had lectured me on many occasions on how I really should believe and “why not believe?”
“Hey, mad man, you home safe,” he sounded genuinely happy.
“Yeah, luck is my best friend,” I laughed and couldn’t stop.
“Hey, what about me? What, am I chopped lever or something?” That was an old phrase he used a lot.
“No, your crazy, that’s all.” I had walked past him and I turned around and gave him a smile. Lucky for me, I was heading home. I got to go back because of our bravery.
“Oh, I’m the crazy one now?” He asked, looking at me again. I loaded my giant bag back into another plane. Unfortunately, Sam had to stay behind and continue his service.
I laughed again. “Yeah. You are.” I said, smiling.
“Boarding now, flight 564,” said a loud, female voice. I looked toward the plane and then back at Sam. He looked sad, but happy too. Like he was glad that one of us was safe.
“One more thing, man,” I say.
“I believe.”
“Believe in what?” He looks confused.
“I told you so,” he says looking a little less confused and a little more understanding. He smiled again, looked down, and then looked back up at me.
Now I was my turn to look confused and I knew he could tell.
“You’ll never find an atheist in a foxhole.”

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