August 11th 2019
He was already feeling mentally and physically drained. Preparing for this upcoming challenge has been difficult, but Jared knew exactly what needed to be done. It was decided a long time ago that enough was enough. He knew it was time he took matters into his own hands.
It wasn’t a hard decision, at least when focusing on himself as an individual. When he starts to think about his family it will never get easier. The possibility of leaving his children forever often makes him question the choice he has ultimately made.
The decision is final and there is no turning back. He had already taken steps to his ultimate goal and there was no stopping the effects of those already taken. Jared, who is a 15 year seasoned Marine Corps Infantryman, was attached to the Task Force 151. The 14,000 Marines he had deployed with over the years never would have foreseen their beloved leader they once knew, side with the most ruthless and barbaric terrorist organization, The Army of Islam.
Growing up in a small town in upstate New York, Jared was always the quiet individual who mostly kept to himself. He didn’t enjoy going out to parties with friends, or hanging out after school. There were more important things to take care of like cutting wood for the stove during the winter, hunting to stock the freezer and protecting his younger brother who often got bullied. Their parents divorced for quite some time, it was them against the world. They did everything together and often made plans about what adventures they would get into when they grew older.
With one red light in the entire town, without any fast food restaurants or shopping malls, there wasn’t much to do but work and play sports. Without many friends, Jared stuck to high school wrestling and doing work around the house for his father. It made the time go by and kept Jared in great shape. There was no interest in anything else, nothing that called out Jared’s name. At one point in his life he dreamed of pursuing the sport in college, but that was a young boys dream.
The small family modular home appeared to be dropped in the middle of the town cemetery. Coming from the main road in town, someone visiting the family would never expect a small house to be down the long driveway. There was no epic mountain view, or waterfront access. There were headstones of loved ones gone, but never forgotten. Hundreds of them, as far as the eyes could see through the sloping hills. This helped with the small amount of friends situation. Jared stayed inside and created long dreary nights when Jared was a child.
When looking outside the box and looking at the big picture of Jared’s life, it likely helped Jared in his career as an infantryman. Knowing how to survive and getting by on his own was a great factor in getting through Marine Corps boot camp and through the multiple combat tours throughout his career.
Jared had never dreamed of being a Marine, not like the typical stories you hear. He was 5 feet 11 and almost 140 pounds. As a wrestler for so long, he was used to shedding weight instead of putting it on. He was skinny, with red hair and blue eyes. Jared didn’t look like a typical Marine when walking past him on the street.
He had plans on going to college and being a conservation officer. He enjoyed being outside as often as possible. One day, Jared walked through the high school cafeteria to get lunch and the Marine Corps recruiter was sitting up on a small stage in the far corner. Jared walked over and within five minutes had started the application process. There was nothing unique or extremely motivating that caught his attention, it was just something to do.
Many members of the family have an idea that Jared just wanted to get out of the small town life and become a new person. To create a new image for himself, but Jared would never confirm nor deny that aspect. A week later, his parents signed the papers and he had a date to ship off to boot camp. After a few months, Jared walked on stage for his high school graduation, received his diploma and walked off stage into the recruiters car, which took him straight to the airport for boot camp.
Jared was a machine gunner in Fallujah and Ramadi Iraq from 2004 and 2006. After a quick 6 months on ship, Jared eventually went to Marjah, Afghanistan and then to the Horn of Africa for a few more years of fighting. Jared was definitely battle tested and had proven himself to be a ferocious fighter and keen survivor. Jared had put on 60 pounds of muscle and a never dulling ferocious look in his eyes.
He walked with a sense of earned confidence from years of fighting. In his 15 years as an infantry Marine, he had been shot three times, hit by over 19 improvised explosive devices while traveling in armored vehicles and had been through more firefights than family cookouts. Jared had never expected it, but he was a great Marine, good at fighting and pushing others to fight harder. He enjoyed deploying and wanted to fight as often as possible. Highly decorated and a passion for leading Marines in combat, Jared was born for this.
Nonetheless, these instincts would be tested even further once this next step was taken. Nothing could prepare him for what was about to happen, but it needed to occur. Countless hours have been used to prepare and plan out his future attempt to join The Army of Islam. He had fought against them for countless years and knew everything about them. Their language, their tactics, their way of life. How they eat, sleep and how they evolved culturally. He was prepared, or at least that’s what he continued to tell himself.
His bags were packed, his route was planned and he was in a position to make this happen. He had helped develop and build the last three patrol bases in Ramadi and knew everything about each one. This would be his ticket in and how he would prove his loyalty. The military operation plans to each small camp were in his bag and he would present them at the right time as a gift. None of his Marines knew of his plans and he had just gotten into a large confrontational argument with the company First Sergeant on the other side of the camp. No one would expect him to be on the north side of camp, near the back gate at Post 4. They had just finished building the structure earlier and it had not yet been implemented in the security plan..
All he had to do was take the first step in the blacked out darkness. He would follow his illuminated compass to the building he had picked out months ago and wait. One step would change his life. One step to take matters in his own hands and join a different cause, to make a change. He was tired of how things were going and frustrated by all the fighting that led nowhere. His anxiety was rising again and he could feel the anger swell back up inside of him. It was time, no reason to wait any longer. No one could see him, no one knew his location, no one to hold him back. It was his one chance to end it all.
Jared looked around one last time and took the first step to a new life, as an American Terrorist.
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