On post atop of the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia – Africa April 1996

Arriving at the airport in Charleston, SC, I am greeted by a Marine in his service uniform. Alongside a group of ten or so other young men, we wait at the gate for a few other recruits to land. From there the Marine walks us single file to the bathroom, or head. He stands us in front of the sink and tells us to empty all contraband from our pockets, such as cigarettes, lighters, and knives. He collects them all and takes us through a maze of hallways in the bowels of the airport. We arrive to a room where we are instructed to sit down and lunch was passed out “bag nasties”. After we eat we are told to put our heads on the table and sleep. I was not sure what to expect as my recruiter only told me about island life, not the details of the journey to get to the island. None of us are allowed to look up. Every thirty minutes or so new recruits enter the room and are ordered to do the same, thus beginning our thirteen weeks of having no control.

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