It was a hot, humid Hawaiian night, and we could see the lights shining along the beach at the Turtle Bay Hilton. Though we could not hear the sound of the waves crashing, we saw the the white shadow of the waves as they broke. This beautiful sight just hurt the moral of my team and my job that much harder. When I joined the Army I never thought Hawaii would be a hard place to work. Apparently I was in for a journey that would seem like an eternity. We were on a 32hour mission, with very little sleep; my team was leading our company in our mission. We had an idea where our enemy was and our job was to seek and destroy. This was not a real war battle; yet, it was a training mission taken as if it were a real war battle. With little sleep, and the beautiful sight of the beach, I had to ensure that my team was ready for battle.
As point man and team leader, I had a lot of things going through my mind. I had to, not only guide 90 people into battle, but also ensure that my team was focused and ready to fight. After every two miles, I would stop and give everyone a five minute rest, at this time I would ensure my squad and platoon leader that I stopped only to conduct a map check. I was a strict, but sincere leader. I understood that to function at least 80 percent, our bodies needed some rest. We had 60 pounds on our back, a kevlar on our head that we thought was needed just make us heat casualties, and were walking through the jungle.
We were only four miles away from our enemy and as we began to begin our foot march again, I started a head count, tapping the members of my team on their head quietly. This was something I always did to let me know that I did not leave or loose a man. It also helped me notice the morale level of my team and platoon. The way they walked, and the expressions that were on their faces told me a lot. As the last person from my platoon and the first person from the next platoon passed me by, I was a man short. I quietly trotted back to the front of the formation, which continued to march on. I began a second head count, thinking that I had made a mistake. Considering that I also was very tired, left room for me to make mistakes. At the end of the second head count, I was again one man short. I had to report this to my leaders. As I walked to my platoon leader I looked at everyone?s faces, trying to figure out who was missing. It came to me just before I got to my platoon sergeant. We were missing Private Pruner. Private Pruner was a soldier that had to be checked on a lot. When I told my leaders who was missing, I ensured them I knew where he was last accounted for. My leaders were very confident in me and were also very tired. They instructed me to go back to position where I had last made contact with Private Pruner.immediately. While doing this, the company continued to march on. As I back tracked passed the other platoons in our company, they asked me what I was doing. This made it more stressful for me, since I was suppose to be leading the company. It also made me look bad, because at that time I was the lowest ranking and youngest leader in my battalion.
The weather was against us, our minds were beginning to drone, our bodies were tired, and now I was missing a soldier. My only hope, was that Private Pruner had fallen asleep in his position. I had one chance to find him, before I had to halt the whole company and delay our mission. As I approached the area, where I had last made contact with Private Pruner, I began to quietly whisper his name. Right when I started to loose hope, I heard a reply. It was him! I found Private Pruner! I swiftly walked over to his position and told him to wake up. ?I?m not asleep.? It was then, when I grabbed him by the shirt, right where his name tag was. In a quiet harsh tone I asked him what he was doing? ?Pulling security,? he replied. I then dragged him out of the bushes he was located in. I began to say every cuss word I could think of, as my firm continued to get tighter on his camouflage coat. He continued to swear that he had not fallen asleep. Mad as can be, I radioed to my leaders that I found Private Pruner and I was on my way back to the formation. I told Private Pruner that I had no time to deal with him now, but later he was mine.
I was back in the lead of our road march, once again leading the company in our mission. It seemed like the more tired we got, the more beautiful the island got. I was focused on my mission and my people; however, my body was tired and a little dehydrated from walking all night. My legs felt like spaghetti and my body felt dehydrated, this was messing with my concentration. We were now only fifteen minutes away fr