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Who Am I?

by Aaron Auld

Do you ever look at yourself? Sure, you see yourself in the mirror a handful of times a day when you go to the bathroom to take a leak and all that, but usually I find that when I look into the mirror I’m looking at all of the things that aren’t me. Is there something on my face? Lately, however, I don’t really know why, but I have been making a concentrated effort to look myself in the eyes when I find myself facing a mirror. Sometimes I can hold a gaze longer than others.

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Fire Away: A Veteran’s Journey From War To College

By Timothy Schumacher

“An Army veteran uses two different weapons to combat the struggles of adjusting to college life after war.”

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The Ghost and the Steel Wheel Roller

by Luke Vermeulen

February, 2005

Mosul, Iraq

We have a steel wheel roller in our motor pool that’s haunted.

Usually it’s houses and stuff that you hear about getting haunted on TV but that dumb roller definitely has a ghost hanging around it. I’m looking at the thing right now and the ghost’s right there, standing in front of the big steel wheel staring at me. Probably standing right in the exact spot where it got crushed when the roller was being unloaded at the port. We have four identical rollers all parked in a row in the motor pool and I can totally tell which one is the haunted one from a mile away.

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How Cold? Icebreaker Cold

by Don Robishaw           

It was the dark of the evening and temperatures were below freezing. With an unlit Marlboro between his teeth, the able-bodied seaman turned, bent over, and cupped his hands to block out the wind and seawater.

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The Chaplain’s Call

by Harvey Ranard

It was a beautiful day at sea aboard the USS Caloosahatchee, AO-98. We were in a part of the Caribbean where the water was a mile deep and as crystal clear below us as the endless royal, sun-drenched sky above us. I was just a year or so into my twenty-three-year service as a Navy chaplain, so every experience was crisp and salty. From my view on the bridge, I watched our ship cut gracefully through waters that sparkled with the beauty of a diamond, the sort of moment travel agencies advertise. Maybe more people would join the Navy if they could see what I saw that day.

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Trimmer, No More Need Be Said

by Phillip Parotti

In the time of Camelot, long before I took up teaching as a career, I answered John F. Kennedy’s call by doing my bit as a naval officer. As a result, on a warm day in August 1963, I made my way to San Diego, where I reported aboard a new destroyer. As “George,” the junior Ensign aboard, I didn’t have immense responsibilities as the Assistant Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer. In fact, I was a gopher for the ASW Officer, a Lieutenant who had risen through the ranks. “Mustangs,” men formerly enlisted, were some of the most knowledgeable people in the Navy, and while I might have been the ship’s “George,” I wasn’t thoroughly green. Four years at Annapolis had taught me that Mustangs knew the ropes and that to prosper, I would be wise to listen to them. My training started at once.

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A Loadmaster’s Lament

by Fred Fredine

As we taxied for takeoff, I looked out the back of the C-119 cargo area and could see the Army sergeant running behind the plane trying to catch up. The afternoon jungle rain, which only an hour ago sent torrents of water cascading over the perforated steel plate that covered the runway, was now escaping through the holes as streams of vapor carrying the smell of rotting vegetation toward the sky, and leaving the PSP wet and slippery. Using the web straps attached to the side of the plane for handholds I struggled toward the ten-foot opening in the rear of the plane, where the clam shell doors used to be, and stepped over the rollers that we nailed to the floor.

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A Good Old American Breakfast

by Barbara Mujica

Jamali didn’t want to work with the Americans, but he needed the money. He had plenty of reasons to detest the foreigners. His sixteen-year-old cousin Zaid had been caught in the crossfire at an American checkpoint and lost an arm, and Jamali had lost his livelihood because now nobody bought the fine wooden cabinets he made. Americans had brought war to Iraq, and war had left the country in shambles. Jamali thought about it a long time before he accepted the offer from Lieutenant Montez.

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In the Post Office

by Joshua Calloway

I stand in line, a thousand people in front of me. We serpentine around counters and shelves stacked full of boxes, envelopes, card stock, watermarked stationery, and collector edition stamps adorned with Christmas bells, Dreidels, antique cars, movie scenes, and influential women throughout history. We shuffle on, one foot at a time, prisoners in a chain gang. I came here directly after work in an attempt to save some time. I immediately regret this decision, as I can feel the eyes of all the other customers fall upon me, sizing me up in my uniform, from head to toe. Some look at me with disgust and turn away, oddly this doesn’t bother me. Others shoot me a quick smile or nod and with this I feel myself starting to have a mini panic attack. I wish I had a fucking Valium! I inhale deeply through my nostrils and pinch the bridge of my nose with the thumb and index finger of my left hand.

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Steel Beach Picnic

by Joseph Couillard

I can smell the salty, sea air from the bottom of the trunk.
I let it fill my lungs, breathing life back into my oxygen-deprived muscles.
I look up.
The ladder-well is like a telescope, magnifying the holy blue sky above.
I begin my climb.
With each rung I shed a layer.
Watch.
Drills.
Briefs.
Training.
Boards.
Inspections.
Manuals.
Qualifications.
Exams.
I reach the top nearly weightless.
I rub my eyes, coaxing them awake.
The waves fall gently against the side of the boat.
The sun has already baked the deck dry.
I stagger before I find the horizon to steady myself.
I sit down on the tough, textured deck.
It digs deep into my skin, but I don’t mind.
Someone is playing classic rock over an amplifier.
The cooks are flipping burgers on a charcoal grill.
Almost everyone is smoking.
The captain looks down from the bridge like a proud father.
I look to the east, knowing that is where home is, but for the first time in a while it doesn’t seem to matter.
I look around.
They are singing, laughing, dancing; all the things that just minutes before had been surrendered to the shadows of the boat.
Sitting there, with the sun setting all around us, we talk of love and of family and of how at that moment we would pay just about anything for a six-pack.
I take a deep breath and let it all wash over me.
I smile.
For a second it almost makes it all worth it.

LTJG Joseph Couillard is a Submarine Officer stationed in Bangor, Washington. He earned his commission through the NROTC program at Iowa State University in 2013. In his free time he enjoys writing, reading, playing basketball, and spending time with his girlfriend.