Point of Departure
Its 2004, Life after school seems blissful for Jonas, He had graduated from his school, been in the delayed entry program for over a year, and excited for his chance to prove himself. He wasnt always like this though, when he was very young, he had a dreaming heart, dreaming of science, loving science fiction, and an innocence in his heart feeling optimistic despite a taste of what life has in store for him. Jonas did have it difficult, A difficult life in school. He had only a small handful of friends. A Girl in school he knew, who he asked to prom a few times finally gave him a chance. Her name was Kelly. She realized she shared much with him in the lives they lived, Her two brothers constantly reminded her of that, Her older sister was no different but ironically her sister was prom queen. The reality of life hit Jonas pretty hard in High School. He wanted to escape what he felt was his own personal hell. One day he took that opportunity to visit an Army Recruiter and eagerly signed up. Not realizing this decision would change his life Forever, His girlfriend Kelly wanted him to stay home, she didn’t want him to sign up. Jonas insisted on joining, thinking the Army would help him be a man that his father always wanted. Kelly felt he was being selfish in his decision, but he felt in his heart he was doing what was best for everyone and for him. Kelly Promised Jonas that she would still be here when he got home.
His family threw a going away party for Jonas and his extended family was there and 3 people from his school that he knew well including his girlfriend Kelly. Who weeped on Jonas’s shoulders after people left in the late evening. Kelly’s watery eyes dig into Jonas’s heart asking him, “Can you do me a favor Jonas? Can you write to me?” “Yea. I will, I will,” Kelly sighed and asked Jonas one more question, “You love me don’t you?” Jonas answers with a question, “Of Course, why do you ask?” Kelly then inquired, “If they send you to war, please, dont go getting yourself killed. Stay hidden, stay safe! Do this for me please. I fear something bad could happen if you do.” Jonas assured, “I promise nothing bad will happen. Who knows they might not even need me.” Kelly started crying, “How can you say that to me when you signed up to be an infantryman? You will be on the front lines. You will be in the thick of it! Please! Just.... Just Stay hidden, stay safe.. Dont get yourself killed and come home to me!” Jonas again reassures, “I promise.”
The Next day June 11th 2004 and Jonas Heard a honk outside his home. He sees a Gray Chevy Malibu sitting idle, It’s his recruiter, waiting to take him to the airport. Still in his boxers he rushed to get clothes on, looking for a pair of comfortable Gym shorts and his Go Army T-shirt. Grabs his horribly worn sneakers and heads out the door, his dad Ned was sleeping but wouldn’t speak to him, anyway, due to his decision to join but signed his consent on the basis maybe the military would straighten him up. Katie was still sleeping as well. The recruiter greeted Jonas, “Good morning sir, did you sleep well?” Jonas lamented, “Sort of, I was anxious and nervous.” The Recruiter told him, “Dont be nervous, be proud my friend, next time you come home, people will call you a hero and have a home coming parade for you.” Jonas smiled in approval. “That would be great!”
On the Drive to Pittsburgh International Airport, His recruiter pulled up to the drop off area and offered Jonas advice, “Remember Jonas, when you get to reception before your basic starts, they will ask you questions, dozens of questions, questions about your health, your family and your thoughts. They want to make sure you really have the heart to be a soldier. So when they ask you questions, mainly about your health, remember, Yes means, your enlistment stops, No means Numerous Opportunities. Remember, You didn’t tell me any medical conditions you have, so you have nothing to tell them.” Jonas nodded in agreement, “Got it. Thanks! Maybe we will see each other again.” The Recruiter chuckled, “Maybe.”
Jonas closed the door and walked into the Airport to be processed. He asked one of the staff “I have a flight to atlanta leaving at 12 o clock can you tell me where to go?” The Clerk told him, “Yes, you are meeting up with 15 other people in Concourse A, on United Airlines, heres your tickets. Good luck to you sir.” Jonas thanks the Clerk and walks to the people mover corridor, gets on Concourse A and sees a guy from his high school Jeremy, “Jeremy? I didnt know you Joined! You going to Fort Benning too?” Jeremy lamented that he didnt befriend Jonas in school, “Yea. I’m sorry that i my friends and i didnt talk to you in school, I was a afraid that if i did, we would be laughed at or at least I.” Jonas forgave him, “I understand.. Really, i do. I was a linch pin for every preppy kid in school. but thats behind us now.”
15 people lined up along the wall in Concourse A, Jonas was one of them. One of the TSA Agents with Nitrite gloves searched through all the bags of the recruits. One recruit named Max, had a little swiss army tool in his bag and was pulled aside. The Agent informed the recruit, “This cannot be allowed on the plane” and put it in a zip lock bag. Jonas stood for a better part of an hour during that exchange getting impatient like those recruits around him, One guy yelled, “Come on already!” He wanted to pull the kid aside, but the Civilian escorting us told him that he was shipping off to basic training and they cant hold him. That it was a simple mistake.” The Agent looked at the bag and deduced that the poor mans intent wasnt malicious and let him go.
Jonas and the other recruits boarded their plane and max leaned behind to Jonas commenting, “Hey, what if theres a terrorist on this plane, are they gonna take on 15 of us?” The Flight Attendant rebuked Max, “Hey, There wont be none of that on this plane, if i hear one more outburst from you sir, i will remove you from the plane. Circumstances or not!” So as they all got buckled in and the plane started taking off. Jonas looked out his window, being fortunate to have a window seat and realized he had never flown before. At first he was terrified worried about either a plane crash or terrorist hijacker. 9/11 was still fresh in his mind. But as the plane got into the Air and the G forces hit Jonas unexpectedly. The flight lasted about 90 minutes and they were in Atlanta. Jonas got out of the plane and got a wiff of the outside air. Like he just stuck his whole body into an oven and then jumped into the hot tub with his clothes on. The Georgia Heat was brutal. But little did he know this is nothing compared to what he will experience as training starts more than 200 miles southwest in Fort Benning just outside Columbus Georgia.
They all met in the lobby with a bus driver. This lady dressed in a uniform stated she will drive us from Atlanta to Fort Benning. The Time was 3 o clock and Jonas walked from the airport to the white painted school bus. Max nudged Jonas and said, “Hey brother, you ready for Jail?” Jonas gave him the stink Eye remarked, “You act like this is a burden not an opportunity.” Max laughed, “Dude, seriously, you should get out more. My judge told me if i joined the Army they were going to expunge my record.” Jonas shocked asked, “What the hell did you do?” Max joked, “dude looked at me the wrong way, and i bust a cap on his ass.” Max chuckled and truthfully stated, “Nah bro, I tried setting my neighbors yard on fire.” Jonas was horrified As they got on the bus and started on their way, Max took it upon himself to sit by jonas and introduce himself. “names Max, Max Madden, Woodland High School.” Jonas rolled his eyes realizing when he wanted a friend, perhaps maybe, just maybe, he got more than he bargained for. Jonas turned to Max and shook his hand. “Jonas Miller, Laurel City High School Graduate.” Max got excited, “DUDE, High school Rivals!” Thats when Jonas realized this was going to be a loooooooong bus ride..