“Mechanized Combat Task Force Sierra – Detachment 5, called ‘D5′ in brief, called ‘Dead Five” in grim brief, was made up of a slurry of men and equipment. There were twenty-five trucks, all that remained from a column that had been annihilated in an ill-fated campaign sprung straight from a newly-minted officer’s brain; fifteen half-tracks so fresh from the plant in Charlotte that you couldn’t lean on them without getting green on your hands; a handful of Humvees that were a repurposing of a repurposing; and one fat, mean tank named by the skinny mechanics responsible for this step-family of machinery as Meghan, after a First Sergeant’s second ex-wife.
The boys who filled the bowels of these vehicles were hardly older than the vehicles themselves. They hailed from the thin, stretched out out parts of cities like Witchita, Oklahoma City, San Francisco and Miami. Most came alone, although there was a strangely large contingent of lads from Indianapolis, all of whom were as crisp and fresh-cheeked as winter apples. In the chaparral heat, they refrained from typical army formality, including modes of dress, instead supplanting the rigors of military discipline with a quiet, flexing code of efficiency and moroseness. First Sergeant was named Gib. He wore aviators, a practice which typically would get you jeered out of an Army camp, but which he retained from his time on a navy gunship. He was a religious man. Deeply intolerant. Prone to violence. And my best friend.”