The Eighth Page

Student Accidentally Deployed to Afghanistan for Active Military Service

Aspiring Community Service Coordinator Charlie Table ’14 thought he was signing up for a service trip. Though he did sign up for service, it was of a drastically different kind. Table signed up for active duty in the US army. Though not stationed in Iwo Jima, he did write these notes to his mommy: March 2nd: Hi Mom, I just saw a motivational poster of Uncle Sam wrestling with a Bear (which had an angry looking terrorist face…), which I think is some kind of ad for a service trip dedicated to saving the Ursus Afghanistis, the rare Afghani bear. That would look great on my college résumé! Apparently, “My country can’t wait any longer! We want YOU!” It’s really great that the government has gotten eco-friendly! March 16th: Well Mom, I’m off to West Point to “train” for my community service trip to Afghanistan! I can’t wait to help do my part for Mother Earth by saving the Asiatic Black Bear, but I have to admit, I am surprised how seriously leaders are taking this trip! It’s like they actually think that my life is in danger, instead of the bears’! Drill Sgt. Marshall and Lt. Dan are going to wake us up at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow for a day of training that would “Make us wish we’d never been born,” so wish me luck! March 19rd: Greetings from West Point! The last few days have been physically brutal, as they are definitely preparing us for wrestling the bears back into captivity, but I have to say the good ol’ Andover Curling Team’s workouts from this past winter were far worse. I have to say though, some of our “training” doesn’t seem very related to bear saving. Sgt. Marshall is training us to use a Sniper Rifle labeled “Black Bear Company,” and all of the other guys at camp are looking at us like we are some sort of “covert op!” It’s ironic, ‘cause we are actually just a bunch of tree huggers wanting to save the bears! Not only this, but they are teaching us some useful Arabic phrases, like “Hello,” “Democracy is the way,” “Put your hands over your head or we shoot!” and “Hopefully I’ll be out of here soon.” March 26th: Hello from Afghanistan! We got in a few days ago, and since then, have been trying to head out into the country. Unfortunately, we keep on finding bombs in the streets that the rest of the men feel obligated to defuse, so progress is slow. It’s really funny, we keep on going into these “US Military Personnel Only” zones (which I presume are shortcuts to the countryside) and we haven’t been stopped once! I really like how laid-back things are here! April 1st: I can’t help but be disappointed, for we never got to save any bears! We kept on getting held up by detaining suspicious figures and being some general’s personal bodyguard, but hey, next time! I am sad that I couldn’t contribute to the future of the Asiatic Black Bear, but it is thought that counts. For what it’s worth, the streets of Kabul are much safer! Oh, and how do I cash a “Military Pension” check?