Rat-faced and fuck-ugly. Too-big ears, regulation-length short brown hair, beady blue eyes, and a nose that comes to a point above a small, puckered mouth and a weak chin. Any attempt at a big-boy beard will give him only pathetic neard-whiskers, so he's clean-shaven. He's about 5'7", slouched, maybe 5'10" when he's standing at attention. Scrawny shouldersbasically a beanpolebut obviously in good enough physical shape to be fit for duty.

He carries his rifle, an M1903A1 with a big-ass, badass scope, a pistol, a knife, and spare ammo; along with his entrenching tool, a camouflaged poncho, maybe a canteen or two. All of this is located on his web gear, which is cinched tight so nothing swings around or rattles. This Raider forgoes carrying around creature comforts like a blankets, mess kits, and rations.

He wears the standard-issued camouflage uniform, well-maintained. He has bits of foliage stuck in his helmet band.

Cranfills Gap, 1930

The child, Ivar, is thin, scrawny, but otherwise average height for his age. He had his father's sharp blue eyes, but little else in common. He lacked his father's wide, sturdy build, strong Nordic features, and laborer's hands. Young Ivar's hands were soft and delicate, unlike those of his neighbors, those children he saw at Sunday school who were already accustomed to farm life.

At the age of eight, there's a glimmer of the kind of man he would grow to be: bad posture, narrow build, not mesomorphic by any stretch of the imagination. Already the children (the Norwegian ones, anyway) call Ivar "Rottegutt," or "Rat Boy." After all, Ivar had brown hair. His ears were wide, his eyes seemed too small and beady for his skull, his nose was pointed, and he startled easily.

Now his father was showing him something.

"You pull the bolt back like this, see? Put a cartridge here like so. Then you push it shut and push down here. Do you understand, Ivar?"

"Yes, father." Ivar sounded more like a Texan than anything else. He must have picked that accent up from school.

"Here, take the rifle. Put it on your shoulder. Here, like this. Now, do you see the tin over there?"

"Yes, father." Ivar could see it. Barely. Thankfully, the hot Texas sun glinted off the metal.

"How far away is it?"

"I don't know."

"Look at it, boy."

"Fifty yards?"


"A hundred?" This lesson was bullshit. He was too young to speak such a word aloud, especially not to his father, but he thought it all the same.

"I said look! Not guess! Now look, boy!"

Ivar's father swatted him on the back of his head. Ivar nearly dropped the rifle. Ivar squinted, mentally counted his footsteps to the can on the fencepost. It took him over a minute. Bullshit.

"A hundred and fifteen."

A grunt. "Close enough. Now adjust your sights, boy. Now aim at the can just like I showed you how. Line up your sights. Mind how you breathe, boy."

"Yes, father."

"Do not aim at the can."

"Yes, father."

"What's the picture on the label?"

"Peaches?" Ivar definitely couldn't make the label out; he got a look at the can before his father set it out there.

"Aim for the smallest thing you can see, boy."

"Yes, father." Of course Ivar couldn't make the label out at this distance, but in his mind's eye, he imagined he could anyway. Even though he suspected such techniques were pure bullshit.

"Then squeeze that trigger."

There was hardly any recoil, let alone sound, and the can pinged off the fencepost.

It was still bullshit, though.

Cranfills Gap, 1939

Small community life didn't suit Ivar. Nor did farm work, although Ivar was more than capable of driving a tractor. Ivar, now seventeen, had come to the conclusion that, were this an earlier decade, Cransfills Gap would indeed be a one-horse town.

There was an abundance of bullshit in one-horse towns.

Adolescence was not kind to Ivar, being as fuck-ugly as he was. He had to get out, go somewhere. He did well in his studies, but higher education didn't suit him.

Conflict all over the world. There were even Nazis in Norway, where Ivar's grandparents were from. What's a boy to do?

What would later become Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, 1940

The only real useful lesson Ivar came away with was:


A simple enough lesson.

The PT was the hardest part, but Ivar made it through. They were just bullshit tricks any half-trained mutt could do.

In December 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. By August, rat-faced Ivar found himself in Guadalcanal. This wasn't bullshit. This was war, dammit! This was real! He just hoped there weren't leeches or parasites for when the time came when he would have to drop to the ground and put his pecker in the dirt.

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