Operation Storm Garden

Chapter One: Triple Threat

By: Andrew Dunn


0542 AM

Sand. It gets into everything. Boots. Trousers. T-shirts. We’re lying there, crouched in weeds growing up through the sand, with a picture-perfect ocean behind us and a forest of tall trees ahead. Intel said there could be snipers in those trees, but all I wanted was to move forward so the itchy-gritty feeling of wet sand drying on my skin would leave me alone.

We’re waiting on 2nd Lieutenant Russ to give the order.

Russ is waiting the way he never did when the ship pulled into Singapore, Phuket, or Perth. He was quick to hurry off the ship with the other junior O’s then. Now, as we’re laying there and dawn is breaking hot behind us, the guy’s overthinking our next move.

It reminds me of chess. Weird, right?

It wouldn’t have, except two nights before we received our “go” for the mission, I watched a pro chess match on the ship’s TV. My first choice would have been boxing, but Petty Officer 2nd Class Rebecca Lopez, an Electrician’s Mate, was watching it, and I’d been trailing after her like a puppy all deployment, trying to get her attention. So, I sat there on the mess decks a few seats from her, pretending I was into chess the way she was into chess. It took forever for the players to decide their next move. Russ would’ve fit right in.