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    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    A Deck of Cards

    A Deck of Cards
    Steven Hunley

    Most dog-faces hated Smitty, on account of the stupid look on his mug, and because they knew he was the most intelligent bastard in C Company. If you were a clean-shaven fellow, you hated him because he was the hairiest man under the Iraqi sun. If you played cards you couldn’t stand the guy because he was lucky.

    I, for one always liked him, maybe because our names were only one letter away, and I’d lined up by him so many times and knew he didn’t stink. I liked him for that and for his good nature, and because he was at times so sloppy, that during inspections, that fact he was next to me took the heat off me, and he’d catch it instead.

    The latest non-com caught Smitty one day and said, “ I thought I told you guys to shave last night, you knew there was inspection.”

    Smitty was demonstrating what I call seven-o’clock shadow on his jaw.

    “I did shave, Sergeant.”

    Sergeant Shivel looked closer and noted the sleeves of his field jacket. They were, I don’t know…gorilla-like. Human hands, but hair, this was around the wrists mind you, sticking out like the scarecrow in Wizard of Oz.

    “O.K.” the five-striper answered, and resumed his thousand yard stare, passing over my dirty fingernails, my frayed rifle strap, and my nasty ol' earplug.

    That was long before Smitty became Brigadier General Smith of Intelligence.

    We were due to go out on patrol one afternoon. Playing cards was in order. We using a Bicycle deck, and it was as dog-eared and greasy as possible.
    Smitty had been losing for the last five hands, which was unusual. Tony de Sicily, we called him Tony de Sleazy, had been holding the winners. Barney, the detonations specialist, we called him Barney Rubble, or Cave Man for short, was holding his own, and so was I.

    In walked a Sergeant from the commander’s office and threw the usual stack of wanted posters on the table.

    “Take a look at these before you go out. They’re all kill or captures.”

    There were pages and pages, pictures and Intel right under those, paragraph after paragraph of information.

    “Is that an order, Sergeant?” said Smitty.

    “I don’t give ‘em fellows. I’m just the guy sees you bums carry them out.”

    He did an about face and left.

    Smitty took one look and tossed his in the trash.

    “There’s too many to read,” said Caveman, “This thing is as thick as a rough draft of War and Peace.”

    He tossed his in too.

    “Besides that,” said de Sleazy, “these guys look like slippery monkeys with medals…all the same.”

    In went his copy.

    “Roger that,” said I, and made a three-pointer from my side of the table.

    “There ought to be a better way,” said Smitty, and examined his hand.

    Meanwhile, across the room, and new recruit just out of basic was watching Marlon Brando on T.V. It was a western, One-Eyed Jacks. Brando was talking to Carl Malden, the sheriff. The volume was blaring.

    “You may be a one-eyed jack in this town, but I’ve seen the other side of your face.”

    “Turn that sh*t off,” Smitty shouted, “I’m trying to concentrate.”

    “I call ya,” announced Caveman, and laid his cards on the table.

    “I can’t beat that,” said de Sleazy, and threw in his hand. Smittie and I did too.

    Caveman reach out his arms and and scooped up the winnings. “Man ought to dig up somethin’, for being around this manure pile."

    We were upset and bored and that made for a mean recipe.

    “I’ve had enough of these cards,” said de Sleazy, and pushed them off the table and into the trash. Caveman said nothing and stared at the rubble in the ashtray, the Marlboro and Camel butts and an empty wrapper from a Swisher Sweet. Smitty looked down at the trash, as if, and let me use a highly overused literary phrase here, 'as if transfixed' .”

    “To catch those guys we have to see their faces in color, and see them every day, " mused Smitty.

    Nobody listened.

    “And we have to assign value to those guy’s faces,” he continued.

    Nobody gave a you-know-what.

    Then a smile rushed over Smitty’s face like a Tomahawk over Bagdad until it lit up like an explosion.

    “I’m going to see the Lieutenant,” he announced, got up and left double time.

    And that’s how Smitty became a DIA specialist.

    ©Steven Hunley 2013 One-Eyed Jacks

    Buyers beware: The real Iraq 'most wanted' cards are still awaiting distribution
    By Lisa Burgess
    Stars and Stripes

    Published: April 17, 2003
    ARLINGTON, Va. — The Pentagon’s “55 most wanted” playing cards are turning into the hottest collector’s item since Beanie Babies, but with an ugly twist: unscrupulous sellers are offering “real” cards that were never produced by the U.S. government.
    Meanwhile, Pentagon officials say, those decks that have been printed — fewer than 200, total — are still sitting at U.S. Central Command headquarters, waiting for distribution to selected troops in Iraq.
    The cards made their debut during a CENTCOM briefing from Doha, Qatar, on April 11, when Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks displayed a deck emblazoned with the faces of 55 key Iraqi regime leaders that U.S. troops are supposed to pursue, kill or capture.
    Each deck has two Jokers, one showing Iraqi military ranks and the other Arab tribal titles. Saddam Hussein is depicted on the ace of spades.

    The “Iraq 55” cards were developed by DIA specialists who knew about the old American tradition of using playing cards to help troops learn more about the enemy.
    Such playing cards have been used as far back as the Civil War, Brooks said, again in World War II — Army Air Corps decks printed with the silhouettes of German and Japanese fighter aircraft fetch hundreds of dollars today — and in the Korean War.
    Troops often play cards to pass the time, and seeing the names, faces and titles of the wanted Iraqis during their games will help soldiers and Marines in case they run into the wanted individuals in the field.
    Last edited by Steven Hunley; 03-24-2013 at 12:09 AM.

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