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In Their Own Words – Force Recon
Harm Mac Bud
Major Sarah MacKenzie
By Tracy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
There are just some cases that give you an uncomfortable feeling in your gut, that sinking feeling that no matter which way it turns out, no one's really going to be happy with the outcome. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those times.
Koonan is already a legend in the Corps and he's only a captain. He's spent most of his career with Recon, working his way up from enlisted to officer rank and he designed a large portion of the Recon training program. He's the kind of man that gives Force Recon the reputation that it has. His nickname's "The Duke" and that's the kind of man that he is – a take-no-prisoners, push-everything-to-the-limit-to-get-the-job-done Marine. Only, this time, it's possible that his John Wayne persona nearly got two Marines killed and that's what's so difficult about this case. On the one hand, you can't help but wish that the Corps could get more people like him; on the other, if he was derelict, then it's my job to prove that and prosecute him to the fullest extent under the UCMJ.
Bud's nervous – whether about this case or something else, I'm not sure. Maybe it's personal, merely new relationship jitters with Harriet since she now has a shore assignment. Then again, it could be professional, since this is the first investigation he's gone out on without both Harm and me. He's moved up from third to second place on this case and maybe that's a little daunting for him.
As for Harm – well, he's Harm. I'm not sure why he's not going on this investigation with us, although I admit that it will be nice to take the lead for once. Not that I haven't built up a tremendous amount of respect for Harm, both personally and professionally, in the months that we've been working together; I just appreciate the opportunity to take charge of an investigation for a change.
I'm not sure what case is keeping Harm off this investigation, but he seems so smug and confident about it. He usually is; but given the nature of this case, I almost wish that I could borrow a little bit of that attitude for myself. He's got his case 'aced' and I'm facing the daunting task of going after a fellow Marine, one who by all accounts is a credit to the uniform that he wears ….
I'm not sure what to think of Colonel Malcolm. He requested a Marine to head up this investigation – although I doubt that had much to do with the Admiral's decision to send me. If the Admiral had thought Harm would be the best person for this job, then Harm would be heading up this investigation. At any rate, the Colonel sounds like he really wants to know what happened to Gunny Krycek and Corporal Bell and to know if Koonan is responsible, but his comment about requesting a Marine still makes me nervous. I don't like that nagging doubt in my mind that the Corps disciplining its own might mean I'd be asked to overlook certain things. That's not how I conduct investigations. I care about the truth – just as much as Harm would if he were here.
The beginning of our investigation only brings up more questions. The training map is of little help – the boundary of the exercise area could be anywhere. It's hard to read, which begs the question of whether it was accidentally or intentionally smudged. I'm not going to get any answers here. I do want to watch some of Koonan's training exercises, get a feel for the kind of man, the kind of commander, that he is. I trust my intuition and hope that this will give me a better idea of whether Koonan might willingly put his trainees at risk just to push them into becoming the best Recon Marines that they can be.
He's good – I'll give him that. I don't know if watching the training gave me any clearer picture about him, however. He wants his men to be the best, but at what cost? At first, I suspected that he was intentionally needling me when he suggested I conduct my interviews before the first class at 0600; but then I got the idea that if I'd been a man with a chest full of medals and stars on my shoulders, he would have reacted the same way. Koonan is definitely a man who expects things to be done his way. He has that confidence that says that if his men will listen to what he has to say, they will come back alive.
That miserable, low-down – I can't believe, of all the stunts I've seen Harm pull, that he would drop right into the middle of my investigation without a single word to me! Damn him! I was getting into flying solo on this one, then he shows up. He deserves the way I put him on the spot by claiming that we'd served together in Bosnia. The look in his eyes when the Colonel was trying to remember who the CO was of 29 Company in Bosnia – that was priceless. I'll remember that one for a long time to come. Fortunately, I remembered just in time not to start laughing at the look of panic in his eyes so that I didn't blow his cover. On the other hand, this should be interesting. Harm as a Marine? This I've got to see. It's almost worth being pissed off at him.
Bud's nervous again, even going so far as to interrupt my 'discussion' with Harm about his sudden appearance. I remember Harm telling me after the Connors case how Bud had compared watching the two of us go at it to watching your parents fight. He tries to play peacemaker with us – probably praying that this won't be a repeat of the Connors debacle – and Harm and I can't help but laugh. It does break the tension, but I'd still like to have a word or two with that Squid when this is all over.
Talking to the trainees isn't really getting us anywhere, although the feeling grows that something is wrong with this whole picture. All the men tell pretty much the same story, but I still sense that they're hiding something. And what they have to say about Koonan is all variations on a theme: excellent leader, cares about his men, would get them out of anything. Another consensus seems to be that Corporal Bell panicked and was responsible for his own injuries and that it was only due to Krycek's heroism that Bell's even alive. I concede that not everyone is cut out for Force Recon – I know that from the stories I've heard Uncle Matt tell over the years. But two men didn't have to come close to dying to prove that Bell is one of those.
The only one who tells a different story is Bell. He claims that he saw Koonan do something to the map of the training area; but has he heard that everyone else is blaming him for what happened and is he trying to cover his own butt? Or is he the only one telling the truth? The thing is, if he's the one telling the truth, how do I prove it? There's only one of him against the rest of the team and I don't think Marines who would follow Koonan "to hell and back" would have any problem lying on the witness stand, if it came to that.
There are some perks to Harm working undercover, and I just discovered one of them. After the Recon team got out of the brig (that just seems so Harm – become a Marine and get thrown in the brig for brawling! Maybe Harm might not make a half-bad Marine), Harm walked up to me just as if we were running into each other at JAG and I had to remind him that enlisted personnel are supposed to salute officers. It was so much fun needling him, but he seemed to get a laugh out of it as well, making a comment about my enjoying our new "relationship." This might work out – okay, note to self: no more watching *A Few Good Men.*
The moment over, I filled Harm in on what I had learned from Corporal Bell, while he told me about Koonan's propensity for 'interjecting' problems into the training exercises. It's beginning to look more and more like Bell is the one telling the truth. However, Harm was very quick to point out that what we had was circumstantial and what a good commander Koonan was. I guess it doesn't really surprise me that Harm would have developed a fondness for Koonan. Harm is a take-charge kind of person, and it makes sense that he would respect others who are like that – like the Admiral, Uncle Matt or Koonan. I'm concerned that Harm may be getting a little too personally involved, but he does have a point. It's all circumstantial. I don't have anything concrete, nothing that I would feel comfortable taking into court, and I put off the Colonel as best I could. He's far from satisfied and I feel the same, but I'm not sure that there's anything short of someone suddenly changing his story that will break this case open.
I was right about someone having to change his story to break this case, but the source was surprising. Or maybe not so surprising. I guess Koonan really does care about his men, because when they went back into the village, he confessed to switching the radios on the current mission and to smudging the map on the mission which injured Krycek and Bell. And he made sure to point out that he acted on his own, that Colonel Malcolm didn't know what he was doing. Taking that into account, it's a shame that this case turned out this way. Any Marine would be proud to serve under him.
After it's all over, I had time to think about Harm being in that village as artillery was raining down on Red Dog Five. It doesn't surprise me at all that he's the one who went back into the village to bring Tesla out. That's the kind of man he is – never willing to leave anyone behind. If he were a Marine …. He boasted a bit about Koonan's comment to him, about being a credit to the uniform. I wasn't about to admit it to my arrogant partner, but Koonan was right. I was wrong when I thought that Harm wouldn't make a half-bad Marine. He'd make one hell of a Marine and I'm proud to have the opportunity to serve beside him, even if he is Navy. I just need to see if I can temper his propensity for barreling into dangerous situations. One of these days, he's not going to be as lucky as he was today ….
Disclaimer: While based on the JAG episode, this is for entertainment purposes only and no profit is being made.