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HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN – The Marines of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, deployed out of Camp Pendleton, CA are no strangers to conflict. During the last four months this group of hardened warriors has been engaged in savage combat with the Taliban for control of the Sangin region, critical to both sides in what have become the final years of the US war in Afghanistan. All Marines, from the newest boot private to the grizzled gunnery sergeants, have become proficient in the art of killing.

Unfortunately, these same highly trained veterans have begun to devote a larger and larger portion of their personal funds towards planning for a very slight possibility: the Zombie Apocalypse.

Many believe that some time in the near future, the undead will walk the earth as reanimated corpses, plunging the world into a state of anarchy and bloodshed where only the strong will prevail.

Captain Julian Abraham, a finance officer rotating through the area, was the first to discover the problem.

“When I first got to Sangin, I was ordered to conduct a personal finance survey of the Marines in Alpha Company.  I found that over 87% of them had spent their accumulated combat pay on additional tactical gear, personal firearms, and survival equipment while still deployed overseas.”

Abraham had unearthed the quietly growing trend in the Marine infantry ranks. When asked about the expenditures, Lance Corporal Wayne Jenkins summed it up for everyone.

“It’s the Zombie Apocalypse sir,” said Jenkins. “You gotta be ready.”

“I can’t wait to kill me some zombies when I get home.” added the young father of four, speaking to Duffel Blog during a patrol. “Soon as it starts, I’m heading for a cabin that I’ve leased up in Montana. Electric fences and everything!”

It should be noted that Lance Corporal Jenkins has no source of income outside of the Marine Corps.

Other Marines were actively engaged in planning as well. While sitting at a blocking position responsible for stopping and searching vehicles, Private Mark Waterson showed off his latest escape route from the barracks that he’d meticulously sketched out in his newly-purchased survival book, modeled on the popular fictional how-to guides for Zombie warfare by Max Brooks. He had already spent his reenlistment bonus on a 24-month supply of dehydrated rations, almost identical to the MREs issued in the field, as well as a curved titanium sword designed specifically for beheading the undead in close combat.

“Everybody knows you gotta get the head,” Waterson added sagely while polishing the three foot long blade.

Even the senior enlisted ranks were not immune to speculation. When this reporter approached Alpha Company First Sergeant Juan Martinez, he was thoughtful about the matter.

“Do I think it’s gonna happen? Probably not, but who knows? I mean. . . I’ll be ready when it does. Got an extra set of body armor ready to go. [A] few pistols for the kids. I can barricade the house up real nice when it starts with a stack of sandbags I have in the backyard.”

At the end of Abraham’s investigation, over 100 members of the company admitted to large expenditures relating to weapons or survival, and when pressed, admitted that the purchases were almost all tied in some way to the Zombie Apocalypse.

Captain James Stevens, the Company Commander, doesn’t seem to understand his men’s obsession with the planning for the very unlikely possibility of combat with the undead.

“It’s such a fucking waste of money. Last week I found out one guy whose wife is already using food stamps ordered a $3,000.00 nickel-plated 12-gauge shotgun with a bayonet attachment because he didn’t want the Z’s to get him during reloads. Reloads! What the hell is wrong with these guys?,” said Stevens, shaking his head in disgust. “You can’t give the junior guys financial advice when their squad leaders are spending training time drawing diagrams for evacuation and how to set up hasty defenses inside of a shopping mall! When that homeless guy got his face eaten a while back, guys that have never read a book in their lives were scouring the newspapers and internet sites for information about the spread of the infection. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

“What these guys really need to do is get some auditing counseling as soon as they get back to the States. L. Ron never talked about a Goddamn Zombie apocalypse, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s never going to happen!”

Stevens then angrily cut the interview short after he received an email asking if he would co-sign a loan for eight of his Marines to jointly purchase a school bus and convert it to a “battle wagon” after redeployment. A 35 page attachment of plans and construction diagrams had been added to the request.