FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Billy, 6, is an old soul with the wherewithal to call it like he sees it. Recently, he has taken to calling recess his “deployments to The Sandbox.”
Billy, whose mother is an artillery officer with the 18th Field Artillery Brigade, often pauses to take out the giant wad of fruit snacks tucked into his lower lip to tell his mother that phys ed class “is more like Kuwait, so it’s not a real deployment.”
Lunchtime, though. That’s the real rotation; and Billy has seen some shit.
“I once saw animal crackers. Half-eaten. Strewn across the ground, and covered in their own crumbs across the blacktop,” Billy says, then pauses to spit and take a swig from his fruit-punch-filled camelback. “It was a wicked gross. Plus all the screaming. Girls are loud, and they have cooties.”
Billy looks off the the distance, knowing something we could never know, before nodding in the direction of the play structure.
“That’s the FOB,” he says. “Sometimes, I spend my whole deployment in there. I only let my friends in with me.”
Billy has successfully redeployed to Fort Home and the safety of his double bunk bed with cardboard built castle walls. His second in command, Corporal Teddy, also returned to much praise from the civilian stuffed animals, unicorn princess, and Cobra Commander, who served in the last conflict and distinguished himself with honors. Billy has received the Clean Plate medal (with B device, for Broccoli), the Perfect Attendance Award, and a Gold Star for penmanship.
Grumpy contributed to this article.