The dining hall at Camp Leatherneck, vacant and unused.
CAMP LEATHERNECK, AFGHANISTAN — Marines at Camp Leatherneck have begun a base-wide hunger strike in an attempt to draw attention to what they described as the "appalling" humanitarian nightmare unfolding on the installation.
In a letter submitted by Maj. Theo Gennaro, a C-130 pilot, and hand-delivered to the office of RC-Southwest leader Maj. Gen. Walter Miller, the Marines have demanded an independent panel receive access to Leatherneck and review its basic living conditions.
Some Marines have been reduced to eating food from care packages.
"I would rather starve than live another day in this filthy hellhole," Gennaro announced while munching on a packet of frozen M&M's he had been storing in his personal trailer's refrigerator all day.
"We already saw what happened last year when Marines couldn't order their own personal pan pizzas," he added. He was referring to the September 2012 attack, where a group of Taliban infiltrated the base and made a series of crank phone calls from Gen. Charles Gurganus' office before monopolizing all the phones at the Morale Welfare & Recreation Center to call their wives and complain how bored they were.
Gennaro was joined by other administrators, military police, analysts, pilots, mechanics, truck drivers, logisticians, MAGTF planners, barbers, laundrymen, fitness coaches, accountants, photographers, dog walkers, and tailors who make up the overwhelming majority of personnel on this beleaguered garrison.
They were also accompanied by a small group of infantrymen, angered that they had once again been thrown out of the chow hall for wearing cammies riddled with bullet holes.
As the Marines began their hunger strike, an angry mob gathered outside the Camp Leatherneck chow hall, brandishing signs reading "Where's the beef?" and "Got milk? -- and not that soy crap."
According to Marine spokesman Lt. Col. Cliff Gilmore, the strike began earlier today following the closure of the base's 24-hour dessert bar, featuring a 'make your own ice cream sundae' station manned by two Indian subcontractors hired and brought in from Mumbai for that specific purpose. Gilmore said the Marines were no longer able to afford flying the two men to Nepal every weekend to milk cows and pick fresh strawberries.
While the hunger strike only began this week, Marines say Leatherneck's living conditions have been steadily deteriorating over the past year, with the closure of the Asian food court, Waffle Hut, two of the base's five pizza parlors, McDonalds, and the Chick-fil-A. Some Marines have been reduced to eating at the base's Subway, supplementing the establishment's meager sandwiches with mayonnaise which they inject straight into their arms.
Under budget cutbacks, these Marines will now be forced to cut their own meat.
One Marine described his harrowing weight-loss over the last few months, dropping from 230 pounds down to a criminally-negligent 190. Other services have voiced compassion for the Marines.
"They're treated worse than animals," said British officer Ben Wrench, reached for comment at the Camp Bastion go kart track. "The only logical recourse they have, after all other avenues have been exhausted, is a hunger strike. This is their way of saying, 'Hey America! We're still out here!' You can slash the defense budget or disband the Second Marine Division, but don't mess with a man's daily cupcake."
More than four years after the first Marines arrived, Camp Leatherneck continues to be an embarrassment for both the U.S. government and the Marine Corps. President Obama has vowed to close the controversial camp, home to several thousand Marines and other affiliated services, which he opened in 2009 when no other country would host them.
The Marines have announced the hunger strike will continue until 0600 tomorrow, when the chow hall is having blueberry pancake day.