“There’s a lesson to be learned from this and I’ve learned it oh so well,” was coming out of any number of small radio speakers when we marched across the perimeter and into the temporary encampment Captain Casey referred to as his command post. I walked in the lead with the Gunny behind me, feeling like, but not resembling, the much taller and hugely more elegant leader of the Marine Corps band. The music wasn’t marching music, and I somehow felt the part of the song playing about a mythical non-existent red rubber ball might prayerfully apply: “I’ve bought my ticket with my tears, and that’s all I’m going to spend.”

The captain had somehow offloaded some version of real shelter from the chopper, and set it up in the very middle of the open area of the sand covered river bank. As I approached, it looked like nothing more than a bullseye in the middle of a large target.