Thursday, January 13, 2011

Carl, Special Operations

I personal story here.

When the facility I was working at had a new owner and was shutting down, I was the one person picked to come to Columbus to work from a company filled with much more competent people then I. The man who choose me was a Marine.

When I came to Columbus I met another man. His name; Carl. I didn't know much about Carl at first. Cranky a little. Driven? very much. His job was seemed unspecified. He just seemed to work on everything. I tried to relate to Carl as he was picked, as I was, by the same man and same purpose. I know he came in from California, grew up in Germany and spoke a few languages. That's about it. Over the course of a year and a few nights out I got to know him. He was an Episcopalian. He was familiar with Free Masonry as well. He liked going out. In fact, a little too much.

He worked hard, played hard. I grew to like his sort of crankiness over time because it was sort of a bored thing. Like what he was doing was simple, but very important to him at the same time. A hard dynamic to explain in words.

One day I caught him talking to the Marine who hired me outside on a frozen afternoon. It was a candid conversation filled with words and lingo unfamiliar to me. He was getting dressed down in a way I had never heard or experienced since. The only sentence I remember was how the conversation ended; "you didn't land on a beach and wave your arms and say, 'Here I am! I'm here!'". After that they separated.

I walked up to Carl and asked... "Carl, are you military? Marine?" He stood there shuffling his feet and put out his cigarette and said; "Yeah, SEAL."

I said nothing. He walked away.

I short time after he started to change. He'd show up to work late, or not at all. I remember not seeing him during the week, only a couple Saturdays here and there when I was in and he was smoking in his office. I always wanted to ask him, in sober moments, about where he had been, what he had done. I never did. Maybe out of respect. Maybe fear.

One of those Saturdays I remember sitting at my desk trying to figure out how to frame a botanical. A group of random colored leaves. Only thing i know was that it was a group of leaves from different parts of the world. I couldn't figure out how to make the product work. Carl walked by. No words. He stopped to look for a second. No "hi" no nothing. I could smell the stench of a long night on him though. A few minutes later he came back and asked me where that leaf was from. Heck if I knew? I shrugged and said, "Hell if I know." He stood for a second with the leaf in his hand the promptly rattled off a city of a country I didn't know and can't remember. "I remember brushing that aside there, I'm sure that's what it is." he said.


Not long after Carl was let go. Everyone there grew tired of his drinking and. well, womanizing. Word of it got to the wrong people. A week after that he wrapped his truck around a lane divider going home. They said it was an accident. Though he liked to drink, they said he was sober.

I know this is a sad story. It was a few years ago now. But I won't forget Carl. The guys that do what he did are rare. Most will probably never meet a Carl. Most don't think about the horrific things he did in his lifetime so I can sit here and write.

But I'm thinking about it now. I'm glad I am. I'm glad to have known him.

I was one of the first to hear of his death. It was confusing and not believable. I remember thinking of the Marine that hired him, coached him and believed in him, like me. After I heard, I knew I had to go into his office and talk about it. I remember mostly silence. He pulled pictures up of other teams he helped at his former job (saved and categorized on his computer). It was of those who worked with Carl.

I don't know the Marine's background in the military. All I know is that he said, after a few awkward hours of conversation, "another comrade down."

As a son of a Marine myself, that's all I needed to know and will need to know.

As a postscript:

The reason I write this is for the superficial thoughts I have on a game like Black Ops verse a game like Medal of Honor, Limited Edition (Tier One, or whatever it is). One lets you fight zombies at the end as JFK or Nixon. The other simply plays out a story of our countries warriors. No conspiracies, no pulling a gun on the president or shooting Fidel Castro. Just warriors doing what our country, right or wrong, tell them to do. I felt a hint of that in the MOH game. Maybe just a hint and maybe just a game inappropriately mentioned after a real tragic story. But some things like COD: Black Ops in our world need to be called out as inappropriate by guys like me know might know a little more. Just a little.

Rest in Peace, Carl. You and your unknown actions are not forgotten, nor are the actions of the heroes that advised the creation of MOH forgotten... even to an ignorant gamer as myself who know no other way to remember you or honor you.

There is no video on youtube that glorifies what you really do, not books on your exact operations or what you have done. No movies that accurately show your actions. No fancy comments, slogans, symbols and no funny stories to share from a guy like me. So all I have to say is:

Thank you.

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