It’s hard not to talk about video games in relation to the Marine Corps. For starters, I’m a huge nerd there’s so many games about the military that it’s hard to ignore. I believe I’ve mentioned before that, like most people, when I enlisted there was some image of me being Solid Snake somewhere in the depths of my imagination. Everyone has that daydream, where they’re the lone wolf badass they play in all the games, the one that takes on an entire enemy encampment by themselves and saves the lives of thousands.

I believe I was at CAX before my first deployment when it hit me, standing fire watch in the open and guarding a stack of SMAW rockets for use on the range the next day. I realized that I certainly wasn’t Solid Snake in this scenario. Unfortunately, I was the idiot guard standing post, walking in a repeated square pattern. A tap on the wall would have alerted me, “Huh, what was that noise?” I would walk over to the source and look around briefly before some grizzled man in a bandana would grab me and choke me to death by repeatedly tapping the square button.

We all want to think we’re the badass in the bandana, but we never are. We’re the fodder that he has to go through on his way to the objective.

We are the grunts.