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AuthorPhil Klay
Cover TypeHard Copy
Date Published2014
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Posted Mar 05, 2014
Category: Fiction
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07.01.2016 06:52 AM (841 Days Ago) 1 comments Categories: Fiction  Tags: fiction short stories 
Lauren Acampora will be joining us in person at the Friars's Club to discuss THE WONDER GARDEN on September 21st!   From the author's website (www.laurenacampora.com):   "In her stunning debut The Won...
Synopsis

Author Phil Klay will join us on April 30, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. to discuss his book of short stories, "REDEPLOYMENT"


Here's an excerpt from my personal blogpost - regarding REDEPLOYMENT:

 

"Just this morning I was reading a book of short stories titled,  'Redeployment,' by Phil Klay.  It happens to be the most recent book we’re featuring for the next discussion of the Gotham Book Club (an online chat with author participation).  The author is a former United States Marine who served in Iraq, and a graduate of Dartmouth...This book is raw and refined, invasive and almost matter-of-fact about things atrocious and commonplace.  I put off starting the short stories, afraid I would be afraid.  And I was right.  I am afraid - and horrified and disturbed.  But this is an important book, one that I believe people in our country need to read and think about. While the collection of stories is fiction, I have to imagine that some of what was written - actually happened in one form or another.  Phil Klay is an artful writer, willing to put it all on the line for the reader.  Something he already did for our country."


Feel free to ask questions or leave comments at anytime and join us LIVE!

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  •  Anonymous wrote 1641 Days Ago (positive) 
     
    1
    I began reading "redeployment" the day I was to hear Klay speak at The Center for Fiction. He is not the least fierce looking as his jacket cover picture tries to portray.He looks and speaks like the english college professor you remember fondly.
    The next day, i read the book right through. It was so compelling and at the same time so disturbing that had i put it down, i would not have continued to read it. I was exhausted.
    This book hurt on three levels: war is horrible and still we find no consensus on world peace, these new wars are creating a level of human harm we have not experienced before and lastly a fear of engaging any Vet of these wars in conversation for fear of hurting them more than helping.
    i would only engage if the conversation was opened to me.
    This is a book to be passed on to other readers. Deborah Davidson
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1636 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    It is an axiom that most people can't deal with the truth...
     
       
     
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1635 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    NPR is featuring an interview right now (4:00 hour on Tuesday 4/29) of a New Yorker magazine journalist - who wrote about what has been left behind in Iraq. Readers can probably find it on NPR's website.
     
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  •  MitchTobol wrote 1635 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I too found your book compelling and disturbing. Was it difficult to write?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1635 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Have you experienced negativity or opposition from the establishment or military re your book?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Before the comments start really rolling in, I want to welcome Phil Klay to our discussion of his wonderfully insightful book, Redeployment. We're happy to have you visit with us today!
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    My first comment about the book is a general one. While reading "In Vietnam They Had Whores" I realized how lucky we are that the author and narrators of each story seem to be sensitive, aware and connected to the stories. All of that adds a truth and tenderness to even the most horrifying events, conduct, etc. that take place throughout the book.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I have a friend from high school who served as a Marine during the Vietnam War. Your stories reminded me of our our attempts at meaningful conversation. I was fashionably anti-war and obviously had no idea of his experience. It was awful and finally we silently agreed to avoid the topic. ...Joanne
     
       
     
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi Phil. I am fascinated by these stories. I like the various perspectives you've presented. Would you tell us about the time period of your service in relation to your experience at Dartmouth and when you knew you would write about Iraq - in some form or another. Thanks.
     
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  •  Janet_Sullivan wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi Phil: The different chapters have different tones and moods. How did you plan the entire book to integrate some very action oriented chapters with some which are more psychological: some have dialogue, some have narrative, etc. Explain how you mapped out the entire book
     
       
     
     
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  •  NinaKrauthamer wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi Phil - Along those lines, how to you choose the order of your stories? The initial ones seemed to be a bit stronger (tougher) than some of the later stories.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I especially appreciated the story about the Chaplain's experiences with his deployment - and how he was trying very hard to find a way to help the Marines who came to him - and to help himself understand the war. There's so much in this chapter. How everyone suffers - "All of us suffer." What inspired you to write this deeply about a Chaplain's experience?
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hello all. Sorry for the late start. I was on the wrong page. Thank you for having me here.
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    As for whether the book was difficult to write, it was at times. Not simply because the subject matter was somewhat harsh.
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    When I started writing, my head was filled with a lot of notions about the war and about how to write about war effectively. And the process of writing this book meant teaching myself to question a lot of the assumptions I'd had.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Why did you choose the short story format?
    ....Joanne
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Thankfully, I had a lot of readers who helped me write the book, who read various drafts of the stories and challenged me.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I'm curious why you chose to write a group stories and not a novel? Will any of the stories be developed further?
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Regarding my experience at Dartmouth: I graduated from Dartmouth in 2005, having studied English and Creative Writing, as well as history. I always wrote, though I hadn't written about war, or even read much war writing out of what I got exposed to in high school. I had a mentor at college, Tom Sleigh, who made me read a bunch of great war writing—Isaak Babel and David Jones and Tolstoy and Hemingway—so that I could educate myself on the topic. And while I was in Iraq I read a lot—Cervantes and Pynchon and Anthony Powell, who seemed directly applicable, but also people like Amy Hempel. Hempel is very interested in the way we tell stories and what that says about us, which was important to me for this collection as well. After all, part of the coming home experience is figuring out what you want to communicate to the people you come home to and how you can do that.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I was also very moved by a scene in "After Action Report" where the Marines choose to play video games after one of them admits (falsely) to killing someone - There's something ironic about it - and disturbing. But what else can we expect them to do?
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    How is the book doing/selling? - it's a hard book to read.
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I haven't experienced much negativity from people in the military, actually. Most folks I've met, and this includes some high ranking officers, told me they were glad I'd written the book. I think, in the age of the all volunteer military, where unlike Vietnam we came home to a positive yet disengaged reception, it is important to military folk for people to be out talking about the war and what it meant. The recent wars are not the military's wars—they're America's wars. And yet America hasn't been paying much attention, which is disturbing if you're going overseas and risking your life for the country that sent you over. Whether you're pro-war or anti-war or have some other complicated mix of feelings, you probably want there to be a serious debate about what we've been doing. And to have that debate you need to be honest.
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    While I was mapping out the book, I worked mostly by feel. There were different notes I knew I wanted to hit, but it was a long and painful process figuring out how to hit them the right way. I knew I wanted the book to have a lot of non-combat arms folks. I knew I wanted to come at certain experiences, like the act of killing, from a bunch of very different angles. And I knew I wanted narrators who wouldn't necessarily agree with each other about the war and what it meant.
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    The first story in the book I wrote first, starting the first draft in 2008 when I was a few months back from Iraq. I knew early on that would be the first story on the collection. And I knew early on that Ten Kliks South would be the last.
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    The order became very important to me...starting with more traditional combat narratives, then getting to other perspectives and moods
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I knew that Prayer in the Furnace and Money As A Weapons System should be in the middle. They provide a someone bigger picture—the Chaplain considering the command climate and the moral/spiritual issues of the men and the FSO working through the aftermath of short-sighted policies.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    John, I thought it would be hard to read too - especially after the first story and the dog. I was in tears at the end. But the following stories brought out so many issues: money, politics, purpose of war, the role religion plays in the lives of Marines, and of course death and killing. I am reminded of my uncle, who served in Vietnam, came home and, according to my mother, he was never the same. He started using drugs and died in 1985 from AIDS. The war changed him.
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    For Prayer in the Furnace, I started out trying to write from within the platoon, but it didn't work. I needed a staff officer, and the chaplain's role has always been interesting to me. I've also long been a fan of Catholic literature—Graham Greene, Shusaku Endo, Waugh, Bernanos, O'Connor, etc. And once I started writing him, I felt like I knew him.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    You sounded like you knew him. Maybe my favorite story of the bunch.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    What is the difference between a "military war" and an "American war"?
    ....Joanne
     
       
     
     
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  •  NinaKrauthamer wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I assume most of the book was based on your experiences and those of others. Can you comment on the process, in your writing, of making what might be a particular soldier's experience into something more universal?
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I didn't want the book to be hard to read, though you can't really talk about the Iraq War and have it be just a cheery book about how great everything went and how wonderful everything was. That's not what happens. Certainly, there is heroism in war, and brotherhood and all sorts of fine things, but any war, and particularly a counter-insurgency where the enemy hides among the population and Marines never know when the next IED will hit, is going to leave a mark.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Great book. Thank you for joining us. Are you working on anything else at this time?
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Julie, that's very sad, and I'm sorry. I think Vietnam vets had a particularly rough transition, as the political unpopularity of the war was mapped onto veterans themselves. We don't really know what to do with the veterans of unpopular wars.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    What was your most harrowing experience (if you can talk about it)?
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    But you see a disconnect even for the veterans of World War II, where the sort of response they got sometimes didn't fit with the ugliness of their experience.
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    There's a great Kenneth Koch poem, To World War II, where he writes:
    It felt unusual
    Even if for a good cause
    To be part of a destructive force
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    How long were you in Iraq?
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Did you consider writing something other than fiction? or is this more biographical?
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    By a military war vs. an American war, what I mean is that unless you live in a military town, it is hard to feel like America is a nation at war. It is easy to think of the war as something separate from us, living our civilian lives. As though it has little to do with us. But the military does not send itself to war...ultimately what you do when you join the military is that you entrust yourself to the wisdom of the US body politic, who elect the leaders who send you over and determine policy. Even apathy, in that context, is a political choice with serious political consequences.
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Nina,
    You make an experience more universal by making it more specific, I think. By putting it under as much pressure as possible and scrutinizing it as rigorously as you can and by going all the uncomfortable places you don't really want to go, or would be embarrassed to go. In Francois Mauriac's Nobel Prize speech he noted: "

    We always believe in our uniqueness; we forget that the books which enchanted us, the novels of George Eliot or Dickens, of Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, or of Selma Lagerlöf, described countries very different from ours, human beings of another race and another religion. But nonetheless we loved them only because we recognized ourselves in them. The whole of mankind is revealed in the peasant of our birthplace."
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I was in Iraq 13 months, from January 2007 to February 2008. As a public affairs officer, I ended up travelling a lot through Anbar and spending time with a lot of different units, which I think certainly influenced the shape of the book. Instead of a novel, which would give a more unified vision, I wanted stories that would usefully clash with each other. My deployment wasn't especially harrowing, though I do remember being very shocked by a suicide bombing that happened outside our main gate. They brought the wounded to our surgical center on base and I tried to help as I could (this wasn't much...I carried people inside on stretchers, that sort of thing). There were so many people the docs were doing surgery on the floor. Suicide bombs lead to some terrible wounds, and these were families that had been hit.
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    For me, fiction was the best way to answer the questions the Iraq War had posed for me. With fiction, you force yourself to consider other experiences, and you can pressurize what happens in the story to confront different kinds of truths. For me, writing fiction is the most rigorous way I know how to think about something.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Thank you for clarifying military war v. American war and for writing these stories... because so many of us do feel that disconnect. Your stories are hard to read and I feel guilty (and relieved) about being so far removed.....
    Joanne


     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I am working on another project right now, though I'm keeping it a bit close to the vest.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Thanks Phil...
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    On a far lighter note, Did you know Animal House was conceived and set in Dartmouth?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    There was one story "OIF" that I didn't read. I tried, but there were so many foreign acronyms - was this a kind of coded story written for people with experience in the military?
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I did know that about Animal House
     
       
     
     
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  •  PhilKlay wrote 1634 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    And of course, there's an old line about how the Marine Corps is a big frat party with guns, so you could say it was a natural transition (though I was never in a frat in Dartmouth).
     
       
     
     
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