Series:Military & War Short Stories Collection
FICTION / War & Military
Listen to an excerpt
Meet Lieutenant Flint: hard-edged and muscle-bound, radiating machismo—a bull of a soldier. In the opposite corner stands Captain Turner: with his pencil mustache and tailored shirts, he's a Trick Soldier—smart, crisply-dressed, and always at attention. They're polar opposites—fire and ice, oil and water.
Ten years ago and a thousand miles away, they attended boot camp together. They didn't get along then and they don't get along now. Reunited in the Haitian jungles, in the midst of a fierce rebel uprising, they confront the most dangerous enemy of all—each other.
It's time for heroes to rise and cowards to fall, and in the case of Lieutenant Flint and Captain Turner, bravery runs deep. When brute strength confronts military honor, the true measure of a man is not in his fists, but in his heart.
Also includes the military adventures He Walked to War, in which Marine Sergeant E.Z. Go appears to take it easy, but always gets the job done ... even if it's hard as nails or dangerous as hell—in the end E.Z. does it; and Machine Gun 21,000, the story of a soldier who loses a gun and faces a court martial, but finds a way to save the day.
A First Sergeant with the 20th United States Marine Corps Reserve, L. Ron Hubbard knew exactly what it meant to be a Marine. As he wrote in 1935: “Most of the fiction written about [Marines] is of an intensely dramatic type, all do-or-die and Semper Fidelis." But the reality, he said, was far different. “I've known the Corps from Quantico to Peiping, from the South Pacific to the West Indies, and I've never seen any flag-waving. The most refreshing part of the USMC is that they get their orders and do the job and that's that." It's that kind of unique and pointed insight that he brings to stories like Trick Soldier.
Trick Soldier Glossary
Stories from the Golden Age reflect the words and expressions used in the 1930s and 1940s, adding unique flavor and authenticity to the tales. While a character’s speech may often reflect regional origins, it also can convey attitudes common in the day. So that readers can better grasp such cultural and historical terms, uncommon words or expressions of the era, the following glossary has been provided.
Alexandria: the second largest city in Egypt and its largest seaport, extending about twenty miles along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in north central Egypt.
altimeter: a gauge that measures altitude.
billet: lodging for soldiers.
blackjack: a card game in which the winner is the player holding cards of a total value closest or equal to, but not more than, twenty-one points.
bobtail: to curtail or reduce.
bobtailed to a buck: reduced to buck private; an enlisted man of the lowest rank.
bolt: (firearms) a sliding bar that pushes the cartridge into place and extracts the empty cartridge case after firing.
boots: Marine or Navy recruits in basic training.
cacos: (French) loosely knit bandit organizations who hired out to the highest bidder. The transfer of power in Haiti traditionally occurred when a political contender raised a caco army and marched on the capital. The transfer was completed when the incumbent fled the country with part of the treasury.
campaign hat: a felt hat with a broad stiff brim and four dents in the crown, formerly worn by personnel in the US Army and Marine Corps.
Cap-Haïtien: a main city on the north coast of Haiti facing the Atlantic Ocean.
Colt: Colt M1911 single-action, semiautomatic .45-caliber handgun designed by John M. Browning (1855–1926). It was formally adopted by the Army in March 1911, thus gaining its designation (Model 1911), and in 1913 was adopted by the Navy and Marine Corps. Manufactured by Colt Firearms Company, it was the standard issue for the US armed forces until 1985.
commandant: an officer in command of a military unit.
compañeros: (Spanish) companions.
dugout: a boat made by hollowing out a log.
file closer: a commissioned or non-commissioned officer in the rear of a line, or on the flank of a column, who rectifies mistakes and ensures steadiness in the ranks.
forty-five or .45: a handgun chambered to fire a .45-caliber cartridge.
gat: a gun.
Gendarmerie d’Haiti: (French) police force of Haiti. Organized in 1916, and initially consisting of 250 officers and 2,500 men, their purpose was to provide police services throughout the country. The gendarmerie was officered by Marine Corps personnel, most of whom were sergeants with officer rank in the Haitian service. The gendarmerie fought alongside Marine occupying forces during the caco wars.
general order: a published directive originated by a commander, and binding upon all personnel under his command. The purpose of such an order is to enforce a policy or procedure unique to his unit’s situation, and not otherwise addressed in applicable service regulations, military law or public law. A general order has the force of law and it is an offense punishable by court-martial or lesser military court to disobey one.
G-men: government men; agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
gob: a sailor in the US Navy.
Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua: National Guard of Nicaragua. This militia was formed in Nicaragua during the US occupation in 1925. A long period of civil strife had encouraged the development of a variety of private armies. The freshly elected government requested that the US Marines (equally interested in central control) remain in Nicaragua until an indigenous security force could be trained. The Nicaraguan government hired a retired US general to establish the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua. US forces left in 1925, but after a brief resurgence of violence, returned in 1926, taking over command of the Guardia Nacional until 1933, when it was returned to Nicaraguan control under the government.
gunnery sergeant: a non-commissioned officer in the US Marine Corps. A gunnery sergeant is typically in charge of a company-sized group of Marines, or about 120 personnel.
Haiti: country in the Caribbean occupying the western part of the island of Hispaniola. The other half is occupied by the Dominican Republic.
hinge pin: a pin or a bolt on which a gun carriage revolves. The carriage is a frame or structure upon which a gun is mounted for firing or maneuvering.
horse pistol: a single-shot .58-caliber handgun created in 1805, resembling a short-barreled rifle. The gun was designed to be carried in a holster on the side of a horse, and was known as a hard-hitting and powerful weapon.
IDR: Infantry Drill Regulations.
Jícaro: El Jícaro, now known as Ciudad Sandino; a town in Nicaragua of Central America, situated on the Jícaro River.
kettle of fish: a bad state of affairs; a mess.
leathernecks: members of the US Marine Corps. The phrase comes from the early days of the Marine Corps when enlisted men were given strips of leather to wear around their necks. The popular concept was that the leather protected the neck from a saber slash, though it was actually used to keep the Marines from slouching in uniform by forcing them to keep their heads up.
light out: to leave quickly; depart hurriedly.
lock: the mechanism of a firearm used to explode the ammunition charge.
mamalois: (Haitian dialect) voodoo priestesses.
Managua: capital city of Nicaragua, located in the west of the country near the Pacific Ocean.
martinet: a rigid military disciplinarian.
Mauser: a bolt-action rifle made by Mauser, a German arms manufacturer. These rifles have been made since the 1870s.
monkey rum: a liqueur distilled from sugar cane syrup.
muezzin: a man who calls Muslims to prayer from the minaret (a slender tower with a balcony) of a mosque.
na’a: (Spanish) contraction of nada, which means “nothing.”
OD: (military) olive drab.
ojos verdes: (Spanish) green eyes.
one-pounder: a gun firing a one-pound shot or shell. It looks somewhat like a miniature cannon.
ordnance: the branch of an army that procures, stores and issues weapons, munitions and combat vehicles and maintains arsenals for their development and testing.
papalois: (Haitian dialect) voodoo priests.
paralleloscope: an artillery instrument used as a gun aiming point, when setting up a gun for firing at a target.
Parris Island: an island of the Sea Islands off southern South Carolina. It has been a US Marine Corps training installation since 1915.
pillroller: a health professional trained in the art of preparing and dispensing drugs.
pirogue: a canoe made by hollowing out a tree trunk; a dugout.
pith helmet: a lightweight hat made from dried pith, the soft spongelike tissue in the stems of most flowering plants. Pith helmets are worn in tropical countries for protection from the sun.
Portsmouth: US Naval and Marine prison located in Maine and occupied from 1908 until 1974.
Princess Pat manual: a rifle drill associated with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry regiment (named after a member of the British Royal Family, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria). A manual is a prescribed series of movements made with a rifle or other military item, as during a drill or as part of a ceremony.
Quantico: a town of northeastern Virginia on the Potomac River. A US Marine Corps base was established there in 1918.
¿Qué hay?: (Spanish) What’s up?
regulars: soldiers belonging to a regular army, one that is maintained during peace as well as in war.
Savile Row: a street in Great Britain renowned for exquisite custom tailoring of men’s clothing.
saw-grass: grass named because the edges of the leaves are notched like a saw with teeth.
Scheherazade: the female narrator of The Arabian Nights, who during one thousand and one adventurous nights saved her life by entertaining her husband, the king, with stories.
seven and a half: a card game played with a Spanish deck of cards, which consists of a total of forty cards. In this game the number cards (ace through seven) have the same value as the number on the card and the face cards (jack, horse and king) have a value of half a point. The goal is to achieve a high total without going over seven and a half points, the maximum number of points you can achieve without losing.
siege gun: a heavy gun for siege operations, used to overcome the target with bombardment. A siege is a military operation in which an army surrounds a fortified place and isolates it while continuing to attack.
silver hat triangle: a triangular-shaped silver pin, stamped with the seal of Nicaragua, worn on the uniform hat of the Nicaragua National Guard.
singlet: a sleeveless undershirt.
slipstream: the airstream pushed back by a revolving aircraft propeller.
soldados: (Spanish) soldiers.
Springfield: any of several types of rifle, named after Springfield, Massachusetts, the site of a federal armory that made the rifles.
¿Tiene comida, doña?: (Spanish) Do you have any food, madam?
trajectory: the path that a projectile makes through space under the action of given forces such as thrust, wind and gravity.
trick soldier: a soldier who, in the convention of military dress and duties, is conspicuously smart, attractive, effective or able.
Tuaregs: members of the nomadic Berber-speaking people of the southwestern Sahara in Africa. They have traditionally engaged in herding, agriculture and convoying caravans across their territories. The Tuaregs became among the most hostile of all the colonized peoples of French West Africa, because they were among the most affected by colonial policies. In 1917, they fought a vicious and bloody war against the French, but they were defeated and as a result, dispossessed of traditional grazing lands. They are known to be fierce warriors; European explorers expressed their fear by warning, “The scorpion and the Tuareg are the only enemies you meet in the desert.”
turtleback: the part of the airplane behind the cockpit that is shaped like the back of a turtle.
USMC: United States Marine Corps.
USN: United States Navy.
Vought Corsair: a scout bomber made by Vought Aircraft, one of the oldest aircraft manufacturing companies in the United States, founded in 1917 by Chauncey (Chance) Milton Vought. The company moved to Hartford, Connecticut and started an association with an engine maker that led to the development of an entirely new breed of airplanes. In the 1930s they designed the biplane bomber and the Navy’s first scout bomber, eighty-four of which were ordered by the Navy in 1934. This was the first airplane of its type to exceed 200 miles per hour.
Wasp: an aircraft engine. It was a two-row, eighteen-cylinder, air-cooled radial design. It was considered one of the premier radial piston engines ever designed. It became legendary when used in several aircraft during World War II.
windage: the amount of adjustment needed in the aiming of a projectile to counter wind deflection.