Today’s Essay was the second place finisher in the Serpentorslair Essay Contest. The title is ‘Recondo‘ and the author is Serpentorslair member Yorktownjoe! Be sure and make the JUMP and let him know how much we appreciate his work!
February (several years in the past)
Mrs. LeClaire asked her son “Why don’t you bundle up and go out and play in the snow with the other boys, Daniel?”
“It’s too cold outside, Mom! Last time I was out Bobby hit me in the face with a snowball.”
Daniel LeClaire tried to spend as little time outdoors during winter as possible. He shoveled the snow since it was his chore, but he dreamt of someplace warm. Someplace far from Wheaton, Wisconsin.
Daniel had grown up in the small town just North of Eau Claire and slightly West of Lake Hallie and Chippewa Falls. There were less than 2,000 people in town, but with the rural nature of the township, not everyone kneweveryone else. People would know who you were, who your parents were, but not much more. They did not know each other’s hopes and dreams.
If they knew Daniel, they would know he hated the cold. He yearned for a warmer place to live. He had heard Arizona was nice, but also that it was dry. He wanted to live somewhere H-O-T! Someplace where the humidity wrapped itself around you like a warm blanket.
When he was 10 years old his parents went on vacation to Florida. It was tropical and the sun shone brightly on Daniel’s face. He beamed from ear to ear as the sun warmed his skin. He enjoyed the tingle of his skin as he began to perspire. “I wish we could live here,” he told his parents. They laughed quietly, thinking that he wanted to be on vacation forever. Little did they know, it was the warmth he desired.
He enjoyed his vacation, but the dreary gray winter days in Wheaton seemed to drag on and on. Whether the groundhog saw his shadow or not did not matter much in Wisconsin. Six more weeks of winter meant a thaw in mid March. To the residents of Wheaton, mid March would be an early Spring!
In high school, Daniel was asked where he would go if he could travel and live somewhere else. He replied “I would love to live in the jungle in Brazil.” It was a unique answer.
Several of his friends planned to go to the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, or the University of Wisconsin – Stout in nearby Menomonie, Wisconsin. But an army recruiter had caught Daniel’s attention with the possibility of serving someplace warmer and enticing education benefits. “You can go to college later, after your get some experience in the real world.” Though the recruiter had ulterior motives of signing up more prospects, Daniel was ready to go.
After basic training In Biloxi, Mississippi he requested to transfer and begin Jungle Warfare School. He was attached to the 25th Army division. And he loved it!
He began to excel and knew exactly how much he needed to drink to remain hydrated. He knew what he could carry with him and was one of a few who never missed PT. His specialized training helped him advance to the point where he was offered an opportunity to join a covert ops team to serve as their Jungle specialist.
It wasn’t just his stamina and training. He had an uncanny ability to sneak up quietly and listen in on conversations just outside the target area. Once, during training exercises, he snuck up close enough to swipe a code book from the opposing team’s captain. He brought it back to his team leader, and his CO had recommended Daniel for the new elite squad position.
Once he had joined Task Force Delta, his rise through the Joe ranks moved his career along. He was able to run recon missions in various locations, and was excited to be assigned to the rain forests of Brazil.
It was there he encountered a tribe known as the Tucaro.
The Tucaro people had long distrusted those outside their tribe. But he brought gifts, asking nothing in return. And when he did finally ask a favor, it was whether someone could teach him their language. No one had ever asked this before!
He was able to make maps and charts, but the jungle was more than land and landmarks to him. It was becoming his home.
Because of the success of his reconnaissance missions, his fellow soldiers nicknamed him Recondo. That suited him just fine. Daniel LeClaire of Wheaton was beginning to fade. Recondo of G.I. Joe was beginning to rise.