There was barking outside my door early in the morning. I was just about to leave for work and was running late trying to gather my gear for the day. I had been given a post, a volunteership to be more precise and the task to be an unofficial Ranger. As I walked out the door the smell of sulfur was in the air but I knew something was going on at the Tower Station. Ranger Amanda, a great smiling young woman was holding her M-16 to the tree line near the horse stable. Brady, her boyfriend, was jogging with a shotgun farther down the road. Orders were being called, but I could not understand what was going on. So I walked up the hill to the Ranger office and it was empty. I was already ten minutes late for my shift and had to find out what was going on. Apparently the dog was stirred by a black bear walking by my front door, on through to the other side of the base. The shotguns were loaded with non-lethal bags, but an M-16 was ready just in case. It was just another day at Tower Station and after some ambulance training was given a Chevy HHR to patrol the area. Aside from a cinnamon black bear crossing the road it was an uneventful day. Having the chance to drive through our sectors really put the feeling of pride in my duties. Yellowstone River runs near, buffalo herds are all over the place, and foxes have been getting too close to the road. Tourists from all over the world drive through with fingers on their point and shoot cameras, coming close to head on collisions any time a rumor of a bear sighting spreads through the airwaves. Most are decent people with gleeful expressions and traveling charm. There are occasional bad apples who wish to defy the 100 yard distance regulation and have to be dealt with swiftly else they be in a situation with a bear that they confuse with the behavior of a docile deer. Four boys were driving along the cliff road when a tire went out. Their reaction was hacky sack while awaiting assistance from someone who knew what AAA was. They were from Nebraska and were thankful for our help in calling a tow truck, no spare wheel in their car.

Over the weekend we were detailed out to a SAR (search and rescue) for a Marine veteran who disappeared into the back country three weeks ago. His name was Kastner, a mentally unstable 25 year-old Sergeant from two IED explosions in Iraq. After a failed attempt in the Nevada desert to walk until he couldn’t walk he traveled to Minneapolis where after a bar brawl beating had given up on trying to live. His story ended on the Hellroaring trail head. Abandoning his Cadillac, he walked through the wilderness to find his end. Evidence points to a man with a .45 looking not to be found but nothing is certain with a person who had reached such a point. Early on a Saturday we prepped our gear, fed the dogs, and went to find any trace of Kastner that may be left. The first dog’s name was Trace, the second, Sulla with the nickname, monster. There were others too, German Shepards and Golden Retrievers. A grid was set and the search began. Almost twenty people were involved and several dogs teams were dispatched to comb through the back country of Yellowstone National Park. Very little was found. Only a stained towel that must have been there before Kastner’s disappearance. It was a beautiful two days. I can’t figure in my wildest hypotheticals how someone could manage to choose such an end and not rethink the decision after seeing such beauty in the surrounding landscapes. The SAR soon will be called off. The land is too big to look forever. If he be in Tijuana starting anew than so be it, a little selfish for sure, but in probability is in the river or through the stomachs of scavengers. It begs the wonder of why so many young people are mentally torn apart by a conflict with no definition or end in sight. So keep on gas guzzling and see what happens. The young are the ones who suffer, not soccer moms in their Ford Excursions with license plates touting the number of children they’ve bred. I wonder how many of those children are now walking the streets of a hateful Kabul or Baghdad under the orders of pacifying an occupied nation so that they can pay for the gas they consumed on the way to their soccer games. I wonder how long it will take for any kind of realization of what is happening to our society. Call of Duty video games make war fictitious and deceive countless young into seeing the “honor” of firing a weapon upon other people. There is no turning back now. We have self-acknowledgly brainwashed ourselves into the belief that what we are doing is just and the only option. “Rejoice in thy youth.”

This is our world, this is our society and we have to fight to make sure it is just. Bombs and bullets are not the best forms of ammunition. Look around and see what is the better alternative because there are. And it is easy to see once you try.

Poor Kastner. Poor young Kastner cut down of it all.

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