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Gunny And The Chief

They were sailing in the Gulf of Aqaba with the fleet, supporting the super carrier George H. W. Bush. They were aboard an LHD amphib with a contingent of over one thousand fleet sailors and about 1,600 Marines. Gunny Atwater was responsible for a rifle company of Marines, with usually about 80 to 100 Marines under her supervision. She had been aboard for six months now and was starting to feel as lonely as she had ever been.

She had been developing relationships with other Gunnery Sergeants on board ship, staying in her own rank for reasons of no fraternization. She was a stickler for regs. Always had been. It was one reason she had made rank so quickly, and also why she had so few good friends. Others were a little more lax and were slightly jealous of her.

Now, for the first time, she was looking outside the Corps. She had seen a Chief Petty Officer on deck one day who had caught her eye. He was a Master-at-Arms, and was really just her type. He was over six foot tall, had huge, hairy forearms showing from his sleeves, and he had large feet. She liked men with lots of muscle and gristle. She had just decided to introduce herself to him when all hell broke loose.

The sound of small arms fire could be heard over the side of the ship. She was up on the landing deck, and immediately moved to her duty station. She was over-seeing a platoon of Marines who were manning a .50 caliber machine gun on the starboard side of the ship. As she moved into position next to the platoon sergeant who was really in charge of these Marines she saw what appeared to be smoke plumes coming up and past her troops. This got her blood moving. She looked over the side and saw several small boats apparently powered by out-board motors zooming past her position and shooting small arms fire up into the side of the ship.

There was a corporal on the .50 cal firing at the boats and trying to take out what were most likely pirates. They had become more and more aggressive over the past few weeks. They hadn't yet learned what they were fighting against. It was not her job to take over for her men, but the staff sergeant motioned her over to the gun and put his hand on the corporal's shoulder. He looked up, saw the Gunny, and moved aside. Gunny Atwater got the thrill of using the .50 cal one more time.

As she fired she loved the feeling she always got when in charge of fighting the enemy. And also, the sick feeling in the pit of the stomach when she saw a man getting blown off one of the boats. The feelings were always mixed. A great feeling of patriotism while fighting her country's enemies and the sorrow that this had to go on. She was a strong Gunny, but she never forgot she was fighting living, breathing, human beings.

The battle ended as it always did out here in the gulf. The pirates fled, leaving their dead in the water to sink and feed the sharks. The Marines began policing their position, picking up their brass, and, when it had cooled down, cleaning their weapon. Gunny Atwater moved to begin working on her reports due after any action. Her platoon sergeant did the same. Reports helped them all to become better Marines after any action.

As she made her way to her office space below decks she happened to see the Chief she had been eyeing earlier. He was placing his men back to work after the small battle had ended. They still had deck duties to accomplish. She looked him up and down, then noticed he was doing the same to her. Unconsciously, she blushed. Her face almost matched her hair, hidden under her camo cap. Then, she realized how she was staring and moved quickly away.

Gunny Atwater was lucky. She was very attractive, besides being incredibly competent. That came in handy in the Corps. It greatly increased her chances for establishing meaningful relationships. Meeting someone special was as important with service people as it was for civilians. And she was not shy about making her needs known to the ones met her standards. But, again, she stayed within her own pay-grade. That set certain limits, and she had been close to other Gunneys, and had found few who made her heart really turn over. She knew she was one of the best and she wanted the best.

The next day she was moving across the landing deck when she saw the Chief of her thoughts moving towards her. She didn't break stride. He came up to her, stopped, and then he said, "Gunny, are you interested in a cup of the black stuff?" Well, this was her chance. Her first inclination was to say no as she looked up into his face. She had never gone outside the Corps for male companionship. But, this felt so damned right. He was giving her a crooked grin as he looked down at her. It worked its way into her Marine heart.

She had time. He obviously had time. "What the hell," she thought, and agreed to go below decks to the mess hall and have some coffee. They settled in across from each other, and he kept flashing the crooked grin. She had been told she had a beautiful smile by a good friend. She now displayed it to a man whom she couldn't help liking, without even knowing him.

Over the next few days. they became good buddies. Sharing coffee whenever they were both off-duty, and sharing their views on life and their likes and dislikes. They were feeling each other out. Usually leathernecks and swabbies kept apart. It was tradition. Marines hated being told they were "part" of the Navy, and sailors thought the Marines were lazy because sailors had daily duties to fulfill, not noticing the training the Marines continued every day they weren't actually fighting.

Actually, truth be told, sailors were probably as lazy as they came, having to be continually supervised by senior petty officers. Even then, they could often be found lounging in the nooks and crannies of a large ship. Oh well, any kind of troop got lazy without an NCO or PO kicking a little ass.

But Gunny Atwater was developing some real yearning for Chief Lovall. Yes, that was really his name! They both shared a deep patriotism and both shared a love for their individual services. They were also coming to the realization that they shared deep feelings for each other. What to do about it was another matter!

It was a case of deep affection being established. And it had to come to fruition. It would if these two had anything to say about it. Being senior enlisted they had their own bunks that they didn't have to rotate in and out of with other enlisted people. But they did share compartments with other ranks and so they had to time their trysts to when the compartments were empty. Either his or hers.

When they were able to get together alone they were careful not to be sexually aggressive. They both were consummate professionals. They couldn't afford to get any black marks on their records. Their first meeting set the tone. Gunny Atwater told him to call her Abby. Chief Lovall told her to call him Phil. That was the last of the formalities. They held hands as they chatted. That was as close as they got to anything physical. They only had a half hour before they needed to leave. Other personnel would be returning soon.

In the next few weeks at sea they set records for platonic get togethers. Both were extremely busy, but they found short periods of time, or made time, to get together and really learn about each other. Their last time together on board was a week before they were due to make a port call in Bahrain.

They spent about an hour just exploring each other's philosophies and dreams. Becoming this close to another person was actually rather new to both of them. Relationships had been short, sweet, and rather unfulfilling in the past for both of them. And both had been burnt. But this time was different. It was special. They both knew it, and they both tried their best to explain it. To themselves, and to each other. 

When they hit port the crew went on shore leave, port and starboard. They were damned lucky. They were both bunked on the starboard side of the ship, and again, they were lucky not to have drawn duty on board during the stay at the port-of-call. This was going to be a shore leave of a lifetime for two E-7s.

They left the ship separately. Chief Lovall went into the city and rented a room at good hotel. Then he sent her a message. He gave her his room number. She arrived later, having told friends she was seeing the sights! Actually, she had been in this port before. Bahrain was familiar to her. Nothing really to see. She arrived at his room and knocked on the door.

Their time together during this shore leave was enlightening. It was also a turning point. From now on they were an item, at least in their own hearts and minds. They both intended to keep their relationship their own business, for the time being.

Within a week they were steaming through the gulf again. Both were busy with duties. And once again they were accosted by small boats attempting to establish their ownership of this waterway. The results were a foregone conclusion. Dozens of dead floating in the water, and several little boats burning. The remainder fled, as had happened before. But one thing was different this time. For Gunny it had been a case of fighting a battle knowing a lover was close by. Perhaps involved in the fight.

It was not a good feeling for her, but one thing it did do for her. It gave her the resolution to do what she had been dreaming of as she went to sleep in her bunk every night. The next time she had a moment alone with her Chief she grabbed her chance.

"Chief. Good to see you. So Phil, got a question for you. Have you thought of us hitching up? Think about it, and get back to me."

"No need to think about it, Gunny. Abby, we need to be a team. Let's do this. I'll get word to the Old Man. He can marry us out here if he wants too. Would that work for you, Gunny?"

It worked for her. They were married within a week at a special Captain's Mast. They didn't share quarters, but they were a team. Their next assignment they got shore duty in Norfolk, Virginia. This time they did share quarters. At least until they shipped out again.

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