Mike learned a lot from the Corps, not least of all that he was gay. He fell in love with his boot camp best buddy Scott, and Scott loved him right back. But then Scott went and got himself killed in Afghanistan, and Mike wanted to die along with him. Instead, he got wounded and had to drag his ass back to his unit so he could try again.
Then he made platoon sergeant and had his hands full keeping his unit together. It was enough, something to do, and then he met platoon lieutenant Paul and fell in love again. And this time they got out.
But with the war on in Iraq, it’s an open question how long they stay that way.
This book is really two stories, in my opinion, so I’ll review both parts separately.
Mike Collins’ very emotional story covers two major events in his life — Part I is his enlistment in the Marine Corps and meeting the first love of his life, Scott Calder, during boot camp. Mike and Scott were buddies from the time they joined the Corps as recruits. Not long after, Mike started developing strong feelings towards Scott as they became closer .. at times it almost seemed as if they could read each other’s minds. Simultaneously, Scott was falling in love with Mike, but they never said anything to each other until they were together on their first three day pass when they couldn’t contain their feelings any longer and confessed their love. They had both suspected that they were gay but it wasn’t until then that they acknowledged it.
Over the next five-plus years Mike and Scott continued to serve in the Marine Corps and they fell even more in love. They lived on base and hid their feelings from the other Marines because, if discovered, they could be thrown out of the Corps; they met off-site whenever it could be arranged so that they could just spend time with each other or have sex. This lifestyle continued until they were deployed to Afghanistan in late 2001 where Scott lost his life in a firefight during which Mike was badly injured. When Mike learned about Scott’s death he was totally devastated and lost the will to live; all he wanted to do at that point was to go back into battle and commit suicide so that he could be with Scott again.
In part II of the book Mike was awarded the Purple Heart for his injuries and bravery in rescuing one of his men and killing the insurgent who dropped the RPG on his platoon. Despite his desire to die, the Marines had other plans for him, and after his recuperation which took several months, he was promoted to Staff Sergeant and transferred to another unit where he met his platoon commander, First Lieutenant Paul Richards.
Paul was the total opposite of Scott – for starters he was even bigger than Mike who was over 6 ft. tall, and against his better judgment and will, several months after Scott’s death Mike began the long road back to life and love by falling for Paul. At first he hated himself for his seeming disloyalty to Scott who hadn’t been gone for that long, but despite his misgivings he fell more in love with Paul and just before Christmas Paul invited him to stay at his home in Colorado. This was a turning point for Mike when he finally realized that there is life after Scott and that this new man made him feel loved, safe and whole again
There is so much emotion and so many high points in this story that it’s impossible for me to cover all of them in this review. All I can say is that Bobby Michaels is one hell of a writer and he writes from the heart. His sex scenes are impossible for any other writer to replicate because he is into everything that is sensory – smell, taste, touch etc. When he described Paul’s body it seemed to me that he was talking about his ideal man because I could well imagine Paul walking off the pages of the book and into the real world.
This writer’s style is gritty, raw and graphic and he leaves nothing to the imagination. If you’re looking for some light reading this book is probably not what you want. The men are real men who love other men and the fact that they’re gay, although important in the context of the story, is only incidental. All of the characters are three dimensional and this author writes from his own experience as a gay man therefore some of the sex might be a little too realistic and graphic for a few readers.
I strongly believe that Veterans: For The Love Of The Corps is Bobby Michaels’ finest work to date. The story was moving, it was about the love between two people who just happened to be of the same sex, and it was heart-felt. Semper Fi