Dear Jack: Which Historic Battle Would You Want To Witness?

September 1, 2023Jack Mandaville
dear jack mandaville

Ever wonder how much Jack Mandaville would f*ck sh*t up if he went back in time? The American Revolution didn't even see him coming.

Dear Jack,

If you could go back in time to witness or be a part of any battle, what would it be and why?


First Sgt. Bruce Hollaway

Awwww hell yeaaaaaaaah, Bruce Bruce!

To quote actor Sean Astin, who played Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger in 1993’s Rudy, “I’ve been ready for this my whole life.” 

You just asked my dream question. I absolutely love talking about all aspects of history. I could do it 24/7/365, including that one day a year I allow myself to get completely yacked out on Colombian nose medicine and instead of having some epic party story I just end up backing some poor soul into the corner of a room while I enthusiastically go down a rabbit hole about the influence of 19th-century upper middle class Protestant white women on the temperance movement and how it led to the creation of the Volstead Act, which led to an increased demand of illegal alcohol sales that were fulfilled by what were once small street gangs that had morphed into international crime syndicates responsible for increased violence and corruption around the country. Next time you see a white woman asking you to “think about the children,” just remember they’re responsible for the rise of the mafia. 

Where was I? Oh, yeah.   

Alright, I’ve thought about this scenario a lot, and if I could go back to any time, I’d go back to the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775 — though, for the sake of accuracy, most of the fighting was done to the south on Breed’s Hill. In its actual historical context, the battle was a hard-fought victory for British forces against the American militia that impacted the future of British tactics and policy in the region. 

But my motive for getting involved is less to be an observer of an event that ultimately became favorable to overall American victory and more to completely butterfly effect the fuck out of history for my own selfish amusement. Only journalists and Jerry Falwell Jr. are comfortable simply watching. I want to Quantum Leap this thing.    

This is how I see it going: 

10 a.m., Oct. 15, 2023 

I enter a private armory in San Antonio, Texas, and am equipped with an M240B machine gun accompanied by approximately 1,800 rounds of 7.62 ammo. Much of that ammo and other equipment will be carried by my A-gunner, Gary T. Dump, a slightly unkempt, obese 52-year-old unemployed insurance salesman who I found through a Craig’s List ad I posted titled, “Looking for partner to demolish King George III’s army with.” I have a pistol as a secondary weapon, and Gary is loaded with a slingshot and a few large pouches filled to the brim with M67 fragmentation grenades. We also put some loose mozzarella sticks in our cargo pockets just in case we get hungry. 

11:15 a.m., Oct. 15, 2023

Gary and I are led into the basement of an old bed-and-breakfast off the San Antonio Riverwalk called the Guenther House. On the other side of a hidden door, we’re greeted by Bob Garcia, the car wash king of San Antonio. What people don’t know about Bob is that he only created his multimillion-dollar regional car wash empire so he could fund his time-travel hobby. Bob chats our ears off while he hooks Gary and me up to his time travel teleportation device, the H.G. Wells 3000. 

He mostly just spouts off trite conspiracy theories about underground organizations ruling the world. A lot of it sounds borderline antisemitic without him actually naming Jewish people by name. The whole thing makes me uncomfortable, but I just nervously smile and nod without saying a word because he’s the only time machine guy I know of. I suspect Gary might actually believe his ramblings. 

11:45 a.m., Oct. 15, 2023

We are finally hooked up. After some brief instruction from Bob, he pushes the launch button and Gary and I are off to change the course of history. 

6:30 a.m., Sept. 11, 2001

What the H?! Why are Gary and I standing in a crowded terminal at Logan International Airport? Why are so many people sitting around reading newspapers and not looking at their phones? And why are everyone’s jeans and shirts so baggy? I ask a gentleman what day it is.

“Excuse me, my kind sir,” I say to him. “Could you tell me what day it is?”

“Why yes,” he responds. “It’s Tuesday.”

“I’m sorry, what’s the date?”

He looks at me perplexed, “It’s Sept. 11th … 2001.”

Oh. Em. Gee! Bob, you damned idiot! You sent us to the wrong date! 

I look at the clock, and it says 6:30 a.m. Holy cheesus! The 9/11 hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11 haven’t boarded yet. I debate the moral ramifications of walking up to their gate, holding one of them down, and shoving one of Gary’s grenades up their ass until it explodes and causes so much mayhem that all flights get shut down nationwide, hence thwarting our nation’s most tragic day. 

Some of you youngsters may be asking yourself, how can two men with a bunch of grenades and a M240B belt-fed machine gun walk through an airport without getting stopped by the authorities? Well, I’ll tell you a little historical fact. You could pretty much do anything you wanted at an airport before 9/11, kiddos. Those were the good ol’ days. 

I ultimately conclude it would be inappropriate to interfere with such a large event. Part of this is because of moral questions, and the other part is because Gary is evidently a huge Toby Keith fan and he doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize Toby’s rising career, considering exploiting the tragedy of 9/11 is the only way he knows how to make money. 

I signal to Bob from my Apple Watch that he got the day wrong and he needs to transport us out. We’re morphing out of the present in no time, but not before Gary takes a bite out of a mozzarella stick and screams out, “See ya later, gay-wads! We’re about to go put a boot in some British ass!” 

Calling people that was unfortunately common back in those days. A different time, I guess. I’m also beginning to get nervous about Gary’s problematic tendencies. 

12 p.m., June 17, 1775

We arrive at Breed’s Hill a few hours before the battle begins. Hooray! 

Simply put, Gary and I stand out quite a bit. A group of American militiamen begin to crowd around us like we’re someone’s hot girlfriend at the barracks. I confidently demand to speak to their leader. From the mob emerges American legend Col. William Prescott. I’m smitten by him but maintain my composure — because I’m used to being around war heroes since I did a movie with Marcus Luttrell eight years ago and he said three things to me on set — and explain to him that we’re from the future and are here to help against the upcoming British offensive. I also tell him it’s customary for men in the future to give each other mouth kisses as a formal greeting just because I’ve always wanted to kiss a historical figure on the mouth. 

Truth be told, I was really considering going back in time to kiss Kirby Puckett on the mouth after his amazing performance in the 1991 World Series. But I deduce men of that time would be more reluctant to kiss a stranger.

Prescott oddly offers little resistance to the concept. Like zero. Like, it’s extremely weird how easily he believed me as if they are really hurting for extra help on this thing. So I give him a nice seven second kiss on his lips in front of all of his men, then Gary and I take our positions on the hill.

3 p.m., June 17, 1775

The British forces fully arrive on shore and are gathering for attack. Gary is making some god-awful noises to the left of me. I inquire about what is wrong.

“My tummy hurts,” he says to me in a pained voice.

“Gary,” I respond, “You’ve been eating nothing but mozzarella sticks for three hours and drinking Diet Dr. Pepper from your CamelBak.”

He shrugs me off. At that moment I hear Col. Prescott utter his famous words to his men as the British approach: “Do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes!”

How cool it is to hear such a legendary sentence in person? I look at Gary, and we both start giggling like idiots. Not because of the magnitude of the moment but because the M240B has a max effective range of 1,800 meters and waiting to fire isn’t going to be a problem for us. It’s go time!

I aim in on the British column. Every one of them is shoulder to shoulder as if the gods of war have offered us up a divine opportunity. I apply pressure to the trigger. 

Brrrt-brrrt-brrrt! A majestic three-burst volley exits the muzzle like the sounds of a Mozart symphony. I take a moment to survey my handiwork. About four British soldiers are either lying on the ground or bent over in pain. Got ’em! 

The confusion of the other British soldiers is apparent. How could they be hitting us from this range? I feel like a mighty cat, and they are nothing but scared mice in a box. Okay, it’s time to really show them what’s for! 

Brrrt-brrrt-brrrt! Brrrt-brrrt-brrrt! Brrrt-brrrt-brrrt! Brrrt-brrrt-brrrt! Brrrt-brrrt-brrrt! Brrrt-brrrt-brrrt! Brrrt-brrrt-brrrt! Brrrt-brrrt-brrrt! Brrrt-brrrt-brrrt! Brrrt-brrrt-brrrt! Brrrt-brrrt-brrrt! Brrrt-brrrt-brrrt!

Chaos is in full order. Redcoats are running every which way. Some of them scramble to get back on the boats, but the machine gun fire cuts them down. Most of them decide to press on up the hill. It’s futile. The few lucky ones who get close enough to the hill to even make an impact are shot down by the volleys of the militiamen and Gary’s hand-grenade slingshot. Their screams of horror only embolden us. 

I briefly pause and contemplate the ethicality of what we’re doing. But then I realize I was raised on Grand Theft Auto and Quentin Tarantino movies — not to mention there’s no Geneva Convention in 1775 — so I snap out of it and get right back to it.

This goes on for a few minutes before I hear Gary scream, “I’m out!” 

I look over at him, wondering how he could have gone through so many grenades already until I realize he’s referring to his mozzarella sticks. I toss him a few of mine, and he immediately begins eating between launching more grenades. 

4 p.m., June 17, 1775 

The dust is settling. We look over the stacked British bodies below Breed’s Hill. In actual history, it took the British three assaults in three hours to take the Charlestown Peninsula. In our reality, we killed and wounded over 3,000 of them in just one hour.

We hear guttural screams and moans coming from the few wounded at the base of the hill. Gary and I get up and head down. I grab one of the wounded officers, a cheeky fellow by the name of Gen. William Howe, and start talking to him in British English — a language I learned from a Rosetta Stone subscription my mother got me last Christmas.

“Allo allo, bruv,” I says to him, I says. “You’s lookin’ a bit arseholed on that there deck. Quite the cock-up for you’s Redcoats this day, innit? You tells your King George III and all thems other toffs not be spendin’ anymore time goin’ to fisticuffs with us Yanks.”

He understands everything I tell him because I speak amazingly fluent British English. I give him a brief kiss on his lips then he runs back to the shoreline and swims back to his ship.

Gary mutters something to the effect of, “I’m gonna put a boot in your ass ’cause it’s the American way,” then tosses the last of his hand grenades onto the piles of British wounded. But not before cutting one of the dead soldiers’ ears off and putting it in his cargo pocket as a war trophy.

Thus all becomes silent.

Col. Prescott is giddy with thanks. He has all of his militiamen hoist us up and give Gary and I a loud, “Hip-hip hooray!” They put us back on the ground, and we all share a moment.

I say to Col. Prescott, “Well, colonel, my work here is done. I must be going now.”

Before I call Bob to have us transported out, Prescott stops me.

“My dear soldier of the future,” he says in a humble tone. “I’d like to offer you my daughter’s hand in marriage if you shall stay. Though she is 19 and of elderly age for an unmarried lady, she has survived many a cholera outbreak and will make a good wife.”

Gross. Double-u tee eff, Col. Prescott? I’m almost 40, and she’s not even old enough to get drunk at Applebees with me. Instead of verbalizing this, I respectfully decline and tell him that my time awaits me.

Gary, on the other hand, has no moral qualms about this pairing and quickly jumps in to offer his hand in marriage to the young maiden. She accepts.

I pull Gary aside and explain to him how difficult it will be to live in the 18th century. Everyone smells. Disease and death are a daily reality. He’ll have no access to a television to watch his Bar Rescue marathons. Italians haven’t flooded into the country yet, so there will be no mozzarella sticks unless he learns how to make them himself.

He brushes it all aside.

“There’s nothing for me in 2023, Jack. I belong here now.”

Then he goes into a long-winded explanation of how it’s totally normal back in these days to have that kind of age difference with a girl. It seems like he’s more trying to justify it to himself than me. The whole thing kind of creeps me out, and I decide it’s best to just let him be in the current time because bringing him back with me would be unkind to society.

Before I leave, I spend 27 minutes giving forehead kisses to every militia soldier in the crowd before I finally land on Col. Prescott. I take him by the hand, look deep into his eyes, then place my lips on his for 34 seconds with the most gentle affection I’ve ever shown anyone.

“How can we ever thank you for the victory you’ve shown us today?” he asks me as a single tear runs down his face.

I give him a smirk, “Just remember me, colonel. Just remember me.”

I text Bob from my Apple Watch, and he transports me away as everyone cheers. 

6 p.m., Oct. 15, 2023

I’m transported back to my world. But is it my world? Why am I standing at the reflecting pool at the National Mall in Washington, DC?

I frantically look around and find a nice Korean tourist couple walking past me.

“Sir! Ma’am! What day is it here in Washington, DC?!” I ask in perfect Korean because of my Rosetta Stone subscription.

They give me a confused look, much like the gentleman gave me on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

“It’s Oct. 15, 2023. But I don’t know what you mean by ‘Washington, DC.’ We’re currently in Mandaville, DC.”

What? I look over to the left and see what looks like the Lincoln Memorial. But it’s not. It says, DUMP MEMORIAL. I squint my eyes and realize that where Abraham Lincoln is supposed to be sitting in marble on a chair instead shows a 19-foot-tall statue of my old friend Gary sitting on a recliner. In his left hand he holds a slingshot. In his right, a severed ear. On the top of the outer building is inscribed, “FATHER OF THE MOZZARELLA STICK.”

My head is spinning at this point. What kind of Planet of the Apes nonsense have I warped into?

I turn around and see a sign that says BOB GARCIA MUSEUM OF TIME TRAVEL, CONSPIRACY, AND CAR WASH that points to the spot where the Smithsonian Museum should be.

Nothing is right about any of this. I make a mad dash east along the DIET DR. PEPPER REFLECTING POOL until I see something that blows my mind. My legs become heavy, and I’m brought to my knees as I come to a dead stop. I’m consumed by fear and confusion.

Where the Washington Monument is supposed to be sitting (the tallest structure in all of what is now called Mandaville, DC) now holds a 500-foot-tall statue of none other than me with an M240B resting on the back of my neck, propped up by my arm, and an ammo belt slung across my shoulders. I’m wearing jorts, flip-flops, a Black Rifle Coffee Company shirt, a backward ball cap of some random tactical company that I got for free during SHOT Show a few years ago, and a Marlboro Red hanging from my lips.

I weep. It turns out Col. Prescott truly heard my words: “Just remember me.”

And that, Bruce, is the answer to your question. 

I love you,

Jack Manford Mandaville I

P.S. Bruce, if you ever find yourself in the Mandaville D.C. area, make sure you pop over to 1600 Mozzarella Ave. and get a tour of the president’s official residence, the Dump House. It’s named in honor of our first president, Gary Tiberius Dump, and is currently occupied by sitting President Toby Keith.

Read Next: Dear Jack: What Should I Pack For Deployment?

Jack Mandaville
Jack Mandaville

Jack Mandaville is a contributor at Coffee or Die. He liked being a Marine but loves being a civilian that does commentary on military culture because there’s no real sacrifice involved. He’s a satirical writer, entertainer, and amateur provocateur. His only real love outside his work opportunities is falling asleep to Netflix.

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