As a reader, I know I appreciate background info on an author’s lead characters, and for some reason, that doesn’t seem to happen often, so I thought I would share some of Styles' "story" with you. Styles lost his mother at a young age, five to be precise. It would be difficult to differentiate who was affected most by this tragedy, Marvin or his father, David Styles. Both withdrew, although not intentionally, from life and, unfortunately, from each other.
Marvin found solace in exploring the woods that surrounded their home. He spent virtually every waking moment available exploring and, particularly, watching animals. He studied their tracks, learning which ones were made by which animals, large and small. Within a year, he was able to determine how old the track was. Then he began studying the art of camouflage and quickly learned how to move about the trees and brush without being detected. He spent hours fascinated by watching white-tailed deer. By age nine, he could follow a mother black bear and her cubs without ever being detected. He had no idea how much these skills he’d learned would serve him later in life.
Marvin was having behavior problems in school, acting out in an aggressive manner. He was constantly getting into fights right from the beginning, the result of a subconscious inner rage over the loss of his mother that he nor his father were even aware of. Just before his tenth birthday, his father rented a video featuring Bruce Lee and watched it with his son. Young Marvin was fascinated by it, which was exactly what his father had hoped for. The following day, he took his son down to a martial arts dojo and enrolled him. From that point on, though Marvin still enjoyed his alone time in the woods, he poured himself completely into learning martial arts. By his sixteenth birthday, he had earned black belts in both Taekwondo and Hapkido, and Ninjutsu, which included skills of espionage, gathering information, navigating and surviving in nature, hiding and sneaking, camouflaging, avoiding enemies, infiltration, overcoming natural and artificial obstacles, fighting with bare hands, various weapons, and hand tools, etc.
Of the three martial arts styles he immersed himself in, this one would ultimately prove to be the most useful. As he went through training, he began to infuse all three styles. At nineteen, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, where he was found to be an exceptional shooter which landed him in Sniper School. By this time, he was so advanced in his martial arts training that "muscle memory" seemed to take over as much as thinking. He had mastered the ability to imagine two, three, and sometimes four moves ahead of any opponent. In an in-house competition, he easily beat all the competitors, including four U.S.M.C. hand-to-hand combat instructors. No match ever lasted longer than thirty seconds. He had been training non-stop for ten years now and had become that good. No sponge could have soaked up knowledge faster than Marvin Styles. Physical conditioning became the priority in Styles’ life.
After four years of service assigned in the Middle East, Styles was given the opportunity to do what he thought he could do best. Be a "lone wolf" sniper. No spotter to accompany him; just be allowed to dispatch the enemy by any and all means possible. He requested and was given permission to have a custom sniper rifle manufactured to his exact specifications, with the most important aspect being a rifle barrel that was two inches longer than standard. He was also allowed to do the unthinkable: come and go as he pleased from any base he was assigned to, causing most base commanders to chafe as it was made clear to them that Styles was not in their chain of command. By the time he "hit the field," he held the rank of Sergeant, which he maintained throughout his military career.
After almost sixteen years, Styles was returning back to his base to resupply when he observed a large contingent of Taliban soldiers. Upon his return and reporting back in, he overheard a young captain ordering a small patrol into the area where Styles had observed the day before. He attempted to warn his superior but was brushed off. The following day, he received word that all of the scouting patrol had been ambushed and killed. Styles was in a rage. He confronted the captain, who had given the order, and proceeded to chew him inside out. The captain ordered him to be placed in the brig, at which point Styles just backhanded him. After nearly a week of contemplating a court martial, Styles was given the choice to "muster out" with a full pension, primarily because of his impeccable record.
Upon his return to the States, he was picked up at the airport and given a note by a former commanding officer, Captain Richard Starr, the one man Styles not only liked and admired, but most importantly, trusted. A meeting between the two was held, and that meeting led to a surprise meeting with the President of the United States. And that is how Sgt. Marvin Styles became... The President’s Weapon.
I would like to thank you for taking your time to read my first blog.
Next week, the other members of the team, one at a time, will be introduced to you.
~ Russ Snyder-Author