Disclaimer: JAG isn't mine, however, the Canadian sniper, Sergeant Rusty
Puckett, is my character. I apologize for any date discrepancies, I'm not
sure when Coates first appeared on the series.
~ ~ ~ ~
February 12, 2002
Dear Petty Officer Coates,
I'm sorry, I'm not Sergeant Lewis Puckett, somebody mixed up our letters.
If you've even opened this letter I'll be surprised, considering it's from
a complete stranger from the Canadian Armed forces. I must say I'm touched,
that your office has a program to write to selected soldiers on the
frontlines here in Afghanistan. Amazing that they mixed up the letters in
such a royal way, but these things happened.
Anyway I was on patrol last week with Sid, one of my mates in the unit in
the mountains and I had this unopened letter that's been unopened in my kit
for two weeks. I figured I'd best open it and explain this little foul up.
I apologize in advance for any sort of discomfort this may cause. Sid
suggested I open this thing anyway, saying, 'Rusty if someone's taken the
pain to write you a letter you'd best read it. Even if it wasn't intended
for you, the Great Spirit had it sent your way anyhow.'
Sid's a Pequot Indian with a Canadian father. He's originally from
Connecticut, and his folks moved up north using his Dad's citizenship to
use the health system to help his ailing mother.
~ ~ ~ ~
JAG HQ, Fall's Church, Va.
Jennifer Coates sat at her desk at JAG staring at the envelope that had
been put there. To her knowledge she didn't know anyone named Sergeant
Puckett in the Canadian Army. And the only person with that name she knew
was a 10th Mountain Division soldier with the first name of Lewis not
After staring at the letter and her computer screen alternately for the
next ten minutes she decided to open it. She found the sergeant was a bit
formal, a gentleman if nothing else. From his letter she could figure he
was a bit of a loner by nature. If he was nice enough, albeit late, to
write her even though the letter wasn't his, she was going to write back.
~ ~ ~ ~
Rusty Puckett put his scoped M-16 rifle onto his knees and removed his
heavy pack and web gear. He stood about 5'9", with close cropped black hair
and intense black eyes framed in an intelligent, oval face. He was a fellow
with the lean, compact build of a middleweight boxer.
After spotting for their team leader, Master Sergeant Martin Shapiro, the
best sniper in the unit and master hunter, he was ready to just clean his
gear and sleep when something piqued his curiosity.
"A letter from your mysterious benefactor, Rusty." Sid said, smiling with
his mysterious Native American grin.
"Damn you, you redskin bastard." Rusty grinned, tiredly. The big Pequot
Indian sat on his own cot, cleaning his own rifle as he talked.
Rusty opened the letter, eagerly. He wasn't used to receiving mail unless
it was a bill of some sort. The last personal letter he had gotten was from
Melissa when she said it was her or the Army. He'd chosen the latter,
because he wasn't sure how he'd fare in civilian life. Now he was sitting
in the middle of a dusty billet in Afghanistan.
Gus, one of the US Marines sharing quarters with the six Canadians sniffed
at the letter, "No perfume, so I guess our resident taciturn Canuck can't
be seeing anyone."
"Actually I am seeing someone. I believe you call her mom." Rusty said,
"Ooh, you got me good." Gus smiled, "Just remember who made that 800 meter
"I distinctly recall I made two successive ones at 810 meters. Got you
beat Marine." Rusty joked.
"Whatever Dudley do-Right, I'll see you after I go read my letters home
from the missus." Gus replied.
"So what does she have to say?" Sid asked.
Rusty shot the Indian a look, "Can I at least have some privacy. I'll tell
you in a bit."
Rusty read the letter from Coates and it read.
13 February, 2002
Dear Sergeant Puckett,
No problem about the mix up. You don't really have to reply to this letter
if you don't want to. I really thought you were being a gentleman about
this whole foul up and I wanted to thank you.
I'll understand if you don't send me anything in reply or if you just
throw it in the trash after receiving it. Though after reading your first
letter I don't think you're that sort of person, I tend to think you to be
on the gentlemanly side if anything else.
I just want to know what is it exactly you do in the military? And if you
do decide to write, please call me Jen or Jennifer.
Petty Officer Coates
"So what are you gonna do?" Sid asked.
"I don't know." Rusty replied, "What should I do?"
"You've been a heck of a lot less jaded since you received that letter. I
mean you've never had anyone to write to when we go out." Sid replied, "I
think you should write her back, see what comes of it."
"You're right Sid." Rusty sighed, "I might as well."
~ ~ ~ ~
JAG HQ, Fall's Church, Va.
"Jen, I didn't know you knew someone in Canada." Harriet remarked, when she
noticed the letter that was on Jen's desk.
"That Operation Penpal Program you started ma'am. My letter got mixed up
and sent to a soldier in a Canadian unit. I didn't expect him to write
back, but evidently he did." Jen replied.
"So what's he like?" Harriet asked.
"He seems like a nice guy." Jen replied,
"I'll leave you to your duties, Jen." Harriet replied.
Coates tried to concentrate on filing the cases that were stacked about a
foot high on her desk but something was compelling her to read the letter.
Sighing, she picked up the letter and opened it up, and saw a measure of
sand fall onto her desk.
17 February 2002
Your letter arrived today. Well, to answer your question I'm a sniper. I
can't put it more plainly than that. I'm a fellow paid to shoot people for
a living. And frankly I'd like to keep writing letters back and forth. It's
a helpful thing to my morale out here. Besides my nosy Pequot shadow won't
shut up until I've written you so thus I bow to the inevitable.
Anyhoo, a little more about me. I'm twenty-three years old, from Montreal.
I've been in the Army since I was seventeen. I grew up on both sides of the
border, I used to live in Mississippi from when I was eleven until I was
seventeen and I joined the Canadian Army. My main hobbies are medieval
history and boxing.
What do you do in the military? I know you're in the Navy judging from
your postmarks. But what exactly do you do?
Coates grinned, picked up a pen and started to write her response just as
she heard Admiral Chegwidden shout, "Coates, please go find Commander Rabb
and be sure to drop me an aspirin before he gets in here."
Sighing again, Coates put the letter and her pad away safely and went to
follow her order, "Yes sir."
~ ~ ~ ~
TBC (I'll write more as the storyline builds in my head. If anyone knows
anything more about Petty Officer Coates, please put it in the reviews,
because my information's a bit sketchy.)