Chris Jeon is not a member of the United States military. He’s just a 21-year-old math major at UCLA with an unquenchable thirst for a thrill, even if that thrill is incredibly life-threatening.
In August of 2011, Chris told his parents he was going sightseeing in Egypt. I guess he convinced them he had an infatuation with pyramids, because I don’t think, and I assume I’m not alone, that Egypt is a popular sightseeing destination. They bought it, but Chris didn’t stay in Egypt for long. He flew into Cairo, but then made his way to Libya to join up and fight with the Libyan rebels against Muammar al-Qaddafi. He arrived at the border where he was greeted by “rebels guarding the border. [They] were playing FIFA soccer on a PlayStation when he arrived. Jeon waved at them. They glanced at his passport and went back to their video game. ‘Okay, cool,’ Jeon said, and simply walked into Libya.”
It was on.
The whole piece is worth a read, but I’m posting a couple of the more exciting parts below. This shit is wild:
That afternoon, at a rebel checkpoint in the desert, Jeon saw three trucks appear out of the heat shimmering off the road to the west. They were moving fast, inbound from Qaddafi-held territory. The rebels around him picked up their weapons, cigarettes dangling from their mouths.
As the trucks approached, Jeon saw someone lean out one of the windows with a gun. It seemed surreal, like a mirage in the desert heat. The rebels around him started yelling, and he heard bullets whiz past. They were under attack.
“Motherf—er,” Jeon hissed, grabbing an AK-47 out of the bed of a truck. He knew how to assemble and disassemble the gun but had yet to fire it in battle. Now he could see the faces of the loyalist forces as they drove off-road, circling the rebels and strafing the checkpoint. He flipped the safety off.
A bullet pierced the leg of a man next to him. The screaming was buried underneath the report of automatic weapons. Jeon was breathing fast. He popped up from behind his vehicle, took aim, and fired at one of the circling trucks. The gun jerked wildly, and he ran out of bullets. He loaded another clip. This time, when he squeezed the trigger, he saw the passenger’s head snap back — blood splattered the inside of the car.
After another volley, the attackers sped back to the west, and it was quiet again, except for the growls of the wounded. One of the rebels walked up to Jeon and slapped him on the back.
[Our] car is surrounded by men with machine guns. They are accusing us of being with the CIA, but my translator is sure they just want to rob us.
“These are very bad people,” he says. “They are going to take us into the desert, and we will not come back.”
I can see some crumbled buildings 50 yards away. Maybe we can make a run for it. I look over at Jeon and see him smiling. “Dude, are you scared?” he asks, laughing. “You look scared.”
Another truck of armed militiamen pulls up, and the new arrivals begin arguing with our captors. We are driven to a militia compound, where the argument continues for hours. Finally, near dawn, we are released with no explanation.
Back at the hotel, Jeon is ecstatic. We all are. I am still worried that a militia might track us down at the hotel, but I also feel the rush of being free. It’s 6 in the morning, and I’m not tired at all. In fact, I feel enormously alive.
“You see what I’m saying about Libya?” Jeon asks me. “It’s amazing.”