Study Guide

Bravo Company in Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

By Ben Fountain

Bravo Company

SPC Lodis (Load) Beckwith

Lodis is that good-natured guy everyone picks on because he takes it so well. His most memorable contribution to our story has to be when Dime singles him out to make him look like an idiot while they're all waiting for the football game to start:

"Load!" barks Sergeant Dime. "How long is a football field?"

Lodis snorts; too easy. At least ten times a day he has to prove that certitude is the hallmark of the true moron.

"A hunrud yards, Sergeant."

"Wrong, dumbs***. Billy, how long is a football field?"

"A hundred twenty yards," Billy answers, trying to keep it low-key, but Dime leads the rest of Bravo in whooping applause. Hooah, Billy, get some. 
(Private.2-7)

Or maybe the best moment is when Lodis gets drunker than a skunk right before the guys are all supposed to drill in front of millions of people at the halftime show. As Billy calls it, Lodis went full Buckwheat (Raped.3)—and all on national television.

SPC Brian (A-bort) Hebert

From Lafayette, Louisiana, A-bort is one of the bigger yucksters in Bravo. He has a fondness for gambling, sexual innuendos, and his dog. He's also, as Billy realizes, just a kid:

He's twenty-two, which makes him ancient in Billy's eyes; not until he sees A-bort's ecstatic smile in the photo, his headlong, boyish pleasure in the moment, will Billy appreciate that his squad mate is basically just a kid, a guy who reads the Harry Potter books over and over and once sent a "letter" home to his dog, which was a rag he'd kept stuffed under his arm for several days. (Dry-Humping.2)

That's a reminder, folks, that all these boys at war are, you know, boys. Teenagers, or barely more than teenagers.

Staff Sergeant Kellum (Day) Holliday

Day's function in our cast of characters is pretty much to offer some plucky comic relief—in a book that's already pretty funny. Day's the second-in-command under Dime, and he's also the second-in-command of Albert's heart:

Billy has decided that Albert is gay for Dime, in a nonsexual sense. Dime interests him, Dime the person and Dime the soldier, the entire phenomenon of Dime-ness loosed upon a square and unsuspecting world. In the pantheon of Albert's attentions, Dime comes first and Holliday a distant second, and even that seems more of a proximate sort of interest, conditional, complementary, a function of Day's black yin yoked to Dime's honky yang. Day deigns not to notice his secondary status, like now, for instance, as Albert and Dime huddle in intense conversation while Day perches on his seat back surveying the field like an African king high on his throne, looking down on all his little subject b****es. And as for the rest of Bravo, they might as well be so many shares of corporate stock that happen to talk and walk and drink a lot of beer. "Dime the property," as Day muttered to Billy last night, in a rare drunken moment of resentful candor. "The rest a you just the produck." (Human Response.19)

As we've seen in general, things get pretty real when you're in the Army and you've been deployed. That certainly allows guys to let loose a little and explore male friendship and male bonding in ways they might not back at home.

SPC Robert Earl (Crack) Koch

Of all the Bravo dudes, Crack is the one with the dark side. He treats women like objects, he makes jokes that are a little too dark to go over well in public, and oh, right, he chokes out a guy at the football game. His explanation? Check it out:

Crack giggles. "I'm just having a little fun." There's a masturbatory aspect in the way he twists Travis one way and then the other, squeezing, relenting, squeezing, relenting, probing the physiological point of no return. Travis's face is dark red, shading to purple. A full-on carotid choke results in death in a matter of minutes.  […] But finally Crack relents; it's as if he loses interest, the way he turns Travis loose with a casual slap to the head, and Travis sags into his seat like a broken crash dummy. (Proud.84-91)

Yeah, uh…that's pretty intense. Crack might've finally cracked.

Major (Mac) McLaurin

Major Mac is basically Lurch from the Addams Family. He was rendered mostly deaf after being blown up TWICE, and then he was assigned to Bravo as their Public Affairs escort. We just love the way he's introduced:

Major Mac rarely speaks, hardly ever eats or drinks, and has never been seen to relieve himself, prompting speculation among the Bravos that their PA escort might be a new kind of human being, one that consumes and voids through the pores of his skin. Thanks to mysterious back channels Sergeant Dime discovered that on the major's very first day at the war he was blown up not just once but twice, resulting in profound but as-yet-to-be-determined hearing loss. For now he's been parked in public affairs while the Army figures out what to do with him. The major is a chiseled, cleft-chinned, iron-spined specimen, he looks every inch the ideal Joe, which might explain why he's hung on this long, because in truth the man is deaf as a post, not to mention prone to spells of extreme dissociation. As in, checked out. Stroked. Spaced. Peed on the fire and called in the dogs, everybody gone. Dime calls it the major's thousand-yard Prozac stare. (Cures.28)

Aside from being a crucial part of de-escalating the brawl with the roadies just before the Bravos leave Cowboys Stadium, Mac's role is basically to stand there and creep everybody out. He also disappears, apparently without reason, prompting people like Billy and Mango to go on long searches to find him.

SPC Marcellino (Mango) Montoya

Mango tends to be Billy's go-to buddy. These two get high together with a random waiter who offered them weed at the Cowboys game, they go on adventures hunting down Major Mac, and they generally just pair up quite nicely.

Mango's not a bad guy to go to war with, according to Billy:

Mango is rock-steady in both war and peace. Tough as hell, never complains, can carry major pounds on a stocky five-foot-eight-inch frame and has photographic recall of stats and time-oriented facts, such as, for instance, he can rattle off the names of not just the U.S. presidents but the vice presidents as well, which tends to put a quick stop to any illegal-alien talk. The one time Billy ever saw his buddy break down wasn't in a firefight, nor any of the times they were mortared, rocketed, sniped at, or roadside-bombed, not even the time he was blown out of the Humvee's turret and asked, "Is anything sticking out of my head?" Rock-steady, except for the day a car bomb blew up Third Platoon's checkpoint, and Bravo was tasked to pull security in the aftermath. A bad day by any standard, but it was only when they fanned out to search for the correct number of severed limbs that Mango sank to his knees in a blubbering heap. (Cures.30)

Uh, yeah, by the way, folks, even today, with all our drone technology and all that, the main feature of war is, you know, lots of death, and lots of severed limbs. It's not a pretty picture.

SPC Kenneth (Sucks) Sykes

Sykes is the class clown of Bravo, the one who's always yelling inappropriate things at the wrong time in order to get a cheap laugh. As we discover later on, Sykes's foolish bluster is probably covering up something deeper: when the halftime pyrotechnics starts triggering all kinds of PTSD for the guys of Bravo, it's Sykes who just breaks down. No, seriously, he silently weeps during the entire halftime show, and when asked, he can't even say why he's crying.

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