Arab Spring Break
Credit: Courtesy Chris Jeon
As the trucks approached, Jeon saw someone lean out of 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.

"Motherfucker," Jeon hissed, grabbing an AK 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.

"You are Libyan now," the man said.

At dusk, he rolled into the refinery with a contingent from the checkpoint. As the daylight faded and the adrenaline drained out of him, he wondered what he'd just done. "I didn't feel any remorse," he said. "But I worried about what my parents would think if they found out." He remembered his mom crying on the phone and got choked up.

"Problem, Ahmed?" asked Abdul Karim, a rebel friend.

"Mia, mia," Jeon replied in Libyan slang. It meant he was 100 out of 100, feeling fine.

By morning, he'd decided to go home.