22 May 2017

Vietnam:


As an advisor and liaison I lead native troops but nonetheless was looked upon as the "supreme local power", way too much power for a very young man, just out of adolescence. I used my power as a good soldier at first, fighting who was perceived and inculcated in me as the enemy. . .and if I didn't do it, I had the definite impression that very little would get done. . .However, after nine months I had an epiphany in the form of a chopper pilot asking for permission to engage, "Three military aged males with packs and weapons evading"...rote, scripted, common parlance. For some reason it was too pat, too familiar. I asked for his altitude, to which he replied some distance which would make identification of packs and weapons or gender nigh on to impossible. I suggested he go closer to find the true nature of his target. I didn't hear back from him for an inordinate length of time. So, I keyed the mike and asked if he'd identified his intended target. He responded, "Yes, disregard...it was a mamasan with two baby sans doing their laundry by a river." How many times in the past had I cleared requests to fire? Never again in any time of uncertainty would I be so gullible. I became the meanest bastard in my area of operations...unless there was contact, I generally denied requests for fire. I became very anti-war at that moment...always before it had been a song at camp, an idea...not a mind blast of reality. I was forever changed.

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The River

upstream from white sand beaches are hamlets, paddies and canyons bombshells unexploded, cratered land, cratered faces  mangled extremities...