The First man I killed disturbed me. Not so much for the loss of human life, or the whole killing is wrong concept. Not because I wasn't well within my right to do so (self-defense) or because (as any 5-year old will tell you) He started it.
The First man I killed I looked in the eye when I shot him. Right dead in the eye. It was actually my aiming point, but that’s beside the point. I did not see the fire of Martyrdom. I did not see rage. I saw neither honor nor vengeance. I saw a look, an emotion that can only be summed up as “Oh Shit!”
This man brought a gun to a gunfight. I brought 30. He brought about 90 rounds. I brought over 3000. He had a fully automatic rifle. I had pistols, rifles, machine guns, and grenade launchers. And I had something he didn’t, 16 of my brothers.
I pulled the trigger that released the hammer that hit the firing pin that ignited the primer an powder that propelled the bullet that sent him to see his 72 Virginians. I watched him shudder; and fall. I watched him flop and flail. And then I ran into his burning house and drug him to safety and went back in to find his family and get them out.
What really disturbed me after all this (during the event I wasn’t doing any real thinking, just acting and reacting) was that I felt nothing. Not a tear, a sigh, or even a melancholy. (I also took no joy in it.) The utter lack of feeling or emotion bugged the shit out of me.
Well, I actually shared these feelings (or lack thereof) with people. Okay. I shared it with TWO people. The Mrs. (Who I figure really doesn’t need to hear any more of these stories) and a fellow Patriot. They both gave good advice. It boiled down to this:
You were defending yourself and your men. You followed the rules of engagement. You had no other choice. (Except not to fight. If you even thought that for a second, put your Birkenstocks and socks back on, stuff your granola up your ass, and get out, hippie.)
All true statements. I came to this conclusion: It wasn’t personal, just business.
You see, the Army is my job. It’s my 9-5 (or, rather, my 0400-2359). If you ask me who I am, I’ll tell you about my family, my beliefs, and somewhere in there, I may mention that I am in the Army. Way back in the early days as a Strong Back™, my mom wondered aloud to Dad if I would do well in the Army (this was after I graduated from Basic Training. She was worried because I was still the same goofy kid at home. Dad told her “Yeah, he’ll be fine. What you don’t see is that when he goes around the corner, He’s not your little boy anymore. He’s now a soldier, and a damn good one (thanks Dad).”
Killing is my business.
Uphold,Defend, Bear True Faith, Allegiance, Obey. These are the Pledges in my Oath. They sum up nicely as “Do what my President says, and follow the constitution or I WILL KILL YOU. We don’t train to shoot to wound. We don’t have to fire a warning shot. We follow the rules, we fight by the rules, and we die either because we follow them or because others don’t. War is brutal. War is hell. War is what I have hardened my heart to bring on the heads of my enemies. Dissention is intellectual cowardice.
Business is good.
Sometimes we find bombs. Sometimes we don’t. Some days you see the elephant, and on other days you’re the stuff between his toes. My men have been shot at, nearly blown up (one of my platoon leaders had a mortar round land 5 Feet from where he stood, and it failed to esplode), I’ve rolled right over a 15 pound PE-4 (Russian C4) charge that I actually squished the trigger device. We’ve been blown up by IEDs, Car Bombed, and had Mohammed’s Revenge (Like Montezuma, but caused by Iraqi food and water—don’t want to insult the locals when they offer you food. You’d better eat hearty in the name of good manners and national policy.) Atkins can eat my heart out (All Protein, by the way). There’s nothing better for weight loss than 110 degree temps, 40 pounds of gear, 20 pounds of body armor, and a case of screaming shits to drop a quick 2 inches off the waistline. (See, I told you no topic was too sacred.) We keep finding their bombs and caches, we root them out of their hides, we kill them and kill them. They recently said that it was okay to kill fellow muslims when attacking us. (Telling them basically that it was okay to kill Iraqi Army and Police to get at us.) Out-damn-standing. It means we’re winning, people. They see their grip fading on the people that they held so tightly. Kamikazes didn’t work for the Japanese, it seems supply ≠ demand.
Goodnight, sleep well. Rough men stand ready to do violence on your behalf. Okay, I have to get up early and visit a school and pass out notebooks and pens. But in principle, I’ll kill every last one of those little pricks if I have to *grin*.