combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 01 Number 01 Winter ©Jan 2003

I Ain’t Afraid

          “Awww SHIT!”

          “TAKE COVER.”

          “Get some, you motherfuckers!”

          “Lay the base.”


          “Let it go.”

          “Pop some caps.”

          “I’m goin’ ... cover me.”

          “Lay it down. Make it heavy.”

          “Move left!”

          “Hose ’em.”

          “Sing to me sweetheart ... make papa smile.”

          “Eat shit, you assholes!”

          “Say Bo, go for it! Light-up gook city!”

          “Keep your fuckin’ interval!”

          “Go, man, go.”

          “WHEW ... THAT was close!”

          “MOVE OUT.”

          “Sarge, the Old Man wants to know what’s happening.”

          “Check it out ... that one’s a Commie chick!”

          “Reach out and touch someone!”

          “Get some!”

          “What’s the Colonel doin’ down on our net? ... just say we’re in a firefight.”

          “Share the fuckin’ love!”

          “Sloppy seconds works for me.”

          “Thumper, drop some behind that berm.”

          “Let ’em run into it.”

          “Aw ... sweet bloop, bloop, blooper!”

          “Look at that fine shit.”


          “Do the funky chicken you cocksuckers!”

          “Don’t spray! ... SQUEEZE it off.”

          “UP ... UP ... UP! ... keep pushin’.”

          “Where’s the other pig?”

          “Keep a leash on those squads ... this ain’t no goddamn race.”

          “Nobody’s ever out-run a bullet!”

          “Spread out, people ... could be anything in the woodline.”

          “Don’t bunch-up ... one mortar will take-out every swinging-dick.”

          “What’re you shootin’ at, Booger?!”

          “Just rock ’n’ roll, Chief.”

          “Not in my squad! Save your ammo for a counterattack.”

          “Chief, police-up, then back-up to form a perimeter.”


          “Cover that team.”

          “ROGER that.”

          “Aw-right people, you’re not back on the block.”

          “Don’t turn this into a cluster-fuck.”

          “Push out ... link-up on the flanks.”

          “Find your buddy.”

          “Setup some defense positions.”

          “Police the area, people ... collect the dead and wounded.”

          “Re-fill your mags ... get squared-away.”

          “What’re you doin’, Stud? ... you think Shake ’n’ Bake gives you privileges?”

          “No ... just layin’ back and catchin’ my breath.”

          “Hey Stud, get off your ass and check your men! Only officers don’t have to get their pretty little hands dirty.”

          “Where’s Doc? ... how many casualties we got?”

          “Take any prisoners?”

          “Chief, is your sector secure?”

          “Sarge, the Old Man wants a SITREP.”

          “Hell, Sparks, there’re lots of things I want ... cold beer, hot pussy, Brass Hats off my back! ... just tell him that we’ve broken contact.”


          “You’re not too damned poor to pay attention.”

          “Sarge, looks like three wounded and two dead.”

          “Okay, sparks, lay-on a Dust-Off. We’re about two right and one up from RP Kansas.”

          “Bubba, are we linked-up yet?”

          “Anybody out of anythin’?”

          “Should we lend a hand with Butch?”

          “Naw, don’t worry about him ... he’s makin’ too much noise to be serious.”

          “Moocher, go around with these bore brushes and wipes for anybody without ... and bring back whatever’s left!”

          “Ummm, I was wondering about that pig.”

          “Yeh, we’re baggin’ the loader over there. He bled-out before anyone found him.”

          “Hey, Baby-San, you playin’ hero?”

          “Didn’t nobody say you ain’t bulletproof?!”

          “I’m contaminating the hell out of this, but I got to pinch-off that pumper.”

          “Hold this blood-expander while I poke him.”

          “Sarge, the Old Man is asking for our status again.”

          “Tell him to crawl out of that fudge factory and come out here if he’s in such a big-assed hurry to know what’s happening!”

          “Aw Sarge, I can’t say that.”

          “Got it!”

          “I’m cold.”

          “Somebody pull his poncho-liner out and tuck it around him.”

          “You hurtin’ bad? ... want a shot?”

          “No, just cold and thirsty.”

          “Okay, that’s normal. I’m goin’ to give you a sponge to suck. Let me clean-up your mouth a little.”

          “Am I gonna die? ... I don’t want to die.”

          “You took some hits. We got an I-V running and some patches on you. They’re going to do surgery on you as soon as you get to the hospital. You’ll be alright.”

          “I didn’t know it would be like this.”

          “Nobody does.”

          “Okay, tell the head-shed that we’re consolidating after breaking contact and that we’ll report shortly.”

          “I don’t want to be here.”

          “Tell us something we don’t already know.”

          “Yeh Baby-San, got any other big surprises?”

          “My dad was big about becoming a man ... you know, act tough, be proud, don’t take shit from nobody.”

          “I think I met him a few hundred times.”

          “Sounds like my father.”

          “Does he wear a really complicated wrist-watch?”

          “Big gun, little weenie.”

          “Yeh, big mouth, little dick.”


          “Ummm, that tastes really good.”

          “I can’t let you drink, so just suck on it for awhile. They’ll push fluids at the hospital.”

          “You know, he was always pushin’ ... sayin’ you can’t wait for stuff to come to you.”

          “Yeh, a real go-getter.”

          “I swear I know this guy ... hey, Baby-San, are we related?”

          “I love these fuckin’ jerks who got to tell everybody what to do.”

          “I don’t want to break your chop, but it’s true. You got to go after what you want. Life is tough, and good shit ain’t fallin’ from the sky.”

          “Aw Sarge, you were born in olive-drab diapers.”

          “He ain’t talkin’ about the gravy-train ... he’s talkin’ about who’s the engineer.”

          “Yeh, it ain’t like nobody knows how to follow The Light.”

          “ROGER that ... but we all got to do stuff we don’t like doin’.”

          “Well, I don’t want to do this.”

          “Amen, brother!”

          “Say it again!”

          “Preachin’ to the choir.”

          “Got another dumb dead dink.”

          “They all been searched, Bubba?”

          “Sarge, I wrote an inventory. Wanted to keep physical integrity of gear with documents.”

          “Good move. Can we use the extra ponchos to wrap the gooks?”

          “Chief, you clear the weapons?”

          “Sparks, look through the personal gear for anything the platoon needs before we load the transport.”

          “You know, my dad served in this same unit during the big war ... he calls it the real war ....”

          “Yeh, like all the dead soldiers in Korea and Vietnam ain’t REAL!”

          “Like magic bullets got a choice about who dies.”

          “Yeh, like there’s a scale for bad war or worse enemies ... you can get evil in extra-strength economy-size packages.”

          “They say that Hell’s got different levels.”

          “How the fuck do THEY know?!”

          “I been there, and it all feels the same.”

          “Give me a fuckin’ break.”

          “What did he do?”

          “Uh, I’m not sure ... something with heavy weapons, like mortars or howitzers.”

          “Holy shit! ... a fuckin’ poag!”

          “Hoo, Baby-San, he ain’t got nothin’ on you!”

          “I just want him to be proud of me.”

          “If he ain’t never told you then I will ... you’re a good trooper.”

          “Hey, you The Man ... you the dude with the pig.”

          “Yeh, you help keep us alive with good shootin’.”

          “You can guard my back anytime.”

          “Tell him I didn’t cry.”

          “Kiss my ass! ... tell him yourself! Chopper’s on the way.”

          “You almost home.”

          “What’s this big cryin’ thing? ... I’m crying, and I ain’t even wounded.”

          “You’re right ... ain’t nothin’ wrong with cryin’.”

          “Heh, candy-ass.”

          “Nobody wants to share a foxhole with a cry-baby.”

          “Rather have a thumbsucker than a superman.”

          “Yeh, never share your foxhole with somebody braver than you.”

          “It’s true. You see that girl guerrilla?”

          “Yeh, it’s sad. She was just a kid.”

          “She was old enough to shoot ... she could’ve been the one who hit Baby-San.”

          “Well, I’ve cried for the enemy as well as my friends ... I ain’t ashamed of it.”

          “It’s like mind and body ... the Spartans believed a man was not whole if he could not laugh and cry, sing and love.”

          “Is that true, Sarge?”

          “Of course ... if you’re hard all the way through, you’re just a stone statue.”

          “Yeh, man’s the only animal that laughs and cries, ’cause we can see what might’ve been.”

          “Makes sense to me.”

          “But the Spartans weren’t afraid, were they? I mean ....”

          “Anybody who isn’t afraid is stupid!”

          “I ain’t afraid.”

          “BULLSHIT, Baby-San.”

          “No ... really ... I ain’t afraid of nothin’.”

          “Maybe your crazy father burned it out of you.”

          “Man, I get real scared sometimes ... you know?”

          “Hey, no shit, got a pucker factor off the friggin’ scale!”

          “If I think about it I start to shake, and ....”

          “And it’s worse if you’re pinned-down, and can’t move!”

          “Yeh, crawl inside my fuckin’ helmet!”

          “You know how they always talk about troops crappin’ in their drawers when caps start poppin’?”

          “Couldn’t drive a straight-pin up my ass with a sledge hammer!”

          “For sure.”

          “Hell, I’m locked down so tight I can’t dump for a week!”

          “Been there, done that.”

          “You know, Baby-San has a point. Once the action starts, I get into a real calm mood where everything is slow and hushed.”

          “It’s not calm for me, but everything backs-off ... like the air is as dense as water.”

          “It’s called the zone ... and sometimes you get too relaxed in there. It can be a false security that gets you killed.”

          “It feels good.”

          “Damn straight.”

          “Sometimes it feels so good that soldiers never want to come back out.”

          “What do you mean, Sarge? ... I mean, seriously. Who the hell would really WANT to be in combat?!”

          “It’s like a drug to some soldiers ....”

          “And better than sex!”

          “True. Which is how they get hooked ... not just combat, but thrill junkies.”

          “Fuck that shit ... I NEVER want to go there!”

          “Look, given the cross-section of any military population, some are going to get a hard-on when they pull a trigger, and some are going to love the killing, and some are going to find God in their foxhole, and some are going to hate the world.”

          “Well, all that may be true, but I’ve not felt it. All I know is fear.”

          “Like an extra rucksack to hump.”

          “Like a ball-and-chain to drag.”

          “That’s how it is for most of us ... and we soldier-on with the load.”

          “You too, Sarge?”

          “That’s affirmative.”

          “Dust-Off just called ... the bird’s about five minutes out.”

          “Okay, pop smoke behind us ... over there past that scrub.”

          “Doc, take-over this I-V and supervise his loading. If there’s no on-board medic, then ride him in, and come back on the ash ’n’ trash bird.”

          “Bubba, give me a litter party.”

          “Chief, setup some escorts for the walking wounded; then a detail for loading the body-bags.”

          “Gooks included?”

          “Yes ... with the captured gear. I’ll radio for the 2-shop to meet the arrival.”

          “Confirm purple smoke. We’re ready to load.”

          “Look at them goddamn bugs.”

          “It’s like we only exist to feed them.”

          “Okay, Sparks, call the Captain with our status. Give him killed, wounded, captured gear, and resupply Class 1 and 2. Say we’re linked in a defensive bivouac. Ask if division has allocated replacements for us yet. Then pass the word to the Colonel.”

          “I can handle the blood and stuff, but the flies really get to me.”

          “Yeh, walkin’ on their eyes and in their mouths.”

          “Really makes me want to puke.”

          “Or napalm the whole fuckin’ country!”

          “When you cover our ass with the Old Man, notify the INTEL wonks to collect the inventoried gear off the med-evac.”

          “It’s like a great cosmic joke ... we think we’re so smart, but God’s really a cockroach, and He bred us as the most wasteful animal on earth so His children will always have a good meal off us.”

          “I can dig it.”

          “What’re you yardbirds talkin’ about? ... don’t you know that God is a butterfly?”

          “Is that the one that dreams our Creation?”

          “Or is that the one that flapped its wings and made us fight this battle?”

          “Can you imagine this cesspool if the birds and bugs didn’t clean-up our mess?”

          “I don’t care what you say ... every dead enemy body is sweeter than perfume!”

          “Enjoy it while you can.”

          “It’s the pause that refreshes, right?”

          “Whatever. When Charlie gives us some high-angle hell tonight, you remember smokin’ and jokin’ instead of diggin’ a new home.”

          “What? ... this ain’t enough?”

          “Let me see ... Dear Mother of Private Numb-Nuts, I regret to inform you that your foolish son, contrary to SOP, got his dumb-ass blown-off while imitating an ostrich on the battlefield; so we scooped what was left into his helmet with his brand new, inspection-ready, spit-shined e-tool ....

          “OKAY, OKAY, OKAY ... I get the point. See, I’m diggin’ so fast that I’m smokin’!”

          “About fuckin’ time.”

          “Sarge, the Old Man sent a well done, and he said he’s putting you in for a medal.”

          “Abso-fucking-lutely terrific ... he doesn’t even know what happened, so he’s going to gong the wrong people again. What else is new?!”

          “Well, since you asked ... he said he’s sending us a new Loot.”

          “That’s GREAT ... that’s just what we need: another Shavetail to lead us off to glory! Another Ring-Knocker who thinks this war is all about getting promoted.”

          “If any of them could cast a shadow half as large as their ambition ....”

          “These Butter-Bars can’t even get out of their own way, but usually manage to get in everyone else’s.”

          “Just one more bumbling trainee who’s got to be protected until he gets his head out of rectal defilade.”

          “Same ol’, same ol’.”

          “I love it too.”

          “Bet me.”

          “Hey Ski, how they hangin’? ... you set for the night?”

          “Trade-off so you won’t be unarmed if Mister Charles makes an unannounced visit.”

          “That’s too much LSA ... it’ll collect dust and jam the receiver.”

          “Say College Boy, you writing your congressman again? ... well, spell my name right.”

          “Top was just on the horn. He’s sending some FNGs with the resupply and other trash.”

          “Thank God for Top-Kicks! ... without them, nothin’ would ever get done.”

          “Chief, your troops got enough drinking water?”

          “Probably be hot chow and mail in the morning ... pass the word.”

          “What’s that? ... you get that in a CARE package?”

          “Yeh, just punch some vents in the lid, zip open the fuel cell, and PRESTO! ... hot soup!”

          “Pretty slick. Looks like you’ve got enough heat there for a couple of meals ... at least our C-4 won’t get raided so much now.”

          “Sarge, I pulled some C-rats from the return gear. You want to go through them?”

          “Naw ... it’s all the same. Just give the extras to Bubba.”

          “Midnight, you do a foot check?”

          “They ain’t goin’ to come to you until they can’t walk.”

          “That was some nice shootin’ today, Thumper ... good on you.”

          “Have you plotted your aiming stakes?”

          “Who’s got an angle on that depression?”

          “Sarge, why do you call him Midnight? ... he’s not Black, and he always looks confused after you’re finished with him.”

          “What time is midnight?”

          “2400 hours.”

          “And it’s also zero, isn’t it? ... and, Sparks, he’s totally in the dark!”

          “Uhhh Sarge, that’s pretty hard.”

          “War is hard. If he doesn’t wake-up to reveille pretty soon, then his confusion is going to get one of us killed.”

          “Isn’t that Moose over there? ... takin’ a whiz?”

          “Why don’t you clue him?”

          “I ain’t his fuckin’ mother or his goddamn priest ... he’s a Non-Com. I won’t wipe his ass, but I will kick it.”

          “Moose, give me your rifle ... I want you to hump the pig.”

          “Chief may want to place me in a different hole.”

          “Bo can help with picking your loader.”

          “Sure ... and he’s the right guy for straight skinny. I can ask him for some solid pointers.”

          “I scarfed-up the extra link ammo, so I’ll bring it over after Sarge is done.”

          “Don’t overload ... we can pass the belts around.”

          “Moose, the pig went dry today. I think that’s how we lost the fireteam. When you hookup with your loader, don’t let anything separate you.”

          “It’ll be like we’re MARRIED, Sarge.”

          “Be cool ... tomorrow’s soon enough to die.”

by Frank N. Ernest
... who is a combat veteran and retired policeman; this is his first published work.