combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 02 Number 01 Winter ©Jan 2004

A World of Hurt

Men do not so much hate the evil deed or actor, as detest the witness who rightly and unswervingly identifies them.

When you finally realize that all the turgid grandiloquence and bombastic vacuity, all the orotund tropes and hortatory bromides, all the inspirational platitudes and fustian rhetoric has been contrived as deceptive double-talk to obscure your true mission, then you'll go a little more insane and angry. When you understand that your real mission is to kill as many people as possible, then you will want to destroy everything ... animal, vegetable, mineral. Those prayers for war, that became prayers for deliverance, that became sacrilegious oaths, concluded as curses against peace. You reinterpret your objective to reduce the combat zone to a compact waste land, where peace will finally reign because nothing will grow. Peace is just another word for burned-out sterility. The grunt's fantasy is to load all friendly personnel onto a ship that's marooned off-shore, saturation bomb the country back to the Stone Age, and then sink the ship! You know the scheme is workable because of the plan to relocate friendlies to "New Korea" during the last war, and the transport of anti-communists to South Vietnam after the Accords, but the previous projects weren't complete. Compassion becomes alien, grotesquery becomes diverting, and suffering becomes humorous. You become contemptuous of target profiles and collateral damage. The enemy barrage that ignites an ammo dump creates an entertaining sound-and-light show for days. The enemy barrage that craters an airstrip, and incidentally explodes a stack of body-bags collected from other engagements, is hideously ludicrous. The mad minute of dark encounter becomes a captivating pattern of crazed green and red tracers. You notice a corpse so alive that his death must be verified with an eyeball touch ... his thousand yard stare bore right through into eternity. The smell of fear still clung to another with a rat inside his yawning scream. One dead body displayed bloody vomit hanging from his lips, like a string of tomato-stained cheese spilling-off a hot slice of pizza, to puddle into an unappetizing agglomeration onto his legs, which had been abbreviated and perforated by an explosion. He sat huddled over his despair and hunched over his own death, like a man gorging on his last meal, and consumed with its fascinating flavors. As with Occidental inducement of AmerIndian scalping, the taking of trophy body parts was probably introduced, but this desecration is now widely practiced ... even by Buddhists. These souvenirs offer a form of stable orientation in the realm of madness, and were invested with the power to magically protect, as heraldic favors had once conveyed. The panoply of war exhibits a chaotic artistry of men admixed with tree parts and trees admixed with man parts, giving the forests a uniquely scattered decoration of shattered bodies hanging in splintered trees. Jagged metal indiscriminately tears through flesh and frond, organ and object, bone and stone, making more dirt for more faceless men to anoint with their blood, so more nameless men will again fight over it. The pandemonium of mega-death in neoplastic transitions has evoked a substantive metamorph. It eventually becomes obvious that these destructive impulses are also brutally destroying your own vital spirit, your regeneration quotient, your essential humanity; such that all misery rebounds and all lethality imperils. Your suicidal isolation is now complete, and only awaits fruition with universal hatred.

The best iron is not used to make nails; nor the best men become soldiers.
ancient Chinese aphorism

by Pan Perdu
... who is a former soldier and VA counselor; this work has been excerpted from Fragmentations, a book in progress.