The official Sebastian Junger community
Hello to all again,
It has been several months since I have been here. So let me catch up with everyone now. A couple of months back I went to the book signing in Silver Springs and spoke to Sebastian for a few minutes. Then a bit later I went to the first screening of his movie there as well. (I think that is the town. It is on the edge of DC in any case. I am not from this area so I can mistake my towns at times. If this was going on in Florida anywhere I would not be lost).
I remember after going to the book signing that some people made the statement about why the men were cheering when they killed the enemy soldier. That can only be a question given by someone that has not been in combat. I dont mean about combat where you are a cook or clerk or some REMF. If you have to ask what a REMF is then you for sure have not been in combat. But let me enlighten you on this subject and give an example from my days in Nam back in 1966.
Combat can be viewed as a game and it is a game. It is one you do not want to lose however and lose can mean many things. The most obvious is to lose the game and lose your life. the next obvious is to lose a leg or arm or two of each as in the well known case of the generals son that stepped on a mine. Worse to me can be having your dick blown off(sorry ladies that are reading this). I used to sleep on patrols (at nights) curled up with my family jewels cupped in my hand. Dont know why as my hand would not have stopped a bullet but it made me feel better somehow.
In Xuan Loc, down south in Vietnam, we got into a firefight and it was my first time with someone doing his best to kill me.( I dont think i mentioned this story in my last post. If so forgive me as it is tough getting old :). The day started out all fucked up to begin with and they tried to drop us in a rice paddy that was ass deep to a giraffe in water. so then they decided we were in the wrong place and took us somewhere else and let us out. After a few minutes of walking around heading who knows where i see a pile os crap and it is still steaming! I did not think much about it which shows how fucking stupid i was and how new to the war business. Then about ten minutes later i hear some Vietnamese talking and chattering. So what do i think? I think it must be the south Vietnamese army come to help us on the operation. Again that shows how fucking stupid i was. (By the way had i known a bit more i would not of wanted the South Vietnamese army around me as they were as "useless as the tits on a boar hog.")
In about another ten minutes the whole ass end of my world has gone south so fast I cannot understand it. There was so much lead flying around you could almost see it and that is not a lie. To make a long story shorter, i found a tree to hide behind and it was about 6" thick. Well dont you know the . enemy .50 caliber behind me shot that tree in half. so now i am lying behind a skinny tree stump.
Well soon thereafter i have a NVA regular in front of me hiding behind a small palm tree about 30 feet or so away from me. He would shoot at me and i would duck as low as i can get and then i would shoot at him. I got so low one time a snake crawled over me!
Anyhow my game had started with this fine gentleman that was doing his best to kill Mrs Lyell's number one son. We did this shit of him shooting at me and me staying down and me shooting at him and him hiding behind his palm tree. it was a small one but palm trees are excellent for stopping bullets even the M16 that i had. After about an hour of this shit i was tired of this particular game with this guy. something had to give and i did not want it to be me. plus i was pissed off that i had pissed my pants as it was not real prudent to get up and take a leak at the time. so i tried to change the game rules a bit.
he shot at me and i did not shoot back just to see what he would do. what he did cost him the game. I watched him move the palm leaf aside so he could see me and i shot him in the chest with a full clip(20 rounds). For just a second i could see right through his chest as the bullets made a hole about the size of a volley ball. he was now dead i won the game with him. Was i happy? You best your sweet ass i was and if i could have jumped up and done a jig i would have done it. It was nothing to do with my up bringing or anything that was bad. He and i were trying to kill each other and i won. if i was a gunfighter in the old west i guess i could have put a notch on my rifle stock. It was a relief that that guy was dead and i was not and i was not hurt.
Dont you think he would be gloating if he had killed me and told all his buddies that he killed the shit american? sure he would as it was a relief for him if he had won the game. it does not make me a bad guy that i won and i got to gloat about it. i did not have bad dreams or want to go contemplate what i did. i did what i had to do and that was it.In the documentary they cheered as they killed the guy on the other side and that is what they should have done. Especaily when you have had some friends killed by the other side. that makes it personal and you have to get your pay back from them.
i remember in this same episode i am telling you about that we could hear the bugles blowing and the NVA were yelling at us about how we were going to die today and the such. I believe what they said was "today you die GI". so did we cower and wimper about it? no we did not. we got into a short yelling contest with them and said things like "fuck you Charlie, we aren't dying today, you are". it is a game and deadly game and we had to do all we can to win. Like a football game or any sports event, when you score you cheer and work off the energy and in war it is the same way. so i do not see why anyone would think it is an aberration to cheer when you won a round with your enemy.
The had won the game for now and it was time to let of the tension of the moment. to me and to any of the soldiers i served with it was as natural to cheer about the win as it was to mourn about the loss when they lose someone. As the man said in the movie, Platoon Leader " We go out and kill a few of them and they kill a few of us and we do it again the next day".
I never knew anyone that took a lot of pride in the killing but that is kind of the job description, dont you know. We dont have to like it but just have to do it and do it well. we cannot have any remorse or we end up dead. Better they end up dead and not me. End of story.
Now to the Academy Awards and Sebastian not winning the award. Sebastian did not win the award but he and Tim are winners. When you consider all the movies/documentaries that are made and how few get to the Awards, you can see he and Tim are winners. I wish them all the best in their next endeavor wherever that may take them.