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"To Walk In A Dead Man's Boots", Lost Love: Personal Experience.

1715 words - 7 pages

I remember now, most vividly, the smells. Diesel fuel and electric fires give off sort of an acid, oily stink. No, more stench really, I guess, to be accurate. It is a pervading stench that envelopes and surrounds me. Overwhelms me. I was completely cut off, an island in a sea of black, choking, enveloping mist. The APC (armored personal carrier) was this smoking silhouette. It looked menacing, like the Chinese war-machine it was, until my eyes focused on the gaping hole in the side. When this hole was considered, the vehicle looked sad, almost like now, dead, it was resigned to its fate, a rusting, old heap, a coffin of men, out here in this long-ago and long since no-man's land. The hole was what did it. That and the fact that I was the one responsible, the one who had pulled the trigger, thus relegating this fate to the APC, and also responsible for the cloud of smoke that now encompassed the all to brief battle site. I was the gunner.The jeep beside the APC was a ruined, twisted wreck. It was riddled from all sorts of small arms fire, ranging from the Maggots 60, to the SAW (squad automatic weapon) and door-kickers M-16A2s. The metal frame even took a couple of grenades too. It was in a pitiful sight. More so were the bodies of the three men, who just moments before had been soldiers trying to mount some kind of defense for their lives. They were not so much bodies any more, because bodies conjure a mental image of the human shape. Maybe the body is cold and pale, and has a bluish tint to it--wooden when dead. No, these were better described as corpses. The damage the Jeep took from the small arms was nothing compared to the devastation that was brought onto these "corpses." They were literally ripped apart, red, dripping, moist, smoking, charred sad little sacks of so much useless flesh.The violence of it was all too sudden. We train on ambushes, both initiating and escaping them; we train to initiate a violence of action. To act, react, enact and to do it all in a split-second, we commit, open-fire, annihilate, and stop. The halt is a sudden as the opening salvo. It was all so fast. The proper way to initiate an ambush is to engage with the most casualty-producing weapon. In this case it was my Gustoff (anti-tank gun, think of a three-foot long, O.D.-olive drab- green tube that shoots "rockets"). I sighted on the APC, and gently, oh so gently, as to not upset the sight picture, squeezed the trigger. It was all so fast.Then it was over and it was time to clear the wreckage. To search for intel.-unit patches, paperwork, loads and ammo types, commanding officer rank and insignia. We look to find anything that would give an inside edge, a glimpse of the enemy's strategy and tactics. This was always a most unpleasant job as it takes one face to face with the slain. It brings it home. I was usually not required to be on one of the "red" or "white" teams. See, both teams assault through the ambush site, then on the other side the "white" team...

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