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Military Quotes

In war the will is directed at an animate object that reacts.

-- Karl von Clausewitz

Vietnam On June 6, 1967, the *very* large ammo dump at LZ English cooked off. It took several hours, blowing up one pallet load at a time of a weeks' supply of every class of ammo for the whole 1st Cav Division. We waited it out in a bunker, listening to huge explosions and listening to vast things hurtling through the night air overhead. When we figured it had maybe finally stopped, about 0800 hrs., we stood uncertainly outside our bunker, considering what to do next: survey the damage to tents and vehicles? (Luckily, no casualties in my outfit) Make breakfast, maybe? Then we heard a 2.75" rocket sputtering along the ground like a crazy firework, only nobody could spot it.

All at once it came over a rise, right at us. It was probably unarmed, but we weren't up to that sort of rational thinking at the moment. Being scareder than anybody else, I dove back into the bunker first. Two or three guys piled on top of me. The rocket fizzled out, and we crawled back outside. On with the day's work.

A few hours later, my side began to hurt like crazy and it got hard to breathe. Off to sick call. "Cracked ribs. You want I should tape 'em up?" said medico. "Will it help?" I asked. "No. And you will sweat the tape off in an hour or so. But it's about all we can do."

Nuts. A week of swearing at the pain, no way to get comfortable, hurts to breathe, hurts to lie down, hurts *not* to lie down. Then it's over.

Six months later, on ROTC duty in East Texas, the Colonel asks if I can get my wife to the office, in a cocktail dress, over lunch. I oblige, mystified.

Then the local small-town press show up, and the rest of the staff, all crowded into the Colonel's office. You guessed it: a Purple Heart for me has arrived in the mail, only by now I have no idea what it's for. Until, that is, I see the date on the citation: June 6, 1967.

Now my wife is mad as hell at me because I was wounded and never told her; the press wants details, as does the Colonel and my mates; the college newspaper sends student reporters to interview me.

I did what any honest, self-respecting captain in the pride of his gut-eating youth would do: I looked modest and said it really wasn't anything I wanted to talk about.

Well, until now.

Note: by Ted Gittinger


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