EXCERPT FROM “HEIRS OF HONOR” – ‘THAT SOLDIER THING’


 

“….Dragging our wounded and dumping gear, we hauled ass for the higher camp.  Explosive shells vibrated the ground with deafening power.  Throughout our scramble up that hill, we cursed and fought, and didn’t dare look back.  Each of us, I’m sure, expected at any moment to feel a bayonet.  Charlie was closing on us from behind.  We could hear his sandals shuffling closer.  Bullets were pelting the ground around us, and dirt flew into the air, coating us.  I didn’t dare stop to see how many times I’d been hit.  Like the others, I kept dragging my man….”

“….The urge to scream and drop everything, and race to save our terrified necks, grew strong.  Bullets showered the ground.  We strained against the instinctive individual dash to safety.  It became almost overpowering; almost, but not quite.  Something else was with us on that hill, memories of a barking D.I. at Bragg, trying to bugger us with live rounds, and screaming ‘stick together!’, or knowing this bloody pulp you were dragging was the guy who split his last smoke with you, one night in some God forsaken paddy.  Whatever it was, we could not abandon our wounded to save ourselves.  It was that unspoken thing that overpowers the fear of death.  A combination of loyalty, courage, determination and honor, all rolled into self-respect and anger.  It’s that soldier thing.  It occasionally surfaces under extreme circumstances, and binds soldiers together, whether they live or die….”

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