EXCERPT FROM “HEIRS OF HONOR” – ‘THE CONTEST’


 

“…The contest, I was invited to compete in by Captain Wilson, was much larger than I expected.  There were fifty-six men, counting myself; twenty men from the 101st, twenty Marines, and fifteen from Special Forces.  He extended the opportunity the previous weekend.  I saw it as a compliment and it went to my head.  With little or no thought, I proudly accepted….”

“…Drawing the attention of a Special Forces Officer with a reputation for success in the field has its hazards, but that never crossed my mind.  There was a quality about Wilson that made me, and others, trust him.  He spoke with authority, not from his rank but from his words, because the things he said were always pertinent and thought through.  In the twenty months of serving under his command, I can’t say how many times he would say something I was thinking.  But I was slow compared to him, because he had thought through thoroughly, an idea that had only just germinated in my mind.  I think he knew he could out think the men around him, and when he did, I never once heard him ridicule someone for not keeping up….”

“….As soon as I saw my competition included my former sniper school classmate, Conrad Powell, I knew I had little chance of taking first place in this tournament.  Conrad was an easy-going, soft-spoken, gentle mannered Southern boy, the most modest of shooters, and an immortal shot.  Shooting a perfect score came easily to Conrad, and far too often.  There were a lot of men in that competition that I did not know, but I knew Conrad would be the one most difficult to beat.  I felt confident that I would be close behind him, as I was in Sniper school, but I had learned to be content with second place, whenever I shot against him.  I was a very good shot and did not have any doubt of it, but Conrad Powell was the best shot I had ever seen.  And then, the son of a bitch got to the shooter’s line, and the bastard shot another perfect score.  I was probably the only man in the competition who was not surprised…”

“….My ego did soar because, later that morning, I came in third, behind Conrad’s first place, and the Army champion’s second place score.  When I did, Captain Wilson made an offer that appealed to both Jim and me.  He sent our vanities soaring, preventing either of us from thinking beyond the reply, “Thank You, Sir….”

“….Wilson offered to make our temporary assignment last to the end of our tour.  Both Jim and I felt honored and we accepted with enthusiasm, doing our best to not show Captain Wilson how excited we really were.  After he dismissed us, we spent a good long time patting each other on the back for being so great…”

 

 

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