Two Army NCO's, a Navy Senior Chef and an Air Force Colonel meet in an open field in Wyoming. Sounds like an opening line to a joke doesn't it? Its not, its part of how I spent the last three days. I truly have an eclectic group of friends. I happen to know, in general terms, how each of the men above spent their careers in the military. They make movies and TV shows about what they did. Three of the men would have been in "The Unit" or the "Green Berets". The fourth would have been in MASH.
I genuinely enjoy listening to the war stories and tales of stuff that may or may not be remembered exactly as it happened. Having traveled to third world countries myself, I am aware that white guys with American dollars to spend are considered much more attractive by the local female population, than what they might be at home. I never call BS on these stories.
As a boy I learned something about war stories. There are times to ask questions and times to just nod your head in acknowledgment. I learned this the hard way with a WWII USMC vet. He was one of grandpa's friends from work. He had a couple of beers and was feeling like impressing a young boy with his sea stories. I was all ears. He was into a story about island hoping in the South Pacific and talking about the time one of his buddies did something funny. All his buddies got a big laugh about it. He stopped talking all of a sudden and changed the subject. When there was a break in the stories I keep on him to tell me more about the buddy. He did. The funny story happened in a landing craft. His buddy was getting the platoon to laugh as a way to lighten up before they hit the beach. The reason he stopped talking, was the guy making him laugh didn't even make it 30 yards out of the landing craft before his head was vaporized by a bullet. No more stories that day.
I learned that letting guys say only what they want can be a virtue.
This weekend, the guys talked about how all the bad stuff in special ops just seems to disappear from your memory. One guy talked about a bad situation that hadn't left his memory. He fell silent. The other operators covered for him and changed the subject while keeping the conversation going.
My gut wrenched at what I had been told. I haven't wanted to ask a follow up question so badly since I was ten years old. Nevertheless I keep my mouth shut.
The question I wanted to ask was, "So did you kill the bastard?" I hope he did. I hope he didn't shoot him either. My buddy is a very big guy. I hope he grabbed the SOB by the throat and squeezed the life out of him. I hope he saw the full terror in the eyes as life left his body and the demons in hell started clawing on his soul. That's what I hope happened. What I'm afraid of is that he didn't.