Hearts and Minds 10/16/2010

  • We are a band of brothers thrown into unfortunate circumstances and some will not make it out of here alive, and that is a reality we all live with. Our last mission took the life of Doc. You see Doc was a good man, a family man. His children were his pride and joy and that's all he talked about. He always wore a smile and every once in a while he would show the boys a picture of his old lady, she was quite a looker.

    When he spoke of how good she was to him, I heard paradise in his voice and saw heaven in his eyes. He took care of all of us, like we were his children. All the men in Alpha squad respected the Doc, we knew that in the heat of battle if we get hit, the Doc will be there to patch us right up, he was known for it. He was caught in the cross hairs of a snipers scope and a bullet to the face ended his life. The squad has never been the same.

    There came to be an unspoken emptiness in us all, we saw our Doc die. A few days later a new guy was assigned as Docs replacement. That is the beauty of war, there is no time to mourn. The moment a boy sets foot on the field of battle each experience is a tearing of weakness and a rebuilding of hardened calysts and out here even if we do cry its a bitterness that only drips on the inside. Angel was the name of the new guy but the guys called him darkie. He was a tall, big and dark negro.

    I was never fond of the idea of them sending a negro to do a mans job. Every morning he would wake up and his boots were filled with sand and his uniform would smell like piss. Yet like an Angel he never got bent out of shape. He knew what he was in for being the black sheep. We all hated this man and wanted him gone but it was all too late. Alpha squad got assigned a mission and this included darkie.

    We all knew this was the moment he was waiting for. His time had come and if one of got hit we knew we were dead men. As we walked down the dirt road to the rendezvous point oddly I began to feel a sense of calm and my mind wandered in the thought of life back home and what people might be up to.

    Here I am, a man on a mission, a soldier in a war and I want to win without the blood of the enemy on my hands. How can this be over without death on my conscience.

    I am an expert with this bayonet and quit proficient with my gun. I look to the silent sky, light blue and playful with the sun displaying its beauty and ever stretching brightness. I have never witnessed sailing clouds so peaceful in their pace yet so animated. Why must something so ugly happen under this magnificent scene. I hear the hissing sound of dry leaves on dancing trees being blown by the wind, beautiful.

    Our sacrifice for this country is not voluntary but we must, so we do it for those we love. We have all made it our duty to make sure each man returns to his family. Each step we took aged me. Our mission was to engage the enemy in a small town twenty miles north-east of our location. As we approached the small town each man wore his battle face fueld by anxt, anger and sexual deprivation.

    If only I knew a way to escape my mind from what I was about to witness. We heard guns blast and the fight began, nothing could have prepared me for this; “feet don't fail me now” I though as my heart raced towards a finish unknown. I hear screams as bullets whistle past my head. My hands began to shake. I was not very lucky, I was one of the first in the line of fire and one of the first to get hit.

    The bullet danced directly into the side of my stomach crippling me to the ground. As I lay there experiencing mind arresting pain, I screamed and screamed and screamed. It was no choice of mine to be in this war. Darkie rushed to me with urgent speed and as he pulled out his field knife and aimed for the top of my shirt I knew I was dead for sure, but quickly he slid the sharp edge across the front of my shirt and ripped it open. Angel was quick. He kept me stable and began to inspect the wound without an utter of a single syllable.

    His great big arms controlled my body as if I were a puppet. He quickly wrapped my whole middle section with bandages to slow the bleeding and gave me hope. “Its a flesh wound soldier, a flesh wound”. It all happened so fast and in the speed of light he was gone, tending to the woulds and cries of the next man. He was precisely the man we needed and from that day onward he became the Doc, our Doc. We realized we had an Angel for a doc. A mild mannered man who was an expert at his job. He was a family man but he didn't speak much about them. He was a very good listener. We all became very fond of the Doc and showed him great respect. I thought about all the things we did and said to him when he first arrived and felt very ashamed and apologetic but my pride always kept me from saying I was sorry.

    ~James Takyi