Can you help keep Patriotrealm on line? No paypal account needed. Pay with your credit or debit card

 

head1

 

User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active
 

These are men of the 1st Cav Div in Vietnam on a fire base after an all night attack that almost overrun the place. The story and the eyes apply to any soldier who experiences the same sort of event.

I served along side the Anzacs in 67-68 and saw those eyes amongst them. The eyes have no nationality.

Examine the photo. It shows men after a long and bad night. They have the Thousand Yard Stare that nature develops as a protective mechanism after a sustained mortal event.

307040353 1767364173624815 5921048143749195786 n

Hours ago, their tranquility was broken and they went into rote reaction to save themselves and their comrades. There was no break and no time for introspection. From the first round to the last of thousands of casings, they did what soldiers do. And in so doing, they preserved themselves and their comrades. 
The stare, one of animal response, came after the flashes, explosions and screams dissipate. Lit by guttering swinging green lights, they spent the night engaging fleeting shadows, muzzle flashes and demolition explosions. Sudden white light exposed the attackers-so close and so impersonally personal.
Ammo cans were wrenched open and hastily tossed aside as belt after belt pelted the known and unknown foe. Barrels glowed red and were tossed aside by a gloved hand as both gunner and assistant applied all they possessed to change it in extreme haste and resume their salvation.
Dirt, smoke and cordite continuously encompassed them as did the sweated skin and pains of their humanity which were subordinated to ignoral-shutting out all senses to allow focus on the primary need for life-the finger on the trigger and the hand on the feed tray-all else was irrelevant for the moment-a moment that stretched into hours.
Hyper alertness, fed by adrenalin, fueled the night. Daylight brought a stop to it all and their empty tanks are metered in their eyes. They recharge through performing rote tasks. It is too soon to reflect. Fill the wrent sandbags, clear the brass from the position, restock and revert to what it was before all this began. A cigarette, a cracker or a deep breath provide momentary minor restoration.
 
It is too soon to appear as calm, collected humanity. The body takes time to restore the mind. The photographer has captured the moment when they realize they are alive but not yet reprieved. The night is coming again. They must be ready.
 
Fueled by adrenalin, they became part of their weapon as a Roman legionnaire was with his short sword or their fathers’ rifles at Chipyong-ni. The kaleidoscope of light on shadowed men and the impact of their rounds, the noises and the heat of events is imprinted on their brains-never to be lost and all too often seen again.
 
This is the price of participation. 
 
While these men are of a particular era and place, they are the common thread that traces through time for all men locked in conflict with others. Caeser’s legions in Gaul would have reflected this as did the Marines in Falluja.  
 
 
It is what happens when people of previous peace are asked to kill others for a purpose-a purpose of perhaps National import, but more truly, for personal preservation.  
 
The body will defend itself with all the chemistry and fluids formed over the millenia of evolution. However, it cannot provide the ignorance in memory necessary to bring later peace. 
 
In a future time, the residue of the night, forever imprinted through those eyes, will resurface. The empty casings will discharge, shrieks of rockets and the slumping shadows will re-emerge to again engage. The eyes, now closed, will be constantly re-engaged. It is the price of being able to see the maw of hell in a very small place.  
 
The eyes have it. 
 
republished with permission from the Author Keith Nightingale
Date
Clear filters
Responsive Grid for Articles patriotrealm
Date
Clear filters