My New Friend
Author's note: I wrote this piece that first started off as just another school assignment but turned out to be... Show full author's note »
Escaping Hell to Face Death“The devil is not as black as he is painted.”-
Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, April 11, 1472
When people asked me, “Why would you join a war that many in this country saw as unfit?”
I would reply to them, “To escape hell.”
Yes it is true that I joined the army for little more than the reason that I wanted to escape my home life. My grades at school didn’t warrant me anything better than maybe a janitor, maybe something lower than that. I wouldn’t earn enough money to get my own place for years to come, and I had no intention of staying home for any longer. Vietnam to me looked like a nice change of pace. I could leave and see an exotic place, and, if I died, no one would give a s***. My life was worthless. At that point, what did I have? No friends, no future, and a horrible broken down family. I didn’t fear death at all, so I joined the army and the war as a willing participant in a time where most people feared the draft.
Every day in Vietnam I could hear the gunfire from a distance. I was put right on the frontlines with my unit. Constantly bodies would be dragged through the base, bloody with many of them missing body parts. Some were so mangled and destroyed that if it weren’t for their dog tags, we would have no idea who they were. The air stunk of rotting flesh. I saw death everyday right before my eyes. Someday I thought I would be the one being dragged through.
Life in Vietnam was unfortunately no less lonely than life at home. My personality just didn’t fit with the rest of my unit. My unit was made up of Neanderthal jar heads whose only purpose in life was to build up muscle and have sex with bimbos. I was soft spoken and was an easy target to pick on. There was another man in my unit who was different. His name was Tim Hawkes, but even he was hard to talk to. He was a huge religious fanatic who was drafted into the war. Whenever I would try to talk to him he would only speak of God. I didn’t have much use for religion. It is said that faith is a gift, but I’ve never received it. I tried many times to believe, but it was something that I couldn’t wrap my head around. I had too many problems with it.
One day my unit was out on patrol through the thick marsh of the jungle. We were walking single file when one of the jar heads walked right on a mine. The explosion rocked us all back. I felt myself being flown through the air, and I hit the ground with a thud. I couldn’t move. I struggled to keep myself from blacking out. It reminded me of the constant beatings I would receive from my father. The next thing I knew I woke up in a hospital room. The first site I saw was of a person I had never seen before. His name was Luc D. Fallen.