Just Too Stupid.....
by Joe Holt
I’ve never been as stunned. Speechless. Any reaction to his comment would have been wrong. Those few of us within earshot sure remember the moment. Especially Doc. How could anyone be so stupid?
For us Operation Hastings was over. Thank God. We all know how bad it was. Worse for some, but exhausting for us all. The recent weeks had changed us. We were legitimately war weary. Exhausted, filthy, bedraggled, and to a certain extent, shell shocked.
We were in helos on our way back to one of our ships, the USS Princeton. The blessed coolness of the altitude, the green countryside slowly gliding away below us, we were eager for sanctuary. My only thought was, "I’m so happy to be outa that damned place!" We had gotten out alive.
The sight of the Princeton on the blue, blue sea was alone enough to bring a smile to our faces. The approach, the landing, then reality snapped us out of it. The racket of the engines. Some sailor yelling at us to get out and follow the yellow lines on the flight deck. Everything seemed louder. I could barely hear him with all the noise, but we understood. We all got out, milled around for a few seconds, then proceeded on our way.
What a dramatic difference. Only a few minutes before we were surrounded by gloom. Dampness. Mud. Even the sky had been overcast. Yet here we were in the bright sun. Glaring. The turbulence of the rotor blades and the noise create a strangely hostile environment and made me hunch over as I walked. We all stooped as we shuffled along the yellow lines, concentrating on the back of the guy in front of us.
Doc was in front of me. Filthy, sun bleached utilities, Unit One on his side. He carried an AK 47. He was hugging it to his chest as he walked.
None of the Corpsmen carried pistols anymore. They’d learned early on that they felt better with something more formidable. Even on Deckhouse I they’d drawn shotguns from the ships armory, but on Hastings this Doc had somehow commandeered an AK from somewhere. It ain't like we hadn’t seen a bunch of’em in the last few weeks. Even Lt. Williams had come up with one.
So here we were walking single file, following the yellow lines with all this wind and racket, when this sailor runs up to Doc. He shouts above the noise,
"Hey man, I’ll give you a hundred dollars for your gun!"
Not giving this guy any more than a glance, Doc says,
"Leave me alone!"
The sailor got right in Docs’ face and shouted,
"A hundred and fifty!"
Doc stopped for a second, looked up and yelled,
"Get the fuck away from me!"
The sailor took a step back, got an indignant, almost hostile, look on his face, and said,
"Hey man. You can go back there anytime you want and get another one, but I’m stuck out here!"
Doc stopped. I stopped. The guy behind me stopped. Even the two guys in front of Doc stopped. We stood there for a second or two and just stared at this sorry asshole. I’d heard what he said, but I my brain couldn’t believe it. Doc and I looked at each other, and I knew what he was thinking. Could this squid be this stupid? An instant later we started to walk away. We had to keep the column moving.
When we got below, preparing to board boats to the Pickaway, the few of us that had heard the sailor commented on the situation. What should we have done? What could we have said? In the end, the stupidity of the sailor just made us grin. I know I learned a lesson that day. A lesson I’ve referred to more than once in my life since.
There are folks in this world that are just too damn stupid to deal with.