As I mentioned, I wore the label of asshole when I was an MP. No, it had nothing to do with my performance on the road or in the field. The story is long.
Past is prologue. I came from a huge family. being the youngest, I was sort of a generational mismatch. I had a nephew who was older, and mzny of my cousins had kids my age or close. As such, I experienced death early on, and I remember it well. In kindergarten I lost a class mate. He and his mom were killed by a poor driver. When I was seven, an Uncle and cousin were killed in a collision with a semi. They deemed me too young to go to the funeral, but I graphically remember the pictures in the news paper of the crash. As a child drawing pictures, I often drew ones of car crashes and drew them as I remembered my uncle's sedan. One of them showed my uncle still in the car. Some one had covered his face with a hat.
A couple of years later, my mothers older sister perished from cancer. I visited her only a few days before she died. She was followed in short order by a cousin. He was one of the few close to me in age. he was hit by a car while riding a bicycle.
As I grew, it seemed that funerals and deaths were an every day occurrence. I can remember asking mom at bed time if I was gonna die that night. I was tall, lanky and strong. in my early teens I was a pall bearer on several occasions. By the time I turned eighteen, I'd carried eighteen caskets to their graves. Kids in Chicago know what I'm talking about.
I also read a great deal of history. Many of the books were on WW2, the Civil war, or Korea. They all featured death, up close, graphic, and with absolutely no glossing. One character that stood out was Daniel Inouye I remember the story of how he lost his arm in WW2, and recall the line attributed to him as he lay wounded. Another grunt ran up to him to render aid, but he directed the man back to the fight saying, "No body called off the war."
Just before graduation, one of my classmates was killed in a car crash. Her boyfriend was speeding on a curve, lost control and flipped. The Monday after the crash, I drove by the scene, stopped, and was looking around. another vehicle pulled up. It was the state investigator, and he asked me to stay and help him. I did, and in the process learned a lot about what happened. I saw where the car came to rest on its side, wheels still spinning scorching the grass. It then fell over. The girl was crushed when it landed on her, and you could see clearly in the grass where her hands convulsed as she died.
After becoming an MP, I was assigned to the 977th on Ft Riley. A few months after I arrived, Two members of my platoon, and another GI were in a car accident. It involved alcohol, speed, and massive stupid. They had gone out on one of the range roads. It had a hill with fairly steep slopes, and they were going back and forth over it and getting some air ala Dukes of hapHazzard. The guy driving lost control and they rolled. The soldier in back was partially ejected through the back hatch. As the car rolled, the hatch closed on her head killing her. As with the class mate, I went to the scene and observed the investigation. I then went to work.
We were supposed to be on the road that day. People were supposed to be getting ready for guard mount, but the totality of what had happened had them and it was a zombie house. I wasn't rude, I wasn't mean, but I was trying to get them moving in the right direction. We still had a job to do, and lives might depend on them having their head in the game.
The Platoon Sergeant asked me to step into the Platoon Leaders office. I closed the door, and he began ripping into me. Did I not have an ounce of compassion? had I never buried a friend or family member? He ranted at me for about five minutes. Finally, when he was out of words, I calmly told him that indeed I had buried friends including my youngest sister as well as a grand mother, grand father and several class mates. he stood there, his jaw hit the floor, he then wheeled around and bolted from the room. I turned to the LT and said, sir, we still have a mission. We are a combat unit, and if we ever do go to battle, we are going to lose people. No one will call off the war so we can get a grip, in fact the enemy will double down if we tried.
He sat there sith an astonished look on his face. After I was done all he said was "eighteen times?"
Yes sir, I have carried eighteen family and friends to their graves. The last had been an Uncle who lived in Lawrence. he died on Christmas Eve, only few weeks before. I'd attended his funeral, then worked the night shift afterward.
Does death bother you? It should. Give careful consideration, 100% of us will die. IN past history there have only been two who were spared the grave, Enoch and Elijah. It is part of life. Do I mourn? Yes and no. I miss my sister, I miss my father and mother, I miss my daughter most of all. But I also know they are in heaven. I do not mourn them, I know they are with GOD. What grieves me, what I mourn, are the people who die with out Jesus, the ones who are bound for hell.
So, get used to death. Life is short, eternity is for ever. When the day comes and you have to fight, friends who fight beside you will fall. You must steel yourself to move on and not let their demise cause yours.
When It comes to death, I'm still an asshole. I'm the guy yo don't want around at a funeral. I might say the wrong thing and bruise you. I might make a joke that leaves you scarred for eternity. When I die, you can come piss on my grave. The grass needs watered.