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Cowardice in Battle



 
 
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  #1  
Old July 3rd 03, 02:53 AM
ArtKramr
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Default Cowardice in Battle


"....... I'm going to die today......".

"I'm going to die today," he said. We had just left the briefing tent and Lt.
Jones (not his real name) walked along with me. His comment came as a shock.
"No you're not," I said. He shook his head in despair and choked out " I have a
wife and a kid and I'm know I'm going to die today and the war is almost over.
I'm not going to fly". I grabbed him by the arm hard. " Look, if you refuse to
fly you'll go to Leavenworth for 20 years. Then what will you wife and kid do?
Besides, today will probably be a milk run and you'll come back fine". I didn't
quite believe it, but I said it anyway. Now one of the 6x6's that takes crews
to the flight line pulled up. I pushed Jones toward it and boosted him in. He
flew the mission. The mission wasn't quite a milk run but we had no losses and
all came back fine. Jones never spoke to me again. Any time we met he would
avoid eye contact. If I were in the officers club he would either leave or sit
as far away as possible with his back to me. I guess he was just too
embarrassed about what he revealed. That incident only took two or three
minutes at the most. And I haven't thought about it since that day, until a
recent incident brought it to mind. I was always glad that I could help him
through a bad time. I wonder how Jones feels about that moment when he thinks
about it today?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
------

Arthur Kramer
Visit my WW II B-26 website at:
http://www.coastcomp.com/artkramer

Ads
  #2  
Old July 3rd 03, 04:36 AM
Matthew G. Saroff
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Default

(ArtKramr) wrote:


"....... I'm going to die today......".

"I'm going to die today," he said. We had just left the briefing tent and Lt.
Jones (not his real name) walked along with me. His comment came as a shock.
"No you're not," I said. He shook his head in despair and choked out " I have a
wife and a kid and I'm know I'm going to die today and the war is almost over.
I'm not going to fly". I grabbed him by the arm hard. " Look, if you refuse to
fly you'll go to Leavenworth for 20 years. Then what will you wife and kid do?
Besides, today will probably be a milk run and you'll come back fine". I didn't
quite believe it, but I said it anyway. Now one of the 6x6's that takes crews
to the flight line pulled up. I pushed Jones toward it and boosted him in. He
flew the mission. The mission wasn't quite a milk run but we had no losses and
all came back fine. Jones never spoke to me again. Any time we met he would
avoid eye contact. If I were in the officers club he would either leave or sit
as far away as possible with his back to me. I guess he was just too
embarrassed about what he revealed. That incident only took two or three
minutes at the most. And I haven't thought about it since that day, until a
recent incident brought it to mind. I was always glad that I could help him
through a bad time. I wonder how Jones feels about that moment when he thinks
about it today?

I'm not a psychologist, but it sounds like some sort of
combat fatigue (Shell Shock). It happens, and there's nothing to
be ashamed of.
--
--Matthew Saroff
Rules to live by:
1) To thine own self be true
2) Don't let your mouth write no checks that your butt can't cash
3) Interference in the time stream is forbidden, do not meddle in causality
Check
http://www.pobox.com/~msaroff, including The Bad Hair Web Page
  #3  
Old July 3rd 03, 05:02 AM
Dudley Henriques
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Posts: n/a
Default


"ArtKramr" wrote in message
...

"....... I'm going to die

today......".

"I'm going to die today," he said. We had just left the briefing tent and

Lt.
Jones (not his real name) walked along with me. His comment came as a

shock.
"No you're not," I said. He shook his head in despair and choked out " I

have a
wife and a kid and I'm know I'm going to die today and the war is almost

over.
I'm not going to fly". I grabbed him by the arm hard. " Look, if you

refuse to
fly you'll go to Leavenworth for 20 years. Then what will you wife and kid

do?
Besides, today will probably be a milk run and you'll come back fine". I

didn't
quite believe it, but I said it anyway. Now one of the 6x6's that takes

crews
to the flight line pulled up. I pushed Jones toward it and boosted him in.

He
flew the mission. The mission wasn't quite a milk run but we had no losses

and
all came back fine. Jones never spoke to me again. Any time we met he

would
avoid eye contact. If I were in the officers club he would either leave or

sit
as far away as possible with his back to me. I guess he was just too
embarrassed about what he revealed. That incident only took two or three
minutes at the most. And I haven't thought about it since that day, until

a
recent incident brought it to mind. I was always glad that I could help

him
through a bad time. I wonder how Jones feels about that moment when he

thinks
about it today?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
------

Arthur Kramer
Visit my WW II B-26 website at:
http://www.coastcomp.com/artkramer


Everyone has a "limit.....a "maximum effort" as they say. No one has ever
really clearly defined it as far as I know. The guys I know have told me
they just somehow kept going. Some would even throw up as they walked out of
the ready room or as they climbed into their planes. I've heard it all
through the years I guess.
One thing I think I've come to know during my many talks with close personal
friends who have come out of combat, is that I'm very careful in considering
the coward factor...and so, I might add, are many of these combat veterans.
Many broke down themselves at times, when things just piled on to the point
where they thought they were coming apart. Most got it together, both alone,
but also with the help of a friend or two.
I wouldn't be too quick to condemn this "Lt. Jones". I think I'd first have
to consider how many missions he had already flown. Then I think I'd give
serious consideration to the fact that after he talked to you and spilled
his guts, he got on the aircraft and flew the mission.
Who knows what a man's limit is? I don't. I do know that fear can be a
powerful thing, especially when it's cumulative and constant.
So where does this leave you with Lt. Jones? Well, unless you know something
additional about him that directly relates to cowardice, I'd cut him a
little slack. Now what does this mean?To me it means that every man in your
squadron was an individual, each facing his own demons in his own way. Men
in such a predicament seldom share their "demons" with their fellows. I'm
sure you remember this more so than I. There must have been times you were
scared right on up to your personal limit, but somehow you sucked it in and
kept going. I believe there's something within a person in combat that keeps
him going beyond fear for self, because the fear of failing, and the fear of
failing the others, especially on a bomber crew, is actually greater than
the personal fear.
I think this guy just reached his limit before you did, and you were there
to help him through it. If I were you, I'd just try and understand what
happened and accept it without any deep deductive reasoning. It's
unfortunately the price sometimes, of helping someone through a crisis like
the one you have described, where someone has allowed you to look deep
within their most personal fear, that afterward, they find further contact
difficult.
I would be interested to know how Lt. Jones made it through the rest of his
tour?
Dudley Henriques
International Fighter Pilots Fellowship
Commercial Pilot/CFI
Retired


  #4  
Old July 3rd 03, 05:45 AM
ArtKramr
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Subject: Cowardice in Battle
From: "Dudley Henriques"
Date: 7/2/03 9:02 PM Pacific Daylight Time
Message-id: nk.net


"ArtKramr" wrote in message
...

"....... I'm going to die

today......".

"I'm going to die today," he said. We had just left the briefing tent and

Lt.
Jones (not his real name) walked along with me. His comment came as a

shock.
"No you're not," I said. He shook his head in despair and choked out " I

have a
wife and a kid and I'm know I'm going to die today and the war is almost

over.
I'm not going to fly". I grabbed him by the arm hard. " Look, if you

refuse to
fly you'll go to Leavenworth for 20 years. Then what will you wife and kid

do?
Besides, today will probably be a milk run and you'll come back fine". I

didn't
quite believe it, but I said it anyway. Now one of the 6x6's that takes

crews
to the flight line pulled up. I pushed Jones toward it and boosted him in.

He
flew the mission. The mission wasn't quite a milk run but we had no losses

and
all came back fine. Jones never spoke to me again. Any time we met he

would
avoid eye contact. If I were in the officers club he would either leave or

sit
as far away as possible with his back to me. I guess he was just too
embarrassed about what he revealed. That incident only took two or three
minutes at the most. And I haven't thought about it since that day, until

a
recent incident brought it to mind. I was always glad that I could help

him
through a bad time. I wonder how Jones feels about that moment when he

thinks
about it today?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
------

Arthur Kramer
Visit my WW II B-26 website at:
http://www.coastcomp.com/artkramer

Everyone has a "limit.....a "maximum effort" as they say. No one has ever
really clearly defined it as far as I know. The guys I know have told me
they just somehow kept going. Some would even throw up as they walked out of
the ready room or as they climbed into their planes. I've heard it all
through the years I guess.
One thing I think I've come to know during my many talks with close personal
friends who have come out of combat, is that I'm very careful in considering
the coward factor...and so, I might add, are many of these combat veterans.
Many broke down themselves at times, when things just piled on to the point
where they thought they were coming apart. Most got it together, both alone,
but also with the help of a friend or two.
I wouldn't be too quick to condemn this "Lt. Jones". I think I'd first have
to consider how many missions he had already flown. Then I think I'd give
serious consideration to the fact that after he talked to you and spilled
his guts, he got on the aircraft and flew the mission.
Who knows what a man's limit is? I don't. I do know that fear can be a
powerful thing, especially when it's cumulative and constant.
So where does this leave you with Lt. Jones? Well, unless you know something
additional about him that directly relates to cowardice, I'd cut him a
little slack. Now what does this mean?To me it means that every man in your
squadron was an individual, each facing his own demons in his own way. Men
in such a predicament seldom share their "demons" with their fellows. I'm
sure you remember this more so than I. There must have been times you were
scared right on up to your personal limit, but somehow you sucked it in and
kept going. I believe there's something within a person in combat that keeps
him going beyond fear for self, because the fear of failing, and the fear of
failing the others, especially on a bomber crew, is actually greater than
the personal fear.
I think this guy just reached his limit before you did, and you were there
to help him through it. If I were you, I'd just try and understand what
happened and accept it without any deep deductive reasoning. It's
unfortunately the price sometimes, of helping someone through a crisis like
the one you have described, where someone has allowed you to look deep
within their most personal fear, that afterward, they find further contact
difficult.
I would be interested to know how Lt. Jones made it through the rest of his
tour?
Dudley Henriques
International Fighter Pilots Fellowship
Commercial Pilot/CFI
Retired


I am telling the story as it happened as fear has been a subject around here
from time to time. I think the point is that as frightened as he was, he
realised that not flying was a worse alternative than flying.This is a story
that raises emotions. Anyone who has doubts about his own courage in battle
identifies and is threatened by it and reacts accordingly.
They either attack the story or attack me for relating it. In the many E-mails
I get for my website a large number express doubt and question how well they
would have fared had they been with us on those missions. And you can read the
self-doubt in every line. I assure them they would have done fine. I always
thought it was the polite thing to do. But I Never would have encouraged him
not to fly. If I have to fly, so does he. No free lunch, no free rides.Ever.
For anyone. If I have to go, then you have to go. Civilians don't understand
that, but I am sure you do Dudley.
..

Arthur Kramer
Visit my WW II B-26 website at:
http://www.coastcomp.com/artkramer

  #7  
Old July 3rd 03, 06:52 PM
ArtKramr
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Subject: Cowardice in Battle
From: nt (Gordon)
Date: 7/3/03 9:29 AM Pacific Daylight Time
Message-id:

I wouldn't put "Lt. Jones" in the coward category - given enough
opportunities
facing mortal danger, men develop cracks. Day 1 of SERE training, the
instructors explain "John Wayne is dead", i.e., there is no such thing as an
unbreakable soul. I am glad that the experiences you had did not break you,
but given the ferocity of the conflict, it should be a point of compassion to
understand that other men may have had lower breaking points - it doesn't
relegate all such men to the ranks of the craven cowards. There are levels
of
course. LMF (coward) for those pilots and crews that intentionally bombed
the
Channel or took some other easy way out; the "twitch" for those men
progressively losing their SA and flying skills while endangering the other
airmen in their units by making poor choices as a result of too many missions
in combat. Is that better than raising your hand to say "I got the shakes
real
bad today, Doc", and missing a single mission?

Art, I had a similar situation - not combat, but one where I was flying in a
very unsafe environment, to the point we had fatal accidents within our
aircraft type with sickening regularity. After one particularly nasty crash
killed some of our more popular squadronmates, a ******* that was overseas
decided to "un-volunteer" for night flying - he was immediately grounded and
never flew again. We ostrasized him completely and his actions directly
screwed me up, personally, for the following year. I -hated- that guy. Deep
in what's left of my soul, still do. I mean, how can you just QUIT when
folks
are expecting you to perform?

Several years later, I was out of the military and scouting for a new career,
which included ride-alongs with ambulances and paramedic/firefighters. I
thought it was a perfect fit, until two of our first three calls included
dead
kids. I don't think of myself as a coward, but I knew at that moment that I
wasn't psychologically strong enough to continue. I guess some of the guys
on
that rig would have reason to think of me as a coward, whether right or
wrong.

I have to accept that the man I continue to hate for quitting was at the same
place I reached, looking down at a kid's scattered remains. Tolerating the
weaknesses of those around you is a human quality every bit as important as
bravery - most people do not spend 75+ years demonstrating continuous acts of
bravery, but all of us have to deal with the limitations of those around us,
every day.

All of that said, Lt. Jones probably did benefit from your boot in his ass
that
day. I'd hate to think that friends couldn't support each other like that in
moments of weakness, without permanently earning the title of coward.

v/r
Gordon



He wasn't a coward,He only had a moment of fear that was about to destroy him.
And fear in a unit spreads like wildfire. Had he refused to fly he would have
instanatly lost every friend in the unit he ever had. He would have been an
obrect of contempt and derision. What I did was not just for him, it was for
all of us as well. And had you been in my place, you would have done exactly as
I did. I only put the story under cowardice because that has been an ongoing
subject around here for some time now. I wonder how he thinks about himself
now when he thinks back 60 years? I would love to know. Remember he wouldn't
talk to me or face me after that incident. So I wonder if he thinks I did him
a favor or not. By the way, I repeated this incident to no one in the goup. I
didn't even mention it to my pilot and copilot even though we were very close.
I mention it here and on my website because I think it part of war and worth
mentioning. And human values are a good beak from the endless techy numbers
and statistics that grow rather quickly tiresome.

Arthur Kramer
Visit my WW II B-26 website at:
http://www.coastcomp.com/artkramer

  #8  
Old July 3rd 03, 07:36 PM
Gordon
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Had he refused to fly he would have
instanatly lost every friend in the unit he ever had. He would have been an
obrect of contempt and derision. What I did was not just for him, it was for
all of us as well. And had you been in my place, you would have done exactly
as
I did.


I agree. In fact, I did precisely the same thing to the guy that screwed me up
by quitting. I didn't care that he screwed up my well-planned tour of duty, I
was enraged by the fact that he had accepted the risks of flying and then
decided he was too good to risk his own neck. Given that we weren't in combat
and faced less than 1000th of the danger that you did, I'd say that what
motivated him was a baser, more self-serving act of cowardice than your Lt.
Jones - we all felt this guy was using the recent fatal crash as a excuse to
hide behind. His idea was that he would continue to fly day missions - which,
he judged, was safe enough that he would not be endangering a precious human
life (such as his own) - while the rather more exhilerating night missions
would have to be flown by someone else. I guess that tells you what he thought
of the guys he flew with. My reaction was to insist that the "night" guy flew
nothing but days while I covered the other pink and dark flights. I spent the
time I was assigned to his detachment almost continuously barking at the
'quitter' because I felt shame that he was one of us. Honestly, if it was
after a period of combat, I think I could have accepted his skittishness, but
after sucking up years of Navy pay to do a specific, rather dangerous job, just
quitting while his comrades were deployed overseas seemed the very pinnacle of
self-centered callousness.

I only put the story under cowardice because that has been an ongoing
subject around here for some time now. I wonder how he thinks about himself
now when he thinks back 60 years? I would love to know. Remember he wouldn't
talk to me or face me after that incident. So I wonder if he thinks I did
him
a favor or not. By the way, I repeated this incident to no one in the goup. I
didn't even mention it to my pilot and copilot even though we were very
close.
I mention it here and on my website because I think it part of war and worth
mentioning. And human values are a good beak from the endless techy numbers
and statistics that grow rather quickly tiresome.


Yep.

v/r
Gordon
  #9  
Old July 3rd 03, 08:11 PM
Stephen Harding
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

ArtKramr wrote:

I mention it here and on my website because I think it part of war and worth
mentioning. And human values are a good beak from the endless techy numbers
and statistics that grow rather quickly tiresome.


Context is everything!

Sitting here nice and comfy, perhaps worrying about finishing a project on
time or wondering what you want to do for the coming weekend, it is very
easy to be compassionate and patient with friends or acquaintances or actions.

In another context, patience and "compassion" might cost too much! Get more
into a "me or them" environment and see how much of a beast resides in all
of us!

We like to think social qualities have value irrespective of environment, and
perhaps they do, but when times are tough...really, really tough...a little
savagery may be what it takes to make it through the difficulties. Savage
in behavior or savage in psychology or both.

Lots of people now look on Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings in entirely negative
terms. That largely wasn't the case in 1945 in the US and any country that
was going to have its people fighting in an invasion of the Japanese mainland.

Were the people of 1945 a lot more savage and brutal than we are today? I
doubt it. Just different contexts for making judgements.


SMH
 




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