Do soldiers still witness people getting beheaded in war?

Mudassir Ali
Jan 23, 2020 02:43 PM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Jan 23, 2020 02:43 PM

Long Khanh Province, Vietnam, Armored Cavalry column on a troop support mission. Our tank was following another M48A3. The TC in the tank in front of us, whose nickname was Hawk because of his hook nose, was perched on the lip of his hatch hands on the M2. I was driving the tank behind him following about 40 feet. All quiet except for the roaring tank engine. Nothing happening.

That’s a bad time because sometimes you relax just a little too much.

Two smoke trails from RPGs slice through the air. Missed. I call out “RPGs one o’clock!” as that was the direction the trails came from.

Firing an RPG at a tank is pretty much a suicide mission. Say you are a VC. You aim, and the further away you are, the more chance to miss. You have to be within 140 meters for a good chance but that’s bloody close to a rumbling, fire breathing, earth trembling steel monster. So you’re nervous and fire quickly.

We could see where the sparks and smoke trails came from so right away that area is blasted with canister which shreds the area. So, you (the VC) have to fire and f—k off to a new spot quick to reload and fire again, which in this case, unfortunately happened.
I see Hawk’s head explode, hit square on by an RPG round, then, his headless body slumps backwards on the turret, arms dangling back. I can see his blood pouring out of his neck onto the equipment in the bustle rack behind the turret. I see the loader scramble out of his hatch and pull the lifeless body of his TC onto the back deck of his tank.

Their gunner pops up out of the TCs hatch to take over his duties and starts firing the M2. The loader climbs back into his hatch. The war carries on. Those guys horrifically just lost their TC and buddy but they have to keep working.

I remember when watching Fury for the first time in the movie theater with my son, the scene in the field where the TC loses his head, I had to close my eyes. A fellow vet once told me when the images of war returned, he said he would close his eyes and count from one hundred backwards. It helped him. I closed my eyes but felt my heart and breathing become rapid. I began counting back from one hundred. I could hear my sons voice calling me in the background. “Dad! Dad!” I looked at him. “Your counting out loud dad.” I looked around and people were looking at me. I took a few deep breaths and I was okay. My son patted my back. “It’s okay dad, it’s ok.”

I cannot shake the image of Hawk’s headless body. A week ago I was arm wrestling with him back at Blackhorse base camp. I lost twice, and I’m pretty good at arm wrestling, thin and wiry. “Muscles like a grasshopper,” he said to me laughing. Strong guy.
“Next time Hawk,” I said back him. There would be no next time.
I absolutely cannot shake the image of Hawk’s headless body. A human body without its head is unnatural, it’s just not right.

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