I remember being a young Marine recruit at Parris Island, August of 1966, running, running, boots thumping on the grinder, exulting in the sense of power and communion that comes of men acting in unison, shouting, “Luke the Gook comes marching by, stick your bayonet in his eye, lef rye lef rye lef....” Only an idiot goes to PI – Third Battalion, Disneyland, in my case – in August. I was one. It goes with being nineteen.
Under a leaden sun that beat down like a soft rubber truncheon, we unlearned civilization. How to clap a hand over a sentry's mouth while inserting your Kbar in his kidney; agony, shock and instant blood loss prevent a struggle. We ran in formation shouting Kill! Kill! Kill! We learned that it is better to shoot an enemy in the bowels than the head because trying to keep him alive would strain the enemy's medical resources, and the man would probably die anyway. Peritonitis is your friend, we learned. The other guy's peritonitis.