Sunday, February 24, 2019

Further on the Cheju-do compound break-in

[I was asked to describe the Cheju compound break-in in more detail]

It turned out that the fellow who broke into our compound was an off-duty ROK (Republic of Korea soldier).  Apparently he had broken in to steal patches for his rifle.  I only knew this after the fact.  After I captured him, I took him to our senior sergeant, Staff Sergeant Cook, a salty fellow who had been a member of Carlson’s raiders in WWII.  He began beating this fellow with his fists.  I tried to get him to stop, telling him that was enough.  He told me that if I interfered, I was next.  I was only a PFC at the time, maybe a corporal, and was 18 or 19 years old.  This was 1953. I don’t know how old Cook was, but he ran that little compound on Cheju-do. 

After he was done he told someone (not me) to drive the ROK soldier to the ROK compound and release him.  The other ROKs, ROKs who might also have been stealing from us, would see the beating this fellow had taken and leave us alone.  The ROK wanted to take his rifle along, but Cook wouldn’t let him.  I can’t remember how the rifle was returned.  Perhaps Cook had a ROK officer or NCO retrieve it.

Our base commander wanted to give me a commendation for capturing the ROK, but Cook talked him out of it.  Maybe thefts had been recurring frequently and Cook didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that no previous perpetrators had been captured.  Cook never explained himself.

I’ve thought from time to time about what my life would have been like had I shot the ROK I captured.  I think perhaps that everyone has something like Post Traumatic Stress going on in regard to past events.  I have remembered arguments  assaulting me from time to time.  If I’d killed the ROK, I suspect I would have been assaulted by something much worse -- especially after learning that he wasn't an enemy soldier and merely a poor ROK soldier looking for patches.  

Further on post-traumatic stress:  While no one would call it that, probably, when I married Karen I was still a Marine in most of my thinking and that went on for several years.  My kids would tell you about my getting them up in the morning before school and have them do close order drill with brooms and mops.  I had them drink Tigers Milk and cod-liver oil and do exercises.  Of course I couldn’t get Karen to do any of that. 

[In response to someone who said she would shoot an intruder in the leg rather than try to kill him]   As to shooting an intruder in the leg, that would be a very doubtful accomplishment.  There have been numbers of reports and analyses of police shootouts with criminals.  Huge numbers of bullets get fired and almost no one gets hit.  You can’t anticipate how much your hand and the rest of you will shake under those circumstances.  You would stand a better chance of hitting the intruder in the leg if you aimed for center-mass where your pistol instructor is asking you to aim.  You will almost certainly miss the leg if you aim for it.  Susan had the same thing in mind.  I gave her a gun that she kept in her night-stand, but I doubt that she would ever have gone for it unless there was an impossible situation where an intruder was making a lot of noise and slowly banging his way up the stairs; which wasn’t anything that was ever going to happen.  I didn’t worry about trouble, because even if I am hard of hearing my dogs aren’t; so I would have had plenty of warning.  I was a Marine Corps Rifle Instructor after I got back from Korea and suspect I would be able to hit an intruder, if I had to.  I only left Susan at home while I went hiking in the early morning and did our shopping, usually, on my way back from the hike.  By 11:00 or so we were back home.  Mornings from dawn to 11:00 aren’t prime home invasion times.  I did lock her door before I left on a hike and made sure her phone was by her bed. 

Susan for the last ten years of her life, walked stooped much of the time.  She never liked to ask me to help her even when she needed help; so I know she wasn’t walking stooped as a plea for sympathy.  I got her some little two-pound dumbbells to use in bed, but I don’t think she used them unless I walked in and asked her if she did.  Then she would use them for a minute or two.  When we were going someplace and she would be stooped, I would say in Marine Corps fashion, “stomach in, chest out,” and she (who lived on a Marine Corps base for several months with her first husband) would do that for a few steps, but would soon go back to walking stooped.  She could walk a little straighter when she held onto my arm. 

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