02 June 2014

Beautiful Bullshit

The French Foreign Legion, 1984, photographed by John Robert Young

I heard the platoon from my back yard.  40 men in white t-shirts, green fatigue pants and bloused black boots.  It was 1965 and I was eight years old.  I raced from my yard and caught up just as they turned left onto Sunchon Street in the Ft Bragg housing area called Hammond Hills.  I ran behind the platoon for a block or so before there was a sudden down pour.  The platoon sergeant lead the men under an empty carport, barked an order I didn't understand and everyone relaxed and lit up cigarettes.

I was mostly ignored as Zippos snapped around me.   One young black soldier smiled and I smiled back.  He lit a cigarette and stuffed the bright green pack of Salems back in his trouser pocket.  I don't remember talking.  Him or me.  But I see him clearly in my memory.  Tall, he was built like a "V" with broad shoulders and a narrow waist.

The rain let up and the run continued.  I ran behind my friend for a while but saw the border of Hammond Hills, shouted goodbye and veered off towards home.   I'll never forget that day or that soldier or the feeling I belonged… safe in the platoon.  I see it in my mind as a black and white photo on high contrast paper.  The black of the boots and bright white t-shirts…all in four straight lines.  My home... running away from me.  Ten years later I'd enlist.


Oyster Guy said...

Meanwhile, somewhere in Belgium...

Who knows what lurks in our DNA?

Anonymous said...

Tin Tin,
I lived in Hammond Hills and brought both my sons home from Womack to a 'quaint' little duplex. I love my sons and tear up when you write about your father. Keep the faith.
De Opresso Liber

tintin said...

Anon, My mother said the housing in HH was made outta wax paper & toad shit. Thank you for your kind words.

Anonymous said...

A while back, I asked a dumb anon question about why you enlisted knowing what the army was like. This post well explained why in an artful way.

tintin said...

Anon- thank you.