Kill or Be Killed

There was a time in America when we used to let our military win wars. Yeah, I know- it’s easy to be an expert sitting in an arm chair. But, it’s a pretty obvious conclusion based on the evidence

World War II ended the string of American Military victories in 1945- the same year the Chicago Cubs last played a World Series game. 1945worldseriesSince then, we got stalemated in Korea in the early 1950’s, ran away from Viet Nam twenty years later when we lost the guts to do it correctly but did win the battle in Grenada in 1983. I think, though, it was used as a military recruitment training exercise video. Let’s see- in the early 1990’s we moved the battlefront to the Middle East and quit when the politicians yelled that it was time to come in and eat. Conflict was renewed in the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan with similar results. I think both of those had to do with having a Bush President.

I’m not arguing to continue to put our current generation of fighting men in harm’s way nor to go to the other extreme and crawl under the bed when an enemy combatant threatens harm to Americans anywhere in world. Instead, I’m saying that as a nation, we lack the will to resolve how to solve military confrontations.


Audie Murphy

was the most decorated soldier in World War II. There was- and still is- a lot of politics that went into giving medals. Some officers did not want to recommend members of their battalions because they were afraid it would cause jealousy. Usually, it was de facto when a soldier was injured to get a purple heart medal. Audie was injured a few times but not enough to permanently put him out of action. He also allegedly killed more than two hundred German combatants during his two years of living hell as an infantryman in the European Theater of Operations. By contrast, the other great 20th Century American military folk hero, Sergeant Alvin York in World War I, did not get into combat until the last few days of the war and saw very little action. It just so happens that he made the most of it in one famous confrontation in which he killed a couple dozen enemy soldiers and also captured more than one hundred practically single-handed.

Audie Murphy became hardened during his long battle stint. Of the more than two hundred original members of his brigade only he and one other fellow- a supply sergeant- survived. He took the loss of fellow infantrymen personally. There was a short supply of leaders in the battlefield as the American Army pushed closer and closer to the Rhine River in the winter of 1945 in an attempt to beat the Russians to Berlin. Top Brass decided to promote anyone worthy on the battlefield. By the time his duty was over, Miurphy had risen to the rank of First Lieutenant much to his dismay. He was afraid that it would make him a sitting duck target for enemy snipers. But duty called and he took the attitude of putting himself in harm’s way before he did so to his untested, recently drafted troops.

A hardened veteran of the Sicily, Italian and French campaigns, Audie became rigid in his determination when orders were given to keep on moving. When his troops would capture injured or weakened German soldiers who did not cooperate and move along with them further east, and there were not enough healthy American troops to take the prisoners back to the rear for processing, he gave the order to shoot and kill them. None of his fellow soldiers seemed to object.


Alvin York

was a conscientious objector and pacifist who changed his mind about not shooting to kill when he reasoned that if he didn’t eliminate the German soldiers, they would end up killing his own comrade in arms or innocent civilians. He took great pleasure in re-telling how he suckered more than a score of the enemy by making Turkey gobble noises to confuse them and get a leg up on mowing them down.

Audie told of the time when a member of his platoon was gunned down because he forgot the password when he returned back to their bivouacking area. Can you imagine today a soldier in a foxhole testing an enemy combatant who pretends to be on our side? He’d challenge with, “who won the last Dancing With The Stars Contest?” If the trespasser didn’t know, it wouldn’t matter- by the time the sentry guard got permission to shoot, the bad guy would have tossed his grenade still attached to his body.

The US Army sales slogan is, “Be All You Can Be”. They added one not too long ago: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And somewhere along the line, a third one, “shoot first, and then ask” disappeared along with our victories.

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