From my World War II experience, let me share with you how soldiers in Iraq are probably feeling about suicide attackers.
In May of 1944, after my outfit helped defeat Hitler, we were shipped to the Pacific to help defeat Japan. During my 40-day ship voyage from Marseille, France, through Panama, to the Philippines, we heard accounts of Japanese suicide planes crashing and sinking a lot of our ships.
My Oklahoma upbringing told me suicide was not a “fair” way to fight.
To my 20-year-old mind, it appeared that the day we got orders to invade Japan the only way I could even the odds against a suicide soldier was to become a suicide soldier myself. That thought was depressing. It was even more depressing when I realized that a Japanese suicide soldier could whip my butt into a corpse in a flash.
Skipping chow, I stood alone at the ship’s rail. Looking out across the vast Pacific, I saw my future as no future. I’d lose if I didn’t become a suicide soldier and I’d lose if I became one. In other words, against Japanese soldiers, my life was expendable, a throw away, and therefore I was worthless.
On the other hand, officers constantly yammered us with, “Yours is not to question why, yours is but to do or die.”
AWOL entered my head. I’m sure soldiers in Iraq are having similar depressing thoughts.
You can’t imagine our joy when the bomb was dropped on Japan a few days before we anchored off Batangas, Luzon. At first we didn’t believe the bomb could destroy one city. We thought the ship’s radio operator misread code signals and got his figures wrong. A day or two later, one soldier out of the 5,000 aboard that boat knew enough about atoms to explain on the speaker how such a bomb was possible.
Feeling that I had my life back, I leaned on the ship’s rail again. Watching flying fish frolic across the waters alongside, I started planning my future.
I feel for soldiers in Iraq who are facing suicide bombers every day. As it was for me, it’s probably hard for them to admit they have no “logical” defense against a die-hard, dedicated suicide soldier. I’m sure they too see their future as bleak, and find daily suicide attacks as depressing as I did in 1944.
Unfortunately, soldiers in Iraq don’t have a magic weapon.
Dan True is a resident of Clovis.