In this post, I am writing for someone who has no voice.
George Sandefur was a smoker who died from an aggressive form of lung cancer in the 1980s, but I have not forgotten what he told me.
At the time, he taught math and I taught English at Giano Intermediate School in La Puente, California. He had the classroom next door. George told me his story a few years before the cancer took him.
Thirty years earlier, George served in the U.S. Army in Korea. He told me about one patrol on a cold day. The narrow trail they followed clung to the side of a steep mountain he didn’t know the name of.
George brought up the rear and from his vantage point saw several young Korean children coming their way. None of these kids could have been over ten. The rest of American patrol had gone around a fold in the mountain and couldn’t see the children.
George stopped. He sensed that something was wrong. When he saw the machine gun strapped to the back of a little girl, he knew that the other troops in his patrol were walking into a trap.
He was the only one who had a clear shot. If he didn’t take it, the other troops might be killed or wounded, so he pulled the trigger.
It turned out those kids were heavily armed with explosives and that machine gun. All that little girl had to do was bend over so the seven or eight-year-old boy behind her could pull the trigger to kill the US troops.
The rest of the patrol would have been surprised and didn’t stand a chance if George had not acted.
George took lives that day but also saved lives, and he was left with a mental scar that followed him the rest of his life.
That one defining moment changed who George was and how he saw the world.
I heard of this soulful experience at lunch one day. We can only imagine how this violent moment in time experience changed one man’s life. What did it feel like to kill several children who would have killed him without a thought?
Discover The Long March, another war, another place, and another time.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, journalist and award winning author.
His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”