Turning children into killers

I’m currently watching The Walking Dead, season three on DVD, and the main character’s son—Carl—who isn’t even a teenager, has become an efficient killing machine of both humans and zombies.

But that isn’t what this post is about because The Walking Dead is fiction.

In this post, I am writing nonfiction for someone who has no voice. We now know that many who grow up to be racists, criminals and killers were victims of parental neglect, but this post isn’t about that either. [Turning Children into Killers]

This post is about George Sandefur—a smoker who died from an aggressive form of lung cancer—and I have not forgotten one story he told me at lunch one day when we were alone in the staff lounge.

At the time, he taught math and I taught English at Giano Intermediate School in La Puente, California and it was the early 1980s. He had the classroom next to mine. George told me this story a few years before the lung cancer took him.

You see, George served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War [1950 – 1953]. 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 something was wrong, and 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 and certain death.

He was the only one who had a clear shot, so he pulled the trigger.

It turned out those kids were heavily armed with explosives and the machine gun. All that little girl had to do was lean over so the seven or eight-year-old boy standing behind her could pull the trigger to kill the US troops.

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.


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit 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.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

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