|Why a shirt? Just a striped shirt?|
The Fight for Life [БОРЬБА ЗА ЖИЗНЬ], Charitable fund for the Disabled
July 2, 2015
October 18, 2015
Translated from Russian by Tom Winter
It so happened that I was in a project with these penguins. Over the course of the six months we got to be pals. At the project’s end, of course, we partied. And once the party got going full tilt a youngster and I start comparing notes, Who is more cool, the first earth satellite, those moon programs, planes, weapons, gear and all.
And I had to ask the obligatory question:
Okay American, out with it. Why are you guys so scared of us; you’ve been here in Russia half a year, you’ve seen it all for yourself. You know, there aren’t any bears in the street, we don’t drive around in tanks…
Oh I can fill you in! It was our drill instructor taught us, when I was in the Guard. This instructor had been in lots of hot spots, and got put in the hospital twice, each time by Russians. He was always telling us the one and most dread enemy was Russia!
First time was Afghanistan, 1991, still just a kid, never yet under fire, and he was helping civilians when the Russians decided to wipe out a mountain village.
– Whoa whoa whoa! We weren’t in Afghanistan after ’89!
– We weren’t there either in ’91! Though I see that he doesn’t get it.
Listen! I was providing security, there already weren’t any Russians in Afghanistan; our job was to relocate a friendly body of partisans to a region under our control, and everything was on schedule, but just then here come two Russian helicopters why and for what, I have no idea.
They close in, we grab up Stingers, they disappear past the ridge. I take up a position at the heavy machine gun and wait, looking for them to come up along the ridge where they’d have the best leverage on us. But the Russian helos didn’t hang around, and didn’t do what I expected: they came at us from the bottom of the gorge and hung there 30 meters off.
I mash the trigger and see bullets bouncing off the glass like sparks flying. I see the Russian pilot smiling.
I woke up in the hospital. Concussion.
They tell me that the pilot felt sorry for me, and that Russians consider it a mark of expertise if they finish off the local fighters and leave the Europeans alive. No idea why, and I don’t believe it. Leaving an enemy alive behind the line — capable of surprising you — would be stupid, and the Russians aren’t stupid.
There were lots of deployments, but the next time I dealt with Russians was in Kosovo. I had a company of untrained noobies equipped with M16s from the time of the Vietnam war, heavy cumbersome flak jackets that were probably left over from World War II, no navigation, no night vision stuff, just M16s, helmets, and the flak jackets. They’d go around in their APCs [armored personnel carriers] anywhere they liked kissing with the locals, baking their bread (they got their own oven and baked bread!) Their rations were all mush with tinned meat that they cooked on a stove.
They treated us like something they stepped in, all the time insulting us. Army? It wasn’t an army. God knows what it was. How were we supposed to cooperate with them? All our reports on the leadership of the Russians, they ignored. Whenever things would get serious, they wouldn’t share the route, unless there’d been a Russian officer to assure the monkeys that they could climb trees. You had to discipline these guys. Man up! and keep your positions! It would just take some Russian corpses to get them to understand.
They wrote notes in Russian, but with mistakes, like a Serbian would write, saying that some good guys were gathering up by night to go out and kick some insolent Russian ass. We got ourselves ready with care, lightweight body armor, batons, night vision, shockers, a few knives and light arms.
|“We got ourselves ready with care…”|
We come up observing all the craft of camoflage and diversion. What? These dumbasses haven’t even set up pickets! Okay, we’ll bust their ass in their sleep! They’ve got it coming! We’re right up to the tents and there’s this fucking “RYAAAAA!”
And out of all the tents here are these guys for some reason just wearing a striped shirt. I took on the first one.
I woke up in the hospital. Concussion.
Then they told me that the guy felt sorry for me and just hit me flat. If it had been for real, he’d have taken my head off. Fully trained fighter of the US elite units and some skinny Russian cuts him down in 10 seconds. WTF! And you know what? Garden and entrenching tools! A fucking shovel! Never came to mind that I’d be up against a fucking shovel. And they teach it. Unofficially its a mark of prowess if they master the technique of entrenching-tool combat. Then I realized they’d just been waiting for us, but why in shirts, just in their shirts? Anybody wanting to protect himself wears some armor and a helmet. Why just a shirt, and that fucking RYAAAAA!
Once waiting for a flight at the Detroit airport there was this Russian family, mom, dad, a little girl. And from somewhere the father bought an ace cream cone and gave it to the girl, about three. She jumped for joy, clapped her hands, and you know what she yelled? That fucking RYAAAAA!
Three years old, can barely talk yet, and already that RYAAAAA!
But these guys, with that shout came out ready to die for their country. They knew it would be hand-to-hand combat, weaponless, but they came out ready to die.
It’s easy to kill while sitting in an armored helo or while wielding a shovel that’s been honed like a razor, but they didn’t feel sorry for me; killing for the sake of killing wasn’t the deal for them. But they were ready to die if they had to.
And that’s when I got it. Russia — the one enemy most to be feared»
So there it is, how a a US soldier from an elite fighting unit spoke.