If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Jap Juice Chapter 1

Chapter 1
The beginning

Writings found from the Journal of Lieutenant Schlebeski.
29th infantry unit United States Marine Corp.
Found with decedents remains on Saipan Island September 9th 1944

September 8th 1944
Private Miller was not one of your typical marines.  He had a side to him that said he grew up mostly because he had to.  None to serious, always messing around.  Sometimes he even cut his hair in a funny way to get a laugh out of the rest of us.  "A New Jersey boy,  born and raised", he would exclaim.  As if that was all we needed to know to make things understandable.  I didn't understand at all.  As far as I was concerned New Jersey was close to New York that meant it was a big city and therefore I wanted nothing to do with it.  "Michigan born and raised", was I.  Farm land and woods.  I suppose Private Miller had more reasons than New Jersey for the way he acted but in spite of it he kept the mood light.  Occasionally he would get a laugh from one of us.  Most of the time it was just a shake of the head.  A shake that meant mostly I don't get you.  Like when you were young and did something stupid and your mama just stood there, hands on hips, shaking her head.  Yeah that kind.  I can remember one time he snuck into the latrine and placed a piece of thin(in those days everything was thin) white bed linen over the toilet and then put the lid down.  It would have been funny, should  have been funny but it was the drill Sergeant that was the first one to use it. The commotion woke us up that night.  I can still see the Sergeant waddling back to his barracks cussing  the whole time.  Pants still around his ankles as though pulling them up was not an option.  His duck like motions as he tried to run walk the fifty paces back to his quarters.  In my mind I can still see the shit caked to his ass or maybe that was what I wanted to see because it was dark and he was far away.  Frankly I didn't even know the prank was in play so it must have been one of those memory recall thingamajigs.  Like how you think you can remember your 4th birthday party solely based on seeing a picture of the event.  Whatever it was it was funny.  At first.  Many push-ups and sit-ups were done that night trying to eradicate the wrong doer from our ranks.  No one knew who it was.  We had a good idea but no proof.  We wouldn't have squealed anyways.  Marines don't do that.  Miller kept quiet and all eventually faded away.  Except that no one ever went to the latrine without checking the seat first.

That was the way Private Miller was.  Always a goof.  Always a smile on his face.
Until today when I saw him huddled behind that rock ledge.
His eyes were bloodshot and filled with horror.  I could smell the sweat on his body form three paces away.  It was a rank smell like an old football jersey washed in vinegar.  Bitter.  He was shaking uncontrollably.  As I  knelt down beside him I smelled feces.  I could see he had bitten the tip off of his tongue and blood ran out of his mouth like a bird bath that someone left the hose in.  It filled up and spilled over.  I remember thinking that he had probably tripped and bit it off but I knew in my mind that was not the case.  Private Miller was in a bad way.  Not the rolled up jeans and engineer boots bad either.  This was more of a coming down the mountain and the brakes quit working kind of way.  He just hadn't made it to the bottom yet.  Yet was extremely close though.  I hollered for a medic.  I carefully stood up and peeked over the rock ledge.  You couldn't be too careful.  The Japs were sneaky and even though the battle was over and most had retreated there was a always a sneaky(that was the term we used for a sniper) waiting to put a bullet in some nonchalant GI's head.  What I seen still haunts me to this day.  Bodies lay strewn everywhere.  Pieces and parts.  Brains and bellies.  Mostly Jap but some American as well.  At first glance it looked like a mortar attack had finally found its mark.  That's what happens when mortars hit smack on. " Shit gets blowed up" as we liked to say back then.  I had seen it before, not that I was used to it.  In war ones eyes seem to look over things and not at them.  It is how we deal with such horrific events.  I chocked this up to a direct hit and wondered what had come over Miller.  He had seen this type of carnage before and though each one exhibits his own kind of response I couldn't help but imagine why this one was so different for him.
I began my way back down the rock ledge to help with Private Miller, half way down I stopped.  Something up there was wrong.  What was it.  It was like trying to remember someones name by reciting a bunch of names in your head hoping you will come across it.  Except this was a different version.  I could see the severed heads and arms.  Entrails strewn everywhere.  But something was wrong.  Something didn't fit.  The flies!  Where were all the damn flies.  It only takes a few minutes on this Island before the flies get to your body.  Normally after a battle the buzz from so many flies made it hard to hear.  But here there was none.
I crawled back up the ledge and looked again.  I kept expecting a stiff breeze up there to enforce the no fly zone.  I had already began making up puns about it.  War is hell on a guys head.  I reached the top and all was the same. No magical eraser came through like I had hoped.  There was no breeze either and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  At attention you might say.  Then I noticed something else.  There were no craters.  Bomb craters that is.  You can't even throw hand grenades without leaving a crater let alone mortars.  And where was the fire?  There was always fire.  The only thing that looked real was the 55 gallon drum tipped on it's side.  It's lid lay askew on the side. What the hell was a fuel barrel doing up here.  You couldn't even get a jeep up here.  My mind was racing and I wanted to crawl up there and walk around and reason with myself that there was craters I just couldn't see them from my vantage point.  That the fires had just burned out magically taking their smoke with them.  I wanted to make it make sense but I couldn't.  I just huddled there, frozen.  I knew that if I went up there I would be laying next to Miller, shitting myself and chewing on my tongue like a piece of Bazooka gum.  I lay there tears streaming down my cheek.  Knowing that up there was evil like I had never seen before.  Evil that was not of a warring nature but worse.  Much worse.  So I just lay there against the rocks.  Eyes squeezed shut and hoping that when I opened them all would be fine.
      I left the front line and headed back to report to the captain what I had seen.  After debriefing I went to find Miller in the hospital tent.  He wasn't in there and after a little searching I found out he had died.  I write this in my journal today in remembrance of private Miller.  He was the last person left alive on this god forsaken island that I had taken training with back in the states.  Tomorrow I must return to the spot above that ledge and try to understand what happened.  I don't want to but I feel I must.  If only for Miller.

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