Hand To Hand Combat Training

Hand Jive
(or: Hit Me With Your Best Cheap Shot)

by: Den Cook
© 1996

Before heading for my tour in Vietnam I went to combat training in Texas. The big buildup was in progress, so enlisted, NCOs, and officers were training together. Training was basically in two areas, Weapons, and Hand to hand combat. The later, being furthermost from what I expected. After all, I was an Air Force Air Policeman, and my only hand to hand to date was in bars, both on and off duty. Since I wasn't about to fight hand to hand in combat I paid little attention to the Training Instructor.
      Training instructors are borne with automatic homing devices. They can pick out troops (me) who will indubitable fail (me) then assign tasks designed to make a fool of them as an example to others. As our training progressed we were shown how to break away from the VC when they were holding us from behind (If a VC hugged me I would give him a kiss for not shooting me). The move required kicking backwards with your heel and with enough force to reshape his family tree for the next century. I still wasn't interested--didn't ever want to be that close to a VC. But the T.I. was demanding perfect practice, even from me!
      We pared off and my VC was--OH NO--not me--a Lieutenant Colonel who was shorter than my 5'7". Oh man, if I miscalculate and score a direct hit I'll be in Vietnam till the rice paddies freeze over. I know ... I'll just put enough kick into it so the Training Instructor thinks I have it about right. Afterall, he's probably basically human, and not too bright, and surely he'll understand my predicament?
      The NCO gave the command to execute the move. My Lieutenant Colonel VC wraps his arms around me from behind (very slightly, as he too must be as embarrassed about hugging (let alone actually touching) an enlisted man, as I am about kicking most officers in the crotch. Let's see...Plan-A: I did a kind of wimpish kick and the LTC kind'a wimpishly let's go of me, and we both sense that we have an understanding. Unfortunately, the T.I. understood too, as his homing device locks in on me--I suddenly felt the hairs on my neck prickle, akin to what that future Iraqie must have felt when he drove into that hanger the crosshairs of a stealth bomber were focused on. "COOK---YOU CALL THAT A KICK? MY GRANDMOTHER CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT AND SHE'S BEEN DEAD 20 F'N YEARS!"
      Agh, why me? I realize the full force of the T.I.'s critique on my killer-instinct is just beginning. He immediately calls the 100 + troops to circle me and the Colonel, and bellows loud enough for the Main Gate guard (2 miles away) to hear, saying something about how, "COOK'S GONNA SHOW US HOW TO KILL A VIET CONG COMMIE PINKO BY REARRANGIN' HIS D-N-A!"
      Now if my partner was a Master Sargent, or even a butter bar Lieutenant, I'd just suck it in and give a good heave ho---But a Lieutenant Colonel? He could be my next CO---or even God---in a year or two. This was definitely a lose-lose situation for me. And the Lieutenant Colonel? Well he's just standing there, lips tightly closed with this don't even think about it, worm, cause you're gonna die when this is over anyway grin, and he's not backing down.
      All right ... Plan-B: This time I'll kick LTC Napolean to one side, put a little more umpf into it and, for special effect, give a blood curdling scream. That'll get me out of this, right? I get the signal from the Instructor, and SCREAM--AGHHHHHhhhhhh, KICK-WHAM-O, over? NOT OVER. The Lieutenant Colonel didn't let go---Hey...what about our agreement? Even the NCO had fire and death in his glazed beady eyes--he's loving the situation and I sense he's hoping the officer will twist off my pimpled head in sacrifice to the God Of Darkness, and I'm felling like Gomer Pyle and Shirly Temple all in one.
      COOK! the Sarge barks, ANY TIME NOW YOU CAN SHOW US HOW TO REALLY GET THAT VIET CONG OFF YOUR BACK! Oh God, I can't take the humiliation anymore. The Colonel is encouraged by the laughter---at my expense---and actually tightens his bear hug! Do it, just do it Cook, so I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and in a blinding moment of rage, mixed with fright, scream at the top of my lungs unleashing all my energies into a backward kick designed to launch the old LTC into the next dimension.
      I did not feel my heel make deadly contact, but there was that unmistakable soprano sigh of, "...Uhaaa!" as the Lieutenant Colonel's arms dropped away, along with his will to live. The Instructor's face suddenly went ashen, with disbelief that I had the audacity to actually execute one order in a row and kick a Colonel in the jewels! For the first and last time ever, I saw genuine compassion on the face of a Training Instructor. Was that human feeling meant for the Lieutenant Colonel, or for Me? Maybe both. More likely for my pending demise.
      Not knowing what to do the NCO directed everyone's slack-jawed attention to the next hand-to-hand combat exercise, tactfully leaving the LTC to recover his dignity while hopefully not drowning in the mud puddle his tears had created.
      I was lost in my own little world of misery. What was the Lieutenant Colonel's fate? More importantly--What was my fate? If I can just explain---or maybe---wish hard enough so I can vaporize myself and disappear without a trace.
      As the numbing shock of what I had just done let go, I realize the Lieutenant Colonel that I had just swiftly kick in the crotch was standing---sort of---behind me. I slowly turned and meekly started an apology, while briefly admiring the splotches of mud which danced a plague on the left side of his face. "Sir, I really didn't--" but then paused as I caught sight of his saucer eyes. His quivering clenched jaw muscles and lips tried in vain to sputter a syllable. He, more or less, stood swaying drunkenly, trying to retain some semblance of a military officer's composure. I'm not sure that he had fully recovered the gift of speech when he raised a hand ever so slightly, as if to say, Stop. I slowly returned my attention to the Instructor, but felt the presence of a mummy stalking me.
      I truly was concerned for his well being, and briefly wondered if anyone knew how to do CPR, but when I turned around to finish my speech about why I shouldn't die, and that it was really the mean nasty sergeant's fault, the LTC was gone.

I never saw him again.

 
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