Stealth or Devil Dog cologne for your holiday giving

Satiric

Imagine. The U.S. Armed Forces are selling cologne to the public for a profit:  Air Force “Stealth,” Marine Corps “Devil Dog,” and Army “Patton.”  We discovered this insanity in the Washington Post article http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/the-marine-cologne-strong-with-a-hint-of-military-spirit/2011/09/02/gIQAMSmgAK_story_1.html.  I’m going to sue them. Why aren’t the Services offering Cologne No. 10 For Men instead? It will really make you feel like a man. And it’s far superior for covering up the odors of war.

Today the obituary of Harry Morgan, who played Col. Potter on M*A*S*H, brought back bittersweet memories of that great series, my tour in Vietnam, and Cologne No. 10 for Men.  My novel has frequently been compared to M*A*S*H and Catch 22  – especially the part in Cologne when Wilfred recycles bodies.  Catch 22 takes place during World War II, M*A*S*H during Korea,  and Cologne during Vietnam, and all are satiric in nature.

My song  “Counting Bodies In The Nam” also deals with recycling and counting bodies (see my “Skytroopers” CD www.cdbaby.com/cd/richardmorris]).

Counting Bodies In The Nam 
© Richard A. Morris 2007 

Counting bodies in the Nam 
   to prove that we have won.
So what if we don’t control the land
   and give it right back to Charlie again.
Cause land don’t count at all – just – the bodies.
And we don’t have to kill ‘em to count ‘em, no.
Doo, doo Doo, doo Doo.

Find a body, claim it quick
   in a hamlet or a crick.
In a grave   we’ll dig it up
   and add it to the glorious sum.
To raise our kill ratio
It’s their dead over ours, you know.
The proof that we’re ahead.
As long as we ain’t dead.

Illusion, delusion.
The kill rat tells the truth, we know.
Ten to one says we’re winning, yeah,
Even if all hell is beginning.
Doo, doo Doo, doo Doo.

Counting bodies in the Nam  
   to prove that we have won.
And we don’t really have to kill anyone. 
   Just count ‘em dead and add ‘em up.
We can even count ‘em more than once
‘Cause it’s only the count that counts, you dunce.
Till pacification lets us stop counting
And pacification lets us stop killing.
But there will be no peace until we leave.
Yes, there will be no peace until we leave

Horrific 

The Washington Post front page also reported on the “Hundreds of troops’ ashes put in landfill” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/air-force-dumped-ashes-of-more-troops-in-va-landfill-than-acknowledged/2011/12/07/gIQAT8ybdO_story.html). “The landfill dumping was concealed from families who had authorized the military to dispose of the remains in a dignified and respectful manner, Air Force officials said.” This is horrible.

But go back. What happened before the remains arrived home? Here’s a story from Cologne No. 10 for Men that is based in reality (unlike many other parts of the book, such as the recycling of bodies, which came straight from my imagination):

Wilfred spent the night worrying, and in the morning they left for security duty at LZ German.

 The men in the platoon they were to relieve were wandering in a trance, each carrying a sandbag. Near the center was a rectangle of sandbags within which some torn and broken bags lay scattered. Not far away three half-full bags, sides wet and red, rested on the ground. Wilfred noticed a platoon sergeant with a bag in his hand looking all around the area. “I’m Lieutenant Carmenghetti. We’re relieving you.”

“You’ll have to wait.”

“What happened?”

“The mortar bunker blew. We’re picking up the pieces.”

“Where’s your C.O.?”

He spread his arms, looked around through a screen of tears, and shrugged. “Out here.” Then he pointed at the three red bags and shook his head.

“How many were killed?”

“Don’t know. Five maybe.”

“Was it incoming?”

“Don’t know. Don’t think so.”

“Need any help?” The sergeant shook his head no.

A deuce-and-a-half pulled up and the sergeant told his men to load the remains. Some were in bags, others in ponchos.

“It’s all yours, Lieutenant,” the sergeant said. Wilfred assigned his squad leaders to different areas and told them to send two men back to help Kaslovski rebuild the mortar bunker….

Wilfred decided to walk back to the perimeter. He was in no hurry to get there. The thought of the bleeding, woven plastic bags was overwhelming…. He walked down a hill on the dusty road past bunkers and tents and gazed at a similar mélange across the little valley in front of him. Then his eye picked out an irregularity—a spot of dark green a few streets back from the main road. Out of curiosity he watched it grow as he came closer. When he neared the bottom of the hill it disappeared behind bunkers and tents. He jogged to the left, drawn down a side street toward the mystery. Then he passed a big tent, and the mass of dark green leaped out and slapped his face. Fifty feet away stood stacks of plastic body bags, two deep, ten high, and twenty or thirty long, each stuffed with the refuse of battle and neatly tagged for shipment.

Are the sacks of flesh from the bunker here yet? Have they sorted it somehow? Shit, no. They got the names and tagged the bags and dumped some in each one. “Hey, Larry. Put a little more in this one, will you? It’s a little bit shy.”

Again the smell of death overcame his cologne and the magnitude overwhelmed him. War’s a giant killing machine. March ‘em in one end, blow ‘em up, grind ‘em up, fill up the tubes, and ship ‘em out. They’re free, everybody. All you pay is your taxes. And the military officers at the doors say, “It is my duty to inform you…”

from Cologne No. 10 For Men
© Richard A. Morris 2007

Rest in Peace.

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