Continuing the story about the 1967 battle of Dak To and how my picture got taken:
One morning, I awoke to find all my fatigues missing. In my skivvies, I ran around the cantonment area asking if anyone knew where my uniforms were. They showed up a couple of hours later. The troops had snitched them and taken them to a local tailor and paid him to sew nametags above the two breast pockets on the fatigue jacket. One read “GLENN,” the other “CIVILIAN.” On the collars where an officer’s rank would be displayed, the number “13” was stitched (I was a GS-13—civilian rank—at the time). And all my fatigue caps now sported pins showing the 4th Infantry Division insignia.
The troops, of course, couldn’t stop laughing, and they insisted on taking a picture of me in my fatigue jacket and cap showing the nametags, rank, and insignia. When Mission BBQ asked for a photo of me in uniform, I gave them that one, the only one I had. I doubt that anyone seeing the picture will be able to read the nametags or 13s on the collar. So once again, I fool people with my cover.
For all that, the picture, a copy of which I have hanging on my office wall, reminds me of the close bond I shared with the men I was in combat with. What most noncombatants don’t realize is that men in combat fight, first and foremost, for the man fighting next to them. They will give up their lives to save their combat buddy.
The bond between men in combat is the strongest love I have ever felt. Soldiers don’t use the word “love.” Men are not supposed to love one another. But I stood ready to die to save the life of the man fighting next to me. And I knew he would do the same for me. That’s the purest, least selfish love I have ever known.