Part of me thinks there’s too much hand-wringing about the four U.S. Marines pissing on dead Afghani fighters. It’s not like they dragged them behind their humvees, like the Somalis dragged and desecrated our soldiers in the1993 Blackhawk Down incident. And it’s not like they burned the bodies to a crisp and hung them from a bridge, the way the Iraqis did those Blackwater mercenaries.
As I watched the video, I wondered how long those guys had been in Afghanistan. How many tours have they had? How long have they been in combat?
I remembered of something I read in With the Old Breed: At Peleilu and Okinawa, Eugene Sledge’s account of his WWII experiences as a Marine mortar man. Sledge described how a few Marines used their Kabar knives to slash open the mouths of dead Japanese and knock out their gold teeth. Sledge was ready to cash in on the action himself until a Marine chaplain shamed him back into good sense.
My dad also served in WWII, in the Army. He landed on Omaha Beach on D + 1 (June 7), where he and others in his antiaircraft outfit were the first to shoot down a German plane over France (he showed me the clipping from Yank, which mentioned him by name, when I was a kid). He told me that in his outfit there was a Free French fighter who swore that he would piss on the first dead German he saw. Sure enough, when they came upon the first dead German the guy undid his fly and was getting ready to pee on the body. But, my dad said, he and the others stopped the guy. They said it was wrong to desecrate a body and was against the Geneva Convention.
My dad fought clear through to Berlin. He survived the Battle of the Bulge, where he wore the same clothes for 28 days. He saw and did a lot of things, some he never talked about. But I’m pretty sure he never pissed on a dead German soldier.
What the other part of me thinks is a no-brainer. That one is with my dad.