KIND AND DEADLY
The man I'm writing about could well be the boy next door, the gentle
blonde haired kid from the corner supermarket or the jail bound punk
of not so long ago.
The boys are bound together by their trade. They are all volunteers, they are all deadly killers. They are in the spine tingling brain twisting, nerve racking, business of the LONG RANGE RECONNAISSANCE PATROL. They vary in age from 18-20.
These men operate in precision in movement, like walking through a jungle quietly, being able to tell whether a man or animal is moving through the brush without seeing the cause of movement. They can sit in an ambush for 10 hours without moving a muscle except to ease the safety off the automatic weapon in their hands as they settle to their main object of killing.
These men are good because they know they're the best. Called the LRRP's for short they are despised, rejected, admired and thought to be a little short of brains by those who watch from the sidelines as a team starts out on another mission to kill, harass, cripple and maim the enemy.
They are a team counted on the hand, a finger for each man. They start with eighty pounds of equipment strapped to their backs, sixty pounds of which is ammo, mines, grenades, tripflares and anything conceivable to bring the enemy to his dark end. They are a few who will ambush a company or a battalion of enemy at a moment's notice, men who will push the enemy until he's at wits end trying to decide where to run next and he can't find any place to run. These men put him out of the fight permanently.
These men know they may never see the next sunrise, but they move on, knowing there are gunships that will answer their call for help and artillery that will come screaming in the darkest of night toward and on their positions in case the team is in danger of being eliminated.
They are men who can take a baby or a small child in their arms and stop its crying, share their last smoke, last ration of food, last canteen of water, kind in some ways, deadly in others.
These are the LRRP's who believe in country, freedom and fellow men. They are a new kind of soldier in a new type of warfare. They look the same as anyone you may have seen in a peace march, draft card burning or any other demonstration, but they are different, just look into their eyes. Better yet just ask them, for they are men. These men stand out in crowds of soldiers. It is not just their tiger fatigues, but the debonair way they walk and stand. You know they are proud because they are members of the LONG RANGE RECONNAISSANCE PATROL.
SP5 Joe Steimbach
I copied "KIND AND DEADLY" from a tattered single type written page that I carried with me in Vietnam. I did not recall how I came into possesion of this story, but I have since learned from Tom Jarvis that the original appeared in the June 16, 1968 edition of the IVY LEAF which included the following.
(EDITOR'S NOTE; JUNE 16, 1968 -The "Kind and the Deadly" is a story about the members of a 2nd Brigade, 4th Divison Long Range Patrol. It was written by Speialist 5 Joseph J. Steimbach of Jacksonville, Fla., a LRP team leader, shortly before he was killed in action while attempting to aid a wounded team member.)
My copy had the name Joe Steinback but I have since learned his name was Joe Steimbach. Joe was killed in action on April 12, 1968.
Tom Jarvis recalls :"I was on the radio relay team when he was hit. I felt so helpless because I couldn't do anything but call it in."
|Story INDEX||NEXT Story|
Return to Base Camp