The rules that governed amateur boxing had been abandoned,
No 3 knockdown rule,no 3 rounds, no winning on points.
Simple,a knock down,or quit.
Oh they had a doctor who could stop the match.His threshold pain tolerance to someone else's was pretty high..Exposure,I would guess,
Those were the rules,I was new to the game.
at lest in the ring.
The contest was ruled and judged by the coaches discretion.
His discretion had been fired by me a year and a half previous.
I had been brought on stage as a recruit "for demonstration purposes" to demonstrate "live"
practice. The instructor brandished a covered bayonet,I, nothing.
I was to defend myself. I did,though not with the skills recently taught to us. I knew how to wrestle,knew how to throw a punch and defend myself, a little bit,and had been in a scrap or two in my young life. I used the skills I knew,had practiced count less times before. The results were in my favor. The instructor ..was less than happy with the results. The scabbard was removed, he looked at me with vengeance in his eyes,spoke with it in his voice"let's see what you do with the real thing" . I had embarrassed him in front of over a thousand other recruits
He was to blind to see both fear and determination in my own eyes,to pridefull to recognize the danger.The results were not in his favor the second time,nor the third when other DI's pulled him unable to continue from off the platform,and I was dismissed.
Now had come the opportunity for his revenge..the prompt for his discretion
His mistaken folly was that unknown to him, I had received other lessons,from other teachers far beyond a regulated ring and 12 ounce wrapped and gloved hands.
He was not a large man,the teacher. My lesson was brief, though one I will carry with me as long as I have memory.
I was the "new guy'". No one wanted your company, your skills were suspect, being so they were likely to get you or those around you a ticket to the hospital,or home in a box,or the parts in a bag to be placed in a box.
Patrols and missions were brutal. At times nothing was found except the sheer exhaustionof running on adrenaline then having to get through the night in case of incoming or being overrun,or a combination of both . Other times we encountered ambushes where all the fury of hell would be unleashed from both sides from somewhere between 2 minutes to eternity,depending on how one fared.
The day had been one of quietness,setting sand bags,digging down,setting defenses for a semi permanent observation base. Guards were set,advanced patrols posted close to the wire,weapons cleaned, ammo distributed and kept close at hand. water drank,a chocolate bar eaten, a smoke taken from one of three contained in the C-Rations box...and the air filled with
quietness,the quietness of approaching attack,though not known from where or how many..
Darkness fell,readiness,determination,fear, all spoke to men with no place to go and only his companions for support. His companions,every man was a companion to every other man,and each mans hope was his companions would not fail him,nor he them.
The quiet brought with it the smell of attack, Two cousins, Quietness and the smell of attack, preparing us.
I do not recall the time the first rocket exploded, Its flash of blinding light followed by tracer's trailing light,accompanied by earth shaking rumbles,followed by flashes beyond the wire,
from flashes all around me signalling our returning fire,ringing in my ears,the click and slide of the bolt of my own weapon,muffled sounds of "ammo over here","man down","corpsman",other directions given through the muffled ringing in my ears, repeated,and repeated,and repeated, I know not how long.
My sense of balance was that of a child who has stayed too long on a merry go round,far to long.
Off to my right I saw the form of the staff sergeant stumble from a standing position and fall.
My own attention was taken on the onslaught directly in front of me. There were no "waves of attack" there was only the onslaught of enemy soldiers attempting to overrun us...
The smell of cordite exploding the repetition, of sliding one clip into my rifle,the cycling of the bolt,again and again,intent on holding the position I was assigned whatever the cost.
In the periphial portion of my vision the staff sergeant's form was again standing,flashes indicated he was still returning fire,then his form stumbled going down like a saturday night drunk ,
To my rear, I was aware through the ringing in my ears someone attempting to make radio contact,or that they had radio contact,unsure exactly the nature of the transmission,except that it was taking place.
The chatter of the automatic weapons was evidence they were still manned and returning fire.
Black forms of men not our own appeared between flashes of gunfire, grenades exploding added more ringing to my ears. My own weapon spat lead as if it was cycling on it's own,as if I had no part in it's operation,black faceless forms tumbled forward,or were thrown backward as if they were attempting to perform a backward cartwheel,the whistling whizz of a bullets passing interrupted the ringing, more black unfaced figures came through the wire.,Still I held my position.
Once again I saw the staff sergeant's form rise, the flashes from the muzzle of his weapon returning fire. and once again him going to the ground,though this time being thrown, not stumbling.
How long this continued, I have no way to tell by writswatch time. It lasted over 350 rounds expended from my weapon, eternity for 8 members of our unit,and I do not recall the exact body count of enemy dead.
I cannot describe the trip to the downed staff sergeant,I have no memory of it, only arriving.
He lay bleeding from wounds in both legs,and his right arm,yet alive.
The sound of helicopters coming in to take out the wounded signaled their arrival. I spoke,not knowing what to say,only wanting him to know I was there to help."You alive sarge?" was all that escaped my lips. His answer was defiant, especially in light of his wounds.' Give me a hand kid and help me to stand, I aint havin no body carry me out " I protested thinking if it were possible doing so would add ational damage to his injured body. Help me up kid,I told you nobody's going to carry me out of here,just help me up, then I'll stand on my own, I ain't that bad off"
I helped him trying to hold back my own tears. His right calf muscle, skin, and tissue lay hanging,draped like some sorry butcher did the job, to the top of his boot, His left thigh was not visible ecept for pieces of flesh outlining the exit trail, though it appeared he had lost an enormous amoumt of blood through that wound before wrapping it himself to return fire. His right arm just below the elbow was torn though not bleeding profusely.That wound had left him unable to use his hand correctly,so he had loaded his clips with the left hand,cycled the bolt with the two fingers that were functional, the stood to return fire the last time. He had been hit in the flack jacket with 3 rounds throwing him to the ground the last time,and breaking his ribs.
I helped him stand. The medi-vac helos were on the ground loading the wounded, taking them to the nearest field hospital , then on to some regular hospital where they would receive more care..With his good arm around his shoulder and hand around his waist I half carried him to the waiting chopper.I told him I saw him go down three times,and asked him how many times he planned on getting up.."One more time then I go down" then added "which is why I aint having nobody carry me out of here,I'll stand,I'll walk,even if it is with the help of some kid, and I'll walk outta this place..One more time then I go down kid"
That was my lesson.
I would go down 5 times in that match,my opponent once...I stood one more time then he put me down, not in my own strength, but in the strength of a defiant staff sergeant who's lesson has been honored many times since.