Brothers in Arms
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“You are facing a court martial soldier. That man is the enemy. Now shoot him!”
“I can’t do that Sargent Poe.“
Robert Kolowitz was a specialist 4, an infantryman two grades below the Staff Sargent. But the Non-commissioned officer had rightly assumed command when their platoon’s lieutenant had accidentally triggered a landmine the day before. The two were hunkered down behind the dense shrubbery which lined a small rise overlooking the trail, with five more friendlies behind them.
Robert thrust a pair of field glasses into the non-com’s chest.
“Take a closer look at him. See what’s hanging around his neck?”
In a huff, John Poe raised the lenses to zoom in on the lone enemy soldier who was scouting a well-known infiltration route through the DMZ.
Glinting in the sunlight, a golden cross suspended on the North Korean soldier’s chest could be distinguished.
“So what? It’s a cross. He probably took it as a trophy off a dead American.”
“No Sarge. A communist would not do that with a religious symbol. It’s against the law for them. Their country’s leaders are atheists. He could be executed for wearing it. That means he’s a Christian, and he is forced into serving in their military. He probably only puts it on when he’s in the field.”
“That doesn't matter. Our orders are to shoot to kill all enemy personnel on sight who are on the route.”
Robert knew the Sargent would report the incident. And if he did not follow orders, he would most certainly be court marshaled. With his face scrunched up in painful thought, he took aim with his M-16 rifle. Everyone knew of Robert’s prowess with a rifle. He was an expert marksman. One sentence kept ringing in his mind.
“He’s not my enemy—he’s my brother.”
Sucking in a breath, he slowly blew out half, securing the optimum condition for steady hands. Then Kolowitz squeezed the trigger.
No sooner had the shot sounded, but a root at the toe of the enemy soldier’s boot exploded into splinters from the round. Almost simultaneously the North Korean leaped into the obscuring brush and was gone in a flash.
Sarge was livid. Red faced, he shouted. “You missed on purpose! You’ve put the whole squad in danger!”
But the lower ranking infantryman knew there was no real danger for them. They had the superior numbers of a platoon nearby, and the enemy had only a handful of isolated individuals out in the zone, either scouting or trying to infiltrate into the South.
He also knew there was no way to prove an intentional miss. But in doing so, he’d just sabotaged his own career in the Army. It would be very difficult to rise in the ranks. All would know what he’d done. But they’d also know why.
A year later Robert Kolowitz secured a general discharge under honorable conditions. Accepting the separation of one step down from a regular honorable discharge, he would lose some of his benefits.
Yet, Robert was already a member of another unit. The Lord’s army. And the benefits far outweighed anything an earthly army could offer. Everything would be just fine.
(Based on a true story, names were changed for anonymity)
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Fabulous, well written story Sheldon.