"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane
The following post is comprised of things that several military folks sent me after I posed the question:
“I eventually got very tired of hearing the line ‘Real men don’t….(fill in the blank).’ So what do real men do related to combat. As more come in, I will add to it.
Cry when the battle is over from the surging emotions and chemicals
Throw up after the firefight as their stomach cramps from too much adrenaline.
Fight in the underwear when ambushed, yanking it up and leaving skid marks because they were taking a crap.
Scream when mortar and artillery pounds down
Drink until they black out from what they’ve seen and done
Touch a baby with a wondrous look in their eyes that something so small, fragile, and innocent can exist.
Fight with each other and then hold each other and cry while still bloody.
Feel their stomach knot and their mouth go dry as they crawl up on a sentry with the oh so heavy knife in their hand
Piss themselves when the vehicle in front of them suddenly explodes
Scream and yell while firing a weapon
Hold the hand of the wounded, promising the wounded anything if they live
Plan, plan, plan, until everyone moves like clockwork, knowing in their gut that NO plan survives contact with the enemy.
Run when outnumbered, outflanked, and outgunned, retreating to get a better position.
Fight knowing that they can’t win, because there is nothing left to do but fight.
Sit there, their uniforms bloodsoaked, hands aching and cut, feeling the sharp burn of shrapnel kisses, and cry in relief that they lived, and with guilt that they survived.
Grind/Grit their teeth so hard their gums bleed
Stand there silently, staring at someone in a pristine uniform, while they stink of fear, blood, gunsmoke, and death, with hatred in their eyes.
Sleep holding a stuffed animal or a picture of their loved ones in their hands.
Scream when the metal meets the meat and their on their back, holding onto a wound while blood gushes
Be completely unaware that their arm is missing from the elbow down
Say “Holy mother of God” when the infantry company they ambushed turns out to be a tank division
Scream “FIGHT FIGHT GET UP AND FIGHT!” when everything has gone to shit and the only way to survive is kill the enemy faster than he can kill you
Kneel with their hands behind their necks when they’re done, with other men taking away their weapons.
Stare at other men, their hands holding in their insides, while life slips away.
So, REAL MEN do whatever they do, there isn’t a set standard, except to be brave and never give up the fight.