BulliesThere are ways to handle bullies.

I’m not saying my way is the best way, but it is effective. I’ve always been quick and handy with my fists. You grew up that way in the mountains, taking care of things yourself rather than waiting for someone else to do it.

Two examples:

Ken Call and I got off the train in Longview, a small town in Washington, where my girlfriend Carol lived. Near the station was a restaurant where I always waited for her to pick me up. While Call and I were having Cokes, a couple of toughs swaggered in and singled out Call for ridicule.

Call was. . .There is no delicate way to put it. He was homely.

We ignored them. I saw other men and boys in the restaurant duck their heads to avoid looking at the toughs.

The toughs glared at me. I smiled back. They strutted over to my table with matching sneers.

Still smiling, I arose slowly, pushed my Coke out of the way. Without saying a word, I belted the lead guy with a straight right to the face that sent him sprawling over the nearest table and rolling off onto the floor. I punched the second guy while his face was hanging out from surprise. Both jumped off the floor and ran out the front door. Everyone in the restaurant cheered.

From then on, Cokes at the restaurant were on the house. “They’re town bullies,” the owner explained. “We’ve been waiting for years for someone to give them their own medicine.”

I was a U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Beret) team medic. Training is nearly a year long. While in Phase II at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, my wife Kathy was home alone many nights in our apartment off-post. An employee of the apartment complex began stalking Kathy, terrifying her with such comments as “I know where you live, and I know your husband has to stay on post most nights.”

I complained to management. Finally, when the bullying continued, I knocked on the guy’s apartment. As soon as he answered the door, I walloped him in the face as many times as I could before he dropped.

He filed a complaint with police. I was issued a citation. During the hearing, every Green Beret at Ft. Sam Houston filled the courtroom. In uniform. So did police officers. The judge found me guilty; after all, I had punched the man. He fined me the minimum amount possible, which my Green Berets and police paid by taking up a collection.

The judge turned to the stalker. “If you get near this soldier’s wife again,” he promised, “if you even look at her, I’ll not only slam your butt in jail, I’ll put it underneath the jail.”

It seems there were fewer bullies in those days.

They (WWII soldiers) believed that thuggary, brutality, and contempt for human life and dignity. . . could be beaten by decent people. . .

From Two Fronts, One War by Charles W. Sasser. Available in hardcover at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and in fine bookstores.