SURVIVAL PART I“No matter what you endure during this survival training,” said the U.S. Marine captain, “it’s tame compared to what you’ll suffer if the enemy gets hold of you.”

First day of Marine Corps Survival and POW school, reputed to be the most brutal training in the military. I was a Navy Journalist undergoing the training in order to write an article about it for my newspaper, Propwash.

The Marine was introduced as the survivor of an enemy POW camp. He walked with a noticeable limp. He held a cigarette between fingers that were scarred and mangled.

“Remember that the enemy hates you more than you hate him because chances are you’re fighting in his country, bombing his mother and father. Think how you’d feel if the enemy was in Nebraska or Boston doing that to us. Then let your fear and your hate sustain you and drive you to stay alive honorably if you ever find yourself captured in enemy country.”

His hard eyes snapped, kept snapping. He shot out questions one after the other with the accuracy of a marksman on the range. After each question his voice rang with two words: “I have!”

“Did you ever see a man’s tongue cut out of his head before your eyes?”

“I have!”

“Have you seen the skin on a man’s face ripped off his skull while he’s still alive and screaming?”

I have!”

“Have you been forced to look while enemy interrogators cut off your buddy’s (penis) and stuff it into his mouth while he chokes on his own blood and bleeds to death?”

“I have!”

Not pretty images. The Marine’s eyes burned brightly, fiercely. Perhaps, I thought, he hadn’t survived after all.

“It’s dog-eat-dog survival out there,” he said. “You kill the other poor bastard first, make him die for his country. You kill him any way you can, and if he suffers, let the bastard suffer. Cut his throat, rip out his lungs, stuff a grenade into his shorts, cut off his head. . . And if he captures you. . .”

He looked me up and down. I’m not very big and people have a tendency to underestimate me.

“You can quit now,” he sneered. “You won’t be able to take it out there.”

I grinned. “Would you like to bet your jockstrap on it—if you wear one?”


Charles W. Sasser, a veteran Navy Journalist and U.S. Army Special Forces soldier (Green Beret), will introduce four new published books within the next few months, beginning with the novel SHADOW MOUNTAIN (Set during Russia’s Great Famine), followed by THE NIGHT FIGHTER (war on terror), BLOOD IN THE HILLS (Vietnam War), and THE COLLECTIVE (historical look at the decline of Western Civilization). Follow this website for release dates and specials.