There was 5 of them and only 3 of us, I had never been the guy to throw the first punch but if I didn’t we were in deep shit, sort of. It might just be an after hours brawl letting off steam but the fact that there was 3 black Marines, a white Marine acting like a black man and an Okinawan kid against 2 white guys and a black guy could easily make this a racial incident.
I had been busted a year before for inciting to riot so I knew that unless we walked away without a punch being thrown I would be in trouble again. I had lost a stripe and spent a week in the brig over the previous incident.
We were in the village part of Kinnville where Malcolm Smith lived with his Okinawan fiance. Tom and I had been down to the Ocean snorkeling and were done for the day; we had stopped by to visit with Malcolm on our way back to Camp Hansen.
I was standing with my back towards a ditch and one black Marine stopped to the right of me and another squatted down on my left side. I thought it rather odd than one would not want to be on his feet when the brawl started. The other three circled around Tom and Malcolm antagonizing them; if they could goad us into throwing the first punch then they wouldn’t be to blame. I had ‘been there done that’ so to speak.
After what seemed like a few minutes but was probably hardly a minute, the white kid that was trying to act like a black man shoved Tom, Malcolm hit the black Marine closest to him as Tom simultaneously hit the white kid and I spun and kicked the guy squatting on my left in the face, knocking him into the ditch. The blow felt mushy as it connected but I didn’t have time to think about it as I spun around to face the other attacker. He was on me and knocked me down. I rolled over and came up and hit him in the gut with my shoulder as I picked him up and body slammed him.
The guy got to his feet and we sparred for a few minutes; he proved to be the better boxer but I was the better grappler. We were pretty evenly mismatched until he found his self in a guillotine; as I felt him go limp I let go. I didn’t need to be charged with murder. I’m pretty sure that was one of the times I got my nose broke; with blood running down my face the guy I was fighting figured he’d finish me off but when I stepped back and wiped the blood from my face and spat out a wad of blood and mucus then grinned at him the smile on his face disappeared.
I sat on the side of the road and opened up a beer while I watched Tom and Malcolm at work. The Okinawan kid was out of the fight, Tom and Malcolm were just finishing off the other two fighters. Tom was Golden Gloves in the State of New Jersey, Malcolm was a black kid from Baton Rouge Louisiana that had fought every day of his life; this was hardly a warm up for either of them.
The black kid that I had choked out regained his senses and sat up, after a second he asked me if I had another beer, I handed him one and we sat there and watched the finish of the fight.
It was kinda odd in a way to be siting around drinking warm beer together when a few minutes before everyone was at each others throat.
After finishing off his beer the kid next to me went to check on the one that I had kicked in the face, he hadn’t stirred yet.
“He’s not breathing”. I got up and went over and looked at him, he was dead, my kick had connected with his windpipe crushing it. I sat down as the realization of what I had done set in. My life and future had changed in a heart beat.
Marines without out a fight are a nuisance, or better said we are a real pain in the ass. We are also pretty good at killing each other which is rather sad. We are trained to kill the enemies of our Nation both foreign and domestic; killing each other is just what we do over women, cards and other such nonsense.
The 2 murders that I was familiar with of Marines killing other Marines were back in Camp Pendelton, Southern California. One involved a Mexican kid gunning down a black Marine that was hazing and the other a black Marine killing a white Marine over a card game. Both were premeditated as the card game killing was done the morning following the fight over the cards and the other was on a live firing line with a fully loaded M16. Mine wasn’t premeditated and some would argue manslaughter, justified or not if there is such a thing but normally within the USMC you are guilty until proven innocent.
I spent the next 4 years in LBJ, Long Binh Jail out of Saigon.
To be continued