Ain’t Released Me Yet
Memoirs of a REMF
Copyright© 2016 by Robert B. Martin, IV
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without express written permission from the copyright owner, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal. I have attempted to recreate events, locales, and conversations from my memories of them.
Killing with Bayonet and Boot
"Few men are killed by the bayonet; many are scared by it."...............General George S. Patton, Jr.
In addition to learning how to kill with firearms, we were also taught to kill the old fashioned way, with a bayonet. We spent a significant amount of time learning this technique on the Bayonet Assault Course. This training began during the second week, on Tuesday, February 18, 1969. An M-6 bayonet, with its six and three-quarter inch steel blade, was affixed to the business end of the M-14 rifle.
The DI would scream, "WHAT IS THE SPIRIT OF THE BAYONET!" Everyone replied by yelling in unison, "KILL, KILL, KILL!" and then ran forward to thrust our bayonets into the straw-filled manikins. There was an awful lot of yelling about killing all through BCT.
In addition to learning to use the bayonet, we were also taught how to use the butt of the rifle as a blunt instrument. Practicing these skills one-on-one with the rifle and bayonet was too dangerous, so the Army had another way for us to practice the moves on each other. We were introduced to the "pugil stick.” Two trainees wearing football helmets with facemasks, thick gloves, and diaper-like groin protectors would square off, one-on-one, each with a pugil stick. The sticks were about five feet long and heavily padded on each end. They were used to simulate rifle and bayonet combat. Holding the pugil stick with both hands and using either end of the stick, one trainee would attempt to beat the hell out of the other. The DI declared the first trainee to score three "killing blows" as the winner. The loser had to continue fighting other trainees until he won.
Hand-to-hand combat training began during the third week of BCT. It was Monday, February 24, 1969. On Sunday I had written to Carol Ann, “Tomorrow we start hand-to-hand combat. We are already learning how to kill with the bayonet. In another week or so we will learn how to throw grenades. We learn lots of nice things here.”
We were taught basic hand-to-hand combat moves that were based upon Judo and Karate. We were taught how to block an enemy’s move and how to break out of several different types of holds. However, it wasn’t just for self-defense. Using the palm of your hand to drive the enemy’s nose up into his brain was one way we learned to kill with our hands.
We were also taught to kill with our feet. This required a Judo-like move to put the enemy on his back while the trainee stood beside him with a death grip on one of his arms. While maintaining the hold on his arm, it was simply a matter of stomping on his head very hard and fast with the heel of your combat boot. After slamming your boot into the head, you quickly brought your foot back up into a raised position in case you needed to stomp him again. This was called the “Heel Stomp.” These skills were practiced frequently throughout the weeks of our training. Uncle Sam was mass producing killers.
To be continued in Chapter 13, Drilling and Marching….