I’ve been mulling over the thought that maybe it takes a brave man to admit he’s scared. I think anyone in their right mind gets afraid once in a while. Someone remarked long ago that “So-and-so doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘fear’, poor chap can’t even spell it.” That may be a way of saying that there’s something wrong with someone who has never known fear.
So, if everyone gets scared, I guess it’s what they do about it that makes the difference. I think maybe it’s a cliche that men don’t fight for Queen and Country, or even for their regiment, but for the men in their section. That may be true sometimes, just as acts of courage are often done in the heat of the moment, sometimes in anger and rage, with little thought for the consequences. If you don’t think you’re going to die, are you really brave? But I think in many more cases it’s fear of being thought a coward by the rest of the section that makes someone stick things out and not take to their heels. No-one wants to be the first to break in a group in which a lot of time and effort has been invested in trying to earn the respect of the others. Often continuing to risk death seems a better option than running, or, as I’ve seen a couple times, rolling up into a ball and whimpering.
There’s a guy I know that I’ve got a lot of time for. He was in the Special Forces and saw a lot of action. Then he lost his bottle. He couldn’t go on and he transferred to the Military Police. Not the safest job in the Army but safer than what he’d been doing. Only the blow-hards, the guys who talk tough but never seem to be there when the excrement hits the rotating blade, failed to respect his decision. There were times in which I wish I had his courage, the courage to say “Enough, no more”.