Because the Other Guys Needed Him

“Private Carlson felt a sudden blow and sharp pain in his right knee. It felt like someone had taken a knife and held it to his knee and then driven it in with a sledgehammer. He glanced down to see blood rapidly staining his pants. He said a prayer and kept shooting. He had been wildly scared for longer than he had ever felt that way in his life, and now he thought he might literally die of fright. His heart banged in his chest and he found it hard to breathe. His head was filled with the sounds of shooting and explosions and visions of his friends, one by one, going down, and blood splashed everywhere oily and sticky with its dank, coppery smell and he figured, This is it for me. And then, at that moment of maximum terror, he felt it all abruptly, inexplicably fall away. One second he was paralyzed with fear and pain and the next… he had stopped caring about himself.

He would think about this a lot later, and the best he could explain it was, his own life no longer mattered. All that did matter were his buddies, his brothers, that they not get hurt, that they not get killed. These men around him, some of whom he had only known for months, were more important to him than life itself. It was like when Telscher ran out on the road to pull Joyce back in. Carlson understood that now, and it was heroic, but it also wasn’t heroic. At a certain level he knew Telscher had made no choice, just as he was not choosing to be unafraid. It just happened to him, like he passed through a barrier. He had to keep fighting, because the other guys needed him.”

~ Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down (p. 120)

8 thoughts on “Because the Other Guys Needed Him”

  1. Wow. *mentally files for reference for next time she has to describe a character in a similar situation*

  2. Wow, that is a powerful piece of writing there. I’ve heard good things about the movie (specifically, that men act like men…..for a change), and I’m assuming the book is just as good. :)

    1. Black Hawk Down is a truly magnificent book. I’m almost done with it, and I’m certain it will be a favorite. Ridley Scott’s film adaption is brilliant, too – one of my all-time favorite war movies. And yes, you heard right: there are no wimpy men to be found there. :)

  3. Wow. That looks really good! I like that second part. Not being selfish, but not being heroic either. Just doing what needs to be done. That’s a man for you! And, like CG said, I like it when men act like men!!

    Thanks for sharing this. :)

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