What a heart-breaking sight that will surely make even a hard-boiled cynic cry. Two battle-hardened police commandos, clutching with one hand their berets—one of the symbols of the unit to which they proudly belong —weeping, while embracing with their other hand the flag-draped coffin of a dead comrade-in-arm. But that emotion-filled scene may have an ominous significance.
The rigorous training of any soldier has steeled him physically and mentally that the rattle of automatic gunfire is to him a musical symphony. The thud of artillery shell fired from a mortar or a howitzer, or a bomb dropped from a bomber airplane, is to him like the pounding of the bass drum of his regiment’s band. The whiz of a rocket from an attack helicopter and the explosion that follows are just like a New Year’s eve revelry. But when that tough and battle-hardened and battle-scarred soldier cries, then his heart can no longer bear his anguish, his whole-being seething with anger over the death of a comrade-in-arm. A dead comrade-in-arm who may have been his training buddy; his bunkmate at their quarters; a fellow soldier at either his left or his right during an assault on an enemy position, or the one who was wounded and frantically calling out for help but later on succumbing to his wounds. That anguish, that anger is further exacerbated by the knowledge that his superior was in a position to help but did not do so for reasons he cannot fathom. And worst, not a single sincere word of sympathy from that superior—only platitudes, only promises, only empty rhetoric.
That single teardrop, therefore, can create a ripple, then a wave and finally a tsunami that can engulf all those whom the soldier feels were responsible for the death of his comrade. When that time comes, may God have mercy on their souls!
Jose A. Oliveros, Captain, 0-112135, is part of the Reserve Force, Judge Advocate General Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines.