Adrenaline and Killer Robots

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Erick W. Miller

When my adrenaline came out the first time, it was like I was being electrocuted. My whole body shook violently for a few seconds which seemed like an eternity when it was happening. After the shaking stopped, I was able to function as the situation demanded. Some people freeze which can be fatal in a war zone. This is especially true in the infantry where many situations demand immediate action. I am grateful that I’m not the freezing type.

The second time that my adrenaline came out, the only physical manifestation was that my scalp was rippling in waves, a piece of cake after my earlier electrocution. Shortly after that, the war came up and swallowed my battalion and for that matter, most of I-Corps, including places that grunts used to think of as safe. Most of us had adrenaline flowing by then. Probably only the new guys felt anything at all. Anyway, I couldn’t feel it any more other than a heightened sense of awareness.

Some of the guys that froze got med-evaced, some got killed, some got lucky, and some hid. The rest of us continued to march. We became like robots going through the jungle on automatic pilot. The system must have worked because once the real soldiers were sorted out, we functioned quite well. Natural leaders emerged and kept order. I have only sporadic memories of my last few months in the bush, but I was a point-man and I lived.

Freezing is only good if you’re a bird dog because pheasants and other Disney characters that the mighty hunters go after are unarmed. This brings me to another subject that deserves some mention. Just because a man never fails to bring home a deer or whatever unarmed creature that he’s terrifying doesn’t mean that he can stand up in combat. The same goes for paint ball war games. You may win every time, but believe me when I say that people behave a lot differently when the bullets are real. I’ve seen enough human popsicles to know this. Most of the hunters that I know have never been in combat.

Many times I’ve questioned their motives for hunting. Most of them don’t really need the meat. It costs money to hunt, money that could be spent on food. Guys, stop kidding yourselves, there is no substitution for the real thing.