Part 2 (Please see Light Shines on My Mutiny Quash for Part 1 )
I had never felt so proud of anything — ever — as I was of their unselfish act of rebellion. For two hours, they put themselves on the line. No, they didn’t expose themselves to a firefight. (That would come later). But, they were willing to face military sanctions, Article 15s and possibly a court-martial for someone they believed truly looked out for their welfare.
I ended up betraying their trust. I tried to convince them to end their hold-out, to give up a fight they could not win. I could not agree with their arguments without showing a contempt and total disrespect for a superior officer, the battalion commander, who would be “passed over,” not promoted because of a low “body count.” He ended up relieving two out of the three young lieutenants in my company. The Viet Cong had shot and killed the third remaining junior officer.
I lied to this one young man I had “cross-trained” as a medic and a rifleman. He would fill in should we be unable to get to the regular medic, assigned to the another squad. I remember speaking to him as if it was yesterday. He was from Brooklyn, New York. He reminded me of myself, a lot of spunk for a small guy, along with a bit of a “mouth” and very little respect for authority. “Tell me it isn’t so,” he said; that I wasn’t “let go;” that I would continue to be their “LT.”
Looking him in the eye. I told him what was needed to convince the others to get on the choppers and fly out of base camp. It was a lie. I lost a bit of innocence that day. I lost some integrity, a small part of my soul.
That has haunted me since. Until tonight, when I meditated with a group and we focused on healing past moments in our lives. By using this technique, I was able, for the first time, to view this incident not with the eyes of a 21-year-old inexperienced young man, but with the eyes of the “Higher Self.” I knew what I did was right. As a matter of fact, I now know that I had the law to back me up. Criminal Law, which I have learned from 20 years of practice.
You see, the common law, now codified into state statutes as well as in military practice, allows for a defense when a person commits one criminal act to prevent a far more serious act from occurring. For example, you break into a house to rescue someone from a fire. If you had not committed a burglary, the one in the house might have died.
Had I not taken the action I did, my men would have faced punishment under military law and the possibility of dishonorable discharges. I can now say I would have done the same thing, had I to do it all over again. Back then, however, I could not see that through the pain I felt. Nor did I have the wisdom to know the difference between one single principle and how an act of love, compassion and understanding could provide for the good of the many.