Ernest Hemingway said authors should write what they know. With the world turning into a COVID battlefield, I may know a little about surviving on a battlefield. One of the first things taught to Marine officers is how to avoid an ambush. You avoid trails which are perfect sites for ambushes, especially L-shaped ambushes, ideal for a murderous crossfire. With COVID, that means avoiding large groups of people. Marines use point (front), flank (side), and rear security elements, spreading out your people, so you could uncover an ambush before they get all of you and so one grenade or machine gun won’t get everyone.
With COVID, your security is a mask and keeping your distance from others. If you do get caught in an ambush, all Marines are taught to run toward the shooters while firing. It’s not a macho thing—it’s getting out of the kill zone which is designed to kill everything over six inches tall with grazing, flanking, enfilade fire. If you get out of the kill zone and charge the shooters, while you are shooting, you have a chance to survive. We practiced these immediate action drills many times. It’s been 50 years, but I can flip the selector switch on an M-16 to fully automatic with my thumb in my sleep. With COVID, your vaccine is your M-16 on full-automatic. It’s your chance to get out of the kill zone and fight back.
Each October, a team of Marine friends and I run the Marine Corps Marathon and 10-K in Washington. A number are Vietnam veterans, and we’ve all had the same training. When I told them I do not plan to come this year because of COVID, one of them also decided not to come and repeated my comment, “Don’t walk into an ambush.”
Daniel F. Kirk
Capt., Marines 1973-77