Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Winter Memory: Warm Thoughts

Looking forward to 2022, I took a look back to 2018 when La Bloga shared this soldier's tale. What a life that kid has in store for him, in fact, all these guys in the foto, not just the vato holding the camera.

A Soldier's Life: Small Moments Last Forever

Michael Sedano

I met Radowski my first night at Bravo Battery, Seventh of the Fifth Air Defense Artilliery (HAWK). In the snowy photograph, he’s the big guy to the right of the soldiers, left of the foto. Radowski was a cook. Cole, Robledo, Lopez, and Hughes were Alpha firing crew, and Perales was fire control. 

Hwaak-ni nestled with stunning isolation in the valley formed by the juncture of two mountains in the Republic of Korea. My mountain, Mae Bong, a legend as “the highest and ruggedest HAWK site in world.” A sign said so, I believed it, and so did the other 70 men assigned here for a year. 

Generating electricity burns lots of diesel so the compound doesn’t have a lot of light. The surrounding dark and thick humid air sounds of crickets, the running stream, and raucous laughter. 

Right now, I point myself toward the only light in front of me. Behind me, the light above the door to my hootch casts a long shadow that points to the mess hall. The Sergeant’s orientation rings in my ears. 

“Sedano, you play your cards right and Korea is the best duty in the world. You report straight here do not go to morning formation. You go up on the mountain two days, down for one like clockwork.” He’s saved the best for last.

“Get yourself a nice yobo. Korean women know how to treat a man. My Daisy sure does. You keep her in soap and cigarettes and she’ll take care of you.”

I wondered, was it a translation? “How did you find a girl way out here named ‘Daisy'?”

The Sergeant had a hearty laugh and demonstrated it. “Sedano, you can name them anything you want.”

The chow hall door is propped open and the laughter easily pours out of the screen door. I step in and six guys stand around a table. Radowski is arm wrestling all comers. Two guys sit down while I watch and Radowski dispatches them easily. Radowski exults, challenging anyone to have a seat.

Not knowing anyone and no one knowing me, I step up to the table. “I can take you left handed.”

Radowski swells to the challenge “Oh yeah?” 


Radowski rolls up the teeshirt on his left arm. The ref announces, “the new guy against Radowski! Ready…” he pulls his hand up and says “Go!”

The big white boy is strong. He’s from the San Fernando Valley, played high school football and joined the Army to escape a drug bust. He’s a downer freak and becomes a good friend. Tonight, Radowski strains to no avail and slowly his arm weakens and mine begins to exert leverage.

The battery champion pinches his lips together and in the humidity sweats profusely but Radowski loses. The crowd isn’t happy. Their boy lost to the new guy and no one knows who he is. Radowski’s injured ego demands a right handed match.

In a second, I have the crowd screaming and hollering laughing and giving Radowski a hard time. I tell them I’m left handed.

1 comment:

HW Bill W Sparks said...

I remember my tour further down south at Alpha 1st Battalion, 2nd Air Defense - the winter was brutal in 1973-74 - there was a fuel crisis - everyone was cold.