Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Jimmy Mack

Jimmy Mack, our infantry squad leader, was a short, chubby, black guy with a baby-face, and absolutely no charm. Jimmy Mack was a corporal and a lifer bucking for his third stripe before he rotated to Nam. We were a hash-smoking, beer-drinking, slacker outfit enjoying easy German duty, and resented his ambition. No one had been fragged in Germany, but Jimmy Mack was a prime candidate.

We were in Hohenfels doing our winter field maneuvers, and were out on an exercise with live ammunition. Our squad was moving through a wooded area, on the look-out for silhouettes to blow to smithereens. Jimmy didn’t have much control over the squad, and we were moving around willy-nilly, dropping prone, or to our knees as the spirit took us. I was in the middle of the squad, on my knees, rifle to shoulder, trying to sight through the other guys, when, lo-and-behold, there was Jimmy Mack not ten feet in front of me, right in my line of fire, and I had a bead on the back of his little, lifer head.

Oh, those relativity blues as time stretched out, and I had to make up my mind about Jimmy Mack’s one way ticket home. As our luck would have it I chose to ease my finger off the trigger. I committed no act of murder, and Jimmy Mack lived another day.

A couple of months later, after Jimmy Mack got his much wished for transfer to Nam, word got back to us that Sergeant Jimmy Mack was no longer of this world. I guess his number was up, and it didn’t matter all that much that I didn’t cash it in, it got cashed in anyway.

“Jimmy, Jimmy, oh Jimmy Mack, when are you comin’ back? Oh, Jimmy…”
Martha & the Vandellas


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