Re: Military Terminology

John Baky (
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 15:38:35 -0400


Now that you describe the circumstances of the soldier in question I
recognize it as having been talked about in various places over the years -
especially the death at the hand of the shopkeeper in civilian life. I
think I have even seen this circumstance portrayed in some of the "C" movies
of which you know I have an obscene number. It is almost custom-made to
reflect the mythopoeic nature of the returned and fatally crazed vet.

Another interesting thing is that the description you posted about the
maniacal state of the soldier engaged in combat is one that is formalized in
the classical Greek concepts of Miles Furens and Miles Glorioso. These two
concepts were drawn to high detail in the Roman adaptation (I am assuming
that the Greeks were there first.) The "miles furens" is a concept also
reflected in the Nordic figuration of the Berserker and the Arabic dervish.
The miles glorioso, of course, is best seen in Falstaff, Custer, and me when
under the influence of drugs.

In any case, there are many many examples of both kinds of figures in the
video of the war. As you know, these two concepts have becomes actual
tropes as translated from the images in which they occur in the video.

In a New York Times account of this vet's story (I
>can't recall the name right now), his friends from service recalled the
>crazed violence this vet demonstrated under fire, noting how he finally
>had to be held down and given morphine when rescued. In both the poem
>and in the original story, the vet's tank patrol is ambushed by
>Vietnamese and almost all US personnel were killed, tanks blown up, and
>Louis/the real vet saved just a couple of US soldiers
>and also single-handedly killed 25 Vietnamese, sometimes beating them to
>death with his rifle butt.
John S. Baky
Director of Libraries
Connelly Library
La Salle University
1900 W. Olney Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19141

Phone: (215) - 951-1285 or 1286
Fax : (215) 951-1595