Tiger Tiger Burning Bright

by Mark Chmiel

They’ve got to be late 60s
Some early 70s
Same age as Gary Roi—
Now what was Gary doing back in 1968
When the men of Tiger Force went about their war?

How many of the Tigers did jail time?
Have any of them become mayor someplace?
How many of them killed themselves?
Have any of them made a million?
How many of them at least once beat their wives to a pulp?
Have any of them never lost a night of sleep?

You hear people thanking veterans “for their service.”
One of the Tigers “had once worn necklaces of human ears and tied a scalp on the end of his rifle as a trophy.”
Did anyone thank him for his service?

One of the Tigers said, “Shoot anything that moves.”
Did anyone thank him for his service?

Four Tiger teams burned 200 villagers’ huts.
Did anyone thank them for that service?

“Doyle and the others [were] smirking as they walked away from the village after the killing”
Did anyone thank them for their service?

One Tiger said, “It was all about body count. Our commanders just wanted body count.”
Did anyone thank the commanders for their service?

–from novel-in-progress, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris

–quotations from Michael Sallah and Mitch Weiss, Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War

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