By Callie Oettinger | Published: February 13, 2012
It was time to air out.
The men sat down to remove their boots and socks.
Their feet were wet.
Their socks were wet.
Their boots were wet.
The three combined provide the perfect conditions for jungle rot (if you imagine the men in Vietnam) or Trench rot (if you imagine them in WWI).
* * *
I asked Dad what he learned from Vietnam. He shared a few things, but the one I always think back to is: Keep your feet dry.
I expected him to go down the leadership and battles road. He paused and shared a bit at the fork and then went down the seemingly-little-things-that-matter-practical route.
Wear dry socks. Mucked-up feet will take you – and your brothers – down.
Don’t take shortcuts. It’s easier to walk along the side of a cleared road than it is to clear your own path in the jungle. Don’t go with what is easy.
Trust your instincts. This one arrived via an interview Steve Pressfield did with Gen. Sam V. Wilson, July 2010:
You are going along a jungle trail in North Burma when suddenly a voice in your head says, Duck Sam, Duck Sam, Duck!
And a Jap Nambu light machine gun cuts the empty air where you had been standing.
The almost unnoticed odor of fish heads and rice and the slight discoloration in the leaves of the branches camouflaging the enemy machine gun telegraphed danger to you without your being fully conscious of it. Trust your instincts.
* * *
Big-picture war stories often are about battles. The lessons learned and shared take the form of strategies developed, weapons used, and so on.
If you have the opportunity to ask a veteran, ask about the things that kept him or her operating and alive, and you’ll find that the stories and examples shared are quite simple—as simple as “Keep your feet dry.”