OSCAR SELTZER

Sergeant | Medical Corps

Mortars rained down and gunfire blasted through the bunkers of the small outpost, startling everyone from their sleep and surprising those on watch.  A band of Chinese soldiers had snuck around the back of the horseshoe shaped outpost silently until opening up with submachine guns to break the dark calm.  Sergeant Seltzer woke immediately, his eyes wide and a bit disoriented as he fumbled and stumbled through his bunker toward the cries for medic.  He made it halfway toward his comrade when he walked into an enemy soldier brandishing a burp gun.  Realizing he had no weapon to fight with, he lunged at the soldier, swinging punches and trying to wrestle the gun away from him.  He felt little control over his limbs and flailed wildly, hoping to strike the man in some way to incapacitate him when a scathing pain erupted in his body.

 

He clutched his abdomen and chest searching for the source of the pain and crumbled to the ground in shock, no longer aware of his hand-to-hand adversary as he realized he had been shot across his body from his hip through his back and chest.  Oscar tried to keep his senses and pulled himself up.  Breathing was immediately laborious and he felt like part of his hip was shattered and could not put pressure on his left leg.  He rolled onto his right side and called out between short gasps to challenge his wounded comrade who replied weakly.

 

Seltzer pulled himself up on his hands and knees and dragged himself toward the voice.  He was not cognizant of how much time had passed since he was struck down or where any of the Chinese were, but focused all of his energy on crawling toward his squadmate.  He felt as though he was going to slip away at any moment, whether passing out from pain or blood loss or maybe this was just what dying felt like.

 

*

 

The bodies of eleven men lay strewn around the outpost as dawn broke on Easter Sunday.  A few hundred yards away with L Company, Cloyce O’Dell looked at the scene across the quiet valley where watched early that morning as the outpost quickly fell to the surprise assault.  He would never forget being witness to the event. 

 

The party from M Company who investigated the scene that morning found all of the members of the outpost dead.  Oscar Seltzer slumped over the body of one of his comrades, a trail of blood soaked into the dirt where the aid man dragged himself on hands and knees after being fatally shot.  In his wake lay a miscellany of supplies that he struggled to pull out from his pockets.  His nails and hands were soiled with dirt and caked with dried blood of his own and the other soldier.  Bruised knuckles and flesh wounds on his arms told only a fraction of the story of his altercation with the Chinese soldier, but it was enough to indicate a degree of heroism to the soldiers shuffling among the lifeless bunkers that Sunday morning.

    EXHAUSTING & DIRTY WORK - THE RCM COLLECTION

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