It’s been a couple of weeks since my last story, not because I couldn’t find the material to write, but because I was doing some training in an area where the bandwidth left something to be desired. I’m back home now, so expect to get the rest of this series in rapid succession. WITHOUT FURTHER ADO…
HN1 Jason Balacy, AKA – “Doc,” “PJ” or “The Monk” – Anyone who has seen the 1982 movie “Conan the Barbarian” is familiar with the character named Subotai, the hard-core Asian guy who is best friends with the titular character. Make him about 20 old, give him a Navy haircut and a suppressed M4, and you have Doc Balacy.
…and this guy
Doc Balacy was our Corpsman, which is what they call a combat medic on loan from the Navy to the Marine Corps. He had a very quiet and thoughtful personality, and was very good at listening to and retaining information. Maybe it’s just another Asian stereotype, but he always seemed to be in a semi-meditative state.
The funny thing about Doc Balacy is that he had a surprising amount of tactical sense. An unfortunate commonality with Corpsmen is a low experience level in infantry basics, but every now and then you get that Golden Child Corpsman who leveled up +500 on tac skills, and is just as good in a firefight as he is in a Battalion Aid Station. That’s the Doc Balacy.
Remember the firefight where Murphy decided to dick punch a bomb with his face? Cpl Patino pulled me aside right afterwards and said, “I need to talk to you about Doc.” Judging from his tone of voice, I was prepared to hear that Balacy was talking to trees, or tongue-punching the bore of his rifle or something.
“Dude, Doc knows his s#%t,” Patino said. If you know anything about Patino, that’s high praise indeed. He then went into detail on how Balacy was pointing out gaps in security, good avenues of approach, key terrain, and the whole spectrum of KOCOA (go ahead and Google it) while under fire. My veteran brothers will appreciate that he is an E-3 in the Navy. Like a Boss.
My everlasting memory of Doc Balacy revolves around his actions the day Patino was killed. After sprinting over 1000 meters uphill, Doc did life-saving interventions and continued to work on his patient until the MEDEVAC bird landed an hour or two later. Now that I’m a medic in the Army, I can look back and understand what he was doing. There isn’t a single thing I could think about doing better than was done, and I’m an excellent armchair quarterback. What hits me the most is that he must have known that Patino was gone, but he never stopped trying to reverse death. True, a Corpsman is required to continue care until MEDEVAC, but he did it with everything he had. While no Corpman or Medic really wants to have to do lifesaving interventions on one of their buddies, Balacy performed his job under fire with expertise and maximum effort.
Even if none of the above had happened, Doc Balacy introduced me to the cinematic classic, “Black Dynamite,” and I’ll be eternally grateful for that.
Cpl Billy Bob, AKA – “The Jew” – Why such an obviously ethnic nickname given to a man who is about as far from Jewish as Kim Kardashian is from Mensa International?
Quite simply because a man could ski down his nose. The olfactory portion of his cranium was substantial enough to warrant such a blatantly racist name, and in no way did any of us shy away from making anti-Semitic jokes to him. If he ever decided to put on a man dress and shemagh (which he often did), he could pass for a 6 foot tall Haji.
It’s all a harmless joke guys…please don’t sue me…
Billy Bob was a strange mixture of goofiness and lethality. I have it from separate sources that he killed anywhere between 30 and 40 enemy fighters with just his rifle. Not CAS, Indirect Fire, or machine guns, but one at a time with a semi-auto sniper rifle. For those “not in the know,” that’s a lot of bad guys in a seven month time period, and he did it all with a really weird sense of humor and a nasal voice. I may have heard rumors of him getting a kill or two either in a pair of silkies or butt naked (depending on the source). I wasn’t there for that particular episode, so I can neither confirm nor deny it, but I really want to believe it.
Update: As of 1545 on 23 August 2015, I have confirmation on both of these rumors.
He was a dedicated Christian and a gifted musician. He never cursed, except once that I know of. During a particularly intense firefight, a platoon from Kilo Company was coming to us to help return fire, because bros before…getting killed, or something. They were taking their rather sweet time (what with the bullets flying about in the air and such), and in between the snaps of enemy fire passing overhead and impacting around us, Billy Bob yelled, “Hurry the hell up!”
That’s it. No F-bombs, no string of pent-up profanities. Just that, and an apology to us a few hours later for cursing while people were trying to kill us. Seriously. W. T. F. Over?
My favorite memory of Billy Bob is how he turned me into a liar. As far as enemy kills go, he was arguably the most successful of us. When he got out of the Marine Corps, he got a regular job, settled down with his wife and child, and generally just walked away. He wasn’t screwed up by any of it, or have some weird attachment to shooting bad guys in the face, he simply left it all behind. I would always talk about him to my friends as proof that a man could endure intense combat, the horrors of killing, and the crippling stress of war, but then come home and be unaffected by it all. He was proof of the hope I had that those of us who miss combat will eventually be able to be at peace with our families and happy with our normal lives.
I got a phone call from him a couple of months ago. The Jew is in an undisclosed branch of special operations now. You suck, Jew.
In the final chapter of our series: The Snipers of Shadow 2 Part 3: Patty and Hall