The Gurkha - Badass of the Month August 2010
As the story goes...
Once upon a time a Gurkha sergeant was told by his UK commander that his men would soon be jumping into enemy territory. After conferring with his unit, he returned to the commander to inform him that the men would rather jump from below 500ft on to marshy ground. 'But your parachutes won't open,' said the Colonel. 'Ah,' said the sergeant. 'No one mentioned parachutes.'
However, that story is somewhat apocryphal. So here's a verified one, of a soldier named Lachhiman Gurung, from the actual text of his citation for the Victoria Cross (which is essentially the United Kingdom's equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor):
On 12/13 May 1945 at Taungdaw, Burma (now Myanmar), Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung was manning the most forward post of his platoon which bore the brunt of an attack by at least 200 of the Japanese enemy. Twice he hurled back grenades which had fallen on his trench, but the third exploded in his right hand, blowing off his fingers, shattering his arm and severely wounding him in the face, body and right leg.
His two comrades were also badly wounded but the rifleman, now alone and disregarding his wounds, loaded and fired his rifle with his left hand for four hours, calmly waiting for each attack which he met with fire at point blank range. Afterwards, when the casualties were counted, it is reported that there were 31 dead Japanese around his position which he had killed, with only one arm
Repelling 200 attackers literally single-handedly, sums up the Gurkha very well; almost as well as their trademark kukri short swords. It is that short sword which inspired this month's column.
Believe it or not, I didn't start this article as a "Badass of the Month" award but as one for "Douchebag of the Month". You see, there was a story in the news a few weeks back about a team of Ghurka on a mission in Afghanistan to hunt down and kill a high value commander of the Taliban's forces. The individual was of such importance that they were ordered to bring back his body to be identified beyond question.
However, transporting a dead human body is an arduous task. And it's even more difficult when you're trying to move it under enemy fire while taking casualties of your own.
So, if you're a quick-witted member of a team of soldiers known for their fierce fighting skills and fiercer blades, do you:
a.) Continue dragging a 150-200lb sack of meat and bones while losing squad members and jeopardizing the completion of the mission.
b.) Employ the tool for which you're world-renowned reduce your load to about by about 150 lbs, so you can both complete your mission and save the lives of your fellow soldiers?
Hrm... let's see...
Yeah, the answer is FUCKING B.
But why was this going to be a "Douchebag of the Month" award? That's because the Gurkha soldier who correctly went with Option B, shortly after completing his mission, was ejected from Afghanistan and returned to the UK to face disciplinary action.
Yeah, that's right, do your mission, survive, and get burned for it.
But wait, the UK military brass must have had a good reason for the decision, right? Of course they did! After all, in the local culture to behead someone is...
Oh yeah, I forgot; shut the **** up.
So this month's column is dedicated to the unnamed Gurkha, and all Gurkha soldiers of the past century. We're glad you're on our side, and are proud to have you supporting our mission, even if your commanders are not.