The unforgiven

“For [Sergeant First Class] Bill Richardson, the decisions they made after he returned to the perimeter proved the most painful he ever experienced. Nothing that happened in the next few days, or far that matter in the rest of his life, measured up to it. There were perhaps 150 wounded men there by then, and there was no way any of them could take the dangerous trip out at night under enemy fire in mountainous terrain, at least not without compromising the able-bodied men. All of the wounded in the perimeter knew what was up. None of them wanted to be left behind for the Chinese. Soon after his return, some of them who were still partially ambulatory started coming up to Richardson, crying, telling him not to leave them, please, dear God, not to leave them, not for the Chinese, please dear God take them, don’t leave them there to die. Was it possible, he wondered, to do your duty, to follow the orders of your superiors, orders you agreed with in the end, and get as many men out as best you could, and yet feel worse about yourself as a human being? Do you ever forgive yourself for some of the things you do in life? It was a question he would still be asking himself a half century later.” – David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter

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