Back in late October of 1983, I answered the phone at our battalion headquarters at three in the morning. A clearly terrified officer gave me orders to awaken my unit, and to call him back to tell him I understood and had received the orders.
“This isn’t an exercise is it, sir?” I asked.
“I wish it was,” he said.
The next twenty-four or so hours were chaotic. We didn’t have the internet, no cell phones, no way to find out what was happening out there in the world, and we didn’t have televisions in the barracks or even in the offices. No one knew anything. We loaded all our gear, were given live ammunition, and waited on the tarmac of the airfield, to either go or not go, to where and to fight who we had no idea.
As it turned out, we had invaded the tiny island of Grenada, which was poorly defended, and the whole operation was over in a day or so.
It rattled me, and other soldiers as well, for we had no idea something like this was going to happen, and we witnessed some very serious flaws in our chains of command. A dozen or so soldiers deserted rather than take that first step by going to the airport, and all of them were very quietly discharged.
One of my main drinking buddies was a guy from the Seattle area. His sister was barely eighteen, and she sent letters to him expressing fear from a serial killer, a man they called “The Green River Killer” who preyed mostly on prostitutes but to be a young woman in that part of the world was frightening. There was a correlation, we decided while drinking, between the chain of command we suffered under, and that of a police department who couldn’t catch a man who had killed at least ten women, and likely more.
Suddenly, and without warning, it’s 2022.
I was listening to an audio book, last Sunday, November the 13th. “The Search for the Green River Killer: The True Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer
by Carlton Smith, and Tomas Guillen” and the story arrived at a part where a young woman was trying to catch a snake in a vacant lot, when she uncovered a bone, and then a human skull. The date she found the body was Sunday, November 13th, 1983, about the same time I was sitting, drinking, and talking about the Green River Killer.
The irony here, is America loss nineteen dead in the invasion of Grenada, and Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, was convicted in 48 deaths, and likely murdered even more than that. We put an incredible amount of effort into that battle, hundreds of men, millions of dollars, and it was over in a couple of days, while at one point, two detectives were everyone assigned to catch a serial killer.
Coincidence brings this together today, decades old memories, and long lost friends. Murder and war, terrified women on the streets trying to survive, and young men, staring down the second oldest profession, that of a soldier, wondering if they have what it takes to prove themselves in battle.
There’s a lot to unpack here, you know.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit.
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