{Captain} Willis came abreast of him, his M-16 pointed at the man's chest. They stood not five feet apart. The soldier's AK-47 was pointed straight at Willis.
The captain vigorously shook his head.
The NVA soldier shook his head just as vigorously.
It was a truce, cease-fire, gentleman's agreement or a deal . . . The soldier sank back into the darkness and Willis stumbled on.
On Killing is a book about "The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society." and it was written by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman in 1995-1996.

This book gained some noteriety due to it's claimed relation between video games and decreased value of human life. I, personally, have trouble with that claim, which is made in section VIII, "Killing in America: What are we Doing to our Children?" However, due to the set-up Grossman gives, and so it seems quite plausible to someone with little experience w/r/t gaming.

The rest of the book, however, is really quite interesting, filled with anecdotes from Vietnam, WWII, Korea, and other conflict Veterans, and studies of distance from the victim and it's effects on the mind of the killer.

On the back of this book (at least my copy) a statistic is given:

In World War II, only 15-20 percent of combat infantry were willing to fire their rifles. In Korea, about 50 percent. In Vietnam, the figure rose to over 90 percent."
This book tries to figure out how that "improvement" was done (in short, mental conditioning), and what it cost in terms of mental stress.

A few more quotes:

"'Killing can be like sex," he told me, 'and you can get carried away with it; it can consume you just like sex can.'"
and
"This process {the link of sex and shooting} can be seen in pornographic movies in chich the sexual act is twisted, such that the male ejaculates -- or 'shoots his wad" -- into a female's face . . . ejaculating into the victim's face is at some level an act of domination and symbolic destruction."
and
"'I had my forty-five in my hand,' he said, "and the point of his bayonet was no further than you are from me when I shot him. After everything had settled down I helped search his body, you know, for intelligence purposes, and I found a photograph.'
"Then there was a long pause, and he continued. 'It was a picture of his wife, and these two beautiful children. Ever since' -- and here tears begain to roll down his cheeks, although his voice remained firm and steady -- 'I've been haunted by the thought of these two beautiful children growing up without their father because I murdered their daddy. I'm not a young man anymore, and soon I'll have to answer to my Maker for what I have done.'"
Related to the last one, sometimes there are addresses on the back of the photos, and one vet says, "You know, I always meant to send them back."

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