2nd Infantry Division
Camp Casey, 15 km from the DMZ
Army Intelligence Detachment HQ
Dongducheon, South Korea
0800 hours Sierra
Comment of the Moment: “We had a two-hour window. It’s been thirty minutes since the cave-in.”
At thirty minutes after SFC Slover had gone to his billet to clean up, he, Aleumdaun and the other three stood at the edge of the gaping hole inside the Camp Casey cantonment. Their scooters were parked behind them.
Aleumdaun asked, “It’s not a very big hole, is it?”
Barely noticing her, Slover replied, “Nope, it’s about six feet by eight feet. It narrows at the bottom. Then it curves toward the tunnel. I slid eight into the tunnel.”
She queried, “Did you injure yourself when you fell?”
He replied, “Uh...well, I actually slid about forty feet into a mound of mud. I scared myself more than anything else. It reminded me of Afghanistan.”
“Your friends told me you shouted something at them.”
Reluctantly turning to face her, he said, “Ah, um, well, yeah, I did.”
“Something about Foxtrot?
He stammered, “I, ah, um, well, yes, I shouted ‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!”
She pondered, “I’ve never heard that term before. What does it mean?”
Not willing to come right out and say the meaning, he lied, “Uh, it’s an old Army saying.”
“Okay, what does it mean?”
He cleared his throat, “Um, well, basically, it’s ah, it’s an emergency shout for ‘help me,’” he lied.
“Oh,” she remarked. “I’ll have to remember that.
“What happened to you in Afghanistan that was like going down in a hole?”
A pained look crossed his face. He said, “My psyche was damaged.”
“Your psyche? What happened?”
He replied, “I’m damaged goods. I don’t want to talk about it!”
Smiling at him with the smile reaching her eyes, she said an understanding, “Okay.” Instead, she asked him, “May I tell you a riddle that we tell in our villages?”
“A riddle, a mystery.”
“Uhm, yeah, sure, I like mysteries, but you’ll have to hurry. We don’t have much time.”
“Okay! It comes in three parts. I’ll tell you just the first part.
“In my home village, there was a young girl. She was of the age to marry. She liked a local boy. The boy was of the age to become a man and set out on his life’s journey. They were not married to each other. The boy told the girl he was setting out to make his fortune. She told him, “I will go with you. I will cook your food, and I will mend your clothing, but I will not serve as your wife. I just want to be with you to make sure you are safe.
“The boy said he agreed, and they set off.
“Now, the question for this first part is, why did she agree to fix his food and mend his clothing?”
Slover replied, “Um, hmm, I don’t know right off-hand. I think she was nuts right off-hand. Who would agree to do something like that without compensation?
“Why did she do it?”
“That was my question to you. Why would she do it?”
He shook his head, “I don’t know. I like to get paid for what I do. Why wouldn’t she?”
Aleumdaun shook her head, and asked, “Will you think about it?”
He asked, “What about the other parts of the story?”
“We don’t have time for me to tell the other parts of the story right now, but they all come together to tell the whole story, all for the same reason. Just think about why a girl would tell a boy setting out on his life’s journey she would feed him and clothe him.”
Slover asked, “In the Korean culture is it significant for a woman to offer to feed and mend the clothing of a man?
She answered, “Yes. It’s one way a woman can tell a man she loves him without just coming right out and saying the words, ‘I love you.’
“Also, it is sometimes a way for a woman to tell a man she would like to get to know him better by spending time with him.”
He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Okay.”
As he turned away, he thought, “The woman is loopy.”
Changing the subject, Slover turned to Mungo and said, “Top, I need to tell you something.”
His forehead wrinkled with concern, Mungo asked, “What’s that Slove?”
“While I was down there waiting for you guys to pull me out, I saw conduit lines for electrical service.”
“What do you mean? Like for lighting?”
“The tunnel was lighted toward the DMZ but not toward Seoul. But I could swear I saw 1000Base-...