Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Quelling Fear

Thanks to those who asked questions, as it gives me topics to write on that perhaps I might not of thought about, 21st Century Mom (Great Blog linked below) posed this question?

When you are sitting on the edge of war, camera in hand, unable to listen to music, how do you quell your fear?

There are few times when I actually feel "fear" in a combat zone. Given the amount of times I have been exposed to dangerous zones. But I do, like the fear of being slimed during the invasion of Iraq or sitting in a humvee being a magnet for incoming RPG's in Ramadi Iraq.

I remember those times and the reality is that there is nothing you can do and this is when I do have fear, it is that absolute feeling of sickness in your stomach, it comes in spasms and the terror is often that you cannot do anything about it. It always tends to be in moments when nothing is directly happening as in being underfire.

I do not want to sound like an adrenaline or war junkie, but being in any situation where fear comes into the play, your senses are risen to a level that is hard to explain. But always the most over riding factor is planning and experience. Knowing where to go, what to do, and being able to make fast rational decisions, when you are working at these levels there is no time for fear.

Without a doubt experience is the most important weapon in my arsenal of survival, no shot is worth dying for, and the aim everytime I go somewhere is not to get into a situation I cannot control, and if it happens and it does on a more regular basis than I wish for. It is the ability to maintain control of your own senses and use them to get the hell out of dodge.

In a combat zone a matter of a couple of hundred meters is generally all that separates you from safety sometimes even less, it is often a matter of having a plan to get there and a back up to that plan and a back up to the back up. Because Murphy likes to lay down the law in a way that only he can



21stCenturyMom said...

Great post and thanks for answering that question.

I get what you are saying. Whenever I am in a situation where I am afraid and can't control things (like taking off and landing when flying)I tend to just let the fear go. No sense in terrorizing myself. I guess if there is an option I would spend my energy making sure I knew how to use it to stay alive.

Widescreen said...


Often it’s the fear that keeps you going. If you actually stop to think about the position you are in, you would probably not do it. A few years back I was bailed up with a machine gun. For a brief moment I thought this is it but the fear allowed me to control the situation, which quickly dissipated.

At what point though are you a ‘fear’ junkie? You put yourself in it everyday and you could do this job in ‘civilian’ land but you choose otherwise.

Do you need it? Can you live without it?

Anonymous said...

On the other hand..life in general is not all that safe, Mr. James. We just don't see the dangers all around us like you do in war. Try driving on an American Interstate or walking through certain parts of town at night. Salmonella abounds. Maybe we can't live life always playing it safe and really live life. Even though it isn't smart to jump out of airplanes without a parachute...it doesn't seem to me that you are doing that. You do try to leave yourself a way of escape, a parachute if you will. I don't think you are so wierd, Mal. And what is adrenaline for anyway...if we don't use it we might lose it.
I would say stay safe but I think I just talked myself out of it. Instead I will say...be prepared.