From the Associated Press:
FORWARD OPERATING BASE JACKSON, Afghanistan (AP) — It is a conversation, the military surgeon says, that every U.S. Marine has with his corpsman, the buddy who is first to treat him if he is wounded by an insurgent's bomb.
The Marine says, "'If I lose my manhood, then I don't want to live through it,'" according to Navy Lt. Richard Whitehead, surgeon for 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, which is fighting in one of the most treacherous combat areas of Afghanistan.
"They ask us not to save them if their 'junk' gets blown off," said Whitehead, using a slang term for genitals. "Usually, we laugh. We joke with them about it. At the same time, you know that you're going to treat them anyway."
This is a world of fear, resolve and dark humor that is mostly hidden from accounts of the human cost of the war in Afghanistan. American troops who patrol on foot in bomb-laced areas know they might lose a leg, or two, if they step in the wrong place. But for young men in their prime, most unmarried and without children, the prospect of losing their sexual organs seems even worse.
Whitehead said: "It's one of the areas we can't put a tourniquet on."
Yes, a bit of dark humor would be in order to cope with the nervousness associated with such an eventuality. But there is nothing funny about young soldiers experiencing the gut wrenching and natural fear of a truncated life. After all, it is the young who always fight old men's wars. Life, for a man in his twenties may be less important than the pursuit of happiness.