DEPARTMENT OF EXPERIMENTAL WEAPONS 6 DIVISION
ATTN: COLONEL P. STEEVES
RE: CRASH OF ATTACK HELICOPTER NT-3095 IN THE HIMALAYAN PROTECTORATE
THE FOLLOWING ARE EXCERPTS TAKEN FROM THE TAPE-RECORDED DEPOSITION OF FLIGHT LIEUTENANT JENS G. TAUBE, MCSS 167-8801-6733-5-H, DATED 5/7/2052 THROUGH 5/18/2052 BY BRANCH 2 INVESTIGATOR MAJOR J. WALLANCE, MD, PHD, DDS. THIS TRANSCRIPT IS RELEVANT IN CONNECTION WITH THE INQUIRY INTO THE CRASH OF ATTACK HELICOPTER NT-3095 IN THE HIMALAYAN PROTECTORATE ON 4/01/2052. WHILE NOT OF MAJOR IMPORTANCE TO THE INVESTIGATION, MCSS 167-8801-6733-5-H’S COMMENTS ARE VALUABLE CHIEFLY IN THEIR ABILITY TO CORROBORATE AND HELP VERIFY INFORMATION COLLECTED FROM HIS OWN OFFICIAL DEBRIEFING, THE ON-SITE INVESTIGATION TEAM, THE FLIGHT DATA RECORDER ABOARD THE AIRCRAFT, AND THE PERSONAL DATA RECORDER OF E.W. UNIT 659: ‘EUDOXIA,’ MCSS 167-8818-9540-0-R.
Yeah, we got shot down.
I know you read the damn report.
But so where did it all go wrong for me?
I’ll tell you.
Just get me another cigarette first.
I remember something she said to me once. Oh. Did I say she again? Sorry. Tough habit to break. Thanks for the cigarette, by the way.
It was just after we’d landed. I think it was...we’d just finished up another seek-and-destroy. We’d both gotten out of the aircraft and were walking across the tarmac towards a car to take us to the barracks for our debriefing. I was ready to go get drunk again and fall asleep again. She – it – sorry, was going to go get recharged, or whatever.
I remember very clearly that it was starting to drizzle; I was worried that the moisture in the air might damage her. That is, the unit. I say I was ‘worried’. I mean ‘concerned,’ but only from a technical standpoint. This was before. You know. Everything between me and it. I can see it in it’s green flight suit – same as mine – dripping with rain. Shiny...like slime; sewage. Anyway.
It said: “Sometimes I just think that we were made for each other.”
What was I supposed to say? I mean, it was half right.
Eudoxia was her name. What they called her. What they told me to call her. I looked it up. Greek. “Eu” means “good”. “Doxa” means “giving glory”. So “Eudoxia” means “giving good glory”. Or praise. I still wonder what brain out there cooked-up that name and gave it to her. It. I mean: praising who?
So - you read the report – we got hit. I knew it was a kinetic energy projectile, right off the bat. A surface-to-air missile. One of those hand-held bastards. The whole chopper just shook. It felt like an earthquake in the sky. We were spinning around. Like a crazy merry-go-round. Like anything else. Like life. Alarms and shit started going off. Smoke. Sparks and everything started flying.
We fell like a stone; they hit us right behind the cockpit. Right under the main rotor assembly. Wasn’t even funny. And I was thinking: why me? You know? I’m too young to die. Like everybody else who dies in a war. Yeah: I thought I was dead.
Eudoxia sort of disappeared in the back seat. I didn’t know what had happened to her; if she’d been destroyed or what. She didn’t respond to my screaming over the radio headset, so I gave up on her. There was a lot on my mind just then. I struggled mightily with the controls, but it was no use: we were had.
You listen to the news, read the magazines and papers, watch the tube. It’s easy for a soldier to forget his place. Somebody said something once that I’ll never forget. Of course, I don’t remember who it was. Of all the things to forget, right? Like I wouldn’t rather forget something else, you know? Anyway, whoever it was was talking about good mental health and ‘government’. Government, you understand, can generally be thought of as: gross mismanagement of people on a grand scale. He said: “If we confess ourselves inferior, we do not thereby demean ourselves; for that is the plain truth, and it is always nobler and more honorable to acknowledge the truth.” In other words, it makes psychological sense to affirm our inferiority, thus grounding our confidence in an accurate view of ourselves. No shit. This line I have committed to memory, along with thousands of engine diagrams, weapons specs, combat protocols, evasive procedures, fuel consumption versus airspeed ratios, technical readouts, et cetera.
Why? Never forget that you don’t matter. If you do, you’ll waste your life believing you can make a difference. A lot of disappointments. A lot of disappointments.
The bottom line is that I am not a good enough killer. I’m not efficient enough. I have too many feelings. Too many emotions. Compassion is a liability. You see: it gets in the way of ‘duty’.
Eudoxia is still out there in the field, I guess. Unless she’s been destroyed already, which is a real possibility. Or maybe she’s still flying, but now with a new pilot. I wonder if she can remember me. Or what she’d think if she did remember me. Or if she’d think anything at all. I’ll never see her again, so I won’t get a chance to ask her. If I did see her though – and every night the only thing that will give me enough peace to fall asleep is this: I’d tell her that I remember her. All the time. That’s what I do: remember her.
There was something. Hold on. What was it about that official report that pissed me off so much? Gimme a minute; let me think.
Oh yeah. It was paragraph blah, letter: blah-blah, number: blah-blee-blah blah, section: whatever, of appendix: bleedle-de-blee. It said basically that my testimony was “not of great importance” to the program. Do you hear? Moral dissent: “not of great importance”!
The damn things are too hard to fly. That’s what it boils down to. I mean, training takes how long? By the time you’re ready to give it your first real test-fly, you’ve already spent about half a year in the simulators, taking tests, doing coordination training and all that. That’s fine as long as you’re only maintaining a peacetime force. No problemo. But you start taking losses? Serious losses like we were? You can’t replace pilots fast enough. They found that out fast; you just can’t. I found that out too; you just can’t make friends fast enough. They get taken away too quickly.
So what did they do? Somebody had the bright idea of manufacturing replacements. Robots, just like she was. So they were phasing them in, pairing them up with human pilots. Robots were a big help when it came to sifting out the thousands of pieces of information that a pilot has to receive, process, and act upon if he’s in the mood to stay alive. Altitude, wind speed, wind direction, armament compliment and selection, electronic counter-measure deployment, radar, infra-red, target package info, navigation, fuel expenditure rate, target tracking, friend/foe identification, radio intercepts, enciphered communications, yaw, pitch, evasive, auto-hover status, the works. A job and a half, as I’m sure you can appreciate. Pedals, throttles, screens, buttons, knobs, blinking lights, switches, levers. You need eyes like a chameleon. You know: they can rotate independently.
The robot in the back seat made things a lot easier. Talk about un-manned aircraft? Well. I guess I could tell you a thing or two. It worked out pretty well.
Except of course, the tricky little moral-philosophical problem of sending autonomous, totally relentless, totally merciless, robot killing machines out in the stead of flesh-and-blood humans to do war’s dirty-work. Shooting up the poor bastards on the ground. And their wives, mothers, sisters, and children.
Combat performance actually improved too. Bonus, right?
Got another smoke on you?
Shit. Most soldiers have no idea what’s going on.
I would have fought just as well as a Redcoat, or in the Red Army, or in the brown shirt of a Nazi, or as an American Green Beret. Just give me an order and I’ll follow it. What’s the difference?
No difference. They all fought. A lot of them died. They died not for someone but for something.
So I fell in love with a robot?
I don’t see what’s so special about that.
Humanity has a habit of loving things better than people.
A proud heritage of it, in fact.
Yeah. And somebody else said: Any government is evil...a yoke...since our fate is to be slaves, let us endure our chains without complaint. This time, I think I remember. It was Edmund Burke.
It’s funny. It reminds me of an old Union song the troops sang back during the American Civil War. Sometimes me and my buddies, back when they were still around, would get drunk and sing it together. It goes like this:
are springing to the call of our brothers gone before,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom,
And we'll fill the vacant ranks with a million freemen more,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom.”
And then the chorus:
Union forever, Hurrah, boys, hurrah!
Down with the traitor, Up with the star;
While we rally 'round the flag, boys, rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom.”
We never thought about the words that much; it just has a nice melody. We were just drinking and singing. But I’ve been thinking about the words a lot lately. Every single line of it gives me pause now. How many ‘brothers gone before’? Incalculable, surely. Ironic, isn’t it? Soldiers singing about ‘freedom’? ‘Vacant ranks.’ Whose traitor? Traitor to what? Rally around the flag – just like everyone’s supposed to.
Our mission that day was to drop a couple of fuel-air bombs on a village suspected of sympathizing with the enemy. The whole way there, we’d been taking hits from small arms, but that’s not really a big deal. Our choppers handle lots that. You wouldn’t believe the armor they pile onto these babies. The groundfire intensified over the village. We started really getting raked. The bullets impacting the Kevlar underside of the chopper were starting to remind me of the sound of popcorn popping in a microwave. I mean, the action was getting pretty hot. Seemed like the biggest thing they had on the ground was a 20mm cannon, but Eudoxia dealt with the battery handily while I got set to launch our bombs. They really did not want us to drop those bombs. I mean, who wants to get roasted?
The chopper got about 700 kilos lighter when we released the weapons. And then everything was silenced immediately afterwards. As usual, Eudoxia was in top-form. Nary a mistake with her. Big help, as usual. She operated the FLIR and, with the .50 cal made sure that none of the villagers were able to escape the flames. She did a great job too. We stuck around for about fifteen minutes to make well-sure there wouldn’t be any survivors. When there was no longer any movement and smoldering bush was all that remained where there had once been a village, I figured it was ‘mission accomplished’ and we made to high-tail it back home. Job well-done, all-in-a-day’s-work, and so on. I was thinking about a bottle that was standing beside my bed. We hung low, coasting over the treetops on the way back to base, looking for any targets of opportunity. Right then is when we took the hit.
If we’d been hit while we still were carrying the napalm bombs though, it would have been all over right there. Fireworks display to the tune of 45 million dollars, plus whatever the hell Eudoxia cost – which couldn’t be cheap. Oh yeah: and me too. I’m not as valuable though. So I can thank my lucky stars that we’d torched the village first. It’s weird.
So I passed out on the way down. My mask came off. My oxygen supply got interrupted and I blacked out. I didn’t even feel the crash. I guess that’s pretty close to death. At the time, I guess I didn’t really mind; nobody told me if I was dead or not. I don’t recall even having a spare second to wonder anyway. Just blank. Then we were on the ground.
My suffering didn’t start until I woke up and suddenly realized I was alive. I always thought that if a moment like that one ever came – when you realize you’re still alive – that it would be exhilarating. A rush. Well, I even surprised myself. I didn’t want to still be alive. I would never have even known I’d been killed if I’d just stayed out. It was like...a sleeper. You know: “go away – I’m trying to sleep.”
But she wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. She wanted to protect me.
Did I say ‘she’ again?
God. I need to stop doing that.
Of course, the official report says “uncontrolled contact with ground.” Sounds so bureaucratic. The words just put one more remove between the sensible ‘real world’ of ‘normal people’ and the fucking insanity that led to up to something terrible like that actually happening. I mean, come on: a missile! “Uncontrolled contact with ground” should read: your blood smeared on the inside of the cockpit window. Burned flesh melted to your flight suit like greasy bacon stuck to the cheese on a BLT. Bruised bones. Blindness. Busted teeth, and red-hot dog-tags singeing the hair off your chest. You can’t even move your fingers. Well. That was me.
Yeah, I forget the list of things that the docs gave me after we got rescued. But the main thing was one hell of a concussion. That’s when your brain smacks the inside of your skull and it starts to bleed. Your brain, that is. Bleeds. I don’t know what it was that I hit my head on. I mean, I was strapped-in securely, plus I was wearing a helmet. Even so. So that; plus some broken bones in my right hand, and some serious burns on both of my arms and on my neck. For some reason, all the electronics on board went totally ape-shit after we’d been blasted. My right eye got totally blinded because it got zapped by the laser in the targeting eyepiece when it overloaded. Yeah, I still chuckle about that last part. The irony, you know?
So the next thing I know, everything is still. There was a voice. I cautiously sniffed the air and smelled smoke, pretty thick. It took me a little while to realize what had happened and where I was. Then I started to feel pain. That’s when I thought that I’d prefer death. But the voice persisted. At first it was just this peripheral droning. It slowly got closer to the focus of my senses.
Over time, I perceived that it was a female voice. Sonorous. Demanding. Sounded...ardent. And impressive and heartening for its measure and calm. But all that belied a sense of urgency. It was the need to move. It was motivated by concern for me.
So I cracked open my eyes, and there was this woman looking down at me. Her face was sooty. Her hair was matted, sticking to her face. Her skin was shiny like she was sweating. Her eyes were glowing, as usual. The only thing that seemed amiss was a thin crack in her skin that ran from her hairline down the side of her face, wound all the way down her neck, and disappeared under her flight suit.
I had some real difficulty focusing my eyes; it hurt enough just to open them. At first, I actually thought I was just shaking off a hangover. You know: ‘Oh fuck. Who is this woman?’ Then I began to recall such important details as: oh yeah, I guess we probably crashed.
I concentrated on bringing the name that was stitched onto the breast of the woman’s uniform into focus. “Eu...dox...i...a” in black letters. Then I remembered who it was: Eudoxia. I said I remembered who it was. Not what it was. I was relieved that she seemed okay. My partner, my co-pilot. A friend. After we were hit, I’d given her up for dead. Well, ‘dead’.
There’s no question that I would have died if she hadn’t pulled me out of the wreckage.
It was very strange.
She carried me away from the downed chopper. Carried me. I was in pain, but I felt secure in her arms. I know it’s corny, but fuck that. It’s the truth. I felt like a baby. She was protecting me like a mother. We made it a few miles I guess. She was so strong. By and by, I recovered the strength to half-limp along. I don’t really remember, but I know we made best-speed to get the hell away from the chopper. I forget how far it was, now. But pretty far. And there was a shell crater she found. It had been there for a long time; it was all overgrown by plants. But it made good cover. And, oh yeah, before all that, she had radioed our position and requested evacuation. The radio on the chopper was a train-wreck. But she had her own one built-in. Somebody had been thinking.
Throughout the whole thing, I was perversely humming this really old “Culture Beat” song called “Take Me Away.” Techno from the early nineties, I think. It’s weird, but whatever works, right? It goes like this:
Take me away.
Take me to a place where lovers can be alone (oh yeah).
Take me away.
Take me by the hand and control what is going on (oh yeah).
No matter what we may go through, you’ve got to understand
That I want you, I need you each day.
So take me away.
Take me to a place where lovers can be alone (oh yeah).
I find myself humming that song all the time, lately.
She had bandaged my head. She wasn’t sure if my skull was actually fractured, so she bound my head very tightly. As it turned out, I did have one small hairline fracture, about half an inch long. It constantly felt like the only thing holding my skull together was this tight binding. It felt like it was just squeezing my brain, compounding an already deafeningly agonizing and implacable headache. That was caused by blood sloshing around in my cranium. So I’m told. She also had wrapped it so that the bandages covered my right eye, because, having been pierced by the laser, it was occasionally dribbling fluid through the hole in the cornea and lens whenever I moved it and changed the pressure. What did the docs call that stuff? Gimme a sec. Vitrious Humor. Latin. “Eudoxia” is Greek. But Humor? Fuck that! My eyeball was slowly deflating inside my head. Let me tell you: that hurt. I mean: damn.
She also had my hand wrapped up so that my fingers wouldn’t move. That way, the splinters of bone would be less likely to poke out of the torn bag of blood-soggy skin that used to look like a hand. The white bandages soon hand a few diffuse patches of burgundy as my blood seeped through them. They grew bolder by the hour. Looked like I’d spilled steak sauce all over my flight suit. That was the blood from my head-wound, mostly.
By this time, I was moaning in pain. The burns just killed. You wouldn’t understand the pain. She warned me not to be afraid and that there’d be a slight prick; she was giving me a shot of morphine. She gave it to me so carefully that I barely had time to feel anything before the morphine took over; it’s good stuff.
So after a moment, she gently took off my flight suit and tunic so she could see my body and see the burns. She took the clothes off with such light, nimble fingers that I imagined that she was some kind of fairy or elf that had come from the forest to save me. And every fifteen minutes, around the clock, she would, with unmatched patience and gentleness, coat with salve the rare flesh covering my arms and neck.
She took care of me. But she didn’t just take care of me. She talked to me. Really talked like she cared. For me.
She patiently doled out my water ration to me in tiny bits. There wasn’t much in the canteen and we didn’t know how long we’d have to wait for rescue. But she made sure my throat stayed moist. She said I’d need IV fluids for the burns right away when we got back. She told me beseechingly, I want to say, not to forget to ask for something for my burns as soon as we got rescued. She said they were the most dangerous thing.
With my good eye, I began to see her differently. I started to look at her less like she was a military drone and more like she was a human being, like me. I started to feel guilty about the callous way I had begun to think of her. I too was guilty of the crime of reducing someone to a caricature. In this case, to a mere expression of their utility. That’s the recurring problem. Don’t put things over people, and don’t forget the difference between the two.
She would look down on me. Just look down to make sure I was okay; to make sure I didn’t need anything. And whenever I looked back up, she’d smile and never failed to encourage me. She’d tell me that I was going to make it, and that everything would okay soon. That help was coming. That I wasn’t really injured badly. Just a little longer. She was with me. I was safe.
And her voice. Her voice. So unlike what I was used to hearing. It wasn’t clipped, curt, stern, or matter-of-fact. It sounded concerned. No. More than that. I can’t explain. Sounded – forget it; you’re not going to understand anyway.
I stopped reminding myself that she wasn’t human. What was the point? It felt so much better to suspend disbelief and so imagine that I wasn’t alone. Instead, I encouraged myself to think of her as a real woman. That was my mistake, I suppose. I’ll never live it down. I’ll never get past it.
We have two eyes, right? But we only see one image. The mind and the heart don’t reconcile themselves that easily.
When it got to nightfall and we still hadn’t been rescued, I started to get really scared. I don’t think Eudoxia was capable of being scared. I admired her courage.
I think she realized that I was getting afraid. She reminded me that she had a built-in beacon and that our guys would follow it and find us.
Every time there was a rustling of branches, Eudoxia would spring up and level her snub-nosed submachine gun at the source of the disturbance. Her movements were quick and graceful; she moved silently. She looked heroic with her finger on the trigger and her eye on the 2.5 X scope. It was comforting to know that she was there.
The night lasted forever. I was in constant pain and in a more-or-less constant state of alarm.
Eventually, I asked Eudoxia how she was doing. I knew she was ‘wounded’ too, after a fashion. I didn’t ask just to make conversation, and no matter how it looks, I didn’t ask out of self interest. I knew that, in this situation, if something was wrong with Eudoxia, I was likely to die since, in my injured condition I couldn’t take care of myself. I needed her a lot more than she needed me. But that’s not why I asked; I asked because I genuinely cared about her. In fact – and I’m still trying to figure out why – I cared more about her at that moment than I cared about myself. We were in this shit together – you know: ‘behind enemy lines’, and all that shit – and she was in as much danger as I was. I wanted to show her that I cared; to show her that I wouldn’t ever leave her.
She told me about what happened when we were struck. She had been jacked into the chopper’s electrical system. Part of the reason was so that she could communicate more efficiently with the helicopter, see what its sensors were picking up, control it, and all that. And also, she was drawing electricity from the turbine engines. Apparently, she just eats up electricity. When we got hit, the same power surge that made my targeting eyepiece overload and burst my eyeball basically knocked her out of commission for those crucial moments after the explosion when we were falling.
She had everything under control now. But she said the overload blew out a whole shitload of electrical switches in her body. It took her a minute to get herself back under control. And that big crack in her skin – her head got busted into the left bulkhead of the cockpit. That’s probably the same way I hit my head. But damn. She was tough.
The crack was getting worse every time she moved. The two folds of plastic were getting looser and splitting farther apart from each other. It looked a little macabre. She began to look positively un-human. The plastic skin of her face wasn’t lining up right with what was underneath, so it looked bizarre whenever her lips and jaws moved when she spoke. Occasionally, the plastic would twist or bulge in such a way that I’d catch a very startling glimpse of white plastic ‘bone’ or teeth. Down her neck, it was a similar story. When she looked down on me, the skin-colored plastic sheath around her throat would part to reveal an intricate weaving of wires, metal rods, plastic coils and stuff. Fortunately, the damage only seemed superficial.
Here’s one weird thing I remember. With her skin split open like that – I guess that’s what did it – I could tell that she smelled inside like a new car. Weird, huh?
Even with reminders like these, I still persisted with my fantasy. I refused to admit that she was a fabrication.
There were a lot of bugs where we were hiding. We were laying in a thicket of bushes. The rains had come, and there was a considerable volume of standing water at the bottom of our crater. I distinctly remember something that occurred to me at that time, just as Eudoxia was removing another large insect from my hair. They stayed away from her, but were drawn to my body heat. Even now – especially now – this idea seems to have a ring of truth about it.
I imagined that all of humanity was simply a genetically-engineered race, developed in time-immemorial, by roaches. The mission of mankind was to eliminate all natural predators of roaches, in other words, all forms of life on earth more complex than a roach, by scientific means. Nuclear, biological, chemical, ballistic. Thus, mankind would rid the roaches of the world of all danger and, at the same time, provide the roaches with ample sources of food –garbage, waste, and corpses- and convenient habitations. The highest purpose of mankind, as I saw it, was to facilitate the interplanetary dispersal of a vast empire of vermin. Humans were mere carriers of the true master race. Eventually, having eradicated all other life, mankind would remove itself from the earth, self-destructing in the orgy of total war. Roaches would then rule undisputed. In my pain and morphine-induced delirium, I slept peacefully. I found this cause far more noble than the one for which I had heretofore imagined myself to be struggling.
When I woke up, Eudoxia was starting to lose her poise. Her face was undeniably starting to fall off. The plastic skin had stretched itself out too much and wasn’t staying on very wel. I still thought she was beautiful, but I have to concede that she was starting to look more like a subject of a Salvador Dali painting than a human – or even a reasonable facsimile thereof.
She warned me that I couldn’t absolutely rely on her anymore; there was nothing to protect her guts from the bugs and the humidity. But, she told me that she’d stick with me as long as she could. Meanwhile, she was also starting to run herself out of energy. She said that her time was limited. She apologized. Can you believe that?
She said: “I’m sorry I can’t help you anymore.”
With those last words to me, Eudoxia promptly slumped over in a heap. Her eyes were open and staring into the grass. At the sight of her, my heart leapt into my throat: my first thought was that she had died. Alone, without her to sooth my anguish, I looked at the situation and began to cry. I felt totally abandoned. Totally. It’s a spooky thing.
Of course, she wasn’t actually dead. Well, strictly speaking, I suppose she was dead...but no more than usual. So her battery ran out and she quietly turned off. Probably hauling my weight overland for however long it was didn’t help her. So in that regard, she did make a sacrifice for me.
But it’s weird. People can turn off too. They just don’t turn back on though. Next day, they found me.
At night, in my bunk, I only think about her. Even if her hands were metal underneath, they devoted themselves to healing me. I don’t know what to make of that; you tell me.
You know, in retrospect, I know that it didn’t actually care about me. I was an asset to the military. I told you already how short the army was coming up in pilots. Therein laid my value. She was preserving a military tool: me. Nevermind that I had a name and parents and feelings to go along with my serial number.
It came down to one thing.
Utility. How you are used. What things use people for.
She’s forgotten me, for sure. I’m positive. Things have made her forget me.
THE PERFORMANCE OF THE E.W. UNIT 659: ‘EUDOXIA,’ MCSS 167-8818-9540-0-R WAS EXEMPLARY. IT OPERATED ABOVE ALL EXPECTATIONS. THE PROBLEM OF EXTENDING BATTERY TIME IN THE ABSENCE OF AN EXTERNAL POWER SUPPLY WILL HAVE TO BE ADDRESSED AND OVERCOME. HOWEVER, BASED IN PART ON THIS DESCRIPTION OF THE UNIT’S PERFROMANCE, THE DEPARTMENT OF EXPERIMENTAL WEAPONS 6 DIVISION RECOMMENDS THE ACCELERATION OF THE PROGRAM IN ALL AREAS OF THE ARMED FORCES BE CARRIED OUT WITH ALL AVAILABLE RESOURCES. THIS IS THE NEXT STEP TOWARDS A TOTAL AUTOMATION AND MECHANIZATION OF ALL COMBAT FORCES.
MANY OF MCSS 167-8801-6733-5-H’S REMARKS ARE DISTINCTLY DEFEATIST, AND POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS. A SEPARATE COPY OF THIS TRANSCRIPT HAS BEEN FORWARDED TO BRANCH 6 MORALE OFFICE OF THE POLITICAL DEPARTMENT.