Sebastian Junger

  • Aired:  05/11/10
  •  | Views: 56,711

Sebastian Junger recalls the months he spent with soldiers in a remote outpost on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. (7:40)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT THE BEST SELLING AUTHOR OF "THE PERFECT STORM." MS. NEW BOOK IS CALLED

"WAR." PLEASE WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM SEBASTIAN JUNGER.

SIR --

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

>> THANK YOU.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

>> Jon: WELCOME.

>> THANK YOU.

>> Jon: NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

THE BOOK IS CALLED "WAR" AND MAN IT IS -- YOU'VE DONE IT AGAIN.

ENGROSSING FROM PAGE ONE.

HOW DID YOU GET THE SOLDIERS.

IT TAKES PLACE -- YOU TAKE 15 MONTHS WITH A TROOP OF GUYS, A PLATOON OF GUYS ON ON THE

AFGHAN/PAKISTAN BORDER.

>> YES.

>> Jon: HOW DO THEY LET YOU HANG AROUND?

>> THE MILITARY COMMAND JUST YOU KNOW LETS YOU GO.

YOU SIGN A PAPER AND YOU GO.

>> Jon: WHAT DOES THIS PAPER SAY?

>> IT SAYS THAT YOUR MOM WON'T SUE THEM IF YOU DID YOU GET KILLED PACIFICALLY.

>> Jon: DID THEY CUT THAT OUT OF MAGAZINE LETTERS OR WAS THAT --

[LAUGHTER]

>> IT'S VERY SIMPLE.

IT'S LIKE OKAY, YOU WANT TO GO DO SOLDIER -- GO WITH THE SOLDIERS GEORGE AHEAD.

>> Jon: -- GO AHEALED.

>> Jon: I THINK YOUR BIGGEST WORRY WAS NOT TO BE A BURDEN TO THEM.

YOU DON'T WANT THEM TO FEEL RESPONSIBLE.

>> THE ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE WOULD BE TO DO SOMETHING TO GET SOMEBODY ELSE KILLED.

YOU ARE AWARE OF THAT AS A JOURNALIST.

I DID FIVE MONTHS OUT THERE.

IT WAS A REMOTE OUTPOST NAMED AFTER A MEDIC.

NO RUNNING WATER, NO COOKED FOOD, NOTHING.

SOMETIMES FOUR OR FIVE FIRE FIGHTS A DAY.

WE WERE ESSENTIALLY ON MARS.

THE GUYS DEPEND ON EACH OTHER.

WHEN YOU BECOME PART OF A GROUP LIKE THAT AS I DID AFTER A COUPLE OF TRIPS.

YOU GET CLOSE WITH THOSE GUYS AND THE ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE WOULD BE TO GET ONE HURT OR KILLED.

WHETHER YOU ARE A SOLDIER OR JOURNALIST IT'S AN UNIMAGINABLE THING.

EVERYTHING I DID WAS TO TRYING TO MAKE SURE THAT THAT DID NOT HAPPEN.

>> Jon: THE STRANGE THING IS EVEN FOR THEM -- THEY TALK ABOUT -- SOMETIMES

THERE'S GUYS IN THE PLATOON THAT YOU HATE AND YOU ARE STUCK WITH THEM.

YOU REALIZE THAT THAT GUY WOULD SAVE YOUR LIFE OR YOU WOULD SAVE HIS SO HOCH -- HOW MUCH COULD

YOU HATE THEM.

THEY ALMOST LIKED FORWARD FIRE FIGHTS SO THEY DIDN'T GET BORED.

>> THERE'S NOTHING TO DO OUT THERE.

THEY WEREN'T BIG READERS.

>> Jon: ONE GUY WAS IN HIS BUNK READING "HARRY POTTER. ".

>> YES.

THERE'S NO TELEVISION.

THERE WAS NO INTERNET.

THERE WAS NO GIRLS.

NO BOOZE.

THERE WAS NOTHING.

THE ONLY THING UP THERE THAT WAS EVEN MILDLY COMPEL -S -- COMPELLING WAS COMBAT.

A COUPLE WEEKS WENT BY WITHOUT A FIREFIGHT.

THERE IT WAS A LONG TIME WITHOUT A FIREFIGHT.

A HOT DAY THE LIEUTENANT WALKED THROUGH.

HE WAS ALL OF 24 YEARS OLD, RIGHT?

HE WALKED THROUGH THE OUTPOST MUTTERING TO HIMSELF GOING CRAZY IN THE HEAT.

I OVERHEARD HIM SAY TO HIMSELF GOD, PLEASE SOMEONE SHOOT AT US TODAY.

[LAUGHTER]

>> Jon: IT'S SO INTERESTING TOO THAT THEY DON'T -- YOU SORT OF IMAGINE THAT THERE

WOULD BE ONE PART OF IT WHERE THEY WOULD GO WHAT DOES THIS ALL REALLY MEAN?

OUR ROLE HERE OUR THING?

THESE GUYS ARE THERE TO DO A JOB AND THEY ARE PROFESSIONALS.

>> THEY JOINED THE ARMY BECAUSE -- THEY JOINED THE UNIT BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO EXPERIENCE COMBAT.

THEY WANTED TO BE IN THE SITUATION.

THERE WAS NO COMPLAINING ABOUT THE FACT THAT THEY WERE THERE.

I THINK FOR A LOT OF THEM IT REALLY IS GOING TO BE THE MOST PROFOUND EXPERIENCE OF THEIR LIVES.

THEY WERE WORRIED THAT WHEN THEY GOT HOME AND HOME BEING ITALY WHERE THEY ARE BASED.

THEY DIDN'T COME BACK TO THE U.S.

THEY GOT BACK TO THE BASE THEY CALLED IT COWARD'S LAND.

PEOPLE WHO HAD NOT BEEN IN COMBAT COULD ORDER THEM AROUND.

THEY WERE WORRIED THAT THEY WERE GOING TO MISS THE AREA AND THEY WERE GOING TO WANT TO GO BACK.

THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED.

>> Jon: YOU WRITE ABOUT THIS ECCENTRIC PRACTICE THAT THEY HAVE TO GREET SOLDIERS

RETURNING FROM LEAVE OR SOLDIERS WHO ARE ABOUT TO GO ON LEAVE OR SOLDIERS THAT ARE COMING

BACK FROM A WALK OR -- IT'S CALLED THE BEAT-IN.

>> BLOOD-IN.

>> Jon: BLOOD-IN.

>> BLOOD-IN/BLOOD-OUT.

THE ONLY WAY TO LEAVE WAS OUT OF A BEATING.

A GROUP BEATING WITH A BULLET IN YOU.

>> Jon: SO A LOT OF PEOPLE DID THIS.

[LAUGHTER]

YOU SAY IT WAS A SIGN OF RESPECT IN A LOT OF WAYS.

>> IT WAS A SIGN OF RESPECT.

BASICALLY, THEY WERE IN SO MUCH COMBAT.

THEY DEPENDED ON EACH OTHER FOR THEIR LIVES.

THEY NEED A WAY TO SHOW THAT THE GROUP WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.

IF YOU WERE WILLING TO UNDERGO A BEATING BY THE GROUP IT MEANT YOUR INTERESTS WERE NOT AS

IMPORTANT TO YOU AS THE GROUP'S INTERESTS.

YOU WOULD RISK YOUR LIFE IN A FIREFIGHT FOR ANYONE ELSE OUT THERE.

THEY DEMONSTRATED THAT SYMBOLICALLY WITH THESE GROUP BEATINGS.

IF YOU ARE GOING ON LEAVE.

YOU ARE GOING TO GO HOME FOR 18 DAYS, GET DRUNK.

SEE YOUR GIRLFRIEND.

WHATEVER YOU ARE GOING TO DO.

WATCH JON STEWART.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

>> Jon: NOBODY CLICKS THE REMOTE WHEN I'M ON WITHOUT BLOOD IN/BLOOD OUT.

I'M GLAD YOU PROVIDE CONTEXT WE'RE FOCUSING ON THE SENSATIONAL ASPECTS OF BEHAVIOR.

YOU COME AWAY WITH THE RESPECT, THE INTEGRITY THAT THEY HAVE, THE PHYSICAL ENDURANCE THAT

THEY HAVE AND WHAT THEY SACRIFICE FOR EACH OTHER.

IT IS -- IT'S A -- IT'S AN INCREDIBLE FEAT OF HUMAN SORT OF ENDEAVOR EVEN THOUGH IT ALSO

DEALS WITH THE TOUGHEST PARTS OF US.

>> ON PATROLS.

I WOULD BE OUT THERE A MONTH AT A TIME.

I DID THE PATROLS WITH THEM.

THEY WOULD CARRY UP TO 150 POUNDS ON PATROL ON LONG OPERATIONS.

>> Jon: DO ANYTHING TO SAVE EACH OTHER'S LIVES.

PUTTING CURLICS IN AN OPEN WOUND OR CARRYING A WOUNDED BROTHER 150 YARDS DOWN A MOUNTAIN.

INCREDIBLE STORIES.

I THINK THE THING THEY WERE MOST WORRIED ABOUT IN COMBAT WAS MAKING A MISTAKE AND FAILING TO

SAVE AS THEY CALLED THEM ONE OF THEIR BROTHERS OUT.

THERE GETTING SOMEONE ELSE KILLED.

THAT WAS THE ROOT OF THE BRAVERY.

THEY WERE MORE WORRIED ABOUT THAT THAN GETTING KILLED THEMSELVES.

THAT WAS PREFERABLE THAN CAUSING SOMEONE ELSE'S DEATH.

THEY ON A HILLTOP WITHOUT ANYTHING FOR A YEAR.

15-20 GUYS.

KNOLL WOMEN, NOTHING FOR A YEAR.

YOU REALLY GOT A PEAK INTO THE MALE PSYCHE.

WEIRD STUFF CAME OUT UP THERE.

[LAUGHTER]

>> Jon: CAN I TELL YOU WHAT IS SAD ABOUT THAT,

NBC, CBS IS GOING THAT WOULD MAKE A GREAT REALITY SHOW.

[LAUGHTER]

AN INCREDIBLE STORY AND AS I WAS READING IT THE WHOLE TIME I KEPT THINKING SEBASTIAN

JUNGER IS (bleep) CRAZY.

JUST IN MY HEAD I WAS THINKING IT.

IT'S A GREAT BOOK.

IT'S A GREAT WAY TO LEARN ABOUT WHAT THESE GUYS GO THROUGH ON A DAILY BASIS.||||

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