I’ve been debating whether or not to reveal an embarassing thing that happened in the late ’80s, and I realized this morning that I need to just flush it out. Always a good thing to expose disturbing, uncomfortable memories. So here goes.
I took part in a paintball game when I was working at Cannon Films in the summer of ’87. I had suggested some bold, George S. Patton-type strategies to my fellow warriors, but when you actually get out there with your paintball gun in that sticky and sweltering Los Angeles heat and you’re dealing with dust and sweat and the sobering fact that you’re not exactly Steve McQueen in Hell Is For Heroes, things are a little different. The Cannon team lost that day, and I was one of the reasons.
I’m just going to spit this out. We were losing and I was in a bad position, surrounded by the opposing team and anxious and furious that we were getting clobbered, and in my haste and rage I saw someone appear in the corner of my left eye and I whipped around and fired. I shot one of our own guys. Actually it was a woman. I got her in the arm…thwack! She let go with a loud and angry “aah!” She was expressing two things: (1) “That hurts!” and (2) “You just shot someone on your team…asshole!”
I know that many thousands of U.S. soldiers have died from friendly fire over the years. One out of five World War II fatalites were from friendly fire, according to this chart. Close to 40% of Vietnam War casualties. Over 50% in the Persian Gulf conflict of the early ’90s. But it still feels shitty when you take out one of your own.
There — I’ve said it. A weight off my shoulders. I feel a little better already.