Published in Esquire, February 1997
One year ago, America sent its soldiers to the grisliest killing fields in Europe since World War II. For four years we'd read of the wild hatreds among the peoples of Bosnia: the Serbs, Croats and Moslems. We'd watched on TV as they blew up buildings a thousand years old and assured us, "We'll build another one, and in a thousand years it'll be a thousand years old." We'd sat with incomprehension and incredulity as they sat in armchairs with slivovitz and sniperscopes, shooting at children, as they sent thousands to concentration camps and to something new: to rape camps, as they forced people to bite off mens' penises and eat their own children, and as they killed a quarter million fellow citizens. "No, it can't be," we'd told ourselves. "Not in Europe. Not on the eve of the 21st century." Then, just over a year ago, we'd brought the Serbs, Croats and Moslems to Dayton, Ohio: we'd induced them to sign a treaty, and, to help enforce it, we sent twenty thousand soldiers to Bosnia.
Among the first to go and the last to return were the Dawgs, the boys of the Dawg Pound Platoon, who left from a fog-shrouded base in Germany at 0933 on Tuesday, December 26, 1995. Accompanying them on their train and their two-tracks was John Sack, the only person who's been a war correspondent in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, every American war for fifty years. Most of that time, he was writing for Esquire, and now he reports on the Dawg Pound Platoon and its one-year adventure in B-Land. More