I cannot comment on the psychological health of the members of the GRREG (Graves Registration) team, other than to say, it must take very special people to perform the tasks their occupation requires, without having some sort of detrimental affect on their psyches. The sick senses of humor exhibited by some of them would shock most people. However, when one's work involves recovering and evacuating the mortal remains of one's own species after those remains have been subjected to the horrific traumas of war or catastrophe, no doubt one's attitudes and sensibilities are different from those of people with so-called normal vocations.
That is my way of stating, as neutrally and nonjudgementally as possible, that some of the activities and interactions I observed and experienced with members of the GRREG team seemed bizarre bordering on psychotic. Most military operations often produce isolated, weird side-shows. The macabre and grotesque nature of this mission simply provided more opportunities to react to the weirdness already in place.
A look of horror came over the Public Affairs Officer who saw his entire military career and chance of making bird colonel flash before his eyes. The reporter stared at the excited young lady, unprepared for her response and unable to formulate an apprpriate follow-up question. Colonel Gordon simply watched the scene quietly and without expression. I felt that deep down inside he understood her enthusiasm and in a way was proud of that young soldier. Later, he asked the news reporter if he was going to use that one on the news. "No way." was the savvy journalist's reply.
As I gazed upon this depressing scene, Colonel Gordon, the gruff, no-nonsense Joint Task Force Commander, approached me. "Brailey," he barked, "Did y'all bring a psyche tech (psychiatric technician) with you from Panama?"
"No sir," I answered, "Why?"
"They were tryin' to put that dead go-rilla into a body bag," said Gordon.
Jim Jones had a huge chimpanzee that was kept in a cage near his cottage. Jones called it "Mr. Muggs." It is rumored that small children were put into the cage with the old chimp as a form of punishment.
Chapters that follow Chapter Eight are:
Nine - "He has a heat rash"
Ten - The Final Dance With Death
Eleven - Party Animals
Twelve - The Party's Over