On 19 September, 1994, U.S. forces were deployed to the Caribbean nation of Haiti to remove the illegitimate military junta installed by coup d’état and return President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power. The mission of 2nd Battalion, 3rd SF Group was to support the Multinational Force-Haiti in establishing and maintaining a stable and secure environment in order to facilitate the transition of the new government.
The Green Berets walked into a situation made up of lawless chaos, disorganized crime, and terrorism. Since the country had no functioning legal system, the men of 3rd Group had to invent one. This often meant acting as judge and jury to bring justice where brute force had been the law.
In the Haitian village of Anse-e-Galets, Green Beret Captain James Dusenbury was faced with a dilemma of jurisprudence: The people of the village presented him with a criminal and demanded justice. The villagers claimed they had been terrorized by a string of werewolf attacks and had identified the culprit. The mob’s investigation revealed that a 70-year-old blind woman was the werewolf.
James Dusenbury considered the matter carefully. He listened to the evidence presented and evaluated each fact. After careful deliberation, he examined the woman himself. After a time, he announced that, based on his extensive knowledge of werewolves, he had determined that the woman was a mere human. He further stated that his team had several very capable werewolf hunters and would prevent any further werewolf attacks. Due in large part to the vigilance of these brave Green Berets, the werewolves abandoned Anse-e-Galets, never to return.
Werewolves were not the only problem; 3rd Group Green Berets faced the entire pantheon of black magic. There was another village terrorized by a witch. An elderly woman threatened to curse the town’s children and kill them if the villagers did not do her bidding. She was less than enthusiastic about the arrival of the Green Berets and forbade cooperation with them.
Green Berets don’t like criminals, and they don’t like witches who threaten children. The people of the village were absolutely certain that their kids were in mortal danger. They wanted to support the Green Berets and the new government, but they lived in fear.
Every Special Forces ODA is authorized a warrant officer. These guys were outstanding NCOs trained in at least two SF specialties, who received additional training in planning and leadership. This position was intended to provide an experienced leader and second officer for split-team operations, but many teams only had a warrant. A good warrant officer is a great team leader.
Raised on the tales of the Brother’s Grimm, this particular team’s warrant officer knew how to deal with witches. One day, the team was in the village market area as dusk approached. He saw the children cowering in the shadows and decided he’d had enough of this witchcraft. He called all the children together. Cautiously, parents responded and brought their children forward.
In halting Creole French, the warrant explained that, based on his commission from the president of the United States, he had a few magic powers himself. Among these was the ability to protect children and block curses. He broke a chem light in his hand and pierced it with his knife. He invited the children to come forward, one by one, and receive his protection. Each child was sprinkled with a little chem-light juice. In the spreading Haitian evening, the liquid glowed a magical fluorescent green. With a collective sigh of relief, the witch’s curse was lifted.
The kids were delighted, the parents overjoyed. With all of the children protected, the crowd organized and moved to the witch’s house. Not quite an angry mob with torches and pitchforks, they were nonetheless resolved to end the dark reign of witchcraft. Using a persuasive combination of curses, kicks, and blows, they sent the former witch into exile from the village and lived happily ever after.
Commonly held core beliefs are almost impossible to change rapidly. The Green Beret knows that sometimes, working within a belief system is more powerful than attacking it. This is fraught with peril, for if your witchcraft is found wanting, you could just as easily end up in front of the mob as any other witch.
Everybody holds a few irrational views. People have told each other witch stories around fires since prehistoric times. Green Berets know that sometimes, you need a good witch to fight a bad witch, and nobody likes werewolves. Find your strengths and use them for good.
(Featured image courtesy of embassyofhaiti-rsa.org)
This article was originally published on the Loadout Room and written by Mark Miller