I grew up when heros wore white hats, rode horses, and taught us the 'code of the west'. I wasn't aware how deeply ingrained this was in me until I found myself in bloody combat with the North Vietnamese Regular Army during the first major engagements with the enemy.
I was an infantryman and when they over ran us, I was forced to fix bayonet and then fight hand to hand with my combat knife when my rifle became too slick with blood to grip it. I'm here to tell you; that looking in a man's eyes when you gut him is not an honorable thing. But the Army did it's job well and I had learned to kill or be killed.
What else did I learn? Many things but the most important thing was, they were men who had familys, loved ones, and didn't want to kill any more htan they wanted to die.
They weren't fanatics like we face today. They were partriots fighting for their homes, familys, and each other.
Ultimately, a soldier fights for the soldier next to him. We don't fight for our country, family, or way of life. We fight for those whom we have come to love as friends and comrades.
My heros are still cowboys wearing white hats. But along with them, I've added some faces whose names I'll never know who fought under the 'code of the west' only they didn't know it. They thought they were just doing their duty with honor.