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An excerpt from Color of the Sea
a novel by John Hamamura

BASIC


Sam treats his drill sergeant with the same respect he would give to a new martial arts sensei. But the sergeant sets out to break the lone Jap boy, dishes a steady ration of insults and curses, KP and latrine duty. On the obstacle course he sends Sam across first, intending to mock him. But Sam runs it with the grace and power of a young tiger, astonishes the sergeant when he apologizes and adds, “I know I can do better, sir. Can I give it another go?”

They hit bayonet drill and hand-to-hand combat. They call Sam out, intending to
give the Jap a beating. Instead Sam throws down the sergeant and the two
rock-hard instructors one by one, gently, politely, almost apologetically, like an uncle playing with his favorite nephews.

The two instructors take Sam aside --that's when they learn Sam is a Black Belt, that he completed his basic training years ago in Hawaii. That he has been practicing and working out on his own ever since. They return to the training area, position Sam in front of his platoon. Sam wonders if he is about to take them all on. Instead, the lead instructor announces that Sam will assist them with a knife fighting drill. Without another word both instructors whip out practice blades and leap at Sam. The vicious precision of their attack allows Sam no margin for gentleness. Sam drops his assailants so hard, he nearly breaks the second instructor’s arm. Grim-faced, the lead instructor retrieves his knife and rubs his elbow. Sam starts to apologize, but the instructor cuts him off. “Good job, soldier.”

The next day without explanation Sam is made assistant instructor of hand-to-hand combat.

Now they have to run his course . . .

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