The following is an excerpt from Matt Mogk’s (“Moke’s”) book Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies.
The most impactful weapons instruction I ever received was in the French Foreign Legion, the mercenary wing of the French military. But it wasn’t what you might think.
One of my trainers, Corporal Blaga, was a little Romanian with a chip on his shoulder. He hated the fact that he’d been assigned to a teaching unit. And he really hated anyone who was bigger than he, which was pretty much everybody. My first week enlisted he broke my nose swinging at the burly Russian recruit talking in the mess line in front of me. The Russian ducked, I bled all over my breakfast, and Blaga scurried off like nothing happened.
Steven Wieland was a stoic German kid who’d had it rough. Raised by a chronically alcoholic mother and abusive stepfather, Wieland scrounged for basics like food and clothes growing up. At eighteen he was tall, solid muscle and my first roommate in the Legion. He didn’t drink. He didn’t smoke. He didn’t lose his temper, or even say a bad word about anybody. He was by all accounts a perfect kid who just wanted to keep his head down and go through life unnoticed. Unfortunately, Blaga had other plans.
One night after a few too many beers and not much else going on around the unit, Blaga decided he needed to assert his authority by making an example of someone, and this time he picked Wieland. He circled us up in a large common room, and pulled Steven to the center.
After lecturing incoherently about respect and what it took to be a Legionnaire, Blaga slapped Wieland about the head getting angrier as the German showed no reaction. Blaga then retrieved a large combat baton from a nearby closet and raised it in the air threateningly. He dared Wieland to attack. He ordered him to charge. But Steven wouldn’t move a muscle.
Frustrated, Blaga started to hit Steven with the club, screaming louder and louder. He smacked him in the mouth with its butt end, striking Wieland across the skull and shoulders repeatedly.
With no other options Steven finally charged prompting Blaga to deal him one last violent blow to the side of his knee. The German was meant to collapse to the floor in a lump of failure, but instead Wieland kept coming and delivered a punch to center of Blaga’s face that speckled the room with blood and knocked the Romanian out cold.
I think Wieland was as shocked as the rest of us, and we all just stood there with our mouths open. After what seemed like forever, another trainer came by to see what the silence was all about and quickly carried Blaga to the infirmary. He would later be transferred to different unit for what was said to be a preapproved move, but we all knew it was because Blaga had lost control of us and we would never take orders from him again.
The next night a group of seven or eight trainers grabbed Wieland from our room and beat him up pretty good. He came back battered and bruised, but his first words to me in his thick German accent were, “Totally worth it.”
So what was the Romanian trying to do? He wanted to intimidate us to show that he was in charge, but instead he got himself reassigned to warehouse duty at the trash yard. Wouldn’t a pistol have worked better than a stick for intimidation? Having had both waved in my face at one time or another, I can tell you the answer is a resounding yes.
The lesson I took away is that when given options it’s crucial to pick the right weapon for the job at hand within the range of your abilities. No weapon is the best weapon for everyone, or every purpose. My top choice might be last on your list, and rightly so.
But ego, testosterone and fantasy should have no place in the decision process if we’re talking about actual zombie survival.
Read more of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies.