5 Funny Things Veterans Can Say When Asked ‘Did You Ever Kill Anyone?’

Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret

We've all had that moment. Maybe sitting at dinner with a well-meaning family member, maybe with an over-eager gal or guy you were chatting up at a bar one night, or perhaps just a friendly weirdo who recognized an embarrassing shirt or service tattoo on the subway one day. Whatever the circumstances, there isn't a single veteran I've ever met who hasn't, at least once, been asked the eternal question of the civilian acquaintance: "So, did you ever kill anyone?"

Regardless of whether or not you have, it's one hell of an awkward spot to be put it. Personally, I've yet to meet the person that hasn't found it a frustrating, if not annoying, query to have directed at them. Veterans on the whole hate answering this damn question, and I've seen more than a few chums unable to respond to it with anything beyond baffled surprise and mild indignation.

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So, for all those out there who don't quite know how to answer that question, here are my patent-pending, never-fail responses. Supply your own level of sarcasm as needed.

1. “Not yet.”

My go-to comeback. Be sure to maintain constant, unblinking eye contact with the person who asked you in the first place. And a creepy smile beamed his way never hurts. After all, you may be considering him to be your first.

2. “Yes, but only for food.”

Credit where credit is due, this is the eerily calm version of my father's response to the "kill" question. His own particular method, which I last saw directed at two dozen terrified high school students, was to yell "Yeah, I fucking killed 'em and I ate 'em!" It's certainly one way to do it, but personally I recommend distasteful over aggressive. And if it doesn't divert them right away, explain how you always used every part of the body, just like the Native Americans.

3. Metaphorically.

A meaningful look off into the distance and esoteric nod are key to selling this one. Because, like, what if you could kill someone … without really killing them? Mind equals blown. Works particularly well with curious liberal arts students.

4. “Batman does not kill.”

Enough said. Wear your cape.

5. Maniacal laughter.

I consider this what is typically called "the nuclear option." If you're just sick as hell of getting asked or really bear a grudge to the questioner, give it your best supervillain guffaw until they start running. Trust me, it won't take long.

Please feel free to throw your own responses back at the people who get curious on this matter, but my aforementioned five are always solid fallbacks. Of course, you could always just be a mature, confident adult and speak straightforwardly and honestly about your own personal combat experience or lack thereof. But come on, where's the fun in that?

Oh, and for those of you out there wondering: no, I haven't killed anyone. At least, not yet.


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DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday to receive the remains of four Americans killed in a suicide bombing in northern Syria.

Trump, locked in a battle with congressional Democrats that has led to a nearly month-long partial government shutdown, announced his trip via a pre-dawn tweet, saying he was going "to be with the families of 4 very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!"

Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House prior to departure that he planned to meet the families, a duty which he said "might be the toughest thing I have to do as president."

He was greeted by military staff at Dover Air Force Base after a short flight from Joint Base Andrews, but did not speak to reporters before entering his motorcade.

Flanked by military officials, Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan filed up a ramp leading onto a military transport aircraft, where a prayer was given to honor the memory of Scott Wirtz, a civilian Department of Defense employee from St. Louis.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Trump filed down the plank and saluted while six service members clad in fatigues and white gloves carried an American flag-draped casket carrying Wirtz to a waiting gray van.

The Dover base is a traditional hub for returning the remains of American troops abroad.

The United States believes the attack that killed the Americans was the work of Islamic State militants.

Trump announced last month that he planned to speedily withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, but has since said it does not need to go quickly as he tries to ensure safety of Kurdish allies in northern Syria who are at risk of attack from neighboring Turkey.

Trump told reporters on Saturday that his Syria policy has made progress but that some work remained in destroying Islamic State targets. He defended his plans for a withdrawal.

"It's moving along very well, but when I took over it was a total mess. But you do have to ask yourself, we're killing ISIS for Russia, for Iran, for Syria, for Iraq, for a lot of other places. At some point you want to bring our people back home," he said.

In addition to Wirtz, those who died during the Wednesday attack in Manbij, Syria, were Army Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, and Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon Kent, 35, identified as being from upstate New York, the Department of Defense said in a statement.

The Pentagon did not identify the fourth person killed, a contractor working for a private company. U.S. media identified her as Ghadir Taher, a 27-year-old employee of defense contractor Valiant Integrated Services.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Writing by Steve Holland and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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