Summary of “Friends”
Jensen and Strunk learned to trust each other through this incident. They made a pact that if either of them would get a terrible wound, the other guy would find a way to put him out of his misery. They signed papers to this effect. Finally, Lee Strunk stepped on a mortar that took off one leg to the knee. While he is waiting for the helicopter to take him to the hospital, he begs Jensen not to kill him. He says it is not so bad. Probably they can sew his leg back on. Strunk keeps making Jensen promise not to kill him, and finally he is taken away. When the men hear that Strunk later died, Jensen is relieved.
Commentary on “Friends”
It is never clear if the men are friends or enemies. They no longer know how to behave to one another in their paranoia. They make the pact because they are trying to reassure themselves they will never have to go back home as cripples. The pact is a psychological insurance policy until Strunk loses his leg. Then he realizes that life at any price is what he wants and begs Jensen not to honor the pact. He does not feel sure that Jensen will back off. Jensen is relieved when Strunk dies on his own, as though he would have to bear the responsibility of Strunk's wrecked life if he lets him live. O' Brien shows the men trying to bargain with their fate.