Fear is Poison
In an episode of the classic WW2 mini-series Band of Brothers, Easy Company is involved in the seige of Bastogne, a small town in Belgium. The company lacks ammo, supplies, and gear in the midst of a cold December winter. Additionally, the men had to sleep with one eye open as they were constantly getting pounded by artillery fire from the Germans. With no shelter, no warm clothes, and their mates getting killed one by one, many soldiers understandably reached their breaking point.
One of Easy Company’s new recruits was found trying to dig a foxhole with their barehands like a dog. Clearly distraught, the recruit continued, not noticing their fingernails ripping off from the digging. The commanding officer sent the recruit them home, “not for their sake but for ours.” He then said:
Fear is poison in combat. Something we all felt but you just didn’t show it. You can’t. It’s destructive, and it’s contagious.
If a soldier shows signs of fear, this fear can spread to the rest of the unit like a plague. This fear leads to weakness and this weakness leads to death.