punji stake


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pun′ji stake`

(ˈpʊn dʒi, ˈpʌn-)
n.
a sharp bamboo stake concealed, as in high grass, at an angle so as to gash the feet and legs of enemy soldiers.
[1870–75; earlier punjee, panja]
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His Army assignments included squad leader with the 14th Brigade's "Golden Dragons," and track commander with the 10th Cavalry's "Buffalo Soldiers." While serving with the 4th Infantry Division in 1970, he was wounded in the right leg by a punji stake while making his way through high elephant grass in the Vietnam Central Highlands.
Rocks thrust upward through the earth's crust, often shattered, unstable leg-breakers and ankle-busters; old aircraft wreckage featuring violently torn knife-edged scrap teeming with tetanus; the corpses of giant trees felled by lightning or disease, their sharp, splintered bones sticking up like huge punji stakes to skewer you like a kebab, or the worst: Naturally-occurring sinkholes with steep, slick, crumbling sides falling sometimes a 100 feet or more below ground-level to a pit of sodden death-rot; a soup of fermenting bacteria and miasmic vapors, slow-cooking incautious animals--and men.
This approach is similar to the nylon inserts that were placed in jungle boots during the Vietnam War to protect against punji stakes. Other materials can reduce tread wear and sole separation, thus increasing the life of the boot.