Thursday, August 18, 2016

Ah, old Army memories...

Before I joined the Army I had read several books and movies that really stuck out in my mind back then.  Specifically, “Catch-22”, “M.A.S.H” and “Kelly’s Heroes”.  I remember thinking that there is NO way that the Army was like that…  And yet when I actually joined…  Mostly my first combat deployment was boring…  I got a killer tan and played a LOT of cards.  I stopped counting after 10,000 games…  So, a fair bit of boredom.  I did also get a killer tan in the ripped up BDU shorts and T-Shirt that I wandered around in regularly…  Unlike most of the folks from the wee damp islands my ancestors came from (Scotland, Ireland, England for the most part) I tan REALLY quickly and well…  So much so that when my youngest was born the poor Nurse mistakenly assumed I was Mexican as she commented that “She’ll look Mexican like her Father” ….  My reply of “Do I know him?” of course probably cleared it up, but…



Yeah, there was some of it that was…  More interesting I guess.  My Bronze Star was a “Catch-22” award as far as I was concerned.  Standard procedure when a set demolition failed to ignite would have been to have the Demo Specialist (me) walk down range with a Det Pack (basically a satchel pack full of explosives) and manually set the charge to “clear” the charge by blowing it up manually…  We had Cav Scouts with us, they set the charges and since they were pretty fearful of the blasting caps, likely they did not seat them fully…  So, when the time fuse burned down it did not ignite the caps which would have set off the HE charge (C-4) …  Now, a bit more about the charge…  It was a charge set in an ammo bunker that we found to be booby trapped and contained several tons of ammunition and chemical rounds (Soviet 122mm stuff).  So, NO WAY I was walking downrange knowing that.  I yelled over to the TC of one of the Bradley’s, had him get me a range to the bunker door.  So, knowing it was 300m, I told them to button up and loaded a grenade into my 203.  NOT the preferred method for setting off sensitized explosives, but a grenade in the bunker DOES work.  So, when the CO found out they were left with the choice of punishing me for disregarding established procedure, but doing it in a way that a) worked and b) was FAR safer to all concerned or rewarding me with a medal.  For the record, unlike CPT Yossarian from the book/movie I did NOT in fact show up to the award ceremony nude…  No ceremony, just the note on my record and a neat little medal…  Never even put the ribbon on my uniform.  THAT pissed off the last 1SGT I had in Germany.  I wore my greens to my best friend’s funeral and he got offended that I had what he felt were too many awards on my uniform.  So, he checked my records…  Well, he was surprised to find I was not even wearing all the awards I was authorized and that pissed him off.  Whatever, it illustrated the difference between a young SGT from a line combat company and an older 1SGT in rear echelon companies his whole career…  

Weird memories surface as I get my resume set for yet another potential job search and I start getting serious about getting back into shape...  Guessing I was about 190 in that picture, I was 205 when I was in the best shape of my life before attending the "Ft Benning School for Belligerent Boys"...  No clue what I weighed on completion of that course, they stopped weighing us when they realized that much weight loss that quickly was "less healthy".  I did weigh 238 on reporting to Basic and weighed 168 on graduation...  NOT wanting to lose THAT much THAT quickly again, but dropping some 30 or so pounds would probably be good...