Friday, August 19, 2016

More random tales from the desert...

So, more on the whole first combat deployment…  Going with another “Kelly’s Heroes” or maybe “M.A.S.H” theme… It gave me a fairly warped view on how the Army worked.  I was wrong of course, there is SO much bureaucratic BS everywhere…  Well, except in the confusion as we prepared to actually play in the desert.  In general, I found that the attitude most units had toward resupplying Engineers was just a small step ahead of “just give the stuff to the enemy” …  So, we got creative.  My Squad Leader was former Airborne with the 82nd so he had a very good idea how this sort of thing worked…  We made ourselves available to the Supply SGT so we had the first crack at anything that was, say…  Just laying around the port…  In the truck it went and we’d figure out what we ended up with later.  How we got the desert camouflage uniforms and a few extra pairs of the desert and jungle boots…  Whatever happened to be coming off the boats, the Navy guys just wanted it off their pier and they did not care WHERE it went as long as it was clearly Americans taking it off the pier…

Worked with bigger things as well…  The ACE is/was essentially an armored bulldozer.  It was determined that we needed one…  Of course, lacking such a thing, and since none of us were trained in the operation of such a vehicle…  So, we went to the port.  The Navy was offloading some, and there was a Soldier from a unit that had moved to the front leaving him behind.  So, we talked to him and he asked to come with us to the front…  Anything to get off that port.  Being detached in the wrong service meant “issues”, so… We said, no problem, we were of course short per usual and it was no problem.  The ACE we decided to snag was CLEARLY marked USMC and we were clearly Army…  And the Navy boys just wanted the damn thing off their docks, and they did not care that we were clearly stealing it....  So, we went to the front with a vehicle we stole and a driver who was probably AWOL if we were concerned with the technicalities… 

Our weapons were more of the same sort of thing…  Our unit got issued the M-16A2 just before we deployed, so we zeroed the weapons and everyone was firing them for the first time.  These were the first ones with the heavier barrel and the 3 round burst.  Mine had the 203 grenade launcher, but that was a fairly standard thing, our Platoon had 7 of the things.  But back at the port, we found a warehouse where there were weapons…  We went in and a crusty old Marine Gunnery SGT was in charge…  He found out that we were Engineers and he set us up with extra M3 Grease Guns, 1911’s and we grabbed a few M-16A1’s…  We wanted the lower receivers so we could use the fully automatic fire with the heavier barrels of the A2’s…  Oh, and tracer ammo for the M3’s…  .45 cal tracer ammo J…  Fun stuff, and that’ll come up later…  But there we were literally wandering around this giant warehouse of weapons with shopping carts…  This was NOT the norm elsewhere I was to find out of course, but here…  Well, it worked.


This sort of thing REALLY helped me later when I ended up going Airborne myself and for my second combat deployment.  The “Make do with what you have” combined with “if you find it, it’s yours” WRT resupply…  Got pretty good at improvising and adapting to rapidly changing situations…  In my last chat with the Faculty Director of my organization he said that I was “Unnaturally calm in stressful situations”, but I’m fairly sure he had no idea WHY I was that calm in a University setting…  Not like anyone is shooting at us.  I slept through incoming artillery knowing there wasn’t anything I could do in anything I could do in any case…  13-ton aluminum vehicle loaded out with 2-3 tons of ammo and explosives, so if we got hit…  Well, it would be quick and no worries about just being wounded…