Wednesday, December 31, 2008 2139 hrs.
Yep, that's right 27 mother fucking hours. I wish I could come up with a better way of putting it, but in this case I do think that the profanity is warranted.
So why don't I tell you all about my New Year's Eve this year. Now I am departing from the random bitching and moaning and the romantic sentiments expressed in my recent posts and I am getting back to my bread and butter of finding the humor in the most ridiculously fucked up situations that the Army can put together for me. Mostly because if I did not, I would promptly lose my mind. I mean more so than I already have.
So we had a mission today. Obviously, I cannot share the particulars, but I can share the generalities. So suffice it to say that a shit ton of vehicles were moving from one place to another and we had to make sure that they got from point A to point B safely. Now on the surface this is a very understandable thing. Making sure that the military's equipment is well taken care of, making sure that military personnel are well protected, making sure that the military's ability to conduct it's missions is ensured. All these things are great and admirable goals. However, that is what we were supposed to do prior to our, as I have called it in the past, "Colony O' Dickbags" got a hold of it.
So this caravan of stuff was arriving sometime around midday today. Invariably due to the fact that the US military is involved there is no way that something like this is going to go smoothly. First things first, someone ask me when we left to meet this convoy that was supposed to arrive sometime around noon (ish)? We left at 1400-yesterday afternoon. 22 hours prior to the expected arrival time. Even though we were only about 1 to 1 and a half hours from the place where we were supposed to meet them. I mean I know the early bird gets the worm, but the 22 hours early bird runs out of fuel!
So at 1400 we rolled out, knowing full well that I was going to be stuck in this truck that has the leg room of a coach seat on a Mexican airline. (Yes I would know) So I have this truck loaded down with extra ammunition, enough pyrotechnics to burn down Noah's Ark, a few grenades, some smoke (not the good kind), a few days worth of food and water and then a smorgasbord of fatty cakes, cookies, chips, candy, Mountain Dew, Gatorade and what not. I mean not only did I not eat one single piece of real food in the past 27 hours but also I have not consumed one drop of unflavored water. Which led to a few rather humorous "Code Yellow's" while we were on the move. But I'll get to that later.
Moving on, so we roll out. Now for the most part the beginning stages of this little operation went about as close to perfect as any military operation can or will ever go. Which means that only one person got stabbed with their new knife, the radios only broke about half a dozen times, and only one vehicle wouldn't start after we had thoroughly checked it only 3 hours before. Not to mention only one of our weapons would no longer function after the gunner had supposedly fixed all the issues with it. I am not kidding when I say that the aforementioned list of fuck ups is considered a good day around here. And yes, my driver got a new knife from supply and wanted to show it to me so I took it and while goofing around with it, maybe I somehow managed to stab her with it. Jeez, it's not like I was trying to kill her or anything, I mean cut a guy some slack here.
We get out to the route and are moving along at a pretty good clip and make it to our staging area in about an hour. Jesus, Mary & Joseph and all the Saints! Someone call the newspaper, we made it here in the amount of time it should take to get here. We did not get stuck in the mud, we didn't flip any vehicles over, we didn't run into Mr. Taliban Man and get all shot up, the road did not explode and no one ran over any small children. (All except the last one is shit that we do all the time, the last one we have never done, it was added for humorous effect, take a joke people)
So now as we are rolling around we encounter villages. Imagine that, there are actually people who live here! So these people have kids, and these kids are just like American kids. THEY ARE AN ENORMOUS PAIN IN THE ASS! They mob our trucks and want everything they can get out of you. Now when I first got here I would give these kids everything I had. Candy, cakes, pop, cigarettes (yep), and whatever else I had. Lately, I have realized that if I give them all this stuff I won't have any for my guys or myself so we put them on a rationing program. We launch candy and what not from the turrets of our vehicles and watch and laugh hysterically as these kids chase after the items, and proceed to mercilessly beat the shit out of each other for possession of them.
Now I know that sounds like I am a horrible person, which is not entirely untrue. However, it does serve a real and honorable purpose. These kids mob our trucks, which weigh about 20,000 lbs. a piece and carry highly dangerous military equipment and a myriad of other knick, knacks that could cause them serious bodily harm and/or death. So we had to come up with a way to get them away from our trucks. So we play fetch. This accomplishes the goal of getting them away from our trucks so we don't turn any innocent Afghani children into innocent Afghani pancakes, and it can be done with a minimum of exposure to disciplinary action by our commander, who has made it abundantly clear that we are to give nothing at all to the locals. Unfortunately, it normally starts a brawl amongst the kids. However, a few bloody noses and black eyes are better than a dead kid. Don't you agree? Furthermore, it provides the GI's with a bit of entertainment, and yes we do bet on which kid gets the candy. In addition, I do know that I am going to hell for doing this kind of shit.
Moving on now comes the funny officer stuff. We are rolling along and one of our NCO’s, who is driving today because some of his team is on leave, is just like me and a bit of a smart ass. Now since his team is out he got chosen to drive the Lieutenant around. Something he definitely doesn't want to do. So if he has to he is going to have some fun with it. So lucky for him and us, our LT fell asleep about 20 minutes into the ride, and we made it to our destination within about 60 minutes, but no one woke the LT up. And we just kept on going. For about 20 more kilometers. (12.5 miles)
Needless to say we were a bit off the mark of where we were supposed to be. So when he wakes up, he had us patrol around a little more and then he chose two points that were about 4 kilometers apart and set those up as our checkpoints. Now I have yet to figure out whether or not he knew we were that far off of where we were supposed to be, or he was just trying to cover the fact that he slept all that way, or if he changed the mission. I don't know for sure, but I wouldn't mind putting a few bucks on the middle one.
Now here is the really funny part. Because by this time it's dark and we are driving in the dark, with no lights on, because we don't want anyone to see us. I would tell you how we can do this but I think that would violate OPSEC and if you have half a brain you can figure it out. So anyways, we drive to the first checkpoint, and we stop for an hour. Then we drive to the second checkpoint, and we stop for an hour. And we repeated this process, in the dark for the next 12 hours! Stopping periodically to have a "Code Yellow" all over some cactus or sometimes when the wind kicked up all over my damn boots! Yep, that's it. We left 22 hours early, to go out in the dark and drive back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth. For 12 hours. And I haven't even gotten to the fact that my driver is a female and today just happened to be the beginning of those delightful few days she will have every month until I shoot myself in the head. Try that for 12 hours folks. Staring out into the darkness, which is boring enough, but then you have to stare at the same scenery through the darkness and it begins to become maddening. Then add to the mix a ragging female and you have a recipe for one of the more hilarious situations I have ever found myself in.
So now it’s about 3 o'clock in the morning and she smokes, and so do I, so we have been switching off throughout the night. I'll have one, then she will, then we'll wait till we want another and we repeat the process. So I am sitting there lighting a cigarette and over the radio comes the Lieutenant's voice, "Hey, everyone knows that this is a non-smoking flight, correct?" To which I promptly respond, "Maybe in your plane, sir but in my truck I have yet to see a no smoking sign” And I can still remember thinking to myself. For Chrissakes man, you are thirty years old and you still smart off like you are a cocky little 16-year-old punk. Well if the shoe fits right? Now our LT is actually a pretty cool guy. Other than the fact that he is the biggest mooch I have ever met, he is a good man. Let me explain. Everybody who has ever been in the military knows at least one of these guys. He is the guy who never has cigarettes, never has anything really, and just waits till someone else rips theirs out and asks for one of theirs. Cigarette Vultures is what I call these pricks. They prey on the communal nature of the military and that no one wants to see anyone go without. Now I have fun with them just because I am a bit of a prick. But all I do is when they ask for a cigarette, I tell them flat out, NO! Or FUCK OFF! Or something to that effect. And the look on their face is priceless. Sorry, it's just my personality. Now the only thing that redeems the LT is he always gets you back. He bums about 100 cigarettes, and then he brings you a carton or something. So he makes it even, which makes him OK with me.
But back to what I was actually talking about. The PMS'ing female I have driving my instrument of destruction. So I say that to the Lieutenant and she flips. I mean flips, just starts cussing me out up and down and yelling and screaming that he is not going to let us smoke anymore and she is going nuts. I am pretty sure she started speaking in tongues, all I needed was for her head to spin around and vomit up a little pea-green soup and we would've had an Afghanistanimation version of the Exorcist, starring my driver, my gunner and myself. So after she is done damning me to hell, and saying some very nasty things about the condition and/or existence of my penis I, in my abject terror offered her a piece of chocolate. I mean, that's just what guys do, chick flips out, and we try to give her candy. Usually works. This time it did calmed her down and brought her back to the land of the unpossessed.
We go through the rest of the night with her pissing and moaning about this or that. I wish I could remember but I have that oh so typical male trait of tuning a bitching woman out and not listening. I just sank into a symphony of "uh huh's, Yep's, and Really's” Then the sun comes back up, and the fun begins.
Now the sun comes up here about 0530, so we have been rolling around in this truck through the Afghani countryside for in excess of 15 hours now. And the convoy we were sent to meet hasn't even left its point of origin yet. We are supposed to find the high ground along this route and secure it.
OK, no problem. So we start driving up to this hilltop and my driver who is still about one merit badge away from her Demon Girl's sash, is fading the truck to the left. Which is right down the side of this hill. Which is not where I want to go, not only due to the fact that we are supposed to secure the high ground, but it also would cause said truck to roll over, and over, and over, and over. Which would make me very unhappy.
So I tell her to cut it out and turn the vehicle to the right. She says, "I am going right!" At which point, just to make sure I am not nuts, I hold up my hands in the form of an L. Remember that trick they taught you in grade school where the one that makes an L is your left hand. I kept on saying, "To the right, to the right, to the right, TO THE RIGHT!" And she kept fading this truck over to the left and into oblivion. Finally, I had to stop and yell at her, "TURN TOWARDS ME, DIPSHIT!" Which she did, but then instead of going into a tirade of biblical proportions again, she instead this time went with the silent treatment. Ha, I don't think she knows whom she is dealing with. The silent treatment is like heaven on earth for me.
So we make it up to the top of this hill and a bunch of us are up there all goofing around. We have been cooped up in these trucks for almost 16 hours by now and we are absolutely giddy to be out of them. So we almost immediately start to fuck around. We set Mountain Dew cans on the rocks and fling other rocks at them. We mark our territory by relieving ourselves on the ground. We take pictures of each other as we do our best Napoleon impressions on top of the trucks. We play basketball with bite size cookies and each other’s mouths. We even managed to take a couple of good pictures, one of which I think is going to be a recruiting poster someday. (It's the one on top) Then we start to throw rocks at the trucks of those in our convoy that didn't come to the top of the hill, and laugh as they scurry into the cabs of their trucks. Then my buddy, 'American GI' and I got into an argument because I didn't offer him a star crunch when he offered me a Mountain Dew. Maybe that was breach of etiquette, but I still think a star crunch is worth about 3 of these little baby Mountain Dew's that they have here.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is your military. Professional soldiers, who are thoroughly trained, and schooled in the conduct of war and military operations. Not to mention disciplined in the harshest of conditions to endure the most unforgiving terrain and weather the world has to offer. Armed with the most advanced and sophisticated weaponry the world has ever seen and we ride in the most expensive vehicles in any military arsenal, along with the most sophisticated and expensive communication equipment in the world. And what do we do when placed on an important military mission?
We throw cookies at each other!
And we sat there (in the trucks, per order of the LT) for about 3 hours waiting for the convoy to come by. Now this is going to be hard to believe but you are just going to have to trust me, because I know this is going to sound a little absurd...THEY GOT THERE ON TIME! I mean these guys actually were, where they were supposed to be at the appointed time! First thing that came to mind was that they sure as hell weren't American soldiers, but sure enough we saw Old Glory flying high and there was no doubt it was them.
Now we have to play leap frog with this big ass convoy, and the other squad from our platoon that has the exact same mission as us, but for some reason didn't have to leave until 0700 this morning. I swear, that someone up there either hates me or is having a lot of fun at my expense. Anyways, so we are jumping from hilltop to hilltop looking around and making sure that Mr. Taliban Man is not around and thinking he might add some fuel to our fire, if you catch my meaning. Luckily, for us for the most part it went off without a hitch. You know only one or two trucks blew up, we only found like 3 bombs, and we only had to stop for one flat tire. Once again, this is considered a very easy day in military terms.
However, since this huge convoy moves at about the speed of smell it took forever and a day to get back home with all this stuff. When all was said and done I spent 27 hours sitting my big ole' ass in that truck, and between the hillbilly I have in the gun, and the She-Devil that drives the damn thing I am truly starting to believe that my truck is cursed.
Anyways, I am done for now. Maybe I'll think of some more later. But right now I need a cigarette and off to bed with me. New Year's doesn't mean shit here, but to all of you back home, Happy New Year and have a drink for me.
I love you mom...