So here’s the situation. I got in trouble the other day.
What did I get into trouble for?
Not having my hat!
Yes you read that right, I got into a little bit of hot water because I didn’t have the correct hat. Ladies and Gentlemen these are the things that senior NCO’s care about in a combat zone. Hats!
So here’s how this one went down. And if this ain’t the weirdest chain of events that led to me getting yelled at for not having the right hat, I don’t know what is.
A helicopter took off from Sharana. Apparently, this helicopter went down. I don’t know if it was shot down, or crashed. Either way, it went down. Shortly after the helicopter going down the Taliban started lighting up the radios with chatter about having taken an American prisoner. Which turned out to be nothing more than enemy bullshit.
At the time, there was a soldier from my unit who was supposed to be in transit to another FOB. But no one knew exactly where he was, or whether he had gotten onto a helicopter and left. See where this is going?
So the First Sergeant called an accountability formation. In order to make sure that everyone was accounted for. Makes sense, if one of our guys got taken hostage I would want to know about it.
Well, formations are time for uniforms. Everyone has to look the same. Same uniform, same patches, same weapons, same everything...same hats! Now this is where I screwed the proverbial pooch.
We have two different hats that we can wear around here. One is a boonie cap. You know the one that your grandfather wore fishing and had all his lures on it. Except ours is digital camouflage and has our name and rank on it. Then there is the other one. A patrol cap, or PC. Basically its an Army baseball cap, with, once again, our name and rank on it. This is the one that I don’t have.
Why don’t I have it? Well first of all because it is dirty as hell. Secondly, because it is about as hot as the floor above hell here right now, and the sun is shining...oppressively all damn day. So I wanted to wear the boonie cap. It gives you more shade and protects your ears from sunburn. And given the fact that I have about the fairest skin known to man and have been known to burn to a crisp in under 4 minutes I figured the extra protection would be good. Having said all of that, I decided to put my PC in another box to go to the next place we are going to live. I packed it away to be trucked up there, so that I didn’t have to carry the damn thing around.
Oh hells bells, the sky is falling. Why? Because the First Sergeant wants the uniform for this accountability formation to be in PC’s. Well now isn’t this a bitch.
So I go to the formation. Shortly after getting there, my platoon sergeant asks me where my hat is. I say its in a box in the conex that is getting trucked to Salerno (our next FOB). Why is it there? He inquires. I lay it out for him.
He tells me that I have to get that hat out of the conex so that if there are any more formations I will have it and be in uniform. Right after he gets done yelling at me for some blah, blah, blah. (Sorry I stopped listening right after he asked where my hat was.)
Okay, do you remember what conex’s are? They are semi-trailers that are detached and set on the ground so that we can load them up, then a big truck comes over with a crane, picks them up and sets them on the back of another truck.
So we had loaded this thing with all our gear to go to Salerno. Its about 12 feet tall, 15 feet across, and 40 feet or so long. We packed this thing with kicker boxes, which are just palletized boxes that we throw miscellaneous bullshit into, we packed this thing full of tuff boxes, which are the boxes we use to pack all our personal shit into (and where I put my hat.) Not to mention we packed this thing with guitars, refrigerators, televisions, tool boxes and a myriad of other really heavy shit. We packed this thing to the brim. Top to bottom, left to right, and front to back this thing is chock full of shit, and heavy shit at that.
Take a wild guess where my tuff box is! If you guessed all the way in the back, all the way at the bottom and all the way in the corner of this fucking thing, get yourself a cookie.
First, we had to get past all the miscellaneous stuff. Which took about 20 minutes for 6 guys to offload.
Now the fun began. Getting past the kicker boxes. Now these things are probably like 5 feet squared and just as tall, full of crap, so they weigh a ton. To make matters worse they are double stacked, one right on top of the other.
Normally, this is a job for a forklift. “Hey, can we get the forklift?”
“Of course it is, why wouldn’t it be?”
So that idea got shot down pretty quick. So now we are going to put six guys on each of these kicker boxes and move them. Except for the fact that they are jammed up against the wall of the conex and we can only lift from two sides.
Great idea guys. Take something that probably weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 pounds and lift it up unevenly. There isn’t anything that could go wrong here, is there?
Luckily no one got crushed to death.
So we finally managed to move three kicker boxes out of our way. We took the top layer of kickers off so that we could get back to where the tuff boxes are. First things first, we have to move the top three tuff boxes off of mine. Which was fairly easy, the first two came off with no problem. Then the third one was a pain in the ass. It was wedged between the wall of the conex, the kicker box in front of it, and the tuff boxes next to it. So we had to shove one of our skinnier guys in there to pull this thing out. Him in back, and me in front. Moving his end two inches, then I moved mine 2 inches. Moving this thing up, 2 inches at a time, for the three feet it took to finally yank this bitch out. By the by, this tuff box weighs about 80 pounds. Try that with just your fingers!
Now comes the fun part. My tuff box is up against the conex wall. The side of the box with the locks on it is pressed right up against the wall. Which bear in mind is metal and is nice and hot from the searing summer sun. So anyway, the skinny guy (aka “The Prince” I’ll explain that later.) Pushes and prods, and burns himself until he manages to get the first lock off. I couldn’t imagine how this would’ve went if I would’ve put combination locks on this damn box. Then he goes after the second one. Getting it off fairly easily, but dropping his sunglasses down the side of the conex next to the kicker box in the process. Wonderful, now we have to figure out a way to dig that shit out of there without moving anything else. Luckily, all our mechanics are ex-car thieves who are quite handy with a wire hanger.
So here’s me, lying on top of the kicker box, bent over the side at the waist, with all the blood rushing directly to my face, digging through this tuff box looking for a mother fucking hat! So I pulled out a few other things that I remembered that I wanted and shouldn’t have shoved in there and I kept digging...and digging...and digging.
Really, am I going to go through all of this to come to find that the damn hat isn’t even in there?
Finally, after I had dug out every damn thing in the box, I found my hat.
By this time, all of us are dripping sweat, and dirtier than Amsterdam. Fun all around.
And all of this...for a hat!
This is the Army Mr. Jones.
I love you Mom...
P.S. The guy’s name is the “Prince” because he has a “Prince Albert” or more commonly known as a bolt through the cock. Don’t worry, I have never seen it, but I have heard it!