My roommate and I got out of PT, so that we could head to the range early. Heavily insulated with two sets of polypros (thermal underwear that puts Long Johns to shame) and our BDUs under full combat gear, we loaded into the back of deuce-and-a-half trucks. With the back end of the tarp shut, its always pretty dark inside, and you can barely make out a handful of G.I.s sitting on benches, trying to catch a little shut-eye as they (and you) bob and weave from the bumpy ride. Someone makes a random comment about how "this guy can't drive", but there usually isn't much conversation, so naturally your thoughts wander, in any direction really.
Once we arrived, we were given the same safety brief we've been hearing over and over since we'd joined, and we set up our monstrous .50 calibur machine guns on their tripods facing the range. My team leader would be the one firing, and I was designated the assistant gunner. If there was time, I'd be able to fire too. Until then, my job was to bring belts of ammunition to my gunner, and look pretty. Perfect opportunity for my precious video camera to come out. I may even upload a picture or two for you great people.
Remembering what it was like to be half-deaf for a day after the live fire range in which my pal lit me up, I wisely inserted ear plugs as ammo belts were locked in place. The 50s were charged (the act of yanking back on a handle to chamber a round), and in turn, I became charged. I'd been waiting to see these evil beasts in action for a very long time. I'd heard stories, myths, legends, and fables of the power of the Ma-Deuce, as its called.
"It can chop down trees!"
"It annihilates anything!"
"It baptised Jesus!"
"The 50 cal took out Soddom and Gommorah!"
"It cured cancer!"
So of course, I'm ready to see the apocalyptic wonders of this heavy duty tank buster. To be honest though, I wasn't all that impressed. Sure, its powerful, and definitely should be respected and not taken lightly. But as I watched it punch holes in the paper targets, I half expected to see collateral damage or something, maybe a little fire and brimstone, or a new Spice Girls CD, or some other sign of the end of the world, but it was actually just a normal, beastly machine gun.
The sound wasn't as deafening as the 120mm mortars are, so who's dissing the Charlies now?
But in all seriousness, it was a pretty awesome spectacle, and those rounds are massive. Sadly, my gunner's 50 was all messed up, and so he could only fire a few rounds. We ended up putting it away, which meant I wouldnt be touching it. Which explains my disappointment with the beast. I've yet to grab ahold and see if I can hang on for eight seconds, so right now, my opinion doesn't mean a lot. Is it loud and thunderous? Oh yeah. Would I fear for my life if one were to fire one in the same zip code as me? You better believe it. Did it baptise Jesus? Doubtful. I can see the Soddom and Gomorrah part, but to be honest, that sounds like the work of mortarmen.
But seeing as religious references for comedic purposes are still a little touchy with some, I'll lay them to rest until next post. I spent the rest of the day messing with my camera, helping out with small errands, and relaxing. This has been the first day in a long time that I was glad to be in the army. We were actually doing something. We weren't BSing around with busywork to make it look like we were "training". No, this goes on my "Holy Crap This Stuff Actually Matters" list. GOOD STUFF!
Happy trails, pictures coming soon.