Coming back from leave, I had an interesting conversation with a woman who had married a Vietnam vet. She was an intelligent woman, and a pretty deep thinker it seemed. She was pretty into the whole "universal love for all mankind" thing, which is cool. A great concept. But since it won't ever work because we aren't perfect and neither is this world, I won't waste my time dreaming. Apparently I'm brainwashed, that's what she told me. This was also before I shared any of my opinions with her. She had basically just decided that I was brainwashed, and she was right, and no other way ever will be. After a half hour of attempting to meet her in the middle in terms of conversation, I had to call it quits.
I'm just that brainwashed. Meh, no big loss.
We came back, took a PT test, then we, the totally awesome mortar section, commenced mortar drills and took a new gunner's exam. I got the same score I did last time, in AIT. A 99. So I'm still an expert gunner, but not all the way. Funny thing is, I think I just happen to luck out on these exams. When we're doing actual drills, I get a little hung up. Doesn't matter, I'm an assistant gunner anyway.
Yesterday, we decided that we were going to be the badasses of all badasses and roadmarch out into the field with our mortar equipment, which made me want to whine like a little baby, but luckily I brought my iPod pacifier. The song "People = Shit" by Slipknot really gets me pumped. A lot. Sometimes its important to be pumped. Like when you're roadmarching, or doing training that matters, or doing your job period, its important to be pumped, because it makes you better at it. I remember one time, I had a two liter bottle of cherry coke or something in my fridge, and I wanted a drink of it really bad. The lid simply would not come off.
So I decided that I'd need to get pumped, which I did. I twisted on the lid as hard as I could, to no avail. I used the tail of my shirt, then a towel, then I beat the lid with the handle of my knife, and it still wouldn't work. And then I got SO pumped that I took my knife out and stabbed the side of the bottle, picked it up, turned it sideways, and drank from the neck of it like a vampire or a wild beast. Man, it was sweet. So you see, you can be pumped about anything, and its always a good thing.
Anyway, as I was roadmarching in a reasonably but not very pumped manner, I was pretty much just looking around at the craptastic Washington scenery, and that was cool too. Once we got to the range, we set up our mortars, choked down MREs, and fun was had by all. We layed the mortars in and waited for fire missions called in by our Forward Observers. Mortars are fun.
FACTS about mortars:
1) Mortarmen are mammals.
2) Mortars rock ALL the time.
3) The purpose of a mortar is to be totally badass and destroy stuff.
All Real Ultimate Power references aside, mortars are certainly amazing. Loud and thunderous, plus the anticipation of the falling round also owns. You drop a round down the tube and try to plug your ears and BOOOM!!!, a nerf football from hell shoots through the air, and then you wait, watching in the distance. Then you see an explosion, and shortly afterwards, you hear it.
We sent a lot of rounds downrange that day. When you fire the first round, the base plate isn't dug in yet, so the gunner had to stand on it while the ammo bearer hung the round. Our gunner braced himself against me because he was afraid of the shock. I would have been, too.
All day, it was cold and wet, and the god(s) were peeing all over us. We were miserable except for when we were blowing the whole world up. Most of the time, we weren't though. Hurry up and wait. The other mortar team had probably a 25% misfire rate, meaning the round didn't go off when it was dropped down the tube. Ha ha. Losers.
We also fired some rounds during the night, one gun firing illumination rounds, our gun firing HE. White Phosphorous rounds are also the coolest thing since the mullet. I'll upload some pictures later, because I'm that cool. Until then, its time for me to go back to work cleaning the mortars.
Oh, and we slept out in the field as well. Luckily we found a bunker to crash in, and it was still miserable. And then we roadmarched back. Now I feel awesome because I get to sleep in a warm bed. Peace!