We just returned from another fun filled day out on one of the mortar points. We woke up this morning, got all of our gear ready, and then waited, as always. Waiting is more sure and more recurring than the wildfire spread of reality television and low calibur Hollywood films. Get used to it. By the way, the average American spends some ungodly fraction of their lives waiting in line. Something to think about.
Once we arrived at our mortar point, naturally, the weather was bad. The gods of weather couldn't decide if they felt like raining or snowing, so they threw in plenty of both. Cold and wet, welcome to Fort Lewis. We set our cute little 60mm mortars up quickly enough, and then waited a couple HOURS for the ammo truck to deliver the rounds for us. Yes, logically, we could have stayed back in the rear (back at our barracks for you civilian types), until that afternoon. But WHERE is the fun in logic? Sorry, there is none. I prefer to shiver.
At one point, I was sitting in the back of the MTV (deuce and a half, whatever you'd like to call the stereotypical big green army truck with the back covered by tarp) in front of a propane heater, holding my gloves in front of it in an attempt to dry them. Steam rose from them, making me wonder if they were burning. They weren't. But they were pretty much useless for the rest of the day.
By some blessing of the spirits of productivity, our ammo finally arrived, and we spent a short time opening the crates, then the ammo cans, then the cardboard tubes that held the rounds, and we removed all of the excess packing, and it was the absolute most intense thing I've ever done. Heart pounding, non-stop action. And I'm a liar.
So now your guns are up and your rounds are ready, time to rock, right? WRONG! The other mortar was having all sorts of trouble getting layed in or something. They couldn't seem to get on target, and maybe our Forward Observers were sucking, maybe the sight was off, maybe the gunner is craptastic, who knows. My team played the Wait and Freeze game. It was AWESOME!
After all of that was finally over, we slowly picked up momentum. My sniper friend, who was out there for pretty much no reason, was complaining about how boring the mortar job is. Hey pal, eat me. You didn't get stiffed by being put in a mortar platoon in basic. Allow me to digress:
This site is called Eleven-Bravo, because I thought that my MOS was going to be 11B (Infantry). When you enlist for infantry, the temporary MOS (Military Occupational Specialty; Job) is 11X. X is the universal variable I guess.
Me: "K, I want Infantry as my MOS."
Recruiter: "Ok, we'll sign you up as eleven x-ray.'
Me: "Uh, I want eleven-bravo."
Recruiter: "11X IS infantry. That's the enlistment MOS for infantry."
I figured that they had changed the nomenclature for infantry or something. I didn't know that there were various forms of infantry, like REAL Infantry (11B) or Infantry With Mortar Specialization And The Wonderful Position of Being Shit On By The 11Bs And Receiving No Respect Or Praise Whatsoever (11C). But whatever, I'm a mortarman, I like it, it has its moments, I still get to do gung ho G.I. Joe trigger puller shit, so it all works just fine. I don't need to be figuratively fellated by everyone else in the army because I chose a particular flavor of army green.
Would I have come off a little less bitter if I would have just drowned a kitten instead of writing that? Close race.
Back to some shred of a point, after a slow and creaking start, we finally got it together, and were able to rock. I spent most of the time prepping the rounds, pulling extra charges (little half donut yellow looking things that ignite upon firing and propel the round through the air) off, setting the fuse to Impact or whatever the fire mission called for, pulling off the safety pin, and handing it to the dude hanging the rounds. When I wasn't doing that, I was practising my papparazi powers by whipping out the video camera and recording the wonderful destruction we rained upon the forests of Washington. Call it revenge.
My sniper buddy hung quite a few rounds, and at the end of the night, since I was done being the ammo bitch, I dropped the remaining rounds into the Wonder Tube and sent them on a one way trip to the rainforest, where they left their mark. Wait, no, I think I only fired off infrared illumination rounds. Oh well, its all the same at the end of the day. Here's a profound statement.
"Combat medics are the shit because they are sick, twisted fucks." -Me.
Our ears rang like bells today, and we had fun. I think I like my recruiter.