So yes, we spent more time "under God's blanket" (what a friend referred to the sky as), playing Infantry, no mortar gear included this time.
Pause for wild celebrations that put Spring Break and Mardi Gras to shame.
The bad news was that we were....STAYING OUT IN THE FIELD AGAIN! None of us were in the least bit excited, considering we had just returned from sleeping in the dirt in Yakima, and we're all a bunch of whiny little babies who would rather play Fight Night Round 3 on PlayStation 2 than do our jobs.
As much as we kicked and screamed and clung to each other's legs, we still somehow ended up in the field. Nothing we could do about it now. So we coddled each other like lost orphans, took turns wiping our buddies' tears away, and loaded our magazines with blank rounds. Then we consumed living proof that God hates us: MREs.
The training exercise took place in the same spot that our bunker assault was, except the concertina wire was all gone, the bunkers and all the holes were filled in, and the tread marks from the combat engineers were also gone. One of my friends didn't even realize where we were til I said, "Remember carrying my lifeless corpse up this hill?" I love watching people being hit with realization, when it smashes into them with all the force of the generic fat drunk guy through a coffee table.
The way the mission basically ran down, we were divided into two teams, and the whole squad piled into a Stryker. One dude hadn't gone to Yakistan, so he'd never been in a Stryker before. Giddy. We lurched around, jammed together in that cliche sardine fashion, until we reached our stopping point and the vehicle commander spoke the magic words.
"Prepare to dismount......drop the ramp.....dismount!"
We piled out the back ramp about as fast as you can when you're hunkered down that low in such a cramped space. Imagine trying to keep up with a stampede in your house's crawlspace. Once we were on the ground, we peeled off the road and into the thick bushes and ferns that I love about as much as I love the common cold. There's nothing greater than trying not to trip while trying to keep up while trying not to catch a recoiling branch in the face. I'd prefer that over winning the lottery, becoming Hugh Hefner, or going to college. Oh, I'm sorry, I'm lying again. Silly me.
We had done this whole assault three times by the time we were done. Blank fire, live fire, and then another night iteration with blanks. Just after dismounting during the night operation, one of the team leaders stepped right into a two and a half foot ditch and completely ate it. So naturally, we were crashing through the woods, laughing the entire time. Even when we got to our little "ready spot".
Back to the story.
In each case, after coming through the aforementioned woods, we'd arrive at a spot where we'd chill out (and by that, I mean pull 360 degree security) while we waited for our signal to move out and assault. Once that happened, you can probably guess what we did. We moved out and assaulted. Run to a spot with your team, hit the dirt behind a burm, shoot at unarmed targets (I'm remorseless like that), repeat, until we reach the end of the course. As always, I don't want to go into too much detail, because even though pretty much anyone could get the information on these tactics, I'd rather be safe than stupid.
And for the record, I still hate NODs (the nightvision devices), and they also hate me, and choose to fog up, and refuse to adjust properly to my eyes. Its very comical watching me in action. I make Pauly Shore look good.
We were relieved to find that we wouldnt be spending the rest of the week in the field, but rather just the night, but there was still a chance we'd be able to go back that night. We held on to that dream with a deathgrip that would make Sly Stallone proud. Well, dreams are made to be broken, as I realized while I zipped my sleeping bag up under God's blanket.