Monday, May 08, 2006

You Are A No-Go At This Station

The mentality is a lot different when you're actually in front of the grader and he's got the stopwatch. You're looking at what you have to do, and no matter how unmotivated you were the night before, suddenly you've got this desire to conquer whatever it is that you're doing.

We woke up this morning and got all our gear ready, and waited. There was a couple hangups in the transportation department, so we ended up chilling in the Day Room, watching "Boondock Saints" until the cattle trucks arrived. Outside, everyone's sounding off with false motivation, screaming "EIB!!!", the mantra of our misery.

Pile into the truck, sit on the bench, barrel of rifle is pointing to the ground, assault pack (cute little army backpack) resting on your lap. Someone is singing "I believe I can fly..." then "Afternoon Delight". Everyone's spirits are high for some reason. Our entertainer pauses, thinking for another song, when I shout.

"Shot in the heart!"

And five or six voices respond, "And you're to blame!"

More voices, "You give love...a bad name!"

And the mandatory echo, "BAD NAME!"

That was a thing with some friends of mine back home. For no discernable reason, out of nowhere, typically in class, one would give the introductory line and the rest would follow. I guess it translates well to others.

Step off of cattle truck, shouldering assault pack and hanging M4 to equipment vest via carribeaner. Every infantryman in the regiment is out here, masses of formations. Seas of intermingled BDUs (green camo uniforms) and ACUs (bizarre new uniform) fill your eyes as you meld with them. Scoresheets are being passed out like Halloween candy. Loudspeakers are set up, and "Bad To The Bone" begins to play. We get a speech from the Sergeant Major, and then we're off.

Some go to where chow was set up to eat first, but I skipped that. Better to get started while the lines aren't as long. I found myself at the .50 cal stations. First task: set headspace and timing on a .50 cal machine gun.

This is a really easy task once you learn it. One of the gimmes. Basically, the purpose of it is to ensure that the inner parts of the bad beast are correctly spaced apart. Too easy.

"Time starts when you touch the weapon."

There is a memory aid I was taught to make the steps easy to remember. Its pretty humorous, and it works. As much as I'd love to share it, my gut tells me not to. Its basically a big sexual metaphor, and could easily offend people. So it stays there with the .50 cal. Maybe some day later I'll write about it, but for now it probably wouldn't be a good idea.

I lean a little on my hand that's resting on the charging handle, backing the bolt off an inch or so, and with my other hand, I screw the barrel in. Once its fully seated, I loosen it two clicks. I stick one gauge into a small nitch to ensure it fits. I stick a larger gauge into the same nitch to ensure that it DOESN'T fit. Headspace is properly set. I charge the weapon and allow the bolt to go forward, then I wedge a skinny gauge in between the side of the barrel and the housing (or whatever). I take the backpiece trigger housing off of the .50 and loosen a nut until its touching the trigger mechanism. Then I tighten it a click and attempt to push a rod up to make the weapon fire. I do this over and over. Tighten, push, tighten, push, tighten, push until it clicks when I push the rod. The I tighted the nut two more clicks and put the backpiece on again. I take the skinny gauge out, charge the weapon, and then put the fat gauge in the same spot and attempt to fire it. It doesn't fire, and I'm a Go at this station.

This is true except for one thing. I had forgotten to wedge the skinny gauge in the barrel and had taken the backpiece off and had already been working on adjusting the nut. Thankfully I caught myself, put the backpiece back on, wedged the gauge, charged the beast and brought the bolt forward (so that the spring inside didnt shoot out when I took the backpiece off and impale me) and continued on. Thankfully my grader wasn't a dick and didn't No-Go me, but instead waited to see if I went back and corrected the problem.

Congratulations! You've completed one task out of a lot. I think there's thirty some tasks total. I grabbed my gear and moved over to the next .50 cal station: load, fire, correct malfunction, and clear a .50 cal machine gun.

"Time starts when you touch the weapon."

I'm holding five linked rounds in my hands. I use my forearm to slam the feed tray cover down, and attempt to shove the first round in. This is the official way to load the beast, and no one uses it, because its stupid. Easier to load it like a SAW or a 240Bravo, with the cover up, place them in, and shut the cover on it. For this, we have to cram them in there.

My hands are freezing and I'm nervous as hell. I'm thinking about all the uptraining, and how there are a couple different ways to shove the rounds in, and I'm second guessing myself, pushing on the bastards and having no luck. For this part of the task, you have ten seconds to get the rounds in, then move around to the rear of the weapon, charge it twice, lock the bolt catch down, and fire. That ten seconds is over quick.

"At this time, you are a No-Go at this station. You have one hour to retest."

"I have to wait an hour before retesting? Or I have to retest within an hour, sergeant?"

"You have to retest within this hour."

Dude, weak. I went to the end of the line, thinking about how this time, I was just going to shove those fucking rounds in there and show them who's boss. Soon enough, I'm in front of that goddamn machine gun again. Time starts, I stuff those fucking abominable brass bastards into the beast's mouth, and jump behind the gun and grab the charging handle and yank it back. I forgot to hold the bolt release button down. The bolt doesn't slam forward, and now I'm fumbling to get back on track. Time runs out.

So I'm done with EIB for this year. And now someone is yelling for everyone who is here at the barracks to go to the day room. Time for a shitty detail. Lame.

1 comment:

BigD said...

Damn, I never was any good at poker!