The Evil Emperor Mong (of whom all Mil SF authors need to know… or will discover his work)

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that noble gentleman of long mustachios, always on hand to help the enlisted man, the infamous Emperor Mong. If you’re a writer Mil SF, and the Emperor has not regularly visited your pages… you’re doing it wrong. To assist those of you without the experience (alas, what bliss you have missed), I thought I would get an expert to explain his marvelous workings

So: without further ado I pass you into the tender hands of Kris Keldaran.

The picture is a link 🙂

Bring it in boys and girls, Gunny Mormon is here to share a story with you. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, dip it if you want. No, I’m not sharing my Jim Bean barbecue sunflower seeds. Trying to find Jim Bean seeds in Utah is harder than finding a fifth of Jim Bean for sale on a Sunday.

Now, everybody knows about that Irish bastard Murphy. Murphy knows exactly how to make a mess of everything when you really don’t want it to. That time we had to go clean the battalion motor pool and a tropical storm came through right after? That’s Murphy, because the luck of the Irish does not apply when that prick is present. Murphy has a Chinese cousin named among. Emperor Mong to be precise. And what does Mong do? Heheh, that’s easy. Mong is that guy who whispers suggestions into your ear. His. suggestions will sound brilliant. Albert Einstein-worthy brilliant. Mong has practice at it too. His blue dress coat is heavy with medals from campaigns all the way back to when primitive man figured out he could kill his fellow man with a rock. Mong knows exactly how to talk to the man in uniform and convince him something is great. The common victims are you junior enlisted. Consider Private Shmuckatelli who wants to get a pet for himself. Mong sidles up beside him and whispers in Shmuckatelli’s ear : “Great idea old boy! It will make your barracks feel more home-like and pleasant.”

“But Emperor, what if Gunny Mormon finds out? Animals aren’t allowed in the barracks!”

“Pah, this is a matter of health! Having a pet increases your longevity! And besides, I have given this my blessing. Go forth and do not disobey me!”

“Yes Sir Emperor, to hear is to obey!”

Right now Shmuckatelli is watching Mittens get deep fried like a chicken at KFC. He also has a new hat to wear. Because my name is Gunny Mormon and I don’t take orders from the likes of Mong. But I will water my chili pepper garden with Shmuckatelli’s tears tonight after he finishes consuming Mittens done up extra crispy.

Now, quite often, people like to try and write the military as myrmidons — that we immediately obey all orders to perfection. The truth is that we’re still mortal, we still make choices, and sometimes we follow the Emperor’s advice even when we know better. Often, advice of the emperor comes as something normal civilians would make the mistake of doing. The rub lies in that our consequences are more draconic, immediate and painful. Hence why Shmuckatelli is enjoying extra crispy Mittens.

We conduct business on a level where people can get busy with everything from knives and garrotes to nuclear weapons. When there are monumental cock ups, it is the duty and responsibility of higher authority to deal with it. In some cases though, it’s a learning process that solves itself. If you need to, ask a military friend how sergeants handle discipline problems and bad choices.

When one of your mouth-breathers get the bright idea to siphon anti-freeze, and try to rush it, DON’T! That’s Mong talking! Ignore him. That crap burns when you swallow it, and the Medical Officer will not be amused when you go to sickbay. Nor will your sergeant when finally you are released. Nor will I when I explain to battalion sergeant major what happened. When you get the idea to marry a stripper right before we go on deployment, don’t! She will take your money, she will max out your credit cards, total your car, shamelessly cheat on you and burn your house down. Thereafter you’ll have no money, lots of creditors clamoring for your blood, no car, no house and a raging case of syphilis. And no, Mong will not return your phone calls, nor will he help you attempt to get your money back. Don’t even bother asking about the VD. It’s going to burn when you pee. You will be SOL.

When I was a young Corporal, a field op was called for in the battalion. A short event, 3 days at Bellows in Hawaii where I was stationed. It’s a great base, located right on the beach. During holiday weekend one can expect to see bikinis everywhere and the water is pleasant. Somehow, the boots in the Service platoon got it into their heads that such would remain the case while we were there.

Much discussion was had about lightening packs of unnecessary gear. It’s only three days- who needs spare batteries, a rubber sleeping mat, poncho and poncho liner? Or an e-tool, gortex, 550 cord? Besides, we’re supply, we can just slip on over to the PX and get what we need from there!

Just when I started to question this wisdom, whom should come dashing over the horizon in all His Imperial Majesty but Mong himself! “Forsooth my brave and excellent sons, fear neither the weather nor the dark! I have already consulted with the oracles- there shall be neither rain nor darkness for I have caused a full moon to occur during the time you are out and about in the field.”

“Many thanks oh Mighty Emperor!” The boots did cheer.

“You guys really sure you want to listen to him?” I asked.

“Silence thou fiend of hell! You doubt my power?”

In that case, some lessons are meant to be learned the hard way, so back I went to packing my kit while the boots let the emperor regale them with promises of wine and song and lovely women all a-flutter at their non-existent campaign ribbons.

When first we arrived, there was nothing to do. Indeed, Service Platoon wasn’t even needed to stand the guard posts right then. So grabbing a tent from the truck, I went off and emplaced. The abandoned runaway was too hard to dig through, so I went into the nearby tree line. One tent, overhead cover via my poncho, secured to the bushes nearby, drip lines, a trench dug to standard all around my tent with dog legs, and my gear laid out for easy access. Glow sticks (hastily acquired when the supply sergeant wasn’t looking) a flashlight with batteries in my dump pouch, gortex top and bottoms, dry socks. Everything is laid out just so.

Meanwhile the rest of the platoon is shooting the breeze not paying attention. They are entirely ignorant of the clouds forming on yonder horizon. 4 hours later, those same clouds opened up hell, at which point a great truth became very apparent- if thou fails to plan for the weather, thou wilt most assuredly get pulled over a barrel and roughly taken advantage of, by a donkey, without any lube. As they set up tents on the hard-packed runway, sobbing and crying to the emperor for relief, yours truly was chilling in his tent with the door flaps down enjoying the pleasant breeze and eating pogey bait. Mong of course, could not hear their pleas, face down as he was in the ample bosom of a blonde beach bunny over in Kapolei, sipping a piña colada. Because he’s a dick like that.

Remember always that the Emperor proffers his advice without charge, but if it can be charged for under the UCMJ, then strongly consider whether it’s worth doing. And check the damn weather report.

Of course the Emperor will tell you there is no need…

75 Comments

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75 responses to “The Evil Emperor Mong (of whom all Mil SF authors need to know… or will discover his work)

  1. This is why the military prefers its gear to be “soldier-proof”. If it’s boot-proof, it’s likely to be Mong-proof as well. Sadly, as any veteran will tell you, not all vendors incorporate such standards of proof into their gear . . .

    • A retired Royal Marine told me that Her Majesty’s Forces keep the Observer Corps around to break equipment. If a piece of gear could survive the R.O.C., it was/is probably sergeant proof and corporal resistant (but nothing is flamin’ idiot proof.)

      • That Guy. You know, the one Right Over There.

        Or, as one luminary put it: “if you try to make something idiot-proof, the universe will create a bigger idiot.”

    • John in Philly

      The best the Navy was able to do was be sailor resistant. Any attempts to move closer to sailor proof was just tempting fate.

      To put it in perspective, lock Seaman Schmuckatelli in a compartment with a bowling ball. After a while unlock the compartment and you will find the bowling ball is pregnant or broken.

      • Matt

        This is absolute genius. The lower enlisted man, in two sentences.

        • Luke

          The actual saying is:
          If you lock a private in a padded room with three bowling balls he will lose/sell one, break one, and (fornicate) one.

    • Nathan

      For experiment’s sake, place a private, a rock, and an iron anvil in a quiet, secluded spot and come back in two hours. The private will still have the rock, but the anvil will be replaced by a pile of iron sand.

      Of course, I make no guarantees as to what will happen if a crusty old sergeant or warrant chances upon said private and utters the words, “Watch this.”…

    • Kirk

      Peter, I’m afraid that such aspirations should be seen as precisely what they are: Incitements to the Gods of Chaos.

      You simply cannot design idiot-proof into anything; the universe will simply route around that intent by immediately calling into being an entirely new and improved idiot, and putting that idiot into a collision course with your new and improved whatsit. Doesn’t matter what it is–Process, object, training event, whatever–This effect will be observable. And, the better a job you do of designing it? The quicker and more destructive will be the idiot called into being.

      This is why many of the more experienced senior NCOs have a horror of change; they know. Oh, do they know–“Fix” something? The results will be utterly, immediately disastrous. Much as mentioning the “R” word in the Mojave Desert will almost immediately produce a wall of water coming down the wadi that you chose to get out of the wind, any attempt to “idiot-proof” something will almost always produce the creation of a higher form of idiot.

      Law of nature, I’m telling you. Law. Of. Nature.

  2. Soldier-proof might exist, but nothing is sailor-proof. You can take a sailor, strip him down naked, put him in a windowless room with two ball bearings. He’ll break one, and lose the other.

  3. I have to admit that in my younger days, I did heed the advice of yon Emperor Mong on more than one occasion.

    “You’ve been up for 48 hours as this hurricane headed your way. You conducted your regular duties PLUS helped run a child care facility for the kids of personnel required to be here during this troubling time. Surely your department head will understand if you snag a short nap rather than iron your uniform for inspection,” the Emperor said.

    “You make an excellent point, Emperor.”

    A couple hours later: “Petty Officer Knighton, why is your uniform so wrinkled?”

    Where was the Emperor to be found? That’s right…NO WHERE!

  4. Kris Keldaran

    That is exactly why Peter. Because the words “Corporal, I think I broke it” are not what we want to hear on day 3 of a 45-day op.

    And Tom, look on the bright side- you lived past the experience. As a young man in Calais Maine demonstrated two days ago, living truly is optional.

  5. Young Specialist (promotable) McChuck was at the 7th Army NCO Academy in Bad Tolz, West Germany, and was Acting Squad Leader for the week, when he was given the task of stripping and rewaxing the classroom hallway floor. Emperor Mong whispered into his ear, “Everybody else is already busy with tasks that will take hours, and it’s almost lights out already. You’re good at stripping and waxing. You can do it yourself.” Already morally weakened by prolonged lack of sleep, SPC McChuck readily agreed. Then, upon discovering that there was no wax stripper to be found, not even the abrasive cleaning powder with a celestial name, the Emperor had more good advice. “Use the liquid toilet bowl cleaner. If it can make toilets sparkle, it’s bound to strip wax.”

    “But Emperor,” SPC McChuck said, “there really isn’t very much of it, either. If I pour it in the bucket, it will weaken it to ineffectiveness.”

    “Then just sprinkle it straight on the floor, then spread it around with a damp mop, just like you do with abrasive powder. What could be simpler?” the Emperor suggested with a grin.

    And young SPC McChuck did just that. After sprinkling the toilet cleanser carefully the length of the (quite long) hallway, he dutifully got his wet mop, thoughtfully prepared ahead of time, and commenced to attempt to spread the cleanser around. The cleanser had, in the mean while, eaten through the wax in the spots where it had been sprinkled. And then stubbornly refused to be spread around by the wet mop, as its strength had already been spent eating down about 1/8″ into the floor tiles. It did make an interesting pattern of snow white pits in the otherwise smooth grey tiles. Not to mention the acrid aroma and a slight haze in the relatively airless passage.

    The next morning, when the instructor Sergeant asked what had happened to the floor, McChuck could blame no one but himself, as the Emperor had apparently gone on pass and was nowhere to be found.

    • Kirk

      Wait, what? This wasn’t the infamous “Autobahn” that every attendee at the academy had horror stories about, was it?

      That hallway was legendary; supposedly, it had been used by the former occupants, the SS Officer’s Academy, as a similar means to challenge (really, abuse…) the students. Several WWII atrocities were blamed on the malign effects of that hallway’s floor upon their minds…

      • Different barracks. The Autobahn was in the combat arms barracks when I was there.

        • Kirk

          Man. If you’d have managed to do actual damage to the Autobahn? That would have been… Epic. Your name would have been enshrined in legend.

          Of course, you probably wouldn’t be alive to tell us the story, but your name would live forever among 7th ATC NCO Academy vic… Uh, graduates, yeah, graduates… That’s the word I wanted. I’d never, ever, mean to imply that the cadre was ever so slightly abusive, down there…

    • Nathan

      The Good Idea Fairy got me good and hard in AIT. Coming in with a chemistry degree and a barrel chemist’s sensibility to cleaning, I tried acetone-based nail cleaner on floor wax with similar results as the above story…

      Why acetone? That miracle compound can usually remove what soap and water cannot from a test tube. The only thing better is acid, and with that, you risk a 50% chance on baking the junk into the glass. Unfortunately, the same qualities that make acetone a glorious cleaner by dissolving anything in its way cause it to bubble through floor tiles.

      • Kirk

        I had this squad leader, when I was a private…

        Definitely not the brightest light on the Christmas tree, was he. I don’t know how he attained Staff Sergeant, but along the way, he’d failed to acquire much that was basic lore to the average private. Among this lore was the essential meaning of “burning in” Johnson’s paste wax. To the rest of us, that meant taking a coat hanger and a can of the wax, making a handle, and then lighting the wax in order to produce the desired product, molten wax, which would then be drizzled upon the linoleum to be spread while warm by the buffer. It was a highly artistic craft, and one that required a bit of skill, in order not to wind up covered in burning molten wax as you attempted this shortcut.

        To SSG Jones (his real name, btw… I’m really not caring about saving this moron’s reputation, at this point…), “burning in” wax meant to liberally apply said wax to the floor… And, then, light it.

        I think you can see where this is going. Just before a major inspection, which came right after we’d gotten done turning our open-bay barracks into separate two-man rooms and laying linoleum, we troops were called away to perform some tasking at a distant location. SSG Jones was left alone, in the barracks. Now, the man was not bright, but he was that most dangerous of creatures, an industrious, helpful idiot. So, he “helped” us, by spreading the cans of wax we’d bought, and then… Lighting the spread-out wax.

        Results? Well, I think you can imagine the resultant flash fire that happened. Left SSG Jones slightly scorched, the freshly-painted hallway blackened, the recently-laid linoleum blackened, and all the trim we’d just painted covered in blistered, bubbled smoke-damaged glory. We were coming back from the detail we’d been called on to perform, and here comes SSG Jones walking out of the barracks with an air of “Who, me…?”, and the odor of burnt polish. I don’t think you could possibly replicate the sinking feeling we all had, as we ran upstairs to find his work-product. We had just 8 hours before the inspection to fix everything. Didn’t happen. The results were less than stellar, and we’d been on track to get an award for troop self-help barracks upgrading. SSG Jones was pretty much persona non grata for a rather long period. I still haven’t figured out how the hell he managed to avoid setting the entire barracks alight, but the fact that every fire extinguisher in the building was found to be expended during the course of the subsequent inspection is probably a clue. I just wish I could have seen the whole thing, from the application of the match to the paste wax to the followup. SSG Jones did not have any eyelashes, and most of his mustache was carbonized…

  6. We did not have Emperor Mong when I was in the USAF. We had the clue god, with his every trusty clue bat.Who usually didn’t beat into you what a bad idea you just had until after your superior officer caught you at it.
    Then again, I was in the officer corps, and things are very different there, because after all, we’re ‘supposed’ to know better.

  7. B. Durbin

    I was unable to convince my husband to get out of the moving van for long enough to take a picture of me in shorts, in the snow, in Donner Pass one mid-September. I was going to entitle it: “Never Forget to Check the Weather Report.”

    Of course, it was warm at our final destination, so that was okay.

  8. Matt

    One day, Emperor Mong found he was ineffective when it comes to officers, they were immune to his words. So he consulted his brother, Murphy, and received his wisdom. After combining sugar, spice, and everything nice, and mixing in rules and regulations, the Good Idea Fairy was born, with special persuasion powers for the officers. Majors were especially susceptible to the Good Idea Fairy. Emperor Mong saw what he had made and it was good.

    • You know, I had totally forgotten about the fairy. The fairy was very very powerful, and its idea’s spread faster than even scuttle-butt.

      • Matt

        The Fairy, I am convinced, was the author of such phrases as “Watch this,” “I’ve been thinking,” and of course, “I’ve got an idea…”

    • Kirk

      In terms of sheer destructive power, the Good Idea Fairy ™ rivals that of the neutron bomb, famous for killing the people and leaving the property intact. A fully-weaponized Good Idea Fairy ™ concept can utterly destroy common sense, and leave intact everything else to suffer.

      And, since the little bitch concentrates her efforts on the higher ranks, some truly amazing things can happen.

      Like our new company commander in Germany, who upon taking command in late August, observed that we had all these “excess tents and heaters” that weren’t on our MTOE. Now, this stalwart had spent the long years of his youth and early military career in the South of the US, or at Fort Ord, California. So, when that conniving little bitch whispered into his ear that he ought to turn in all the excess tentage (for which, read “All of it”) and heaters in September and October, it seemed perfectly reasonable. Oh, and y’know what–According to the regulations, we weren’t authorized any of the accessory kits for heaters in the trucks, either. So, those went bye-bye to the turn-in Gods, as well.

      Just as signing up for that full month of open training available up at Wildflecken in January seemed like such a good idea, too–After all, why would anyone waste the opportunity offered by such a window of opportunity? The training possibilities were endless…

      Came January, and the training opportunities weren’t looking so good. Wildflecken in that season is a bit… Inclement? Is that the word I’m looking for? Anyway, since he’d committed to the time, and the Brigade policy was that you couldn’t back out of such things without “good notice”, which was interpreted as “At least six to eight weeks…”, the company loaded up trucks and headed to Anarct… Uhmmm… Wildflecken. Yeah. Wildflecken. Which, in January, can only be distinguished from Antarctica by the signal lack of penguins. Likewise, the lack of Polar Bears is the only thing really telling you that you’re not north of the Arctic Circle. And, note: We were without tents, heaters, or appointments to use the billets, ‘cos “real soldiers sleep in the field, not buildings…”. Billeting was also unavailable, due to “reasons…”. Not sure what those were, but…

      Anyway, that was my first exercise wearing NCO stripes. Did I mention that the vast majority of my company was issued the Intermediate Cold sleeping bag? I should have… Said bag was rated down to about, maybe, 30 degrees above zero. Wildflecken, in that time of year, averaged around 30 to 40 degrees below zero. Slight problem, there, nu?

      Oh, and to make things even betterer? None of the anticipated training ranges were actually available, they being closed due to “inclement weather”. We literally had nothing else to do besides come up with bullshit training at the small unit level, and try to survive out in the woods for 21 days. And, the Forstmeisters, sympathetic as they were to our plight (they laughed their asses off at the officers who’d planned this bullshit…), could not allow us to really burn very much–No trees, no wood other than pallets, and… That was it. And, our Commander was insistent on us maintaining noise and light discipline, so the only fires we had were built on improvised stoves inside our trailer build-ups, several of which were mysteriously found to be “unserviceable”, and in need of being disposed of. In fires. On the back of other trailers…

      We also stripped every pallet out of every storage area in the Wildflecken cantonment area, by stealth. And, I mean “every pallet”–We were stationing men down at the PX to “help unload”, and leaving with everything combustible. About the only real training that got done was carpentry, and that was strictly restricted to breaking down whatever wood we scrounged into small enough chunks to actually burn in our improvised stoves.

      The real miracle is that we didn’t lose a single person to cold weather injury, which I’m still in wonder at. Possibly, the fact that our previous commander had been an Army Biathlon champion, and a pretty good trainer for such things had something to do with it–The then-current idiot had little to contribute, his past experience of military operations mostly being focused on California and Central America. A Jungle Operations expert badge doesn’t hold a lot of credibility in the middle of the Wasserkuppe in January, although I’m sure it makes wonderful tinder for lighting a small fire…

      Yeah. That happened. Whole thing, as I describe it, and the sheer horror of the situation would not even begin to be apparent to anyone without Cold War experience in the Army in Germany. You don’t know cold until you’ve listened to the trees freezing solid and cracking around you, which is something that happened that year at Wildflecken. The ‘effing wild boars were literally freezing to death in that crap. The German Army, which shared that hellhole with us, cancelled all training for the month we were there, requiring all of their people to stay indoors. We ran into a couple of their senior NCOs, who came out to do a recon for training that they had planned in March, and the three of them thought we were all crazy and that our commander belonged in jail. “You… You are out here, doing nuzzzing for three weeks? Dis is insane–Not even our officers are that stupid…”. Came that close to getting those guys to let us sign out a barracks from them, before the commander nixed the idea. The fears of embarrassment, apparently.

      Somehow, through the miracle of transubstantiation of shared suffering, that experience somehow bonded us to our commander, and actually made morale higher. I don’t think the commander was really appreciative of that fact, because the pride of our unit was mostly expressed as things like “You think your boss is stupid? Fuck… Hey, Sir… Come over here and tell First Sergeant Mackey, here, what you had us doing last January…”. and “Oh, man… You would not believe how dumb our commander is… He had us turn in all our tents and heaters, and then took us to Wildflecken… In January…”. The whole thing took on an aspect of legend, whispered among the troops like some word-of-mouth horror story: “And, then… Then, he had us turn in all the vehicle heaters… In October… In Germany… Before he took us to the field in January… At Wildflecken… Without signing for barracks, either…”.

      Gotta give him credit, though: By June, we had all new tents and heaters, and every truck in the company had a heater installed. With spares, cunningly concealed in the Class IX trailer… The man could, apparently, learn from experience.

      • Oh, yeah, you had a winner right there. Visions of the “Bastogne” episode from Band of Brothers spring to mind.

        Shared misery builds better teams!

        The best one I had was the idiot Captain we had in our counterintelligence Company in Germany, who had come to us from the Old Guard. He didn’t understand or like the idea of intelligence (in any fashion), much less counterintelligence. So he rewrote our Mission Essential Task List, erasing any reference to intelligence, and turned us into light infantry armed with pistols. We did a total of 6 hours of job-related training that year, during a couple of unexpected breaks out in the field. He went ballistic when he found out about it.

        A little later on, our unit received a unique award from V Corps. It was double sided, in a nice custom frame, so you could read both sides. One side read, “Best unit at improvising anything.” The other read, “Worst unit at planning anything.”

      • Holy St. Michael and St. Jude. I don’t know how you all survived, and I definitely don’t know how your commander escaped charges except that you all survived and that he was suffering out there with you. And I definitely don’t know how the other higher-ups didn’t let your commander get you guys out of there and get back to base, because there’s learning from painful experience and there’s trying to have a whole unit in the hospital with frostbite.

        Well, you certainly got three weeks of winter survival training. And provided a cautionary example for years to come.

        • Kirk

          Well, at least a part of the whole deal was that the commander was in seriously bad odor with the assholes who ran our brigade, at the time: The expectation was that he’d screw up his company command, get relieved, and then his career would end. I’m not sure what went on while he worked up at Brigade, but he came to us under “Darkened Cloud, one, each, redolent of desired doom…”. They were, in other words, setting him up for failure. They let him do what he did, with malice aforethought. Another officer might have been taken aside and “advised”; he was not.

          This was something that only became clear in later years, talking with the senior NCOs and officers who’d been around at the time. As a mere Corporal, I wasn’t read in on the details, only that I’d be a dead man if I allowed anyone under me to get a cold-weather injury. The senior NCOs were emphatic that nobody on their watch was going to get such, and that further, no company commander, no matter how stupid he might have been, or how little attention he paid to them, was going to end his time in command relieved for cause.

          So… When the political pricks from up at Brigade came around, sure they were going to find Stalingrad, we were getting along just fine. JUST. FINE. DAMMIT.

          After that debacle, however? The commander made a point of actually listening to his senior NCOs, and at least, paying lib service to the rest of us.

          Although, that didn’t stop us from almost shooting down the Brigade Commander’s helicopter with a cratering charge the following fall. But, that’s another story, entirely.

          • *looks down at where craters usually go. looks up at sky where helicopters are supposed to go. contemplates possible ways to reverse the locations of the two. decides to think about juggling running chainsaws instead*

            • Kirk

              Mmmmm… Running chainsaws while wing-walking. On the lower wing of a wood-and-canvas triplane…

            • Kirk

              Oh, and if y’all should decide that you want to hear the story, say so. I’ll try to find the time to write it up. To do it justice, it would take awhile, because it covers about a ten-year span or so, and has some complications to it.

              • Yes, please? It sounds like a much better story than when my Lt. figured out during an exercise that he could shoot down helicopters at night (pilots flying with night vision goggles) by using the thermal illuminator from a T72 tank. Brigade commander was not amused. Neither were the pilots (all of whom, thankfully, survived the experience.)

                • Kirk

                  I’m seriously not boring people to tears and use of razor blades?

                  I’ll see what I can do… I may have that already written up on another computer.

                  Do remember two things, however: One, y’all asked for it, and two… With the tracks, not across.

                  • BobtheRegisterredFool

                    You are often enough a great story teller. I enjoyed the cold story, and must hear the helicopter one.

                  • Hey, I already have a good story about the simulated nuke charge… and a master sergeant’s malice… and a lieutenant in the chemical corps… a some brass that really should have known better…

                    Let’s see if yours tops it!

                    • Kirk

                      Dorothy, I can see the barest outline of that story through your description, and I wonder if I wasn’t a peripheral participant in it, myself.

                      I’m telling you, I can keep this up for weeks, probably. I’ve come to sad conclusion that I’m either a weirdness magnet, or just better at observation than most of my peers, ‘cos I’ve got multiple stories from every assignment I was ever at. Most of which I’ve managed to suppress until people remind me of them…

                    • Kirk

                      B.Durbin…

                      I’m going to go out on a limb, here and make a couple of guesses:
                      One, involved parties were… Air Force? Stationed in the Great White North, possibly Minot?
                      Two, said involved parties scored highly on their ASVAB, and three, this involved a re-creation of Pykrete, because someone was up on and/or reading about the fuzzier side of WWII history?

                    • Kirk

                      Bugger… WordPress strikes again. The above should have been a reply to B.Durbin, below.

                  • B. Durbin

                    I want to hear this one. I don’t get to hear the tetrahedral fiber-ice story anymore (the teller having died more than a decade back), so I need something of comparable lunacy to replace it.

                    • Oh, but you know you want to tell us about the tetahedral fiber-ice! Please?

                    • B. Durbin

                      The person who told it to me may have made parts of it up, and as I said, it’s been more than a decade since he died (and possibly two since I last heard it), but the upshot is that they made melting caltrops out of ice with fibers in it for strength and deployed them in front of a pursuing cop car when they were late returning to base.

                      I honestly don’t know how much of that was fabulizing, but given how weird my life has appeared at times, I’m willing to believe more of it now than when I originally heard it.

                    • B. Durbin

                      By the way, I’m pretty sure he would be the first to be amused if fiber-ice caltrops were to appear in a story.

      • Kirk

        OK… Blame McChuck for this long, involved tale o’woe.

        Firstly, I got my chronology semi-mixed up: This actually happened in late September, prior to the January Wildflecken nightmare. I know this because I was still a lowly junior enlisted swine at the time, and not one of the exalted ones, a Corporal.

        The story starts with a couple of things to set the stage, foreshadowing, as it were. First things first: The scene is Hohenfels training area, the unit to be unnamed but acknowledged as V Corp’s organic Engineer Brigade, commanded by an individual of surpassing ego. Who, to this day, has no idea how closely he came to having that ego get a bunch of innocent bystanders killed, along with himself, of course.

        Stage setting: First, a policy: All demolitions in the Brigade were to be fired electrically, with no non-electric firing systems used except on application to, and approval from, the Brigade commander. This was significant, because by late September, there were always barely any electrical blasting caps left in the Brigade ammo allocation. This created a problem for the next issue, namely that of “end of fiscal year”. It is a long and well-honored tradition in the US military that all materials are to be husbanded carefully and stringently throughout the year, only to be fully used in an orgy of excess in the last few weeks before the end of the year, because that’s good management technique. This is because the insane policy of telling everyone that “Hey, if you didn’t use it this year, you won’t need it again, next year… Or, ever…” has a somewhat inimical effect on any vestigial ideas of thriftiness and careful consideration of resources the average servicemember might have brought over from civilian life.

        So, two policies, one at Brigade, one at… Congress? Well, wherever that stupidity comes from, the two things collided: Our company wound up with Satan’s own lot of explosives, ammunition, and what-not to expend, all before the end of fiscal year, and not a damn electrical blasting cap with which to initiate it with. Result? Well, we certainly weren’t going to tell Brigade we couldn’t blow shit up, and who the hell would know if we used non-electric firing systems? I mean, the idiots know what’s on the allocations, right?

        Also, Chekhov’s helicopter: The Brigade Commander had recently convinced the Corps commander that he was important enough to get his own, dedicated UH-60 Blackhawk. Which he proceeded to use the ever-loving hell out of. This guy was probably the most profligate commander of that level I ever worked for–He later screwed himself out of his first star by hiring every single available bus in Central Germany to bus the entire Brigade to his change-of-command, which had already taken on ridiculous proportions of scale, such that the German newspapers noticed. Basically, he spent more on his change-of-command than a couple of Divisional commanders had, and got a letter of concern from the four-star commanding USAEUR over it. Which did what you might expect for his career prospects–He retired shortly afterwards as a Colonel, and never actually got pinned on for his first star. Genius, I’m telling you…

        But, that was a year or so away, at this point.

        So, there we were: Given the mission of training on Engineer tasks with live explosives and ammunition, with full access to the wonders of the Hohenfels training area. Wonderful time, to be had by all–We got to do all kinds of cool stuff, blow things up, piss off Range Control, and generally do all the things Engineers do on such exercises. Wildflecken was still in our medium-term future, and our recently acquired commander was quite full of himself.

        Now, to set the stage: The road crater range at Hohenfels is in a draw, going off a small valley. One one side, steep ridgeline before becoming civilian territory; an excellent backstop for noise and other things. On the opposite side, a shallowly rising valley side, becoming a plain that turns into impact area. Set midway up this valley side is a bunker and parking area, for observation. To set a road crater, you set up your control center where you talk to the folks at Range Control near the bunker, and then haul your demolitions material downrange to the draw across from you, set it up, walk back up to the bunker, and then have your fireworks show.

        By theory, this should have all been done under controlled command detonation, using an electrical system. Only, there were no electrical caps to use, so we were doing everything non-electrically. That means, time fuse, caps, and igniters, and really no way of controlling things precisely, other than by careful timing of time fuse, and staying the hell uprange until nature took its course. We’d run things like that for a week, and the initial fear of getting caught violating Brigade policy had pretty much worn off.

        So… Three different types of road crater were set in motion. Each platoon did their own, and we’d already fired off the shaped charges used to make the holes for the main ones. Downrange, there are approximately 3600 lbs of high explosives waiting to go off, initiated by time fuse and blasting caps, the igniters having been pulled as we left to lazily walk back up to the bunker.

        The way this had gone previously was pretty simple: The troops either returned to the trucks or the bunker to await developments, and then there would be a break to either eat or smoke, while the safety bubbas went downrange to assess remnants. This time, however? Ah… Such fun.

        About the time we hit the bunker, three things happened. First, we lost comms with Range Control via radio, which was no biggie: Use the field phone and call on the landline. As my little clot of troops hit the bunker area, you could hear the RTO tell the LT who was range officer that the landline was down…

        Chekhov’s helicopter then made its appearance, coming out of nowhere. We could see the big red castle on the side, so we knew it was our Brigade Commander. The thing paused over the bunker, as if to make sure we could see it, and then flew downrange to hover over the prepared road cratering charges, and we could see someone in the helicopter leaning out of the crew chief’s window and looking down at our handiwork.

        I think you can imagine the open-jawed incredulity that this produced. The Colonel, apparently, was fully confident that we were using electrically-fired detonation systems, and could control when the blasts would go off. We, on the other hand, were completely aware that we were not, and had no way to apprise anyone of this situation–We did not have radios to talk to aviation assets, and SINCGARS was a bad idea of the future, yet to be implemented.

        The scene around me rapidly took on aspects of the surreal. We junior enlisted swine were certain we were about to watch events of great import, but since we had zero responsibility for them, it was all highly amusing that we were about to blow a very expensive helicopter and a bunch of officers out of the air with a set of cratering charges. The people responsible, on the other hand? Oh, my… The pathos, the horror, as they contemplated the effect on their immediate futures and careers.

        The First Sergeant went into full-blown panic mode, and started having everyone yell “FIRE IN THE HOLE”, hoping the helicopter crew or someone up there might hear us. Forlorn hope, that, although he did progress to having us all honk our vehicle horns. The Range Officer, a highly annoying yet competent little prick of a West Point “My Daddy’s a General” sort of junior officer was rapidly comprehending the nature of his likely career path, and started calling off the time left to detonation on his watch–We’d done the usual thing, where you’d carefully test-burn a length from each roll, time it, and then try to cut your fuse to the point where it went off a precise moment. I can still hear him calling out the time, calmly at first, and then increasingly hysterical. You could hear the despair and resigned ennui in his voice, as he counted down the time. “Ten… Nine… Eight…” and so on. Thing was, three separate somebodies had screwed things up, and the detonation didn’t come as expected. At the point where the detonations were thirty seconds late, the Range Officer went ballistic, frothing at the mouth and screaming for the people who’d cut the fuses, calling them all sorts of names for being incompetents. Meanwhile, the company XO was sitting quietly by his jeep, taking his rank and branch insignia off of his collar, and then throwing them on the ground to stomp on them in a fit of frustration. The First Sergeant had given up, by this point, and was just standing there with the Commander, apparently both lost in rumination over the ends of their careers. Watching the Commander swallow his chewing tobacco was pretty disturbing, as he called out to the Range Officer, and demanded an explanation for why they weren’t already heading for Leavenworth, Kansas. Throughout this period, there were hysterical attempts to get through to Range Control, but they were either blocked by atmospheric conditions, or getting coffee, because they didn’t answer the radio, or the landline phone. Despair and resignation were writ across the faces of all concerned, in the company. The rest of us had expressions of unholy glee–We were about to bag a Brigade Commander and his helicopter, and not a damn thing could happen to us over it.

        At roughly a minute and change past the expected point of detonation, the Range Officer is catatonic, and sitting on the hood of his jeep, completely lost in the horror. The man’s face looked like he’d been staring into the Abyss, and the abyss said “Think about a nice career, in civilian life… Maybe fast food?”. It was almost anticlimactic when the helicopter downrange finally had its fill of observation, the Colonel popped back inside, and then bladed over the ridgeline behind the demo range. Literally seconds after it cleared the top of the ridgeline, three sequential blasts rocked the range, and we could see huge rocks and clods of earth pass through the space previously occupied by the UH-60. Literally, if they’d have hung around there for just a few more seconds, we’d have had some serious ‘splainin to do. Can’t imagine that that would have done much for the careers of anyone concerned…

        Right after the blasts? The assholes at Range Control finally answered the phones…

        All junior enlisted present went “Awww… Darn…”. Commander, First Sergeant, and all others went out to get solidly intoxicated at the German Canteen that night, upon return to the cantonment area. Not a single word was ever spoken about this incident, officially. Never came to the attention of anyone, either.

        Final moment of humor out of this tale? Roughly ten years later, I’m working on staff at I Corps with the Engineer section. We’ve taken to eating lunch in the conference room, and regaling ourselves with “Can you top this…? Can you? Can you?!?” stories, under the guise of professional development. For which, read “bullshit sessions”. One thing leads to another, and I wind up reminded of this story and I tell it.

        Only thing is, as I’m telling the story, one of our Majors is slowly turning white, and has stopped eating. When I notice this, I’ve finished the story, and I ask him what gives. He slowly swallows the food that was in his mouth when he stopped chewing, and in outrage says “I always knew that sonuvabitch was trying to get me killed… And, now, you’ve proved it to me!!!”.

        Turns out, he’d been on that helicopter with the Colonel. He was his aide-de-camp, essentially (something, you’ll note, not authorized a mere colonel…), and had tried to stop the insanity of flying over an open demo range, which was clearly not smart or sane, and completely against regulations. The pilot-in-command and the colonel had overruled him, calling him a chickenshit, and the fact that they’d spent so much time hovering over the charges was, he felt, a direct result of him questioning the wisdom of the whole thing. The retroactive “I coulda died!!!” was interesting and sort of educational to watch. I didn’t know things like that could happen, when years separated the facts from the experiences…

        That segued into a discussion of other like incidences we’d all seen, and someone brought up the company commander at Fort Lewis who’d jumped off the Tacoma Narrows bridge–And, lived. One of the senior NCOs in the section had been in that company, and though we’d all heard of it, we didn’t know the details. Which were… Interesting. The weird thing about that afternoon, though? After lunch, when everyone was off at meetings, and I’m alone manning the phones in the office, in comes this civilian who seems very vaguely familiar. He’s looking for the senior NCO who told about the attempted suicide not but about a half-hour before. I take a name, his phone number, and a disquieting sense that I ought to know this guy, and pass the information off to the senior NCO on his return. Whereupon I’m accused of making shit up, because that civilian was the guy who jumped off the bridge. Took me awhile to convince the Master Sergeant that I wasn’t making shit up, and this guy had actually come in that very afternoon, looking for him. Weird, huh?

  9. Why yes ET3 Smock, it is a good idea to make a Periscope Depth brief at 300 feet, after all, its been 15 minutes since your last one. I’m sure that they’ve forgotten your tripwires already.

    Petty officer Smuckatelli, I’m sure that the boat would be dazzled if you would wear those fishnet panties to the Bluenose ceremony.

    Hey, shipyard worker, you don’t need to check the status of that tagout. It’s only a 3000 lb hydraulic system. What’s the worst thing that could happen when you remove this valve?

  10. Point of linguistic inquiry: Is the name of His Imperial Majesty pronounced “Mong” as in “wrong,” or “Mong” as in “among” or “mung it up”?

    • Kirk

      I always thought it was more like “munge”, but the inferred thing where I heard this before was that he was the Lord Emperor of the Mongoloids, using that highly anti-PC term for the mentally handicapped. So, when he influenced people, they were considered to be of his constituency. Or, in other words, Grade-Z morons.

      Oh, the stories I could tell, had I but time and the ability to overcome years of intervening therapy…

      • Well, I asked, and I knew the answer wasn’t going to be anywhere close to PC. 🙂 It’s like asking your brother if he knows any military folksongs, and then realizing I’ve really just asked if he knows any songs he can sing to his sister. 🙂

        On the bright side, this extends to where I can picture Mongo from Blazing Saddles. I would like to see Alex Karras in Imperial robes; that would be awesome.

        • Kirk

          “Mongo but pawn, in game of life…”

          I’m thinking Karras would be an excellent example of one of Mongo’s minions, but for the actual emperor-figure? I’m not really sure who I’d want to cast–You’d need someone who exuded an air of competence and intelligence, but who really possessed neither. Genial fool isn’t it; you want “viciously inimical”, and Karras is too nice a guy (is he still alive?) to project that. I can’t think of a single actor, off the top of my head, who would really serve–Except, maybe, a younger and more evil Steven Fry. His Lord Melchett, in all incarnations, has quite the quality necessary, without any of the responsibility. I can quite imagine him whispering the ideas into someone’s ear, and then waltzing off over the horizon, as the inevitable denouement occurs…

          As an aside… Did you know that there is a real Baron Melchett? Poor bastard… Wonder who he pissed off, on the Blackadder team?

          • I’m thinking GC Scott reprising the character Gen. Turgidson.

            • Kirk

              Good choice, but… Lacking a certain insouciance, I think. GC Scott in that role was far too serious, far too convinced of his own inherent rightness about things. You need someone who can convey “I know this is a bad idea, but I’m still going to convince you that it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread and pasteurized milk…”

              You need a combination of cackling evil, malevolent humor, true sociopathy, and convincing sincerity to really capture the qualities inherent in our Lord and (unfortunate) Master…

              • So, more of a “Whenever you need something done, kill Baldrick first!” feel to it, crossed with the Grinch explaining that he’s just taking the tree to fix the light on one side.

                • Kirk

                  Oh, no… Baldrick is an essential participant. Key. And, essential. He’s the guy you’re watching Our Lord Mong whisper to…

                  Baldrick-killing is really the only efficacious and signal remedy to Our Lord Mong’s inimical machinations, and the sooner you get going with it, the fewer after-effects you’ll have to deal with.

                  • Kirk

                    Of course, if you follow that course to the inevitable and logical end, you’re going to wake up to the realization that you no longer have any junior enlisted to supervise, and all the work now has to be performed by the only remaining schmuck. Namely, yourself.

                    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t… Story of my life.

  11. Once upon a time, in Red Deer, Canada, I had the great good fortune to split a hotel room with another couple who were flying down (They had a very sweet Cessna 182, I had an old T-crate. We didn’t exactly travel at the same speed.) Comingout of the hotel in the morning, I was chatting amiably with them as we waited for a ride back to the airport.

    One of the smokers nearby overheard us, straightened up in a hurry with a grin spreading across his grizzled features. He yelled across the parking lot. “BOB! BOB! You gotta hear this! Come here!” When Bob shuffled up and tilted a curious white head at his grinning old friend, the guy gestured at me. “Say that last bit again! Go on!”

    “What? Oh, you mean: The most dangerous creature in the world is a newly-minted second lieutenant with a map, a compass, and a plan.” I blinked at the old gentlemen, in a pre-coffee haze.

    “You remember the plan, Bob? I remember the plan!” Wild cackling commenced, but our taxi came before I could learn what the plan had been. The Good Idea Fairy is old, cunning, and exists in militaries all over the world.

    • Kirk

      The advent of GPS has resulted in the loss of so much opportunity to induce humility in the junior officer corps that it’s near-criminal. Of course, what’s truly amazing is to watch them get “lost as f**k” with a GPS, a compass, and a map. It is possible; it just takes a truly gifted practitioner.

  12. celebran

    This article and associated comments have been classic 😀
    It reminds me of when the private came up with the bright idea of using bug juice to shine his brass because he had ran out of brasso. Well it may have worked in a field expedient way but he made the fatal mistake of using the “fruit flavored” instead of the “orange flavored” so the brass had a distinctly red sheen to it.

  13. Anachronda

    “Trying to find Jim Bean seeds in Utah is harder than finding a fifth of Jim Bean for sale on a Sunday. ”

    The trick is to live in Logan so you can dash into Idaho at a moment’s notice.

    Gwaggies!

  14. On a totally unrelated note, since I’ve seen nowhere else convenient to post this:

    It sounds like Ursula K. LeGuinn is in Full-On Aging Crank Lefty Mode.

    http://bookviewcafe.com/blog/2015/06/01/up-the-amazon/

    It would seem that some perspective may be in order from those not hostile to the multitudinous wonders buried in the abundant dross that capitalism brings us, rather than the very rare wonder buried in the sparse dross that any other system offers.

  15. Mong got us back in the 70s… 3 day trip to Fiji from Hawaii. Took all the ‘normal’ gear out of the bags. Two hours out, diverted to Adak, AK…
    In FEBRUARY! Froze my you know whats off for three WEEKS on that det. And young sailors can F’up an anvil with a rubber hammer… sigh

  16. celebran

    We of course have to remember that it’s not only the lowest enlisted ranks that screw up, but when an officer does it the results can be spectacular. I had a friend that barely survived guard duty on a range at 29 Palms because a f-18 decided the range guard shack looked like the target and dropped a bomb on it. My friend survived because he saw the approaching planes and recognized the f-18’s inverted approach as a bad thing so he ran and jumped in a ditch.

    • Kirk

      I see your F-18, and offer a pair of Huey Cobras that mistook a Basque shepherds trailer for a range target, and blasted the ever-loving bejesus out of it while he was out herding sheep. His subsequent complaints and claims are the only way that Range Control ever figured out that the Cobras had been many, many kilometers outside their range fan that afternoon. Several truncated careers resulted from that one, or so I was told.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        I remember hearing about a shepherd whose flock was continued to be buzzed by jet fighters from a near-by airbase.

        He took a shot at one and hit it (he didn’t shot it down).

        Afterwards, some officers from the base (including the pilot) along with the local sheriff came to talk with the shepherd about shooting the jet fighter.

        The sheriff looked at the rifle and asked the air force officers how high the jet fighter was flying over the flock.

        Since they told the sheriff the regulation altitude, the sheriff told them that they should purchase the rifle as the rifle had to be something special to hit a fighter at that altitude.

        That’s where it ended as the pilot had to be flying much below the regulation altitude for the rifle to hit his fighter.

        Oh, apparently the shepherd had no more problems with his flock being buzzed. [Grin]

  17. Kris Keldaran

    Gunny Mormon sees all this and raises you one captain who thought he knew how to use Blue Force Tracker, down range, and got us lost in the course of three separate convoys during a 24-hour period. We were doing U-turns in the middle of the fecking desert. Despite a standing base order not to leave after 1700, he drove out the gate, got lost, broke the fecking mine roller, thought it was an IED, and we had to wait in the middle of the desert at night, for EOD to arrive, followed by the wrecker service from Fiddler’s Green.

    Hilariously, he was not fragged, nor shot by a lone Afghani sniper. We still talk to this day, and he’s now a major. Decent chap, but cannot navigate to save a damn thing.

  18. And I still can’t forget the sweet taste of ethylene glycol.

  19. MF*** Navy pilots can’t tell the difference between green smoke and red smoke, so on Grenada when we marked the Cuban troop locations with red smoke and our own with green smoke, we got three strafing runs from “friendly” Tomcats. That wouldn’t be so bad, but the stupid bastards killed a friend of mine in the 82d artillery the same day pulling that shit. Not sure that anyone ever suffered anything for it, either.

  20. Apropos the Good Idea Fairy and 2LT’s . . . here’s an incident from my dim and distant past for your enjoyment.

    http://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com/2008/03/of-newly-hatched-officers-and-their.html

    😀

  21. Luke

    The worst is when Mong has a chat with the Staff NCOs, while the Good Idea Fairy is taking to the Officers.
    After all, why would we take chow, water, or unnecessary gear (meaning all of it) on a demonstration op that was only going to take for hours, including travel time?
    It would up being two weeks. Extended one day at a time, and always at the last moment.

  22. Patrick Chester

    So wait, I have no military experience so I have no stories, just things from fictional sources. I’m reminded of a minor bit from the movie Blackhawk Down where some of the soldiers neglect to bring all their gear because it’s a. heavy b. it’s going to be a “quick” mission.

    Is that Emperor Mong at work?

    I wonder if it also explains Recruit Private Prigal from some of Robert Frezza’s novels…

    • Kirk

      Mmmm… Not really an Emperor Mong moment, there–People died.

      The Emperor Mong is a mostly benign potentate, in that his main targets aren’t human life, they’re people’s egos and pride. Which is why he’s generally just laughed at. If he started killing people, he wouldn’t be funny, anymore.

      Blackhawk Down’s situation was more “Well, we didn’t need them the last ten times we did this, the damn things are heavy, and it’s hot outside…”. Which sounds and looks to the layperson as though it was a very irresponsible decision, when in reality, you have to do a juggling act like that with your equipment list every time you go out. Too much gear? Heat stroke. Too little? The innumerable little tragedies of Blackhawk Down’s events.

      A guy I worked next to for three years died during the recovery effort, and the husband of one of my medics was a Ranger participant in that clusterf**k–So, I had the interest in it, and got first-hand reports. The book and movie are probably about as accurate as either medium will allow, but they still didn’t quite capture the reality. You start talking about things like the ballistic plates being left out of the back half of the RBA’s, (Ranger Body Armor, the predecessor to the 2000-era IBA, or Interceptor Body Armor), and you start getting into “Well, do we risk heat stroke and having the guys not be able to run fast enough to catch the people we’re after by having them stagger around like turtles…? Or, do we do the smart thing, and just take the most probable-to-be-needed bits of the armor?”. RBA was meant to be configurable that way, and the fact that they did so is pretty much a commander’s gamble, and one that didn’t pay off.

      The thing is, with a lot of this stuff, the second-guessing that goes on in civilian circles is really detrimental to the mission–Enough of it happens, and pretty soon, the guys are so loaded down with body armor and accessory items that they can’t move, and the guerrillas who are already at an advantage because they have the initiative of choice as to when and where to attack then also get the advantage of being able to run around carrying a couple of magazines and an AK-47, while our guys are having to carry the damn kitchen sink because they don’t know when or where things are going to turn southwards. We’ve had this problem since Vietnam, and it really is insoluble, because were we to run the risks we’d need to run in order to get onto equal terms with the enemy, we’d lose people to things like… Not taking along all the body armor. And, that crap doesn’t fly, when you’re telling the Next-of-Kin that, hey, the taxpayer bought all this stuff, but we left it in base camp, ‘cos, ya know, it’s heavy and it’s hot outside…

      The fact that we also lose guys to things like heat stroke from carrying all that crap tends to escape the critics who blame the leadership for not taking every damn thing with them, sooo… It’s somehow easier for the civilian side to accept that someone died of something like heat exhaustion on a hillside in Afghanistan than it is for them to accept a “preventable” death due to not having every energy-sapping bit of armor strapped on. There’s no sense to it, but there you are: What should be a purely military decision winds up being something that plays solely to the sensibilities and understandings of the civilian world, and the military can’t do a damn thing about it. We’ve been playing this game since Vietnam, where Schwartzkopf’s career almost ended because of a “scandal” where a kid didn’t wear his flak vest while sleeping, and a short artillery round killed him. That got a Congressional investigation, and a bunch of other attention that damn near left Schwartzkopf forcibly retired. I don’t see where I can find an actual cite for it, but supposedly that young man’s death was brought up during the confirmation hearing for Schwartkopf’s first star, and had it actually stopped him from promotion, we’d all be a little less well off. Of course, the training value of that event for the rest of the officer corps wasn’t lost, sooooo… Hey-ho, away we go, with every damn thing and the kitchen sink strapped to our bodies.

      Never mind that we’re starting to see 25 year-old mid-career Soldiers and NCOs with blown knees, ankles, and bad backs that used to be the sole purview of the doddering ancients that made it through to retirement.

  23. Tony Thompson

    My boss is wondering where the manic howling with laughter is in this huge building. Glad my mouth wasn’t full.

    • Kris Keldaran

      Iif you’re laughing and having a good time, I’m doing something right. Glad you’re enjoying it Tony.

  24. SFC_Fuzzy

    I’ll see your cold weather incident and raise you a heat/desert incident.

    Almost 20 years ago (wow, beginning of my career – about to retire within a couple of months now) at NTC (National Training Center) Fort Irwin, CA a unit rotated in for training and the command team decided to do a road march in MOP4 against the advise of the local advisor.
    Long story short – I had a dental apppointment that day and they were pulling medical personnel from the DENTAL CLINIC to deal with all the heat casulties. Multiple officers got relieved of command for that one!

    • Kirk

      Yeah, I remember hearing about that one as an example of what to watch out for with player units when I was going through the Observer/Controller Academy for training. Classic stuff…

      Never ceases to amaze me what some people look at in planning and execution and think “Oh, wow, this (insert incredibly dumb idea that even the newest private will look at and say “Is this really a good idea, Sergeant…?”) is a magnificent idea…”.

      Inevitably, during the aftermath, nobody can ever quite remember precisely whose idea it was. You’d like it to be that person who gets to pay the price, but it generally isn’t; the true originator of the stupidity likely isn’t even around, when the final rocks of the avalanche stop falling. Which usually leads to the authorities stalking the unit and shooting the wounded, so to speak. It’s a rare day that the actual responsible parties pay the price, and worth every single second of observation. While the Karma Police ™ are often slow, they eventually will get their man or woman, and seeing the fun ensue is priceless.