Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Mother of All Flashlights

Flashlights, or 'moon beams' as they are affectionately known in the Corps, are a vital piece of gear. Long gone are the days of the large L-shaped D-cell behemoths, now most flashlights you'll see are those ultra high-powered smaller jobies. Most lights have some sort of rig to the weapon, but having a few spare for hand-held use are also a plus. The rule I follow is having a few extra of just about everything is a plus, less room for the Murphy-factor (even if it does make for an interesting grenade story, later). About the only other type I used in Iraq were the ultra-small, low intensity beams for checking out maps, broken engines, etc on patrol and when the moment strongly suggested that light discipline would be a good idea.

During one MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) training session, there was an excellent segment on the use of lights in room clearing. A few of the instructors-in-training were voluntold to wait in a room that was awaiting clearing. Our job was to fight back, fire a few blanks, and generally resist the clearing team. The idea for this portion of the training was to critique the other Marines' movement, noise discipline, firing lanes, and enemy (ourselves) prisioner handling, during a night time raid.

I thought that I heard a whisper of clothing, perhaps a boot on a pebble, and that was about all the warning that I got. The door jumped off its hinges, and what looked like 4 Marines came charging into the door in about .3 seconds. I wasn't really sure how many Marines were on the clearing team, because the friggin' point man let me have it with the full power of his surefire, quickly followed by about 1/2 a magazine of blanks. I was completely blinded. Sure, I suppose that I could have sprayed and prayed, but for the 1/2 second between being hit by the light and being 'shot', the only thing that I could think of was 'Damn that was bright!', and 'Wonder if I will ever see again?'. I was about worthless for the purposes of grading all other aspects of the raid from that point on.

Fast forward to Iraq, Marines being...Marines, we soon discovered that the ultra-high intensity of the new flashlights are good for a laugh or two...or three. The highest of all joys became those twilight moments when one Marine would say to the other, "Hey Vato, can you come here and check out this engine? I think that there is something wrong with the - BAM! (Flashlight beam direct to the eyes, Vato moaning and flailing arms about, moaning pitifully). New victims were selected, diversionary tactics were employed, and the pitiful, soon to be corneally-handicapped Marine was ambushed. It became somewhat of a rear-area tactical game, to see who could sneak up, like a ninja, to waylay their unsuspecting victim.

Vato, being a sneaky bastard, planned his revenge carefully.

Letters were written, family members were given marching orders.

Searches back home were conducted far and wide.

Finally, the perfect flashlight was found, bought, and shipped overseas, to eager arms.

Probably the best way to describe this monstrosity was to liken it to the lights that are perched upon the police cars. This thing was larger than those, had a heavy-duty rubber coating, and a rechargeable battery. Bled that puppy dry in about 45 minutes, too. It had some insane candle power rating. Suitable for illuminating suspicious vehicles on the other side of the city, announcing Hollywood movie openings, spotting enemy fighter planes, or for signaling Batman.

Vato waited for the perfect moment.

Sitting in a Hummer, pretending to be refreshing his knowledge of the radios, he called for Mouth to help him out. I have to admit, it was a beautiful 'kill'. The sun had just set over the horizon, and the light was slowly turning from oranges to reds, to dusky grays. The steel door of the hummer was closed, offering only the small area where a window would be on another vehicle for the unsuspecting Mouth to stick his head in. Dark shadows filled the hummer. The mother of all flashlights was ready, charged up, and aimed in.

Mouth had no idea what he was in for. He thought that he was the master of The Flashlight Ninja tm.



From about 20 feet away, I watched as beams of light shot out past Mouth's shoulders and off into outer space, notifying alien life of our existence on this planet. Mouth's cornea's melted away, and, for some reason, he was reluctant to acknowledge a 'clean kill', and refused to imagine that he, the master of the light, would be forced to cede the royal crown of ultimate dominion in this little game of ours.

Threats of multiple surprise blasts brought him around...


Johnny Law said...

HAHAHA!! Good story. As a cop, we are often playing that game with our spotlights. While sitting in a parking lot, another car will creep up and blind the driver with that huge light. I guess the military and police have a few things in common.

crys said...

lord. can't have been fun.

Murphy said...

It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, or at least temporarily blinded... 'specially if it was moi.