Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Snivel Gear & A Wake Up, Part 1

I remember when we got issued the new sleeping bags.

It's not that the old bags were junk, it's just that they were quite old and decrepit, long overdue for replacement. Well mine was junk, I think at one point I was suffering a 50% bag failure, and that makes for a miserable night! I kind of think that the new stuff was scheduled to come down the pipes and the powers that be didn't want to issue out any more new (actually old) sleeping bags when the new, Goretexified stuff was... soon to be issue- er, hold on... scheduled to arrive soo- um, just a sec... delayed but to be issued sometim- aw hell, gonna get here sometime.

Eventually we got the new bags, to mixed review. Most guys liked the heck out of the fact that they came in a three part configuration, with a thin green sleeping bag for cool weather, a thicker black bag for cold weather, and a goretex outer liner fastened to the green and black bags for the 'oh my poor, frozen, nuts' - freezing. Others complained that the whole assembly was larger and heavier than the old bags, and that the zippers and snaps were like honey to the Murphy-bees.

As long as the thing kept me warm at night, I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

The first night that we used the sleeping bags, amazingly enough, was a huge goat-rope. I forget what the exact situation was (probably traumatically repressed, or something), but I distinctly remember the Platoon Sergeant saying, "Fuggit, bed 'em down! Reveille goes in 5 hours, set the fire-watch, post comm-watch, long day tomorrow, stand by, gents!" As we were in for a short night and a long day, all of us not shafted -er- scheduled to stand guard that night were moving with a purpose to test out those new sleeping bags.

A description of a bivouac (sleeping area) site for our platoon.

It kind of depended on the Officer, what the plan was for sleeping out in the field. Some wanted us to be tactical at all times out in the field, so we would usually sleep as teams, sleeping bags tucked up alongside or under foliage, or camouflaged with the smaller nets that we took with us in the Hummers. Others were concerned with a vehicle accidentally hitting a speed-bump when driving at night (read: a Marine having a Really Bad Night), so they wanted the platoon to sleep in an admin mode, or that is to say with all Marines lined up on the ground in a rough platoon formation, with chem lights strung around the perimeter of the platoon. Regardless of the plan, there was always a night watch. If there were any Marines around (and I suppose that we would qualify, technically, as 'any Marines'), somebody had to make sure that there was a minimum of mischief going on at night.

That night we were sleeping in an admin mode, so I didn't get to pick my spot to sleep. Of course, along with the cold and the wind, mother nature decided that we really needed a good test run of the new bags and decided to send us some drizzle, as well. Awesome.

I was remarkably warm that night.

I woke up a couple of times just to savor the sensation of being toasty warm and comfy. It was ridiculously nice. It wasn't so nice that I stayed up very long, just enough to note the pleasant change in sleeping status.

I woke the next morning freezing my buns off. I don't remember if I was more ticked off that I had woken up 20 minutes before reveille (wakey-wakey time), or that I had yet another bag failure. Apparently, the cold temps, wind, and now driving rain had combined to ruin my morning. Again. I heard the muttered curses of nearby Marines as most of us woke up to the same situation.

Still secured in my sleeping bag I rolled over only to discover...

When we had bedded down in the darkness of the night, we had done so in a very subtle ground depression. The rain had soaked the ground and puddled on the surface, right where we were sleeping.

...that when you are sleeping in what amounts to a semi-frozen puddle of water, once that icy-cold water floods into the bag, you are in for another long and miserable day.


Old NFO said...

Piss poor planning... :-) That's why I went Aviation. If I was sleeping out like that, I was already up to my alligator in assholes...

Snigglefrits said...

Do sleeping bags come with snorkels for these occasions?

The Captain said...

One of the joys of combat support - squad tents and cots.