Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why I Don't Complain...

... As Much... -er-, As I Used To... -um- .... Anymore... Mostly.

Long title, I know, but it kind of works.

So, after awhile in most tend to realize that there are somethings that are going to happen that are not... good. Marines are going to piss and moan, of course, that and talking trash is something that is just done. Always has, it seems, always will.

I seem to only vaguely remember some quote something along the lines of 'as long as the men are complaining, everything is as it should be', or somesuch...

I guess that I complain about as much as the next guy, but I'm very careful to not carry on too long, or even begin to approach the arena of whining, because 1) Whining is disgusting, and 2) Excessive complaining dares the gods to do their worst.

Couple of years back. Late in the evening, out in the field & freezing my ass off...

[I slip, fall, and crack my crack on a rock]

ME: Boy howdy, this sucks the big one.

['wind a-blowin']

ME: Can it get any worse?


ME: Kidding! Just kidding! No rain, go away!

[pouring rain]

ME: Crap.

Naturally, this comes after a week of chilly but not cold weather. Winter was finally winding down, and warm weather was around the corner. I still had all my cold-weather gear, because well... read the blog title, I'm sure that it's pretty evident. So winter decided to give one last huzzah, before giving up the ghost. What had been only chilly weather in the mornings back on the block and perhaps somewhat overly enthusiastic short-sleeve weather in the afternoons turned into friggin' Arctic weather training once out in the field.

On the other hand I was pretty excited due to the fact that for the first time in a long while, I didn't have to stand watch that night. Anytime the Marines were bedded down out in the field, there are Marines up and standing guard on rotation, and tonight, I wasn't one of them. I would be doing my best bug-in-a-rug impression, in my bag. Life was (somewhat) good.

So after the rain started, the suckage increased.

No catastrophic bag failure for me that night, only woke up once when I realized that my nose was frozen solid. See, I'm one of those types that can't have anything covering my face when I sleep. I dunno why, it just is. I'll have the bag zipped, snapped, and draw-stringed up tight, with only my nose or mouth sticking out from a small hole near the top (referring to it as a 'blow hole' might be amusing. Once.). Reaching one arm through the face-hole in the sleeping bag, I reached over and propped my nearby pack at an angle. Sticking my head in the lee of the pack to block most of the wind and rain, I dozed back off to sleep...

To wake up in the morning covered in snow. In SNOW! Now, anybody who has spent more than one winter in the northern states will undoubtedly scoff and call us a bunch of wussies, but for most of the guys, the 1.5 inches that we had that morning was all but a blizzard.

I sat up, still buried in my sleeping bag, angling my face around to ogle the world with one sleepy & eye-booger filled incredulous eyeball.

ME: Oh. Hell. No. ... Can it possibly get any worse?

That's when the first snow ball hit me, followed closely by a conspicuously un-Marine like titter.

ME: Crap.

[rewind, to the previous evening]

The Forward Observer team exited the vehicle, threw their packs on their backs, and started humping their gear to a designated observation hill aways from & on the flank of the mortar range. Come morning, they would be the Marines that would search for targets on the range and practice calling in fire to the gun line. Until the range went hot mid-morning, their duties were somewhat limited. A short perimeter check, maybe checking out the available targets while the light still held out, and that was about it. They bedded down for the night, all four of them with their sleeping bags tucked up close to a large bush on the top of the hill. They also decided not to set out a fire watch.

[back to me getting an icy morning wake up call]

The range observer finally showed up, interrupting the necessary but somewhat routine classes that we did every time we went to the range. As it turned out, he was a Marine that a number of us had first met on float, so some of the guys gathered around and passed some scoop on who was where & doing what, rumors of future deployments, and to talk some trash. Eventually he left to go check out the forward observers' position.

Taking care to drive up the almost-never snow-covered road leading to the FOs hill, he was moving slow when the F150 topped the hill. He arrived at the top and didn't see any Marines, only snow covered... everything. I imagine that he probably wanted to stop the truck, check some maps, and probably get on the radio to inquire, 'WTF?'. Steering the truck over to the one bush on the top of the hill, there was a suspicious 'thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump'. He found our Forward Observers, all right.

At about this time I was down on the range, still freezing my ass off, miserable. Some industrious Marine had created a 6 inch tall snowman and perched him on the empty sight-case. I was looking forward to a long Fire for Effect mission, because after enough rounds, the barrel would warm up and I would probably be on that bad boy, with no shame at all, to warm up. We were scheduled to begin fire missions shortly.

The call came over the radio, "Gun Line, this is FDC. The range is cold, the range is cold (no shit, I'm freezing here!). All team leaders get your numbers (of Marines, serialized gear, and ordinance) and report to the FDC." As all my Marines were looking at me with a 'WTF?' look on their face, I knew that I had all my bodies. The ammo was likewise out and prepped near the gun, minus the 'WTF?' look. After a quick check of the serialized gear, we started getting word that there had been an 'incident'. Hearing the choppers zoom by shortly after confirmed it. "Sucks to be them", "Hope those guys are warm, at least" and other comments were given while we killed time on the gun-line, still oblivious to who was involved.

To hear the story later from one of the unfortunate 'speed bumps' (and yes, they all survived) he admitted that they were in the wrong with the whole no fire watch thing. About the only 'good' thing was the fact that all of them had slept with their heads underneath the brush and only the foot ends of their sleeping bags sticking out any distance from the foliage. Hearing him relate how he went from dreaming about some little hottie to getting wrapped up underneath the truck, still wrapped up in his sleeping bag was... well, it was a relieved laughter, that's for sure.


William the Coroner said...


What's a fire watch? Why would you be worried about fires in the woods in winter?

Dr. Zeus

Snigglefrits said...

Are you saying Murphy's Laws started with *you* Murphy?

Sigivald said...

There's a saying, not sure where it's from:

"As long as you're not on fire, things can always get worse."

(And the corollary: "If you're on fire, things are approaching the theoretical maximum for how bad they can get.")

Tech Like Me said...

Yes, we who live in the North usually call those who call 1.5 inches of snow a blizzard wusses, however I shall not. Because no matter how much I like snow, I still won't sleep out in it in only a sleeping bag for love or money.

*shakes head*

Crazy marines, you're supposed to through it, ski on it or build things with it, not sleep with it.

Murphy said...

WC: Not so much a watch for fires as it was for other platoons' mischevious Marines. Heck, maybe even for guys in OUR platoon.

Snigglefrits: It didn't start with me, but I lived it like it was going out of style!

Sigvald: Bwahah! '...approaching the theoretical maximum...' Love it!

Tech: I lived up north for a while, and I would have called guys like myself now much worse. It would have been alot better if there was enough to use as insulation of sorts and, of course, if we weren't sleeping in puddles.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the frozen wastes of Norh Dakota but the coldest times I can remember are with the Airborne Infantry sleeping on the cold F$@#ing dirt! Our primary rule was never sleep where a vehicle could possibly run you over (obviously) and never sleep in a vehicle.. the provide excellent targets for bad guys munitions. Keep up the good stuff Murph