Old Soldier Stories
Currently in the USA there are over 23 Million Veterans. Nearly one out of every ten American citizens has served in the military at one time or another. A rare few (like myself and my step father) have served in more than one branch of the armed forces. If you do a google search for US veteran war stories you will find a few. Many officers wrote books about their experiences. For the noncoms and lower ranks, there are a lot less stories out there. Why? Some folks ask and I believe the answer is found in the unwritten code of Soldiers everywhere.
#1 if you were there then there is no reason to bring up or explain what life was like then.
#2 if you were not there or were not a member of the armed forces then there is no adequate way to explain what it was like then.
I do not mean for these remarks to be in any way disparaging of my comrades in arms or their ability to express themselves articulately. For some the times there were in the military were filled with good memories of down time more than times of grief. For others their lives were filled with moments of extreme stress and life threatening moments which they do not want to remember (and remembering the moments of down time would lead them down the dark path to the moments of terror). I feel fortunate that I have many more good memories than bad ones. Indeed! I feel my stories are mostly so boring that I never considered writing them down like this.
Many civilians believe that the “Cold War” was no war at all but only a compilation of downtime moments with a few peaks as we had global situations like the bombing in Beirut of the Marine Corps barracks or the invasion of Grenada which were over in a few moments or weeks. They fail to grasp the significance of life on the DMZ in either Korea (where we are still under a cease fire and not a truce) or the DMZ in West Germany (before the wall came down and Germany was still divided). I lived in both places during my tours of service.
There is no training in the world which can adequately prepare you for the life of stress you will live if you get stationed on a DMZ anywhere in the world. In Germany we had positions which had been prepared for us 35 years earlier in 1945. These positions were plotted on Russian artillery maps and would be taken out just as soon as the balloon went up (a WWI military term meaning it is time to open fire on the enemy). This created in all of us a feeling that death was inevitable so ignore it. We simply lived on the border 30 days out of 90 and did our jobs and made sure our equipment was maintained and would work if the need arose. We played a whole lot of card games during our downtime (either Spades, Hearts or cribbage).
Looks like I need to back up the train and then put it on the right track here. My time in the military started in the US Marine Corps in January of 1976 (just 8 months after we pulled out of Viet Nam). I am a survivor of the Cold War. After 4 years in the Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children (USMC) I was talked into an inter-service transfer from a Tank Battalion in the Marines to a Military Intelligence Battalion in the US Army by an Army Recruiter. Many of my stories had to be kept quiet until now due to National security issues.
Then there was the time while I was in the Marines and acting as if it was D’ Day again.
We had training at Coronado Amphibious assault school the summer of 1977 and I was a corporal. We were on the USS Paul Revere troop transport ship for 2 weeks. Sleeping in a hammock takes some getting used to. Being 6’ 4” (I grew another inch the next year when I gained my maximum height of 6’ 5”) was tough. I had a top hammock that was only 6 inches from the overhead. I had to be extra careful when I rolled out of the sack in the morning or my head would ring like a bell when I smacked it on the overhead (Ceiling to Y’all civilian types), or I would step on one of the 2 Marines below me.
The first week three times a day; twice before lunch and once before dinner we all had to go over the sides of the ship down the cargo netting, get into the landing crafts and attack the beach in San Diego California.
We had beautiful summer weather but the sand was hot and our gear was heavy.
After the first day of this I was very board (and hot, and sore, and needing a shower and trying not to complain out loud).
Our Women Marines (who stayed in the barracks on shore) were defending the beaches and we attacked them in their fox holes (That was fun!).
I thought to ask a senior sergeant why are we doing this? Good training, we were told, builds character.
The second week we in the Motor Pool had to back our jeeps and trailers onto the landing crafts, circle the bay and attack the beaches. We performed this maneuver 3 times before lunch and twice after.
Why did we think that we would ever have to attack a beach again like they did on D Day (June 6, 1944) 33 years before?
We still have never had to do such a thing; not even in the Gulf War in 1991. Maybe we would work as stunt men in a movie?
Night time was the best on the ship. They opened the galley and got a projector. We watched Burt Reynolds in the movie “Gator”.
The ship has now been de-commissioned and put into storage.
Time marches on and now we use helicopters and airplanes to send in our troops.
Then there was the time we were sent to Idaho for training in 1978.
I had no idea that we even had any military bases in Idaho but there it was outside of Boise. The roads through town are narrow and I was given a Bus to drive so I could pick up and drop off our guys as they went to different clubs and shopping malls on our off duty hours through Garden City. Well, OK, I only had to do this duty Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s while another sergeant took Tuesday’s, Thursday’s and Saturday’s. Sundays we stayed on the base. It was still more than the fellows going for a ride had to do. It also got me out of night shift guard duty because I was always done by 10 and lights out was at 11PM. We were up at 5 and running by 6 every morning.
The land around Boise Idaho is more flat than hilly but there are plenty of hills nearby.
Our base was on the other side of town. I worked on our vehicles and scheduled fuel, ammo and food deliveries. I rotated each driver and assistant through the various duties so no one got bored or felt they did more than others did.
We qualified on the rifle range, performed our annual PT tests and completed the training of new people as fast as we could during our two weeks there.
It was a fairly quiet time and I didn’t even get one picture the whole time I was there.
I only have my memories of driving that bus and trying not to get too close to other traffic with my mirrors.
Then there were the budget cuts of 1979.
Our annual training was done on the east side of our own base of Camp Elliot (located on the East side of Miramar Naval Air station which has since been taken over by the Marines as El Toro was closed).
It rained and the ground was muddy and I was out with the refueling truck taking 1,000 Gallons of diesel fuel to the tank crews. The truck is a 6 X 6 (six wheels with drive power going to all six when the transfer case is in the right gear). Well, after going off road to take fuel to this one tank I got stuck in a puddle (well, a 20 X 100 foot long puddle). The tank crew I had just topped off laughed but then they backed up their M60A3 tank and hooked up their tow chains in and “X” pattern to my front bumpers eyelets. Nothing was going to stop that tank when the driver hit the pedal. They had me out of the mud and on the road in less than 5 minutes. Camp Elliot is an old WWII prisoner of war camp. The only buildings still standing were the warehouses where our gear for the next war was stored, our headquarters building, the mess hall and our vehicle maintenance building where my office was up on the second floor.
The rest of the base was covered with the foundations of the prisoner barracks, the theater, commissary and bowling alley. Weeds were coming up everywhere and only the roads between the foundations were kept clear of vegetation. I joined the US Army before our next summer camp in 1980.
Then there was the worst snowstorm in Germany in ten years
“There I was, on the other side of the world in Germany”.
I was on an assignment for Military Intelligence; watching a road that ran in front of a nice big farm house.
It was winter and the snow around me was 2 feet deep and the temperature was hovering about 20 degrees.
I was sitting on the metal box that carried my Night Vision telescope and looking through it into the living room of the farm house.
The couple who lived there were in their 30’s and sipping wine in front of their cozy warm fire in the fireplace.
Then the thought hit me. Why did the US Government send me around the world to sit here in the snow?
What were they getting out of their money for me to be freezing out here while I watch these folks who are sitting at home all cozy and warm?
Where’s my fire?
Where’s my wine?
Where is my wife? (I was single at the time).
Well, if you know the government then you know that there are no answers to those questions. I just waited out there and reported what vehicles I saw coming and going until the sun came up and I could head to the rear for some hot coffee and my sleeping bag. I never even knew the name of that family and I don’t remember the town we were outside of.
I did learn a valuable lesson though. When the heater in your M113 armored personnel carrier doesn’t work, it is warmer to sleep under a tree than in the vehicle. The cold gathers in the metal and surrounds you.
Then there was the time my Military Intelligence unit was sent to Alaska, January 1983, for “Winter Training”
We were sent there for the whole month of January from the second to the second of February.
We lived in tents for two weeks with a gasoline heater.
The temperature outside dropped to 107 below zero with the wind chill factor. Our equipment and radar sets froze solid.
Inside the tent the temperature was 38 above zero and our blood was so thick from the cold outside that we were HOT inside that tent. We kept our radio in the tent with us and each man on the team took a 2 hour radio watch.
We wore shorts and T shirts while we played cards. Not much else for us to do in the cold and dark.
(In the winter where we were, the sun came up at 9 am and went down at 3 PM)
When we had to move it was a real pain.
We had to turn off the heater. Put all our clothes on. Tear down our tent and pack all our gear on a sled.
We then had to put on our slow shoes and act like sled dogs as 3 guys in front and two on each side pulled the sled with all our stuff on it to the new site.
Have you ever had to break through the snow while wearing snowshoes, carrying a 75 pound pack and pulling a 600 pound sled?
No Joy, I tell you.
Good training is what they (our leaders) called it. Building Character.
I did learn a lot about winter survival skills though. And we were sent back to Alaska January 1987 for another month (but that time we were given Jeeps and trailer to haul our tent and equipment around in).
I have now learned how to live in the wilderness in forests, deserts, jungles and the frozen north.
As long as I have Flint, a steel knife and the clothes on my back; I can live from 24 hours to 2 weeks (and even much longer with just a few more items available).
Being able to create fire lets me cook food and boil water (as well as keeping me warm and keeping wild animals away).
All the skills I learned I have taught our local Boy Scouts as an Assistant Scoutmaster.
I have been teaching my grandsons also (the oldest is now 16 and a Life scout).
Then there was the Time I was stationed in Korea in the US Army during the summer of 1984.
I was stationed on the DMZ (demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea).
We were in a concrete bunker at radar site # 11 looking across the Imjim River at the North Koreans.
The air conditioner had gone out and here it was; the middle of summer and 104F.
We rotated on a 30 days on site and 4 days off to the rear cycle. We had to keep the doors open and fans running 24 hours a day so our equipment would not shut down or turn off from overheating.
An officer from America came to inspect the Anti-Aircraft site next to our site one day.
He looked everything over and sat in the gunner’s chair.
He moved the gun until it was pointing across the river at the 12 foot tall speakers that were pouring out the usual propaganda messages “give up and go home Americans…You cannot win so stop trying…Join us and we will give you and your family a free house and a promotion in our Army”, (etc., etc.).
The officer was trying to get out of the gunners chair but his foot got caught in the trigger mechanism.
The gun went off and CRASH! Totally destroyed the North Korean’s big speakers.
We all cheered as he rushed to his helicopter and took off for the main base.
That was great and now our own speakers could be heard pouring out our Rock and Roll to the North Koreans.
It took them 2 weeks to repair their speakers.
The day after this “accident” the officer sent 100 gallons of ice cream and several new air conditioners to our site.
What a nice guy. I wonder if he wanted us to forget that he pushed the trigger?
While stationed at Ft. Lewis we did a LOT of training at the Yakima Firing center. Did you know that Yakima is one of the Best producers of apples in the world? They also produce 75% of all the Hops grown in America. We had a lot of access to apples while we did our 2 week to 2 month training sessions at the firing center. Each company was given 4 cases of apples a week so each squad got a case. We couldn’t take the apples out and bounce them around on the dirt roads (well, we could but didn’t want to bruise them). So we wound up eating the whole case each week as soon as we got it rather than eating our lunch meal. Have you ever eaten ¼ case of apples at one time? They may taste good and juicy going down but the run through you like General Patten ran through the French countryside chasing Germans. I lived half a day squatting over a hole I dug behind a bush after eating my first quarter case. I lost my desire to eat raw apples after that first encounter with them in quantity. Even to this day, 30+ years later I still prefer my apples cooked in a pie; usually during a holiday or at someone’s birthday party when they don’t want a cake. Dutch Apple Pie is my favorite. I still refuse to eat raw apples.
Then there was the time when some Anti-Nuclear protestors got worked up over the arrival of a new Los Angeles class attack sub coming to the port at Bremerton Washington.
I was placed in charge of a team and all the MI teams from Fort Lewis (16 teams in all) were called out to stand Guard duty on the entire perimeter of the Nuclear sub base for 48 hours.
The first day was the easiest to take. We had no idea what was going on or why we were there. We got our briefing at 7am then started splitting up into our patrol groups. 4 hours on 8 hours off.
This was a scary time because no one knew what to expect. These were Americans we were facing. Most held protest signs but we were all afraid that someone would get their hands on a gun and start shooting. That would create trouble with immediate affects because we had all been issued 110 rounds of live ammunition. If fired upon we were told we could return fire.
The first night was the worst.
My Lord; how I did not want anyone to get an itchy trigger finger that night. I made sure my team had their magazines loaded, in their weapons but their weapons on safe.
Everyone was now tired and jumpy on my team. I tried to keep their minds on their jobs, training and equipment but that only lasted a brief time before they once again began speculating about what weapons the opposition had out there.
My team and I prowled around the perimeter fence in an old Jeep; stopping and listening with our passive radar and thermal image equipment for 5-15 minutes before moving on to the next corner of the fence to keep the civilians guessing what our schedule of rotation was.
Have you ever played “Hide and Seek” at night, for 4 hours at a time? We really did not want to find anyone on our side of the fence but that is what we were trying to do.
We did this until our shift was up and then rested until our next shift. We were too wound up to actually sleep (except for Private Sandlin whom we had nicknamed “Sandman”. He could sleep anywhere at the drop of a hat).
Our shift was from 10 PM until 2 AM and another shift from 10 AM to 2 PM.
I suppose the fact that we all had our rifles and 30 rounds of live ammo in our magazines that discouraged the protesters from coming over the fence.
Well, the subs came in and docked; the sailors got off but were not allowed to go into town until the situation settled down.
That was a very scary and tiring 48 hours of my life. I would rather not go through anything like that again.
I believe that every platoon has someone like Private Simpson. He was the type of person out to get the most for the least amount of effort. Private Simpson was from down south somewhere like Alabama. I am sure that growing up as a young black man down there had something to do with how he lived his life. He had direct deposit of his military checks into a checking account. The trouble with checking accounts is that you always have more checks left over at the end of your money.
I am unsure even to this day if what Private Simpson did was intentional or not when he first wrote a check to the Post Exchange for which he did not have sufficient funds in his account to cover. I do know that when the company First Sergeant told me to take Private Simpson to the bank after payday to have him withdraws the cash he needed and then escort him to the Post Exchange to pay for the bounced check that this was important.
I knew that Private Simpson was embarrassed to have others know of his problem. After the bank we went to the Post Exchange. Being the sensitive soul I was, I did not want to add further to his pressures so when Private Simpson asked me to wait in my car while he went in to pay his bill I said I would. He went in and 15 minutes later came out. I did not ask to see the receipt for the payment. I really should have. I wanted to believe he was an honest man who made an honest mistake and has now corrected it.
Two days later we were both called into the company first sergeant’s office. We called him “Iron Jaw” both because he wore braces and also because when that man was upset his jaws looked like they could chew woodchips from petrified trees. It seems that Private Simpson had lied to everyone about his actually paying his bill. I got in trouble because I failed to go with him and make sure he did what he was supposed to do. My team was taken from me and I was made the driver for another team. Disgrace on top of embarrassment caused me to have hard feelings towards Private Simpson ever after that incident. I learned some very hard lessons that day which I have employed ever since then:
1. No one is perfect except Jesus.
2. Never allow your sensitivity to other people’s problems keep you from doing the right thing.
3. Just because people “Want” to do what is right; does not mean they will or will all the time.
4. It is better to allow others to suffer embarrassment as a consequence of their own actions than to be punished for you own not doing the right thing.
5. Jesus saves, God forgives and so can I.
The First Time I was killed in Combat
I was in Boot camp (USMCRD United States Marine Corps Recruit Depot: San Diego) From January to May; 1976. We were having war games at night and I was told to lead my squad through the obstacle course.
I made my way under the barbed wire, through the 6 inches of slop in the ditch, over the sandbags and into the bunker before THE WALL.
The WALL was 8 feet high and 20 feet wide. One end faced the enemy and the other there were Drill Instructors.
Now, I was trained to look for booby traps. I knew they were out there in the dark somewhere. I heard them go off as other people tripped them. I had been going slow and careful. The DI yelled at me to “Move my team or Lose it!” so I started out to climb the WALL.
I knew he was rushing me for a reason. He startled me and I stopped looking for traps and tried to make more speed. As soon as I reached the WALL and lifted my hand to grasp the top I should have stopped. I did not.
I lifted my hand up to grasp the top of the wall and “PING”; I pulled a trip wire and “FLASH” went a pop flare up into the air with a light as bright as day.
“YOU’RE DEAD” the DI yelled at me. “You and you’re whole F*Ing team are DEAD because you didn’t disable that trip wire.” He hung a sign that said “KIA” on it around my neck and escorted me and my team off to the sidelines.
The next day the guy who was behind me got the position of squad leader and I got to clean the toilets for a week.
Have you ever had one of those days? And that was just the beginning of my 12 year long career in the Military.
The Second Time I was killed in Combat
I was stationed in Germany when there was an East and a West Germany. East Germany was controlled by the communists of Russia. One month out of every three my unit was sent to guard the border. We took our armored personnel carriers and set them up on the concrete pads above and behind our bunker.
Everyone knows where those pads are located on the map (good guys as well as bad guys). They have been there for 35+ years at the time I was stationed there (more than 30 years ago). We also knew that if the balloon went up (which is military talk for “if a war started”) the first targets the enemy would hit with their artillery would be our vehicles. So we parked them and abandoned them. We took all our equipment out and dug fox holes where the enemy could not see us about 100 feet away from where our vehicles were.
The leadership in the Army believes very much in “Testing” the preparedness of the soldiers. They do this they say, “To build character”.
One evening when most of the unit had gone to bed there were only 3 men up in the Bunker. The duty NCOIC (Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge), the Radar operator and the radio operator.
About 10 PM there was a small POP sound followed by a bright light shining down on our position. A few of us had not gone to bed yet after our shift ended and others had just laid down to rest up for their shift that would start at 6 in the morning. We looked out the window to see a flare floating down on the compound and then Bang, Bang, BOOM!
Several people in black uniforms were throwing grenade and artillery assimilators (small explosive devices that look like large toilet paper rolls with a cap on each end).
Our orders were that if we came under attack we were to load up into our vehicles and defend our position until we were relieved.
Relief forces were not supposed to be more than 4 hours away and troops from America could be deployed into our location within 48 hours.
That was how long we were told we had to stand up against whatever was thrown at us; 48 hours. That doesn’t sound like very long does it? 2 days and we can rest again. Have you ever tried to stay alert for 48 hours? When people are shooting at you, throwing explosives at you and raining down bombs extremely close to your head?
Not many people have.
Those who have experienced these things will never be the same again.
It changes you. I still to this day do not sleep well for more than 4 hours at a time. I get restless and keep checking the time. I get up at 4:15 every morning except weekends when I (try) to sleep in until 6.
Any ways, back to my story. Lucky for me I was still dressed and so all I had to do was grab my pack and my M-16 and head for the trees. Remember those fox holes I told you we dug? That was where I headed with my team. They may blow up our vehicle but they will have to come in person to take me out!
We each had in our packs 6 MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), 2 one quart canteens of water and some extra clothes as well as our flashlights, knives, 210 rounds of ammunition and rain gear. We knew we were going to be in for a long, cold sleepless night so we all got as comfortable as we could and I assigned myself and another man to the first watch and the other two guys in our hole to prepare our position better and then get some sleep (if the could).
We switched watch at about 2AM and listened to other positions getting hit by the opposing forces in black. They seemed to be either avoiding our bunker or they were saving it for last. My team was looking East where we thought the trouble would come from. I was trying to rest when I had to take my watch again at 6AM. I had just taken out my binoculars to scan the area now that the sun was starting to come up. I heard a small pop behind me and then the shrill whistle of an artillery assimilator just before the loud BANG! At the end.
One of the opposing guys had gotten behind our position and tossed the device right behind us. The umpire with him just shook his head while we all looked up with disbelief on our faces. Our position was a good one and well away from our vehicle. That is what saved the rest of the team from the blast; according to the umpire. Since I was the only one exposed at the time while I was looking through my binoculars. He hung the sign around my neck that declared me dead.
“Good training”; he said “Builds Character”. Yeah, I thought to myself. I must have enough character for 3 people by now. What the heck good does “good character” do anyone when they are dead? It would be great if I could use it as a shield or something.
Of course there is the fact that all that training and character building has kept me alive this far into life. Heck, I am over the half century mark already! A lot of soldiers and veterans cannot make that boast.
The rest of my team survived without a scratch. Shoot; I should have got a medal or something. Ah well, that’s OK. I learned another lesson I can now pass on to those who are coming to replace me.
The third time I was killed in combat:
Or “Another day in the life of a Soldier”.
My team and I had sneaked past the enemy guard posts, driving with our lights off just before dark the night before. We set up our equipment on a hill just behind the enemies headquarters and watched them all night. We radioed in their position, number of people, number and types of vehicles, and how they were deployed in the canyon below us. It was a warm summer night without a cloud in the sky. As soon as the sun went down completely it began to get cool and the wind picked up from the west. We had our top down on the Jeep and we went out to gather sage brush to put around our vehicle so that we would look like a big set of bushes if anyone down below looked up at where we were.
No one ever did.
We worked with a red filter on our flashlights as we looked at our map and called in to our own headquarters all the information we were gathering.
Boy, these guys were going to get pounded when the sun came up tomorrow.
We figured it was too risky for us to move so we set up to watch through the night.
Just before sunrise we shut down and packed up our equipment. We started up the jeep and I suppose it sounded louder down the hill than it did where we were.
People down below started pointing at us as we were moving away and another Jeep with a machine gun attached began chasing us up the hill.
We tried getting away down the other side canyon but ran into a fence. We raced along the fence towards the road that would lead us back to our lines but the road had a guard blocking it.
We turned around and started heading into another side canyon but it was a dead end!
We were trapped with no way out as an enemy Jeep ran past the opening of the canyon. Another enemy vehicle blocked the entrance before we could pull out and turn around.
The gunner turned his machine gun towards us and as their leader got out of the vehicle and ask “Who are you guys and what are you doing here?”; BBBBRRRRRAAAPPPPPP went 50 or 60 rounds of blank ammo. So once again we were all dead (and dead men tell no tales).
Oh man! That guy in charge of the enemy team was very mad at his gunner and then I recognized their leader. He was another intelligence team leader that I had worked with before.
He also recognized me and we both laughed and shook hands as we began swapping war stories. We had both been stationed in Germany on the DMZ with East Germany at the same time.
They did not have an umpire with them so we were not “Officially” dead but we played by the rules of the game anyways.
6 hours later we found out that at the same time we were being captured; an air strike had been called in and the enemies’ base camp was wiped out because of our reports about it.
I suppose that means that no one won that time. I did enjoy seeing my friend from our time in Germany though.
The fourth time I was killed in combat.
What strange weather we were having in Yakima Washington. As we drove up the hill in the evening it was sunny. Half way up it became cloudy and then we drove through some fog. It was February and that is the middle of winter in Washington State.
By the time we got to our position near sundown on the top of the hill, it was snowing. We pulled out our gear, our night sights, our thermal imagers and radar set. The weather was cold and the commanding officer of the infantry we were working for would not allow us to have the tops put on our jeeps.
There we sat, wearing our ponchos with our sleeping bags underneath for warmth. The snow was coming down in a fine but steady stream and was pilling up around us and our equipment. Around midnight it quit snowing and by sunrise the sky was clear once again. The temperature hovered around 20 degrees F (about -5C). We were all cold and tired and I was not in charge of this mission. We packed up our gear as the snow melted in the sunshine and started down the hill, sliding a great deal, on our way to find a place to hole up until we had to work again the next night.
When we got back down to the road (we almost always used to make our own trails into or out of our working sites at night) the sergeant in charge told the driver to turn left. I suggested that we should turn right and go over the hill, away from where the enemy would be coming from. The sergeant said he was going to take a short cut to the left that went down the hill and closer to where our lines would be moving. The driver went left and started picking up speed.
We got around a corner and only had enough time to wonder why someone would put two stripes of what looked like toilet paper about 20 feet apart on the road as we drove over them.
An umpire came out from behind a bush to the right and stopped us. He pointed to the strips of Tape and explained that it represented an enemy mine field.
Here we go again!
The sergeant and the guy next to me were wounded while the jeep was destroyed and the driver and I were instantly killed. We pulled over into a canyon and I pulled out my sleeping bag. I told the sergeant to wake me when the coffee was ready or when we were back from the dead.
I did not tell him “I told you so” because he already knew. He hated that I was right but he hated more that his short cut didn’t work. I did not want to rub it in and get the worst jobs he could find for me later so I stayed quiet.
The Fifth time I died in combat
Then there was the time I was in the desert of Eastern Washington State.
My team was deployed on the side of a hill near the top but not on it (so we would not be Silhouetted against the sky when the sun cam up).
Just after sunrise our mission was over. We saw the enemy soldiers coming up the hill with the sun behind them.
There was no place for us to hide (sage brush and rocks were only about knee high around us).
I had my driver get into the jeep as soon as we were packed up and start her up.
The jeep engine made a slow turning sound and then quit. The battery was deader than a door nail. And soon, so would we be.
We had a separate battery powered radio and we called for or maintenance support team to come to our location to fix our vehicle.
They said they would be there in about an hour.
15 minuets later the enemy soldiers on foot swept over our position wearing their Red Arm bands (ours were Blue).
We told them about our jeep being broken down but the machine gunner was feeling frisky this morning I suppose.
BRAPPPPPPPPPPPP went the M 60 machine gun in his hands as he burned up about 50 rounds of blank ammo. He swept the barrel back and forth where my team and I were seated with a smile on his face.
An umpire happened to be with their group and he came up and hung signs around our necks indicating that we were all dead.
“You’re all dead so you can’t call your units for 6 hours” he told me.
“That’s just great by me” I said. (I was very glad we called in our location to HQ earlier and a recovery vehicle was already on the way).
I then told my crew to break out our MRE’s and have some breakfast before we got some rest.
I assigned each man to a 2 hour shift of radio watch so everyone could get some rest before we had to return to the war games.
I had a cup of coffee and some chicken ala king with a liberal helping of Tabasco Sauce (one of the better meals of that time) then laid down on the shady side of the jeep for a well deserved nap.
It’s hard work getting killed (again) but I was getting used to it.
It is always very peaceful afterwards and I had the chance then to listen to the quail and other birds as they sang their morning songs to put me to sleep before our wrecker arrived.
Every lesson I have learned from getting killed during these war games I have passed on to the next generation of soldiers.
1. Watch where you’re putting your hands.
2. Always look all the way around you, not just where you think the enemy is.
3. Make sure you know how to get out of anyplace you get yourself into before you need to leave.
4. It’s always better to take the long, safe, way back to your lines than a short cut.
5. Always check your vehicle before going out on a mission