From the Citizen Soldier side: Don't you just love it when I drag out a story? Some folks think I do it to make my readers come back...well the truth is, I keep forgetting stuff, so I have to drink a few cups of coffee so the caffeine can stimulate my brain.
On with the earthquake story. I realize that a lot of people have never actually had the experience of a good earthquake. The "89" quake was a good one. I joke about it, but the sad fact is about 60 + people were killed. We learned a lot from that one....I don't mean that we learned how to make buildings better, but the "public safety" type folks in California did not have their shit together in 1989. Let me explain:
By the next morning, 18 Oct 89, we had our entire Combat Engineer company loaded up with every damn thing we could pack into our trucks. We had bull dozers, loaders, back hoes, 15 5 ton dump trucks and all kinds of chain saws, shovels, picks and so much crap. We also had "looter shooter" tools if needed (but no ammo.)
We had no directions from the state on where to go, so we drove 20 miles south of our armory to be closer to the areas damaged by the quake. We set up our pup tents in a field and then asked the most important question that any soldier will ever ask: "What's for chow?"
We were very happy that none of our cooks had shown up at that point, so they were not going to be able to feed us their toxic food.
We didn't even have an emergency stash of MREs anywhere in the area. Most of us were willing to go pay for our own food, just let us go somewhere and eat....come on we hadn't eaten in 16 hours by the time we'd set up our pup tents.
Finally, they got a deal set up with the local Denny's restaurant....not the best place, but at that point we didn't care, we just wanted to be fed.
We sat in that field for 2 days, eating at Denny's 3 times a day...then the HQ told us to go back to our armory. The State had activated us, but they still had no friggen idea what to do with us. We wanted to tell the Governor that we could fix any problem....but we had to wait for a bunch of idiots at the State to figure this out.
After we returned to our armory, we stood in formation and were then told by the First Sergeant: "We need 30 people, let me rephrase that, we need 30 good people, drivers and heavy equipment operators. We're taking a task force to the Santa Cruz area to help with earthquake damage. Any volunteers?"
About 60 hands went up, including mine. I had driven lots of other Army trucks in my regular Army days, but I'd never driven the 5 ton dump. The motor sergeant looked at my old military license and said: "I bet you can figure out how to drive one of these, here's you new license."
I loaded my gear and another Spec 4 and I climbed into our 5 ton and got into a convoy heading down to Santa Cruz. I learned how to drive it as we went. It had 5 gears, a 2 speed box behind the transmission to give you 10 speeds...all old style flat gears, double clutchin' all the way. Then there was the dump bed and other levers and gears....I figured out as we went. Great OJT.
to be cont.