18 December 2009

Some other dumb things...What should I write for Christmas?

From the Soldier side: I'm trying to sort out what sort of Christmas story I should write this year. But, some of my readers (I think I have 2 or 3) wanted me to finish the story about "D" and his love problems. I really hate writing about things like that. How about I tell the story of the first time I got to repel! Now that was a good time.

There I was, in some foreign country in my younger days as a Grunt. We had been out in the "field" for a few weeks doing weapons and tactics training during the day and getting drunk at night. That was the "Old Army" and my liver and other body parts were still in pretty good shape.

Our infantry battalion was about done with our training in this little village and the battalion commander thought it would be nice for us to put on a little Army parade and show for the nice citizens. Word went out that they were looking for volunteers to put on a helicopter demonstration. I stuck up my hand.

(Note: The US Army has what they call “Air Assault” units. The have an “Air Assault” school that soldiers attend to learn how to properly do an air assault. What you learn is pretty much how to get into and out of a helicopter without hurting yourself. Although in those days and later in my National Guard career, I had gone on many helicopter rides, I had never attended any proper schools on such things. I learned on the go.)

I was looking forward to my first “Air Assault” from an H1 Huey helicopter…this is Viet Nam vintage---which the USMC still uses. When I got to where the 2 helicopters were sitting, I was introduced to a few other soldiers. The big difference between them and me?--- They had Air Borne wings on their uniforms. I didn’t because I was never schooled and never thought of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

As we began to get briefed, a crusty old Sergeant First Class (E-7) was explaining how the Huey’s were going to fly over the crowd of locals and our job was to repel out the side and land on the ground. Where cold beer would be waiting.

I looked at another sergeant standing next to me and I asked him how you did something like that. He told me: “I’ll show you how to hook up the harness, then you just stand on the skid and jump off feet first. Brake the fall by bringing the rope into like this (he demonstrated) and make sure you are not going too fast or it hurts when you hit the ground.”

They fixed me up in the harness thing and, being that I was only 20 years old, I was eager to try anything. I hit the ground hard. Ouch! That was dumb. I should have taken the full class first.  These days, I don't think the Army would let an untrained soldier do something like that...but maybe they would. 

5 comments:

Coffeypot said...

Should have gone head first; then you would have been alright when you hit the ground. I have to email you a story but I am too damn tired tonight. Maybe tomorrow. You will appreciate it, or go off on a rant. Can’t wait to see which.

Anonymous said...

1. Brings back all sorts of good memories.
2. Was told the air assault qualification, badge and school was set up as a sop to the 101st for taking away their airborne designation.
3. Back in the day was a BS qualification.
4. Understand now, it is serious business and the course is a ballbuster.
5. To the point where a lot of the 101st troops detailed to the school flunk out deliberately to dodge the hate and discontent.
6. Am sure things are done differently today.
7. Did a couple helo inserts back then.
8. The doors were partially blocked by the crew chief and door gunners machineguns.
9. No seats or seat belts.
10. Six of us loaded on each bird, sat on the floor and hooked a finger into one of the cargo rings.
11. The first insert was hot.
The crew chief and door gunner were screaming, "Get out," loudly and I was shoved out while the bird was ten feet or so above ground.
12. Landed on my back in elephant grass, looking and listening for enemy fire. Wasn't any.
13. If there were any bad guys, they had "Di di Maued."
14. The other insert was more civilized. They landed and we got out.
15. Making your first repel off a bird is a pretty big step.
16. In the Corps, we had simulated skids, back ramps and hellholes on our repelling towers. Depending on the type of bird, you'd get checked off on the one that matched the birds conducting the training.
17. Never wanted to be stuck on rope if there was hostile fire.
18. That's why they pay spec ops the big bucks (?).
19. Please, at some point, finish the story of D.
20. Have a merry XMAS.
V/R JWest

Ally said...

And an interesting story it is - fun too :)

CI-Roller Dude said...

It's not the fall that hurts, it when you land wrong. I've done a bit more repelling since then after learning how to do it right and it's FUN.

Red said...

I wish the first time I reppelled was this interesting... or maybe not ;D