08 August 2012
Useful things I learned in 11Charlie AIT (Infantry mortar school)
I’m watching my 1 year old grand daughter today. She’s just learning to walk and she often falls down. I tried to explain to her that the falling is caused by gravity. She just looked at me funny…so that leads into:
From the Soldier side:
years ago, in a galaxy far, far away…no, that’s from a movie. Let me start over again. Many, many years ago, in a place called Fort
Ord, California, I graduated from Army Basic training. We all thought we were bad asses, but up to
that point, we really weren’t even trained to do any kind of real job in the
To be able to “get a job” and work for the US Army, you have to have what they call a Military Occupation Specialty (M.O.S.) and to obtain that, you have to go through and pass Advanced Individual Training (A.I.T.) or what you might call a “school.” Once you have an M.O.S. then you may attend other training, like “air borne” school. However, for those of us who were “straight legs” jumping out of a plane was something for fools. Why would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane?
When I joined the US Army, I hadn’t actually joined to be a grunt (infantry) but because I trusted some
(I can’t use that kind of language with my granddaughter around) that’s where I
ended up. After Basic Training at Fort
Ord, I was shipped to Fort Polk, LA If
you look Fort PUKE
you can see that it is the ass butt of the state of Louisiana. It was hot and it was humid. It was so freaky, that we’d go marching out
in the woods, it’d start to rain and before we could stop and put on our rain
gear, we’d be totally soaked. Then by
the time we got our rain gear on, it’d stop raining. I think God was messing
with us to make us better Soldiers.
Actually, once we got settled in and sorted out, being in 11 Charlie training CLICKY HERE was actually better than being in regular riflemen (11Bravo) training. We had an older drill sergeant who was too tired to run, so when we went to our training, he’d have us walk. I felt sorry for the riflemen who had to run to everything.
Since our training was more specialized- how to set up and “lay in the gun” and fire it, and how to be a forward observer and stuff like that, we trained away from the riflemen most of the time. The only times we trained with them was when we learned all the other grunt stuff we also had to know. You see in battle, if needed, we’d pick up our rifles and join the others. Our main job was to support them with “indirect fire” from behind. I was trained on the old 81 MM and the 4.2 inch (four duce) mortar.
Many times we’d be tasked with being the OPFOR (Opposing Force) for the riflemen when they were learning how to assault a hill or building. We’d be given training hand grenades to throw and lots of blanks.
Lesson: When throwing hand grenades uphill or up stairs, gravity is your enemy!
This was not in any Army manual, so how did I learn this? Well, one day we were out in the woods of Fort Polk (hereafter referred to as Fort Puke) and we had some of the “enemy” up hill from us. I pulled the pin on my M-something or another Frag Grenade simulator and threw it up the hill. (these were real grenades with a fuse, but no explosive charge. When the pin was pulled, and thrown, you had about 7-9 seconds before the fuse popped and made a noise).
Or course…it hit a tree, bounced backwards, then rolled back down the hill to where I was prone. I looked over at it as it went “POP!” and thought: “
Damn darn, I’m glad that wasn’t a real grenade.”
A few days later, we were learning how to clear buildings of enemy soldiers. I was only 18 years old and not terribly bright, so as we were going upstairs, I threw another M-something or another frag up the stairs. I threw it really hard…it hit the wall, bounced around, then came back down the stairs towards me. As it landed at my feet and went “POP!” I made a mental note to try and work with gravity in the future.
Now, if I can explain this to my granddaughter.