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: Many, many 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 Army. 

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 assclown, (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. 


Anonymous said...

1. Fort Polk was a hellish place.
2. Competed with Vietnam favorably, but VN won because of the higher body count.
3. Seriously, VN sucked worse, but Polk was just about totally bad.
4. Never saw so many snakes anywhere. Someone said Oklahoma was worse -a really dubious distinction.
5. Shortly after I departed, the base commander was relieved for placing Leesville (Diseaseville) off limits.
6. Law enforcement was in cahoots with the bar owners and prostitutes. Troopers tended to get robbed, beaten up and then jailed for their trouble.
7. The off-limits edict caused the local scum to complain to their Congressman and, voila: new base commander and town on limits.
8. The icing on the cake was a walk I took through New Orleans on my way from Fort Polk to Benning.
9. Was derided for being military and, at one point, spat upon.
10. Went back to the airport after about fifteen minutes of that.
11. When Katrina devastated the place, felt appropriate emotions.
12. BTW, agree on grenades. If you needed them, you were in a world of hurt already. Our combat load was two of the things and any squad leader worthy of the title made sure the levers were taped down.
V/R JWest

Coffeypot said...

Sadly the way the world is today, she may need to know this. Until then, just hug her and play on the floor with her...if you can still get down there.

Old NFO said...

Ah yes... Ft. Polk... :-) ONE of the reasons I went in the Navy; well, that and I didn't want to walk to work!

One of my cousins was an instructor there back in the late 60s early 70s in Tiger Village. He'd just come back from Nam as an 'advisor' and told us then we were going to lose over there.

CI-Roller Dude said...

Mr West, as per standard Army SOP, when I went there we were still being trained to fight in the jungles of Nam...then I got sent to Germany. What would have been really useful was some cold weather training.
For some really odd resaon, we went back to Fort Puke for training for Bosnia! made no sense. Then for Iraq, we went to Fort Lewis, WA.

Coffey, I didn't explain the grenades to her.

Old NFO, yep, we were trained in "Tiger Vill" always train for the last war...not the next.

Anonymous said...

1. The sign at the gate said "Welcome to Tiger Land."
2. We were housed in WWI barracks set in a plain that was dirt with about two blades of grass.
3. Across the street was a PX that sold pitchers of 3.2 beer. The different ethnic groups would meet up, get slammed and go to war on one another.
4. Later on, in the USMC, my smart superiors would get on my case and that of my NCO's. We all knew how to fight in VN -but they were trying to get us ready, per doctrine, to deal with other types of conflicts.
5. They were right -but it took some effort on their part before that message began to percolate.
6. The USMC did not need platoons and companies primed with VN tactics and slang and whatnot, as we were not going back there.
7. You say duh. Most of us were hard sells. Have the fitrep scars to prove it.
V/R JWest

TheNewMagoo said...

ok, so i've read the book "How to teach physics to your dog", but never heard of "How to teach physics to your infant granddaughter".

i remember my big brother (at 8 years of age) explaining to me (5 yrs) that the reason we didn't float off the surface of the earth was because of gravy - it's magnetic, you see, and makes us stick to the ground.

So as long as you keep your grenades out of your dinner, you'll be fine.

CI-Roller Dude said...

Comming soon: "More Lessons from Grandpa- how to fight gravity and win"

Citizen Soldier said...

I was stationed at Ft Ord from 87 to 90. I was one of those legs you talked about. We were light infantry but cverything we carried was heavy. Gravity sucks just look where your chest ended up.

CI-Roller Dude said...

C.S. I think they meant to say "Lite"

agirlandhergun said...

Ahh, the lessons of life we all have to learn. Thankfully she has someone to teach her and someone to catch her.

CI-Roller Dude said...

Yep, and her other grandpa will teach her trap shooting....although right now she doesn't seem to want much help...she keeps saying what sounds like "I do." when we try to help her do something.
Stubborn little Irish girl. Perfect