Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Angles and Dangles

Some fun times on a Trident

Taking the Blackhawk out for Lunch

ESCAPADE CATEGORY: Hungry soldiers not thinking

Reviewing some ethics violations from the Army Inspector General for 2010 I came across this one. This was less problematic than an incident also involving hungry soldiers that I was party to. I was the platoon sergeant and we were convoying up to a training area in Massachusetts. We stopped at a Gas station to fill up. Several of my soldiers asked if they could go inside for something to eat. I say "yes but hurry up". I glanced up just in time to see four soldiers charging into the convenience store..WITH THEIR WEAPONS! I had a vision of the startled clerk pulling out a .44 magnum. I ran inside and told them to never pull that crap again. Their defense was that they didn't have any ammo, so it shouldn't be a big deal.

Taking the Blackhawk Out for Lunch

A concerned citizen contacted the Inspector General after seeing a Blackhawk helicopter parked in a field behind a restaurant. Inside, he found five service members that had stopped for lunch and were enjoying their meal with several civilians. An investigation revealed that the soldiers were on a training mission, but they had properly listed the restaurant stop in their mission plan. Since the stop was properly listed, the soldiers had not violated any regulations, but they still received verbal counseling because their actions created an appearance of impropriety.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Brave man samples 27 year old MRE contents

OK this is weird. A website dedicated to the infamous MRE (Meals Ready to Eat). Add to the weirdness, some guy send the author a vintage MRE that turns out to be over 20 years old. This must be seen to be believed.

One of my all time favorites and most peoples most hated item was the dehydrated pork patty. Yes just add water and voila - pork...well not quite. I preferred to stockpile them and eat them like a big meat potato chip. Apparently they only were available in the 1982 through 1987 vintage MREs. Because these things sat on shelves for years I was dining on pork patties into the mid-nineties.

Some of the contents of the vintage MRE were just wretched, like the chee se spread. He goes into excruciating detail on his deconstruction of this culinary artifact.

His commentary is great "to rehydrate the entree I elected to use my hotel room coffee pot"

Link: Taste Test: 1982 Menu Item #1 - Pork Patty

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas gift ideas


The HMS Invincible, a British aircraft carrier, has been put up for auction online. It saw action in the Falklands and Persian Gulf. Do you know someone who could use one? Its a great stocking stuffer. By the way, the engines have been removed, but it is ready for tow from HM Naval Base Portsmouth.

On NPR I heard them joking about it.
"Would it be a problem if the shipping location was Waziristan, Cave number 6?"
"You could tell it was the Al-Qaeda aircraft carrier because it was being rowed."

I love the auction site. There is a "windproof combat smock" and combat boots for auction on the same page as the aircraft carrier.

Here's a story on the ship auction from Wired Geekdad blog

Friday, December 3, 2010

Treating Ma Duce badly

Next time secure the barrel.

Barracks Pillow Fights


When I was in Medic School at FT Sam Houston in the 80's I remember one weekend coming back to base on Sunday finding about 20 soldiers male and female were doing hard time for the 1st Sergeant. Information on what happened was easy to get because article 15's were posted on the bulletin board for all to see.

Apparently on Friday night when we were released a bunch of soldiers had an impromptu pillow fight in second floor of the empty WWII barracks. One of the rooms had a pile of down-filled pillows. The pillow fight started benignly enough until someone hit a nail on the wall with their pillow sending a shower of feathers everywhere. Apparently this became the main event as more and more pillows were eviscerated. Eventually there was a layer of feathers covering the barracks from one end to the other.

Unfortunately for the participants, as things were winding down the 1st Sergeant was walking out of his office and noticed flashlights in the windows of the empty barracks. He made his way over, switched on the lights and discovered the mayhem. He was so angry he couldn't speak for a moment. 20 people with deer in the headlights looks awaited his tirade. They were not disappointed. It took hours to clean up the mess, since the feathers seemed to enjoy being free. Pass was canceled for all involved and the 1st Sergeant had a substantial workforce for his company beautification and painting committee.

Here's a video of a big pillow fight at the US Military Academy at West Point. That's what I want on my LOD "patient was participating in pillow fight and was struck in the face by an unknown object breaking his nose"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm a pilot baby!

A favorite of ours in Iraq, well this and Barbie Girl. Dedicated to Captain O, our F16 Jockeys that liked shaking the paint off the walls and our Medevac pilots.

You crazy Bastards! Penguin knighted

ESCAPADES CATEGORY: Animals in the military

I always appreciate the eccentricities of military ceremonies, especially when they are ridiculous. In 2008 the King of Norway bestowed knighthood on a penguin in Scotland who has become the mascot of the King's Guard. This bird is was earlier made "Colonel and Chief of the Norwegian Army". I think this is the highest ranking animal that I know of. The working dogs in Iraq were usually Staff Sergeants or Sergeant First Class.

I wonder if they will let this penguin participate in NATO exercises in Norway.

BBC Story

Unhappy with the Service

ESCAPADES CATEGORY: Innovative use of weaponry

Here's a video of a soldier in Iraq who was unhappy with HP's service. In Iraq every piece of electronics was at risk of catastrophic failure. I went to the collection area (DRMO) and saw literally thousands of computers, printers, scanners not to mention air conditioners that had ceased to function and were piled unceremoniously in a heap to be "recycled". We found one of our Iraqi recyclers was just carting off dumptruck loads of crap and dumping it in someone's field near the base.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Swearing like a sailor - a proud military tradition


The sheer artistry that can be achieved by a true master of foul language is awe inspiring. It is a state often aspired to, but rarely achieved. At the bottom of the hierarchy is the soldier or sailor who so overuses the F-bomb as to obliterate most of what he or she has to actually say. The true artist achieves flourishes of verbal abuse that boggle the mind of the victim with unusual combinations of words and and of course the beloved F-bomb in all its forms.

I see this as an ongoing collection and exploration of the genre. Please comment with your own favorites.

A classic:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Roaring Camels of Fire

ESCAPADE CATEGORY: Bizarre Battle Tactics from History

The year was 1398, the 60 year old military commander Tamerlane, or as he like to be called "The Scourge of God" has set his sights on Delhi. Tamerlane during his 35 years of campaigning, terrorized nations and peoples had a habit of leaving piles of skulls behind to warn his enemies. In one charming episode he launched severed heads via catapult at a fleet of ships coming to the rescue as he destroyed the Christian city of Smyrna in Modern Day Turkey. The scene of heads smashing against the ships and the knight's shields convinced them to flee.

One of his more imaginative tactics was at the Battle of Delhi in 1398, a tactic unlikely to be endorsed by PETA.

The Sultan of Delhi had a force of 120 War Elephants, clothed head to toe in Chain-mail armor and having gigantic swords fastened to their tusks. The force backed by infantry looked unbeatable, even to Tamerlane's seasoned army. Tamerlane realized that elephants were easily panicked. When the elephants charged toward his army he had a herd of camels driven in front of his lines. Piles of sticks and straw were fasted to their backs previously. The drivers lit fires on the camels backs and drove them toward the charging elephants. The camels were mad with panic and the pain of their burning flesh. They uttered horrible roars as they approached the oncoming Indian Army, hence the name of this tactic "Roaring Camels of Fire" The elephants freaked out and charged back into their lines and started tossing unlucky Indian infantry around like toys.

In the end Tamerlane sacked Delhi and left it a smoldering ruin, as he was to do to Baghdad 2 years later.

Read a fascinating account of Tamerlane's antics from the book

Turn around and run like hell: amazing stories of unconventional military strategies that worked By Joseph Cummins

Monday, November 22, 2010

Antics of French Chopper Pilots

ESCAPADES CATEGORY: Acting crazy with military equipment

Here's a video with footage of some crazy flying. We are talking nap of the earth 2 feet above the ground. We always went over the powerlines when I flew, these guys go under them. I also like the footage of the guy going weightless in the back of the bird while the pilot recreates NASA's Vomit Comet with a helicopter.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bored PeaceKeepers - Sinai

ESCAPADES CATEGORY: Antics of Idle Soldiers

One of the soldiers in my former Infantry Company described the effects of being marooned for six months on UN PeaceKeeping Duty at a remote outpost in the Sinai Desert of Egypt.

The purpose of the mission was to keep on the situation between Israel and Egypt and ensure lasting peace. Known as the MFO (multinational forces and observers), I'm betting they were often referred to as MoFo's.

Some of the outposts had less than 20 soldiers. In the case of my friend their outpost had a staff sergeant as the highest ranking soldier. This was in the 1980's and there was no internet, spotty commo with HQ and really not a hell of a lot to do, except occasional patrols of empty desert.

After several weeks the natives grew restless. Entertainment sometimes took the form of rock fights at night with NVGs (night vision goggles) with the entire detatchment racing around in the dark pegging eachother with stones. Apparently the bruises didn't deter them since it became a regular activity. Picture a frat house relocated to the middle of the desert with no real entertainment. To prevent insanity the men must use their creativity.

Scorpion fights provided some entertainment, but some of the soldiers aspired to greatness.

One soldier decided that he was going to ride one of the feral camels that sometimes were found near the camp. He hatched a plan that threw caution to the wind in favor of the potential glory of a camel rodeo.

The camels could be lured close to the camp with food and really didn't fear the men. The plan was to put two 55 gallon drums on top of each other and use it as a platform to throw a rope over the camel's neck then jump onto the back of the camel's back. The plan after that was a little unclear but essentially boiled down to hold on and see what happened.

The plan was executed one morning with the Specialist balancing on the top of the drums with the rope. He tossed the rope and made it over the camel's head. After jumping on the camel it went crazy charging around. The soldier held on for a few seconds then was launched off the beast's back. Luckily the specialist didn't break anything and he was wearing his helmet. The camel was very upset and ran out into the desert.

The men then jumped in the humvee and followed it. Eventually they caught up with the camel and noticed the rope was still around its neck. Someone tied it to the bumper and they half-dragged the animal back to camp. Eventually it was released after it was apparent the camel was going to seriously mess up anyone who got near it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What the Hell!

ESCAPADE CATEGORY: Birds behaving badly

Birdstrikes are serious business causing aircraft damage and even deaths. This picture of a Navy plane landing is bizarre. Several articles cited that the plane was attacked by a "bird ball" which is great in itself. I think actually there must have been a good distance between the plane and the flock of starlings, otherwise there would be a nice bunch of pureed bird shooting out the back, perhaps with pieces of the engine.

Bat Bomb


Not unlike the call in recent years for novel ideas from the public for the War on Terror, President Roosevelt fielded all manner of craziness to help the war effort after Pearl Harbor. Among the "non-traditional" ideas was the Bat Bomb.

"Hey lets get a crap load of furry flying creatures and strap incendiary devices to them and burn down some Japanese cities." The crazy thing is that it worked. If it hadn't been for that other WWII war stopper, the A-bomb, American Kamikaze bats would have been burning down the house in the land of the rising sun.

Among my favorite parts of the research program is the incident in Carlsbad, New Mexico where some of the Napalm-armed bats escaped and promptly burned down the Army camp. Mastiff bats (wingspan 20 inches) were found to be able to carry a 1 pound stick of dynamite, but were not numerous enough for operational use.

I'm sure today if this was tried someone would be dragged before the Hague on charges of chiroptericide and war crimes.

Article on project X-Ray -Air Force Association Article
Very entertaining

History Channel program on Bat Bomb

Thursday, November 18, 2010

No Foursquare updates from Combat Zone - You think?

ESCAPADES CATEGORY: Why do we need to tell you this? Operational Security

The Air Force has felt it necessary to remind personnel not to use location-based services like FourSquare and Facebook places to check in from the Combat Zone. Reason? People are doing it. Look at the example on the link. "Avoid the chowhall and fat National Guard girls". That could be critical info Airman!! DO NOT tell the Taliban that they are our secret weapons.

Seriously though, note to self: When in combat zone, do not be a dumbass.

PC World Article - FourSquare Doesn't Fly with the Air Force

Chinese Answer to the Humvee - Crazy Soldier of Course!

ESCAPADE CATEGORY: Shamelessly having no ideas of your own

I love the name. Crazy Soldier, apparently it doesn't translate well meaning fearless or something like that. Reminds me of the hilarity of English-Chinese mistranslations such as "Bite the wax tadpole".

Reverse engineering is said to be a Chinese specialty. I would agree.

Anyways, the Chinese army apparently has had these cloned Humvees called the DongFeng or Crazy Soldier for years. Why don't they just buy our old ones? With the civilian HUMMER brand going away, at least I know I can count on the Chinese for my giant SUV fix. Maybe the the civilian version can be called Crazy Bastard.

Crazy Soldier

Bow and Arrow, Broadsword and Bagpipes


There is something about eccentric military leaders that makes you either love them or hate them. Case in point General Patton's crazy antics. I'd like to point your attention to another soldier in this category who really pushes the limit: British Officer Jack Churchill. His lunacy and bravery were the stuff of legend. Among his exploits were charging around at Dunkirk on a motorcycle armed with a friggin longbow and scottish broadsword. He once initiated an assault by taking out a German with his bow and arrow. He captured a mortar crew with his broadsword and he had the fantastic habit of yelling Commando! like a banshee while playing his bagpipes during assaults.

More on the maniac.

WWII Magazine Article

The Blue Clap

ESCAPADE CATEGORY: Messing with the new guy

Our hero was serving in Okinawa with the US Marines in some capacity. The arrival of a sanctimonious new guy was the occasion for unbridled retribution.

The new guy arrives on base and sets up in the barracks. He is regaled by tales of adventures with the local ladies of the evening. He interupts the conversation and proclaims his immunity to such temptations and his undying devotion to his girlfriend back home. The other Marines predict his downfall, some plan to expedite it.

Several weeks later the predictible news of the new guy's cheating ways make it back to the barracks, a lot of ribbing ensues and one particularly malicious Marine feigns extreme concern at this turn of events. He tells the new guy that there is a particularly virulent sexually transmitted disease locally called the Blue Clap. He proceeds to describe in detail the symptoms which are all preceded by pissing bright blue urine. Soon after the victim spirals down to what is a horrible death within days. Among the later symptoms is a blackened and necrotic penis, which in rare instances falls off. The new guy showed some concern but not a lot.

The punishment was soon to take a psychologically scarring turn. One of the conspirators knew someone in the Navy Lab who obtained the dye Methylene Blue, used to stain slides. When consumed it passes unchanged through the system and produces nice blue urine.

For the next few days, the dye was slipped into his soda. Early on the third day around 4:30 in the morning there was a blood-curdling scream from the head (latrine). Our victim emerged crying, wanting to talk to his parents and to see a priest. The trap had been sprung. It took almost 20 minutes to calm the guy down and convince him that his death was not imminent. I'm sure homicidal thoughts entered his head afterwards.