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.

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