Sunday, February 05, 2006

Giant Crows, Fat Coyotes and the Worst BK in the World


Last week I returned from my eleventh trip to the National Training Center (NTC). Located in the Mojave Desert in CA, the NTC is one of the places the Army sends soldiers to train and engage in mock combat against what was once called the "World Class OPFOR" (to be honest I don't know if they are still called that or not...and I don't really care).

The NTC is also home to what has to be the largest crows I have ever seen. They are the size of eagles. I saw a crow sling loading a garbage bag off to its nest. Guard your little rat dogs ladies 'cause if you're at the NTC the crows will soon have them.

If not the crows then the coyotes. No scrawny Wylie Coyotes here folks...these animals are so fat they resemble someones pet. I saw a coyote pass up a mouse and go for the MRE scraps nearby...hey makes sense, he didn't have to chase it down and expend the energy to kill it, and more than likely tastes about the same.

As for the worst BK anywhere, If I weren't boycotting BK already for those ridiculous football commercials (you know where the "King" takes the place of real football players in highlights) the lack of service, civility and overall quality would have put me over the edge...but hey where else are you going to go? You're at NTC for gosh sakes, who is their competition, MREs and T-RATS? To put it in perspective the Arab gentlemen who ran the BK at Camp Taji, Iraq did a better job than the chuckle headed operation at FT Irwin...but hey that's just my opinion they may have been having an off week or two while I was there.

A lot of goofy things go on at NTC. I believe T-Bone or CW2 Lee where told to take the funky fresh soul power gold fist air freshener out of their aircraft because I'm guessing they weren't soulful enough? CW2 Lee was chewed out because he had "Front Toward Enemy" written on his helmet visor cover. I was yelled at by CSM for wearing my patrol cap to the shopette after I had been told it was OK by my chain of command...CW2 (at that time) me tried to lock up the CSM at the position of attention for yelling at CW2 me. I was later told by my CO that I was a trouble maker. NTC was also the location of the greatest Porta Potty story of all time.

CW2 Jerome E was a guy who came to aviation after serving a stint in the Old Guard as an 11B NCO in charge of the firing party for funeral details at Arlington National Cemetery. He was also a born and bred Louisianian and still had some rough edges about him. He and another guy had been tasked as the BDE commanders personal aircrew and as such, out at NTC they sat in their UH-1 near the TOC all day every day waiting to be tasked for a mission.

The sun was setting, and as such the porta potties were just becoming remotely habitable again. Jerome took this opportunity to relieve himself of that MRE burden that had been building all day. Wearing his battle rattle, off he went the direction of the bank of four outhouses that were standing watch on the perimeter of the Brigade TOC. As Jerome reached the little blue building he carefully removed his LBE and Pro Mask, folding them in a careful pile just out side the door, he then entered the little plastic shelter to settle upon the plastic seat and do his business.

No sooner had he sat down, his one piece flight suit around his ankles, he heard the sound of approaching rotors. This being an aviation unit, that wasn't unusual helicopters came and went all day every day. But as the beating rotors came closer something told Jerome that this might not end very well.

He could hear the aircraft (a UH-60 it would turn out) make what sounded like an approach to landing and then from the whining and increased noise make a go around. Probably browned-out he thought. A brown out is when a aircraft making an approach to the sand goes too slowly and before he touches down looses sight with the ground due to blowing sand. It's the cause a quite a few accidents over the years. And then it happened...

He could hear the aircraft re-approaching, rotors beating louder and LOUDER. Then the sand began blowing in through the vents of the door and into the little enclosure. It was now IMC inside the box. The winds were buffeting the little structure as the Black Hawk got closer and closer. Fearing the worst Jerome stood up and tried to balance the plastic outhouse, spreading his feet as far apart as was possible with his flightsuit and underwear down around his ankles.

First one then one after another all of the un-occupied porta johns blew over on their sides and Jerome knew his was next and he was going to be covered in the foul blue stench and forever would be known as the "Tidy Bowl Man" or even some worse name that he couldn't think of at that moment. The little box tilted one way and then another as Jerome shifted his weight to try and balance the structure as much as he could, but he just knew any second he was going over and he was about to be covered in shit.

But then as suddenly as it started it was done. The wind died and the rotors spooled down and stopped. He was saved...I'm not the "Tidy Bowl Man". With a sigh of relief Jerome pulled on his flightsuit, washed his hands and inserted a fresh dip of cope.

As he stepped from the Porta John, he saw silhouetted in the setting sun a figure opening the door of one of the shitters than had been blown over. Hearing Jerome exit his would be tomb, the figure turned and asked, "Are you alright son?"

Jerome spit and said in his Louisiana drawl, "FUUUCCCK YEW"

The General said nothing, and Jerome picked up his LBE and walked back to his Huey.
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