Tuesday, March 15, 2005


So, my story isn't quite as cool as this, as I don't have video, but here goes:
I was teaching a demo class in North Carolina and we had another crop of winners. I'm not sure how it is the Marines decide who is allowed to play with explosives and who isn't, but I certainly wish they'd be more selective.
Anyway, I get this kid from the barrios of LA. Fresh out of bootcamp, so you'd think that he'd be a bit timid from being beat down by the drill instructors, but apparently that 10 days of leave he took to go back and do some drive-bys in C-C-Compton must have made him brave again. Oh yeah, I didn't mention he stuttered did I? That comes into play later in the story.

Anyway, my partner instructor and I are teaching how to do a delayed fuse charge. Basically it's just how to determine how long you want your fuse to be based upon the known burn rate of the compound that makes up the fuse...plus or minus a couple seconds for variances based upon storage of the fuse, or humidity, or whether the guy running the machine in the factory was hungover or not. We were very clear, everyone had a certain length of fuse, since we had several exercises to perform this afternoon, so we cut them into set 3 lengths which would take 5 minutes a piece to burn, based upon a 2x4 we'd set up on the range that had the set length on it. Unfortunately we had a new guy in the supply area who was cutting the fuse, and cut them a bit longer than we needed, and thus we had about a foot of left over fuse after all the cuts. My partner and I were clear, "Take the smallest section left and put it in your cargo pockets" so we could return them to supply. The Corps has this thing about leaving troops with any sort of explosives in their possession after a training mission, so we figured that since we LIKED our freedom, and didn't want to be walking on the side of the road picking up trash in an orange jumpsuit, we were going to go ahead and follow their orders.
So we get everyone set up with their charges. The cool thing about this range is that we have all kinds of stuff to blow up. Old tractors, bulldozers, Amphibious tracked vehicles, trucks, stuff that the Corps has basically thrown away but they allow us to keep and blow the snot out of.
So everyone is picking what they want to blow up, and this is the part of class where we allow a bit of creativity. Privates are setting up charges on the blades of a bulldozer, the tracks of an old tank, etc. Well, private 'Rico Suave' was working on the cab of the bulldozer. He wanted to blow the top off. The problem was, he couldn't get the C4 to stick to the ceiling of the dozer. You always place the C4 before you put your blasting cap in it, just to keep you from blowing the hell outta yourself. C4 doesn't just blow up by itself, it needs an explosive charge to start it, and that's why you want to keep the blasting cap away from it until you're ready.

So, everyone gets their charges set, and we place the caps, including numnutz. This is the point where the non-hungover instructors would check the length of everyones cables, make sure they picked the right ones, make sure everyones blasting caps were set right, etc.

Unfortunately, myself and my fellow instructor did not fit into that category. So, we did a quick once-over, looked at all the charges that were in place, they LOOKED ok, and decided that it was cool to pull the pins, and get in a single file line to walk to the bunker and get the hell outta the way until it goes BOOOM.
The bunker is about 500m away, and when the wind is right and the charges are set just so, you can hear the metal tinkle on the roof after a particularly good charge, so we definitely want to get there. So, we all get into line, start walking....we're about 200 meters away and we hear a singular 'BOOM'. I think to myself "what the fuck?!" but I'm not about to go back there and check it out with the equivalent of a satchel charge waiting to blow up there. Privates start running to the bunker following the lead instructors orders (I was in the rear to make sure no privates decide to commit suicide on my demo range). All the privates but Rico. He's laying on the ground. I stand over him and start yelling obscenities that would make a drill instructor blush. Things about his mom that even his dad didn't know.
He looks up at me and says "Sgt, that was my ch-ch-ch-charge". I stop the stream of obscenities long enough to allow that to enter my adrenaline overcharged mind and ask him how he knew. "Because I had my three l-l-long fuses after I crimped my blasting cap to the short one , but I d-d-d-din't want to s-s-say anything, cuz I thought it'd be funny". At this point I realize that we're about 30 seconds from a helluva series of booms and decide this conversation is best finished in the bunker. I pick his ass up outta the sand, and we haul ass to the bunker. But while I'm running, I get a whiff...you know, a passing, fleeting whiff. However, the bunker is relatively closed off, with 15 Marines in it. We get into the bunker and I say "Damn, who busted ass", and Private shortfuse kinda looked at me like "Uh, I forgot to tell you one other thing".

Apparently his sense of humor didn't quite remember to tell his bowels how funny that joke was going to be. His bowels were truly amused, and showed their appreciation of the joke by releasing all that they held.

Private numnutz was dismissed for the day(as was everyone else) and pulled police duty (cleanup) on my demo range every night for the rest of his time in Engineer School. And I never got drunk again the night before a class on the demo range.

1 comment:

Fish said...

Always thought getting to blow stuff up would be a kick, since I was a kid playing with cherry bombs. I found out the cherry bomb would just fit down this cut off pipe sticking out of the ground, and if I lit one, dropped it in, then lit another and dropped it on top the first one, the second one would reach about fifty foot elevation above ground before it went off. Then the marshal came around and told me the neighbors were complaining and to cut it out.

Now I console myself by walking down over the hill to my shooting range and blasting away at helpless paper targets.