Wednesday, August 24, 2005

More explosives fun

So, I was getting some work done at my house and was talking to the guy doing the work, and come to find out, he was a retired Marine, and we swapped some opinions on the current events and why we each got out of the Corps. Then we swapped some stories of the various things that happened while we were in the Corps and that reminded me that I had promised some people to post some more stories about explosives and what-not, and the least I could do is comply.
So, we're in the Philippines and we're working on some various explosive techniques, such as cratering charges, shape charges and the like. Mostly this involves a slower burning explosive such as ammonium nitrate, but occasionally, we used TNT with some other materials to try to 'shape' the explosion in order to get the desired outcome. This is because a shape charge tends to be big and bulky and not in ready supply to the front lines, whereas TNT is easily transported, along with the equipment/materials required to manipulate the blast to gain a 'shape charge' type effect.
So, we've blown off a few shape charges, and made some pretty significant craters, and it came time to do 'field expedient' shape charges. Unfortunately, the guys who set them up, didn't really know what they were doing. They covered the charges with about 200 lbs of rocks, rather than digging a hole and covering the explosive up and then covering the hole with sandbags.
When the blast went off, we were immediately showered with thousands of pebbles that were produced by the blast (that whole big rocks into little rocks theory). In addition, because they didn't bury the explosives, the flame either from the fuse, or the TNT (not sure which) started a rather large brush fire on the side of the mountain we were working on.
While I can't exactly describe the overall humor of a platoon of panicked Marines running around stomping on fires, and hitting it with their E-Tools (shovels), and extinguishing it every way they can, I think pretty much anyone with an imagination would be able to come up with it. We finally get the majority of the fire under control, and I see one of my younger troops over kind of off the beaten path. I went over to see what he was doing, and he was pretty embarrassed, and kind of flustered when I got there. Apparently, he decided that he was going to do some field expedient fire extinguishing and also take advantage of the fact that he hadn't made a head call in about 5 hours. In the process of urinating on the fire to put out one of the hotspots, the wind had shifted, and caught some additional grass on fire in the area. More concerned with protecting his junk than putting out the fire, it caught the hair on his arm on fire, which quickly spread to his junk. Needless to say, he was not happy. There was no actual damage(other than a hurt pride), but that nasty scent of burnt hair was all around him.
I threw a canteen to him, and he tossed it on himself and basically acted as if nothing was wrong. But we both knew otherwise.

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