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Default Jun 10, 2024 at 11:47 AM
I had recounted my first military deployment on the first night in Baghdad during Operation Desert Storm. On this one, I am going to back up a

little bit. One does not just go through ROTC at East Tennessee State University. That was where I did premed, then went to a recruiter's station to sign some papers

then, they come out and get loaded onto a troop transport helicopter for transport to the front lines. In my case, there was a basic BootCamp followed by Ranger training. I followed up by going to West Point for a curriculum designed for people doing what I did.

Iraq's attack on Kuwait surprised the strategic war planners. Some did, but many did not anticipate that particular scenario. So, the US military's weapons technology had outpaced its personnel's training. Of course, some had been trained and knew. There were just not enough of us, so we had to play catch-up very quickly. They devised a plan that was effective; I was part of it.

The idea was that we had to deploy in greater numbers than what was prepared. So the concept was very much like job training. It is amazing that the US military accomplished this while still being so effective in a combat situation.

I will tell you we did not know what was happening. When you get caught up in something like that, you are washed down a stream or rafting in rapids. You just hang on and do the best you can. When I was in the initial BootCamp, I got sort of a surprise. I had never planned on doing what I ended up doing. My plans were never to go to Ranger Training; I wanted to be a helicopter pilot.

I can most certainly understand how it ended from the military's point of view. They had a specific need and people to fill it as quickly as possible. So, I was getting close to graduating boot camp. I performed well, was quiet, and really went at it with everything I had. So, about a week before graduating, we were on the range where one train to throw hand grenades.

The way the Army does this is sensible. Everyone you are training with is behind reinforced covering. A fragmentation-style grenade, when it explodes, makes quite a band, and it will project shrapnel all over the place. You can't ever be sure exactly where the fragments will go. So they had a series of dug out foxholes, if you are going to be the one throwing one which you do it from.

For safety and training considerations, a drill sergeant in the foxhole will oversee what you do and give you instructions. They have to do it this way because, during training, you will see some silly stuff. For example, a guy from another platoon was training one day when we were there. This poor guy, when he pulled the pin from his grenade and held his arm back to let it fly.

It just rolled out of his hand into the foxhole with him and the sergeant. It is almost comical to think of it now. But everyone was freaking out; that sergeant walked over to it as calmly as could be, picked it up, and threw its way down range. So, yeah, they have to do it that way. Not a single person was injured the whole time I was training doing that.

Right behind all this, some houses had been framed up for people to train storming structures in. I thought I was in trouble or had done something wrong. My platoon sergeant came and got me and said, "[My Last Nae], you are on me. That meant you followed them. These guys are rather matter-of-fact; many do not have a sense of humor, but some do.

I followed him behind the training structures, and two other sergeants were present. I was thinking, what the crap did I do wrong. I was not in trouble. They just wanted to talk and make an impression, I think. My platoon sergeant said immediately, "We want to talk to you [Last Name]. You have done an outstanding job in training,"

"We have noted that you are slotted for OCS (Officer's Candidate School). Might I suggest a different path for you? You will be an officer and get to do things that most find interesting." I was caught by surprise by this. All I managed to say was, "What are you suggesting I do, Sir?" Standing behind some training structures and having three drill instructor Sergeants will make one nervous.

I have to paraphrase now, as it was a while back, and I have a good memory, but it is not that good. He said, "I will give you a hypothetical situation, young man. Let's suppose someone like you were to apply for Ranger training. Then, suppose they are fast-tracked into it. Wouldn't that really be something?"

Army Rangers are supposed to volunteer and apply during BootCamp. There are some instances where some are sent later in their military service, though. This is generally how it works. I had never considered such, it was not even on my radar but I was aware enough that if they were going this far it must be important.

I answered him, "Yes, Sir!" I had a hard time sleeping that night, considering it. I was of the opinion that if you are in the Army, does it really matter? If that's what was called for, so be it. It was an exciting prospect for a young man. The next morning, I went to my platoon sergeant and volunteered for Ranger service if accepted.

That is how I became an Army Ranger; I had not thought about it. It took a little time, and I was there. That will be a different story, some would say that was dirty pool asking me in such a fashion, when it is supposed to be all volunteer. I did volunteer to serve my country. If that is what they needed, that is what I would do.

A Combat Story Related 6-Back to the Beginning
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Default Jun 10, 2024 at 05:10 PM
Very Heroic!
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