The old recruiting posters always said, "We do more before nine a.m. than most people do all day." Ostensibly, this refers to our early morning runs in the rain and snow, but though I don't doubt the truth in that statement, I should nevertheless clarify by adding that "if you just wait 'til about ten-thirty, we'll probably top ourselves."
Second day back at the company, and this morning we're down at the motor pool. The ground is damp with last night's rain, and our mission for the day has just come down from the new section sergeant. We have to demolish an old wooden shack sitting back on the line with our platoon's trailers and flatracks. It has to be done by the end of the day, says our sergeant, so he has suggested that we get creative.
For about fifteen minutes, our squad hacks away with sledgehammers and pickaxes, but we meet with little success. The hooch is built of strong plywood, and laced with thick reams of cable and electrical wiring. After a little while with no real progress, my buddy Brooks suggests we actually take the section sergeant's advice to heart--use the trucks--and thus we offload some equipment from one of the HEMTTs and begin using its built-in hydraulic arm to smash up the hooch. We start off by repeatedly backing the truck into the structure, but of course, give a few young soldiers a toy, and they will immediately set out to break it.
Within minutes, the HEMTT--driven by Private Oz--is barreling through the mud on the back lot of the motor pool, doing doughnuts as the rest of us shout cheers and laughter. The hooch is first bowled over on its side, then crushed entirely, splintering as Oz makes repeated passes like a WWII dive-bomber on a whiskey-fueled strafing run. A young sergeant accosts us, demanding to know what we're doing. We simply explain that the section NCO told us to "use the truck," (wink, wink) and with this the sergeant backs off, though as he leaves he casts a suspicious glance toward our rowdy crew. The festivities resume.
After a few I turn to my buddy Spc. Kanelos, by now the two of us gripped by teary-eyed fits of laughter. "Shit," I tell him. "All we need now are a few cases of beer, and we've got ourselves a party."
"I know," giggles Kanelos. My colleague is literally doubled over.
"It's like a ghetto-ass monster truck rally," I say.
"Bigfoot ain't got shit on Oz."
As if to speak of the devil, Private Oswald tears by us again, and our merriment is suddenly interrupted by an interloper. A mechanic in camo-green coveralls strides over to our group, shouting. He's just another specialist like me, so I remain relaxed. Nevertheless, the mechanic, who is responsible for maintaining our fleet, is clearly unhappy.
"The fuck," he barks. "The hell y'all doin'?"
I shrug. "Sergeant told us to use the truck, man." I toss a wry glance over to Kanelos.
"Yo," he says, "that ain't right. Y'all need to check that, for real.
Shit like that gonna fuck up the tires. You can't just--"
The roar of a diesel engine cuts him off. Oz comes by for yet another run, causing a loud crunch
as seven tons of armored HEMMT slams into a pile of wooden debris at forty miles an hour. The suspension shrieks, and the forty-foot-long truck literally catches air
, tearing up clods of mud and grass as the entire thing lands--not so much a landing as a controlled accident. As Oz goes tearing by, yanking the truck hard right for another pass, I hear him shouting, like a boozed-up redneck on a four-wheeler."WOOOOOOOOO!"
Another crunch and shudder, followed by raucous applause. The mechanic rolls his eyes and storms off. We are all so dead for this.
A seven-ton truck, an old shack, and the liberal interpretations of a sergeant's orders. Goddamnit.
I love the fucking Army.