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Showing posts from November, 2016

Oh Deer! Another Hunting Season Story: Skinning a Deer in Missile Test Bay

Sometimes the best tool for a job is a tool that is not yours.So you borrow it.That’s why the first time I skinned a deer was in a U.S. Air Force missile test bay on Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah.
Four miles north of the main area of the base was the missile test facility on Hill.We had equipment to shake, bake, heat, freeze, and simulate high altitude.We stressed missile engines (not warheads) then test fired the engine bolted to racks.The smaller missiles, like the Sidewinder, we fired right on post.When we fired one of the three engines of the three-stage Minuteman missile, we fired on a range on the west side of the Great Sale Lake.
To shake, we called it vibration test, the missile engines we used a 300,000-watt electro magnet—essentially a really big speaker driver.Bolt an engine to this vibration machine and it could be shaken back and forth, up and down, left to right fast or slow, soft or hard, smoothly or with jerks.Then we fired the missile on a test pad to see if the…

Gutting a Deer in the Driveway in 1980

Today, my kids are home from school because in Pennsylvania, school is closed on the first day of deer season.I grew up in Boston and spent most of my seven years on active duty in the western United States or in West Germany.In those places, deer hunting was something you did away from towns and cities, often quite far away because the deer were up in the mountains. Or you just could not hunt close to populated areas.
In Pennsylvania, the city and borough lines are sometimes where the hunting begins. After I left active duty in November 1979, I lived in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.My apartment was two blocks from the eastern edge of the E-town marked by the PA Route 743 South.
One day, I got home from work at noon.As I went up the outside stairs, my neighbor across the alley, Jimmy, drove into his driveway with hooves sticking out of the trunk of his Ford Falcon.I stopped and looked.
He jumped from the car and yelled, “Gimme a hand, Guss.I have to gut this thing.”He pulled a big blu…

Sergeant Bambi Killer: Nicknames Happen as Fast as Machine Gun Fire

From 1982 to 1984 I was a Staff Sergeant and tank section leader in Alpha Company, 6th Battalion, 68th Armor.  For the last few months I was in that unit, I was "Sergeant Bambi Killer."

In the 80s, Army Reserve tank units fired twice a year.  We had a full tank gunnery at Annual Training and a three-day weekend tank gunnery at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., in the fall.

We fired both day and night on these ranges.  In 1983, I was the NCOIC (Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge) of the range for night fire.  At dusk on that October evening, I was in the tower above the range.  Below the tower, our 17 tanks were lined up fender to fender waiting to test fire their machine guns before night fire.  The crews got to check their guns in the fading light before firing at night with searchlights, both white light and infrared.

Each of the 17 tanks had 50 rounds for the M-85, .50-caliber machine gun and 50 rounds for the M240 coaxial "coax" machine gun next to the main gun.

As …

Movie Review: "Prisoner of the Mountains" "Кавказский пленник"

Last night I watched the 1996 movie "Prisoner of the Mountains" loosely based on a short story by Leo Tolstoy called "Prisoner of the Caucuses." We read an abridged version of the story in Russian for the Russian class I am taking and watched the movie for the class.  
The movie is set during the bloody Chechen War of the mid 1990s shortly after the Soviet Union had collapsed. This is not an action movie in the American mold: no special effects, no big explosions.  But the relationship between the main characters is as good as I have seen in a war movie.  The captured career sergeant and draftee private are the center of the film.  Sasha, the sergeant, maintains his authority throughout their capture.  Even when they are chained together and facing death, Sasha lies to the young recruit Vanya in a way that made me laugh out loud.    
The movie also gets right the experience of an Army made up of draftee soldiers led by career soldiers.  The tension between those w…

This is My Shit: Why Army Language Makes Sense

While I was in Iraq, I wrote about the word Shit as a pronoun. The post is here. Earlier today I was reading a book called The Zone by Sergei Dovlatov about life in Russian prison camps. Dovlatov wrote about a prisoner correcting a new camp guard about the guard's improper use of the word fuck.

When I wrote in 2009, it was about the difference in how soldiers use shit and bitch as a pronoun.  In that post, I noted that anything that will fit on a bunk is shit.  Anything larger is a bitch.

But I neglected the reason for the use of these pronouns.  From the moment a young soldier begins the process of enlisting, she is showered with acronyms and awash in the Latin-derived words of government bureaucracy.  Normal human beings cannot hear and retain hundreds of opaque new words and terms, so each soldier remembers a few new terms and for the rest says, "The sergeant told me some shit I was supposed to remember."

Then the soldier actually goes to basic training.  On the fir…

Obama Will Take Our Guns

The 28th Combat Aviation Brigade mobilized for Iraq in January of 2009.  My battalion flew to Fort Sill for training at the end of the month, just a week after the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.  From the time we mobilized in Oklahoma to our demobilization in 2010 in Fort Dix, New Jersey, I heard earnest soldiers who were sure that "Obama will take our guns while we are deployed."

These devotees of Glenn Beck, Alex Jones and other batshit purveyors of lies on the right had emails from the NRA proving confiscation was imminent.

And now just 2,850 days later, President Obama has just 70 days left to send thousands of United Nations black helicopters swooping down from Canada to the homes of gun owners across America and begin the tyranny he planned all along.  Because as a Kenyan socialist, Barack Obama's plan all along was to turn America into a socialist state.

It is sadly funny in retrospect.  Among Obama's failures are his years of thinking he could work…

Riding in 2017--A Story

“Shane, Shane is right as rain,” Shane sang to himself as he drove north on Pennsylvania Route 74 from York.He saw dark clouds to the north. He was driving Grandpap’s ’74 Chevy C10 Stepside pickup truck listening to President Trump talk about how he was going to get all the Mexicans out of the country.The old truck only had an AM radio. That was fine with Shane.Trump was on WHP-AM.Really, he was on every station now.
“Shane is right as rain,” he sang to the open windows on this April afternoon.All those Lib’ral bitches that made fun of him weren’t laughing now.Trump was Making America Great Again and Shane was part of it.He was on his way to a Klan rally in Grantham.Christians can’t be Lib’rals and they were going to march across the Messiah College campus and let them know what’s what. Shane dropped out of York Area High School.Shane knew Trump would put all those college bitches in their place.
“Here’s a Trigger Warning bitches!” he said as he patted the AR15 in the rack behind his…