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Aphrodite Mae
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Stories from life in the Service of our Countries

Fri Oct 17, 2008 3:09 pm

This thread is a place for sharing stories about military or civil service. If its funny, cool, or thought provoking, write it here. (Let's skip the sad ones guys, ok?)

So, I'll go first!

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Aphrodite Mae
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Fri Oct 17, 2008 3:16 pm

My husbandwants me to tell the story of the time I got to fire a live Hellfire missile. I got to blow up an Abrams tank! Of course, what it really was, was the hulk of an Abrams tank. But it was still cool, in a really major way. Here's how it happened.
The US Army had begun using the new 114B Hellfire missile a year or two before, but it took time for stuff to trickle down to units like mine. And so the Grand Poohbahs decided that they wanted to show local leadership how cool these new Bs were. Anybody could fire 'em! Hell, a girl could do it! I was the token female, and so I was given the honors. :blink:

Usually when we did gunnery practice the missiles didn’t have a real warhead. It was just full of concrete. But this time was different. The Grand Poohbahs were wondering about the new 114B, and so some general was coming to watch a real live Hellfire 114B blow something up. For some reason, the Poohbahs liked to do gunnery stuff at twilight.

Ok, so usually, really distant gunnery targets (more than 5 km) were marked with smoke and flare grenades, just to give us a little bit of a hint when we were searching for a target. Believe it or not, it was still pretty difficult. So I was kinda thinking that I wished the general wasn’t there, and kinda starting to panic 'cause I couldn't see diddly-squat out there, when all of a sudden all of my worries (and pride) were gone. They lit a damn bonfire, waaaaaay out there, to kinda give a clue of where the "threat" was.

So… we popped up, the big moment came, and I pulled the trigger. And with a "swoosh" not unlike the sound of jello being enjoyed by kids, there was this thing that was on fire, floating lazily away from our platform. For just an instant. Until all hell broke loose! There was this huge roar, when its main motor ignited. I've never seen anything take off, like that! Instantly, it just wasn't there, anymore. Just about the time that I'd found it again, impossibly far away, there was this boom that happened. It was a sonic boom, because the missile had broken Mach I.

If that's not enough, check this out. I didn't know it, but "they" wanted to impress the general. And so they'd packed the hull of the Abrams tank's hulk to the gills with highly explosive stuff. (For a time, I was extremely impressed with the destruction of the 114B, let me tell ya!) Waaaaaay off in the distance, there was this tremendous flash, followed by this inferno of a mushroom cloud! (I'm not kidding!) Jeez Louis, it was flippin' spectacular: the turret must have been blown a hundred meters into the air, to tumble blazing, then bounce and roll to a stop… still blazing with… with…
Hellfire! …Yeah! :thumbsup: …What a perfect name!

But wait. There's more! Yep, you guessed it. My chief and I were still staring and exclaiming about this incredible sight, just forever later it seemed, when the damn shockwave hit us. And a second later, the sound. This deep "whuh-DOOM!" that you could feel, followed by this roar that just kept rolling forever, it seemed. It was like some kind of "mini-nuke". Wow!

Yeah, it sounds dramatic. That's because it was! Fun, too!
So. That's the story! It was fun to tell, I gotta admit. Thanks, Dixicrat, for suggesting this thread! :love:

The attachment is an OH-58D, called a Kiowa. That's what we used, for the fireworks. It's an Observation Helicopter, not a gunship.
300px-OH-58D_2.jpg (13.3 KiB) Viewed 2066 times
Aphrodite Mae

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AGEod Guard of Honor
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Fri Oct 17, 2008 5:04 pm

Aphrodite Mae wrote:HELLFIRE!

What a story,...... what a girl! :thumbsup:

As soon as l'get a bit of time I'll post my one! :neener:

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Fri Oct 17, 2008 7:04 pm

Impressive yes. Insane too.

Hofstadter's Law: "It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's law."

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Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:24 pm

Pocus: In this season of political fabrications and pomposiity, it is not unusual to hear a few tall tales scattered about. This may be one. Why insane? War is insane but necessary; when you sew the wind, you reap the whirlwind. :p apy:

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Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:50 pm

Would it be kosher to report here near-military experiences (but that also involve "Service of our Countries"), too?
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Fri Oct 17, 2008 10:01 pm

I've been okayed by The Powers That Be, so here goes:

In high school, not to brag, but it's relevant to what follows: I was a straight-A student, valedictorian (one of six my graduating year), with sky-high SATs, ACTs, etc.

In my senior year of high school, I aced the NROTC (Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps) exam, which qualified me for a four-year, full scholarship to the university (with a NROTC program) of my choice.

Then, I washed out, because my eyesight wasn't 20-20. I was near-sighted, and I guess that standards were higher back then.

Upon graduation, and unlike my high school buddies, who were all going off to good colleges and universities, affected by wanderlust and sense of adventure, I decided I would join the regular Navy.

I got up early one morning to take the physical exam and basic test battery at the Armed Forces Recruiting Station on Clark Street in downtown Chicago.

So there I was, stark naked, in the company of hundreds of other stark naked men (sheesh!), and ordered to follow the "yellow brick road" (yellow line) from medical station to medical station. Uh Oh #1: We were being treated like cattle. Doubt began to enter my mind: If given a stupid order, would I just obey it, or quarrel with the issuer? Being honest with myself, I realized it was the latter. Trouble!

Later, fully clothed, I took the Navy's basic aptitude test. Pictures and tools and the easiest sort of stuff. And I nearly flunked it! WTF!? Straight As, valedictorian. Several months earlier, I had taken one Navy test, the NROTC exam, which said I was smart and officer material. Now, I had taken the Navy's basic aptitude test, and the Navy had just pronounced me a doofus. Uh Oh #2: Had they mixed my test papers with somebody else's? Did the Right Hand of the Navy not know what the Left Hand was doing? What kind of Mickey Mouse outfit is this?

About that time, I read this gruesome story in Life Magazine about a poor soldier returning from Vietnam (this was 1970, you see) with his face essentially blown off. Uh Oh #3: Self explanatory.

I then decided: This just ain't going to work out. Lucky for me, I hadn't signed anything definite yet, so I backed out.

I went off to a really good university (with full scholarship, etc.) like all the rest of my friends. Unlike my new-found college friends and peers, they all opposed our involvement in the Vietnam War, while I supported it. (That was then; this is now. Let's not discuss it.) Funny thing is, their draft lottery numbers were all quite low, while mine was ~330, IIRC. Meaning to say, the war opponents were at risk of being drafted, while I was safe from the draft.

The war, and the draft, soon ended, and with it my near-military experience.

Several years later, now a graduate student, and stuck in the "professional student" rut, I still felt that wanderlust and sense of adventure that was, at root, the cause of my wanting to join the military. Ironically, I then joined ... the U.S. Peace Corps! Service to My Country (three years in the Philippines), albeit not military service.

(Amusing aside: Before shipping out as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I was in the process of applying to ... the CIA! It never went beyond the exam taking and application stage, but ... I'm glad that matter was dropped.)

After returning from my Peace Corps service with a Filipina wife (one of the Peace Corps' well-known "perks"), we went back to the Philippines some years later to adopt her nephew. We had fertility difficulties, had operations, etc., so adoption seemed our only option. While there, during our intended two-year wait, my wife ... became pregnant! We extended our stay for a third year, and my wife had our first-born, a daughter, there in the Philippines. Coming back to the States, we had our second "miracle baby," a son. I can't tell you how many stories I've heard of childless, "infertile" couples who adopt, then have natural born children of their own.

Anyway, when my oldest son (the adopted one) finished high school, he decided to enlist in the U.S. Marines. He is now into his 11th year, ranks as Staff Sergeant, and has two combat tours in Iraq under his belt (he commanded a RDF platoon in the Western Iraqi Desert). Can I share the "credit"--or blame?--for turning him onto the military? Perhaps. But he does now say that joining the Marines was one of the best things he ever did. He proudly serves his adopted country.

Some of us serve our countries, each in his or her own way.
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Sun Oct 19, 2008 9:47 am

My experience is also not full military service but it was military at least.

before my conscription, I live in Sweden and we have conscription, I was in the youth home guard, a kind of national guard but not nearly as heavily armed.

One day we, the youths and the ordinary home guard was at a firing range and we youths were posted in the trench below the targets to handle them and all that.

We had just given the okay signal to the others to open fire with their semi-automatic AK4 when bullets suddenly started to hiss around our ears down in the trench, we quickly ducked in cover of a small wooden building down in the trench and we stayed in their until they stopped firing. No one was hurt by bullets at least although there was some bruises by jumping in cover.

It turned out that the wall behind the targets that was supposed to absorb the bullets or at least deflect them upward had the wrong inclination so the bullets ricocheted down into the trench. A quite scary experience I can tell you...
"Saw steamer, strafed same, sank same, some sight, signed smith" From "The Thousand Mile War" by Brian Garfield.

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Sun Oct 19, 2008 2:59 pm

My experience is a non-military one.But first let me a little bit explain.Here in Germany we have so-called war resisters since the sixties,but in truth most of them went to civil service based on military service law -the so-called Wehrdienstgesetz.
In the age of fourteen I have decided to go the Bundeswehr as a professional and as officer,so I tried to improve my notes and my sportive abilities.As I was fifteen I read a book about Anne Frank,a young jewish girl which died during the Holocaust and I was very impressed by this because my family name is the same.I got the feeling like loosing one of my sisters.
But at this time I still decided to go to military to defend democracy against communism.But in 1979 I hear from my grandfather fatherside that has served in the Waffen-SS in the last war years-holy shit- I was not impressed I feeled shame about this because of the holocaust.Two months later grandpa died by a brainstroke and I got never the chance to ask him why he served there.It was July 1979,then in December 1979 my grandma died too because she has missed her husband to much , so I lost both grandparents in one year and my little sanctuary when I had problems with my parents.
I was deeply in sorrow and now I start reading the new testament and the next year I decided not to go to military but to became a priest.So I tried to resist going to military by religious reasons.In 1983 I told that my cousin who was a captain by the ABC-Defense of Airborne Division I during his marriage and he gets very angry.In the same year I was called to a hearing by a commision to proof my reasons for resisting military service and I got after some weeks the ok.In August 1983 I started service as civil service man in a youth hostel lead by the catholic church in my hometown.I was the only one in a house with a hundred youths which were mostly trainees for the industry.
I had different tasks there:cleaning rooms,kitchen service,small repairs and overview the youths,something like a facility manager.
When I supplied the youths in the dinner room I was often mobbed by them as a traitor of my fatherland because I did not serve in the military.
Until the day as my bowling brothers/companions appeared.Most of us-we were about twenty men- served in the Bundeswehr,but I was the exemption.
Five of them,my best friends came fresh from the barracks one thursday evening into the hostel to visit me.I was called outside the dinner room by my female chief because of some soldiers asking for me.I was very happy to see them and invited them to come in and eat with us.In the dinner room there was a sudden silence as they came in and as the youths saw that these are my friends they were very irritated and soon asked my friends why they stayed with me although I was a resister.My best friend Hans told the youths the truth,that we were friends since ten years and we will hold together and that they have accepted my decision and that we do not bother anybody.More than ten years later I decided not to become a priest and went to the postal service as worker,but as a reminiscence of my former interests I become interested in strategy games and military affairs and I read more and more books about the Second World War and more about history of the mankind.But my main reason for historical books was why my grandpa had served in the Waffen-SS the evil force of Hitler and his deeds.The last thing I got on information about my grandfather was that he served as KZ Guard and that was very hard for me because before I thought he served in the Cavalry Division "Florian Geyer". So now I regret my decison not to go to Bundeswehr a little bit,but I am happy that we live now in a democracy in that something like the holocaust should never happen again.
Although resisting service for religious reasons as a good catholic I never spoke negative about our Bundeswehr because I know that we need the boys to defend us against communism and terrorism.
Thats my true story sofar.



edit: it is for the first time that I told this story to a public,sorry...
R.I.P. Henry D.

In Remembrance of my Granduncle Hans Weber, a Hungaro-German Soldier,served in Austro-Hungarian Forces during WWI,war prisoner, missed in Sibiria 1918...

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Sun Oct 19, 2008 11:03 pm

My experience and personal feelings about the whole thing called military in my country :

My grand father was in the Polish army during the Cold War and was 20 during WW2 I don't know much more because I wasn't able to ask him about that and my mother hardly remember the few he told her.

Back in Swiss, my father was able to play with both his British and Swiss passport to avoid military service (don't ask me how) my two brothers were l levied like most of the young men in our country and both quitted their duty before the date : One after having beaten an officer and the other for being pushed too much that he did the same with a colleague. We're quite hot-blooded in the family :D .

When my turn came two years ago things had changed, military while remaining obligatory is much more flexible and also much more criticized past the cold war, the Swiss doctrine of a mass conscript army hypothetically holding every inch of territory against my grand father and his red comrades had became a nonsense, there's even a political movement for a Swiss without army. I'm not among those who dislike any thing that touch military and I'm for maintaining an army in my country, I believe it's really naive to think that a country can be without any military force but not one based on mass conscription especially as you see loads of young men going there and moaning about it, hating the whole thing deeply because they do no want to pay an additional 2% salary based tax for years. A few of them refuse it so rashly that the police needs to come to bring them to the recruiting hall :bonk: .

The day I came to the recruiting hall I became officially a soldier for 48 hours. During the whole process I was honest with the institution, responding accurately to questionnaires and doing my best at the physical training which was surprisingly not that bad. My basic idea was "pray to not begin taken and aimed for the civil service but if they take me then, there's no need to get crazy about that" before that day my brother had joked "Well say you're from the family, be confident in our brilliant reputation. They'll not take you" I know that I'm also able to rage out of control if I'm pushed too far, hopefully this happens almost never but I became afraid of what could happen in a military environment especially that I'm more a dreaming guy not very piratical nor disciplined. The word was given to the military psychologist. I don't know if it relay had a matter but when he said "Well... do you thing you can fit for the civil service then ?" I smiled and said "yes".

A year after I did my civil service formation and I'm still incorporated until the age of 30. We do not carry weapons, we just assist the police/firemen/etc... in case of disasters we do not pay all the tax. But more important, everybody there is more convinced that they are doing something more useful than in the army which is more motivating.

Sometimes I regret to not have being in the army because from what my friend told me it wasn't all that bad and a pretty good experience, but I would have preferred to go in voluntarily after my studies not between. I still argue that Switzerland should have a more professionalized and voluntary army. I respect those who volunteer wherever they are especially when they are really needed.

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The 19th Bomb Wing

Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:05 pm

I was stationed at Robins AFB, GA in 1978 when a B-52 sitting on alert was vandalized.

The aircraft was part of the 19th Bomb Wing. I wasn't assigned to that unit, but I had made a few trips out to that area to perform audits (me: 23-year-old 2d Lt). Seemed to be quite a scandal at the time. I remember rumors of a jilted girlfriend who wanted to get her ex in trouble, so she vandalized the plane while he was guarding it but not looking. The official investigation did not confirm such rumors. See here:

My trips out to the 19th Bomb Wing often held surprises. On one occasion, I was driving on the perimeter road right where it runs perpendicular to the end of the runway. I looked up just in time to see a C-130 (seemingly) headed right at me as it came in for a landing. What startled me most was that it was painted with Japanese markings! All the WWII movies flashed to mind, and for a split second I thought I was about to be strafed. Lucky I didn't wreck the car.

Then there was a time I got to look at a nuclear weapon up close. I probably stood within ten feet of it. Two other guys stood very close to me, one on each side. I think they were there to restrain me should I try anything crazy. A chilling experience.

One final experience that is burned into memory was the time I was caught up in an alert scramble. I was walking down a hallway in the command facility when the klaxon went off. An ominous voice came over the loudspeaker: "All Air Force! All Air Force! Klaxon, klaxon, klaxon!" I had just enought smarts to figure I better get out of the way of whatever was going to happen next, so I quickly moved to the side, up against the wall. Sure enough, aircrew members started dashing past me, out of the building, and into their aircraft. It was just like in the movies.

Those were the days.

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Sat Jan 03, 2009 8:39 pm

My son was a Great Lakes in the Winter months. The first major snowstorm arrived and thus there was a need for shoveling teams. The Chief asked for volunteers. A bunch of kids from the deep south volunterered. They had never seen that much snow except on TV. Having been suitably bundled, they went forth. A short time later they returned in a somewhat chastened manner. One of them pointed to my son, who had not volunteered, and said: Let the guys from Wyoming etc. do the shoveling ... they are used to it. The chief sent them back out. LOL

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