Sunday, March 17, 2013

Good Training? HAI!

For all troops in the military, and especially those of us who were Cold Warriors, training for chemical warfare attacks is a sad reality, a legacy of World War I, and then or now it's a hot, sweaty, claustrophic, and generally damned uncomfortable experience.

Taking this, and multiplying the fun-factor by sub-tropical weather, and a relative humidity of more than 90%, and you have what proud officers call "good training", and what the rank and file refer to as "a serious pain in the @$$".

Thus imagine my joy upon the revelation that we'd be conducting battery emplacement/displacement drills in those nice, quilted, MOPP IV suits, in Okinawa's Central Training Area, in August.

And to provide added incentive and realism, a number of our NCOs were assigned to help stimulate the realism by occasionally tossing CS tear gas grenades amongst us.

So, as we were merrily jumping into and out of our trucks, lifting the trail end of 15,000 pounds of howitzer, and digging holes for the back end to dig into for their imaginary fire missions, then undoing all that to get them ready to drive away, on an island hundreds of miles from Japan (or anywhere else) in the Pacific, and uncomfortably close to the equator for those wearing rubber boots, rubber gloves, and the chemical protective snowmobile suits, topped with a nice comfy rubber gas mask, you can imagine exactly how much any one of us wanted to be there. In case taking the rubber gloves off between go arounds to pour out the glovefuls of accumulated perspiration that was pouring off everyone wasn't a big enough clue.

And then doing it again, while the selected sergeants randomly tossed tear gas right in amongst us, to make sure no one had forgotten (accidentally or on purpose) to completely take the exercise seriously.

And finally, to rub salt in the wounds, we were working right near the fenceline border with the civilian community that is greater Okinawa.

So just as we're getting a well-deserved water break, and getting an appropriate lecture on our tasks in the shade, the group of whiny protesters du jour march up the road to the fenceline 30 feet away, carrying their banners, and yelling at us in Japanese and Engrish (that's not a typo), "Yankee Go Home!"

For background, the Japanese still hate us because they got their @$$ handed to them in WWII, and polite as they are overall, the resentment is there 24/7, just because we're still here, at that point, more than 40 years after redecorating several of their cities, including 2 via thermonuclear means. That isn't the sort of thing you "get over" right away, and they haven't, official protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Okinawans, meanwhile, are pissed at us too. Ethnically descended from Japanese, they nonetheless regard themselves as a separate people, and hold the status in Japan that Indians held in American society circa 1880. So they're royally pissed that after WWII, we didn't give them their independence, but instead returned the island to Japan. And of course, there's also a smidge of peevishness over having shelled, bombed, and napalmed their parents for a couple of months back in 1945, prior to rompystomping through the place with a few divisions of Marines and soldiers too.

But every man jack of us is on an unaccompanied tour, leaving wives, sweethearts, families, and even hamburgers, 8000 miles and more westward, back in the land of the big PX. Were it left up to us, we'd have entirely skipped coming to "the Rock" as it's none-too-affectionately known, with about 1 second's careful thought, had the decision been ours, instead of one made by people in pay grades far above reality.

So to come protest us and our presence because your community college class was boring, is like bitching at the guy who cleans the floors at Exxon for their company having spilled a tanker on your beach. Which is to say, rather annoyingly misplaced. But the whiny entitled juvenile I'm-against-everything class is much the same on every continent: brains are entirely optional, and rather seldom in evidence.

So listening to a bunch of pampered college kids and pissed off dithering housewives rant through 2/3rds-size bullhorns in Engrish that we should go back home and stop warmongering kind of pissed us off. We also seem to recall a certain field trip their fathers and grandfathers organized to Pearl Harbor in 1941, and a little hike across Bataan they took some of our forefathers on shortly afterwards, which memories seems to have slipped their collective notice for 40 years, as they do to this day.

And worst of all, it's really just an annoyance, but it's just loud enough that the lecture is becoming problematic, thus finished in abbreviated fashion, forcing us all to suit back up, and go back to playing howitzer-on/howitzer off, in the lovely noonday humidity and heat of a 90-degree Okinawa afternoon. Again. Thanks, @$$holes.

So we're about one or two iterations into the process. Right next to the fenceline, with only that and a short hedge separating us from the lovely and gracious hospitality of these model citizens of Okinawa.

I should also mention that when you put 150 or so Marines in identical quilted woodland camo suits, gas masks, gloves, and booties, other than height, there is no discernable difference between a captain, a sergeant, and a private, nor anyone in between.

So we'll never know who did it, but at some point when we were going through the motions, one of the dozens of CS tear gas grenades getting tossed seems to have been accidentally pitched the wrong way, and landed about 20 feet over the fence, and ever so slightly upwind of the Charge of the Pissed Off Brigade.

So instead of repeated Engrish demands that "Yankees Go Home!" we heard "Yankees COUGH COUGH  Go COUGH CHOKE RETCH  Aaaaaaahh! VOMIT COUGH PUKE  ahhh......"! followed by what was surely the Japanese version of "Run away! Run Away!".

Followed, in short order, by sounds last witnessed when Godzilla was stomping on plastic tanks on a Tokyo soundstage, and the pitter patter of little feet retreating rapidly away from our exercise.

It's hard to hear in MOPP Level IV protective gear, but I know I heard 150 guys laughing their asses off, and could see their heads and chests vibrating as proof as they chained the howitzers back to the trucks just before things were brought to a halt.

The field command investigation was suitably short.
The CO asked "Who did that?"

All the NCOs carrying gas grenades looked like choirboys and asked "Sir, did what?"

And we were returned to our barracks, having yet again vanquished the human waves of the yellow horde on their own turf. Take that, ye Minions Of Stupidity. Or as they might put it there, "Banzai!"

1 comment:

Paul said...

That is just too hilarious. You definitely have the gift of telling a humorous story.