“Awright listen up guddammit. I don’t want no motherfucking clowning, shucking or jivin’, you got that? We’re proceeding with 5 vehicles and we will travel in a convoy and blah blah blah…..” Sergeant Smith was strutting around like he was somebody which he wasn’t – little black dude that had more mouth than ass. All he knew how to do was scream. Nobody was paying any attention to him, we were all just standing around rubbing our nuts and scratching our eyes trying to wake up. I rolled my eyes at my roommate Bill and said “Man, I hate that motherfucker.” Bill just grinned.
We were on our way to set up a survey shot up near Marburg, just above Mainz. A survey shot ain’t nothing more than trying out a site to see if it would work in the future. You go out to the area that you’re assigned to, set up a tower, get the comms in using line-of-site microwave and then ‘communicate’ for the specified period of time, usually about a week. Communicating means exchanging signal strength readings (residuals) every 4 hours with whoever’s on the other end. The other 3 hours and 55 minutes between residuals is taken up by reading, writing letters and masturbation. A 19 year old kid can get 3-4 nuts in that time frame. Motherfuckers can’t hardly walk after a 12 hour shift, you know?
“…blah…blah… each vehicle will carry a radio in case we get separated and we will maintain motherfuckin’ radio silence. Are there any guddamned questions, Lane? Huh?” Smitty was glaring at me.
“Why you coming down on me, man?” What the fuck, there were 10 other guys there.
“Because you got rank on everybody else and besides you always got something smart to say, that’s why. Okay, we gonna fall out to our vehicles, do a radio check and form up on me. Fall out!”
As we’re heading out the door, Bill slips all the drivers a slip of paper with a frequency on it. “Let’s fuck with Smitty. As soon as we get on the autobahn, switch over to this. We’ll have that motherfucker climbing walls before the day’s out.”
We get out to the trucks, check ’em out and fire them up. While we’re at an idle we do the all important radio check. We fall in behind Smitty, he stands up in the jeep and waves us forward like he’s another fucking Patton or something. Wallace dumps the clutch on the jeep and Smitty damned near tumbles out. Wally was a non-driving motherfucker anyways so his apologies were pretty believable.
Once we got on the autobahn headed north, Smith started in on us. For a all his talk about radio silence, the runt would not shut the fuck up. “Space it out, space it out” he’d be yelling over the radio one minute and the next it’s “Lane, where the fuck you be at?”
Look, we all knew pretty much where we were going, we all had maps and we had all damned day to get there. Why stress? I listened to him for about 2.5 minutes and said fuck it and had my Assistant Driver/Sammich Bitch turn it to Bill’s frequency.
About 5 minutes later Wally, Smith’s driver, turns off into a rest area. Bill, following in the first deuce and a half and apparently deciding to put his plan to work without any further ado, keeps right on traveling without saying a word to anybody else. The second truck pulls in behind the jeep and the me in the third follows Bill on down the ‘bahn. The fourth truck pulls into the rest stop and the driver hops out in time to watch Smitty explode. He’s got half his ‘convoy’ in the rest stop, half are still barreling down the road and he’s gotta piss like a racehorse which is why he had Wally pull in to begin with. He don’t know what to do. He finally sprints towards the restrooms while the other two drivers shrug their shoulders, climb into their vehicles and take off to find me and Bill.
Smitty comes out of the restroom to find Wallace sprawled out across the back of the jeep reading Leon Uris’ Exodus, and nary a one of his charges in sight. Wally said he was so pissed he was incoherent.
And the day was just getting started.
He finally caught up to us and herded us all off the autobahn and proceeded to chew our asses over missing the exit and then for not having our radios on which was bullshit because by the time we were all pulled over every one of them was on the correct frequency. Fuck that guy.
Smitty didn’t pull into any more rest stops for the rest of the trip but we damned sure did. I don’t think he had 4 trucks with him at any given time. One of us was always pulling in to piss or grab a beer or load a bowl or something. I’m not sure Smitty even noticed though – he was pouting in the jeep, pissed off as hell and staring straight ahead, that big ol’ vein in his forehead just throbbing.
Once we got off the autobahn Bill was directly behind the jeep and I was behind him. I got on the radio and got Bill up. “What’s happenin’ Bro? Over.”
“You ready to get serious about this? I’m taking the next left, you take the first right after that. Out.” With that, Bill banged a hard left. The jeep swerved, slowed down and coasted past a dirt road to the right which I swung on to. The other two trucks roared past, pretty much keeping the jeep from blowing a U-turn.
This fucking road was wide and pretty damned well maintained for a dirt road. I kept climbing and climbing and after a few minutes we busted out of the woods into this clearing on a hilltop that was filled with ruins with a few cars parked off to one side. “Fucking A, we’re at a castle!”
“Cool, I’ve never been to a castle before” my AD/SB said. “Mind if I take a look around?”
“Go right on ahead, young soldier. It’ll take Smith another half hour or so to find us.” I wanted to look around myself. I dig castles, especially ruins.
Just about a half hour later Wally and Smith pulled up as I was laughing and joking with Bill who was on the next hilltop in plain sight over the radio. I could actually hear Smitty’s mouth over Wallace’s gear grinding. That motherfucker was hot. Wallace told me later that they finally got turned around and went up the road that Bill took but it kept forking and they lost him and couldn’t raise him on the radio.
“LANE!!! WHERE PEARCE? WHERE PEARCE AT?”
“I don’t know, let me ask him. ‘Ah, Bravo 402, Bravo 420. What’s your location, over?'”
“Whoa. I don’t know, over.”
“402, 420. Are you lost, over?”
“I think so, yeah, over.”
Smitty was beside himself. Literally. That little bastard was so pissed he was vibrating, making himself look like he was in 2 places at the same time. “Ask him what he see, what he see.”
“402, 420. What can you see, over?
“402, 420. Any ah, landmarks, anything unusual, over?” I’m looking over Smitty’s shoulder watching Bill’s truck off in the distance on the other hilltop.
“Yeah man, a great big tree. It’s bigger than the rest of them, over.”
“He been smoking that shit again. I know he been smoking that shit.”
“402,420. Anything else? How about a big rock? A gasthaus? Maybe a home for wayward frauleins, over?”
“You been smoking that shit too. I know you been smoking that shit.”
“Hey! Is that you over by that castle? I can see you, over!”
Smitty whirls around, sees Bill, hauls ass to his jeep and takes off to go get him, leaving Wallace kicking back against a castle wall reading his book. Wallace looks up, shrugs, digs out his pipe and goes back to his book. Bill hangs out for a minute and leaves the hilltop. Bill played hide-n-seek with Smith for another good solid hour.
We finally got to the site and from then out it was all business. Smith left because he had ‘a guddamned platoon to run back at garrison’ but not without threatening us with about 15 different violations of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice up to and including pissing off a motherfucking staff sergeant in the guddamned army and just about everything else he could think of. He’d have probably written our mothers if he’d thought of it. He told us we could all expect to be standing before the Old Man’s desk when we got back, even the Assistant Diver/Sammich Bitches who were really nothing more than willing hostages along for the ride.
We got the tents set up, radio vans positioned and because we still had daylight left I had the other guys sink the guyline anchors while I prepared the base of the tower. And then because it was such a nice evening, while we were all standing around drinking beer, we assembled all 34 sections of the tower (they just unfolded and then we snapped braces in) so they’d be ready to be hoisted up and pinned in the next day.
We had three days to get the tower up and get the shot in. We did it in 14 hours. Everything went perfect. We had no problems getting the 204 foot tower up and when I set the dish in and pointed it at the azimuth I was given, it was almost dead on. Normally, you get ‘er pointed and then you spend the next 6 or 7 hours trying to fine tune it to get the highest reading possible. This shot? Maybe 15 minutes. It was almost like I knew what I was doing.
About a week later we pulled into garrison. The CO was out in the motor pool and came walking over as I was trying to park and he was smiling. Smiling? I was expecting an ass chewing.
“How’s it going, Lane?” as he returned my salute.
“Real good, sir. Looking forward to a shower and some rack time.” I handed over the site logs. “Nothing unusual in them, Captain.”
“Ah, you made Bravo look real good. We weren’t expecting anything for another day and a half when you came up confirmed on the net. We were all surprised. Thank you.”
“Yessir. Anything else, sir?” Come on, hit me with it now.
“No, take a long weekend and I’ll see you Monday at formation. Enjoy your shower.” He started to walk away and then turned and said “They been smoking that shit. I know they been smoking that shit” in Sergeant Smith’s voice.
I thought Bill was going to die laughing.