Broken Snowshoe, Chaplain of the Army, Atomic Situp

Today: +6
Days Rated: 107
Average Day: 2.21

Back in the field today. We walked a mile or two to the training site and put on our snowshoes. As hateful as snowshoes would seem to be, they were necessary because the snow was about waist deep, and this made our job of trudging around in it much easier. However, a problem arose quickly. When I knelt to put my snowshoes on, I realized that I was missing a critical binding on one of them. I wasn’t sure if this was going to hinder me, however I knew I was going to get yelled at. There’s this weird tradition in the Army where you’re encouraged to inspect your equipment prior to moving out, so you don’t forget little things like ammunition, your pants, or the fact that your snowshoes are missing a piece (I think Miller grabbed the wrong ones this morning, but irrelevant). Donica was in charge of my team today because SGT Uptegrove was not there, so CPL Fennerty was squad leader. I decided to tell Donica that something was wrong, so if I started to fall behind, he’d understand. I decided to lie about what happened because Donica’s not an NCO, it’s ok to tell him lies if they’ll save your ass.

I waited until we started moving and came up with some complicated story about how the binding broke. He wanted to see it, of course, to see if he could fix it, but I was prepared for this, so I told him that I put it in my pocket, but it must have fallen out when we started moving out quickly. He relayed this information to Fennerty. The snowshoe seemed to hold together nicely until we got into some deeper snow. Now it began to fall off every few minutes. Donica was patient, even when Fennerty began to holler as I (and as a result, my team) fell behind and got more and more frustrated.

At one point, I gave up and just tucked the errant snowshoe under one arm and tried to keep moving. Have you ever tried to walk up a hill in waist deep snow with one snowshoe on and a machine gun hanging around your neck? This worked for about five steps, when the non-snowshoe leg punched through about 3 feet of snow. The other foot with the snowshoe on was still perched on the crust, resulting in me doing a kind of split. Put one of your feet up on your computer desk and leave the other one on the ground and you’ll see how I ended up. I tried to pull myself up, but now the snowshoe leg went down through the crust too, so I was buried up to my chest. I grew more and more frustrated as I tried to extract myself, finally whimpering until Donica and White looked back, and saw me in this predicament. Donica shook his head and chuckled as good ol’ White came over to fish me out of the snowdrift. Me and the SAW were covered in snow, and my flailing about had left me wet and exhausted.

The funny thing was, when we stopped for lunch, Lessard came over, and with his usual common sense, showed me how I could replace the binding with another, less crucial one. This worked wonders, and I felt like an idiot for not thinking of it myself.

We had a good encounter during lunch. The Chaplain of the Army, a two-star general, showed up and said some inspirational words. He had the highest ranking Catholic chaplain (Lt. Colonel, I think) as part of his entourage, and several drivers, cameramen, lackeys, etc. also with him. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I was mesmerized by the fact that he had 44 years of service! (He entered the army in 1955, but took several years off for college.) Man, that’s so impressive.

Through some excellent bit of fortune, we were supposed to sleep out in the field, but no tents were available, and the barracks we stay in sometimes were full of National Guardsmen, so we’d be commuting. However there was some rumor floating around that because the Colonel wanted us to stay out in the field, we would be camping out in the day room tonight. This rumor was believed, because that’s how silly things can get. The question was, would we get to go to our rooms, hang out til 2300 or so, then have a big slumber party, or would we have to work until then, and sleep in shifts, pulling security on the windows and doors? Neither, it turned out, this whole idea was ridiculous.

When we were milling around, cleaning weapons this night, I was able to convince a person to do an Atomic Situp. For those not familiar, this exercise will be described below. I cannot say who this person was, for that could prove embarassing, and be detrimental to good order and discipline, but the person was an authority figure. We’ll refer to him as Sergeant Jones. Lessard and I had almost convinced this person to do an atomic situp in the field several weeks ago, but we didn’t have a good opportunity. I was able to convince Jones by playing the “good cop” (Oh, you can do 70 situps on your PT test? You should be fine), while others played the “bad cop” (There’s no way you can do one, you’re too chubby). Jones laid down in situp position and we covered his face with a folded towel. The idea was for him to do the situp against the resistance of the man behind his head holding the towel. Another man held his feet. I directed Battaglia to stand over Jones and drop his pants. All was almost lost by Battaglia’s overeagerness to carry out this mission when the towel almost slipped off Jones’ face. Jones began to strain upwards against the towel, exerting full force, when the towel was whisked away. Under his own forward momentum, Jones’ nose came to rest squarely between Battaglia’s bare buttcheeks.

At first, thinking that Battaglia had merely interfered with a legitimate exercise contest, a furious and confused Jones began making him do pushups. The laughter of the gathered 25 soldiers made him realize that this atrocity was planned, and I soon joined Battaglia on the floor exercising. Several other NCOs present or nearby were amused by our bravery and trickery against a member of their corps. Jones responded by makng the entire platoon push. However, Jones was a very good sport about the whole thing, and let everyone off the hook after about 50 pushups or so.

This was videoed on a cell phone (yes, I have it, no, you can’t have it, but if you come to my room you can see it), and within five minutes the whole company had heard about it. I felt a little bit guilty because I had intended it pretty much as a foolish prank you’d do to one of your buddies, but some guys interpreted it as a “Sticking it to the Man” incident, which it was not intended to be at all. For the next couple of days, several characters came up to me and raised clenched fists and made comments like “fight the power!” and “Coach strikes back for the little man!” which I discouraged, but found rather funny.

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