Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Shortly after I watched the guys gas the local strip club

Shortly after I watched the guys gas the local strip club downtown I was approached by my Battery Commander that had just conducted an inventory. He explained to me that there were a lot of property shortages and that he wanted to figure out a way to cover for this.

At this time I was running the arms room which is part of supply. I had seen what went on in supply so I sort of understood how to turn stuff in to get it off the books. If we could get our hands on the stuff the supply sergeant could turn it in.

A couple of months earlier I had been sent to a brief couple of day course on sling loading helicopters. Strangely enough the course was given by a trio of Marines and one of the sergeants that should have known better called them a bunch of jarheads within earshot.

Needless to say, chaos resulted and I blew up with both the sergeant and the wronged Marines. I told them that I hadn't come to get involved in petty interservice spats but to learn something. 

What was interesting is that I was an 'acting jack' at the time and the sergeant pointed out he wasn't going to listen to an AJ.  I pointed out that he'd listen to me after I put a few toothmarks on his throat. He settled down quickly. He remembered his friend, Popski, whom I  had put the fear of God into several months before.

I had been on CQ duty and Popski came in plastered and tried to start a fight with me. He slipped and I dove down on him and started biting him in the throat. Not enough to break any skin and have to have myself checked for rabies, but enough so tooth marks showed on his throat for a few days.

It put the fear of God into him and established my place on the pecking order. Truth is, Popski could have cleaned my clock if he wasn't so falling down drunk, but nobody seemed to think of that. For a while they called me 'Mad Dog'.

Class resumed and I learned a few things and still use the skills as a rigger every once in a while.

After the day long class, the Gunny offered to buy me a beer. He wanted to know about my reference to putting toothmareks on the sergeant's throat. I told him the unvarnished truth and he grinned. He said that perception of being a badass is a big part of the game.

The skipper had been through the ranks, enlisting as a private before getting Warranted as a helicopter pilot and finally commisssioning as an artillery officer.

Although he had enough hours to automatically receive flight pay he occasionally took one up to stay current.

Most of the missing property was stuff like desks and chairs and for some reason the supply sergeant was having no luck trading stuff to get them. The furniture was actually flimsy junk and fairly light. 

We didn't care what shape the stuff was in as we were simply going to turn it in to get it off of the property books.

There was a mechanism in place to get stuff off of the books but it involved an awful lot of paperwork and sometimes a hearing. While I suppose the skipper could have simply had Supply Daddy do the paperwork, hearings of any sort are to be avoided at all costs. 

I asked the skipper if he had any plans to make any night helicopter flights and he looked up at with interest yet said nothing. I said I'd get back with him.

I went back to supply and asked the supply sergeant if he  could turn in a broken chair and he looked at me and asked me why I wanted to do that and I told him I wanted to case the property disposal lot.

Ten minutes later I was in a jeep headed there and an hour and a half I returned with a general layout. A causal comment to a WAC let me know the lot was unguarded. I also looked very carefully for phone poles and things that could chew up a rotor balde and destroy a chopper.

I got back to the battery late for formation and went straight into the First Sergeant's office expecting to have to explain why I missed formation.  As soon as I stuck my face into the orderly room Top looked up and nodded. He knew I was out on business.

The skipper was in and I dropped in on him and suggested that maybe if I sneaked into the property disposal lot and hooked a bunch of desks and chairs together he could lift them with a chopper.

The lot was fairly secluded and unguarded. We'd just scoop the stuff up, haul it into the woods somewhere and haul it back to the battery and turn it in piecemeal.

He said I was crazy. I shrugged and told him that I thought it was bold enough to get away with. I also gave him a full report on possible obstacles in the area. I drew them out carefully. He told me I was nuts and had watched too much TV.

Two days later he called me in and asked me how I would pull such a stunt off. I told him to have a duece n' half waiting in the woods and simply fly over the property yard, drop down, let me hook the stuff onto the sling hook and go straight up and haul the stuff off.

He could lower the chopper near the truck, release the sling and continue his flight. How he got the OK to fly around over  post was on him.

The next day he told me I had to add a couple of chairs to the list. I said nothing but figured out he had made a deal with someone at Butts Field.

We scheduled the foray for when our battery was supposed to be guarding the motor pool because we knew we could get past the guard. Supply Daddy would just show him a dispatch and we'd drive off with a duece n' half unquestioned.

On the evening of the foray I got dropped off near the disposal yard by the supply daddy and slipped into the darkness dragging a duffel bag with rope in it. I quietly approached the side and started looking for a way in. I found more than I was expecting.

Not only was there a hole big enough to drive a jeep through but there was a pile of desks, chairs and bunks outside the fence. I went through the pile quickly and sorted it out and threaded my rope through all of the stuff we needed.

I was happy not to have needed my fencing tool to cut through the chain mail. The fencing tool is pretty handy. Anyone that's ever driven through cattle country and seen a roll of barbed wire has lost ten of them.

Then I went inside the yard and grabbed a couple of chairs that we needed. On the ground I saw something and snagged it. I to this day don't know how it got there but I snagged a bayonet and sheath still in the wrapper!

Bayonets were damned hard to come by. In my arms room they were kept in a footlocker that not only was padlocked but banded shut with a banding machine. I made damned good and sure I put it in the duffel bag out of sight of Supply Daddy who would take it from me.

The B Battery armorer said he was short one and I knew that he would cheerfully swap his unaccounted for M-60 spare barrel kit of it. I wasn't short a spare barrel kit but I wanted an extra.

I laid on my back for about an hour watching the stars and then heard the whomp-whomp of an approaching Huey and flashed a signal  with a flashlight. I was rewarded with a quick shot of landing lights.

In an instant the bird dropped to the deck and I quickly realized I was too close to the fence and the blades might smack it. I bent on my spare 100 feet of rope onto the harness and ran out to a safer place while holding the end.

I bent a quick bowline into the end of the rope and signaled the chopper down until the skids were about three feet off of the deck. Then I snaked under the bird and slipped the bowline onto the hook, jumped on the skid and got yanked into the chopper.

I gave the word to the skipper to climb up about 25 feet and then move over to the center of the pile and go straight up as I wanted to avoid having the load swing. As soon as we were over the pile we went straight up like a homesick angel.

He wasn't too pleased that I had put an extra 100 feet of line on the load but I guess he realized I had to. Straight up we went and as soon as the crew chief gave the OK we headed off to the place the duece n' half was parked.

Supply Daddy was there and flashed a light and we just dropped straight down and when the stuff was piled up the skipped opened the hook, and the slack harness fell.

I realized from the way he had skyed up that he was a hotshot pilot, but when he gently lowered the ropeful of stuff I knew he was truly a skilled crastsman.

About 100 feet away from there he did a touch and go and I bailed. When I hopped off I went too fast and landed on my ass, right on top of one of those damned cactus plants the post teemed with. He was gone before I stopped cussing.

Then I helped Supply Daddy load the truck. I had to remind him that I didn't care if he was a Staff Sergeant and outranked me or not. He was damned well going to help. He was a lazy bastard.

It was a few minutes after we got the stuff loaded that we backed up to the S&A building and stuffed all of the crap into the supply room. We'd go through the stuff the following day. 

The next day we went through the stuff and most of it was pretty busted up but that was OK because we were turning it in as damaged anyway. Before I went into help out I had Doc dug the rest of the cactus spines out of my ass. He wanted to send me to the dispensary. When I told him I was going to have Top intervene he figured something was going on and relented.

Supply Daddy broke the pile into three lots and turned the stuff in in three seperate turn-ins about a week apart.

About a week or so later I wanted some time off. I wanted to explore the western part of the country and took a week's leave. Top kind of put the fix in on that one and I got to simply take five days off and run it with a weekend on both ends. I explored western Colorado, parts of Utah and Arizona. I saw the Grand Canyon. I also got as far as Las Vegas and drove up and down the strip.

This meant I got nine days off for the price of five, yet when my leave and earnings statement came in it showed no change in leave balance. I said nothing and assumed it was a freebie.

I never asked the skipper any details on how he fixed things on the flight manifest or how he got the OK to fly over the main part of the post but I'll bet he called in a lot of favors for that one. I seldom saw choppers over the main part of the post and figured it was sort of restricted airspace.

Later when we took another inventory we wound up having a couple of extras here and there but we had no shortages.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html

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