Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Just Another Day on the Job

This one is for Jake and Shamrock7 to give them the motivation to finish a tough road. The rest of you can just enjoy the story.

I managed to sleep late, a whole extra 30 minutes, and got up at 0630; being on the range the day before until midnight earned us that much. We skipped PT due to a lack of time but I didn’t feel like I was cheating myself ‘cause our previous evening wearing 35 pounds of body armor and gear snapping an M-4 up and transitioning to an M-9 is a pretty good workout. So, I drag my carcass into the shower and off to what they call breakfast in this run-down compound then load up for a final day on the ranges.

Today’s range is the automatic weapons range and we took half a dozen various machineguns. I tossed my M-24 in because I still had 100 rounds of M118LR match grade ammo for it. At the range we counted our ammo and we had 600 rounds of 5.56 link and 500 rounds of 7.62 link per person.

We had more people than machineguns so I started out with my M-24. I had to zero the PVS-10 night scope for it anyways. I lay down behind it, took aim at a 100 meter pop-up target and squeezed of a round. It impacted quite high so I dropped the elevation and fired another then another until the thing was dropping the target every time and the dirt was kicking up behind it right were I was aiming. By this time I’ve worked up quite a sweat lying in the sun in this hellacious humidity and have sweat dripping down my face and carrying sunscreen into my eyes. I returned to the vehicle to grab my drive-on rag but it was not there and I thought, “It must be lying next to my bed where I would have dropped it last night.” I looked around and found an ammo bandolier, folded it into a 1 inch strip and tied it around my head like a bandana to keep the sweat from dripping into my eyes. My team mates start calling me Col Braddock, a different twist from their recent activity – making up new Chuck Norris jokes but replacing his name with mine; apparently someone said I had a striking resemblance to the actor.

Back on the line and behind the M-24, I spin the elevation up to 300 meters and drop a target at that range; too easy. I look out in the distance and see targets out to 800 meters so I crank up the elevation again and take aim on the farthest target – I squeeze – it drops – I finally wake up for the day. There’s something very exhilarating about being able to lie down and touch something more than half a mile away. I cleaned up all the targets on the back row while giggling like an evil scientist then screamed at the tower to reset the targets.

Once I confirmed my complete dominance of a circle a full mile across it was time for a different kind of fun. I grabbed my 3 boxes of SAW ammo and got behind the nearest M-249, loaded it, and started dropping them again. “Wow! This thing shoots fast.” I kept knocking down targets; it’s pretty good out to 400 meters. At one time some smoke streams across my face while I inhale and it burns in my nostrils but I love the smell of burnt gunpowder and I’m loving life right now.

I finally loaded up an M-240 with a 300 round belt and lay a box containing my other 200 round belt next to me. I was one of the last ones to fire the M-240 so there was already a large pile of brass and links lying under the gun. The first burst threw some hot brass under my chest so I moved the gun left a foot. Subsequent bursts kept throwing burning hot brass under me and I had to keep thinking of ways to keep the brass from coming back at me. I ended up getting a couple of good burns before figuring out something that worked. The M-240 is a reliable weapon; it’s not as personal or as accurate as my M-24 but it gets peoples attention.

Once everything was fired we had to clean up the range; that meant picking up all that brass and links. The M240 was easy since it drops the brass directly below the gun but the M-249 SAW ejects the brass quite violently resulting in brass being scattered over a very large area.

We spent the remainder of the day cleaning a weeks worth of carbon off of 2 ½ dozen weapons of different sorts. I still enjoyed cleaning my M-24. She is old and hasn’t always been treated properly but she’s still a very accurate weapon. She needed a name so I christened her Athena, the goddess of war and guardian of the city.

It was just another day on the job.

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