I always seemed to miss out on the "fun" days in Basic.
I was on KP the day our Company went into the gas room; we kitchen-cleaners were run out to the site about the time everyone else was staggering out of the building, a line of poor bastards with their gas masks off and snot, tears, puke and phlegm pouring out of them in varying amounts.
I got a whiff of the stuff, but for whatever reason we KP warriors didn't get to play. I don't feel bad.
I can't remember whether it was KP or Company Driver duty that nearly made me miss grenade day. If I wasn't enthusiastic about the instant sunburn and mucus overload, I can't say the same about the grenade range.
A handful of us were driven out to the range and given the sketchiest walk-through of the care and feeding of the various grenades. We could hear the efforts (BOOOM!!) of the group ahead of ours. Thumb goes on (BOOOM!!) the "spoon," pull the pin, throw (BOOOM!!) the damn thing and duck. They shuffled us out (BOOOM!!) to the range, where we lined up in a concrete (BOOOM!!) bunker, put on heavy flak vests, and led us (BOOOM!!) out in (BOOOM!!) twos.
Now I and my "buddy" were in a big concrete box taller than our heads (or maybe we were just ducking and covering?), open to the sky. The sergeant reminded us how to hold, how to pull, how to throw. My "buddy" yanked the pin and did a straight-armed John Wayne toss over the wall...BOOOM!!
My turn. Thumb goes here, pull the pin--
The impatient sergeant grabbed the baseball-shaped grenade (the "spoon" flew off...and now the damn thing was armed) and hefted it over the wall...BOOOM!!
It's not like I was taking my damn time with it. Maybe he just wanted to be done. *shrug*.
We were herded back to our jobs and that was that.
A few nights ago, spying on Ft. Jackson, I found a pair of grenade ranges side by side, one looking unused and maybe falling apart, the other much cleaner. The older one is scarred mostly by rain runoff from the higher ground surrounding the pit. The newer one is pocked with craters:
Haven't found the gas house yet.
Death Watch (1980)
2 hours ago