September 09, 2005

Mortars, Marines, And Muppets

The night was dark... an oily dark. Even the stars didn't throw much light. There was no "twinkle."

After the eyes got accustomed to the night, one could make out eight shadowy figures split into two groups of four. They were huddled around what looked like two tree stumps. The stumps were mortars, and each group was a gun crew.

Behind them, a radio crackled to life, and a red flashlight beam lit up a small area about fifty yards back inside the woods. Within seconds, a fire mission was sent to the two guns... deflections and elevations, followed by rounds and charges. The crews went to work in near silence, the clink of metal on metal a sound that would carry through the night.

First one, then the other mortar fired. An illumination round popped open, and began it's graceful descent to the ground. Within seconds, the HE (high explosive) round from the second gun hit the ground. After the concussion, the night returned to silence, the illume round still floating slowly to the earth.

The radio again came to life with a correction. Almost immediately, the new numbers were given, and the gunners readied the mortars. Another two rounds went out, with the scenario a repeat of the first, only this time closer to the target.

Another correction was radioed in, the new data figured instantly. Data was passed to the gunline, along with the order for a five round fire for effect. The gun crews silently readied their rounds.

As the illume round from the first gun was popped, the first HE round from the second gun was dropped down the tube. Immediately following the loud bang, you could hear a loud impression of the Count from Sesame Street: "ONE! One round down range! Hahahah..."

The next round is dropped, and again, the "Count" cried out: "TWO! Two rounds down range... hahahah!" This time snickers were heard from those in his crew.

This kept going on, with the snickers giving way to laughter, not just from his crew, but the whole section laughing harder each time.

When the last round is dropped, the Count finishes: "FIVE! Oh, five beautiful rounds down range! Hahahahahahahah......" This was followed by one of the crew announcing loudly in a very well done impersonation, "Hi ho, this is Kermit the Frog reporting live from Camp Lejeune... tell me, sir, do you think any frogs were killed by that last fire for effect?" The place fell apart with laughter.

These were the guys I went to Advanced Mortar Gunnery School with. A strange group. Hell, it seems that most of my friends from any stage of my life might fit into this group. I just thank gott that I'm normal.

What brought this about? I was whistling "People In Your Neighborhood," and got one of the other guys to start whistling Sesame Street songs. Once he got going, he wanted to hear this story again, and my impression of those involved.

I figured y'all might enjoy it, too. Not to mention getting an earworm from a person who likes to share.

Posted by That 1 Guy at September 9, 2005 02:17 AM | TrackBack