Home On the Range II (A Phat History Lesson)
The last time I wrote about going to the range, I wrote about a demolition range. This time I would like to tell you about my first live fire range. A live fire range is where you practice maneuvering with your team while throwing live ammunition down range at targets. In a Long Range Surveillance unit the only type of maneuvering you do is break contact (retreat). There I was, no sh**, I was an E-2 and had only been at my unit for about 4 weeks when we first went to the live fire range to drill on breaking contact. The way it was set up was, you would move as a team towards an objective, the range cadre would initiate contact by remotely activating pop up targets, you then break contact by bounding by pairs, move to the grenade pit that they made to shoot more targets and throw some frags, and then fall back to an extraction point.
It was not a hard range, but because of the weight you carried in our rucksack it made very exhausting. So my team of 5 started our range. It was me, Ranger Foreskin (I call him this because before going to Ranger school he had to get circumcised, at age 24), Spc Joe Porter, Spc Short&Fat, and Spc “I’m not from Boston; I’m from Louisiana” (Craziest accent I’ve ever heard.). My instructions were simple; stay next Spc Short&Fat; don’t shoot anyone.
Off we went heading towards our objective. We walked a ways then the first targets popped up. I laid down covering fire while half my team fell back, then they laid down fire while Spc Short&Fat and I fell back. Our SOP (standard operating procedures) said that every 3rd round in our magazine was a tracer (even during the daytime) and that the last three rounds in the magazine were also to be tracers. The tracers at the bottom of the magazine were there to let you know when to change magazines. So we break contact from the first set of targets, do a peel right, and then moved to the grenade pit to throw our frags.
The order in which we were going to throw our grenades had already been established before getting on the range. Everyone would shoot targets while one person would ready a grenade. Then that person would yell “Frag out!” and everyone would duck behind the sandbags that they put out for us. After the explosion, everyone would pop back up and shoot more targets while the next person would ready their grenade. It was going along smoothly until it was my turn. I took the tape off the spoon, popped the jungle clip, pulled the pin, and stood up to throw my grenade when Ranger Foreskin yelled “Frag out!”. I thought I had screwed up the order and it wasn’t my turn yet. I figured that I would wait for the explosion, then stand up throw my grenade and everything would be fine, and no one would be the wiser to my foul up. So I had a death grip on my grenade, holding down the spoon, next to my chest and waited to hear the explosion. No explosion came. The range cadre yelled “Who’s got the Grenade?!” I answered that I did. He then instructed me to throw the grenade using simple four letter words so that I could understand it. I stood up, yelled frag out, and chunked the grenade. It turns out Ranger Foreskin thought that he should take responsibility to yell frag out for me (asstard). The explosion and we went on with the drill. Now it’s Range Foreskins turn to throw his grenade. He yelled frag out (for himself this time) and launched his grenade. Everyone got back down behind the sand bags and waited for the explosion. The explosion never came. It turns out that Ranger Foreskin forgot to take the tape off the spoon. Remember when I told you about using tracer rounds, even during the day? Well, we had also started a fire about 100m away. The fire was starting to get large and the grenade was out in the range with only a piece of tape keeping it from exploding.
This is when I knew that the chances of getting killed on a range were much greater than getting killed jumping out of an airplane. Here was the solution that the range cadre came up with on the spot. Instead of waiting for EOD to show up and blow the grenade (they didn’t want to close the range since we were the first team to run it and it would take about 4 hours for EOD to get there) they had my team go and try to stomp out the fire, while one of the range cadre went and looked for the grenade. How everyone made it off that range without getting hurt was a miracle. I’m so glad the Ranger Foreskin was taken off my team a few months later. I think that was the closest I came to death. The whole time I was stomping out that fire, I just kept thinking to myself that my parents are going to have a lot of fun with that $200,000 life insurance policy the army gave to me.
Home on the Range I
Phat History Lessons
There is a picnic at Basil's