So, there I was; no shit, on a mission in Kosovo with one of the best teams ever assembled in LRS history. It was six soldiers that not only did I trust, but also were competent in their jobs. It was B-Cack, Will, Jones, Mofo Falco, Puffy, and yours truly. We inserted in the dead of night and due to stupid regulations forced on us by the brass, we had to immediately make a command decision. You see, because it was a “peace keeping” mission we were not allowed to have our weapons loaded unless we felt that the situation warranted it. Jones asked if everyone felt “safe” and we all replied we would feel safer if we had our weapons locked and loaded. So off we went, quietly moving towards our objective with a 30 round magazine ready to be fired with extreme prejudice.
Normally when moving it’s best not to have your night vision goggles on. We let the lead scout wear his and then we followed the “cat eyes” (glow in the dark patches) on the back of his patrol cap. With night vision goggles on, depth perception is a real pain. It’s also hard to tell the difference between a puddle, a shadow, and a hole. The problem with not wearing your night vision goggles is that occasionally the cat eyes that you’re following disappear. Whether they disappeared because the person fell, or that they walked through some foliage and they’re just out of sight is something you can’t tell until you either fall or get a face full of branches. Thankfully it was a clear night and visibility was good until we started walking through thick forest.
Falling while on a mission sucks. Besides the double basic load you’re carrying, you also have a rucksack that weighs in excess of 90 lbs. When you fall, this heavy rucksack has the knack of making sure it slides up your back and rests on your head making it almost impossible to get back up without help. If you happen to fall backwards and have the pleasure of not having your face pushed in the dirt, you end up looking like a dying turtle until you get righted.
All was well on the mission, but we were moving a lot slower than we expected. Looking at maps and aerial photographs don’t help you when you are estimating the amount of time it will get you from point A to point B. We end up having to hold up during the day in some thick brush and finish moving to the objective when it got dark again. We get set down to wait out the day, and Mofo Falco decides to break his camel back and lose 2 liters of water all over the ground. Normally this isn’t a problem. Everyone usually brings more than enough water to last the mission and then some. We can share; it’s a short mission any how.
Night falls, and we’re back on the trail to our objective. Everything is going well. We reach our objective and split the team. Half of us go to put eyes on the objective, the other half finds the thickest nastiest stuff to crawl into to set up a commo site. B-Cack, Will, and Mofo Falco head off to put eyes on the objective. Puffy, Jones and I set up the commo gear and prepare to send sitreps and intel. Now it’s just waiting. This is possibly one of the most boring things in the world. The objective was quiet with nothing to report. That means the only thing we had to send to the rear where sitreps letting them know we were doing well. When nothing is going on, all you do is eat, sleep, and be bored.
We’re already three days into the mission when I get orders from the rear letting us know that our mission had been extended a day. Remember when I told you that Mofo Falco lost those 2 liters of water? Ya, well later that day, I get a call from B-Cack saying that Mofo Falco was dehydrated and they couldn’t stick a vein to give him an IV. This means that me, Jones, and Puffy have to pack up and move to their location so that I can administer an IV. Even though I’m not a heroin addict, I have mad skills at sticking needles in people. I got his vein on the first try and we let him take in 2000 ml of .09 Sodium Chloride to get him hydrated. With that taken care of, we head back to our commo site.
The mission was finally over and now it was time for the team to head out. We packed up our stuff and as soon as it got dark we got on the move towards the extraction site. About halfway to the extraction site, no one had water. I’ll try to explain how thirsty we were. Me and B-Cack were so thirsty that we actually tried to drink the IV. Salt water is not tasty. I gagged a couple of sips down, but my mouth still felt like it was filled with cotton balls (heh he said balls). If we would have had some Kool-Aid it would have been fine, and probably pretty tasty, but no one bothered to save that part of the MRE. So about the time I was ready to try drinking some more salt water out of an IV bag, we get the call that the bird is in route. Everyone extracted; no one hurt; a successful mission.
The only on side effect of the mission that stayed with me for a few weeks was the rash that I had that went from my belt line to my neck. That crap that we crawled through and laid in for 4 days, turned out to be poison ivy. I never bothered bringing a sleeping pad and just laid on the ground. I never itched, until we walked to our extraction site. It turns out once I sweated through my clothes (yes I wore the same uniform for 4 days, it’s not pretty but you don’t want to be engaged while your changing clothes.) and all the oils from the poison ivy soaked through my top, it made one heck of an itchy mess.
This is a pic taken from that mission. This was staged (the picture not the mission). We were about to go to the extraction site and just made our last com shot to the rear, when Will told me to hold on while he took a picture. He took the picture using black and white film. I think it made it turn out better. Who wants a picture that’s filled with the color green? The reason my face is darker than my hands is because of the face paint. I want to thank Will for sending me the pic.