I was pissed off seeing “Ma” standing there waving at my passing Bradleys like were marching through liberating Paris from the Bosch or something. Here she was, tent already set up and cooking chow for the boys. This woman had managed to gather the intel where my company was going to be set up out at Chipori, before I even knew. That was some bullshit!
The S-3 jumped out of his humvee and ran up beside my track and shouted some orders up to me before he got back into his vehicle and sped off in a cloud of dust.
The XO was getting the platoons set in their positions in a nice perimeter and no sooner had the ramps begun dropping from the tracks, than the boys started pouring out and heading off to Ma’s tent for cheap cigarettes, hot coffee, and little yaki-mandu. And true to form, she didn’t require cash–she had a credit system set up and all you had to do was write what you took in her little spiral notebook. She would collect later after we all got back out of the field… that much you could bet on. That woman always got her money.
We were out there using a Korean range as opposed to Rodriguez Range complex out of necessity. There were simply too many units on the peninsula and not enough ranges to go around, so we asked to use one of the ROK Army’s. Being super cool allies and all, they accommodated us, and let us use one of their gunnery ranges.
Now, Rod Range and our other smaller range complexes were loaded with high tech automated equipment offering a state-of-the-art training experience. Chipori? Yeah… not so much. It was pretty much a dust bowl surrounded by hills to keep the ricocheting rounds from hitting any of the nearby villages. Most of the time.
I jumped in my humvee and my driver took me over to the battalion’s Tactical Operations Center, or “TOC” for short. Once there, the other company commanders and I got our evening briefing from the battalion commander and his staff.
The company commanders didn’t get to see one another very often, so whenever we had our daily get-togethers we’d trade jokes and funny stories. The Headquarters Company Commander was the senior captain and he liked to talk about his adventures in the Field Trains (our rear support area), and the joys of running amok in the “The ‘Ville” when we were back in garrison.
Anyway, on the very next day we were to begin firing gunnery tables for the Bradley crews in order to keep our qualifications current. And right on schedule the first company started firing its gunnery tables according to the plan.
You know what they say about plans?
Yeah, I think you know.
I don’t think that company got through its first platoon shooting Table VI when a couple of random tracer rounds started a small grass fire. This small grass fire quickly spread, and then hit some of the trees on the surrounding hills. Monsoon season hadn’t hit yet and everything was dry as a bone. The place was like a tinderbox and it went up fast. Real fast.
So in probably the span of a single day, our two-week gunnery got shut down due to fire.
But that didn’t end our adventures in Chipori… no sir… it sure did not!
To be continued…