Chipori itself was a dirty, dusty, barren series of valleys surrounded by hills covered in trees. As I mentioned before it was dry when we were out there–the monsoons had yet to begin–and the place went up like a matchstick when we started shooting gunnery tables.
There we were… the whole battalion deployed out to the field… and we could not execute the live fires that we had come out there for. But instead of redeploying back to the rear, we transitioned into some maneuver training instead. It was a good idea really, since we had the time, the training area and all the boys out in the field. It really was making lemonade out of lemons.
So train we did.
I set up a series of platoon force-on-force “lanes” to work on basic collective battle drills. Some deliberate attack, defense, movement to contact, et cetera. I even had them working some in-stride breaching, anti-armor ambushes, and other sorts of mayhem. We really were getting a lot out of it and I think the boys were actually enjoying themselves.
Occasionally the ROK Army would roll in do silly shit like drive entire artillery battalions right through the middle of our training, while smiling, waving, and saying “Don’t mind us, just pretend like we’re not even here!” That was annoying.
One day I had dismounted infantry squads infiltrating through the woods when a ROK engineer company rolled in and asked permission to blow a giant pile of C-4 plastic explosive right in the center of my training “box.” I told them through my KATUSA translator to hold on while I got my squads on the radio to recall them and get them out of the blast radius when I was nearly knocked on my ass by the concussion of the mother of all spend-exes. Old tires and other debris rained down everywhere… including on us.
I stood there dumbstruck with the radio handmike still in my hand, getting ready to call my squads to warn them. Too late.
Luckily nobody got blown to pieces, and the ROK engineers cheerfully packed up their shit and drove away. Not caring one whit whether or not they had nearly killed a platoon’s worth of American dismounted infantry just off in the woodline.