We sublet the night!

     In my last post I discussed the high regard in which we held our company 1stSgt. Back in my lance corporal days we figured anyone in authority was pretty much there to make our lives miserable and make inane pronouncements designed to utterly destroy any fantasies we may have had about doing all the high speed stuff we’d seen in recruiting commercials.
     One of the go-to remarks our 1stSgt always made was: “We’re night fighters!”  This was generally a prelude to spending the next five nights in the field, tripping over volcanic rock formations in the grass (lava dogs) or trying to make out green blobs as seen through the ancient and esoteric night vision equipment we had inherited from the Army.
     That summer our company deployed to Townsville, Australia to train with the 1st Royal Australian Regiment. It was the single greatest event of my entire Marine Corps career to that date.
     We found out we would be patrolling the thick jungles of the Koombooloombas. While watching a local nature channel show, we discovered that seven of the ten most poisonous creatures on earth lived in the lush Koombooloomba preserve. These monstrosities included spiders with abdomens as big as a fist, various venomous snakes, and insects large enough to carry off small children. The jungle was overrun with “wait-a-while” vines that resembled tentacles brimming with fish hooks.
     As we entered the jungle for a week of patrolling, a number of flesh eating beasts whooped and squawked at our approach. Over the din I could swear I heard a voice in the canopy say: “Welcome, to Jurassic Park!” Dinner had arrived.
     We asked our Aussie counterparts about conducting night patrols. They’d certainly had more experience moving through dense, triple canopy, jungle wilderness throughout Malaysia and Indonesia, not to mention this crazy Koombooloomba dinosaur preserve.  For a moment they looked at us like simpletons.

      “We don’t do night patrols mate. It’s the jungle, it’s bloody dark out there!”

 

Semper Fidelis!

America’s SgtMaj

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5 comments

  1. That’s almost painful to read. I would have guessed – not being military myself – that their experience in Somalia about four years earlier would have suggested that night patrols have value.

    1. Donald, this was before Somalia in 2004 and it had more to do with the fact it was completely pitch black in the jungle with zero visibility than an unwillingness to work at night.

  2. Thanks for the read, it brought back some memories. Dismounted night movement in thick jungle is definitely a last resort. It’s too noisy and it’s too dark for II. Our night activity was typically ‘standing patrols’ ie; ambushing, listening posts etc. There’s always some way to maintain sleep deprivation.

    1. While patrolling with the RAR we would “habour up” for the night tying 550 cord between our positions to find each other in the night. I was surprised how often we’d have to use it.

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