Due to the Roach calling me out on another war story and Big Dog lieing about my 3 comment minimum( check Dj& G) I have decided to throw another bone out for the masses of sometimes unsatisfied and disgruntled fellow bloggers( don't blame yourselves..it's human nature).
This is about my trip to Panama to disarm and lock up an individual known as Pineapple Head a.k.a. Manuel Noriega. Due to some of this story he is now in a lavish condiminium jail cell equipped with cable tv and a playstation. Isn't justice wonderful?
We had been on alert for about three weeks now...we were at the highest alert status which meant we had to be wheels up, in the aircraft, headed for our destination in 24 hours. I know this doesn't seem difficult but we are talking about a battalion of enormous population.
We had been through some practice drills..get your stuff.. let's go.. it's only 2:ooam..what? we even got on the plane and circled the airstrip and everything..practice makes perfect.
Nobody really expected to actually go to into combat.. we all thought it was another practice drill intended to give us some more euchre time in the hangar and maybe even some dominoes.
That was fine and great until they put us on the plane...took off and then started handing out live ammo and live grenades..hmmm this is different..they are really getting into this practice thing. More than a couple guys freaked out when they said we were going into combat...we had all been properly trained for this but it still seemed scary knowing that we might not all come back to California alive.
When we were issued all our live ammo and given our mission briefing they still left out the important thing of where we were actually going. When we landed they told us we were in Panama..it was like 100 degrees (in the shade). We had been in northern California where is was 60-70 at the most. The humidity was a killer..sun beating down on us and literally trying to bake us. Oh yeah for all of you that think when it's nice when it's warm out...I forgot to mention that we were in full gear, full ammo, full flak vests, helmets,sleeves down, canteens full, black leather boots, and some of us were also carrying 5lb. containers of water. It wasn't pleasurable or comfortable at all.
We landed at an airstrip...not an airport...an airstrip...it was a strech of land that was flat and about a 30 minute drive to downtown conflict.
When we got out of the plane with all our gear on it felt like someone was shoving a giant blowdryer on high heat right in the plane door...it stunck like garbage and the humidity was comparable to that of a small unfiltered greenhouse. We all sat in the field by the plane for quite awhile waiting for the total unload..in the hot baking sun. We had to walk about 2 miles to the vehicles that were going to transport us to the objective point...we call them duece and halfs..because they carry 2500 lbs of stuff.
That walk..that hot, humid ,stinky, carry 130 lbs. of stuff, and water was perhaps THE biggest challenge I have ever faced in my life. I was drinking water as fast as I could and then it happened...troops started falling out....medics were tearing off shirts and giving i.v.s right on the path. the toughest thing was being able to see the vehicles but it didn't seem they were getting any closer. More and more people started falling out with heat exhaustion and heat stroke...the medics had their hands full and when we finally did make it to the duece and halfs we were about 100 people short. I continued to drink water ..water...water..our medic was still with us...we thought that if we made it to the transporters it would be better. We were wrong..when we got to these vehicles we had to sit and wait for the fallouts to catch up and regroup. There were no tops on the vehicles..we were in combat...we had to position our weapons to the outside of the vehicles and watch for snipers. I kinda blanked out at this point...maybe I drank too much water or my brain was cooking underneath my kevlar helmet..maybe just maybe He was carrying me..He does that alot when I am not strong. I remember them dragging a couple of troops underneath the trucks because of the shade and giving iv's. I continued to drink water.
We finally startet moving and we were all thinking that maybe a breeze would rejouvenate..maybe the wind from the ride would cool. NOT..when it is hot out..rolling your window down doesn't help...at all.
We parked and walked (without any medics) about 1.5 miles to our post..I was spent..I was carrying the radio for the Lt. and it ain't light to say the least...when we reached our post next to the embassy..we had about 15 troops out of 40..no medics..very little supplies. The Lt. and myself and another squad were the only ones in our platoon to make the entire distance to our post...another ten feet...another ten feet..it's all I could think of..any more than that and I honestly can say I don't think I could've made it.
We got to our post...I sat down in the shade and my Lt. went to check in...I was outside next to a phone booth sitting on the ground pretending like I was standing guard..I was miserable...nothing in this world would've made me feel better than an airconditioned room and a bed to lay in.
Most people in Panama were glad we were there to stop the drugs..the police..the judicial corruption...pineapple head. I was sitting there resting..and a little Panamanian boy about 5 came up to me with ice cold bottle of Coke..the bottle cap was still on it and sweat was dripping off the glass bottle. He smiled and I smiled the best I could and I accepted my generously given gift with a head nod and a thank you dude. I put that ice cold bottle on the back of my neck and it felt soooo goood. I cooled down a little ...popped the cap...and drank it down faster than Mean Joe Green....never saw that kid again...hmmmmmmmmm