I hope y’all enjoyed Easter. I apologize for the dearth of tales over the holiday. Of course y’all could have jumped in and helped me out…
I saw in the news that the Masters golf thing is coming up. They played a PGA Tournament in Southern Pines NC in the late ’90s. I was with the 325th AIR then, we were doing a major training exercise. I’d been working with the powers that be for months to get this planned and resourced, now we were executing. One of the missions executed in the 48 hour live fire/maneuver training was a mortar raid. Fly in low and fast, un-ass the aircraft, set up the guns and fire then get back on the aircraft. Its a major undertaking for an 81mm mortar platoon to carry the weapon system and any significant amount of ammo. The loads we had on our backs were heavy and clumsy. We rehearsed the mission including loading/unloading the blackhawks.
The UH60s showed up on time, the bump plan worked and we had everyone on the LZ, the guns were up, standing by. Then my Company Commander walked up and asked my LT and I if we could talk. We followed him over to his vehicle where the Bn Fire Support Officer and the Observer/Controllers were clustered. There we were informed that the firing point could not be opened, not a failure to schedule, we had the land but the impact area had been shut down, no firing. I think my response was “WTF? Sir” or something along those lines. He explained that the golfers, thirty miles away in Southern Pines, were frightened by the sound of freedom coming from this impact area the day before and had called to complain. I have no idea who they called, probably Corps, the higher the command the further removed from reality. So it turns out the only thing that can stop the entire might of the 82nd Airborne Division is some fat civilian in stupid looking plaid pants and a matching hat with a cell phone in one hand and a donut in the other. I was just winding up to deliver my opinion of golf and golfers in general when I heard our call sign come over the radio speaker in the CO’s vehicle. It was the aviators, they weren’t coming back to pick us up. I don’t know if the golfers were afraid of the helicopters as well or what their excuse was. I looked at my Platoon Leader and said “F*ck ’em all Sir, Lets carry the shit back.” He grinned evilly. I always strove for a Dearth Vader/Evil Emperor relationship with my platoon leaders, this young lieutenant took to it like a duck to water. The CO blessed off on it and we were off.
I informed the platoon of my opinions concerning golf, golfers and aviators in no uncertain, though colorful, terms. We unloaded the ammo but still had heavy, clumsy loads to carry eight miles back to our vehicles. That walk on a fine spring day in North Carolina maxed a few of our troopers out, but Squad Leaders led, loads were redistributed and everyone made it to the end. Shared hardship and danger build cohesive units, we had a plethora of hardship.