The Arrays Of A Soldier………….#78 (the 50’s)


Basic Training is reveille,  formation,  mess,  formation, constant, fall in, fall out, cigarettes, light’ em up, put’em out,  double time, at ease,  never-ending, retreat, lights out, taps, the supposition, acquainting the instruments of war, its exertion, a soldier.  The firing range was a learning experience and the acquired skill a possible rehearsal for a future application for some.  Once on the firing line, the command load and lock was given, preparations required to fire an M1 Garand rifle. After the ammunition clip was inserted, the bolt automatically moved forward in order to “lock” a round into the chamber.  The next command, ready on the left, ready on the right, the firing line is ready being giving before firing the weapon.  Besides the issued M1 Garand the Company was instructed in the firing of a Browning Automatic Rifle,  (BAR),  the M1918A2, a 19 lb. 30 caliber (30.06) 20 round clip fed selective fire weapon,  its firepower utilized by the number 11 and number 2 man of the infantry 12 member squad.  Also the Company Squads were familiarized with the M1919A4 32lb.  30 caliber (30.06) 250 round belt fed light machine gun, the cadre noting that when firing, the barrel had a tendency to move up and to the right, so you might want to compensate for this.  The most impressive machine gun firepower was demonstrated by cadre, it being the M2 water-cooled 50 caliber machine gun known as Ma Duece, variation of this masterful weapon found in all branches of the service.


The Company once again in the realm of the East Range, this time an instructional course with live grenades.  A concrete barrier wall with six dividing concrete section, each section with a cadre instructor.  Gary having completed the instructional lessons with a dummy grenade now was prompted to the wall.  The stations NCO  reviewing the procedure instructions one more time, Gary gripping the grenade in his right hand, noticing a ten inch hole in the concrete floor.  The Sergeant supplying an answer to the unasked question, that if someone drop a grenade after pulling the pin, the concrete hole was an emergency detonation place.  Upon direction he pulled the pin latching the handle and in one motion slung the grenade over the concrete wall.  Seconds later it wasn’t the sound of the grenade  exploding that impressed Gary, but the resounding concussion he could feel behind the concrete barrier.  The grenade instruction continued, after experiencing a live grenade the recruit was thankful the instructional class for the M1’s  grenade launcher utilized only dummy grenades.  A realization of the days activities having a positive effect,  cementing a purpose for the unit, they could apprehend that the instructors were accomplishing their mission.


The nocturnal march from the company area was a first and the young soldier found the darken night difficult when the platoon traversed off a sufficiently defined path onto an unrecognizable course.  Gary’s consolation was occupying the fourth squad, not the vanguard, although he suspected  flashlights were in use at the head of the column to penetrate the total darkness.  Arriving at their objective, discovering additional company units on site participating in a night firing exercises.  It was an another first  for the platoon and an aura of anticipation radiated amongst the troops, Gary too was awestruck with the sight.  Tracers brandishing an illumination, their paths filling the azure with trailing plumes, streaking to the raised targets. Gary recognized the affectation of the flaring specter,  the kindled showering missiles honing in on the targets, giving a presence of baneful array’s of infliction.  The night-time display exacting a scene of allurement and destruction to a foe  but on the firing range there was no adversary save the conviction of fulfillment.


It wasn’t scuttlebutt, anyone volunteering to stay and pull targets for the remaining units would receive indemnification, in place of the long march home, they would be transported back to the barracks area by truck.  Gary weighing the Company’s trek back against a ride, knowing better than to volunteer, but deciding to invest in this new experience.  Entering the concrete bunker,  the odor of burnt pulverulent  from expended munitions permeated the environment.  The new target pull was instructed to mount and augment the targets with intention and dispatch. During the firing display , the target amending group would  sanction  to the rear of the bunker to  avoid contact with stray ricocheted bullets. Gary ascertaining immediately that  safety was a concern as a 30.6 projectile came  to rest at his feet.  He was quick to study,  learning not to grasp the hot lead munition after burning his finger, defaulting to a sense of character, continuing with his task, but staying vigilant.  Fulfilling his commitment,  the nights convention coming to a close and another experience indelibly inscribed with purpose


The memories of the night infiltration course would always remain prevalent.  The soldiers twelve man squad was again a finalist in participation,  the last plah-toon of the last company to enter the course.  This was a competition,  judgment based on elapsed time to complete the course and a penalty deduction for any movement observed by searching beacons or flares.  the course pox-marked with pits containing detonating  explosive devices,  strung barbwire to wither under,  30 caliber machine guns firing tracers overhead,  and the ever presence of  darkness interrupted by searchlight spotters.   Doing the low-crawl thru the maze wasn’t difficult,  providing you anchor your orientation.  the combat maze accomplished, the experience completed, noting the infiltration course was appropriately named,  never has Gary been so infiltrated with such an accumulation of blanketed obscuring  Dirt


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