All night my roommates and I held out hope that the weather would force another noon formation and maybe, just maybe, a cancelation of our trip to the field but alas that was not to be. 0900 first call, followed shortly thereafter with trans to the Yankee North land nav practice site (I think it was Yankee North, I get my Yankees confused). The roads leading out to the course are dirt and the buses could only take us 3/4 of the way there, after that it was an unexpected ruck slip sliding in mud.
Once we made our way there we were paired up into buddy teams and given a set of four points that we had to get in four hours. This exercise was about using dead reckoning to refine compass skills and our pace counts. We weren’t given a map, only instructions on a sheet of a paper that, if followed properly, would lead you to the correct point. For instance the sheet would say 621 meters at 261 degrees. So you’d pull out your compass, shoot out an azimuth of 261 degrees and walk 621 meters until you came to a sign that has a number on it. Then you write down that number on your scorecard and move on using the same method to your next point. Do this four times and presto you are done.
My partner Geno (NHRN) is pretty good at land nav and I’m not bad myself so we didn’t have much trouble getting our points quickly. We employed a buddy bounding method which was a little slower but kept us in the right direction. We got our four points fairly quickly and headed back to where our platoon had setup shop. On our way there SSG M. told us to grab a box of MREs and split it amongst ourselves. I was a little confused by what exactly he meant by that, usually we get one at a time after all.
Upon meeting up with the rest of the platoon I was informed that we were each being given six MREs to field strip and carry with us for the rest of our time out in the field. And here I thought there was no way to make the experience of eating MREs less enjoyable, now I had to carry six rather bulky things of “food” I didn’t really want. Anyway I opened them up, took out the stuff I’d eat and the stuff I thought might get me something decent in a trade and put it in my ruck for later.
After about an hour we got ready to go back out there, again in buddy teams but this time with the benefit of a map and grid coordinates. Four hours to get four points, nothing special. Yankee North really isn’t very difficult, there’s not much brush, just a lot of creek/ravine crossings. I tried to get cute walking on a log, slipped and almost broke my back. The roads were so miserable with mud that Geno led us on side trails that hand-railed the roads to save our boots. Really the mud, plus the leaves/pine needles, made it like we were walking in snowshoes. Not enjoyable.
When we returned with our points (four out of four NBD) there were conflicting rumors. Some were saying we’d be going back out in an hour to get some night practice in but, thankfully, it turned out we were busing to the India course for the night. Now the buses still couldn’t reach us so someone had managed to wrangle four LMTV’s for trans.
LMTVs are essentially giant pickup trucks with benches in the cloth-covered back for us to sit on. I think they are designed to fit 12 people with their rucks and you could probably squeeze another one or two in if you really wanted to. Well we had two LMTVs four our 44 man platoon so we had 21 guys and 22 rucks in the back. It was a tight squeeze, to say the least, but I still managed a decent nap for the 45 minute ride.
Upon arriving at India it was time for bed, it being 2100 or so and with a 0330 wakeup staring us in the face. Got my sleeping system set up next to June and El Guapo and snuggled in out of the cold (low temp that night of 20 degrees). Tomorrow we get to practice on the feared India, conquered in OCS but looming once more.