Racconti di Guerra

APCs or how to nearly decapitate someone… Twice

Un altro racconto di guerra; questa volta l’utente 204684 scrive:

Short preamble: this takes place 3 years ago in a small European army that relies heavily on conscripts. I served as such for 6 months and don't claim to be any sort of expert on military matters,so please forgive me if some things sound off.

Inspired by Ruckles driving tales, I looked back at the things that happened when I was driven around by someone similar to Ruckle.

Meet Steve. Steve was a conscript without a drivers license. Mind you, he knew, his fellow conscripts knew and even some of the career company folk knew. But the man assigning him the role of APC driver did not.

So Steve, without a license, staying a maximum of 6 months, would need to receive 2 months basic training and 2 months driving training to be an APC driver for 2 months before processing out. Now that might sound quite stupid, but something sounding stupid very seldom deterred my country's army.

I was in the same company as Steve, but had been assigned to basic medical training, eventually ending up in a testing facility, where all citizens at age 18 have to go to be determined fit for service, but that is not really part of the story.

This meant that I saw most of his fuckups first hand. The first of which was a quite minor one, but in hindsight was a taste of things to come: I am in my barracks room, preparing it for inspection, as the sound of an engine revving, then tires squealing and finally, incoherent screaming are heard through the window.

Steve had turned onto the parade square below, where another company was performing a kit count and had laid all their stuff out in a nice order.

That is, all the stuff that was not buried under an APC now.

Steve was sternly talked to and sent to remedy his poor driving, which he did to some success. He was therefore allowed to progress a stage further: driving on base with soldiers in the back, practicing basically the loading and unloading. I was one of the unfortunate soldiers in the back as Steve motored towards his second fuck up.

You see, our base had a rather small, two lane, two way main road, flanked on one side by a sort of outdoor museum, where older fighting vehicles, tanks and guns were lined up, and a nice big drop onto the running track on the other.

Disaster was looming, although we could not yet sense it. But coming out from between the museum tanks was a hedgehog. Quite a brave hedgehog, since he crossed the road without looking. Steve, not wanting to run him over, swerved left. Hard. Right under the gun of the m60 museum piece. An almighty bang was heard in the fighting compartment, immediately followed by a “what the FK??” by Steve.

This time Steve had not run anything over, but nonetheless, the results of the accident were horrific: remember he swerved under the raised gun of a tank? Well the gun had not been raised high enough to allow clearance for our vehicle commander. He got knocked out cold when he struck the gun, apparently only being saved from death by the helmet he was wearing and the still slow speed of the APC.

the vehicle commander, coming back on base 3 weeks later after having been treated for a severe concussion and having needed 30 stitches on his face, must have been cursing his luck when he drew his daily orders. At least he was not happy when he camr into my room and ordered me and 5 of my roommates to get into an APC.

Steve needed to get road certified and as a precaution, in case he got into some real trouble, we had to ride along. To Steve's credit, this one was not his fault. Riding along at a good 40mph/80kph on a major highway through a city of two million, Steve was actually doing quite well. Until a BMW, trying to be cool by filtering between all 3 lanes, cut right infront of him. The vehicle commander yelled “brake”, Steve braked and swerved. This time right. And right into a streetlight. Which fell onto the vehicle commanders head. Seeing the commotion, the BMW did the right thing and immediately drove off, leaving us to care for the commander and to explain to police what had happened all by our lonesome.

The news would later report 20km of tailbacks and congestion, our vehicle commander would again turn out fine, but Steve was reassigned to kitchen staff. There, he promptly messed up on the stove, setting a fire that nearly gutted the entire kitchen. But I wasn't there, so I can't tell you about it.