This is my first post so please be gentle. :D
Here's my story. It's a story that must be told. It's not a happy story, nor a sad story, but it was definitely life-changing.
I was an Armourer serving out my NS liability at training center (the actual unit name will not be revealed to protect the guilty). For those who are not in the know, an Armourer is an weapons technician - we're the guys that fix guns when they go wonky. Not to be confused with "Armour" - guys who get to ride tanks.
Anyways, one day, close to the end of my 2.5 years of service, my Armourer IC gets a call from one of his buddies. Without telling us what the call was about, he turns around and asks for a volunteer.
Needless to say, no one did, and he was "forced" to pick a volunteer - hapless me, very much against my will.
My Armourer IC, his 2IC and I were quickly packed away into a land rover and driven out to the live-firing area. On the way to the live-firing area, I was told what happened. A live HE round was stuck in the barrel of a grenade launcher and his buddy - the firing officer in charge - wanted us to bail him out.
I'll pause the story here for a few explanations. The weapon in question was an M203 - the grenade launchers we get mounted under an M16. The round in question wasn't a "curry-powder" round - it was an actual High Explosive round. In a situation like this, the standard procedure would be to report the incident and get a demolitions expert or Ammo Technician onto the scene. The Firing Officer didn't want to - because it would delay the exercise and everyone would go home late.
When I got the scene, the Firing Officer had left the offending weapon beside a concrete firing station and posted a few guys around it. When we arrived, the Firing Officer called off the sentries and asked for help - and my Armourer IC started fiddling with the M203 - with the live round inside.
After about 5 minutes of fiddling around we all see the situation - the round was jammed inside the barrel, the extractor (the part of the barrel that "pulls out" a spent round) was bent out of shape and the High Explosive round was "primed" - meaning the round was armed and an impact would probably set the round off.
Which my Armourer IC promptly ignored and started fiddling with the weapon some more.
When I started to get up and saying that the situation was dangerous, my Armourer 2IC put his hand on my shoulder and pushed me back to a squatting position - saying that they wanted the problem to go away "quietly" and that "everything would be okay".
Right on cue, my Armourer IC had forced the round out of the barrel - and fumbled catching it. The round dropped to the ground business end first.
I think you can guess the result by now - the round turned out to be a dud and didn't explode. I was soundly ribbed for being a "kia-si coward" for the rest of my days at the unit, which were thankfully short.
It has been 8 years since that incident. Some nights I can still see the round dropping to the ground in slow motion - and yet too fast for me to do anything. I know that two years after I ORDed an NSMan died in an incident very similar to the one that I had gone through - and on the very same live firing area. I could not help but wonder if that person could have been me. I wonder sometimes if I had been spared for a reason, or if it was some incredible twist of luck that kept me alive, but left another dead.
So here's my story. I apologise that it isn't as funny or entertaining as the rest of the ones I see on this blog, but I do want people to know that people should be proud of their sons and boyfriends making it through NS in one piece - some weren't that fortunate. I should know. I was -this close- to being a statistic.
(Note: Mr Miyagi, I edited this from the original email I sent you for accuracy.)