Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Everyone knows someone like Recruit X. The fumbling soldier with two left (or is it two right? He never seems to be able to tell) feet, an amazing propensity to proverbially 'screw-up' any exercise or training session. Well, I knew one such Recruit X and boy was he a goner.
Most NSF post-1998 would know Tekong intimately. That sunny (read: damn bloody heat-stroke inducing hot) holiday resort just a ferry ride across from Changi Airport. Me, I was a trainee there and was eventually posted there (my first thought on receiving the posting was "Lord! Why has Thou forsaken me!!!"). However, I think the time I spent in Tekomg has provided me with some of the best Army stories ever to tell over a cup of tea or occasionally something stronger and darker :p
Having sidetracked enough, we come back to our good friend Recruit X. Now Recruit X had the unfortunate posting to the most garang of companies in BMTC2, with garang written into every sinew of the company’s ICs, right down to the Company Clerk. We were mean SOBs but we got results, and in the Army, that’s what counts. Recruit X was in one of the batches who had failed their fitness test in school and thus had the privilege of spending more time to get to know us SOBs.
Now, no one can blame him for being a tad like a klutz, but it was a tragic understatement. He marched with the usual gait suited to robots and R2D2 would have been an dancer when compared to Recruit X. Every drill session was a chore and I think it was safe to say his platoon probably hated him for dragging their sessions for longer than expected.
A whole string of screw-ups later, it was time for the great adventure for all Singapore boys – live-grenade exercise. Every possible precaution is taken for this, every SOP is read through and memorized by every officer, platoon sergeant, section leader, auxiliary instructor and medic. As Murphy’s Law will have it: 'Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.' In the SAF however, we take it one step further, we say anything that can go wrong will f**k up big time.
Recruit X had been primed and trained and whipped into shape, everyone knew the drill: "Pull pin, drop pin, throw grenade". That was drummed into him till he snored the drill in bed, nothing can go wrong right? WRONG!!!!!
He steps up to the throwing bay, the big concrete barrier that protects people INSIDE from any blast from the OUTSIDE of the bay. Our Recruit X saunters up confidently, the OIC stares at him, gives the order and away it goes "PULL PIN! DROP GRENADE! THROW PIN!"
In those dramatic Matrix scenes we are now so used to, the grenade makes a slo-mo drop to the ground INSIDE the bay. The OIC’s eyes go so wide his face disappears, his mouth screaming silently "NABE C*** B**!" before grabbing Recruit X and flinging him to the OUTSIDE of the bay in a drop roll and then said OIC leaps on top of him.
In that moment, everything slows down, you can hear your own heartbeat drumming away in you head. Your body tenses up like some mangled spring caught under a three-tonner. One one thousand, two one thousand, three, one thousand, four one thousand… nothing… no BOOM, no ARGHHH, no sound at all… is it over, has the explosion knocked out your hearing, have your corneas been torn by the blast waves, your back broken by the impact?
"NABE C*** B**!!!!!!" The dud had thrown a dud… the moral of the story is, if you're an officer or spec or instructor out there who thinks you're the most garang tough guy in the SAF, here's an experience that will still make you piss in your pants.
P.S. Pissing in your pants is as much a means of saving time as it is a natural reaction to fear. So dounch you go funny on me.
More battle-scar stories coming up soon :p