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I hope you'll find the change of pace fun...

There's a time-honored tradition in many professions of hazing the noobs.  While many times it can be taken to dark extremes, more often than not it's a play on their ignorance of the details surrounding their new job - and an impetus to get "snapped in" to reduce their vulnerability.  It's also a crude test of how well an individual is going to fit into a team.

This post isn't intended as a discussion of the utility of the practice. But, rather to highlight the funny ones.

Such as a favorite in mech units of having someone check the track pads for air leaks. The victim gets down close to the track while someone else is making a faint hissing noise.  What makes this amusing is that the rubber pads on armored vehicle tracks are solid, not air-filled.  They're there to reduce the wear on roads and track shoes (shoes being the steel links in a track). It was hours of fun for Privates, Sergeants and Lieutenants alike.  Hey, sometimes you take your fun where you can find it.  Okay, maybe not hours, either.  Minutes, anyway.

Of course, you need to watch what you do in such situations,because, well, revenge can be sweet.  As this story relates - be careful who you're messing with - and you better be able to take a joke, too.  And, "Military Intelligence" isn't always an oxymoron...

US M84 artillery primer.
 
When a 2LT, I was assigned as '2' [intel officer] for the 1-13th FA at Ft. Stewart. My other LT's welcomed me into the unit by advising me they had lost some 'high-angle primers.' A primer, for the 155 and 8" howitzers is about the size of a 12 gauge shell. There is no such thing as a 'high angle' primer. This, I did not know. Primers are sensitive ammunition items so I had to investigate. I was sent all over the post and back to the Bn CO who informed me of the joke. I asked if I could get 'even' and received permission.

A good friend of mine was a special agent for the FBI in Savannah. I told him of the joke and my plan, which he was in total agreement to participate. Anyway, the next day, the FBI showed up (with the CO's approval) to investigate the theft/loss. The LT's involved were called to meet with the agent. As the agent and the CO 'talked' in the CO's office, the LT's arrived and asked me if I told the CO 'primers' or 'high-angle primers.' I replied, "What's the difference?" At this point, they were called into the office...whereupon, one of the LT's actually fainted dead away...

Joke on the new LT: $20
Payback: Priceless...
 
So, tell us your stories of range line, left-handed smoke deflectors, etc!  All services, all eras.

32 Comments

Many moons ago (1974is) when I was a swabbie I was assigned to RVAW-110, the (then) E-2B training squadron at NAS North Island.  Along with sending newbies out for flight line and prop wash, one day the shop chief of the avionics shop sent a newbie out for an "ASH receiver."  This usually involved a full day of the newbie getting shuffled around the base only to be sent back with an ash tray at the end of the day.  This day, however, we all discovered that the E-2B was configured for a crash recorder designated ASH-20.  We still don't have any idea where the kid got one - they'd never been installed in the aircraft and no one had ever seen one.  The look on the chiefs face was priceless, though.
 
As a 'cruit 13B gun bunny, on my very first and very wet Graf, I was sent sludging through knee-high mud from M109 to M109 ..... looking for a bucket of mils.
 
my personal favorite was the sending of the newbie to the motor pool with chalk and a ball peen hammer in under to check the turrets for soft spots in the armor.  ding - ding - thunk, circle it in chalk and move on.  start them out on the HHC line, Battalion Commander's tank first.  get creative by using multiple colors of chalk for different sounding soft spots.

(in my basement i still have my award.  on heavily trumped up charges (each time), i was awarded the "Hook, Line, and Sinker Award" three consecutive times, thereby retiring the award.  i then had the duty of configuring the next generation of a similarly themed sceptre.)
 
So, Mike, how many dents did you leave in the Boss's panzer?
 
Ah, brings back memories!  My squad leader loved to make cherries jump up and down on the top of the M-113 to "check the supsension".  He once sent a kid to get a box of grid squares, well the kid goes and gets a map, cuts it up into squares and hand it to him.  The look on his face was priceless.
 

All sorts of these things on all the Navy ships, although I don't specifically remember any personally.  Send a newbie to the forward hold to get a Boatswain's punch (where he gets promptly slugged on the shoulder), send one to find sound-powered phone batteries, a tube of relative bearing grease (although I heard another sea-story where one guy went UA for months, and when they caught him, he actually had it; not sure if it was brand name of grease or what).

In the early 90's the Navy started painting the "bullseyes" in each space with glow-in-dark paint, giving the exact location by frame numbers and use of each space for damage control communications.  The Virginia being a nuclear powered cruiser, young seamen would be sent to the engine room for radioactive material to make more glow-in-dark paint.

The best one I heard was crossing under the Bridge of the Americas over the western side of the Panama Canal.  Standing on the fantail, you SWEAR the mast will hit the bridge until it actually goes under.  So the story goes, the newbie is wearing the sound-powered phones around his neck, and when the call comes, he's to crank on a hose reel on the bulkhead to "lower the mast."  At the last second, he's told it is broken, takes off running, only to be dropped on his rear by reaching the end of the phone cable.

Hmmm..  wonder why I always remember the good times, and never having to get up at 2am to stand watch in the cold or fix the launcher?  Or being forced to paint in the rain?

 
OMG where to begin? TOW missile fuel ... headlight fluid ... a box full of RK1s ....?  I know!
Sending a boot to the COMM shack to get a case of batteries.  "Bravo alpha eleven hundred novembers" I told him.  Remember all batteries were designated BA somthing, BA33s were a 'D' cell as I remember. Well, when he got to the COMM shack they informed him they were fresh out of "BA1100Ns".
SEMPER FI
 
i never dinged his turret, but one time (when performing OC duties on an exercise) i was in use of his personal jeep, and did in fact fling an arty simulator over the top of the windshield where it encountered the criss-crossed white engineer tape and did a Roadrunner/Coyote "twang", right back onto the hood at the base of the windshield.  throwing it in reverse and mashing the gas only caused the simulator to roll over to the point where the fuzing lodged it on a tie down point.  the blast frosted the windshield and dented the air cleaner....

of course the charges were GREATLY exagerated in order to make it my third consecutive award, and it only got better when the company commander reading the charges had to stop mid-sentence to chug his beer for mispronouncing my name.
 
Spent some time on an Amphib, an LPD.  These boats have a well deck, and after ballasting down, they open the stern gate inorder to deploy Marines and their gear (rigid raider craft in this case).  We had some Middies on board, and one spent an entire day being shuffled arount the ship in search of the stern gate key so Deck division would be prepared for well deck ops that night.
The beauty of it was, some enterprising HTs had actually made a "key", welded up out of steel rod, complete with a very official looking log book.  After siging for the key, the dupe was informed that he was personally responsible for this essential, and coincidentally very heavy and bulky bit of gear, and could not let it out of his possession for any reason.
The look on the Mid's face when he showed up on the messdecks that evening, to the delight of almost the entire crew, was priceless.  Certainly took him down a few pegs, and this particular kid needed it.
 
Well, just got back from Iraq (round 2 this time in Mosul) to read this. To Greg: back when I was BC of B 1-163 FA (76 IBCT, INARNG) one of my senior FDC E4s (would've been the FDC Chief if he could've lost some weight and passed APFT) took some old worn out mylar firing chart (1:25,000 map grid with no map on it, essentially) and cut it up into grid sections and put it in a small box. We thought it was comical. But the best was when we got the new LT with the "Boom Check." You see, like the turret armor check on a tank, any cannon, tank or artillery, has to be TI'd (Technical Inspection) for wear and barrel fatigue, right? So you get the unsuspecting/trusting new butterbar to yell "boom" into the breach, and some sharp E4 listens for anomalies. Now, if you really want to freak someone out, carry along a spare hat with the right rank on it and induct them into the "Order of the E-Tool." When I was in ROTC at Purdue, we had the Navy ROTC (mostly Marine option and guys looking to go SEAL) guys act as OPFOR on FTXs to Ft. Knox. Our Cadet Battalion Cdr, who later wento on to become one of the first three female Apache drivers, was the unsuspecting quarry. They had her get on her knees, took her hat off, blindfolded her, gave her an E-Tool that was in the "L" position, that you could use like a hoe, and told her to start chopping. When she got done, they took the blindfold off, and she looks down to see what she thinks is her hat all chopped up by the E-Tool and her own handiwork. Of course, once the intended effect has evidenced itself, they hand her back her real hat unmolested. Now, go to the supply and get me a T-R Double E and a bucket of rotor wash.
 
As a boot, I never caught any of the snipe runs, but I do remember some that others got sent on.

Sling for the 106mm Recoilless Rifle.
Can of back blast for the Dragon.
Frequency grease for the radios.

And a fav at Camp Lejeune, sending boots to the shoreline to stand watch for Russian GU11 amphib fliers.

Oh, and there was the short range secure communication device, the ST1.
 
Heh. While we're on the subject of chart paper... anybody got any?  I've got a complete plotting seet, plus a plotting table... but no chart paper.  I wanna set up a display for the Arsenal on Chart's n' Darts and need some chart paper!
 
Having been a security specialist in the AF, I was stationed at Howard AFB in Panama. They got me with a couple of them. First one, I didn’t fall for. I was guard on a C-5 (higher priority overseas back then) and at changeover, they asked me if I turned over the keys to the plane. Second one, they have red rope that goes around the restricted areas. This rope is held up by round black rubber “donuts”. They said that I had to walk around the area and count all the donuts and call it in. I didn’t believe them, but did it anyway. 418 donuts were out there that night. The last one I got caught hook, line and sinker. They sent me to the control center to get 100 ft of flight line. For some reason I wasn’t thinking that day, and thought they were talking about the red rope for the restricted areas. Wrong. Flt Chief looked at me and shook his head.
 
I only heard about this one second hand, but they used to tell new tankers that they had to taste the grease before using it.  If it didn't taste salty, it was no good.

So, as all the NCOs quickly and quietly vacate the area, the CO asks the new Marine, "Lance Corporal, what the hell are you doing?"  The LCpl, around a mouth full of grease, replies, "Sir, this grease is no damn good!"
 
Remembering the good ol' days, I thought of another we would pull.  Any moving equipment on a ship has to have a "danger circle" around it which is 18 inches beyond its furthest extension.  The MK26 Launcher also utilizes a closed circuit TV camera, with the monitor inside the control center, and a bell to let folks know the system may be moving.  We would tell people about the force field generator inside the above-deck components, and the danger circle marked where the force field deployed.  If you broke the field, the bell would ring.  The topside safety observer would call below to "engage the forcefield," where the operator would monitor the camera and manually ring the bell at appropriate times.

It was quite amusing to see people, espcially the young Officers fresh from Annapolis, almost literally doing the Hokey Pokey around the danger circle.
 
My Pop was an AF radar man.  One of the first to *see* the SR-71 on a radar screen, only to be told, "No, Sgt., you didn't see a d@mn thing."  One of his favorite tricks to pull on any new SP assigned to guard the radar perimeter was to send him looking for Sky Hooks to hold the flight line.  He even took that joke to the civilian world when he sent a family friend to town (5 miles down the road) to the local gas station to get his Sky Hooks back so he could keep the fence posts he'd just set in cement upright and plumb.  He then proceeded to call the gas station while she was enroute to tell the owner (a good friend) about the joke and encourage him to "have fun".  She came back 2 hours (and a good 50+ miles added to her odometer) later remorsefully empty-handed to inform him that his Sky Hooks had fallen in the river while holding up the bridge during a recent repair.  She was ready to go out and buy him a new pair, too.  But, my Mom couldn't keep a straight face any longer and finally blurted out the truth.
0>;~}
 
Everyone else has covered most of the classics.  We'd send NUGs to go find us 50 feet of gig line, or some such, but I can't believe that guys in the sandbox these days aren't having the newbies standing 360 security over the Xbox or something.
 
We used to send Newbies looking for the One Delta Ten Tango kit.  End of Day somebody would give them a ammo can full of rocks with 1D10T stenciled on the side.
 
 
How about being sent to see the 1SG for a PRC - E8..... a prick e 8
 
It is precisely because of dat M82 Primer, that I found this here Castle.  Back when I was in the "game"  I required a batch of them for some client of ours; and upon doing a quick Google search.  This Mr. Donovan-something-or-other came up.  I was hooked from that moment on.

Dammed M82!
 
Ah yes... in the MI (SIGINT) field we'd send people out for (non-PC warning) EMHO Reports,  or have them make up ID-10-T cards, or get a bucket of LOBs. I got caught by the EMHO report one... 

You always kept your headgear on your person or you'd find that some of your co-workers would take your soft cap, ball it up, staple it a few dozen times, put it in a styrofoam cup with water, and then stick it into the freezer one of the sections had for some specialized supplies.

Or they'd take an inkpad refill and ink your phone headset, or the bottom of a drawer you accessed frequently.

The best one (which I also got caught by) was classified though... so I'm not telling! 

 
Track pad air leaks reminds me of the 'Exhaust Samples'.

Army:  Remember the oil samples you'd have to collect from vehicles? (Army oil analysis program)  I was in the maintenance office one day when a new joe walked in with an inflated trash bag. He wanted to know where to turn in his track's exhaust sample?
 
In 1993, our Motor Sgt. sent a kid fresh from Air Defense School to supply to get "Five yards of Flight line and a can of Blnker Fluid"

Two hours later, the kid comes back....

Five one-yard bags of redi-mix concrete and a bunch of re-bar pieces piled into the back of  Maintenance Warrant's CUCV.

The Chief responded by sending one of the Launcher drivers out  get a box of muffler bearings.
 
Flying with a brand new incountry Peter Pilot anywhere north of Quang Tri, simply keying the mic and asking.........."What's a MIG look like"......was usually good for a chuckle.

Mess Hall bread rolled up in a ball and tucked in the lower end of the Pilot's relief tube on a CH-47 tended to bring out the worst in a Pilot, old or new, for some reason.........

On a CH-47, the FE looked down through the hook hole and directed the pilot when hooking and unhooking........New Pilots always seemed surprised when they got *sooo* much better the second day,,,,,,,,,,
 
I love thes types of yarn spinners...

My favorite when I was a ball busting assitant Platoon sergeant, all the new butterbars we received in our Armor platoon got the "tour" of the motor pool. This included the all important field-expedient  Tank Commander briefing... most importantly of which included how as a TC to keep track of your turret rotations.

You see, Tank turrents are screwed on with a threaded screw action, you have exactly 8 turns counter-clockwise before it screws down too tight to the hull and requires the wrench heads to come un-screw you with the M-88 , or 8 turns clockwise before the damned thing unscrews and falls off.
Somewhere out there today, some 20+ years later, I can just imagine some brasshole still in active duty leaving tick marks on the sides of his cupola to keep track of his turret rotation count.

The other we used for the newbie E-1's and E-2's fresh from Knox is to send them to the motorpool mechanic shop to requisition a left-handed "Little Joe" (non-tanker definition, big ass 4' long/50lb  wrench to tighten track tension) because the Company Commander was left handed, and highly advised them if they knew what was good for them, to not come back without one before we were Oscar Mike, they always managed to find one though.

Summerize/winterize the FRH fluid in the firing system, boxes of sight reticles, keys to the impact zone, laser lube for the range finders.. ahh good times.
 
OlafTheTanker,  thanks much!!  That explains how I lost my turret!!  Even Top was laughing so much I couldn't get an explanation.
 
I was at HSL-94 at willow grove,PA with Kaman SH-2's. right next to us was MAG-49 with CH-53's and A-4's we used to send newbies over there for a special "gunny's punch"..or up to the P-3 squadrons for buckets of prop wash..testing the "front seat to back seat backup communication system" by yelling into it (the relief tubes under the seats). "go to supply and get us a Navy GU-11...the air force version B1-RD would work as a suitable substitute."




 
While on the Rifle Range get the "newbie" to fetch the "Brass Magnet" so as to pick up all the spent casings.

Or, send the poor soul to fetch the Blank Firing Attachment for the Carl Gustav anti-tank weapon.

But, my favorite is when out in the field with a vehicle with dual radio mounts give the newbie a 48" fluorescent light tube and tell him to "degauss" the antenna.  When he gets up there and holds the light horizontally between the antennas just hit the transmit switch......priceless.
 
We used to send newbies to the Prop and Rotor repair shop for a gallon of rotorwash.

They'd invariably come back with, "Sergeant Minch wants to know if it's for the red blade or the white blade."

* * * * * * * * * * * *
"Go get 500' of flightline."

"The leading edges on the tail rotor are too dull -- go see SGT Minch and get the blade sharpener."

"Go to the Night Vision Goggle locker and get a tube of photons."

"The helicopter's going to be too heavy with those two extra pax on board -- go into K-1 (the bulk liquids supply room) and get a spray can of gravity repellent."

Alternatively -- "...go into K-1 and get a gallon of lift."

"We're going to fly with the doors off -- go see SGT Minch for the airflow retention strap."

"The retaining bolts are loose -- go get five pounds of torque."

Yeah, good times...
 
With all these Devil Dogs showing up - we either ended up on a discussion board somewhere or I misunderestimated our readership profile!

Lloyd - looking at the Castle's Carl Gustaf - the blank adaptor for that would be pretty impressive.

Both of them.
 
I was on the War Pig (USS Virginia) also. We would send middies for the keys to the helo hanger, Tubes, Fallopian, Female, one pair each,  a bucket of steam (which the snipes actually sent back a bucket with the lid welded on and a spigot) trons, elect type II. One Sunday, in the Med, we had one on the mail buoy watch, equipped with sound powered phones, a walkie talkie, binoculars, a life jacket, foul weather gear, and a gaff hook. We didn't expect the Old Man to be up then but he strolled out on the bridge and saw the young middie. He asked what circuit he was, picked up the 1JL and told the young'un that he was expecting a letter from his wife, look sharp. Then the CO turned to the OOD and said "Tell him it was cancelled due to weather" in a half hour.
 
Two things from Stuttgart Army Airfield in the mid 80s stand out in my memory.

The first was when the crew chief used RTV silicon to mount a cut bolt with a fiber locknut on both sides of an OV-1D Mohawk's propeller. Had the hand drill there on the cart and a supply of (uncut) bolts and nuts. Told the rookie pilot that it was a field expedient technique used to balance the prop and minimize vibration until the plane could be sent in for phase maintenance..

The pilot bought it and we had to distract him during the rest of the preflight to allow said crew chief time to remove the trick. The pilot had a real strange look during postflight checks when he could not find the balance bolt and all the prop blades were still pristine and undrilled.


Second bit of foolishness was during a Canine-Equine Exhibition:
We had a group of the local Military Community High School Jr ROTC come by for their field trip. One particularly obnoxious cadet major ( why do gold oak leaves bring out the jerk in some people?) .. Anyway this little kid, maybe a HS sophomore at the outside, was expecting salutes on the flightline, proper military deference to his highschool rank, and was trying to lord over the active duty SP4s, Sp5s and crusty old SSGs that were playing tour guides and presenters.

When he got to our bird, we wove high tails of mystery and imagination, turning the drop tanks into practice bombs for the tactical nukes, the IRCM pod into an experimental airborne laser targeting system, pitot tubes into gun barrels, and the 12 foot Radar boom into a Cruise Missile launcher, and being that we were an MI unit had to swear him to secrecy..

I wonder when/if he ever learned the truth