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TINS!* A Dissertation on Time Dilation

A while back, John mentioned that getting shot in the body armor while he was wearing it *hurt* and left a mark, then on Saturday, CPT Sin City admitted to having gotten a whack to the IBA while he was wearing it which *hurt* and left a mark, and now John does a post on testing body armor while you’re wearing it.

I can take a hint.

Brab and BCR have heard the story before, so don’t either of you jump into the middle and spoil it, ho-kay?

First, some background. Helicopter pilots in RVN wore a chunk of personal protection we called a “chicken plate” – a 35-pound slab of ceramic laminate armor epoxied to a piece of quarter-inch high carbon steel. It was inserted into a ballistic nylon vest which was then strapped over said aviator’s torso, providing penetration protection from small arms fire for the area from just below the top of the sternum to just above the belt buckle, and extended sidewards to cover the front part of the rib cage.

Which is the reason most helicopter pilots got hit in the extremities – hands, arms, feet, legs, neck, and head – rather than the torso.

Bear that in mind.

Attached to the center of the nylon vest was a small pocket for grease pencils, CEOIs, cigarettes, lighters, pens, etc. The pocket was known as the “kangaroo pouch.”

Bear that in mind, too.



I was flying lead into a rice paddy LZ west of Sa Dec during the dry season, and was just starting to flare prior to touchdown. The rotorwash picked up a straw mat about ten feet from Hubert’s nose and sent it flipping through the dirt and weeds.

When the VC occupied a spider hole, they’d pull a straw mat over the hole as camouflage. A straw mat meant an occupied spider hole. The occupant would raise his head, covered by the mat, just above the lip of the hole and watch for friendlies – when they were within range, he’d pop up and shoot.

Guess who I was eye-to-eye with when the straw mat went tumbling.

I had my hands full of flight controls, and he had his hands full of 7.62mm bullet-launcher.

Ever have one of those days when you sorta debate the wisdom of having gotten out of bed that morning?

He brought his SKS up and over the lip of the hole and proceeded to level it Right. At. Me.

Cue Time Dilation.

I watched him aim and start to squeeeeeeeze the trigger. I could have unstrapped from my seat, unplugged my helmet, climbed outside and strolled about ten feet from the helicopter, lit up a Camel (unfiltered, of course), smoked it to a stub, field-stripped the butt and flicked the paper wad into the weeds, strolled back to the ship, climbed in, strapped in, plugged my helmet in, snugged my lap belt, and tested the inertia reel for the shoulder straps.

That’s how long it seemed.

Actual time from trigger squeeze to me being hit in the chest by a sledgehammer and knocked off the controls was probably a second.

[can’t breathe…]

When my eyes refocused, I saw a hole in the windshield and my assailant frantically trying to work the bolt to chamber

[can’t *breathe*…]

another round. “Idiot hasn’t been cleaning it,” thought I.

[!!!can’t breathe!!!]

Then I felt it. A wet, stinging in my groin. Oh, geez, no, no


oh, hell, I’ve been shot in the

[*wheeeeze!-hoooooooooooooo!* ]

worst possible place, oh, geez…

Okay, at one time or another you’ve all experienced the feeling – you don’t wanna look, but you *have* to look, but you don’t wanna look, but you *have* to look.

I didn't want to look, I didn't want to look, I didn't want to look.

I had to look...

Dark, wet, stinging stain between my legs, and – a wet stain running down the front of my chicken plate.

Remember the kangaroo pouch? I had recently bought a Vue-Lighter – a lighter with a clear plastic reservoir for the fluid – ‘cuz the PX was sold out of Zippos, and I had just topped it off that morning. I now owned *shards* of a Vue-Lighter.

I was ecstatic to discover my crotch was soaked in lighter fluid...

The guy in the spider hole? He must have been pretty regretful that he’d neglected his rifle – at least, for the few seconds it took the crewchief to lean out with his M-16, which he *had* cleaned.

Oh, yeah. Remember the first paragraph? I had a bruise the size of a deflated football in the middle of my chest for a week.

And it took half a bar of soap to scrub the lighter fluid off.

A couple of the guys opined that I was spending entirely too much time sudsing up than was absolutely necessary, though.


Unsympathetic guttersnipes, all of ‘em…


Flying is dangerous.  The Auld Soldier was out tootling the airways in the Republic of Vietnam when some person unappreciative of the presence of aviators (because I'm sure he wasn't annoyed with the Auld Soldier) started banging away.  One of them hit the Auld Soldier's body armor, penetrated, and the remnants defaced the Auld Soldier's integument, hit a rib, and rambled along the rib for a while before getting tired enough to call it a day.

And, IIRC, that wasn't the Auld Soldier's last Purple Heart during that tour, either.
Closest I came to getting a PH was when I couldn't get the bleeding stopped one night, and I thought I might need stitches. That's when the crew chief told me about the safety pins in the survival kit...
ouch... and then some.
Relax, Twin. They were *small* safety pins.
Those little brass ones for the ace bandages, right?  Cuties.

wow... I am sure Carborundum lost half of his feathers that day...

Who d'you think was gumming up the bolt on the SKS?
Nup -- ground troopies recovered it and said it looked like he'd just left it in the spider hole for about two months, with one in the spout, and had just draped a rice bag over it to keep the mud off.

Bolt was rusted solid in the receiver. They said it was amazing he'd gotten *one* shot off.

So, the moral of the story is, "Leave the fighting to the professionals. And don't keep your lighter in your kangaroo pouch."
I like my version better.

"...and when the troopies recovered the SKS, the bolt face was stuck to the chamber, full of feathers and bubblegum, and smelling faintly of bad bourbon and creme de menthe."
There!  See?  Was that so hard?

;^ )
I'll answer that when one of the Denizennes asks it.
I'm sure that there after, those were the lightest 35-Pounds ever carried by a man.
With the steel plate, it weighed forty pounds.

Didn't bother me, but I've got some chucklesome anecdotes about *others* who opined differently.

Especially the Advisor, who dropped it on his foot. Instead of lifting him to a mud fort for its grand opening, I medevaced him for a busted instep.
so..... was it, Bill?
Creme de Menthe?  You got me confused with one of the cherubim you see during one of your epic benders.  Yeah, Charlie left the bang-stick in the spider hole but *I* was the one that arranged for the original oilcloth wrapping to be chewed by rodents and the subsequent mud-wallowing by a small but energetic pig.  You're welcome.
Gee, Sis, it depends on whether you're defining *hard* as "difficult" or "durable"...

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You got me confused with one of the cherubim you see during one of your epic benders.

No, I was referring to a previous comment I had made concerning your peculiar idea of R&R after the fifth time I got shot down.

You decided *fifth* was an omen and proceeded to grab -- and guzzle -- every one of 'em within reach.

[Gratuitous educational aside to the youngsters: booze used to be measured in fifths of a gallon, rather than triple-digit milliliters.] [Further blog-ucational aside for newbies to the Castle. Carborundum is Bill's Guardian Angel, the only reason there *is* a Bill, given his arrant disregard for his own safety]