War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

Day Five

last night, a few hours with a young Duty Officer in the TOCC (the command centre… forgive me soldiers for not having my acronyms down just yet) drawing me org. charts for the battalion, breaking it down to the platoon level. now I know what a 9er is (the Commanding Officer), a 69er (six niner) – the OC of Recce, a 59er – Ops OC, a 9A (DCO) also a 2IC, a 49er etc. etc… well actually, I don’t have it memorized, but at least when I hear their call signs on the radios in the LAVs or GWagons, I at least have a clue as to who they might be…I think.

sometime around 23:30 I get escorted to my biv at Admin. Ops. by their 2IC (or is he an 81C? I guess I don’t have it down)…anyway, some nice Warrant Officer (or was he the RSM? no I really don’t have it down… forgive me soldiers) walks me to my tent to meet my roommates for the night. he opens the door and 15 men look up from the widescreen t.v. they’re clustered around and stare at me. I say, “hi guys, I’m your roomie for the night,” a few sort of laugh and then they go back to the boxing match they’re watching on the satellite station. Cpl., my guide, my pal who has been driving me all week, gets a couple of guys and they all slap together an army cot, sleeping bag and mattress and find me a cosy spot in the back of the tent. they’re concerned the noise of the fight will bother me, but I tell them that when I walked across Spain, I slept one night with 140 snoring people and I was flexible. I cosied in and had a comfy night.

in the morning, coffee was brewed. a gentle wakeup. I’ve discovered that these guys are the ones to hang with. coffee pot, fridge, warm tent, you name it. and easy going roomies too. lots of nice laughs.

breakfast in the mess tent, and a tour of the Maintainers, or the EME (electrical mechanical engineers). heros that work at the front lines repairing anything. and I mean anything. there’s a young guy there that was sewing flags. a true jack of all trades, he’s a welder, a carpenter, a mechanic… one of those guys who you bring a broken watch band to and he’ll make a new screw to fix it.

a couple of the Maintainers have served in Afghanistan. it’s unimaginable the conditions they work in—under fire fixing broken down LAVs… you name it. and they love their jobs. their OC the kind of guy who lets his men have independence but also asks for high standards.

at 11:00, I accompanied a Maj., his Sergeant Major, and the Maj.‘s young signaller and clerk to the field to watch battle readiness training. hard rations—my first. I pulled some chicken number. traded a fig bar for peach and blueberry cobbler. spread cheese substance over bread substance. US rations. not bad actually. not good either, but really not bad.

then the exercise began. advance. search. secure. wave after wave of young men through the prairie grass teaching their bodies/their muscles to remember what to do when the real thing comes. us jumping in the Maj’s LAV to follow each platoon. then jumping out and running after them. back and forth all afternoon in the bright sun. the sky brilliant. watching the men preparing for what is to come.

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled Day Five. It was posted here on October 21, 2008.


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