War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

Shilo – Day Three

up and out by 07:00. driven by Cpl. down to biv (as in bivouac) to meet up with Charlie Company. breakfast slammed down, put on my PP & E (personal protection equipment), my flak vest, ballistic goggles, and helmet and scrambled into a LAV to spend the day on the shooting range.

actually, I had help putting on my helmet. a 6’5” shaved-head MCpl. with fantastic “kiss my ass death” art tattooed all over his knuckles, forearms etc., helped me on with my helmet. what a girl thing to do to let him, but I did. he was the crew commander and we were setting out fast. the army has a thing about waiting waiting waiting then boom, it’s ready to roll. right now. I’m a quick study. I crawled through the belly of the LAV, up through the roof to the gunner’s hatch where I slid in up to my chest. just my arms, shoulders and head popping through for the ride down rutted roads, out into open prairie to the firing range.

sunrise over the prairie. a long line of LAVs ahead creating a dust storm. my teeth gritty. a preview maybe of Afghanistan? MCpl. and I chat over the radio, he in the commander’s position beside me. answering my billion questions. patient. polite. until we roll into the range. I get out and find Lt. and Srgt.—both welcoming— and am invited to come along for the STAB runs. the LAVs are going to be moving and shooting at targets. big noise. action. the Lt. and I in a LAV between two shooting LAVs. me in gunner position, Lt. in commander.

the young guys in the bottom of the Lt’s LAV pour me coffee, show me their stash of food. they are seriously organized for maximum comfort. grilled cheese sandwiches, rations, treats. I’ve lucked out I realize as I climb up into the gunner’s position again.

after one or two runs I think, ya, that’s enough. I get it. as we roar through the prairie, up and down hills, the LAVs to the left and right shooting at targets. big thud. big boom. big rata tat tat. but then something hooks. I don’t know what. maybe the combination of the beautiful day, the wind the sun just right, the prairie so beautiful. or maybe the flags on the LAVs—red for danger, firing live ammo, green for safety, or black and white checkered signifying the Lt. and Srg. who are running the exercise—that look so damned beautiful flapping against the big blue sky and I think of Agincourt and our Canadians making their way up the spine of Italy in WWII, and the combination of prairie grasses, diesel and spent ammo, mix into something timeless. and suddenly I get it.

instead of a few STAB runs, I spend the entire day bouncing across the Canadian prairie. I leave my position only once to grab coffee. eat only an apple and cookies. don’t want anything else but the sun and wind of mid-October which leaves a warm flush on my skin and a tired body. for when I get home.

note on these postings… they’re done when I’m dead tired, thus the typos, grammatical errors etc…


1 Comment (Closed)

Poppy Steele

I feel like i’m right there with you. Be safe, be well
Love your sis

Oct 19 2008 · 11:56

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled Shilo – Day Three. It was posted here on October 19, 2008.

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