Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sea Stories - Guess the Story

I know I haven't posted many sea stories - only the cockroaches so far, actually. But here's a quick an easy post that should be fun. The marine in this photo is then-LCpl Melang. He is in Saudi Arabia in the middle of the desert doing something. Your part is to guess what it might be. Right or wrong, I'm looking for humor - so a good guess is a funny one. After the weekend I'll update this post with the true story behind this photo.

Edit 4/2/07:

Here are the good humor awards:

We have some potential foodstuffs here. Transposer from Blogster speculated on the possibility for this to be a white lightning distillery to curse the bad guys while Irishkungerod from Xanga speculated that he was churning butter.

There was also speculation that there were profits to made out there. BroinJC from Xanga considered that loose change could be found buried somewhere out there.

Kymmeigh at Xanga came up with my favorite. She wondered if perhaps Melang wasn’t sweeping the desert. This would be on par with some of the endearingly asinine orders passed down from much higher up the chain of command. I could hear some brown-nosed junior officer comment, “There’s entirely too much sand in this desert! We need to clean it up before the General’s inspection.” (I’m sure the Colonel doesn’t have this problem.) Of course, by the time it would get to a junior NCO, like I was, overseeing the operation, I would have to make the comment just for GP, “Hey, Melang! What’s your stinkin’ problem!?! You missed a spot right over there! …and there! …and there!”

Of course, those of you who guessed that Melang was burning poo guessed correctly. We had portable open-air 4-holers. We dug a hole next to ours for urine because urine doesn’t burn very well. We would designate two holes for use for two days. Every other day we would burn the two receptacles (we called them “honey pots”) we had been using as well as the pit using “mogas”, which I was told was a mixture of diesel and regular fuel. The burning waste was stirred with a spare tent pole. We would also burn our trash because we had no regular trash pickup. Then we would put lime in the bottom and let them mellow for the next two days while we used the other two holes.

Here’s the story. In the photo you will notice a mound of sand and a shovel on the right. This is from the hole dug for the purposes of burning the trash. After it was burned, we would fill the hole back in and cover the ashes.

We had built the camp and established the camp guard. For some logistical reason it was determined that the cooks would have their own camp outside of the main camp. For chow, they would load up a hummer and come into the camp to serve it in an area designated for this purpose. They always had extra and would offer it to our guards as they departed. We stocked this extra food and would snack on it or trade it at the gate with the drivers of supply trucks for additional supplies. We traded some to the Seabees for building supplies and built furniture (tables, chairs, shelves, etc) and floors for the hooches. We also dug a refrigeration hole in one of the hooches and were able to keep some foodstuffs relatively cool. Someone had eaten a sandwich and considered the bread to be old. The last few slices of the loaf ended up in the trash.

We had a Sergeant (not me – I was a Corporal at the time) who had always seemed like pretty stable guy. However, you never know who’s going to snap. He came by the burn site while the trash and honey pots were burning and noticed the bread that someone had thrown away. The flames had not yet risen to the point where the bread was to be burned.

“Hey! Someone threw away some perfectly good bread!” he exclaimed. He went up to Melang and grabbed the stir stick. Now the end of the stick had a long metal tip for the grommets on the canvas panels of the hooch. The Sergeant used this metal tip to spear the bread and hold it over the fire to toast it. When it was done, he plucked the bread off the stick and ate it. Of course we asked him how he could eat poo. “It’s burning. It’s sanitized,” he said.

With our extensive food pantry, we had to fend off the desert mice. These mice had a tuft of fur on the end of their tails. Every last one of us had a throwable knife and were itching for practice. Every time a mouse entered the hooch we had to watch our feet because knives would follow the mouse along the ground. Outside, we had designated a burial area and made a small sign marking the resting place of our “confirmed kills”.

On a more reflective note:

We were requisition experts. Aside from trading at the gates, we had learned to play the system and had set the camp up with a couple of TV/VCRs. Some had their VHS collections sent and we would have movie night not unlike what you might have seen on MASH. We had made an antenna out of com wire, but the only thing we could pick up way out in the middle of the desert was CNN. Go figure. We had also managed to land ourselves a field laundry and shower tent complete with a water purification system and holding bladder. Going out to the shower, we wore flip-flops. This kept the spread of fungus and other transferable foot maladies to a minimum. The problem was once one stepped outside the shower tent and trudged back through the sand to the hooch, one’s feet were covered in sand necessitating the final washing of one’s feet at the hooch in the little foot tubs we had bathed out of before.

5 Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
6 So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?"

7 Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter."

8 Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me."

9 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head."

10 Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean;

(From John 13)

For Christians, it doesn’t matter how good we are in this fallen world. We cannot become perfectly clean because we still live here. We are dependent on Christ to make us clean.

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