Regardless of my punishment and new job in charge of vehicle maintenance, I intended to mentor Dave. Considering Dave and C.J. now wanted to kill each other, I felt it was my obligation to play peacemaker. C.J. was in a different squad than Dave and I. He was attached to H.H.C. squad and worked directly under Sgt. Gleason. The two worked very well with each other. Sgt. Gleason was a “get shit done” type of N.C.O. and expected things done in a specific “dress right dress” type of way. C.J. was more of a “give me the mission and let me achieve it my way” type of soldier. Their relationship started as a constant battle then grew into a mutual trust. Ultimately, Sgt. Gleason let C.J. prove “his style” while still maintaining the disciplined order he desired. Sgt. Gleason was responsible for the maintenance of medical records for the entire Battalion. C.J. taught C.P.R. to the entire Battalion including the Medic platoon. Sgt. Gleason ran the field mobile Battalion Aid Station and C.J. treated the sick and wounded under his direction. Both men worked directly under our P.A., Lt. Bromund.
This N.T.C. rotation was extremely chaotic for me. We brought our own vehicles and equipment to California every rotation which required a lot of attention to detail. The Alpha company M113 had to be stocked with enough medical supplies to last a month in the field. The P.M.C.S. (Preventive Maintenance Check and Service) that I performed the week before we deployed found all kinds of problems that had been ignored. My gut told me the younger soldiers who were in charge of the vehicle before me were just coming to the Motor Pool and pretending to do maintenance while looking at porn magazines and playing cards. The worn out “Juggz” magazine and faded card deck on the drivers seat clued me in. Sgt. Walker, a Ranger at heart, didn’t want to be bothered with track vehicles.
Once the vehicle was stocked and serviced I had to load it on the railhead. Everything travels by rail, except for soldiers, to N.T.C.. Once we arrived in the Mojave Desert, I unloaded the vehicle and cleaned up the supplies that had spilled everywhere. As the newly appointed “vehicle supervisor” I had forgot rule number one of loading for railhead: lock everything down. The whole process of inventory, stocking, servicing, loading, unloading, restocking and re inventory took several 16 hour days. When we finally made it to our staging area in the field I was completely exhausted.
All field training exercises are basically structured the same. We practiced patrols and maneuvers both during the day and at night. Medics, in the mornings, would hold a company sick call for anyone who felt ill or was injured. We would evacuate soldiers by M113, as needed, to the Battalion Aid Station where Lt. Bromund, Sgt. Gleason and C.J. would assess patients further. The B.A.S. was always placed away from the front line for safety precautions. After sick call we go man to man throughout the company to assess our soldiers. “If they don’t trust you they won’t talk to you”, Sgt. Walker would repeatedly say to me. Everyone wore M.I.L.E.S. (Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System) equipment at all times. OPFOR (Opposing Force) soldiers would raid, ambush, attack and engage us throughout the day. If we had been shot or bombed by planes our M.I.L.E.S equipment would beep. Medics would then treat the fake wounded, triage them and evacuate using real time techniques and protocol.
On our first field assessment walk about this rotation, Sgt. Moreno informed me that he expected me to introduce him to the men of Alpha Company. I didn’t think it should be me doing the introductions and voiced my concerns about his choice. He interrupted me by making me do push ups while reciting the chain of command. I was unable to objectively gauge my sincere dislike of the man. Was I being prideful and unfair? Was he trying to use me to gain confidence of the men in his command? Was he a fucking pussy hiding behind his rank? I was leaning towards the latter.
As we went from man to man throughout Alpha Company the men all had questions for me. Uninterested in their new Senior Medic Sgt. Moreno, they wanted to know where their Ranger Doc was. I found it odd that they held such affection for Sgt. Walker since he never showed them any preference. Ultimately, after much thought about it, i decided that these men loved their “Doc” in the purest and simplest of ways. They served in combat with him and knew he would fight not only for them but with them. I taught them basic life saving skills and they trusted my knowledge. However, I wasn’t their Doc. Sgt. Moreno was even lower to them. One soldier showed his thoughts by blatantly asking him, “Are you the guy who threw (TwistedMedic) under the bus to Spineless Puddin?” Before Sgt. Moreno could answer him the soldier turned and walked away. There is a code amongst warriors. Sgt. Moreno violated their code.
The rest of the deployment went smooth. No one was killed. As a reward for our efforts the Battalion Commander gave us one night off before we flew home. We had to stay in uniform and couldn’t leave the base. Ft. Irwin has a bowling alley and an Enlisted men’s Club. Dave, myself and a few other medics decided to head to the “E club” for a few beers. All E clubs are basically the same: off duty soldiers drinking in small groups that don’t mingle with each other.
A female from another group took interest in Dave. She let him know by a note she scribbled on a napkin. He ignored it and threw it away. The time I spent with Dave awarded me some insight into who he was “as a man”. Dave married a white woman and was pushed out of his Tribe for doing so. He joined the Army to start a new life for the two of them. Outside of a small amount of money that he lived on, he sent his paychecks home to her. He was waiting patiently for the base housing paperwork to be approved so she could move to Ft. Benning.
The female obviously had been over served at the bar and didn’t catch the hint that Dave wasn’t interested. She approached our table alone asking Dave if she could speak to him. He simply replied, “no”. Still not catching on, she began to touch Dave’s shoulders and neck while explaining how she just wanted to talk. Dave turned to face her while sitting and said loudly, ” Get the fuck away from me”. That’s all it took.
Her table of men and women approached Dave in a threatening manner causing our table to stand and position ourselves for fighting. The bouncer saw this and asked us all to leave. Once outside, it became a full out brawl. The female and a male friend tried to jump on Dave at the same time. Dave dropped the male immediately by punching him in his sternum. He now held the female, who was flailing about like a fish out of water, in a bear hug. The second and third males jumped on me. Unbeknownst to me, this was a family. Two brothers were regular Army and the female, Dave’s friend, was their sister.
They had both been drinking heavily all day and I took advantage of their slowed reaction times. As I stood up from the punishment I handed out I noticed male number four. He was charging full speed at me from twenty feet away. I stood there, waiting for him to advance. Once he was within arms distance I dropped to the ground. He flew over me like the cartoon coyote chasing the elusive roadrunner. I followed his fall and finished it with two direct right hand punches to his nose breaking it instantly.
As I stood up, I heard the command, “Run Doc. MP’s!” I head out at a full sprint. I had no idea where I was or where I was headed but I didn’t care. I was running.