OK...in the tradition of the Ryan's Steakhouse story...here goes:
I think it was about the third day of the exercise and I noted in the script that an attack was scheduled right at shift change in the morning (I was working mid-shift, 1900L - 0700L). The attack was scheduled at 0715L, so I knew that if I didnt' get out right after my shift, I would end up there for my 12 hour shift, plus an additional 1-2 hours possibly, depending how quickly the base was cleared. Everyone stays in their mask, suit, etc until the ALL CLEAR is given, meaning their are no UXOs (unexploded ordnance) and no BIO or CHEM hazard on base. Now, if people screw up and don't find 'planted' ordnance, then the 'BLUE/BLACK' conditions remain in effect until they do find these things. OK...so the shift goes as usual, and to be honest I don't remember much of it, meaning it probably went to script and everyone did well enough. It was busy for sure, but nothing extraordinary. During the last hour of the shift, I became hungry, so I opened an MRE and started eating it, of course, felt full afterwards, etc. Right when I finished a co-worker came in and had his MRE, half opened and telling me how awful his was...I noticed it was exactly what I just ate. I have always hated to see things go to waste, so I took it from him instead of allowing him to throw it out. I then consumed his open, but not eaten MRE. I am not sure how many calories are in these things, but it's high, because it suppose to be filling and help keep you energized. Welll, I of course increased the calorie intake to even higher levels. By the time I finished this MRE, with some additional snacks thrown on top, it was about 45 minutes before the attack when I realized again that I needed to get out of there before that last attack. I was driving my car and I lved off base, so as long as I got through the main gate I was safe (about 1/2 mile from where I worked). Well, as luck would have it, my relief arrived early, so I briefed him, asked if he had any questions, then started out of the building. As fate would have it, as I walked past the bathroom to the exit of the building, my stomach started to gurlgle. Note: I still have on underwear/t-shirt, BDUs, full chemical suit, helmet, flak vest, reflector belt, LBE, etc etc on my belt and I was carrying my kit/chem bag with me. I looked at the bathroom door, my watch and made a judgement based on the strength of the twisting and turning going on in my stomach and the time it would take to get home. I gauged that it was not at critical levels and knowing how close I lived, figured I could make it home--as long as nothing unexpected happened. I bypassed the bathroom, got to my car, stowed my gear and headed home.
I got nearly to the main gate when ahead on the road I saw several cars stopped at the gate in front of me. The gate (exit) has only one lane open and there was no option to do anything but wait while the security forces cleared whatever holdup was going on. I sat patiently, knowing that upon exiting Osan main gate, I needed only to turn left, up a slight incline, past the parking lot (or parking ROT) as the sign read, down a hill, turn left, turn right and up a small hill to my apartment. I think it was about this same time that I realized my apartment wasn't the easiest place to get into. OK...in Korea, a lot of the houses/apartments have a wall and gate before you get to the apartment, as mine did. No problem, two locks, two different keys...I would be ready with keys in hand when I arrived. Then I realized that I would need to carry all my shit through that gate after opening it, climb two sets of stairs, basically circle my apartment on an outside walkway, then unlock my outside door (two locks), then my inside door (one lock). Now typically, while in between my inner and outer door, I would remove my shoes so I didn't go into the apartment with shoes, according to Korean tradition. On this day, I knew I would need to break that custom. Ok...back to the wait at the gate: Just as traffic began moving again, I felt a definite cramp in my lower stomach region...on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being critical, I would estimate this as more than 1, but not quite 2. I was ok and knew I would be fine. As soon as I was going through the gate, I heard it...ALARM BLUE, ALARM BLUE...Attack is imminent or in progress. I closed my eyes and prayed they were not going to stop me...TOO late (for them), most of my car was through the gate!!! I looked at the car behind me and said a quick thank you to the Lord! Two seconds later and I would have been stopped for another hour or more and that just would not have worked out. OK...from the gate to home went without incident, except for the severity of cramping I was experiencing...it got to about level 3 (see above for scale). I was in danger zone, but still not yet critical. I was in control, knew it would be fine. I got to the front of the apartment and that is when things began to happen that just amazed me, because I don't think I could have written this if I was doing a screenplay.
I had already put it into my mind that I would leave my equipment, including my flak vest, helmet, LBE and bag...I could come back to get them when I finished in the bathroom. I actually unhooked my seatbelt, flak vest, LBE/belt and removed my helmet before I was halfway home, so I was ahead of the game. That's when the unthinkable happened...well two things actually. First, as I was getting out of the car, keys in hand, the bottom portion of my chem suit got caught on the seat adjustment and I lost my balance slightly. Now I didn't go down or anything, but just that change in my motion caused me to drop the keys and they fell under the car. No sweat, I thought, just retrieve them and continue on. I did feel slightly stronger cramping, twisting and now some slight turning in my stomach and lower intestine, but still I felt like I would be OK. The strength of all of this probably at 3.7 or so...possibly nearing 4. But once again, with 5 being critical I was still in control of the situation. Well, several other things hampered me, like now having the wrong keys at the ready for the gate...so it took an additional few seconds to remedy this...but 4.0 or 4.2 possibly occurred now that I was through the gate and those first two locks. I closed the gate and headed up the stairs, first flight was good...no problems. That second flight was the real problem and looking back at that point I really did regret gettting a second floor apartment. OK...but still I am going to be close I realize at this time, but once again I was thinking if nothing goes wrong, no problems and still, I am under control. About halfway across the outside walkway I would estimate that my whole lower body, excluding maybe from the knees down went pretty close to critical condition. I mean, at this point I had my asshole puckered, I was taking tiny baby steps and walking like a waiter carrying a dozen glasses full of water on a tray with one hand. I was praying at this point also, but still I had not yet reached Critical, but I was close. I got the outer door open and at 4.9 on the scale, it was going to be close. Now, if that inner door had just cooperated, and if I didn't need to turn the lock two complete turns and if I could have just squeezed even a bit more the problem could have still been controlled. HOWEVER, just before taking the first step into the apartment, I exploded. I mean, total loss of control. It felt as though someone had put a fire hose down the back of my pants. There was nothing to do at this point, but just allow it to happen. I mean, I could have waddled into the apartment and into the bathroom, but really there was no point in messing up the apartment.. A few positive things though. At least the area between the inner and outer door was tile...so easy cleanup I thought. However, even better...the chemical suit, with it's velcro leg straps, held! The 'mess' was contained in the chemical suit. AT this point, I had to decide...take everything off and deal with the 'mess' right there or get into the bathroom. Well, since it was all still contained, I decided to head to the bathroom, which in retrospect was the right call. In Korea, there are not usually shower stalls, rather your shower head is just in your bathroom, thus making your entire bathroom the defacto shower stall and even better yet, there is a drain in the middle of the floor, and my washer / dryer was located in the same bathroom!!! Don't get me wrong, this was still a very difficult cleanup, because shit was everywhere...clothes, chem suit, socks, boots, even my t-shirt and BDU top...etc. I got everything off, put everything in the washing machine after rinsing it all off...including my combat boots and cleaned the entire bathroom. All in all...about 2 hours of cleanup!
Lesson learned: MREs (in me, stay in the system no more than 1 hour and 30 minutes, give or take! Plan accordingly.
Note: Later that day my landlord came by to ask if everything was ok...she was wondering why I was using so much water!!!
Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself.
They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone
under independence. -- George Washington
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