There I was, deep in the forests of Ariana, engaged in tough, intermittent platoon level gunfights that had my Army career in the balance. Where is Ariana, you ask? Why, it’s only the toughest, most rough and tumble backwater, located deep in the heart of Marine Corps Base Quantico. “MCBQ? Why would an army platoon be there!” you say. Well that’s easy. I was a part of an elite fighting force known as ROTC at X university in the year of our Lord 2XXX.
We were conducting our Junior year spring FTX with a couple of other schools from the Washington DC metro area, and it was Sunday morning, the last day of the FTX when all we had to do was one mission and then leave. Normally, there would be a 12 mile ruck March, but because FTX was during Ramadan, we did it earlier in the year and were thus spared the hardship of walking (fast). As our platoon packed up our final Patrol Base, I was feeling good. CDT GrantLee had made it through a long weekend (or had I…..) of ops and helicopters and the range, and all I had to do was one MTC (movement to contact) and I could go home, shower, plop my behind onto a proper toilet, and then have nightmares about missing my guard duty shift.
Anyways, we go and conduct our MTC and once we take contact, I drop my ruck and start doing what I’m told. (Cries of shift and lift fire still ring in my ears). Being that this is the last chance for us to fire off all of our blanks, once the MTC is done, our Cadre give us the OK to go full auto with the 249s and the M4s so that way we don’t have any blanks coming back to the university. (I commuted, so that didn’t stop me from “failing to expend” my remaining blanks). Once this has happened, it’s time to ruck up and move back to this big field in a DZ to clean weapons and leave.
This is where Ariana fought back. I’m picking up my rucksack and the next thing I know, I’m blind in one eye. To quote one Cosmo Kramer, “and I screamed out ‘IM HIT’”. My rucksack had been laying on a very springy branch and when I shifted it to pick it up, WHAM. Right into my eye. I initially thought I was ok. Even though it hurt, I was able to March back to the DZ on my own, and begin cleaning my rifle. However, as time passes I’m getting worse and worse to the point that one of our battalions cadre (a SFC who was never without his monster) directs me to a medic.
Medic takes a look at my eye and says “all good, just irritated! You’ll feel better soon”, and gives me an eyepatch to wear so my eye wouldn’t move. Spoiler alert, I did not feel better soon. I suffered through the whole bus ride back to campus where I had to be taken to the ER, where it was then determined by an actual doctor who looked at my eye for 20 seconds that I had indeed scratched my cornea. Not a fun 4 hours of my life. I learned that maybe, just maybe the National Guard medics weren’t the premier experts in medical care. Oh, and I still had to clean my M4 with an eyepatch and a painful injury.
I have a couple more stories from this FTX but I will save those for another time.
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