At least every 18 months or so, our operational support team was tasked to find a new city for us to practice urban warfare and building climbing. I truly admire some of the choices they made and processed into realistic training for us all — like the Louisiana Super Dome!
Yes, we got the Super Dome all to ourselves for a day. It was huge and intimidating. Climbing the upper scaffold up to a hatch in the ceiling was time-consuming and exhausting, though there was a feeling of elation standing on the roof of the dome and looking out over the city.
Downtime brought the usually curious rooting around the objectives to see what might be found in the way of entertainment. Two of the brothers stumbled onto the hanger where the dome’s fleet of golf carts sat charging their batteries. JW — who had been a felony car thief as a young boy — wasted no time in picking the transmission lock and racing off in the cart to show off to the rest of us.
“What a great find!” I thought as I raced to the storage hangar, picked on a cart’s ignition system, and raced off in my cart. Soon all the carts were speeding hither and yon about the Dome. We had an absolute blast racing the golf carts until JW ruined it for us all: He came up behind me and slammed into the rear of my cart. Soon all the guys were engaged in a demolition derby of golf carts.
Our troop Sergeant Slammer had us relinquish the golf carts and park them back in the hangar with their charging chords re-attached. Easy come, easy go, I figured. We had gotten our fill of all the fun that the carts could offer. Bleeding an objective dry of all entertainment value is what we called it, and it happened at every location we went to.
As night fell, we began to junk-up in our assault kit and receive briefings on targets that were prepared by our log cell prior to our arrival. I recall storming one objective, running behind our A assault team. Ricardo had dropped his headset microphone in the rush. It was attached to his assault kit with an eight-foot comms cable and was there on the sidewalk swishing back and forth behind him as he ran.
When he finally turned a sharp left into our target door, the microphone just kept going straight past him as he ran. Once the slack was out of the attached comms cable, the microphone made a sudden jerk backward and made the left turn through the door onto the objective to catch up with Ricardo. I don’t know why, but the episode tweaked my funny bone for the rest of the night.
At the end of the training and clean up of the mess we made on the objective, we came up missing a man. We went to work looking for him and were called over by one of the guys who bade us to come quick and see what he had found. There, behind the glass door, was the missing SGT Gerdes–locked inside the building, pining away for us to find him and let him out. He had taken time out in the building to relieve himself of number two in one of the bathrooms and yet neglected to tell anyone. I filmed the event, and once we all got in all mandatory ribbing, we let him out to rejoin the troop assaults.
Good realistic training and fun was had by all. It just goes to show that even on the most dyer and serious of situations a little levity must fall.
By Almighty God and with honor