The Booms

Yesterday, I wrote about the noise of the groundskeepers on post, but nothing beats the din of artillery on a military base.

The good news is, compared to the mower guys, blower guys, and weed-whacker guys, artillery noise was not constant.
It only happened when we had people in the field. And it depended which part of the field they were in.
Different soldiers went different places to do different things on different days.

Yes, it was often enough to make me ill-at-ease. It probably wasn’t good for my nerves.
I am not…gun-friendly.

One morning I dropped The Mister off at work, and as I left the motorpool, some snipers appeared as if from nowhere. From a ditch to the right, they simply manifested. I was going less than 10mph, and had not seen them, but slowly, little by little, they emerged before my very eyes, standing up to cross the road before me.
Like these guys:

That was an enlightening, frightening experience. I don’t know how to quantify it, really, but it was awesome in the literal sense.

I lived half of my life a few miles from Ft. Benjamin Harrison, as I do now. I was familiar with military personnel out and about in public places, but the fort wasn’t much on booms, so all the racket from field training was new to me.

There were Bradleys.


There were M1 Abrams tanks.


And Paladins. Paladins are like tanks, but louder. Can you imagine?


I arrived at the base in June, and my husband went to the field in September. Some of those September days shook my house like an earthquake. Specifically, it sounded like men landing on the roof and rappelling down the siding. Windows rattled. Cups of coffee stirred.
As strange as it may sound, after a few days, I got accustomed to the sound of artillery. It became common and could often be ignored.
If a mortar woke me in the night, I could relax, knowing that the mortars were not incoming.

this is a mortar thingy

this is a mortar thingy

I could not say the same as I spoke on the telephone with The Mister during deployment. I could hear their incoming mortars, which scared me, but for him, I guess it was the norm.
So yeah, artillery in Georgia, not dangerous to Joeys. Seemingly comforting at times.

Until this one day, around noon.
I went to get my mail. Out the door, to the right, round the corner. I was about halfway home, maybe 50 feet from my door, when a new sound scared the shit out of me. The new sound was so loud and so close, I literally rushed to the ground and lay flat until it stopped. Yes, it’s true. I took cover, using my mail to protect my head.
Funniest Army Wife Ever.

I ran home, and from the corner of my eye, I could see the smoke in the field close to my home. Really close. Like, open my front door, turn right, and walk about 400ft to live small arms artillery.
I called a nearby soldier who wasn’t in the field, “What the fuck is that noise?”
“What’s it sound like?”
“Lemme see if I can hear it. Oh, that’s a 50 cal.”
“Well that’s too close!”
He laughed.

021108-N-4374S-063 - Central Command AOR - LCpl. Paul Rodas assigned to 22 Weapons Company, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), mans a .50 caliber machine gun as part of the security force during an exercise in the Central Command AOR.  The 24th MEU is on their six-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Official U.S. Navy Photograph by PH2(SW) Michael Sandberg; Fleet Combat Camera, Atlantic. Photograph cleared for release by CDR. Jeff Alderson, COMUSNAVCENT/ 5TH Fleet PAO.

021108-N-4374S-063 – Central Command AOR – LCpl. Paul Rodas assigned to 22 Weapons Company, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), mans a .50 caliber machine gun as part of the security force during an exercise in the Central Command AOR. The 24th MEU is on their six-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph by PH2(SW) Michael Sandberg; Fleet Combat Camera, Atlantic.
Photograph cleared for release by CDR. Jeff Alderson, COMUSNAVCENT/ 5TH Fleet PAO.

(This photo came with a caption. I think it’d be nice if all of Google had photo credits, don’t you?)

Anyway, that was the day I discovered how close I was to the field, and when I realized this would be a steady part of my life.
The rifle ranges were most active in the early hours.
Mornings began with groundskeepers and “Reveille,” followed by the song of the Dog-Faced Soldier.

Apparently my husband does not miss singing that song and wishes he’d stayed a “fancy-pants Marine.”


Almost every afternoon, Chinook helicopters flew over my yard, causing my dog to drag her bones to the door before those big, scary birds could get em. Most afternoons, still with the groundskeeper noise.
Later in the day, the cannon was fired at 5, with “Retreat.” I don’t care how many times you take visitors to see the cannon fire, it still rattles you, even when you know it’s coming!
“Taps” played at 10. I miss “Taps.” I actually miss it.

But I don’t miss the sound of artillery. Not even a little bit.

About joey

Neurotic Bitch, Mother, Wife, Writer, Word Whore, Foodie and General Go-To-Girl
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48 Responses to The Booms

  1. Benson says:

    this is a mortar thingy. How technical of you. For someone self described as Neurotic you manage pretty well with the noise and commotion. I miss the old Fort Ben, and I bet the Lawrence business community does too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. Yeah, well, I am a lot better here than I was there. My relief in leaving was almost immediate. Once I got to the blue grass and smelled the wild onion, I started crying, and healing. 🙂
      Lawrence business is actually booming. In Lawrence proper, they’re always tearing down old buildings and houses to make way for new. The fort being open has brought a ton of business, and gobs of civilian houses. Plus, we have a wonderful mayor. (I may be biased there. lol)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dan Antion says:

    I love your descriptions. I can;t imagine ever getting used to explosions. We live in the flight path to BDL. We get planes all the time, which I’m used to. There are two military bases there too, so we get helicopters and planes. We used to get A-10s which we loved to watch. We get Chinooks about once a day. They rattle the place, but you can hear them coming. You can’t hear an explosion coming. Good that you’re away from that.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    So I have to wonder, after all this, how’s your hearing? Your poor eardrums.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well I don’t really know. I think I hear well. When my kids were doing that “Can you hear this?” pitch thingy, I was hearing for 20 years old, so if those are accurate, I guess I’m alright.
      My husband has significant loss on the right, despite earplugs.


  4. Really loud noises bother me a lot. You have better nerves than I do.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. reocochran says:

    I cannot imagine my first time of hearing this sound. I also like the mournful sound of “Taps” but this comes from my days at attending sleepover Girl Scout camp two weeks every summer. That and mail call were always my favorite parts of my days. I also enjoyed swimming in brown colored lakes and hiking. I would not have made a good Army wife! Smiles, enjoy Joey your weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sherry says:

    cant say we would appreciate it. A neighbor started up an aircompressor ratchet and my husband nearly hit the deck…he laughs but at the time, he reacted as of old….PTSD is a total bitch sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sammy D. says:

    Great post, Koey. Aside from your discomfort, i am a sponge for hearing about life on base or when troops deploy. We civilans are far too ill-informed and remived from what military families lives entail.

    I don’t know that I’d like a daily barrage of weopanry booms and rat-a-tats but whenever the f14s and chinooks fly overhead from Colorado bases, I run outside and wave madly. Grateful doesn’t begin to describe it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well that is just lovely. I am grateful also, but it is a happier easier gratitude when you are apart from it. When you’re close to it, like Army wife close to it, it involves a lot of pain and fear.
      Not of booms…well, I think you get it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Luanne says:

    Since I didn’t have to live through this, it’s a highly entertaining story! My father was buried with military honors and they fire the guns, but they warn people first so that you can cover your ears. Did you get warnings before these booms would go off?
    Maybe for you the sound of the artillery was like the sound of a train in the background where it becomes part of what you expect, although it comes when you don’t expect it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, once it had gone on a few days, I really tuned it out. It was usually distant enough. Sometimes, we just had to suck up its loud and close. No, there was never warning.


  9. hollie says:

    This didn’t show up in my reader for some reason. WordPress must hate me today. It is a finicky little thing sometimes, isn’t it? My dad served in the army from 71-82. He was not drafted and spent most of his time on the rifle team or in conflicts in South and Central America, but served during the Vietnam era when people were super touchy about the military. He said on his first leave back home he and his brother, who was also briefly in service set off a missile simulator. I have no idea what the real term is or how accurate this story was, since I was little when he told it to me, but that is how he told it. He said the neighbor came out screaming “the Russians are coming! the Russians are coming!” Your hiding your head with your mail made me think of this story. I always like when something I read makes me thing of my dad, even if it is about artillery noise!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know nothing about missiles, lol — I know nothing, really. “The Russians are coming!” is pretty funny tho, right up there with my taking cover under the mail!
      Yes, the WP reader is unreliable. I am learning to subscribe more and more to email blogs, so I don’t miss them!

      Liked by 1 person

      • hollie says:

        Your blog hasn’t been sending me emails lately, I’m gonna have to check on that. I probably f-Ed that up the day I accidentally unfollowed you for a minute. I’m so not technologically savvy!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Right? I accidentally unfollowed someone too. Then there was a delay, where I followed but it didn’t register, and so I suppose if she was watching, I followed and unfollowed her several times before it registered. How embarrassing!

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Josh Wrenn says:

    I suppose after some time you would get used to it, wouldn’t you? I have a huge love for Chinnooks. When they are low overhead, there is nothing quite so awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sudden loud noises usually frighten me senseless so I would probably be a nervous wreck! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m way too skittish that I would most certainly have a nervous breakdown. I used to hit the floor at the sound of car backfire, thinking it was a drive-by. To my credit, those did happen from time to time in LA.

    The image of you laying flat with the mail over your head, though a scary moment, was also kind of cute. I would have done the same!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pistachios says:

    I think there must be a pyrotechnics lab somewhere near my house because now and then, you can hear fireworks going off but there’s no special occasion/event. I suppose it’s not as bad as the sound of tanks and mortar thingys though 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Prajakta says:

    The way you detail is creamy and quirky! And in a way that makes sense about otherwise really technical stuff which we otherwise fail to appreciate! But I agree – you are the funniest Army Wife Ever!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. markbialczak says:

    I would not like that military noise, Joey, one bit. I’d learn to live with it as to not have to have the underwear portion of the laundry done two, three times a day. Yikes!

    OK, to return your awesome and gracious flower lesson from today. Regarding using photographs from online: Getty Images decided a few years go, finally, to allow bloggers like us to use one or two images gratis per post. Just googing Google does not guaranee much. So when I want to use a non-me photo for a post, in my search, I add Getty Images to the other terms I’m looking for in the search field, and search the images tab on Google, narrowing down from the entire web. That should give you a good choice of results. Click on the photo you like best. That will give you see photo and see page choices. Then you can copy the picture on one click, and see the caption and the name of the photographer/Getty Images used on the site that previously published the photo on the other for a firm cutline and credit. Hope this helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. cardamone5 says:

    I don’t know if your nickname for me will go away after this comment, but I laughed like a hyena reading your description of taking cover. Oh my Lord, funny. Sorry. I know it was frightening and embarrassing, but I am a fan of physical comedy and would have paid money to see that.

    Fondly (formerly?)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. garym6059 says:

    Those are some big booms! How does one get used to it? I live close enough to Fort Knox that I see plenty of military birds over head but I’m no where near the proving grounds when they are using live ammunition. I can only imagine how loud and surprising it can be.

    Liked by 1 person

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