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:
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.
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!”
(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.