Touching Base

Blog Post



“Screaming will not convince a candidate to quit. It’s Day 1 and I am hoarse already. You just need to give them time. Cold, fatigue, and their minds will do the rest!”

Don’t ring the bell.

A friend/shipmate came by the White Wolf Mine unannounced for a chat. MRSLL fixed a large platter of nachos and brought refreshments, unbidden. We sat on the deck in the 50-degree mid-day, which didn’t seem cold after winter. The topic turned to health as it often does with old men.

My friend said, “I have lower back issues that have left me with no feeling in my legs below my knees and inside my pelvic girdle. How does one prove that I really can’t feel them?”  I related circumstances where I couldn’t feel the thumb and first two fingers of my right hand for months, but one does not complain. You just do. He said, “Yeah. The only easy day.” “Don’t fear the reaper.”

I left the craft earlier in my career than he did and swapped it for another,  but consider 165 lbs men humping a 105 lbs ruck packed to the brim with lightweight gear for years — for a moment.

Doctrine played a huge role in the gear load-out that we deployed with. Everything had been assigned a category: mission critical, mission assuring and mission enhancing. Every mission had a slightly different who, what, where, why, and how and the load changed in subtle ways. There were always bullet launchers, bullets, blades, grenades, water, and commo: primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency. MREs were stripped down severely. Maybe you could get it down to 95 lbs of lightweight gear unless you were the sniper with the 35 lbs Barrett + M-4 + ammo, or you were carrying a 31 lbs Carl Gustaf tube or you were the A/Gunner with ammo. It was not at all uncommon to carry an MP-5SD2 (Navy trigger group) in addition to an M-4 and a suppressed USP with mags of .45 subsonic/hushpuppy. One inadvisable thing for small units is to run out of ammo in a place where there is no resupply.

Nobody asks themselves, “what will I feel like in my 60s” because nobody plans to live to see 40.


Bullet Points:

** (h/t Claudio) Pres. Duda – WARSAW – “Firstly, literally in the next few days, we will deliver, as far as I recall, four fully operational aircraft to Ukraine. The remaining aircraft are currently being serviced, prepared, and they will certainly be gradually delivered,” Duda said, as quoted by local broadcaster TVN 24. The Polish Air Force has 19 MiG-29s in its fleet, according to the president.

Duda said Poland’s military will replace the Soviet-made fighters with FA-50 aircraft the country’s Ministry of National Defence ordered from South Korea last September. Warsaw signed two contracts to buy 48 light attack aircraft, with the first 12 jets to be supplied in 2023, and a further 36 aircraft between 2025 and 2028.

** The Fat Kid planned to pay the $2 billion loan back defense. Sam Bankman-Fried received about $2.2 billion in payments and loans from FTX entities, mainly from Alameda Research, FTX and its affiliated debtors said yesterday. Bankman-Fried’s fellow executives received another $951 million combined, including $839 million to three executives who already pleaded guilty to fraud, FTX and its debtors said in a press release describing a series of filings made in US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

As summarized by the Financial Times, “Bankman-Fried and five members of his inner circle transferred $3.2 billion in total to their personal accounts in the form of ‘payments and loans,’ the funds primarily coming from Alameda Research, a crypto trading hedge fund affiliated with FTX.” John Ray, the new CEO leading FTX through bankruptcy proceedings, “has been seeking to identify the location of cryptocurrency and other assets that can be eventually returned to the millions of FTX customers whose accounts have been frozen since its collapse,” the Financial Times noted.

Claudio thinks that this disclosure will blow the lid off the FTX scandal, but the question remains who will investigate and prosecute those who enabled the fraud? DOJ may be shamed into doing more than accepting a guilty plea from the fat kid and his mousey girlfriend, but I can’t imagine the FBI doing anything meaningful in this matter because the breadcrumbs lead to their masters.



Identify the Aircraft


What a Mess

You’ve read here on VM. about the mess during the days of fighting sail. The smaller groups where the men ate together and each group had a mess cook who changed weekly or monthly to collect the food ration for the meal from the purser and take it to the cook. And later to serve the food to his mess. They also fetched the coffee and sugar, which was kept together with the crockery in a separate chest, the so-called Mess chest.


The sailor’s description of a chase & capture, by George Cruikshank (1792-1878)  

In addition, the day’s provisions were usually distributed during the afternoon watch or early in the morning and were to be witnessed by an officer. Complaints concerning the quality of the food are made at the mess by the mess cook. And meat that is prepared is marked with the respective mess number so that all received their allotted portion.

There is also the Mess Bill, a list kept by the Mess Cook of all the little things that his messmates wanted from the Purser. His name was listed, and what he wanted, e.g. tobacco or a shirt, etc. This list was then sent to the mess cook once a month. This list was then given to the purser once a month, who then gave out the items in exchange for money or on a credit basis and noted everything in his book. When it was time to hand it out, it was handed out by the mess cook in the presence of an officer and distributed to the men concerned.

The berth deck was kept clean by the mess cooks, who were excused from work in their own parts of the ship, except at all hands, and from anchor watch in port. They were also excused from duty in boats when they can pull a fair oar. At sea, especially when short-handed, they were required to stand night watch. That the men’s meal hours should not be interfered with, except in cases of actual necessity, is an old established rule of the service, and a good one. There were few more justifiable causes of discontent than frequent calling away of unnecessary boats at mealtime, or prolonging “all hands” work until the crew was sent below to a cold dinner. A little attention to minor matters of this kind went a long way to securing the satisfied condition among the crew which ensured prompt and cheerful obedience to orders.

46 thoughts on “Touching Base

    1. Nice lines for a civilian aircraft. Kind of ‘fat’ looking for a military aircraft.

  1. One factor that weighed heavily on my decision to ETS was my last First Sergeant. Top was indeed a man among men, but he also wasn’t quite 40 yet and looked 65. Twenty years humping a rucksack will do that to a man. And I did know what 65 looked like, my Father was nearly that at the time.

  2. Larry. Totally agree. You can never, and more so in a very small unit, have enough ammo. About larger units I am not qualified to comment, as I never operated with a team of more than six, oftentimes operating where there were only two of us. If I had a choice, and could carry only two things, it would be ammo, lots of ammo, and water. As to planning to reach forty. I did not plan on reaching thirty, and am somewhat surprised to find myself approaching seventy nine which, all things being equal, I will reach in just under three months.

  3. Yes I remember carrying the m82 A3 and it was nothing short of miserable at times. That being said there is some relief when you can take out a VB IED and up the amount of ammo you’re carrying. I have to agree with Mike W. That it was always ammo lots of ammo, water and what everybody’s forgetting is comm batteries. Nobody expects to make it through the next day or 20, 30 and even 40s. Then again you’re not thinking about that at the time. With another surgery looming in the next week the topic definitely is appropriate and I feel you LL. No pun intended of course. Surly congratulations again. I’m going to have to camp out at the air and space museum to get the drop on you again!

  4. “Nobody asks themselves, “what will I feel like in my 60s” because nobody plans to live to see 40.“

    So true. Apparently I wasn’t expected to reach 21…according to my dad the night before that birthday…causing me to lie awake the entire night thinking the ceiling was going to fall in on me. My exploits as a kid, including falling out of trees or crashing the Schwinn…you know, the stuff we did back then before video games and helicopter mom’s kept kids inside away from dirt and harm, were often “risky”. Before Go-Pros and YouTube we just did stuff.

    But it catches up. The last 10 years I’ve noticed some numbing in my left leg, which I’ve now attributed to humping a 65# frame pack (95# on a NOLS trek helping another person having a hard time) all over the backcountry with a tightly cinched hip belt cutting off the nerves. Not bad just weird, and way down the list of others stuff cropping up from the body taking a beating over time. As dad would say, “Someday you’ll be walking around like an old football player.” Boy was he right (as always).

    But I wouldn’t trade the slight occasional discomfort or stiffness in the morning for the experiences…we forge ahead regardless…until the bell tolls that is.

  5. All you ex-military guys; hopefully this might make you feel a little better.

    I’ve always been a lazy bastard, going though my life doing as little work and as much jack shit as possible – and half my shit doesn’t work right any more, anyway. At least you guys have the right to complain, having achieved the wear and tear doing the Good Work.


  6. FTX and now SVB. Two globalist lefty money laundering banks (signature bank is probably another) that went bang in the night. Laying bear both the full capabilities of the woke federal government and the corruption of our elites. Now they are arresting Trump half a decade and two impeachments after he allegedly paid off an alleged whore. I am sure Arkancide is their next goal.

    1. They will be arresting Trump for something that he’s been cleared of five or six times already, and it will be wonderful when Trump’s lawyers savage Stormy for breaking her Non-Disclosure Agreement.

      1. Well prison didn’t hurt Nelson Mandela’s career any, but I think there are plenty of the current admin who would shank Mr. T given half a chance.

  7. We just wear out. Years of movement removes the bearings between joints, connection points of tendons are weakened, old injuries ache when the weather is cold, heavy lifting crushes the spine together, nerves deteriorate and numbness arrives, stamina becomes a short moment on a good day, and we look back to admire how much we endured. If I could change any part of my past, I wouldn’t.

  8. Despite a career in the military I am in awe of what you gentlemen accomplished. What a job well done, not only to accomplish the individual missions but to survive as well. Seems inadequate but a sincere thank you!

  9. As a young lad, I grew up on a ranch. While still in grade school, my horse stumbled in a squirrel hole at the gallop and went down with me riding bareback. I woke up in the hospital with my left arm in a cast. My Army hitch was three years, and in a maintenance company at that. Come this May, I turn 70. Ankles, knees, hips, no issues so far. When I am out walking for exercise, I try to remember to glance up and say “Thanks”.

    Am seeing reports the President Trump is to be arrested come next Tuesday. If so, my guess is he will bond out. Then what? That’s the thing with all this horses**t–who ya gonna call?

        1. we were sitting in a restaurant last weekend. i told the wife “we gotta find a new joint, too many old folks coming here these days.” she looked around the room and said “most of them are our age.” and she was right. egad!

  10. My best friend is just over 50 now.
    He was Force Recon.
    He is nearly crippled in pain due to an accident at work, but workmen’s comp blames all the micro fractures he earned years ago.

    1. The toll on one’s body is significant.

      I recall people poking fun at Demo Dick Marcinko in his later years for weight gain. No matter what you think of CDR Marcinko, he was not a pussy. He passed in 2021. Everything was breaking down, everything was hurting. People don’t get it.

  11. That’s just a lotta weight and I remember a person telling me, at a pub in Bayswater, “Hope you make it to 40.”

    Lo and behold!

  12. Six years ago my medic son was back at Ft. Carson in the 1/4th Infantry and living off base. Visiting, I saw his web gear and helmet lying on a bed and picked it up. Holy shit! He then told me his load out with ammo increased the weight, plus weapon, and his 50 lb medic pack. Frankly, in my active duty days I doubt I could have humped that load and, when we were playing infantry shit, I was on the M-2 crew.

    1. our load in the 80’s/90’s was crippling and that was before plate carriers and all the extra batteries they hump these days. no way i at 145 lbs could have carried/worn all of that, not for long anyway. i doubt many of today’s youth will do it either.

  13. I recall reading “Four Sips of Gin” about fighting the commie terrorist during the bush wars in Africa.
    The paratroopers went in with just two spare twenty round mags for their FN FALs.
    The Alouette gunship overhead probably helped out with its firepower, but…

    I would not deign to criticise these guys even though they ran around in a desert environment wearing short shorts and inadequate footwear…anybody who regularly makes five or six combat jumps per DAY can wear anything they want.

  14. Oops.
    “Three Sips of Gin”

    Not autocumber.
    Brain lagging behind fingers. 🙁

    1. I enjoyed reading Three Sips of Gin. Everyone’s war is different. Different times, different places, different load-outs, a different enemy (though the brass usually tops the enemy list), and different priorities, but if you don’t have an ego and an attitude, you’re not going to live long. I’m not saying a stupid or arrogant attitude but the confidence to make a decision has to be there.

      Decisions against operational SEALs by upper echelons got a lot of people questioning what they should or shouldn’t do, linking up with commo to mother-may-I. Then endless hand-wringing at the TOC…it’s a recipe for disaster.

  15. Higgs breath is my son. I taught him well and he survived. Nothing less or nothing more. Do I take credit, no, he listened and learned! It’s pretty simple. We are still excavating. Only you know what we mean. My best to you and yours LL.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to top