28. January 2006 · Comments Off on The “I Peed Myself a Little” Story · Categories: Memoir, Pajama Game

Okay, so you guys want more military memoirs, here’s one I’ve threatened to tell since I got here and never got around to it.

This is mostly from a letter I sent home from the end of January, 1991. Thanks to Paddy for saving it. The rest is from memory, and you know how that goes. And I make no apologies for the rough language, it’s the way I talked back then.

Operation Desert Storm, January, 1991. Southwest Saudi Arabia, Team Stealth. F-117s in the hangars and surrounded by Arabs.

As is always the case on a deployment, the cops are overworked and getting a little crispy around the edges because they’re working, they’re trying to eat, they’re trying to keep their uniforms somewhat professional looking, some of them are trying to keep their PT up, and oh yeah, when there’s time left, they try to sleep through all the prayer calls. Cranky cops are okay for a little bit but you don’t want youngsters with guns with bad attitudes wandering around a foreign country…especially Saudi Arabia where the locals are a bit more…sure of themselves…have a healthy sense of self-esteem…oh fuck it…where the locals are the most arrogant sons a bitches you’d ever want to meet. And I know from arrogant, I used to think it was a positive character trait instead of defect.

Back then when the cops got a bit over-worked, we augmented them. By that I don’t mean we attended traffic pattern safety school and put on an orange vest and got RSD from waving cars in the gate, I mean we grabbed a gun, flack jacket and helmets and we sat posts or rode patrols and we basically did what the cops did. We watched, we reported, we told the locals, “Stay away from our airplanes.”

Thus, we get to the crux of the story. So I’m on patrol in our part of the base with some of the guys, my butt bouncing itself into the shape of the oh-so-comfy-metal-jump-seat in the back of a Hummer and one of the posts reports in that he had a problem and needed back-up…ummmm…quickly please. Off we went. Down the flightline we see another augmentee, semi-surrounded by a group of Saudi military folks and some sheik-looking dude. Our Master Sergeant, a reservist who’s a homicide cop back home in the world, riding in the passenger seat, takes a deep breath, “Okay, everyone stay very, very calm, this could get ugly. Weapons in your hands, but pointed down. “Fly casual but ummm, try to look like you’re not flying casual.”” (Grins)

So we park and get out, so now there’s five of us and eight of them, dressed in the most ridiculous variations of our old uniforms you’ve ever seen. Old green utilities topped off with the old black Mr. Rogers sweater…combat boots, dress blue pants, utility top, you name it, they wear it. Eight Saudi military, with pistols in hip holsters, and the Saudi sheik-looking dude looking annoyed, arms crossed, looking at his watch. MSgt walks up all friendly and addresses one of the military guys, the one with the most crap on his arm.

MSgt: “Problem?”

Arm Boy (Smiling): Yes, this is Prince Something or Other, he helped to build this base. He needs to see the aircraft you have in his hangars.

MSgt (Shaking his head, still friendly): You know that’s not how it’s done…The Prince has to route his request through the Wing Commander and set up an official visit.

Arm Boy (Still smiling): Yes, but all official visits have been cancelled since you started flying into Iraq. He needs to see these airplanes of yours today.

MSgt: I’m sorry, but you can go no further.

Arm Boy shifts and places his hand on his pistol: That is not acceptable.

Sheik Dude: Says something angrily in Arabic

The Other Seven Military Dudes put their hands on their weapons.

MSgt sighing and wiping his forehead looking mildly annoyed: Lock and load, draw down gentlemen.

The four of us lock and load using the pace and rhythm of MSgt’s voice and shouldering our weapons AS the Saudis fumble and unsnap their sidearms and draw down on us. Four M16s vs eight assorted dirty pistols.

I peed myself a little. Not much. Didn’t notice it when it happened, I was too busy watching the two just-as-scared-as-me guys I had picked. We didn’t think about who we were covering, we just divided them up. I’m told adrenaline does that to you, the thinking logically rapidly, and the peeing, both. The weirdest thing in the world went through my head, “Oh FUCK, I’m in the middle of an international incident…FUCK…FUCK…FUCK!”

MSgt very friendly and very calm: Now, you gentlemen need to holster your sidearms and turn around and walk back to your side of the base. We’re going to pretend that this never happened. I won’t tell my boss and The Prince here (who stood open-jawed as we glared at them) is going to see about getting an official visit through proper channels. Is there anything else I can do for you?

The longest silence in my entire life. I still remember the sound of dust and sand blowing around our feet. To Arm Boy’s credit he smiled and shrugged as if to say, “I had to try, he’s a Prince ya know?” and gave his guys an order in Arabic which they followed slowly and kind of unsurely. I’m told that having an M16 pointed at your head causes a bit of reluctance to be nice. They holstered their weapons and Arm Boy turned and started to herd his folks and The Prince with his arms back in the direction of the Saudi side of the base. The Prince hasn’t said a word, he simply looks completely flabbergasted.

The MSgt reported in and we went back to the command hangar, after three of us, including the MSgt, stopped to change pants. We wrote up reports and from the Saudi side we heard absolutely nothing other than their cafeteria was now off-limits to our personnel. Our JAG and Public Affairs Officer were a bit put out by the MSgt’s handling of the situation but both his commander and the Wing Commander wound up signing off on it. I’m told the Wing Commander’s response was, “Thanks for not shooting anybody, good job.”

So that’s it, that’s the long promised, “I Peed Myself a Little” story. Sorry if it’s not all that exciting for you more hard core folks, but try to remember that I’ve mostly been an admin geek my entire career and that’s about as exciting as I ever want my life to be.

Next Week: The first time I disobeyed a direct order.

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