Ham Slice


After giving the overview of Ranger school, Pete took another drink of his favored brew, Natural Light. He topped off his tobacco supply and continued.

First, a little explanation of terms and concepts is needed for the layman. A lot of Ranger School consists of establishing patrol bases and moving from one point to another. A patrol base is essentially a place where soldiers camp in a tactical environment. When a mission comes down (a raid would be a good example, or an ambush) some soldiers leave to execute. Others remain behind. The soldiers that go forward to do the mission travel to an established Objective Rally Point (an ORP) where final preps are made before the raid or ambush. Once the preps are finalized at the ORP, the mission gets done.

There are a lot of steps involved in the process that I have roughly outlined above, and at Ranger School the students are graded on all of them mercilessly. Also, it cannot be emphasized enough that this stuff gets done at all hours of the day on barely adequate sleep and with a daily maximum caloric intake of 1200 (that’s a typical MRE, or one US Army ration pack. A soldier should be supplied with three MREs daily- but not at Ranger School).

“After a mission you would return to a patrol base, and usually it was in the middle of the night or early morning.” The Ranger Instructors or RI’s would change shifts, and the next nightmarish day would begin. “While this was happening a lot of stuff would derail at Ranger School. An instructor would come in who was pissed off at his wife or kids… that would usually play in to how much you were going to get fucked with that night.”

“So we were in Florida Phase of Ranger School, the final phase of the school, and everyone was tired and worn out.” According to Pete, it was a dark night, with no illumination. “Someone was fucking around at the Patrol Base.” He went on to add that they had been in the woods for weeks, and that everyone’s sense of smell was heightened, in addition to being ravenously hungry. The student Platoon Leader was trying to make things happen at the Patrol Base for that night’s mission, and things weren’t going well.

Someone opened a ham slice MRE while he was trying to brief for the evening’s mission. Everyone could smell the tasty treat due to the aforementioned sharpening of the senses. The student Platoon Leader got pissed off and started to yell. “Who’s eating the fucking ham slice!?” The RI who was present called out. “Hey! This is a tactical situation! Everyone needs to maintain tactical whispering! The enemy could be anywhere at this point, and if you’re yelling out, then you’re wrong, Rangers.”

At that point, someone in the Patrol Base called out. “Fuck You!”

Pete laughed at the memory. “You have to remember that this wasn’t the millennial generation yet, yelling that to a RI was a pretty risky move.”

The Ranger Instructor was angry. He whipped out a huge Maglite, and shined his beam towards the twelve o’clock position of the Patrol Base.

“Who said that!” he demanded. He swept his beam around, trying to find the student who had sworn at him in the brush.

As soon as he called out, another disembodied voice shouted in the pitch dark, this time from the six o’clock position. “I did! Fuck you!”

“Like a dumbass,” the RI turned and swept his beam to the six o’clock. “Who down there said that!”

The words had barely left his mouth when another voice called out from the nine o’clock. “Fuck You! I did!”

From all directions, the “fuck you” chorus came in. The RI was definitely pissed. “Out came the artillery simulators,” Pete recalled.

As an aside, an artillery simulator is a fairly powerful pyrotechnic device (a quarter stick of M1 dynamite) that produces a loud whistle and heavy “bang.” The blast can definitely injure someone who is too close by; care must be used when they are thrown.

At Ranger school, they were thrown about like candy. Their use signaled that a position had been compromised.

Well, after being defied, the RI decided that the student’s position had been compromised, and he would pay them back. He started throwing the artillery simulators around and “everyone had to pack up all their gear and rucksacks in the dark.” The students had to hasten to their alternate patrol base in the swamp. They had to crawl and run several kilometers through chest deep water and heavy brush. It was a bad experience; no one got any sleep.

However, Pete thought things balanced out. “Several students got away with yelling fuck you to a Ranger Instructor.”

I asked Pete if he was one of those students. Pete smiled a shit-eating grin and answered.


And then he laughed his ass off.

More follows, readers.

4 thoughts on “Ham Slice

  1. I kinda like the idea that when people are getting a little smart with you the option is to throw explosives at them and subject them to extreme discomfort. If only this was acceptable in social settings.


  2. Pingback: “I did my job.” | The Interstellar Valley

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