A Non-WoW story.
Way, way back in time – no, not that far, the dinosaurs had finally died off by the time my story begins – I was an enlisted man in the army. Yes, before I was an officer, I was a working man. Anyway, while I was in a few “fun” units, this little tale takes place while I was part of a pathfinder detachment.
Now it’s irrelevant to the tale, but helps build the flavor if you know a bit about these detachments. At the time, the detachments were bastard children. That’s because they were “corps level assets” commanded by a first lieutenant – all 15-20 airborne pathfinders of various enlisted ranks. In time of war, our mission orders would be part of the CORPS order, with the 1LT sitting in the same room as various generals and full colonels. But in peacetime… there are political and practical problems with a general being the immediate supervisor of a half-platoon’s commander. So, we’d be ‘attached’ to some unit within the corps for all the administrative issues. Specifically, associated with an aviation (helicopter) unit of some sort. In this detachent’s case, the only such aviation unit was (sigh) the medevac unit that was itself attached to the medical brigade. Our (infantry) detachment commander had a (medical) captain for his immediate supervisor, with a (medical) Lt Colonel for his battalion boss. The post itself, just to make things more fun, was a training post – meaning most of the bodies on the post were in some sort of school. (adjunct note – school in the army almost always includes taking time to play in the woods – or at least it did.)
Now the end result of all this was that when a unit on post needed ‘irregular’ opfor (Opposition Forces), we got tagged. And it is one such time in which my tale unfolds.
My team – (I’m a peon, not a sergeant here) – has been tasked to be a forward recon element. We get our assignment, and get dropped off in the middle of nowhere with compass and map and basic supplies and sent off to be found and die – or so goes what’s supposed to happen.
After a full day of play, we establish this little hide position, and two of us start sleeping while two remain on watch. We don’t get to sleep much. The “Good guy” mechanized brigade command element has decided – like us – that this is a good spot to be. Now, we’re four people, and they are a few hundred. They weren’t going to get in our little clump of trees and brush. What I meant was that their perimeter was made with us on the inside. Actually, they put their TOC (Tactical Operations Center) next to our clump of trees and brush.
This was good and bad. It meant we were going to be able to give a GREAT report to higher of the enemy command’s situation for the night. On the other hand, we knew we were going to be dead come daylight. And then…
The brigade turns out to have an SOP. They’ve got some people who know plants who take a quick look at various clumps for potential problems. A quick flick of flashlights, and we see them stringing orange tape around our clump of woods. Huh?
Seems the expert decided the Kudzu vine was poison ivy. Or poison oak – I never did hunt them up later to find out which. But for the next three days, we got to sit about 15 meters from the good guy command group and give regular reports as NOBODY crossed – or looked at – our ‘inhospitable’ clump of bushes and trees.
I understand the after action review was fascinating. I suspect that we were probably among the few people who really, truly understood why the local High Command was pushing that everyone KNOW what poison oak, ivy, and sumac looked like.