3/12th Cavalry, 1973 - 1976
When we were training at “Grafenwohr” my section leader (Lt Duffy) had gotten stuck with qualifying the mortars ...both A, B, & C troops for the 3/12th CAV. I was his driver so I got to lead the mortar tracks out to the ammo pick-up point and on to the firing points. I would monitor both Squadron Net and Range control on the radio ...blah blah blah.
Anyway when we picked up the 4.2 mortar rounds they would come with a threaded on extension and a number of extra charges for long range shooting ...which we didn't do. So the mortar guys would strip off all the extra stuff and just have a base charge on the round, and the mortar guys added a bit more charges to shoot the extra miles.
Back at our barracks in Graf we had diesel heaters (Camp Normandy???) if you ran a diesel heater for a time and looked down into the burning chamber it was like a sea of carbon "sea weed" ...which would end up plugging the heater carburetor, the fire would go out and it would get cold in the barracks FAST …IF you didn’t clean it out! SO the Lt. handed me about 6 packs of these 4.2 mortar charges and hold me to give them to my Section Sgt. We were suppose to break these charges down into the single leaflets (a pack was about 10 single leafs …as I remember??) and throw them into the burning chamber and shut the door real fast. The charge with cook off and blow the carbon "sea weed" up and out of the stove clearing it so it wouldn't get clogged up and go out. I gave these to my Section Sergeant and didn't think much more about it.
In these barracks the Redeye Section wasn't large enough to take up a whole barracks so we shared ours with the medic section. We got to be pretty good friends with them, their Section Sergeant was an old E7 …SFC Martin, he had only about 18 months more to do in the Army and he was retiring. He was kind of "crotchety" in his old age ....complaining about everything and everybody (if you seen these medics you'd know why!*G*)
SO it's about 3 weeks later and I wake up early one morning to a funny noise, I roll over to see SFC Martin in his old civilian bath robe and slippers stripping down these mortar charges I had given my Section Sergeant. He had done 1 single and had gotten down to the last two in the packet ...these were sewn together on the 2 opposite sides, he tried and tried to get these last two charges apart with no luck, so he decides to toss them both in together! ...He must have been a little apprehensive because he was fumbling with the door trying to get it closed ...when both charge cooked off! Flame was shooting out of the door ...along with most of the carbon "sea weed"! Now this REALLY spooked him and he falls back onto his butt! I was dying laughing! Between he and I, we were making so much noise it woke everybody up ...in time to see the carbon "sea weed" landing on everything in the barracks!*G* Only other good thing (besides the show) was watching the medics cleaning up his mess!
We won't let him hear the end if it all the rest of out time there! I can still see him sitting on his ass in that old bath robe!! *LOL*
Loved those 4.2 mortar charges!! …You should see a whole trench full cook off!! …Now that was a show!