Dustbowl stories anyone?

Tank maintenance

Tank Maintenance
U.S. Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment perform maintenance on their tank on Fort Irwin, Calif., Feb. 20. Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Zachary A. Gardner, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment Public Affairs Office

Although the crew is from the “home team” at Fort Irwin, this photo prompted a trip down memory lane, recalling long hours spent either drawing out or turning in equipment at the NTC.  Anyone care to share a dustbowl story?  The one I have in mind involves a BDE CDR that Elsi may remember….

7 thoughts on “Dustbowl stories anyone?”

  1. 12 years in the Army, and I only made one rotation to NTC.

    And, as a dismount, the Dustbowl just wasn’t that bad. I didn’t have to deal with the Demons of Dynacorp very much.

    Also, my folks happened to be in the area, so I had a pass to spend a good deal of time with them. Which beats the heck out of sitting on your butt in the sand.

  2. 19 rotations….12 in uniform.

    I start with the days when the Dustbowl was a stretch of desert and that is it. An entire brigade would be lined up in company streets. Long lines of pup tents with a GP Small or hex tent at the front.

    Usually 2 GP Mediums as the BN Toc and ALOC for each battalion. Mess tents along the road.

    All of this within a three sided enclosure of about 400 portapotties.

    There were no buildings. Main post was off limits. We had to bring our own shower and bath unit in from the Army Reserve and contract for an AAFES trailer….which would be out of everything but Fresca and black licorice by 1000 each day.

    Good times…good times.

    Of course there was the time when the GA ARNG had a tank battalion come back into the Dustbowl after a 14 day rotation. When the Dyncorps contractor opened the breach on the 105mm on an M60 out kicked a service sabot round…..did I mention it was the battalion commander’s tank?

    It was fun being the brigade S4 when taht happened!

    1. I bet it was! Walker Arms was owned by a former Army Odrnance Corps Officer that help the Nationalist Chinese set up their small arms manufacturing. After he got out, he set up his gunsmithing business. He checked one rifle in and placed it in the rack for the guy who would actually do the work. The gunsmith asked Walker if he had checked and cleared the weapon. after Walker said yes, the gunsmith proceeded to kick 5 rounds out the magazine.

      Walker old the story on himself in his “Gunsmith’s Bible” for the popular press.

  3. Lived and worked there from August 2004 to May 2006. My unit was activated to take over the regimental OPFOR mission when 1/11 and 2/11 went to Iraq. Every two weeks, we’d occupy a MOUT site for two weeks of field problem. Sometimes there would be a high intensity conflict phase before the stability operations began, others were just two weeks of stability operations. We’d run insurgencies out of each town and a few cave networks centered around Tiefort mountain. Augmenting our presence were several Kurds and Iraqis (some of them US citizens, some of them not) to simulate a more accurate language and cultural barrier (when the GA national guard came through though, the language and cultural barrier was sufficient between us and them.)

    Good times, and a lot of small unit raids, were had by all.

    1. Also that tank is on Range 1. I can see the worm board in the background. The regiment shot their HBCT gunnery cycle right after my squadron finished up at the end of January.

  4. By the time that I went in ’88 as part of A/2-1 CAV, they’d built a few amenities like Thunder Row, about 100 toilets facing each other with no partitions. It was funny seeing how people would space themselves as far apart as they could and would pay good money for a newspaper or something similar so they could pretend that they were by themselves. Still had the pup tents, the PX trailer and we were locked down in the Dustbowl. Incredibly boring as we had to wait for the rest of the brigade to draw and return vehicles for what seemed like a week on each end of the deployment. We’d brought our own M-3 Bradleys since Dynacorps didn’t have any to issue so that wasn’t a big deal although getting the local electronics installed was a PITA.

  5. Irwin, the quickie. JA/AAT mission from Gray AAF (Ft. Hood, TX) hauling a Maint. BN on C-141B’s. Dropped Containerized Delivery System (CDS) and personnel on the way in (did not drop on Bicycle Lake). Late that afternoon boarded CH-47’s to March AFB for a Remain Overnight (RON) and C-130 back to Texas to jump back in. Riding in from the Drop Zone was amazed at the desolateness of the place….like being on the moon!! Last three hours of flight going in was Nap Of the Earth (NOE) and had the Maintenance folks heaving their guts out. Jump was excellent!!! Yes I did darn near yak my guts out…..didn’t.

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