US Army ROTC @ Mount Saint Mary’s

Saint Philomena Catholic Books & Gifts – Emmitsburg, MD

I had a very providential encounter today with a young man and woman who were US Army ROTC at Mount Saint Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Yeah, did I just say “US Army at Mount Saint Mary’s?”

Yes I did…

I was walking out of the bookstore, after having spoken with the manager about getting my philosophy/theology book into the store, and just as I was walking out the door I saw a young woman and a young man in US Army fatigues just as they were both plopping down on separate couches right in front of me and said to myself “Oh no…”

So I said to them, “What are you guys doing here?” and they both said “We’re in the ROTC”. I said “Why would you want to be in the Army?” and they didn’t say anything. I asked them “What job skill do want to study for, what MOS?” and the guy said, believe it or not, “EOD” and I said “What?! Explosives Ordinance Disposal?! Why?! Have you ever heard the saying “There’s no such thing as an explosives expert”? and he said “Yes”.

I asked him where he had heard this, and he couldn’t say. I said to him “It’s good that you know that, and don’t ever forget… bombs are unpredictable and very dangerous.” (He also told me he wanted to go into EOD because he liked to solve puzzles and because a friend of his was in EOD.)

I told him “I was US Army too, 11B infantry. Let me tell you about an experience I had one morning at the demolitions range. The EOD NCO in charge told us ‘There is no such thing as and explosives expert. Explosive are unpredictable, unstable, and very dangerous.'”

“The NCO and his assistant” I told him, “a 19 year-old Spec Four, “began the first demonstration of our day-long class in explosives ordinance, that being the simulation of a nuclear bomb blast-type mushroom cloud, which consisted of 2 fifty-five gallon drums filled with black powder and flash powder with an electrically wired detonator.”

I said,

“The younger guy hit the switch to blow the first one and nothing happened. He hit the switch for the second one, and nothing happened. He and the NCO spoke and the young guy began following the wires, looking for broken connections…. all the way out to the first barrel, checking for broken connections all the way. He followed that wire all the way to where it went inside the first barrel, bent over the barrel, and looked inside…”

“KA BOOM!!!”

“The 19 year-old was flying backward, through the air, many feet off the ground, and was thrown a good forty feet from the barrel… and when his body hit the ground, landing on his back, it began twitching like a chicken with it’s head cut off  (and I twitched, like he did)… the blast caved-in his forehead, blew his eyes out, and he had a sucking chest wound… he didn’t die right away, and he never knew what hit him… he died twelve hours later… 19 years old.”

Angel – Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary – Emmitsburg, MD

Then I said “Don’t be EOD buddy”, as I slapped him on the back and began to walk away “I don’t want you to get killed, like that guy did, okay?” And as I was walking out the front door I turned to him and said “But if you do, be careful!” and I walked out the front door thinking “If I was him, and a guy like me had just told me that, it would get my attention, and I would probably rethink becoming EOD after that.

I had a similar experience when I was twenty and had finished my three years of active duty. There was a lot of fighting going on in Africa then and I was thinking of becoming a mercenary… hiring myself out as a professionally trained killer – trained by the USG – who specialized in hunting people and warfighting for fun and sport…. a challenge. I was young, dumb, and full of cum, as we used to say of such young men as I was then; and I wasn’t a Christian either.

Well, right when I was contemplating this decision, and leaning toward doing it, a young man from the city I lived in, who was just a bit older than I was, was killed in Africa while fighting as a mercenary. His body was soon shipped back home, and his family buried his dead body in the ground about two miles from my house.

When they put him into the ground I thought “I think it’s best if I don’t become a mercenary…” and I never did. But if not for that man I probably would have.

I hope the death of the young man who was killed in that explosion will make the young ROTC guy have second thoughts about what he wants to do… just as that mercenary’s death forced me to have second thoughts about what I wanted to do, because I would hate to see another fine young man like that be killed for no good reason whatsoever, except for that boys like to play with their toys and their guns and their bombs and act all big and bad, which is just fucking stupid and very deadly. What a waste war is of some of our best and finest people.

See: My review of the film: The Hurt Locker on IMDb

VIDEO – Skull and Bones – The Catholic Connection (1:45:55)


There’s an interesting footnote to this story. After the crisis was over, and the wounded man’s body medevaced out, we stationed a squad of men to guard the remaining unexploded barrel, who would keep people away from it until it was properly disposed of by EOD (think about that for a moment). These men remained on guard there for the remainder of that day, as well as all through that night, until the following day. The range itself being in the middle of nowhere with nothing but rocks and dust for miles around (= Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA).

The morning after the accident, while everyone was standing in the chow line, one of the four medics from our unit, who had rushed to help the injured man the previous morning even before his body had hit the ground, while everyone else was stunned, jaws dropping, not moving at all, came up to the line (still wearing his bloody uniform from the morning before) telling us the man had died at 11:30 pm the night before; he then described for us the injuries the man had sustained and how he and the other medics had treated him (having saved his life on the spot, which enabled them to get him to a hospital, although his injuries were too severe to survive).

Just after he said this, a vehicle rolled up and out of the back of it came the squad of men who had been watching over the unexploded barrel, their mission having now been completed. When they got into the chow line they all said “You’ll never believe what happened last night. Around 11:30 we saw a red light out by the barrel, and we all thought it was someone with a flashlight, but we there was no around but us… then we saw it pulsating and floating around and we knew it wasn’t any flashlight… it scared the crap out of us!”

Everyone in the chow line was silent for a moment, then we told them what the medic had just told us, pointing at him, and saying “He just told us the guy died at 11:30 last night!”

We all began speculating as to what, exactly, this red light might have been… like perhaps he had come back to look for his missing eyeballs, but we all agreed the red light had been the spirit of the guy who was killed, returning to the scene of the accident, before he made his final departure from the land of the living.

POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA, Hawaii – Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA)

“The physiography of Pohakuloa is deceptive in terms of training suitability. Almost the entire site is level or gently sloping, uninhabited, and having few trees or deep gullies to inhibit training. Nevertheless, a large percent of it is almost completely unusable for maneuvers due to the rough lava flows that occur over much of the surface area. There are several geological features within the installation. Cinder cone hills or puu’s, products of the latest eruptive activity on Mauna Kea, are found in the northern part of the installation and are surrounded by more recent lava flows from Mauna Loa. These recent flows (less than 200 years) are the most notable features of the central and southern landscape and together with the northern flows cover approximately 30% of the training area. Recent lava flows surround and contrast with islands of vegetation call kipukas. The two types of lava found throughout Hawaii, pahoehoe and ‘a’a, are present at PTA as well. The pahoehoe flows have smooth undulating surfaces and can be traversed on foot for short distances. The rough ‘a’a, however, are jagged, slag-like piles of impassable material. ” See:

Pohakuloa Training Area  (PTA)

VIDEO – Lava Viper in Pohakuloa Training Area, Jan. 13, 2012

U.S. Marines with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment are conducting a live hand grenade range during Lava Viper in Pohakuloa Training Area, Jan. 13, 2012. Lava Viper is a battalion level combined arms training exercise to better prepare Marines for upcoming deployments. Produced by Lance Cpl. Robert Bush. Available in high definition.

About ajmacdonaldjr

writer, author, blogger
This entry was posted in Accident Prevention, Bible, Charity, Culture, Ethics, Government, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Society, Terrorism, Violence, War, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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