rawling on our bellies in the early morning hours of darkness, Lt. Jankorski and I slipped silently through the weeds and brush, concerned only for the deadly poisonous snakes, which inhabited the island of Okinawa. We were on a mission. A mission of training good Marines to become better ones. We were part of the T.E.C.G. The Tactical Exercise Control Group. We were the men who put together wartime scenarios, which Marines in combat might someday face. We were going to teach Marines how to stay alive. For, a dead Marine is no good to us in combat.
"Here!" Jankorski whispered, "Put one here, across this trail leading out of their tent." I reached inside my gunnysack and pulled out a grenade simulator- a "flash-bang" we called them. After taping the explosive device to a nearby tree, I strung a trip-wire across the path in front of the CP tent where four Marines were soundly sleeping. While doing that, I heard the lieutenant quietly snipping the communications line running inside the tent. "That'll do it, Lieutenant," I whispered, "Let's get their vehicle, too."
We snuck past the darkened tent and approached the parked Hummer not quite 50 feet from the tent. I raised the hood, while the lieutenant rigged another flash-bang beneath the engine. We wired the hood so that when it was raised, there would be a deafening explosion.
"Let's get the hell outta here, Greene," the lieutenant ordered, "We're through here."
After clearing that team's area, we moved onto the next team area, some 500 meters away. There, we repeated our performance, ensuring that our grenade simulators were placed in such a manner so as no one would be injured by them, but they would feel the blast if they did not practice good security in the field. An embarrassment, to say the least, but they would still be alive - and, they will have learned something by it.
Then, onto the third team - another 400 meters away in the darkness. Same procedure - expecting the same results in the morning. All team areas were now rigged for noise, confusion, and chaos, and all communications lines had been severed. Just like it would be done in real life.
By 4:15 AM, we had only one flash-bang left. If we didn't use it, we would have to fill out a mountain of paperwork to turn it back in to the ammo dump. Ones that were exploded were considered "expendable" items, and didn't have to be accounted for the way in which a returned one did.
Back on our feet now, the lieutenant and I walked quietly back towards our area. We talked about where else we might be able to use the leftover flash-bang. We did not want to go through the paper drill to dispose of the extra device. There had to be somewhere we could set up just one more boobytrap.
As we walked across the training compound, we passed the outhouse-the "head"-which had been centrally placed between all the team areas for use in the field. BINGO! It hit us both at the same time- as if it were a revelation from God Almighty!
We scurried over towards the head, and quickly assessed the situation. Yep! One flash-bang beneath the four-holer oughta do it, we agreed. I took the dirty job, and carefully placed the waterproof device inside one of the cans in which all the droppings fell, while the lieutenant ran the trip wire all the way around the outhouse to the inside. This particular head had a door that wouldn't stay shut. So, we rigged up the device for the modest individual- the man who wanted some privacy in his life- the decent guy who would try to close the door while inside taking care of business.
Content with our final surprise, we jogged back to the T.E.C.G. compound and got into our bunks just before sunrise. Not able to control his emotions over the final deed we had just setup, I heard the lieutenant giggling. Then, he got me started. Dueling snickers in the night! We took turns almost laughing out loud at what was going to happen to some unlucky stiff.
Major Wildside was an outstanding leader and the commander of the T.E.C.G. He shared our tent with the rest of us. He was a "salt-of-the-earth" kind of guy. He was a modest man. He was a very private man. He was a decent man. And, he was a man who needed to make a head call at 5:15 AM this particular morning. We heard him stirring in the darkness as he put on his boots to begin the long trek down the path towards the head. In our defense, we did not know that it was the Major at the time. Three minutes passed- we heard him stumbling around outside trying to get his bearing in the darkness. Then, the footsteps grew further and further away. Five minutes passed. Silence. Six minutes- nothing.
Then, out of the quiet stillness of the night- KA-BOOOOOMM!
The lieutenant and I just about rolled out of our bunks from laughing so hard. Our stomachs hurt. Our faces could hardly stand any more stretching in the laughter we were experiencing. Others inside our tent started waking up and were asking what the hell was going on. Jankorski and I couldn't say a word. All we could do was hold our sides in hopes that the pain would go away.
Then, about four minutes later, as the Major re-entered our tent, we both stopped laughing. He was a sight to behold. Covered with some gooey wet stuff and toilet paper, the man was in a rage. I had never once seen the Major angry with anyone. He was a very mild-mannered sort of man. He was a good and decent man. But now, he was a raving lunatic! He got all of us up and out of our bunks, and began the interrogation. The lieutenant signaled me with his hand to keep my mouth shut. I willingly complied. I enjoyed life too much to throw it all away for the sake of having a good laugh. And, had the Major found out who setup the head, there surely would have been a lynching that morning. Honesty, at this time, was not the best policy.
Things started going from bad to worse as the other teams in the area began waking up. Off in the distance we could hear, KA-BOOOOOMM! Then, KA-BOOOOOMM! And, KA-BOOOOOMM!
This went on for another eight or nine- we lost count. Our minds were clearly focused on our careers in the Marine Corps at that moment. And, if that wasn't bad enough, I thought the Major was going to lose it completely when he tried calling in all of the teams to the T.E.C.G. for interrogation. We had severed all the communications lines at the team areas. Our plan worked- but, it also backfired!
No pun intended, Major, Sir!
Author's Note: A full confession was made to Major Wildside at his farewell party years later.