Monday, March 16, 2020

Old Lesson for Current Times

Nearly 50 years on I am finding new value in my Army experience.  Booby trap training has prepared me well for dealing with coronovirus.  Well, at least insofar as not touching potentially infected surfaces limits exposure.  Not touching things unnecessarily is a basic principle of not getting killed by a booby trap, a principle that has stayed with me ever since my military servitude.  I often refrain from touching or disturbing some object thinking "I don't need need to do that.  Let it be."   Never once did I believe that the object might be dangerous but why take any chance for no good reason?

That caution is a hard-earned lesson.  One evening in Vietnam I was stetting up my Claymore anti-personnel mine on my sector of the company's night defensive perimeter when I spotted an unexploded American grenade on the ground.  The pin was missing but the thrower had forgotten to flip the safety clip off the spoon so the grenade did not detonate.  For some reason I thought I could not just leave it sitting there.  I also remembered that it might be a booby trap.  I was on a slope where I could get below the grenade and figured I'd be below any shrapnel if it was a booby trap and prodded it with a stick.  It did not explode.  I thought I had very cleverly rectified a potential hazard but when I told my platoon sergeant what I had done, he informed me in no uncertain terms that I was stupid fuck who could have gotten himself killed.  I don't think he actually yelled at me since we were supposed to maintain noise discipline but it sure felt like it.

Now every surface is dangerous and I look for ways to avoid touching them wherever I can but I am always remembering that grenade.

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