Editor's note: As a special service for our readers, WND is running a series of dispatches from Allan Wall chronicling his transition from civilian life as he prepares to fight with his National Guard unit in Iraq. Allan will write for us as often as he is able to let our readers vicariously experience what people in his position are going through. We hope you will check regularly for Allan's dispatches and encourage your friends and family to do likewise.
My lieutenant was ordered to be in charge of a machine-gun shooting range at Fort XYZ, so he chose some of us soldiers to help him out. I was one of them.
We reported to the range in the morning and took control. Well, briefly. Soon we discovered that we weren't in control; another unit was. But, we still had to stay there and work. And so we did.
Some of us were on the ammo detail. These soldiers had to break down wooden boxes of machine-gun ammunition and distribute it to the soldiers.
Others helped as safety observers, making sure things were done properly and safely.
Things ran rather slowly that day – they couldn't get many machine guns going. But we got through the day and prepared for night firing.
I was a safety observer for the beginning of night fire, but only one machine gun was firing. After I was relieved, I went to sleep in a five-ton truck. When I awoke, there was no firing going on, and it was very foggy. They had stopped firing about 10:30 p.m. because it was too foggy, and they didn't have the proper night-vision equipment.
For several hours, there was no firing going on, but it did start raining. By that time, I was sleeping under a tarp, which kept me pretty dry.
At about 3:30 a.m., firing started again, and again I served as a safety observer. Finally, around dawn, the firing was finished.
But, the work was not over. The range had to be cleaned up and inspected by a Fort XYZ civilian. I was in charge of that detail.
While we were there, I looked through the fog and saw some armed soldiers walking toward our range. It really looked like something out of a Western. They arrived and informed us that they were supposed to shoot at that range that day. (A truck had dropped them off at the road, and they had walked in.) Turns out they weren't at the right range. The truck had dropped them off at the wrong location.
So somebody took them to the range where we thought they were supposed to be. Only, it wasn't the right range either. So they just stayed with us.
Finally, the civilian range inspector came, inspected the range and cleared us. We were free to go. So the lieutenant, myself and the rest of us who were left, as well as the soldiers who had shown up at the wrong range, loaded into the truck. This time, we took them to the correct range and dropped them off there so they could shoot. After it was verified to be the correct range, of course.
Then we returned to the barracks.