The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

By the way... there's a crossword at the bottom of this page

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Snippet of Life: A Big Bang


It was a beautiful sunny day, the water was calm, and there was very little breeze. The beach about a mile away was a gorgeous and empty white strip between the blue water and the green jungle. It would have been quiet and peaceful had not the forward gun mount been firing a few shots every 10 minutes. There was a war going on, after all, and there were Marines and soldiers somewhere deep in that jungle who needed some help.

The forward gun mount consisted of two 5" .38 caliber guns who could toss high explosive projectiles weighing 55 lbs up to 9 miles away. The "friendlies" in the jungle wanted them to land in the areas where people were shooting at them and we were complying.

I was standing on the starboard wing of the bridge as a lookout. My job was to spot any small, fast boats or planes heading for us with hostile intent. Actually, I wasn't to be concerned with hostile intent... I was just there to spot anything moving toward us. The water and sky were empty of anything. Not even clouds, as I recall.

The captain and the executive officer had come out and stood to my left. I do not know why. There was nothing they could do better out here than they could have done inside the bridge. Yet they were right there next to me. We were all wearing flak jackets and helmets. I had a pair of binoculars also.

Each time one of the two guns of the forward mount fired, there would be a ring of smoke and fire produced. And a big boom. You never saw the projectile, never even heard when it exploded 7 or 8 miles away over the hills above the beach.

Except once. The time it didn't explode 7 or 8 miles away. The time it exploded about 50 yards away. It's called a "preemie" by crew members. A premature detonation. A dangerous event , to be sure. The captain and the exec dropped to the deck and I merely glanced at them but did not follow them down.

The captain popped back upright and immediately walked back onto/into the bridge. The exec also got to his feet but lingered a few moments to chew me out about not taking cover when the projectile exploded. I listened passively and said nothing.

My reasoning was simple. There was no time to react. Any shrapnel would have already hit us before we could drop below the wall; a wall, though steel, that would not have stopped much anyway. In other words, we'd have already been hit. If I heard it explode and wasn't bleeding or dead, I was alright. Plus, the projectile and its shrapnel would move forward in the direction the gun was aimed as fast, or nearly as fast, as the projectile had been going when it exploded. Simple physics.

I think the captain knew this and was a bit embarrassed by his diving to the deck. I also think the exec was also embarrassed but chose to cover it with harsh words to me.

It was tough enough for me just not to laugh.

 

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