Finally we returned to base! And some time after, we threw grenades. Now, in our lesson before the actual throwing we studied about all the different types of grenades. Smoke grenades, flash bangs, fragmentation, etc etc…
Do you know how many fragments fly out of the fragmentation grenade? 1024 body piercing fragments. Wow. No one wants 1024 pieces of metal lodged into them with the force of an explosion as loud as a tank firing a shell in the movies.
However, we learned there are training grenades which aside from the loud noise they make upon explosion, don’t have any fragments inside. It was my impression that we would be throwing those training grenades. Before we could actually throw the grenades, we practiced. Two times with our commander, once when we were in the field and once back on base.
We practiced how we enter the area where we throw the grenade (between two metal walls that form a corridor like the letter T. You walk in from the
leg, and throw from either the left or right. We practiced what happens if you drop the grenade outside the wall. In this event the commander drops you on the ground and covers your body with his, even though, the metal wall will have no problem absorbing all the fragments.
We practiced what happens if you drop the grenade inside the walls, in which case the commander rushes you outside the walls, then drops you on the ground and covers your body with his. My favorite was the practice for dropping a grenade inside the walls, because I figure you would have to be a very special kind of clumsy person to do something like that. So I purposely fumbled the rock in my hands, from my left to my right and back in a vain effort to catch the thing, before letting it drop to my feet.
It was funny.
Finally, it was my turn to actually throw the real thing so I put on my kevlar vest and my combat vest, and went running up a steep hill to where my company commander was waiting. There we yet again practiced with a rock both scenarios. Then he told me “Robert, just relax. Whatever happens, I’m here together with you.” This was a very calming thought considering this man is an officer and came to us from the elite Duvdevan special forces unit.
Then he said “hold out your hand…No, both your hands.” Yikes, both? Is this a grenade or an anville? I’m starting to not feel relaxed!
Then he placed it in my hands, the real grenade. Light, and shaped like a cylinder rather than the round ones we see in the movies. I rotated the pin, pulled it, brought the grenade behind my back slow and steady ready to throw, shouted “Grenade”, all as supposed to occur.
Then I threw it, and within half a nano-second heard a BOOM from the grenade as it was still 2 or 3 feet from my face in the air.
I was sure that now the grenade had exploded, and that I was now dead. I was supposed to begin counting 21…22…23…as soon as the grenade left my hands, but instead I shouted “WHATS THAT [noise I just heard]!”
Upon realizing I was alive, I began counting 21…22…23, all while watching upright where the grenade lands. Then ducking behind cover, just in time for the big KABOOM.
As it turns out, I learned about how the grenade will make a miniature explosion before the big explosion that kills people. However, I mistakenly believed this is an explosion you feel in your hands when you pull the pin, not one you hear when you toss the grenade. I will add this to a long list of things that my jobnik teacher for new immigrants says that turn out to be contrary to actual reality.
Speaking of things I was taught wrong. After I returned from throwing the grenade, someone who hadn’t yet had a turn, asked me about how many fragments the grenade launches. I replied 1024, but don’t worry, these are training grenades we are throwing and they contain no fragments. To which
I was corrected by someone else, “No, we throw the real fragmentation grenades.”
I didn’t believe it. A nearby commander was asked, and he confirmed that it was indeed real grenades. This is something I am partly glad I hadn’t known, and partly irritated at the misinformation. In any case, I’m excited for the many more times we get to throw grenades.
After we threw the grenades, we officially graduated from rifleman level 03. The base planned a bbq day for us, but they decided we were behaving badly the night before and cancelled it. I think in reality, they simply found themselves disorganized and had to cancel it anyway, because we were behaving the same as always and so was the army in its usual disorganized fashion.
So essentially, we had a day where the schedule wasn’t ready. No BBQ, and no alternative plans. Most of the day was spent in class, doing nothing. But then, to our misfortune, they managed to squeeze in a run before dinner. The commander told us “Now, either you can run or go to the medic for a problem”. I thought to myself, “GO TO THE MEDIC. MAKE SOMETHING UP.”
But I couldn’t think of anything, and felt kind of stupid faking something. I felt this is what Lazy Bastard would do. So I sowed my balls back on, and wen for a run. It turned out we would run for 6 kilometers. And then that turned out to be a lie, as it became no less than 7 kilometers. Mr. Special Forces Duvdevan (our company commander) was leading, while my commander was in the back making sure no one falls behind.
Around kilometer 2 I jokingly cursed myself for not seeing the Medic instead of this. At kilometer 3 I was quite serious about the issue. From this point to the 7th kilometer, a very energetic and kind soldier kept cheering me on to keep going, giving me tips.
“Come on Robert, bigger steps! Bigger smile!”
It actually worked, smile and everything just seems so much easier. We passed some Arab farmers on the way back, and there I was just smiling at them while my legs monotonously trudged onward. I would not have made it to the end of that run without the help of that soldier. Energetic bastard that he is.