Sunday, October 31, 2010

When the main gun pops, a tank stops being so humorous

A long time ago, my recruiter smiled at my ASVAB score and said 'Well, now.  Looks like you can pick your MOS: what do you want to spend the next four years doing?'

I briefly entertained armor. The idea of zooming around the battlefield in a 52-ton death-dealing machine was really appealing.  In hindsight, and having some experience with flat tires in January in Wisconsin, going infantry was a good idea.

Working on a tank is not like working on a '53 Chevy.  The parts weigh tons.  If the cupola needs work, a crane lifts it off.  If the crew watns to see the engine, a crane lifts the armor covers.  When the tracks break or wear out, which they constantly do, it is back-breaking work to replace them.  Tracks are deceptively fragile.

Maintenance is hard, knuckle-busting business:  In addition to bum ears, tankers tend to have scarred hands and joints that don't work just right.  Day in and day out the crews sweat over their machines.  If they aren't just repairing them, they are cleaning them with high pressure hose at the Birdbath, a concrete washing area.  It's not fun, not even interesting.  It's just work.  In some respects, being a tanker is like having one long flat tire in January.

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