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a different azimuth
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There's a Bug in my EAR! - Eglin Air Force Base, 1981

You've probably seen the movie where Kahn puts the really scary bug in Chekhov's ear.  Maybe you have heard stories of earwigs burrowing into human ears and laying eggs.  Well I sure have and these stories came crashing down on me one night on exercise in Florida.

The Scouts were on a frontal screen line monitoring the Mechanized Infantry across Highway 85, marshaling their armored vehicles for the start of the exercise.  Once they stopped the traffic on the highway was our cue they were coming. We would begin to interdict them with preplanned Artillery Fires, would pop the first two tracked vehicle with our Dragons, then run like hell to prepared Alternate and Subsequent Positions to continue to slow and report their progress and formations.

They came on Faster than expected; our notional artillery and dragon/machinegun fire wasn't "killing" anyone.  So much for the Game.  After the first two R&S positions, it was clear we were not going to make it to the Passage points on the Battalion Front, so we were ordered to assembled as a Platoon in a pre-planned hide in a triangle of roads between the highway and the Battalion FLOT.  Only my section and Mitch Pigg's section made it, four gun Jeeps, two dragons, four machine guns, four grenade launchers, five radios.  We moved deep into the triangle , camouflaged the Jeeps, set up security, and waited.

Mitch and I dismounted, grabbed a radio moved to an OP to continuing monitoring and reporting the enemy in their route.  From the sounds, they were using the split in the road, that formed two sides of our triangle, to move on two axis.  Then they began setting up for the night on these two roads and the road that formed the base of the triangle.

They had us surrounded, the poor Bastards.

Mitch and I moved back to our guys and put them at 100% security, improved our camouflage, and enforced strict noise and light discipline.  We advised Battalion of the situation, found out that the PL and Second section were safe, then went to Radio Listening Silence.

Then Mitch and I got Bored.  We stripped down to a canteen, three mags, grabbed our M16s, our RECON 2/505 Stencils made just for this night, and Claymore bags filled with Orange Florescent Spray Paint.  We gave our 2ICs a contingency plan and struck out after dark to wreck havoc among the Tread Heads.  If we could help it, they were getting no sleep.

Happily, we went about doing what we did best, sneaking up on people, but, before firing them up, we spray painted an orange RECON 2/505 on their tanks.  Then we'd attack, from inside their lines.  What a glorious time we were having watching them scurry about, shooting at each other, searching for us with their Xenon lights and flashlights.  It was hilarious. 

Then it happened.  A bug flew in my ear.

I don't know what kind of bug.  It could have been a gnat, but the bussing i  my head sounded like a B-52 Bomber was in there.  I shook, shined a light hoping it would come out on its own, I dug in my ear with a pine straw.  The more I did the louder and deeper it got.

Mitch got fed up with me really quick.  "I know you have a bug in your ear, you told me.  Shut it.  You're going to give away our position.  Stop Whining!"  After a while, he began to have fun with my distress.  "Don't worry, it's probably just an earwig.  As soon as it lays it's eggs, it'll probably die."

I demanded that we cease our mission and move back to the jeeps.  Mitch agreed and we moved back to the center of the triangle, but the jeeps were too well camouflaged and our sections were either maintaining strict noise discipline or were dead-ass asleep. We searched for hours, then gave up and lay down on the cold ground to rest...the bug still buzzing away in my ear.

The next day, after the Enemy moved out, we trailed them at distance, still calling in Fire and reporting as they moved.  When we had a chance, we passed through a passage point and reported to the Battalion TOC, my first stop, being the aid station.  The medics and the Doc had a look, but the bug was so far in my ear canal that they couldn't get to it.  They did drown it in an attempt to flush it out.  The buzzing stopped.  The doc told me not to worry; "it will come out one day."

And it did, piece by small piece, wings, legs, body parts....over about a month.

I don't remember much about the rest of the exercise.  Our Airborne Anti-Armor Defense did what it was supposed to do, attrit the enemy.  At Endex, the scouts just happened to be in a position to watch the "enemy" vehicles pass as they moved to the railhead.  It was amazing to even Mitch and I how many were "tagged" with RECON 2/505 in bright orange paint.  We were Battalion Heroes for a day.

Mitch said, "We could have gotten them all, had it not been for that damn bug."