Childhood Stories

When I was younger I spent a lot of time camping with the Boy Scouts. We went roughly once a month, and during the trips I would listen to the adults share stories they’d gathered over their lives. Of course, being a young teenage boy the ones about stuff that happened in the military always caught my attention.

I cannot say for sure if any of this actually happened, and if it did I have almost certainly gotten details wrong. Because of that I’m calling this a work of fiction, but I hope you enjoy the story. I have tried to write exactly as I remember it being told.

This’ll Be Cool

Before I retired I had this buddy that served in the military who had a story about working the radios for an artillery unit. He’d been assigned to a 105mm howitzer that was engaging in target practice on some island in the pacific.

Their target was this concrete bunker that had been set up on a hill, and they’d been shooting at it for some time. They were getting plenty of hits, but the engineers that had built the thing had done a great job. Even though they could see their shells landing direct hits on the bunker there were no visible signs that it had been damaged. It certainly hadn’t been destroyed.

It was about then that he heard a call come over the radio: “This is the USS Missouri operating fifteen miles off the coast. Looks like you’re having a little trouble there. Want some help?”

A few thoughts should have gone through his mind at this point. For example, should he ask the commander first? Was this against regulation? Was this even safe?

Instead, being a young 20-something, the only thought to go through his head was this: Gosh, this’ll be cool.

He immediately radioed back to say that sounded great, and was promptly asked for map coordinates to the target, which he gladly provided. From there he just sat back and eagerly awaited the show.

After perhaps 10 minutes he heard a sound like a freight train flying through the air, and before anyone had a chance to wonder what it was the entire hilltop exploded as it was hammered by 16-inch shells. When the dust finally cleared the target was gone along with the rest of the hilltop.

And the commander was pissed. This was dangerous, stupid, against regulation, and worse of all had made the 105 look like a child’s toy off of nothing no more solid than a set of map coordinates.