« A Bombshell Report from the New CNN | Main | The Solitude of Combat Veterans - Alan Farrell »

24 May 2020


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

nick b

Thank you, that was brilliant.

Medicine Man

I'm more than a little envious of Alan Farrell's skill with language. His description of the heroic battle waged by those centipedes was particularly hilarious.

The Twisted Genius

I love this story and the story teller. And those centipedes. They were the same in Hawaii. After seeing them up close during my first week in the Kahuku Mountains, I pretty much stopped sleeping on the ground. Since maneuvers only involved blanks and artillery simulators, I slept in a net hammock blissfully off the ground and away from the scorpions and centipedes.



An animal story - When I was DATT in Saudi during the Iran-Iraq War we ran a motorized recon team out of my office to keep track of Iraq bound military shipments brought in through a military port north of Yenbo on the Red Sea Coast. The Saudis built the port for that purpose and there was a continuous stream of freighters from China and Warsaw Pact ports unloading there to supply the Iraqi armed forces. They also used Kuwait and East Coast Saudi ports but these were harder for us to reach. US national level intelligence would inform us of ships en route and we would go up there with two cross country vehicles with a lot of fuel, spare parts, food, water and LORAN. This was before GPS. As a supplement to the LORAN, we would have our office airplane fly a track parallel to us to take a series of bearing from our radio beacon and then triangulate our position for us. The trucks had winches and we could move cross country if needed by winching the truck forward. we spent a lot of time counting trucks and their cargo. The convoys went up through the Najd, and the Nefud desert and crossed the border at Ar-Ar where DAO Baghdad picked them up to monitor where they were going. I was often tied up with embassy hand holding drills and didn't go on the first few of these trips once we got the team set up. I made room in my schedule to do one and found myself camped with the guys behind some hills a mile or so from the beach and port. We grilled steaks under a desert moon, had a couple of beers and settled down to a chilly night's rest. The convoy we were waiting for would leave about 0900. They always did. My AARMA, a major, and the three enlisted guys from the office took their sleeping bags up on top of the vehicles. I rolled out my air mattress and bag on the ground without thinking much about it. There were vipers and camel spiders in the Saudi outback but to tell the truth I was not impressed with them. The troops said nothing. I awoke in the dawn to find the men peering down at me from the roofs. Expecting coffee brewing I looked around and spied an eight foot meat eating monitor lizard (wurral) about ten yards away. It was standing perfectly still and watching me while its long forked tongue flicked in and out. Recognizing an important leadership moment I climbed out of the bag while keeping an eye on the beast, picked up a rock and bounced it off the animal who turned and ran away. I built up the fire while they climbed down from the roofs. After that I slept on top as well on these trips. BTW these wurral lizards mainly eat another kind of big lizard that the Arabs call a "dhub" The beduins eat Dhub as well. They will take one that is a couple feet long in the body, tie it up and toss it on the camp fire. When they are cooked the skin splits and you eat it like an ear of corn. These guys would have made good candidates for Waugh's "society for cruelty to animals." I wonder what my Mnong Gar brothers would have thought of all this.
They never feared the tiger, the NVA or the ARVN. They would not have feared the wurral. pl


"Recognizing an important leadership moment I climbed out of the bag while keeping an eye on the beast, picked up a rock and bounced it off the animal who turned and ran away."

Thus ruining the bets among the guys that sleepiness combined with embassy drills would cause the big man to approach the fat crocodile, put on a big smile and try to shake hands with it.



You are correct. The Foreign Service and CIA creatures that I dealt with on a daily basis would have made the wurral an attractive alternative. pl


FB Ali

From what I have seen the new SF(to include Delta, the line SF units and the SEALS) are not much like the old breed. They have been rangerized to the point that they are really just commandos. IMO they have lost the faith and ought to be called something else. IMO TTG is something of an exception, but, as he says, he had an old SF sergeant as a mentor. As you know, armies do not easily tolerate romantics like Lawrence, Gant or Orde Wingate. Only in exceptional circumstances are such men allowed to be what they are. Aaron Bank's vision and the necessities of the Cold War provided the exceptional circumstances needed for the old SF to exist. I am not surprised that Gant was rejected by the establishment. pl



Since I wrote a comment on this thread years ago I have learned from my genealogist wife that I have no "friends of the king" in my distant past. That was an inaccurate family legend as such things often are. Instead, there were many, many on US side of the war, both Continentals and state militia.

Terence Gore

Fell the other day riding one of those electric scooters. My right upper ribs and shoulder pretty sore.

It hurts to laugh

Damn you


Thank you for reposting this Col. Lang. I suspect that our ancestors, right down to the Roman legionary, would recognise ‘ Greunwald “ and understand and enjoy Gen. Farrells story.



Alan, for reasons satisfactory to him, now insists on saying that he is Sgt. Major (ret.) because he is retired from the USAR in that grade rather than as BG, Virginia Militia (unorganized.) For me this is a joke, but that is what he wants.


Funnily enough I heard a similar story from a Soviet AFG vet.

For them it was "Dermocratic" vs. "Democratic". An enterprising Captain interpreted this as checking their Afghan allies shit, in order to establish if the afghan ally commander was actually paying/supplying his troops with what he received for that purpose from Moscow. A not unreasonable idea in theory, but a Red army outpost isnt exactly equipped with the tools neccessary to perform a chemical analysis.
Eventually, "Due to a shortage of specialised shit analysts, a lot of shit accumulated which unsurprisingly ended in a manure explosion" (this sentence has to be delivered, utterly serious looking and stone faced, using precise late Soviet Era politically correct Russian lingo, which is kind of the opposite of how especially the enlisted Russian military actually talks, and which I sadly cant translate into English).

Diana Croissant

I finally found time to read the story. Thank you for posting it. I will not send it to my favorite Vietnam veteran to read. I once asked him to tell me what he had experienced.

After writing his story, it took him a while again to get Vietnam out of his head again.

God Bless our Veterans. And God Bless those who did not make it out of the wars alive.


Diana Croissant

You are far too sentimental. We are not very sentimental. That is one of the things the shrinks have against us. A now retired (after 33 years) colonel who was one of my students at WP went to see the army shrinks after he returned from his second or third tour (12 months each) in Iraq. He went because the army shrinks were begging everyone to flock to them so that they could demonstrate their salvational abilities. They were the Faucistas of the time. So this man went with another colonel. After the first time they decided not to return for "treatment" because what they had told the Faucobirxians frightened them. Maybe it is different with draftees. A lot of them whined a good deal in VN. but then, a lot of them did not.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad