If there’s one thing I learned in the U.S. Army, it’s to duck your head after throwing a grenade. Instead, I attempted to watch so I could see where the grenade landed.
Remarkably, that was a mistake which got me a big headache from the sergeant overseeing my grenade toss. He jumped on my head.
It all started innocently enough. Firing a rifle is one of those special training events in Army basic training. The only time before basic training that I fired a rifle was hunting with my dad and uncle Eddie. I shot uncle Eddie in the back with my BB gun. They didn’t take me hunting again.
Basic training back in the day consisted of a series of training events with the objective of graduation. One such event included the tossing of a hand grenade to simulate battle conditions. After a couple of days of training, our platoon was ready for a live demonstration of grenade tossing, and an opportunity for each of us to blow something up.
Growing up in a small river town in Missouri gave me plenty of opportunities to blow something up. Cherry bombs and toilets. Firecrackers wrapped around a cat’s belly. That kind of thing.
Grenade tossing is different. Not many people die from a cherry bomb stuffed down a toilet. Grenades are for real, and to make it worse, you don’t actually have to hit anything with the grenade. Just get close and damage is done.
When it came my turn to toss the grenade I was ushered toward a concrete and steel barrier fronting a large, open field. With the experienced sergeant at my side, I gripped the grenade, pulled the pin, stood up against the wall, and threw that sucker as far as I could.
Then I stood and watched to see where it went, and how big the bang would be. Before the grenade hit the ground, the sergeant hit my head and down to the ground we went. A moment later there was a loud bang, an explosive shudder against the wall, and plenty of flying dirt.
Apparently you’re not supposed to watch to see where the grenade goes.