Saturday, July 28, 2012


I have previously shared how the first time we had scud missiles fired in our general direction during the time I visited the lovely theocracy of Saudi Arabia, we overreacted somewhat. But in case you missed it, and as a part of the point I wanted to make, I will reacquaint you with the story.

We kept the straps on our gas masks adjusted to fit our heads, so it would be easy to throw on. The only ones that were kept loose were the straps that adjusted around the chin. The drill was to put the mask over our face, quickly pull the straps over the head and pull the chin straps tight. Hopefully this would be done quick enough to keep out nerve gas or whatever chemical agents might waft out of the missiles that were lobbed out way.

The first time we had an alert, after the camp loudspeakers let off some siren like sound and someone shouted "Alarm Red, Alarm Red" through them, we quickly slapped our masks on and pulled the chin straps as tight as they would possibly go, jamming the back of our jaw in line with our spinal column.

After about 30 seconds, it start to feel a little sore. No-one wanted to loosen them, in case they might immediately turn six shades of grey and sputter their way to the great beyond.

After about a minute, it really hurt. Someone finally adjusted. Then everyone did, in spite of the popping of the patriots launching into the sky and exploding into the incoming scuds. We were able to dodge the shrapnel, which was probably nowhere near us that time, and evade the gas, which may or may not have been in the things, but also nowhere near us.

Contrast this with the last time we had a scud alert at this camp. We were, at the time, outdoors playing sand volleyball, using a net that we hand wove with parachute cord. When the alert sounded, we looked around and figured out that the missiles were not going to land on us, and so we resumed our game.

This was the time that an already damaged scud hit the nearby barracks of the 14th Quartermaster Detachment, an Army Reserve Unit that had been in country for less than a week, killing 28 soldiers on our base.

 During the first attack, everyone was sure something horrible was probably going to happen. During the last attack, we had grown so accustomed to the alerts that we perceived little to no danger to us at all. 
Apparently, our perception is not always accurate. This might even apply to places other than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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