My military career requires your insight đź‘Ś

Evathetj

Member
Jan 4, 2018
42
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Writing this in the off topic forum serves two purposes; it allows me to partially vent to a “somewhat” objective crowd and secondly, provides insight and experience on an issue that I haven’t yet considered. So without further ado…

To say that enrolling in the military was a last minute decision would be an understatement. I had just completed my first year of secondary schooling at Carleton University in our nation’s capital. The school at that time had the most sought after program in the country and took on average 7-8 months to be accepted into. I had a passion for writing in all forms and thought that was my future in life…until I met my professor. Over the next 9 months she made me loath school, writing, and anything remotely related to her. She was a one woman wrecking crew of my passion at that time and by the end of the 2nd term, despite my marks being in the upper bracket of my classmates, I was depressed.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a sob story. Self-pity is not my forte and is certainly something I have done few enough times that I can count it on one hand. I was a scrawny, clueless to the real world kid living in a bachelor apartment who assumed he had life beaten and figured out. I discovered this was not reality and struggled to sort myself the fuck out. Walking out of the subway terminal one night I was confronted by a larger than life poster, a recruitment advertisement from the Department of National Defence. Plastered up on the wall were 3 members of our Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2, equivalent to SEAL teams). At that moment I knew this is what I had sought after for the last 9 months, the solution to my problem of hating my life day in, day out. It didn’t take long for me to make my decision.

3 days later

I joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in 2009 as an Armoured Crewman. For those who are potentially interested/curious, the CAF uses the Leopard 2A4M MBT (German tank) as their heavy armour of choice. It is for all intensive purposes identical to the Abrams that our brothers to the south use. Why? The United States and Germany designed it as a joint venture until its final stages of development, at which point they had a falling out and completed the remainder of it individually.

I began my basic training in September of 2009. I will never forget cresting the hill to see the outline of the 15 story “blue quarters”, my home for the next 3 months and change. It was gray, dull, and imposing. I was nervous and had a fear of the unknown, more so when I approached the entranceway lugging all of my kit behind me. After having my face melted off by a Sergeant for addressing him with “excuse me I’m looking for-”, I made a mental note to memorize the different rank structures asap.

Basic training, as with many experiences in life, is difficult when you’re physically doing it but once you look back on it realize it was most certainly manageable. There was sleep deprivation up to 96hrs, lack of water and food, weak minded course mates, and temperatures dipping into -50C. These processes quickly weeded out the weak links but a few were able to get by on the backs of those who were switched on units. Weapons handling was especially difficult for a vast majority. Being lazed multiple times with a loaded AR by your fire team partner who is careless with his barrel control served as a reminder of both testicular fortitude and patience. Patience I have a lot of. Tolerance I do not. I understood the difference between the 2 by the time the graduation ceremony rolled around. I was given a ceremonial award for my distinguished accomplishments during training over the past 3 months. It boiled down to me being able to keep my head down and plough through the difficulties that awaited us. Brain compartmentalizing is a wonderful tool.

Fast forward and my secondary phase of training is underway less than one week after my basic training graduation. It’s here that you begin to learn the skills associated with your trade selection which for me was Armoured Crewman. I will never forget every single detail when I first laid eyes on the most destructive yet beautiful machine I have ever come across (and I don’t mean my wife). OD green, 77 tonnes, 120 mm smoothbore cannon, V12 twin turbo diesel, 120km/hr top speed, 1600 hp and 3600 lb-ft. The looks and sounds are what I refer to as “god-killers”…nothing out there is capable of stopping you. Regardless of this being far from reality, it is the feeling that the tank inspires within you.

I was pissed to learn that we would have to prove ourselves on a light armoured vehicle before being granted clearance to be trained on the Leo 2. When you consider the average cost of a single MBT is north of 8 million dollars it’s…understandable. But as a young kid who the hell thinks like that? Anyways, onwards…

The LAV III was the vehicle I would first train on. It’s classified as an Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) which in layman’s terms means it can fight on the open battlefield in a support role. A 25mm cannon, 8 tires, and the capacity to carry up to 8 dismounts in the rear allowed it to excel in this role. While considered “light” from an armoured standpoint it managed to tip the scales at 21 tonnes. As far as I was concerned I was in heaven and couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel. Oh how naïve I was.

First was 14 straight days of theory in a classroom. We were expected to memorize every fluid type, fluid amount, torque rating of all bolts, the path of flow of the engine, and the list goes on. While 100 repetitions of squats, push-ups, or sit-ups (at the instructor’s discretion) for a wrong answer did suck, it was enjoyable; with every question answered correctly your confidence began to rise in both yourself and your knowledge of the vehicle. Once the 14 days of theory was complete (6 of 71 students failed this portion) we moved onto the mechanics of the vehicle. I wish I was able to make this sound more exciting but it consisted of a handful of monotonous tasks:

  1. Pull the pack (engine) and reinstall it within the allotted 15 minutes
  2. Replace both the tire and rim in the allotted 5 minutes (the tire weighed over 500 lbs, the CTIS was extra handy for this task)
  3. Learn to diagnose/replace vital components of the pack
Some of you at this point might be scratching your head and saying “don’t you have mechanics for these things?” And the answer is yes we do. And they are exceptional at working on the vehicles. However, the tactical advantage afforded by every manned position in the vehicle being a SME on their associated platform is hard to argue with. Especially if/when you start suffering casualties. “Plan for the worst, hope for the best” is the best line to live by.

***I promise there is a point/end to this long drawn out story. I want to stop here to get feedback from you fine folks, if it’s something you would like me to continue with…this isn’t exactly a short timeframe for completion and if I can save myself from wasting an hour or two on something that people won’t be interested in, then that’s good for me.

Let me know ladies and gents,

Cheers.
 

Wildman

Over Analizer Extraordinaire...............
Supporting Member
Dec 12, 2015
313
In the hills of WA
I spent 28 years in service to my country. I joined the US Army in June 1978 3 months after I had turned 17. I was never very good in high school so I had been kicked out when I was 16. So I joined the Army to get an education. I was a generator mechanic 52D. But once I got into the Army I found I liked it and was even really good at it. I did 14 years 2 months on active duty when after the first Gulf War they decided to reduce the size of the military. So they offered to buy me out and I got off active duty. Spent 18 months in the inactive Reserves and then joined the Oregon National Guard. I was a 19K M1A1 tanker at this point. Spent 3 years shooting tanks and had a blast.
Then I transferred to the Washington National Guard and went back to being a mechanic. That was in 1998. In Aug 2003 my unit got activated to go to Iraq and they made me the 1SG for the Security Company that guarded the main gate of the camp I was on. In Oct 2004 I got shot in the right thigh so my military career was over. In June 2006 I was medically discharged from the Army 10 days shy of 28 years.

I know all about the joys of working on armored vehicles and pulling the pack. Breaking track isn't any fun either. Keep on with your story.
 

JEEPCJTJ

TJ Enthusiast
Supporting Member
I was only in the US Air Force for 3 weeks and was sent home because I have asthma.

Even though I really have no experience besides getting yelled at, for God knows what, the whole time, I read the whole thing and can't wait to read the rest.
 

OldButStillJeeping

Old School Jeep TJ Tinker
Supporting Member
Feb 1, 2019
142
Southern california
By your leave.

Family of USMC. My son's serving now in the family foot steps. Kill.

By your leave, You Canadians are good to go.

We've got the time. If you have the scuttlebutt.

As you were. Carry on.
 
Reactions: StG58

Squatch

Master Thread Derailer
Supporting Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,515
Everett, Wash, United States
My Dad spent 26 years (if I recall correctly) in the Navy, and retired an E-9 (MCPO). Sometime in 1979, I believe it was, us kids brought home our report cards from school, and as always, we discussed them with our parents. Only this time, my Dad announced that he had a report card, of sorts, that he wanted to discuss with the family. It turns out that he had been recommended for the position of Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON). There is only one such position held by an E-9, and they are considered the most senior enlisted member of the U.S. Navy. Dad told us that it was quite an honor, but that he wanted to know how we all felt about moving from Whidbey Island, Washington, to Washington DC for what was a minimum of two years, and a maximum of four years (length of term). We all said that we wanted to stay on Whidbey, to which he also agreed. DC wasn't for him, either. Therefore, he drafted a letter respectfully declining the position. He kept the notification of the recommendation framed and hanging on his wall for years. We were all so proud of him. We lost Dad on April 15, 2012. My brother now has the notification.

I never served, myself, but admire each and every one of you who do, or did. @Evathetj, I really look forward to reading more of your story. Please, do share. Can't wait to see where it goes!
 
Reactions: billiebob and qslim

qslim

Member
Supporting Member
Sep 17, 2018
35
Utah
You're an excellent writer @Evathetj. It's interesting hearing about the military experiences of our allies. I spent time in the USAF as an aircraft maintainer, and I absolutely loved it (retrospectively anyway)... I was a regular car mechanic for several years right out of highschool, was always a gearhead growing up. I enjoyed working on cars but wanted to take it to another level. So, I joined the Air Force and got a gig working the weapons system on F-16s, and from there messed around with A-10s and F-15s as well. Military flightline maintenance can be a real meat grinder; mechanics are on the hook 24/7, rain or shine, cold or heat... Fixing a jet in the middle of the night on yet another 12 hour shift outside while it's snowing to get it ready for A.M. goes really has a way of motivating you to consider other career paths lol.

Anyway the active duty life is not for everyone, and that included me. But, I leveraged every opportunity afforded to me by signing on the dotted line, got an aerospace engineering degree and now get to play with some of the coolest equipment on the planet. I've also gotten to spend time working with different branches and various foreign partners, and I love seeing how everyone does business in their own way. I have not spent a lot with you Canadian types, though I did once go to Cold Lake for some type of joint exercise. Beautiful country!
 

qslim

Member
Supporting Member
Sep 17, 2018
35
Utah
My Dad spent 26 years (if I recall correctly) in the Navy, and retired an E-9 (MCPO). Sometime in 1979, I believe it was, us kids brought home our report cards from school, and as always, we discussed them with our parents. Only this time, my Dad announced that he had a report card, of sorts, that he wanted to discuss with the family. It turns out that he had been recommended for the position of Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON). There is only one such position held by an E-9, and they are considered the most senior enlisted member of the U.S. Navy. Dad told us that it was quite an honor, but that he wanted to know how we all felt about moving from Whidbey Island, Washington, to Washington DC for what was a minimum of two years, and a maximum of four years (length of term). We all said that we wanted to stay on Whidbey, to which he also agreed. DC wasn't for him, either. Therefore, he drafted a letter respectfully declining the position. He kept the notification of the recommendation framed and hanging on his wall for years. We were all so proud of him. We lost Dad on April 15, 2012. My brother now has the notification.

I never served, myself, but admire each and every one of you who do, or did. @Evathetj, I really look forward to reading more of your story. Please, do share. Can't wait to see where it goes!
Dude that is a badass story about your dad!!! What an honor, and what a stand up guy to turn that down for the sake of his family. Speaks volumes about what he really valued.
 
Reactions: Squatch

qslim

Member
Supporting Member
Sep 17, 2018
35
Utah
As someone who served as an 11 Bravo (Infantry) in the U.S. Army attached to a Stryker unit (I'm assuming you know what a Stryker is), I'd love to hear the rest.

I have both fond and miserable memories of the Army.
Lol isn't it funny how that works?

Guy reminiscing about active duty: "Some of the best days of my life"

Guy currently working on active duty: "Fuck this I'm getting out"
 

S.McArthur

TJ Enthusiast
May 31, 2018
301
Greenbrier, TN
Interesting story, I got to hang out with some Canadian infantry dudes in Afghanistan. You fellas talk silly, but super nice.
I had the option to be a tanker, nope, I'll take my chances walking...however, it would have been nice to have a vehicle to carry all my crap around rather than my knees and back.