Time to Ride
0300. It is dark. The moon is high and bright, but filtered through the camo netting, it provides an eerie white glow on the warriors who are preparing for a mission.
The smell of diesel exhaust wafts through the motor pool. Radios beep, crackle and hiss... "Animal Base, this is Renegade 3B, radio check, over." "Roger, out" comes the reply.
Clink. Clank. Piink. The sound of .50cal headspace and timing gauges being tested in machine guns. Orange-red cherries from the tips of cigarettes dot the motor pool. Light-hearted banter between the men fills the air, recounting humorous movie lines, laughing about funny occurences on previous missions. Feet shuffle and scrape through the round rocks in the parking lot, as the almost ceremonial pre-mission wrestling match breaks out. Someone has blindsided his buddy and has him in a headlock, and they twist and push and pull, much to the amusement of bystanders. Questions from superiors to subordinates regarding loadplans, gear, and provisions pierce the laughter from time to time.
Red-lensed flashlights surround HMMWV hoods, illuminating maps and imagery, schedules and charts. Questions are asked, roles in the upcoming mission confirmed and reconfirmed. Every once in a while, someone calls out, "Hey... Where did you put that...??" or "Anyone seen my...???"
Then it happens. "Mount UP!!!!!" cries the Lieutentant, and circles of men scatter, striding quickly to their modern day up-armored chariots. The 'riiiiiiiip' of velcro can be heard, from body armor being adjusted and re-adjusted and thin, sturdy tactical gloves donned, the 'snap' of plastic buckles being connected, and gunners clamoring onto the roofs of their gunships. "Good to go!!!" can be heard throughout the motor pool, over slamming doors and idling engines, as final crew checks are done.
"RedCon 1" comes over the radio, as the truck commanders check in with the Platoon leader. All is ready. Armor is on, ammo ready to be loaded into clean weapons, radios constantly chattering.
"Renegades, this is Renegade 6, follow my move." The truck lurches forward as we pull out of our spot and into line. The dust fills my nostrils as we move; I grip the handles of Mama Deuce for stability... I am back, and it is time to ride. I love this stuff.