Story Market Day

ComCamGuy

Contributing Member
A little one off put together awhile back-

I guess with the third anniversary of the Great Seacouver quake coming up, I’ll go ahead and tell you our story.

It was a simple summer workday like any other. I was in town picking up some groceries at the new market down by the waterfront. My husband was down the coast by the city teaching a class when the first quake came.

I had already checked out and was putting my bags in the cart while chatting with the cashier about her calico cat. The whole building began to tremble and shake. I grew up in Southern California and I know an earthquake when I feel it, but this one felt different than any I had felt before; bigger, longer and gave me a real bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I guess a 9.2 Richter scale quake will do that. The building creaked and groaned, some shelves emptied themselves and the lights went out then the shaking stopped. With the light coming in the windows, I made my way to the door. I pushed the cart to the car and loaded the bags in the back, all the while; something was nagging in the back of my head. Something still wasn’t right. Finally I realized what it was; I didn’t hear the waves like I did when I drove up. When I looked across the street to the water, it wasn’t where it should be. The water was receding out to sea. I hopped into the car and pulled up to the door of the market where people were gathering.

“You guys need to get in your cars and head out of here right now! Go uphill! It looks like there might be a tsunami!” A tsunami. All those years in the Air Force, the PFE kept telling us that “If you can see the wave of a tsunami, you’re too close!” Now, here I am, wondering if I will prove this axiom true. I remembered all the stories out of Thailand of people walking out onto the newly exposed beach right before the tsunami hit, and all the devastation in Japan from the tsunami. I had to get to high ground. My mind raced to figure how to get past all the elevated roadways and avoid the highways, knowing that these will bottleneck in a heartbeat, even if there are no bridge or roadway failures. I knew if I went north, I could go through some of the residential areas. I’m glad I was in my little Subaru. It’s much more nimble than if I brought the truck, and it was still four-wheel drive and lifted a bit, which would let me get through some potential difficulties. I checked my cell phone, and of course no signal. Crap! At this point, it becomes an “I told you so moment”. My husband always said that in any real disaster, the cellphone would become a paperweight. That is why I kept insisting and harping on getting a small handheld HAM radio unit. They were smaller than our first cellphone and had a great range and battery life. This was great as long as you had it with you, which leads to the thing he always was on and on about, having a bailout bag or an E&E bag with you at all times. It was annoying. He was like a cross between Bear Gryls and Sheldon Cooper. It makes sense for him to carry a bag with him since he still goes to work. I’m retired. He insists, so I made him make the smallest version he could. With another excuse to spend money, he built me a small butt pack with a few items. It has a water purification straw, a space blanket, fire starter, multitool, ranger rag, tourniquet, battle dressing, roll of tape, compass, knife, mirror, safety pins, and some other stuff I don’t remember, and that’s where I keep the radio. The butt pack is a pain in the ass, but I promised him I would take it with me whenever I left the house without him. If I’m with him, he has all this in his pockets, plus who knows what else. All of this is in addition to the survival bag and medical kit in the car. With all this, I knew I would be fine as long as I could get enough distance and altitude from the shore. I still remember the skills and techniques from Survival School, and our house was a good 20 miles from the coast, and a couple thousand feet higher. My main concern was getting word to my husband that I saw the water go out and the Tsunami was eminent. If I could get him on the radio, all would be workable.

He was in the city teaching. He teaches Tactical Combat Casualty Care and a bunch of other combat and medical courses. He uses this as an excuse to buy a bunch of survival gear, combat gear and any other shiny toy that catches his eye. His latest toy is the one he drove to work today. He convinced me that the price for the BMW Enduro he found used was now low enough to be affordable. A 7.9-gallon tank had tons of range and the giant aluminum panniers would swallow all the normal gear he has to drag with him. He even added a sound system to combine GPS, IPod and Shortwave radio audio and pipe it to the helmet like his Goldwing. He spent a week figuring out all the stuff he would pack in the bike. Tools, Basha, survival shelter, rain gear, extra ammo, food, water, 550 cord, road flares, medical kit, the list goes on and on. This doesn’t count his every day carry bag. When he got this new motorcycle, he “had” to get a new bag. This time it was a monstrously large hunting butt pack with shoulder straps. I don’t even know what all is in that “go to work” bag; axe, tent, wood burning stove, Ark of the Covenant, there’s no telling. One of these days I’m going to make him pull it all out and show me.

I powered up the radio and made sure it was on the right frequency. I won’t bore you with call signs, frequencies and such; no one wants to read radio talk. I finally hear his reply. I tell him I’m safe and headed back to the house via the north residential area. This is after I tell him to get the hell out of the city the tsunami is coming! He tells me he will head out in 2 minutes, and work to the south and come in via the National Forest to the east of the house. It may take 3 hours, or three days. He said he would call in when he gets free of the city into the woods. He reminds me that he will be coming in from the woods, not the road and reminds me to shut and lock the gate when I get to the house.

I head north and inland, angling for the older residential neighborhood. It has a bunch of older brick homes and old trees. The trees were my main concern. Most of the people should be in the city since it was a weekday. I keep looking over to my left out to sea every now and then, trying to gauge when and how bad the wave will be. It doesn’t take too long before I lose sight of it though since I was moving up through the tree lined streets. The stoplights at the intersections were out, and evidently no one learns in driver’s education what to do in this event (hint: it turns into a four way stop). There were several small fender benders at some of the intersections. I was able to bypass them and only had to drive down the wrong side of the street two or three times. I was more worried with a couple of tree branches in the road. I crawled over them slowly and kept working my way upward and away from the sea. My biggest roadblock, wait, let me rephrase, my biggest inanimate obstacle turned out to be a tree that fell into the road, crushing a little hybrid. I had to jump the curb and skitter across a lawn to get around it. The other roadblock I ran into was a large group of people gathering in the streets. I wasn’t sure why they were in the street, and I didn’t know why they wanted me to stop. I wasn’t going to find out. My husband was in Southern California for the Rodney King/Reginald Denny events and we had discussed this several times. Stopping was not an option. I made sure my legally concealed handgun was available and accessible, but I realized my best defense was distance and horsepower. I nimbly slid around a few clumps of individuals and kept moving up and inland. I finally made it up to the old state road. Once I hit that, I breathed a little easier. I was now able to put the town and the coastline behind me. I pulled over at one of the scenic pullouts and looked at the town below. The sight I saw was stunning. The wave had hit while I was clawing up backstreets. It looked like some of the YouTube’s videos from Japan, with boats and cars floating inland between houses and buildings. I grabbed my rangefinder and snapped some pictures, then climbed back into my faithful little Subaru and headed toward the house. Twenty miles inland and four thousand feet above sea level, I knew I should be safe.

I finally roll up to the gate to the house. I know it’s not what many would suspect as the road to a house, but it’s designed that way. A small turnoff from the road was labeled with an old rusty sign- “Cephalopod Inc. Industrial Park Medical Coding Trng Center”. A strange sign for a house but once you know the why, it works. From the highway, all you see is the sign and a small industrial building sitting on an expanse of overgrown lawn. With the sign advertising what it did, there should be nothing to entice break-ins. This little bit of subterfuge is the classic camouflage in plain sight that works best. We found the property shortly after the real estate crash. A speculator from Southern California had bought a huge plot of land next to the National Forest. They were planning a high-end subdivision like the kinds they were making outside of L.A. They had put a building for all the equipment to build the infrastructure. It was at least 100’ long and 60’ wide, with a big roll up door at one end, an overhead lift, and a generator. A small bank of offices was off on one side. Because the building would also house the offices for the realtor selling properties here, it was modeled on the outside to look like a small two story office building. This was off to one side of the property to not spoil the view. The rest of the subdivision was already laid out, with streets and lots designated. They were large lots. The entire subdivision covered about 200 acres. It had been let go, weeds grew up, the company defaulted, and we picked it up at county auction for back taxes. It slipped through the cracks because it was just across county lines. We looked at the lay of the land for a while and began making plans. It took six months to figure which plot for our house and how to design it. The lot we chose was in the back of the subdivision, out of site from the road and backed up against the National Forest. In that time, my husband retired from the military and I got orders to England. We came to a decision. I would take the orders while he built the house. We burned up the Internet during the whole year. He lived in an Airstream trailer on site while he built and supervised the building of our house. We put in an absolutely huge basement. That was where we had all the support and utility functions that take up a lot of room in a house. We had a walk in deep freeze at one end, next to a separate root cellar. Some absolutely huge water cisterns were down there as well as the wellhead. A battery room holds all the batteries and electrical equipment for the solar power system. The furnace and all the in-floor heating system equipment and the AC equipment are down there as well. With the iffy weather, there is a large long-term larder. Another room in the basement is the workshop for all the little tinkering with firearms, cameras, fly tying, pinball machines and such. This room also has a small potbellied stove. Off this room is a small walk in safe for the camera gear and so forth. The main level of the house is the one actually visible above ground. The house is a log cabin in appearance, blended with Spanish Mission architecture. The hacienda walls surround the house, with a shed down the left side holding 4-6 cord of wood. The right hand wall has an extended carport. The windows have huge wooden shutters more suitable to protect from marauding Indians out West of the Pecos. The roof is covered in real red clay tiles for long-term durability and fire resistance for forest fires. The main floor of the house had a huge combined great room and kitchen. The kitchen had a wood cook stove and a gas cook stove as well as electric induction burners in the island. The great room has a fireplace made to heat the whole house if need be. Two master suites with their own fireplaces make up most of the back of the house, separated by a pantry and a laundry room/linen closet. Four cats rule the house; we are just their staff.

I drove through the outer gate. Everything looked normal. I stopped and closed the gate. I then put the chain and padlock on the gate. We left it out at the gate so it would look old and uninteresting. It was another leftover from our military career, the classic “try to look unimportant, they may be low on ammo” also known as don’t look expensive or valuable or attract undue attention. My car is an example of this principal. It’s over 10 years old, but it’s a rock solid little 4x4 Subaru SUV. It can get places most people wouldn’t believe yet it doesn’t draw a single extra look. I’ve seen plenty of outdoors people with all the stickers on the typical jacked 4x4 jeep who also have it broken into several times a year, all their stuff stolen. No one would suspect I have, courtesy of my husband’s OCD, a full camping kit with water, food, tools, compass, maps, aid bag, sleeping bag, tarps, axe, rope, repelling gear, and who knows what else. This is addition to the small kit he insists I take with me wherever I go. The car also has maps, compass and GPS up front for standard navigation. GPS can fail, and electronics loose power, but a map and compass is good as long as you can read it, a skill I was trained in at survival school. There are two map books in the car, a standard roadmap type and a topographical map book of the state.

I drove around the hill to the house. The gates of the Hacienda wall still worked from the opener, so I drove up to the carport to unload the groceries. I went into the house and put the groceries on the island in the kitchen so I could go through the house looking for any damage. Fortunately my husband’s ridiculous over engineering came through again. There were a few things knocked down on shelves but that could have been the rampaging kittens as well. I put all the groceries away and then had to find the next thing to do. I was too amped up with the events to just sit and do a crossword puzzle. I started by sitting down and going through the butt pack to remind myself of all the stuff in it. I then fired up the radio to catch the husband’s call. I then tried the web. The Internet was down. Well, at least the TV would work with satellite. All I could do is trudge along and wait.

I ended up waiting several days. My husband called late the first evening to let me know he made it out and he was trying to make it far enough to cut up into the National Forest but he was still moving through roadway issues and stopped cars. He said he was pulling off and hiding for a quick nap and would be back on the bike in the morning. The next time he called in was evening the next night. He said he couldn’t talk long, had to conserve battery power, but he should be deep enough into the forest to be away from people by midday the next day. The final radio call was early the next morning. He told me to expect him by dark, he was pushing hard in the forest. He rolled in just around sunset, bone tired and dirty, but in one piece. Perhaps I can convince him to write his story of those four days but it took most of these three years for me to get the bits and pieces out of him so I doubt it. The important thing was that he had food, water, fuel, ammo and shelter for his four days of travel. It all came down to having thought about such things before they happen, planning for solutions, and actually executing the plan.
 

Dosadi

Brown Coat
Nice story, and room to expand on it and aftermath by telling hubby's story.

Thank you

dosadi
 

FMJ

Technical Senior
Thank you! Definitely feeling the adrenaline rush when the water went away. The bottom floor of that "log cabin" sounds like a real interesting layout, too. Can't wait for more.
 

Texican

Live Free & Die Free.... God Freedom Country....
CCG,

Good start....

Now there is at least three years of story plus hubbies 4 days....

The sad part is so many do not understand about getting out of dodge when bad times come and wait until it is to late....

Thanks for the chapter....

TD
 

Sammy55

Veteran Member
I echo everyone else - Nice Start!! I'll keep watching for when you post MOAR!

Thanks much for the story!
 

ComCamGuy

Contributing Member
While I was waiting for my husband, I went through the house, checking all the elements for an extended period of isolation. A tsunami of the magnitude I saw would shut down most everything for at least a hundred miles or more for the foreseeable future. I was fairly confident that we would be fine. We had plenty of water stored in the cisterns, since both were at least 2000 gallons, and fed from the well so they remained topped off. The deep freeze and refrigerators would stay running without issue. The power for our little subdivision came from the landward direction, not the seaward so it has a chance of remaining on for a longer time. The power would keep the battery bank topped off. If the power did fail, the backup generator would kick in. This generator was propane powered, feeding from the humongous tank that was installed for the subdivision. When we bought the place, the tank wasn’t even mentioned. He found it after being on site for a month. We have no idea what it will cost to fill it once it finally gets low. This will take a long time. There is at least 20K gallons still in the huge buried tank. As another source, there are solar panels on both the “training building” and along the roofline of the sheds and garage. We have about 4 cord of split wood in the woodshed. The pantry is fully stocked with our normal fare. There is an extensive stash of freeze-dried and dehydrated food stored in the tunnelway between the back of the house and the garage. This is 30 feet of 12’ tall square concrete culvert that goes from the back wall of the basement to underneath the garage. This was designed for multiple uses. It is our underground target range (original primary purpose). This keeps the noise down and is convenient to do a little airgun, and handgun practice despite weather. Once we figured we wanted that, we then figured if we put it off of the basement, it could lead to the garage, so we wouldn’t have to go outside and trudge through snow to get to the cars for errands. We also took advantage of a deal on the 12’ square culvert, so we put shelving down one side. The garage is huge. It is where the motorcycles, kayaks, and a couple of the cars live. The carport on the other side is where the most commonly used for wheeled vehicles reside. All of this is inside the walls of the hacienda.
I also went to patrol the larger grounds and the “training building. I made sure the storm shutters were still pulled down over the windows and doors. I also went inside and turned the HVAC from vacation mode to inhabited mode. This building had a few bedrooms set up on the upper floor, as well as a kitchen and his and her gym style locker room showers and toilets. I figured we might have a few guests to harbor among our friends in the area. If they survived, we would welcome them.Several of the home sites had water and electric feeds and could be used as RV pads as well.
 

ComCamGuy

Contributing Member
One of the things I have glossed over is the realization that life around here was going to fundamentally change. Depending on the scale of the tsunami and how much of the coastline was hit, the economic disaster as well as the hit to the infrastructure could collapse the house of cards the west coast of the United States was built on. W all know how that turned out, but it was all speculative at the time.
When my husband called and said he was out of the city, he gave me a few more bits of info than I related before. Some of the things he told me in the clear, but he also used a few phrases that I was able to get the real meaning of. It’s illegal to use scrambling or other methods on HAM radio, so we realized early on we could make references that sounded benign but would give a meaning a bit hard to know if you hadn’t lived, worked and deployed together for years on end. He told me it was “Jenny Wick” time. This went back to a series of conversations we had shortly after I retired from the military. I basically told him that I didn’t want to do the “deployment, armed, always doing xyz”. I retired from the military so I could relax and put that behind me. I shoot pictures, walk in the woods, and work on pinball machines. He still does military stile things. His job has him teaching combat skills and activities. He still loads up his pockets like we were still in Bosnia or Africa. He told me that one of these days I might need to go back to being that combat veteran I once was. I told him I didn’t want to. His reply was “John Wick didn’t want to come out of retirement either”
When he called me on the radio as he got out of town he told me “Jenny Wick, its basement time”. This was a way for him to relay the belief we would need to go back to deployment mindset and activities until we got a good handle on the situation. We had spent twenty years deploying in the military in small groups supporting a wide range of missions, the most common was Civil Affairs. Sounds quite peaceful, doesn’t it? What it really was involved lightly armed troops moving among populations, gathering data, influencing people and doing other things that were less than hostile. This meant we were not all armed and armored like the turtles in all the news clips. Usually we were in rental SUVs, with handguns concealed and maybe a rifle or two in the trucks. Soft caps instead of helmets, smiles instead of threats. This also meant we had no backup around, needed bug out and e&e plans, accurate defense capability with little to no tools. We were actually attached to the Civil Affairs teams, so we had to work hard to get what training we could, since unlike those in the MOS, we didn’t go to the official school. We were “attached support” so we got additional training when and where we could. Paid out of our pocket for real pistol courses, took Krav Maga and learned what we could. At least we had been to survival school so we had that advantage. Several of us worked with the same teams again and again and formed strong bonds with both the official Civil Afairs troops and the other attached support troops. This was no real surprise when you have a 4-6 person team working together 24-7 for months in a semi-permissive environment. With his “Jenny Wick” comment, it all came flooding back. I went to the basement and opened the locker with all the old rigs. I pulled out the war belt, loaded it up with mags, checked the IFAK and grabbed an over shirt to cut down the visual footprint to disguise the fact I was armed and armed well. This still felt right to some extent once I had it settled in place. It also worried me that I didn’t even feel the slightest bit off in returning to this after years away. When I went to bed that night, my pants with all my pocket stuff still in them, my war belt and my shirt went on the bedposts, my boots with socks under the corner of the bed and an e&e bag on the floor. God, how did i live this way? 7 seconds from asleep to dressed, armed and moving out the door, Welcome back Jenny Wick.
 

Sportsman

Veteran Member
And I have a feeling she'll need all that preparation.
Thanks for the new story. I think we'll enjoy it.
 

Texican

Live Free & Die Free.... God Freedom Country....
CCG,

Seems like it will be heating up....

Thanks for the chapter....

Texican....
 

ComCamGuy

Contributing Member
The second radio message from hubby contained more info as well, some of which was good, and some not so good. At this point I had started to work on more preparations for the upcoming crisis. Some of them were just confirmation of some things that we normally had set up, such as the rain catchment system at the “training “building. I made sure it was topping off and diverting any excess to the small spring fed pond. The roof of the building was metal and therefore didn’t contaminate the water like standard shingles did. This was another reason we went with real clay tiles on the house and sheds as well. The pond, although man made by the developers by scooping out a section of the small stream fed from the spring, was of sufficient size and shape to allow it to become a real living pond, with fish, aquatic plants (cattails and such) and attract small wildlife. The overspill continued through the old stream course so all the normal wildlife downstream were still supported as they were before the pond was made. I went along the perimeter of the property on my electric mountain bike. The bike was quiet and in an emergency could hit speeds of up to 50 mph, letting me leave trouble behind me quickly, even uphill. There was a solar charging blanket rolled up under the tail rack just in case it was needed on an extended trip. I had my war belt and light pack with me but wasn’t too wound up …yet. The fence line on the two sides not bordered by National forest (Wilderness actually) were real barbed wire fence lines. They were heavily planted with just about every thorny type of bush I could find; from raspberry and blackberry thickets to firethorn and blackthorn. This would help keep the casual and not so casual people from wandering in. Along the wilderness side, we had some of these plants as well but not as thick or dense. We did not want to shut all the animals out from that side, that’s why you move to the country. We did have some random signs put up delineating the edge of our property though. I can’t remember what all of them were. I think the majority were something like “Contaminated Soil Reclamation Project- Keep Out”.
On my ride I also checked for signs of the common animals for our property. We have had the gambit of forest creatures, mostly the smaller ones like raccoons, possums and such, and the larger feral pigs and bobcats and lynx but sometimes we get the bigger creatures like black bear and cougar. The pond is frequented by all kinds of aquatic birds and the trees are home to a host of day and night raptors. I was listening for all the sounds of the land and trying to “feel” if everything was still ok. This was one of the reasons we love the electric mountain bikes. We can pedal along quietly and be within nature. When we were on dirt bikes, we were trespassers. We could “see” nature but were separate. The electric let us move faster or farther than just our legs would carry us without disturbing the land around us. This morning, the first day after the quake, the land felt like it was still holding its breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. The animals were out, but a little extra cautious. I guess it’s only fair, so was I.
The whole time I was riding, I also had my Ham radio on me, hoping to hear Hubby’s voice, wanting an update that he was safe and home. I had the main system in the house tied to the one on me so I had great range and sensitivity to get even the faintest of calls. All day, I didn’t hear from him. After I finished outside, I went to the house to fire up some more radios and the internet to try and get real info on the extent of the situation. What I got was a massive jumble of conflicting garbage. All the “Official” news was shades of Kevin Bacon in Animal House-“Remain Calm, Don’t Panic” when all the while the mass media was showing shots of boats in the streets of LA, San Fran and Seacouver. The tsunami, or series of tsunamis has pummeled the west coast to a water soaked mess. This was the event that would spell the fundamental transformation of the country. This was Katrina, and Harvey and Sandy and Andrew and more, all rolled into one mass event. Millions of people who lost everything, banks with massive real estate investments wiped of all value, insurance companies that were instantly bankrupt and gone, all in the span of a day. The flooding coupled with soil liquefaction caused many areas to have buildings sinking into the ground around the time they were hit with a hundred+ foot wall of water. Half of San Fran proper got sunk, or washed away and the parts that didn’t caught fire. The only place to be safe in southern Ca was up in the mountains around the high desert or out to the east of Palm Springs. The clean-up will take years, the recovery will take lifetimes.
I held off dinner for as long as I could, hoping to not be eating alone. It didn’t work. I got a weak call at dusk.
“ATC, this is Briar Flight, Blade 53 and Faith 27. RON Rabbit, push arrival +24, Acknowledge?”
Through my tears and grin, I replied
“Briar Flight, acknowledge two ship Spike 53 and Faith 27, RON Rabbit, arrival push +24. Advise and update for changes”
“Copy, Briar Flight, Out”
The knot in my chest loosed some. He had made some ground, and more importantly he had Kara with him. Perhaps I should explain. Going back to the first Goldwing he had, we keep referring to a group of bikes as a flight. By providing two call signs, he indicated there were two bikes. He referred to Faith. This was a nickname we gave our friend Kara during one deployment when we were watching too much “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. She was quite a bit like Faith, all aggression, like something Feral. I was voted to be Buffy. This kind of amused the two of us since she was the blond and I am the brunette. I then told hubby that that made him Spike. The three of us were mostly together during several deployments and some very good times and some truly horrible times. She is basically his “work wife” and in some ways, mine two. We retired, us with twenty+ years, and Kara a year later with a medical retirement. She bummed around a lot for a year til she finally took Hubby up on the offer to come work with him, he would vouch for her. She came here, got an Airstream and was living on a nice piece of land down by the water. She said the waves kept the bad guys in her head at peace. God knows she needs it. More on her later.
RON, was short for Remain Over Night, a standard military and airline term. Rabbit was another thing altogether. It referenced back to our Survival School days, and how we would talk about it, as in” they taught me to run and hide like a rabbit, and I would hate for them to have wasted the money”. So, RON Rabbit, Arrival push +24 meant that they were hiding like scared rabbits and anticipated getting to the house in about 24 hours, i.e. tomorrow evening. I went to bed, trying to put the happy thought that Kara had survived as a panacea to the underlying dread and worry over the future. The three of us can get through a lot. Shirt, followed by war belt, followed by pants, e&e bag by the boots next to the bed. Cheer up Jenny Wick, they should be home tomorrow.
 

Dosadi

Brown Coat
Thank you, I enjoy the mix and point of view I'm getting.

Different vibe from my Marine thinking, but not bad, not bad at all.

Dosadi
 

FMJ

Technical Senior
:hmm: This doesn't exactly roll like a complete fiction. Thanks for the chapter. I'll be watching this one real close.
 

Texican

Live Free & Die Free.... God Freedom Country....
CCG,

All to peaceful....

Now will the bad guys show up when the black bear comes to call????

Texican....
 

ComCamGuy

Contributing Member
Kara, now there’s a person more twisted and complicated than a kitten in a box of rubber bands. We first started deploying with her and were stationed with her at around our ten year mark. She had been in a couple of years, but this was her first time in the bigs. Tall and thin, she was lanky and not necessarily graceful in her movements. You would never mistake her for a ballerina other than her flat chestedness. Her general self-description at the time was she “had all the anatomical definition of a twelve year old boy”. She gravitated to us since we seemed to know what to do to fit in and be accepted by the groups we were working with, and seemed to more importantly, have fun doing it. She took to the extra training and learning we were doing like a duck to water. Between the dirty-blond hair and her blue-grey eyes, her Nordic heritage was easy to see. She was first generation American-ish. Her father was stationed in Europe and her mother was from Norway. As we got to know her, she was quite the riot to be around. She could out eat most the guys we were with, but her metabolism was such she could not for the life of her put on much if any weight. We also got her addicted to working out. We did it because it helped us do the job. She did it because she loved the feel. She was able to put on muscle but she still was skinny. The place it showed most was her shoulders. Halfway through the first deployment, she could sling gear with the best of us, and she ran constantly. She was a sponge for info, learning all she could from wherever she could. We continued hanging out back at home station. She kept trying new things as we did. Krav Maga, shooting, mountain biking, ect. She ran into issues on other fronts though. Her relationships were rocky at best. She could care deeply, but her no nonsense approach to life (the same thing we enjoyed) was rough for many people. Top this off with our constant short notice deployments 20 minutes notice for months at a time, and you can write the scripts for the break ups, cheating, and heartbreak. We got used to putting her back together after this happened, and she kept trying, and failing. Through this she became more and more cynical which added to her no nonsense attitude. We told her that the only way someone could understand what we go through was to find someone who has gone through it themselves. We kept telling her that she should only date military or former military so they knew what they were getting into. She had tried sex early in relationships, she tried waiting on sex till later in relationships. She realized it was better to wait since she had come to the realization that sex was better as an extension of emotion. This also helped resolve her conflict with her choices of romantic involvement. She found better emotional attraction to women when she was younger and made the assumption that she must be a lesbian, and viewed relationships from that point of view. Later, after her epiphany on relationships, she once again added men on the menu. She had come to a potentially enlightened opinion that the love was the important thing. If there was sex, as long as it was an extension of love into the physical, rather than lust, then it didn’t matter to her what equipment she was working with. This is not the same as the so recent (73 genders) bogus BS of “I identify as a ____. So I must be a different gender”. She was a woman, that didn’t necessarily feel that she was “wired wrong” or “in the wrong body”. She felt that she should only give her body out of love, and didn’t feel it was wrong to love another human being, regardless of their equipment. She came to see it as a physical manifestation of a psychological bond. We saw it as a stabilizing force. She became more religious and spiritual. The all loving and redeeming nature of Jesus, coupled with the strong arm in defense of the Lord appealed to her as it had to us and those we were around. That may have been the only thing that held her together (somewhat) after the incident.

We were about 8 months into our latest deployment with a larger group than normal. We were supporting and working with three teams this time. Kara and another was working with one team, hubby and I with another and two more with the third. Kara and one of the sergeants had been hanging out more and more. She was good, more stable, and she had found someone who didn’t want to change her into someone she wasn’t, to “save” her. Their team was out in the village working an issue when the mission (and her life) abruptly shifted. The bad guys (there are always bad guys, that’s why we are there) had laid an ambush, initiated with a command detonated IED. Out of the six people, three were killed outright, two were injured. In the firefight that ensued, the survivors were able to hold them off for the ten-ish minutes it took the QRF to get to them. Hubby and my team WAS the QRF. Like I said, we were little groups in the middle of nowhere most of the time. Kara was one of the injured. She was covered in blood, bleeding from shrapnel and had taken two rounds in the firefight, one in the thigh and the other in the ribs. She had continued to fight until we got there. I don’t know how many we hit or the team survivors hit, but we drove the bad guys off for long enough to get them and get out. Hubby was the one to treat her on the X after the bad guys were driven back. TQ on the leg, pack the inguinal, pelvic binder, chest seals on the holes in the chest, IV with TXA and a load of Ketamine. Her scalp wound bled sufficiently to blind her in one eye during the firefight, but fortunately, the eye wasn’t damaged. Hubby and the other team’s medic worked on her and the other casualty back at our basecamp, stabilizing them during the nine hours it took for the medivac to get there. During the wait through the night, we syphoned about two units of blood apiece from the four of us who were O+ and O-. This helped them make it through the night. They pulled our teams out of the field two weeks later and replaced us with a larger, more traditional outpost, with all the manpower, firepower and negative presence it normally entails.

We stopped to see her in Germany and made it back to the states before her. As normal, big units returning got fanfare, we got one guy with a van, primarily to collect the firearms we deployed with since by regulation they cannot be transported in a POV. We had an old car we would leave at the airport with a solar panel on the dash to keep the battery good. We went to San Antonio to meet her at the plane when she came stateside to Brook Army Medical Center. That’s when we got more of the story from her. Half the blood on her and the shrapnel in her were parts of her good friend, and as it turns out they were considering becoming more than friends. It took a while but she recovered enough to return to our unit. She was still struggling with a variety of issues, both physical and mental. She threw her whole energies at getting physically better. This enabled her to temporarily shove the mental aspects to the side. She was driven, sometimes a bit too hard. She had developed a much more cynical edge to her persona. She would still open up to us, sometimes but for the most part she worked at what she called her “Warrior Monk” mindset. We had not realized how far she had fallen for her friend. He evidently meant the world to her, a window to happiness. Between earlier relationships that betrayed her and now this one’s tragic end, she was hurting in ways that would take a long time, if ever, to mend. Her wellbeing was one of the reasons I took the orders to England. The unit was being shut down, she had gotten orders to England, as had I. I was over twenty and was figuring to retire rather than PCS again, but I felt my friend still needed me. We had all deployed a few times together after her wounding but a friendly face to back her up at a new unit for another year until she could figure out a new support system for her next 7 years until retirement I felt would be good. Besides, that would give her and I some us time to sight see Europe without Hubby being a stick in the mud.

We deployed a couple of times out of England, but the ops tempo had changed, the new unit was more screwed up than trying to eat soup with one chop stick and it was a crapfest from the word go. I fixed what I could and one of my last act at the unit was to arrange a transfer for Kara to a stateside teaching gig. She had decided that may be the best way to fix the screwed up units, by skipping the middleman and teach the newbies the right way so they can survive downrange in spite of the problems in the system. She lasted a little over two years at the schoolhouse until she basically in the eyes of the leadership there “melted down”. She was passionate at what she was teaching, and called a spade a spade. The lessons she was teaching were contrary to approved doctrine. She got emotional when she tried to emphasize to leadership why the lesson plans were wrong, written by academics who had no clue, hadn’t been there and were going to get people killed. Doctrine defenders and people who had never deployed were the red cape to her bull in a china shop style and attitude. She was referred to mental health. Fortunately the Psych Tech and the Psychiatrist HAD been down range. They were able to defuse the situation, fix a few things administratively and help her to some extent. Between the combat wounds, including loss of organs and functions, and the PTSD, she was medically retired at 100%. She hadn’t let us know any of this was going on. Once she was out, she didn’t know what to do. She clattered about here and there around the country, trying to work sometimes, sometimes not. She had dropped off the radar.

Once we found her again, hubby told her he had a job for her, just like in the old days when we ran the training exercises at the unit, only she would get paid better. We helped her find a chunk of land down by the water because she said the waves helped her. We got her hooked up with an old Airstream trailer and helped her renovate the entire inside to her liking and get set up at the school Hubby teaches at. She was a little more gaunt, a little more feral that she once was, but she is coming back to her old self slowly but surely.

She once told me after the incident that the reason she worked so hard at getting better and more capable was she felt she was allowed to survive to prepare for the future. Remembering this, a chill goes down my spine. Was she called to prepare for what is coming? The faint sound of rain on the clay tile roof took a long time to put me to sleep as I pondered tomorrow. Shirt, then warbelt, then pants on the bedpost, boots and e&e bag beside the bed. its a long night until dawn.
 
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Texican

Live Free & Die Free.... God Freedom Country....
She once told me after the incident that the reason she worked so hard at getting better and more capable was she felt she was allowed to survive to prepare for the future. Remembering this, a chill goes down my spine. Was she called to prepare for what is coming?

Many see what is coming thru all of the smoke and mirrors and plan for accordingly....

Those that do not will suffer the consequences....

and,

Then those have an inkling will try to take from everyone....

This is what will make it violent once it falls apart....

Thanks CCG for the chapter....

Texican....
 
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