‘AHHHH, THE SERENITY’ By Jim Poland, Heavy Weapons Platoon, 8/9 RAR, 1986
Shoalwater Bay Training Area (WBTA), Heavy Weapons Platoon (Hvy Wpn Pl) is the amalgamation of Anti-Armour and Sustained Fire Machine Gun Platoons. For you old farts it is now known as Direct Fire Support Weapons Platoon (DFSW).
Anyhow, we lost a boss early in the year and gained a new one, straight from RMC. He hadn’t done time in a Rifle Coy yet, so he was there as a figurehead only – not to actually command us; this was done by our Sgt. We were conducting a withdrawal scenario and the ‘boss’ decided he wanted to do a ‘ride-along’ and observe what we did in the field. He chose the vehicle I drove – the ‘B’ vehicle of a two-vehicle section.
It’s VERY important to remember that the 106 RCL has a large Back Blast Danger Area and you MUST move after every shot. The BBDA WILL give your position away and you don’t want to be there when the bad boys start shooting back!
So Garry (Chook) Fowle (A veh) did his thing and bugged out. We were up and ready. We ‘fired’ our shot, radioed through to umpires for confirmation of the kill (and got it!) and prepared to bug out. 3/4 CAV (as they were known at the time – now 2/14 QMI) were the enemy and black turrets denoted Tanks. We got a Tank – of course! The boss started jumping around, saying, “There’s plenty of them; we can get a few more, Cpl Smith.”
Well, Smithy smiled and said, “It’s not what we do, Sir. Climb aboard and we’re gone.”
To keep it a bit shorter, this argument went on for about two minutes and the ‘boss’ was adamant that we should stay and fight it out with the Tanks. I thought NOT! I entered the argument with something like “Get in the car, Sir or I’ll leave you behind.”
“Sorry, Smithy, it’s your gun and crew, but it’s my car and Bronzy will kill me.” Bronzy Watson was the Transport Sgt. The ‘boss’ kept arguing to stay and fight; the ‘Tanks’ were getting closer and they’d seen us. The umpires were telling us to get out of there or be captured/killed. I very calmly reached down beside the driver’s seat and very calmly removed my M16 from its mount. I then very calmly cocked it and casually pointed it at the ‘boss’. One last chance, I think.
“Get the fuck in the car, Sir or stay here – your call.” He took too long to answer so I very calmly emptied a 30-round magazine on Auto, directly at his chest. Smithy shat himself. I shat myself. The two-man gun crew shat themselves and the ‘boss’ still wanted us to stay and fight the bad guys. WTF?
“You’re dead, Sir. Can’t hear ya,” I said. The gun was cradled very quickly and the bug-out resumed but instead of joining our A vehicle to coordinate our nest position, I ZOOMED back to Samuel Hill to let the Sgt know what had happened. Anyway, the CO wanted to have a chat to me and have me explain myself. He asked, “If it was operations, would you have done the same thing?”
“Yes, Sir, about three minutes earlier,” I replied. No charges were laid but I got a HUGE bollocking from the RSM! This was about August. The ‘boss’ didn’t speak to me until December – ‘ahhhh the serenity’.