PIQUET WITH TWO FULL MOONS By Dylan Teicher, East Timor 2001 (4 RAR)
Pte Clayton “Dawko” Dawkins and I were three or four months into our six months’ tour of East Timor with 4 RAR in 2001. We happened to score a great time slot for our nightly piquet – maybe 10-midnight – so we were happy as pigs in shit, as we were normally the guys on the shit list for whatever reason and given the graveyard shift. But not tonight. My and Dawko’s piquets were always interesting, with the amount of shit and insults that could get thrown around in our two-hour shift. So there we were, diligently manning the piquet at the Balibo chopper pad. It was a pitch-black night with not much happening when the chopper pilots decided to carry out a night-training drill which happened to include a mock landing under night vision on a knoll behind our bunker. The roof of the bunker was the same height as the knoll and maybe 30 metres away from the top of the knoll. The chopper came in, did its first run and decided its approach was to fly straight over our piquet at a height of maybe 10 metres. It hovered on the top of the knoll. So there we were, trying to man our piquet while this chopper was turning on its IR lights so we couldn’t see shit through our Ninox, plus all the noise, dust and shit flying in our eyes. Well, this went on for about an hour and we were getting pissed off big time with them doing hover after hover a metre from the top of the knoll, with their approach straight over our heads. As neither of us were shy, we decided it would be a great idea to show our full moons to help the pilots see in the dark. So we talked each other into climbing onto the roof of the piquet overhead protection and on the chopper’s next approach we would moon at the pilots as they flew into hover over the knoll. We were pissing ourselves laughing that much waiting for him to approach that I don’t know how we didn’t fall from the roof. In came the chopper, flicked on his IR lights and was 10 metres above us as we gave him the full moon with the added touch of slapping our arses till they were red raw. This time, instead of the chopper hovering at the top, he landed on the knoll and shut down the engine. This was when we started shitting ourselves but couldn’t stop pissing ourselves and laughing, thinking what this pilot must be seeing/thinking.
“Look, two dumb grunts mooning me at midnight in Balibo, East Timor…” So we jumped down, pulled up our strides and manned our post like nothing had happened, until we started to hear footsteps heading down the knoll to our bunker. We weren’t laughing now and were expecting a spray or charge from the pilot, as they never did get our grunt humour! We started getting our story/defence ready when the pilot veered off and picked up his IR cyalumes he’d placed around the knoll (LZ). He headed up to his chopper, started it up and flew back to the helipad and landed. PHEW! We finished our piquet, still laughing from our exploit and hit the farter.
The next morning the SSM (squadron sergeant major) from the aviation regiment came down to our platoon to give us a brief, which he’d never done before so once again we braced ourselves for our spray/ROP/charge. It turned out that he had to give us some aviation brief. He bored us for an hour and left… We’d been saved again. I dare say the pilot had a good old laugh and told the boys about the two moons he’d seen that night!