I left the Ranger Battalion over 30 years ago but this doesn't mean none of it stuck. For example, just this week a group of us went to the rifle range outside of Kabul, Afghanistan.
We left for the range about 0430 and as we were getting ready to leave in our armored trucks I reached into my rucksack to make sure I had packed my favorite boonie hat to keep the hot sun of my bald head. A friend of mine walks by and sees what I am doing and says “Here Jack, let me help.” He then turns on his 10,000 candlelight powered flashlight and shines it into my rucksack. Of course I am now blinded for life and all I see are little purple dots floating in front of my face.
The point I am making here is this; I never would even think of using anything that produced light during “hours of limited visibility” better known to the civilian world as “NIGHT”.
As a young, impressionable Private...newly minted out of Airborne School, I realized that my Squad Leader wasn't actually God but was just one level below Him. SSG Gustofson was everything that I wanted to be. Everyday was an opportunity for me to emulate my hero in all things military. I knew in my heart that if we ever went to war...this they man I want to go with.
As a soldier in the Ranger Battalion, we never missed an opportunity to train at night. It was on one of these early extended patrols through the largest swamp in the United States that somebody had dropped their rifle during a river crossing exercise and now it was resting somewhere in the thick mud below our feet. The river wasn't that swift or deep but it was like staring into a cup of coffee; the blackest water I have ever seen....plus for added excitement, this part of Georgia had more Water Moccasins per square foot than anywhere else in the State...for that matter..in the world!
A very unfortunate young soldier made the mistake of turning on his flashlight to look for this weapon. Within a tenth of a second, SSG Gustofson had this poor individual in a death grip and was physically and verbally (quite colorful) explaining the importance of good light discipline at all times! I think the young soldier went into some kind of shock and basically walked in a haze for the next couple of days.
Needless to say, we found the weapon after I did my best impression of Mike Nelson from the “Sea Hunt” series (dating myself) and we continued the mission because that's what Rangers do.
To this day...I have the hardest time using a flashlight...even while camping...it's kinda sad. I almost never turn a light on in my house. I'm positive that I have the lowest electric bill in Texas...no kidding. We once got a letter in the mail from the city of Fort Worth, asking the “occupants” if the address was vacant! I replied with a short note; “House is occupied however the current owner was and still is severely mentally scarred with FW (flashlight Withdrawal) and requires extensive flashlight therapy and re-training.” We never got another letter. They either did not take us serious...or DID take us serious...Personally, I'm hoping for the latter.
Ever Ready Boy signing off....