For this prompt, I want you to tell about any memorable (good or bad) storms you've been caught in. If you'd rather, tell us about your favorite sport and whether you've played it, or just watched. Or, as usual, you can also write about whatever my experiences tonight reminded you of. :-)
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I don’t remember what the post was, but I mentioned that, as a kid, I used to play “soldier.” When it was raining, I’d go out into the back yard wearing a plastic raincoat, carrying my BB gun, and pretending I was on guard duty. I’d walk around the yard for my eight-hour watch making sure no bad buys got over our wall. Okay, it wasn’t actually eight hours; it was only about twenty minutes but the main thing is that I never imagined I’d actually do such a thing.
Although I can’t mention a specific storm, I spent many days wet when I was in Vietnam and many of those times were on guard duty -- not eight hours, but ten or twelve hours at a time. What made it cool (?) was that we had ponchos made of a rubberized material and it kept the rain out, but it also kept heat in wonderfully.
It would be raining and I’d have my poncho on to stay dry except that the outside temperature was seventy or eighty degrees and I was sweating like crazy. Hmm, take off the poncho and get wet from the rain or keep it on and get wet from sweat?
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I was stationed in Beaufort, SC, in the mid-80s when a hurricane decided to sweep over the area. It wasn’t one of the big ones and I don’t even remember what its name was, but we were rained on for two or three days before it actually hit us. To show you that it wasn’t that bad a hurricane, wife and I took the kids somewhere one afternoon and got back to the house just as the worst of it hit us. Wife herded the two oldest kids into the house while I carried in the baby. Then I went back to lock up the car.
As I made a run for the house there was a brilliant flash of light, the ground shook, and every hair on my body stood up. I went out the next morning and saw a circle about six inches in diameter where the grass was charred. It was only about five feet from the sidewalk and I can only figure that a lightning bolt missed me by only that distance.
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I was in Okinawa, Japan, c. 1980, when a typhoon hit the island. I was the division electronics maintenance officer and had the engineers under me. In the middle of the typhoon, the battalion commander called me and said that there was a possibility that power would be lost on the island and we needed to ensure that the base telephone system would continue to have electricity -- that meant we had to provide a generator for their use.
I called the barracks, rousted out my engineer chief and two of his best men, and said I’d pick them up in ten minutes. When I told them they had to wear their helmets and flak jackets, he objected. Not a lot, because I outranked him, but he did disagree with my decision.
A truck came by the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters (BOQ) a few minutes later to pick me up and we went down to the enlisted barracks to pick up my crew. I made sure they had the proper gear and we went to the engineer shop. The engineer chief prepped one of the largest generators while I and the two troops wrestled a fifty-five gallon drum of diesel fuel onto the back of the truck and tied it down. When he was sure the generator was ready, the engineer chief shut it down and we hooked it up to the back of the truck.
It was only about five miles from our shop to the base telephone office but… leave it to nature to screw with me. Just a couple of minutes into our trip the wind ripped a fairly large limb off a tree and tossed it right at the truck. The driver ducked, I ducked, and the limb hit the back of the truck. I looked out the back and saw all three of my men flat on the bed of the truck and then they moved, so I knew they were okay.
We got to the telephone office, unhooked the generator, and five or six Marines from that office unloaded the drum of diesel fuel. After everything thing was connected, we went back to the enlisted barracks to drop off the troops and the engineer chief told me what happened.
The tree limb had skimmed across the top of the cab and hit one of the Marines on the head and another in the chest. Because they were wearing helmets and flak jackets, there were no injuries -- just a couple of men stunned a bit.
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My last storm story is really lame because it didn’t get near us. I outran it!
After I got out of the Marine Corps, I spent a few months playing Mr. Mom while my wife worked and I tried to figure out what we were going to do. We finally decided to come back out to SoCal and we made that drive from NC to CA with three kids. Somewhere in the middle of the states, KS or MO, our music was interrupted with a tornado warning. We had no idea where we were or where the radio station was, so we ignored it. Until…
I saw a funnel off to our right and about five miles ahead of us. It appeared to be angling down toward the interstate so I speeded up -- not worrying about the speed limit.
This is one of those retrospective things because it felt like that funnel chased us for miles along that road but, looking back, it was probably only a few minutes and we were never really in danger.