Every Lieutenant likes to think of himself as the guy his men would fight for to the bitter end. As a cocky young mortar platoon leader who already had a deployment under his belt, I certainly did. My driver, SPC Dobbs, was about to correct my gross error in judgment.
I have many a funny story about my good friend Dobbs, but the only thing you need to know right now is that right before CMTC, Dobbs bought the most spectacularly absurd wrap-around sunglasses. They looked like they were straight out of the 80s, yet somehow tactical. No one has seen anything like them before or since. The only thing they were missing was the shutters and bright red finish and we were in a Max Headroom Pepsi Commercial.
Anyway, Day One of Dobbs wearing these ridiculous shades, he had the most amazingly productive day ever, solving three major issues inside of four hours. SSG Roff looked at him and said, “Dobbs, what’s gotten into you? You’re on fire!”
Patterson chimes in, “It’s the shades.”
Lawrence adds, “It’s definitely the shades, sergeant.”
We instantly all agree that his special powers come from the amalgam of contorted plastic wrapped around his head and I announce, “Dobbs, when you’re wearing those you’re like a Transformer. You’re not just Dobbs anymore. You’re Dobtimus Fucking Prime.”
A nickname was born.
I had only been with the mortars for about three months when we hit our first CMTC rotation in beautiful Hohenfels, Germany. It was the first mission for that rotation and our battalion commander wanted to “place his hairy eyeball” (we never really knew what that saying meant but he said it a lot) on every officer in the Task Force and discuss the mission at hand. When his impassioned speech concluded, he dismissed all personnel that didn’t have to attend his operations order.
“Yay, I can leave!”, I briefly thought.
Then I realized I was now a battalion asset. This was going to be a long afternoon.
My friend Jared, feeling sorry for me as he left the TOC to go join his platoon, took the opportunity to emblazon my dust-covered HMMWV with cute notes like, “Nick is a stupid penis-head”, “Nick loves gay cow sex”, and “Nick loves the Yankees”. While the first two were reasonable attacks, the latter was a bridge too far, and reciprocation was a moral imperative.
The REAL Mission
Now is an important time to note that I always go too far with this kind of stuff.
Never one to shy from abusing authority, I called into my fire control center and got the 10 digit grids for all of Jared’s vehicles. Dobbs and I pulled out Ye Olde Hohenfels Mappe and headed out. The plan was simple. Dobbs would pull up and bullshit with the guys while I pretended I had “Lieutenant Business” with Jared. In each cargo pocket I had a can of spray paint. I planned on leaving a lasting impression.
We arrive, shoot the shit a little, and I ask where Jared is. They point to a Bradley. I walk to it, turn the corner so I am out of sight and start spray painting what Jared prefers to do to goats and pigs while I giggle to myself. It was at that moment that a) both the driver and gunner of this BFV came around the corner and b) I realized this was the platoon sergeant’s vehicle.
MOTHER FUCKER. Messing with the LT was one thing. The guys may have even let it go down. Spray painting bestiality comments on the PSG’s vehicle…well…infantry law pretty much stated that I needed to get my ass kicked.
The driver screamed out, “LT P just fucked with S’arnt Z’s Bradley! Get him! Get him!”
Fight or Flight!
The jig was up. I needed to pop smoke ASAP. In my mind, Dobtimus Prime had the vehicle running, foot on the gas and brake, and the second my ass hit the seat, he was gonna drop the hammer and we’d be homefree before most of the platoon knew what hit them.
As I continued running, my confidence was building. Even though the 3rd platoon guys were echoing the assault charge in earnest, there was still lots of confusion and I had a good lead. Seconds before, I had heard the HMMWV engine roar to life. I was going to make it! As I turned the corner, I saw my oasis…driving away at top speed.
Fucking Dobbs had left me.
I kept running for another minute, but my fate was inevitable and I decided to turn and let the ass-kicking commence. As I spun on my heel to face Jared’s platoon, I felt like I was re-watching the movie Braveheart. A mob of forty was descending upon me and they were going to get their revenge. The first few idiots charged ahead, but the majority stuck together and held the line.
Fastest guy got there first and instantly regretted it as he realized he weighed 155 pounds and I did not. I threw him like a rag doll just in time to duck under a punch from number two guy. I shot a high crotch single on him, picked him up, and slammed him as hard as I could into the ground. He let out a pathetic gasping sound. Then the mob hit me.
When Mobs Attack:
For those of you that have never been attacked by a mob, you should know there is no way to win unless you have two katanas and your name is Miyamoto Musashi. The fact that you bench press 400 pounds or just got your BJJ purple belt really doesn’t matter at all. You are going to get beat up. I have been attacked by several mobs, but I chalk that up to bad luck and not anything that I did. Nevertheless, I have developed five helpful tips for minimizing damage:
Nick Mob Rule number 1: Protect your limbs. If you leave them hanging out there, some jackass is going to yank an appendage one way while another guy jumps on the pile, and next thing you know your shoulder is out of socket.
Nick Mob Rule number 2: Protect your face. People get exhuberant in mobs. You want to avoid concussions and eye pokes and keep your wits about you as long as possible.
Nick Mob Rule number 3: Protect your genitals. If the reasoning for this rule is not obvious, I implore you not to follow it.
Nick Mob Rule number 4: Build a frame. If you are lying flat on your stomach or back, all the weight of the mob is on your rib cage. No bueno. I find the wrestling “turtle position” to be most advantageous as you can support lots of weight and use your elbows and knees to protect your head and vital organs.
Nick Mob Rule Number 5: Hurt one guy as quickly as possible. The others may feel bad and stop to help him. And if they don’t, well, at least you got one of those bastards.
At the bottom of the pile…AGAIN.
The mob hit me like the All Blacks Rugby Team. I got rolled several times while they doled out punishment, but quickly built my frame, turtled up, and started crawling as best I could, looking for my victim. A wayward leg hit my arm and stayed an instant too long and BAM, it became my property. As the mob continued to bull me over, I dragged this poor soul down with me. I pummeled him, elbowed him, torqued on his leg, pinched him, head butted his ribs – I did my best to do whatever I could do with whatever body part I had that wasn’t being thrashed at any given moment to bring him pain.
The guy started to scream bloody murder. I continued.
Finally, I heard SFC Z screaming for everyone to stop.
I stood up and apologized to the sergeant I was just assaulting.
“Holy shit, sir! You okay?” Sergeant Z asked.
“Why do you ask?”
Jared was laughing.
I looked at my hands.
Blood. I could feel it pouring out of my nose and mouth.
I felt my face with my hands.
I did the nose and teeth check.
Whew. Still present and unbroken.
“I’m good, Sergeant Z. Sorry about that. I meant to spray paint that your LT fucked goats and pigs, not you.”
This response seemed reasonable to all parties involved. I love the Military.
“Did Dobbs just fucking leave?” I ask.
Jared was laughing his ass off now as he reenacted how quickly Dobbs sped into the sunset. Jared being Jared, there were 107 iterations that needed to be physically acted out. My three favorites involved a Lethal Weapon style hood slide, a cartwheel-summersault-backflip into the gunner’s hatch, and one version where Dobbs caught a wave on a surfboard that apparently had miraculously appeared at the opportune moment.
“Great leadership, sir”, Sergeant Z threw out.
“You really seem to be making a difference over there. I’m sure Dobbs just went for help”, chuckled Sergeant Robb.
“Dude, you’re like the worst platoon leader, ever”, added Jared with a shit-eating grin on his face.
I hop out of Jared’s HMMWV as my guys notice that I am completely fucked up.
“Sir, what the hell happened?” asked Roff.
“Dobbs left me to get my ass kicked,” I answered.
“What?” Lawrence chimed in.
“You left the LT?” Patterson asked. “Damn, man! That shit’s cold!”
Dobbs smirked an uncomfortable smirk and tries to walk away as the guys bust his balls.
“Hey Dobbs!” I shout.
He turns around.
“You’re not Dobtimus Prime. You’re not even a Transformer anymore,” I declared in my command voice.
“You know what you are, Dobbs?” I ask as I walk up to him and poke my finger into his chest, letting the anticipation build.
“You’re a fucking Gobot!”
I pissed blood for a couple days.
The paint that I used could not be removed or painted over. Apparently the special paint the Army uses on Bradley Fighting Vehicles isn’t the same as the Krylon I had handy. The vehicle had to get repainted at higher, so SFC Z fucked goats and pigs for the rest of the rotation. This was incredibly amusing to me.
SSG Roff and Austin had a mock serious intervention with me claiming I was too hard on Dobbs. Demoting him to Bumblebee or Jazz was one thing, but a Gobot? A Scooter he was not.
Dobbs eventually got his Dobtimus Prime moniker back.