By Nick Barringer MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS (EIEIO) The Tactical Strength...
The Little Blue Box
by RU Rob
Whoever came up with the idea for a port-a-potty should be given a freaking Nobel Peace Prize for both ingenuity and comedic genius. Never in the history of man has a seemingly simple contraption both eased the pain and suffering of many a Marine and Soldier yet inconvenienced them into suffering and setting up the most hilarious scenarios EVER!
As an introduction we must first properly identify the terminology of the item we are referring to. Cue the port-a-potty, port-a-shitter, out-house, stink-box, shit-shack, jack-box, or whatever you may call it. They come in many sizes and shapes but they all usually stink and have mysterious objects floating in the bottom of them. Some are created so that another ingenious device, the shitter sucker, can come and magically remove the excrement with one sweep of the powerful vacuum yet others must have the MRE reincarnates burned, much to the chagrin of the NCO’s and the dismay of the enlisted.
These little magical marvels of engineering are like the 82nd Airborne, they can relocate to anywhere in the world in under 72 hours to become your drop-zone! They can be ratchet-strapped to any vehicle in our arsenal or delivered via land, sea or air by any one of the billion-dollar contractors we have all come to love. Either way, they seem to appear from a mystical-mist, standing side-by-side in their effervescent-blue-water-glory and become a wonderful, colorful reference point for our enemies who are adjusting indirect fire while we so eloquently relieve ourselves.
As a frequent visitor to places without standard plumbing, I can recall one particular incident that was just too funny to be true. It all started in the quiet country side of Germany. My company was conducting an air-mobile raid and had set up the pick-up zone in a large clearing on a gently sloping, grassy hill. There was a dirt road running down the middle of the field and just like there would be in an actual combat zone (not really but you could imagine), there were a line of about 10 shitters just off the road. The entire company was moving in one lift and we had 15 Blackhawks coming for the pick-up. As is very typical with the infantry, we were in position hours before the actual mission was supposed to kick off and we were running our rehearsals.
About 30 minutes before the actual time of arrival we were given the go ahead to clear our bowels and bladders before we left as it would be a good bit of time before we would have another opportunity. Most of us headed into the wood-line to relieve ourselves standing style and the sitters headed to towards the blue thrones. Eventually everyone returned to their proper locations except for one, he just seemed to have a jump refusal and was taking a bit longer than expected in the crystal cathedral. It was then that we started to hear the familiar thump-thump-thump of the rotors in the distance. Immediately, everyone started rucking up and getting ready (they were actually about 20 minutes early, the ONLY time I can ever remember an Aviation unit being early), and soon the first bird came screaming-in.
Apparently, the unit tasked with supporting us had decided that they too were going to get some training and were coming in hot and fast with a quick flare at the end as they set down. For those of you who have had the opportunity to witness this, it is pretty freaking awesome to see a hulk of a helicopter go from light speed to nothing in a matter of seconds. The only problem with this, is that it also creates a huge amount of prop-wash, momentary hurricane force winds, multiplied by the number if aircraft, that will knock you on your ass or in this case, knock a port-a-potty over. And that is exactly what it did.
The entire company was watching when the shitters collectively were thrown around like plastic lawn furniture in a tornado. We knew there was someone in them, but didn’t know which one. As squad leaders were getting the final count before we loaded –up it was obvious that one soldier was missing. The shitters strewn across the field like small blue icebergs in a sea of green grass. Soon, an entire squad was checking each one while the rest of us were staring in disbelief and laughing our asses off. Finally they found the subject of their quest, it seems that when his house of poo had tipped, it tipped over – on the door, essentially trapping the unlucky occupant in what started as a tranquil deposit of waste and turned into house of horror. The squad quickly converged on the house of ill smell and rolled the structure over only to have the unlucky soldier emerge completely covered in….well you can just imagine how bad it really was.
Knowing the commander was starting to get pissed that we were going to be late making the start time, everyone rushed back to their load points….even the one-who-has-no-luck.
Unfortunately for him, the chopper crew chiefs had disembarked and had witnessed the entire fiasco, and through their body movements you could tell that they were dying inside….until the soldier started making his way to his designated bird. That crew chief went from laughing to dead serious…waving off the soldier and his gear as if to say “there is no way in fucking hell, I am letting you ride in my chariot of the sky!” The soldier, now confused and dejected, looked to his team leader for guidance. The team leader just pointed to where the Executive Officer was standing (he never gets to do anything cool) and motioned for the soldier to head that way. We had our first casualty and hadn’t even left yet. Henceforth, the soldier was referred to as Private Poo and as he was promoted, Specialist Shitter. I am sure that he is probably still seeking psychotherapy for that little incident to this day.
I have heard many a jack-box story over the years and have seen the chaos created by Soldiers with too much time on their hands. What is the funniest thing you have ever witnessed happen with our friend, the little blue box?