Briggs Seekins Personal History

 

Personal History by Briggs Seekins

My name is Briggs Seekins. I am writing about the Love Boat they had over in the port of Bahrain. DOD got it for R&R. Of course not many Third Armored guys got to ship back to the rear to visit it–they didn't even start letting any of the guys in our line company go back on R&R until I think it was like April or something. At first all the guys who had been on advance deployment on the ship with our vehicles got to go, since they had to leave Germany about two or three weeks before the rest of us and missed out on all the yuletide drinking that the rest of us got to do while we waited to ship out. You have to remember that in a line unit, we never got to drink ANYTHING over there. Since the Saudi Arabian government considered us a bunch of peon foreign workers, they made sure the toadies in the chain-of-command never let us set up a beer tent when we were rotated back for a day or two or anything like that. Once in awhile we would get some warm fake beers with our t-rations, never any ice or anything, of course. Once in awhile somebody would get a bottle or whiskey or something in the mail from home, but the mail room pogues usually broke into our packages and stole everything good out of them, like the batteries, or the Copenhagen or the pints of whiskey. I KNOW FOR A FACT some mailroom pogue over there stole at least two sleeves of Copenhagen from me and a pint. So going to the love boat was pretty much the only chance you had to get drunk. 
 
I don't know why I got to go to the Love Boat, because I wasn't an especially good private. I tried to do my best at any mission related stuff, but I had a bad attitude. I think I just happened to be in the right place at the right time–it was in mid-May and we were up on the other side of the Iraqi border, guarding the highway into Kuwait. Two Bradleys and their dismount crews would rotate out from the base camp for twenty-four hours and then they would rotate back and switch with the other two Bradleys in the platoon. Back at the base camp you got to pull more guard, but you could also watch videos of Road House starring Patrick Swayze at the Company tent when you were not on guard. I was on a radio watch at like three thirty or four in the morning, and First Sergeant contacted our Platoon Sergeant over the radio and told him to pick one of the spec fours or privates to send to the Love Boat. I switched right away to the Platoon frequency and said "send Seekins…" in a ghostly voice. I didn't think I would get sent, but I did. It was a great time on the boat. I was roomates with this guy named Doc who was the combat medic who usually got detached to our platoon in the field. Doc was only about a hundred and forty pounds but he won the belly flop contest at the pool. His only competition was a bunch of chubby reservists, and they weren't tough enough to hurl themselves against the water as fiercely as Doc did. We hung around with a guy from the mortar platoon in headquarters company. We menaced all the pogues we met, like some coast guard reserves who tried to sit at our table in the dining hall, but we mostly behaved ourselves, because if you got in a fight about anything they would kick you off the boat.
 
When we got back to the line, it turned out the whole 5/18 was camped together in one place and we were about to get shipped back to Germany. The mortar guy and I couldn't find our respective companies because it was about two in the morning, so eventually we just put our sleeping bags on the ground between a couple of tents. A couple hours later we got woken up by Captain Ward, who had just transferred to headquarters company, after being my company commander in A company. He was a pretty good CO, a soldier's officer. He once told our entire company in formation that if we were in a bar sometime in the future and trying to tell some woman a story about what a war hero we were, we could go ahead and call him up and he would tell the woman that whatever line we were feeding her was the truth. I don't know if anybody ever took him up on this offer, but I know most of us liked him a lot better than the dorky guy they replaced him with. I don't even remember that cat's name, but I remember he was a nerd. He didn't even have his expert infantryman's badge and he wouldn't let us use curse words when we called cadences during pt runs. Who ever heard of telling combat infantrymen not to use swear words?
On a more serious note, I wonder if any guys who were in Third Armored have been tested for depleted uranium. It's hard to get any straight information out of the VA or the DOD, but if you remember all the blown up vehicles and bunkers we had to spend time around, all that air had to be pretty thick with all the DU that got discharged when the armor-piercing rounds exploded. I'm not certain, but I have heard that even the 25 MM rounds we used in the Bradleys were made from depleted uranium. Now that all of us our in our thirties and beyond, we have to take care of our health and make sure the government doesn't give us the screw around like they did to the grunts who served in Vietnam. 
 
You might want to note in the 5/18 history that it was also the 1/36 Infantry prior to about 1990 or so. I got to 5/18 in January of 1990, and the transition from 1/36 to 5/18 had just taken place–I'm not exactly sure how recently, but recently enough so that most of the NCOs and a lot of the Spec-4's and busted down E-3's remembered it. The switch took place concurrent with changing the Battalion from a straight-leg Bravo unit to a fully mechanized infantry unit with Bradleys. Most of the NCO's in 5/18 during Desert Storm had spent most of their careers as Bravos (straight-leg) and the whole Battalion went to Bradley training school sometime in 1989 or early 1990. Most of the sergeants HATED the change–instead of just having your boots and web gear to scrub mud off from after a trip to the box, you had tracks. Grunt training companies at Sand Hill, Fort Benning were about three to one mechanized when I was there in 89. It ended up being a lucky switch for Third Armored, because there is no way the infantry units could have kept up with the tankers in the desert without Bradleys, which were fast, whatever else their failings might have been. I wonder if the switch in name from 5/18 to 1/36 means that the battalion switched back to 11B.