The Navy's traditions live on in the hearts of those who serve

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What is that smell?!

I was a First Class Gunner's Mate, (GMG1) and well into my second tour on the USS Stein, that's right, I didn't get enough punishment from a Knox Class DE the first time, We were off the coast of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Look it up on a map. Diego Garcia is right on the equator! We were doing small arms familiarization firing on the fantail. My job was to get the entire crew and a contingent of Midshipmen familiarized and able to fire, safely, a number of small arms. Not a small task! Most sailors don't shoot pistols and rifles very much, if at all. If you have read some of my earlier postings, you already know that. I believe we shot the 1911A1 .45 Cal Semi Automatic Pistol, the M16A1 rifle, and some shotgun. In any case, I was up on the fantail, in the blazing sun, all day. We started at 0800, broke for lunch, and shot until dinner. I was wearing a white "Skivvy "shirt, dungaree pants, and shoes. No hat, NO sunscreen, just me and the sun. During the afternoon, I kept smelling this "Burning" smell. Something like meat being cooked on a gas grill. But I just could not identify the smell.

After we returned all of the weapons to the armory and the ammo to the small arms magazine, I went to take a shower. As I was washing my neck, a big piece of burned skin came off the back of my neck, in my hand. It did not hurt, but I swear, it was about three inches square. I smelled the skin, and presto! The smell of cooking was me!! Needless to say, my neck was a little sore for a few days and I now have more than my share of moles that the skin doctor has a field day with. I have often said, If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself. But, maybe not.

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