Pipe-hitters are like wild mustangs: they can’t be constantly corralled. They need to get out and run hard all the time. Such was the case with Greg Coker and the boys cooped up in a holding area trying their best to wait out a tactical pause. “Tactical pause,” yeah… just what exactly was that anyway? Here’s my best attempt to splayne it: It’s when the brass didn’t know whether to defecate or wind their timepieces. That was bad — really bad, and often ended up with them shitting on their watches.

Chief Coker always deployed with a calf rope, and why wouldn’t a Texan carry one? He probably kept it under his gunship’s pilot seat there with his wrist rocket. In the event that his bird, his assault rifle, and his wrist rocket all went Winchester… hell, he could touch down and rope himself a Taliban toad.

Greg just missed his roping pen and horses back home, that was for certain. He burned a bit of time lassoing miscellany in his bunkhouse like an MRE box sitting edge-on made a fine dogie target to punch. He reeled in his 30-foot rope, built a loop, cranked that lasso around a swift couple of swings and laid that loop down over that MRE box just as smooth as Devil’s River Texas Rye.

Chief’s home-on-the-range activities drew the attention of a few like-minded comrades, who lingered nearby striking up conversations about horses, ropes and roping techniques, rodeos and best rodeo times. Chief Greg’s best time? Eight seconds flat. Ironically for Chief Greg Coker, eight seconds is also how long it took his gunship, hit by an enemy Surface-to-Air (SA) rocket, to plummet to the ground.

The pipe-hitters felt the distinct oppression of the Afghan strain of the boredom virus, a highly contagious progeny of the Global Lazy Virus nicknamed Novel Afghan Phlegmatic Virus 2005 or NAPV-05. The viral tug was a downward one threatening lower men to doldrums and dull their edge. Inactivity is an enemy of mustang pipe-hitters; the men knew that. To inoculate themselves against NAPV-05, Coke and a couple of others decided to take an excursion on a support vehicle, one highly modified Kawasaki Mule that they called a Hoopdie.

The Coker clan’s Kawasaki Mule.

Coke’s klan roared off into the desert to the nearby British contingent’s tent cluster and affected a loop around the premises. To their thrilling surprise, they happened on a local lass supine over a towel, clad in a brilliant orange bikini, and taking in some rays. Greg throttled back the mule to protract their time in passing the sunbathing babe. Coke’s passengers stood in the cruising mule in anticipation of gleaning a better pleasing eyeful.

“OMG that color — look at me, look at me — I’m over here everyone!”

“I’m afraid a chopper might mistake her for a VF-17 panel and try to land on her.”

“I’d like to try and land on her…”

And so that went.

The military VF-17 signal panel is flat olive drab green in its folder configuration and opens into a vibrant orange sheet of approximately 2′ x 3′. It can be seen from the air for great distances.

“I HIGHLY SUGGEST YOU MEN SIT DOWN RIGHT NOW BEFORE YOU FALL OUT OF THAT BLOODY MACHINE AND KILL YOUR-BLOODY-SELVES!!” came, from somewhere near, the shrill voice of an irate female officer, whom none had previously noticed.

“WELL, I HIGHLY SUGGEST YOU KISS MY ASS, MA’AM!” came the well-placed retort from one of the Coker klan. Greg, in turn, broke the rear tires loose from the road and sped off.

“Welp, there’s an international incident that will get us all sent home — all because some Brit bitch had to show off and we had to indulge her — there will be no good morale here, no fun, and above all — NO FIGHTING!!” = spit =

“I’d rather get sent back home if there’s no fight and we’re expected to rot here rather than carry a fight to the enemy — I came to tangle with Taliban!”

And so it went.

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For ten straight days the mustang her was languishing in plywood structures in the desert, trying not to think of the sunbathing British babe in the fluorescent orange bikini, and nipping and kicking at the coral posts and split rails. You gotta let a mustang run… Pipe-hitters treading along the very edge of the offensive scythe need to keep the pressure of the kill on all the time to keep the toads on the scare.

(Hootch door crashes open) “Coker!!”

(Sitting up from bunk) “Yes, Sir?”

“Did you tell a female British officer to kiss your ass??”

“Dah… no… not to the extent that you could tell by looking at me, Sir.”

“What the hell does that even mean, Coker?? Ok… ok… Greg… do you know anything… about anyone… anywhere… who may have told a female British Commonwealth commissioned military official to kiss his ass??

“Well nope, Sir… nope, I reckon I do not know of such a scandalous calamity. We don’t talk to our women-folk back home in Texas like that — that just ain’t who we are, Sir!”

“……… ok, Coker. I’ve got my eye on you — on ALL of you, so be fairly forewarned! I’m onto you, Texan — one faux pas and I’ve got your asses, Mister!” (hootch door crashes shut).

Chief Coker getting his ass chewed, by his super, over suspicion of having insulted a British officer.

The men just sat silently, occasionally looking up at one another for some quick countenance analysis, but always returning to a head-bowed posture. Finally, one of the men piped up sheepishly and questioned:

“W-well… what’re we gonna do now, fellahs?”

CWO4 Greg “Gravy” Coker quietly stood, turned to his driver and ordered:

“Wheels… fire up the mule — we’re going on an excursion, boys! (all) “HOOORAAAH!!”

Commanders command. Pipe-hitters don’t know nothin’ about commands and commanding — they just want to pick up a pipe and smash something with it. That was fair enough as far as the commanders were concerned; they bid the pipe-hitters to come up with ideas to rudely spank the desire right out of the enemy, inviting them to kindly “think outside the box.”

Now just how tired out is that phrase “think outside the box?” There is no box. There used to be a box, but there is no longer one. People have been “thinking outside the box” for so long now that box-external is now the status quo for thinking. Pipe-hitters are unconventional sorts — or so they fancy themselves — so they are always at liberty and obligation to think unconventional — a thing there will forever be an occasion to do.

The men suggested that they could recover a crashed MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter hull and jam it full of explosives. The carcass should then be sling-loaded and dropped into downtown Kandahar by a CH-47 Chinook heavy transport helo. Once all the curious cretins crowded around the carcass, it should be detonated vaporizing them to sub-ten-micron airborne particles. A Trojan horse of sorts.

To preclude pining the days away the bosses tasked the pipe-hitters to recon an area where they could Gun Smoke, practice live-fire gun runs and brownout landings.

Practice brownout landings.” Yeah, that made about as much sense as practice getting hit by a speeding bus, or practice contracting leprosy. It was the general consensus among the men that the command group needed to practice kissing their asses. A brownout landing was nothing more than a controlled crash landing; that is if you could, in fact, control it. If you could not control it then it was a full-caliber crash landing. Who practices crashing? Apparently, the Night Stalkers do!

An instance of the dreaded brownout landing.

(Pete — Greg’s co-pilot): “Hey, ha-ha-ha… maybe we should change our name to… to the Crash Stalkers, ha-ha-ha… ha-ha… ha… aha.”

“That a peach, Pete; you’re a funny guy — a regular Bob Hope!”

(to be continued)

By Almighty God and with honor,
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