It was a night combined arms shoot at Grafenwöhr.
The grunts from 1-16 infantry were having a ball shooting up targets.
My platoon had been assigned to a company of them as a support element.
We'd been told there'd be some tank targets, but nothing so far.
We were joining in on the fun with the co-ax though.
As always, we were a man short so I was in the loader's hole with the gunner's seat empty and the TC running the guns. Rank hath its privileges.
Suddenly! The TC yells, "Gunner, HEAT, APC!"
I sprang into action, stuffing a 120mm round into the breech, arming the gun and screaming, "UP!"
The TC replies with, "identified, on the way."
The TC then says, "target! Going back to the infantry targets with the coax."
What happens next is a bit strange.
Hands grab me from the open hatch and haul me bodily out of the turret. I am passed from three guys on the turret to several people on the ground. The force me to lay down against my protests and keep saying, "you're OK, you're going to be OK, we're here to help..."
Huh? They're trying to start first aid?
The TC's hatch was in overhead protection position so he was not as accessible to our helpful foot soldiers.
"WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TRYING TO DO?" he yelled.
"Your tank exploded, we're trying to save you from the... uh... fire?"
TC, "Sgt Thag, get back up here."
They let me go and I returned to my station, the grunts to theirs.
I guess nobody had ever let them observe the muzzle blast of a tank before. In the dark it seemed to them like the tank had exploded. Add this to a fatal accident another division had had with a 120mm stub (spent case end) where EVERYONE got trained about what to do in the event of an ammo explosion in an M1A1...
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