hen you heard the sirens go off, you were suppose to grab your rifle and 782 gear, then run, hell bent for leather, to your assigned foxhole. In theory this was an excellent plan, in reality it was a cross between a chinese fire drill and watching a rerun of "The Keystone Cops Meet Gomer Pyle."
About 15 minutes after getting off of the C-130 that flew me from Camp LeJeune, NC, to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, I heard warnings that Castro's Army would probably be attacking the base within the next 48 hours. I was to hear this rumors at least once a day for the next 365 days.
"Getmo" is hard to describe, but the words desolate, remote, isolated, lonely, boring, hot, and butt ugly come to mind right away.
On the ride from the airstrip to my quarters (tents, again!) I notices a group of rather large white birds. "Well," I thought,"they look kinda cool". From a distance they looked like rare seabirds, or perhaps some kind of local exotic species.
As we got closer, and I didn't have to squint my eyes quite so much, I got the first taste of things to come. My exotic birds were a bunch of vultures feeding on the carcass of another local inhabitant, a sea iguana. A really BIG sea iguana.
To this day (35 years later), I still don't recall seeing any other animal life on Getmo except the vultures and those sea lizards. In fact, the grunts use to make leaches with the straps from their packs and walk the little hissing Godzilla's around the base like prize rottwielers. Whose lizard was the baddest usually got decided with a chunk of mess hall beef thrown between two contenders.
Along with the iguana and vultures, there was one other inhabitant, and mentioning it now still makes the short hairs on my neck stand up. This little fellow was about the size of a small soup bowl. Had 8 hairy legs, and the cutest set of tiny little poisonous fangs you ever saw.
Like I said in the beginning, when the sirens blew, which they did about 3 times a week, you headed for your hole. Most times this was not a bad thing. However, all of these drills weren't held in the daylight (where you could see who was occupying your space before you jumped in). Nope, many of these drills were held in the wee hours of pre-dawn light, and being as how we weren't suppose to let Castro know where our "secret" foxhole positions were (he probably had a map showing each and every one, anyway) no flashlights, or lights of any kind were allowed.
Lets face it, lots of guys, even Marines, don't like spiders. Our fire team leader was no exception. In fact, I would feel safe in saying that Corporal Rotello would rather poke a stick in his eye that he sharpened himself then to even be in the same room with a spider. So, you know what's coming, right?
Long strips of camouflage cloth when tied into a small bundle (with a few strategic strands left dangling, here and there) had a remarkable resemblance to the islands' furry little creatures. A length of com wire tied to it and running from his assigned foxhole to ours pretty much set the stage for a very entertaining evening the next time the whistle blew.
We didn't have to wait very long. The next evening at about oh-dark thirty, the sirens went off. Everyone ran to their assigned position. We wait for what we believed to be a reasonable interval...and gave the wire a jerk.
Our fearless hero shot out off his hole like a round out of a howitzer. Castro would not have had a hard time finding us that night...you could hear our laughter, and Corporal Rotello's screaming all the way to Havana.
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