While this blog won’t solve any VA claims problems, it’s a pleasant interlude in between claims filings and their resolution. Having been hatched on the day reserved for fools, humor is an integral part of my psyche. Nothing passes me by that doesn’t pique my interest in how I might make it humorous or fashion a joke out of. Which is why I called you all here.
One of my finest creations was the Semtex- C ration bottle rocket. It didn’t have a Military M model designation like M 26 rocket (bottle) but should have. Given lots of time to dream of anything your mind could conceive of, some of us sought to create interesting devices. Since I had a pyrotechnic bent, I was always trying to envision new uses for the toys they gave us to play with. I for darn sure would have loved to meet the 11Bravo who engineered the peach can repair order for the feed jambs on Pigs. Pure genius.
Semtex, or plastique, is a great item when respected. We had tons of it-literally. It was in Claymores and the propellant in 60 mm mortars just to name a few. Compressed, it will kill you. When removed from its normal confines, it burns quite well and I’m sure there a thousands of you still alive today who used it to heat up your c-rations in Southeast Asia.
Lacking any fireworks other than throwing the occasional 5.56 round into a fire to “wake” folks up, I thought long and hard on how I might make bottle rockets. While dropping a 60mm down the tube one afternoon, I became engrossed in how the propellant looked similar to that in the Claymores so I gave some the Zippo test that evening.
From there, it was a simple step to find a small enough container to put it in. I experimented by cramming some into a spent 7.65 round but it was too nose-heavy and came right back to earth without gaining altitude. After a day or two of experimenting, I came up with it. You cut apart a c rat can and make a 2″ by 2″ square. Pre-crease it in both planes and place the 60mm plastique in the lower center. Fold it in half with an 18 inch piece of baling wire crimped inside and fold that in half. Make sure there is plenty of clearance around the wire.
For maximum effect, I’d walk by a fire in the evening and throw it like a spear to get it to stick upright in the fire. When It heated up enough, it ignited and took off. What I didn’t contemplate was what would happen if it hit anyone. Sure as shit, I dang near put a guy’s eye out a week later so the idea, while brilliant, was unworkable for entertainment value.
Once we got a ton of Tide detergent on a pallet. It was more than we could ever use to wash with and besides, the Hmong hootch gals used rocks down in the creek below us. After much study, we discovered you could thicken up AvGas with the Tide in a discarded 50 gallon drum and supersize it with Claymores, dig it in and tilt it at a perfect 45 degree angle outside the perimeter. Wire a claymore under it for the ignition system. Do a rude job of camouflaging it and then stay away from the area for a day or two. Curious Pathet Lao interlopers in the night would feel it necessary to see what kind of handiwork we stupid tahanns erected during the day. It was a poor substitute for a mine but it worked just dandy like a Civil War mortar and spewed out neat, sticky flaming gobs of AvGas about 50 feet akin to Willie Peter.
The guy who got tagged by the bottle rocket got a Purple Heart by the way. I never let on I was the inventor. I’m not a parade kind of guy.
P.S. It is with great sadness we learned that a fellow Veterans Help Site (Hadit.com) announced it is closing its doors soon. They have been in existence for years and years and have helped many thousands in their search for justice at VA. Their presence will be sorely missed by the Veterans community. I do hope someone else there is able to pick up the flag and continue to serve our Veterans. Finding good help on the subject of Veterans claims and appeals is extremely hard as there are so few of us in proportion to the large number of Veterans. I think I speak for all Veterans when I say we will miss the site and Berta’s valuable advice on CUE claims.