GORUCK Normandy Heavy Chaffing class 073 was an amazing event. I think I say that about all the Heavies but this one in particular blew the rest out of the water. Not because it was physically a beat down (it wasn’t) but because of all the history that happened on those beaches. I mean, it’s freaking France! Holy hell. FRANCE!
Check it out, we link up at the Omaha Beach memorial on mother freaking OMAHA BEACH only to run out toward the English Channel and we try to get some semblance of order. Typical admin stuff and then Cadre Aaron hits us with some defensive art of war. There’s all sorts of tactics being discussed but the only lesson I got is that my ass is cold and I don’t want to be shot by M42s or 88s or anything if I’m being honest.
Cadre Dan comes in and gives us some history on the lead up into the invasion. The Higgins Boat story was particularly amusing and Dan is probably the best speaker I’ve heard at a GORUCK event. All this talk about a Higgins boat eventually leads to us Higgins-boating. What you do is line up nuts-to-butts/ovaries-to-bovaries, 3 columns and march out into the water. Turn around and sit on your ass. Then cry. Or pee.
Did you know the water of the English Channel is cold? I didn’t. I mean, I had an idea but I didn’t really know. We’re on our ass and cadre are telling us that for two hours, troops were standing in their boats freezing their wet asses off so we can sit down and shut up for a minute. We learn how the troops are having to bail out water with their helmets while battling seasickness and I’m thinking those dudes are bad ass.
Then we stormed the beach. STORMED THE DAMNED BEACH. Certainly easier when you aren’t being shot at and my fat ass needs to start working out so I can at least run all the way up to the seawall. They had to cover hundreds of meters under the most intense of conditions and here I am worrying about straining a calf muscle. Someone later pointed out to me that some survivors figured out that if you walked up to the beach you had a good chance of surviving since you weren’t moving as much as a runner and thus didn’t catch someone’s eye.
Assault complete, we went and did the PT test, I think. We had to do a 5 mile run on the beach with a time standard of 45 minutes. First question I had was “so what happens when it takes me a lot longer?” and Jason told me to shut up and just run. I channeled my inner-David Hasselhoff and Baywatch’ed the shit out of it. I mean, I alternated periods of running with nearly dying from being out of breath with a long bout of regretting signing up for any of these dumb events and fuck where is this turnaround point??
Turn around secured, I traipsed back to the start point. As I get back, the class is up and moving back toward the end of the beach and we learn about movement and in this exercise we do a flying wedge like the Mighty Ducks but we get to carry a giant fuck-off flagpole with two US Flags flying about. Normandy is pretty windy so everyone who ends up carrying the flag or walking behind it learns very quickly what it’s like to be bitch slapped by FREEDOM.
“You’ll take it and you’ll like it!” – Freedom Flag
We made some sandbags that were ridiculously heavy (right? everyone’s sandbag is the heaviest) and walked for a long ass time and eventually end up in some farmer’s field and hedgerows. We must’ve walked through like ten different fields and every time we crossed hedgerows we’d walk through some vegetation and I was introduced to stinging nettles. I was wearing ranger panties because Jason didn’t bring any pants and I couldn’t let him be dumb alone. We walk for what seems like forever and since we are slow going, we are allowed to drop sand and make up time. At the end of the trail there is a rocky beach. Cadre Aaron mentions that an infantry grunt can walk 15’/miles as the standard so we are given a time hack of 20 minutes to ruck just over a mile but this is all loose rock and slippery moss.
At the end of this little jaunt is Pointe-Du-Hoc! No shit those Rangers had to cover hundreds of meters here as well while under heavy fire only to be rewarded with climbing up the damned cliff! “I need to rewatch Saving Private Ryan” has come to mind like 100x by now. Everyone comes to Pointe-Du-Hoc and looks down but not everyone is afforded a view of looking up. Really special moment for all of us there.
As we’re walking back, the cadre mention that there are ladders there still and ask us if we’d like to climb it and hell yeah we did. We climbed up one of the damned cliffs! Holy hell it was cool. I mean, it was just climbing a ladder but still…really cool ladder.
We end up back at the top of Pointe-Du-Hoc and I was wondering what all this concrete was doing laying around and I guess cadre read my mind cause he mentioned that everything laying around was from a bomb hitting a bunker or fortification and this is where it all ended up.
Too many words so I will continue this later.