When a mortar lands in the camp, or a bomb goes off outside the walls, it seems to make a dull “wham” followed by a little “whoosh,” caused by the explosion or flying dirt or who knows what. Unless it’s really close, it just kind of blends into the background noise of diesel engines and helicopter rotors.
When our Paladins fire, though, it sounds like a tremendous clap of thunder. With a lower powder charge it’s just a sharp “boom” of a distant storm, but at full charge it’s a wall-shaking blast of concussive force that takes your breath away. SGT P describes how if you’re close enough, you can somehow feel the concussion just an instant before the sound reaches you, and that it’s a “horrible” feeling – as in “oh shit, I’m about to be blown up.” But then the sound arrives and it changes from dread to awe.
The Paladins aren’t far from the DFAC and they were firing the other day as we went to lunch. The first blast was while we were outside, and it was loud enough to hurt my ears. The second was while we were washing our hands in the entryway – all the stainless steel sinks rattled with the blast. The third was just after we sat down to eat; it elicited a collective “ooh” from the crowd as if we were watching 4th of July fireworks.
Two nights ago they were firing at night, and the thunderclap woke me up – my whole trailer shook with the concussion. My trailer is at least a mile from the guns, but they might as well have been next door. They fired a few rounds and it was sort of like getting a mini-massage, courtesy of Field Artillery!
I can see now why they call artillery the “King of Battle.”
(If infantry is the “queen of battle” and artillery is the “king,” what does that make Signal? The “Court Jester of Battle”? The “Serf of Battle”?)