When the Gun goes Boom

by Joshua Rand-Castillo

We lay there in freezing darkness on the firing line waiting for the signal to begin raining ‘lead’ on the target. We get the signal from the Platoon Leader to unleash the sounds of war; the 240’s spitting fire out the end and the 249’s sounding like out of control chain saws. As the Weapons Squad leader I am like a conductor of the Symphony Philharmonic, making music to the ears of the teams bounding to the target, clack clack clack, tick tick tick goes the guns back and forth. One 240 and one 249 firing in unison. It was a glorious few minutes of guns in harmonic balance.

BOOM, FLASH, AGH!! I go blind in my night vision eye, panic takes over, sounds of grunting of pain ring in my ears. Oh, F##K, my mind needed to think what just happened.

This wasn’t supposed to happen, what’s happening??!!!

I look where the grunting is coming from and see a 240 down and run over to take command of the situation. I asked the gunner and assistant gunner what happened and they both looked at the gun and said the gun blew up. The gunner said his chest hurt like hell. I turned on my red light to examine the gun. Low and behold I see the guts (buffer spring assembly, bolt, and buttstock) of the gun exploded out the back and into the gunner’s chest.

Quickly I realized we may have a real-world medical issue. I called cease fire and told my team leaders and assistant gunner to turn on white lights. The gunner said he was okay, but just in case had him de-blouse to check for injuries. Team leaders checked the gun and looked for any missing gun parts. Assessing the situation took a few minutes.

“Hey turn out your lights! What are you doing?!!” Yelled the Ranger Instructor’s.

Quick in response I yelled back, ‘one of the 240s blew up.’ Next thing I know the Ranger Instructors are stomping over in irritation because the training was now all FUBARed up as they didn’t initially believe me.

The RI’s got over to the weapons squad firing line and saw one Ranger Student topless with a huge red bruise on his chest and a 240 on the ground.

The RI’s inspected both the student and machine gun. Realized the gun had blown up cracking the length of the case and the student was mostly okay. Then gave me some small nod of understanding and let me be.

This took place in the Florida Phase, April 2003 with Ranger Class 6-03.

Little did I realize that night; a month after this eventful night I would be a 240B gunner in a firefight that would forever change my life.

Moral of the story:
Ranger School can and does prepare you to act and think lightning quick, in high-threat combat situations.

Joshua Rand-Castillo

“If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog.” Haruki Murakami.

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