Episode 5 - Tracking the outlandish

After surveying Camp Kowal (our base camp) for a second time this morning, we took off to find 3 boxes dropped earlier by Captain Schneider, our pilot. It was about noon when we found the 1st one. It was intact and not too far from base camp. I radioed Roy back at Camp Kowal and gave him the correct GPS location for fast retrieval. At 1400 hours we found the 2nd one hanging from a tree. Ben and I were walking for hours, neither of us spoke. A steamy midday sun was watching above us. Using the coordinates given by Major Munsch and likely wind direction/speed the 3rd box should have been 2 miles east from the 2nd box. In fact it was, but not when we arrived. It looked like something dragged the box down to a ravine and tried to open it. We were puzzled. There were claw marks on its wooden sides. At first we thought the marks belonged to a bear but upon close inspection we found some strange foot prints surrounding the site. We radioed Sgt. Palmer. He decided to send Dan and Roy to inspect the tracks. They arrived at the site surprisingly fast. Dan was so fired up he was stuttering. Wou...woul...would you look at these! They are huge! - said Dan in a childish manner. He was certain the tracks belonged to some kind of reptile. An alligator! - Roy shout out. If it is a gator, what a hell is it doing here, far north from its native habitat? - I asked. Nobody knew the answer. Not even Dan, the renowned biologist. We followed the tracks to the end of the ravine which led to the pond's spring. Nothing. They vanished by the water. Ben kept holding his gun through out the whole time. It was getting dark and two of the boxes still needed to be brought back to base camp. Dan preserved the track by making a plaster cast of it and Roy helped him by taking pictures. We split in two groups, Ben and I took the "abducted" box. Dan and Roy headed for the 2nd box which Ben had previously freed from the trees. Back at base camp Sgt. Palmer had started a fire and had already opened the 1st box which contained our new woodland MARPAT uniforms and some food supplies. The desert camouflage we are wearing is only good for the shore of the pond, where the terrain is covered with sand and driftwood. We reported the incident to Sgt. Palmer, he seemed unconcerned. Almost too indifferent. Dan told the story to the professor who was more excited than a kid during Christmas. We have been here for a week. I've seen tracks of dear, snake, small turtles and even some stale pad marks of a bobcat. But a giant lizard? This situation is getting weird, an alligator? And a pilfering one at that? What's sarge got up his sleeve?

by Corporal John Harris, September 30, 2005