Episode 19 - Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their skills.

Motivating troops away from home can be the toughest problem of a leader. If you go out of your way to help a fellow soldier, he is more likely to follow your orders when bad times come. Since the sarge left, I've been working harder everyday making sure I build up favors with the men. You have to keep the level of trust high and this strikes me funny, I know more about my team mates than I know about my family sometimes. So last Tuesday when I heard the pilot of a USMC Sea Stallion Helicopter calling us on the radio, I knew I would have my men motivated for the rest of the week: the vehicle I had asked for from Major Munsch had arrived. The pilot had dropped the vehicle by the last watchtower in the valley. It was an old Jeep CJ-3B, just like the ones used in Vietnam. As far as I could tell, the poor Jeep had seen better days. - Oh, man! Looks like we have another veteran in our team - said Dr. Johnson referring to the numbers painted on the hood of the car. Ben could not believe I had pulled it off. We finally had a jeep to transport the heavy pallets full of food, water and other supplies back to Base Camp. It's been an ongoing ordeal since we arrived and for some reason the sarge never thought a vehicle was necessary. I sent Corporal Grisham and Ben to get some gas at the shed we had built before Christmas. Dr. Johnson and I stayed at the landing site imagining ways to make the jeep better fitted for our chores. Once we had gas in the tank, Ben asked if he could start the car. I gave him the OK sign and nothing happened. - There's something wrong! - said Ben frustrated. He tried the ignition a couple more times and gave up. We opened the hood and Dr. Johnson made his way into the engine. - It looks like it could be the starter drive, maybe the L-head - said Dr. Johnson scratching his chin. What started as blue-ribbon surprise had now become frustrating task. Ben went to Base Camp and brought some tools back with him. After tightening some parts up, Ben turned the ignition on. We heard a loud pop, followed by a huge ball of smoke coming from the tailpipe. The engine started. We all sounded like a bunch of teenagers yelling at the roar of the Jeep's engine. Not long after Ben drove us back to Camp Kowal. Grisham and Ben had to replace Roy who was on patrol by the pond with the professor. I felt pretty happy. I was about to radio Major Munsch and thank him for our vehicle when Roy came screaming through the bushes. I never thought I would see roy that startled. Roy was so out of breath from running the pond trail, it was hard to hear what he had to say. - You have to come see this! The professor is waiting for you at the southeast side of the pond, he's with the others. - said Roy gasping for air. - Alright! You stay here with Dr. Johnson! - I ordered him. I picked up my rifle and started to run down the trail and then I realized we had the Jeep. By the time I decided to turn around I was already by the pond, so I kept on running. I knew someone would joke about that later. I could see Professor Evgeny across the cattail thicket by the frozen side of the pond. While measuring radioactivity levels, Roy and the Professor came across a pile of newly turned soil by the pond's shore. When Roy tried to move the mound's top layer with his boots, they revealed what was actually a fresh dug nest full of eggs. - John! You know what this means, don't you? - asked the professor. Of course I knew what it meant. To reproduce an animal needs a partner. Which meant the Mulberry Ridge had now TWO giant turtles wondering around, if not even more. I hesitated. But I knew we had to move those eggs. I ordered Grisham to go to base camp and bring me a wood crate and a few shovels back. We then managed to dig up about 7 eggs, which we then marked and stored inside the crate with some mud. And here I was, thinking the scute in my duffle bag was the missing link between Dan's theories and reality. I should've left it with Roy's sister back in Philly. When Dr. Johnson heard about the eggs all hell broke loose. He wanted to send them to his EPA Lab in Alabama. I had to threaten his arrest and enforce that the eggs were now property of the US Army. - You are here as a consultant and not as a representative of your organization! I yelled as loud as I could. Fact is I had no idea what to do with the freaking eggs either. I knew they had to be sent somewhere. I decided to place them as far away from Base Camp as possible. So I stored them in one of the watchtowers till I received further instructions by Major Munsch. When things finally came down Dr. Johnson apologized to me and said - You handled yourself well, John. I get a little carried away sometimes, I'm sorry. - So much for a quite week. We spent the next day in Red Alert. I had three men at the pond at all times and I set by the radio all day. I haven't got the results from the scute test yet and it really wouldn't matter after what we saw tonight. While reviewing data sent by Argo 3, we came across some frightening images. Sergeant Palmer will be back tomorrow. I hope he's well rested.

by Corporal John Harris, January 19, 2006