Armadillo Crossing

Armadillo Crossing

Friends that come to my house are always asking me, "What's up with all the Armadillos?" Armadillo statues, Armadillo Carvings and sculptures, Signs saying "Armadillo Crossing", etc. I usually just say "Long stupid story" and leave it at that.. but it's being asked so often, I decided to tell the "Great Armadillo Massacre Tale" here. Like I said, "Long and stupid".

MANY MANY years ago, a group of us were training in the swamps of Southern Georgia, out in the ass-back-of-beyond. This was during the days that the Cuban populations were forming paramilitary groups with the intention of "Over-Throwing Castro", and Skin-Heads were using the area to train for, well, "whatever Skin-Heads Trained for at the time". The two group didn't get along, so while we were out "Training" we were supposed to collect "Intel" on these two groups (Which we didn't do, since no one ever bothered to tell us what 'Intel' they wanted). We were traveling fast and light, with just what we could carry. Since we couldn't expect resupply, most of what we carried was "Food and water". Personally I didn't even take a shelter Half (part of a two man tent) since it was warm and bugs dislike me anyway from years of being slathered in DEET. I'd usually just sack out on a closed cell foam ground pad with a light cammo blanket.

Several days we'd run into several groups of Cubans... we counted numbers, snapped pics, etc.. and we also ran into a several groups of Skin Heads, to which we did the same.. all of the groups seemed to be aware of each other and it seemed like the palm forests and undergrowth was just teeming with them, we were hard pressed to stay invisible at times, and we weren't 100% sure that we hadn't been spotted since some of these group sported Nigh Vision equipment and optics not far inferior to our own, not to mention sophisticated Seismic Sensors and long range motion detectors. We'd come VERY close to bumping into several groups during the last few days, and there was talk that we might want to be extracted since we had no doubt these two groups would end up shooting it out eventually, and that's something we couldn't afford to get caught up in by accident or other-wise... we were ALL on edge. As I said, all of the groups had night vision equipment, and so they very often moved at night as well as during the day.

About midnight we'd found some really really bad brush, Very dense! So we hacked our way into the center of it by cutting a VERY small, "Zig-Zagging" hole, through the brush at ground level... Just big enough for us to crawl through... This dense Brush just happened to open up into a huge open area, completely encircled by DENSE Brush and "saw grass" (it will cut you to pieces), thorny trees (imagine 2 inch needles sticking out in all directions), briars, and just a mess of super thick undergrowth that was virtually impossible to penetrate unless you knew how, and had the equipment and the will to do so.. we knew how, and we had the equipment and will to do so. We lit some Tri-ox stoves that don't give off smoke or smell, and had the first hot meals we'd had in a while... We set out Security Watches and everyone else bedded down to get some much needed sleep.

I don't remember what watch I had, probably 2AM or so, but I got woken up for my watch, and pulled my hour quietly walking around camp, staying in contact with the other watches via quiet radio. We kept having Seismic Sensors being activated in one sector, but we wrote them off to animals since whatever it was was under 50 pounds, and to get back in that undergrowth you would have had to make God's own noise doing it. We also kept hearing packs of Coyotes in the distance. Just before my watch was over, we started hearing people moving in the distance on the edge of the bad undergrowth, and we started picking up radio transmissions where the groups involved were trying to figure out how to get AROUND it.. Fine by us, as long as they didn't decide to try to come THROUGH it, where *we* were. Our comms guy had already picked up some radio traffic from several groups which pretty much said they'd decided to duke it out the next time these various group ran up on each other, and we wanted NO part in that!

My watch ended and I was relieved by the next guy on watch, I went over to my ground pad, and didn't bother taking off my boots, I just checked my weapons, wrapped up in a Camo-Blanket with my rifle snuggled up against my chest as I usually did, and promptly went to sleep...

The very next thing I know, ALL HELL had broken loose! A "trip-flare" activated, which promptly hit some thick overhanging limbs above it, which sent the damned flare bouncing all over our encampment like a little rocket gone berserk (NO ONE has yet to own up to having set a TRIP-FLARE where we were TRYING to be "Quiet and Unnoticed"!)! Alarms were screaming, people were shouting, Someone was yelling "DE-ASS THE TENT!!" (Which means: "Get out of the tent!" ...and I have NO IDEA 'WHAT Tent' they were yelling about, since I don't remember US even having any 'Tents' with us!), and I SWEAR I heard dogs barking and stuff crashing through the underbrush...
Uhhhh Yeah... REALLY "Professional"!

Half awake, I sat up to look around, rifle still clutched to my chest, and caught a glimpse of "Something" coming straight at me! Granted, laying on the ground wrapped only in a Poncho-Liner (a Camo-blanket for all intents and purposes), I was probably all but invisible until I sat up, and keep in mind that this all happened in just a few heart beats of time, although it SEEMED a lot longer... Anyway, I sat up just in time to glimpse something "Big" coming straight for me, making a LOUD "Buzzing Noise".. It sounded exactly like those "Spinning fireworks" that you light and throw on the ground so they can spin at high speeds with a loud buzzing noise just before they explode... in fact, I thought that was what the noise was, but like I said, I was maybe 2 seconds awake, and had NO IDEA what was going on other than "Something large was coming straight for me".

I didn't have time to chamber a round into my rifle, just before "The thing" collided with me, all I had time to do was "Butt-Stroke" the crap out of it with the butt of my weapon... the solid Butt-stroke caught "The thing" solidly in what I figured HAD to be "the face", and my follow-through with the rifle lifted "The Thing" up and over me just as something hit me in the chest HARD.. hard enough to knock me over, and knock the breath out of me... as I went down again, I glimpsed something else headed my way at high speeds, and so I reverse my rifle and brought the butt of it back across my body, firmly connecting with whatever the second thing was also... I still had NO idea what was going on and the camp was pandemonium by now, even though only a few seconds had transpired in total.

Several people came running over to me asking WTF had happened, and what was I fighting with? I told them I had no idea.. I'd woke up to noise, two "Somethings" were right on me as I sat up, and I'd Butt-Stroked both of them hard!

Everyone started looking around, but there was no sign of "ANYTHING" in the immediate area.. the only sign anything had happened at all was that I had a huge bruise growing in the center of my chest that looked like a Way Over-sized Deer Hoof Print. One of the very new guys asked if I'd maybe just had a bad dream... the people on watch said, "Yo dumbass, bad dreams don't set off flares and Seismic Sensors.. If he says he Butt-Stroked Something, then Something has been Butt-Stroked, we just aren't finding it yet! Besides, 'Dreams' don't leave big bruises on your chest! Now go get your ass dug-in inside the perimeter in case we start taking fire!"

One of the medics got on his knees and started looking at my chest and quietly said "I saw you sit up, and almost immediately I saw you bring your weapon up, Butt first... and then swing it BACK across a second time... I 'think' I saw something near you, but I can't swear to it, it's pitch black out here now, and I was pretty much Flash-Blinded by that stupid flare bouncing around everywhere".. I told him that whatever it was, I'd 'Sailed it' (sent it flying over me with the butt of the rifle).

I think the new people were starting to believe I'd just had a night mare and woken up swinging at nothing when the alarms and stuff went off, but no one could explain that loud buzzing noise that EVERYONE heard... about 30 minutes had transpired with nothing else happening when one of the guys radioed to everyone, "Hey, if you aren't on guard, come check THIS shit out, north area of the camp".

What they'd found was a VERY large Armadillo with it's head caved in, AND it had my large Gerber knife buried in it up to the hilt! It had ALMOST made it into an Armadillo hole, which made it hard to see... right beside it was a dead coyote, it's head also caved in... I didn't even notice my Gerber knife was missing, and I damn sure don't remember having time to whip it out and stick it into this big-assed Armadillo! The bruise on my chest was from it's HEAD impacting me, and all things combined, I'd flipped it on over the top of me a good 30-40 feet!

As best we could piece it together later with input from people that know habits of Armadillos, The coyote had flushed out the Armadillo and had been chasing it. When an Armadillo is REALLY scared, they get up on their hind legs and "Bounce" like a Kangaroo, making that loud "Buzzing" noise... Well, that explains all that...

For some reason the new guys were just ultimately impressed by this.. I don't know why... but over the next weeks, months, and years, that stupid story spread around to the point where EVERYONE seemed to have heard of it, and TO THIS DAY I sometimes get a small statue of an Armadillo in the mail, or Fed-X drops off a carving of an Armadillo, etc. I have literally hundreds of them. Even my body Armor's SAPI plates ("American Standard") comes with an Armadillo imprinted into the rubber that coats the Compressed Aluminum and ceramic plate.

Like I said, "Long and stupid", but there you have it.

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