34. Chapter – The regimental exercise

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The 4th Foreign Regiment in Castelnaudary organizes a regimental exercise three times a year. It was my second, but not the last one at all. Naturally, I had no clue back then that I’ll become a returning participant of this far-from-excellent event.

We arrived to Caylus a week earlier than the others did from the regiment

As you can remember from a previous story, I have already spent a wonderful week there. This time it wasn’t exactly the same, but the Legion stays the Legion, Caylus stays cold as the north pole and I didn’t become a G.I. Joe ither. I spent a bit more than a year in the French Foreign Legion that time, but I was still inexperienced. It didn’t make my life on the field any easier.

The radio platoon became a real team during the last few months.

All of us, who passed the tests after the first 7 weeks (so 21 of 24), slept in the same barrack.
The atmosphere was great, even the corporals made part of the crew and didn’t break balls for nothing. We had an interesting and intelligent guy from Slovakia, who was the oldest 1 st class Legionnaire with 4 years of service and didn’t stop joking.

He was the one, who taught me that a FAMAS isn’t only a rifle and has much more features than I thought.

A FAMAS can be your best friend in many difficult situation

An afternoon we finished shooting a bit earlier than we expected and had 2 hours off. As we didn’t have anything else to do, many of us just went back to the barrack and took the opportunity to get some sleep. A few minutes later, a corporal came over and asked me what I’m doing. My bed was just next to the Slovakian guy’s, and he heard when I said “nothing, corporal”. He stood up before the corporal could have said anything and told me this:

Are you a f*** kamikaze or what the hell is going on with you? A legionnaire never does “nothing”. If you don’t have an exact answer, you tell him you are “standing by”, but not that you are not doing anything. Now get up and empty the rubbish!

Everyone around us was laughing me included and as I couldn’t say anything I got up and emptied the rubbish…

The rest from Castel joined us in Caylus and we trained during another week.

On Friday, our chiefs got the operational orders and we started to prepare for the next week’s scenario. My mission consisted to set up a relay with one of our instructors between the commandment in the operational center and the “fighting troops”.

Naturally, it started to rain the minute we took our backpacks up with the full radio station inside. As we arrived to our observation point, I couldn’t see further than 5 meters in the pouring rain. All my clothes were wet. I only had a dry pair of socks and a t-shirt, but not a change of combat pants.

It was because I wanted to spare as much weight as I could.

I shouldn’t have to do so. Not with the combat pants at least. Once we stopped, we set up and tested the relay and when we finished I took my wet clothes off and tried to dry myself. A couple of hours later I had to wake up for the night’s watch. I think I passed two of my worst hours of my life standing in the rain with my completely soaked gear.

Fortunately, one of my mates gave me a rain jacket

I don’t know how, but I didn’t get cold. The weather got worst and at the end of the exercise, it was already snowing.
When I heard FINEX (fin de l’exercice) announced on the radio, I was
relieved and felt like I just arrived before the gates of St. Peter…

As soon as I got back to Castelnaudary, I ordered my own “poncho” and two
waterproof bags. I wished that in the future I’ll learn from someone else’s
stupidity, not from mine.

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