A Blast From The Past

A few people have already seen this, but for those who haven't, a little bit of back story.

This picture was taken in the summer of 1984 along the Yakima River in eastern Washington. There's a story behind it, known as Raiders of the Lost Rifles:

We (the 109th MI BN, 9th ID, Fort Lewis, WA) were doing a field training exercise at the Yakima Firing Center. The Ranger unit on Fort Lewis was doing a night waterborne insertion into the area of operations on the the Yakima River. Unfortunately, one of their rubber rafts turned over in the swift current, and a couple of M-16 semiautomatic rifles and a tactical radio ended up in the drink. This resulted in every able body in the area being sent to search along the banks of the river for the lost rifles. I don't know if they found the lost rifles and radio or not; I just know that we didn't find them. But it was a nice day for a walk along the river, even if the mosquitoes were heavy at times (note the unrolled sleeves). And so the Raiders of the Lost Rifles trudged along the Yakima River, looking at every glint in the water, although the radio was undoubtedly olive drab and the rifles were matte black.

Now, why was I wearing flowers in my helmet? Well, the wildflowers were in bloom along the river. Part of tactical camouflage is taking pains to blend into the background of your local environment. Note that these were the old steel pot helmets, whose liners were removable, allowing the helmet to double as a wash basin. The Kevlar helmets that came later had a built-in liner, which precluded other uses for the helmet other than protecting one's noggin.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was talking about this picture with a friend of mine and went and dug up the negatives from the set of pictures that this one came from. They were old 110 film, so when I took the negative to Wal-Mart for a print, they had to send it out to a lab rather than doing it on site. I was pleased with how well the picture came out, considering that the negative was 25 years old and hadn't always been under complete climate control (that week without power after Hurricane Wilma back in 2005, for instance). I sent the original to my Mom back in 1984, so this was the first time I had seen the picture in 25 years.