Is there anything under a tank that one needs to see? Part of training new lieutenants is to have them crawl under a running tank. I am sure this is important to build self confidence and show that it can be done. Our day came during training. I happened to be the acting Company Commander at that time, so I was nominally in charge (for the week anyway) of the other lieutenants. I stood to the side and cheered on my 200 compadres as they let out a war cry, threw themselves to the ground and low-crawled under the tank. They emerged from the other end after a little while and still screaming, ran down the road.
As the last of the lieutenants went under the tank, I started walking around the metal beast to join my brethren. The Captain, the one who was really in charge, happened to be standing by me and spoke up. “Martelle, get under the tank.”
With no hesitation I answered, “Of course I’m going under the tank.” Until that very moment, I had no intention of crawling under the tank.
With the war cry of “Get some!” I threw myself to the ground. I’m not really sure why we yelled that as it had no relation to anything important and instilled no added confidence, but yell it we did.
I started crawling and discovered rather quickly that there is very little space under a tank. I was flat against the ground, pulling my body along by using only my hands. As the tank revved its engine, it slumped a little lower, compressing me on the ground as my back was already against the tank’s under-belly. Needless to say, this made me distinctly uncomfortable. I couldn’t crawl any faster as I was pushing with my toes and pulling with my hands. A Marine in war gear is not sleek. I dug up the turf as I pulled myself forward. So agonizingly slow!
Tanks are really long. They appear to be maybe 25 feet long. This one, an M60A3 seemed to be more like 100 yards long. I finally emerged from the other end, quite happy that I was out from under the damn thing and ran off in the direction of my fellow lieutenants, who had gone in search of other motivating ways they could abuse their bodies.
So I became an Intel Officer, vowing never to crawl under moving tanks.