So obviously this isn’t a self-contained story but a set-up for what is to come– I’ve done it before, but it is out of the ordinary. Many comics focus on either a “joke-a-day” or a “long-form story”. I try to strike the balancing act between telling an ongoing story in a daily joke format, and it can be difficult to bridge the gap sometimes… in this case, I will carry on the story to the next page in the chapter, available on Thursday.
Meanwhile, there is actually much to discuss in this phase of the story. The use of “shelter half” tents is almost anachronistic. They still issue these (at least last time I checked); a large piece of canvas with snaps and a tent pole that you match up with a partner (with his or her half of a canvas and tent pole) to make a whole pup tent that is shared by the two of you. I used my shelter-half tent a total of one time in my 20+ years in the US Army, and it was is in a similar situation: a sort of camp-out scenario but not one that was “combat tactical”. We slept outside in an administrative camp situation, whereas in a combat tactical situation we’d just use sleeping bags under the open sky and take whatever weather came our way. The “pup tent” was rarely used in the field.
And obviously I am doing my “November Special” series– extended comics that tell deeper stories. This is one of them, but it leads me into my “anniversary special” frame of mind. In the Autumn of 1987 –30 years ago– I was sent to Europe for a NATO exercise sorta-kinda similar to the one I have outlined here. Land in one of the Benelux/Low Countries, and make our way to Germany is part of a strategic movement exercise. It was one of the defining moments in my life and set me off on an appetite for exploration, discovery, and world travel that continues to this day. And back then, we were put up in and near the fields of a local farmer who was probably paid handsomely for the “motel fee” of hosting us for a few days on his fields, which were doubtless being made fallow for winter.
Later. we will see the other anniversary that I want to reflect; a hint of which is given by the old artillery shell that is uncovered by the tractor. One thing about Europe, it is a patchwork of old munitions, and sometimes old shells and bombs are dug up decades after a conflict has ended. Stay tuned for the results.