Day 6 – The curse of FOB Maiden II

Posted on March 14, 2012

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FOB Maiden II is cursed.

I’m not a terribly superstitious person, but something strange always happens either driving to or from FOB Maiden II.

The day starts off with a smooth ride,but at that time we didn’t know we’d be making our way to the Maiden; under the belief we’d be pitching our tents at FOB Walrus – an operating base between Gameti and FOB Maiden II.

It isn’t long on our pleasant ride before I hear a loud ‘pop’ from below my seat and MCpl Lee Mistelbacher say “Oh great.” One of the belts on our snowmobile snapped, so the whole platoon comes to a stop. Luckily 2 Section has its act together, moving like a NASCAR team and changing the belt in under ten minutes.

Roadside assistance

Once on the road again, things are faring well until we stop abruptly. Someone has rolled his sled, but this time it isn’t just a ‘walk–it-off’ situation.  The guys are ordered to set up a tent quickly for the medics – they want to examine the soldier and take off his parka, something that can’t be done out in the cold.

Two Platoon sets it up quickly and then we play the waiting game. The soldier was driving a sled pulling a komatik when it “jack-knifed”: when the trailer begins sliding sideways, almost perpendicular to the sled like a knife closing, causing it to tilt and roll.

After waiting in the cold for more than an hour, we see the soldier emerge from the tent with one arm. The other is in a sling under his parka – “a dislocated shoulder,” the medic tell us.

The injured soldier with his arm in a sling

“I just really don’t want to be that guy,” the soldier tells me after we talk about the incident. “That guy” being the one to slow things down, the one soldier the others blame for screwing up their day. He tells me it doesn’t really hurt, as we’re standing where the accident happened; with blue coolant splashed across the white snow road.

Blue coolant marks the scene of the accident

The plan is to have him ride as a passenger to FOB Walrus, from where he can be taken to Yellowknife Hospital. Things change when a helicopter is available to pick him up from the lake, and thankfully it did – I later found out the soldier suffered a broken collar bone.

The guys are not feeling the long wait, and soon everyone is ordered to set up a tent and get food cooked for just an hour long stay. I’m happy for the time-out and help Cpl Tyson Campbell-Harris light the lantern, start the stove and ready the rations.

“Are you shivering?” asked Cpl Campbell-Harris.
“Uh, yes,” I replied.
“That’s good, the way I see it if your body is shivering it means it hasn’t given up on you – it’s when it stops you should be worried.”

The push to FOB Maiden II is very similar to the first day – in the dark, rough terrain with a late entry into camp. This time, however, camp is a quick set up and things move with greater ease. We are told we’ll have a full day at the FOB tomorrow, and things are looking up.

After all, what could go wrong at FOB Maiden II?

– Day 1 – Not the only enemy
– Day 2 – Two platoon, two section
– Day 3 – Baby Monkey
– Day 4 – Relief, in place
– Day 5 – Hearts and minds
– Day 7 – Under fire
– Day 8 – With eyes watching
– Day 9 – Going home

All articles and photographs by Daniella Ponticelli

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Posted in: Field Notes