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Craftsman : Craftsman 2012
36 RAEME CRAFTSMAN 2012 you 4 come from?" Everyone starts to smile a little as they realise the battle may be half won. I turn to Franger and ask him to grab both the 2.8.A and 1.8.A ARVLs and follow the new tracks in. In the meantime Dave, Brucie and I walk back and grab the Fitters Track. With a minimum of fuss and ducking, we drive the track we just walked. Once on the ground between the two crocs, Dave grabs his horde of Engineers and proceeds to shoot 2 bearings. He then gets the lads to cut all the timber that obstructs a clear view of the cars. This is a fair whack of trees we are talking about. So whatever tactically sound operations were being conducted in the AO at the time, would have been distracted by the little "out of ex bubble" created by this Combat Recovery Team. The Engineers spend around an hour and a half with the chainsaws, the idea was to place the ARVL in the middle of this "corridor" and have a clear line to each vehicle for a winch pull. Now in the meantime, along with the general struggle of the jungle foliage, we had inadvertently knocked off a hundred green tree ant nests. This proved to be spastic dance inspiring to anyone that stood still for any longer than 10 seconds. Just to add to the fun of the day. As the Engineers worked closer towards their goal, the 2 ARVL's rocked up, Franger and Clarkey, with the rest of the RAEME boys in tow. They dismounted and walked the ground with me to get a feel for the situation. When Franger looked at the clear line he now had to pull 1.3., he was quite pleased at the level of destruction to assist his task. So we reversed the 1.8.A ARVL into position, some 60 metres from the croc, on a downhill slope into the creek/re-entrant. Junior, Franger and I paid the winch rope out, down the hill, into the slosh, dug down and connected the wire. The winch pull was by Reccy Mech standards, pretty straight forward. The 1.3. Car was pulled against it's will up the incline and into safer ground. Success, 50% completed (well sort of). At this point I bundled the Infanteers and Engineers into the car, gave them a quick spiel on improving the new track we had cut that morning and off you lads go, good work, pats on the back. In the meantime Junior, Tails and Franger had gone to the broken car. Oh Dear. Now when this Prop shaft had let go (for those following this adventure), it had destroyed everything on the drivers side of the engine bay. Now to release the brakes on the opposite side, well, let's just say it started hard, went to difficult, onto rage level frustration. Swearing, cursing, bleeding, hammering, sawing. The next 90 minutes tested our resolve as Tradesmen and Soldiers. Eventually some minor bastardisation (which paled in comparison to the prop shaft), released the brake and we could proceed. 2.8.A reversed in, so now the croc would be A-framed backwards for it journey home. The convoy would be 1.8.A ARVL to lead, 2.8.A and the croc, then 2.8. Fitters in the rear. This would give us some flexibility if required (got lucky here kids). So we all head off, fairly happy that we had this recovery licked. Now at some stage during the course of the day, the CO and RSM got on the ground to assess the scene. Not sure where I was, but I didn't bump into them. Instead the 2nd hand version I was told, that a normally cool, calm, collected Boss let a couple of profanities fly. So that was comforting to know that people understood our little struggle that day. Now only about 100 metres into the return leg was a fairly steep rise that proved too much for 2.8.A with it's 13 tonne trailer in tow. So 1.8.A set up just over the crest, dropped the stays and winched the 2 cars over the hill. Once at the top, disconnected and off we go again. Almost. Because the croc car has no brakes or drive, as Franger drives down the hill, the 13 car proceeds to jack knife the ARVL off the track and into the bush. The trees that we crashed through to get where we are, combined with the rocks and moisture have created a slippery slope of hell. Somewhere along the way, clever little Franger pinched some extra chains and ropes off the HRV, these would now be used to get us home. Using 2.8. as an Anchor, we connect two 16 tonne chain, crossed over from the croc car to 28. This now creates the daisy chain; 2.8.A -- A Frame -- 1.3.A -- Chains -- 2.8. I get Junior to reverse back over the hill and in doing so straighten out the jack knife. We then drive forward at the same time as Franger and this keeps our rock show in a straight line. Then we disconnect the chains to let Franger build momentum for the next uphill battle. Using the downhill slope with good old inertia, Franger hit the bottom of the hill, turns left and begs the big V6 MTU to drag them up the hill. Once again a combination of fallen green trees, rocks and moisture deny us forward movement. So 1.8.A reverses into position and begins to drag the 2 cars up the feature. As we look further up the hill we see the knife edge that waits for us, leering over us like a storm cloud. Light is starting to fade now. I am asked about working at night, I fling a smart arse Sgt type remark back, something about being out of ex with the marvels of Thomas Edison to guide our way. Around this time, the Engineers and Grunts roll back along the track. Chainsaws fire up, every corner or obstacle we have now has a reason be to scared. The next few hours is a carnival of winching, felling, yelling, white light, cigarettes, red bull and laughing. Some of the biggest trees I have since in Shoal Water meet there demise at the hunch it may be "in the way". Crashing sounds of hundreds of tonnes of timber fills the night air. We are now at the base of the knife edge. We have to re direct off the only huge tree we left standing on the feature. A straight pull would simply drag us to our doom. As the guys creep cautiously forward with the winching, I head forward and talk to the Ginger Beers and Grunts. We figure the knife edge, and the down hill should be the worst of it. So best guess puts us around 2-3 hours and we will be on the North South road. The elevation has put us high enough to hear radio traffic, we attempt to let our commanders know, we are progressing, however slowly. Not sure if it is received, but no that worried at the minute. Back at the top of the hill and there are a few nervous breathing patterns, bit of sweaty palm action. We are winching over the crest of the knife edge. More trees we removed to straighten our little goat track. But it's beginning to look good. Eventually the convoy is on the top, Helo's and UAV's fly past without notice, the crew all stare at the down hill run. I guess we are the brakes I say, helping Tails and Franger hook 2.8. up to the croc with