Mama Bear Takes on the Marines!
War games are designed for Marines to deal with bombs, bullets, and bayonets. But when it comes to wildlife, well that requires different tactics.
We were attached to the headquarters regiment, 800 Marines setting up everything needed to wage a five-day war against the Blue Force. We had strung up the nettings to camouflage the tents and communications network. We had set up roadblocks and listening posts. Furthermore, we had 200 Marines digging in to form a perimeter around the camp; a ring of protection designed to alert us at the first sign of danger.
My fellow Staff NCO, David, and I were inspecting the preparations, ensuring everything was going okay. As we came out of the communications tent, which was more than 150 feet inside the perimeter, we came face-to-face with our adversary.
David jumped back and slapped me on the arm. He pointed to something behind me. I turned and saw them.
Less than 20 feet from me was a mother bear with her two cubs. I took one look and stopped. “They’re so cute,” was my comment.
David leaned over to quietly say, “You do know they are dangerous, don’t you?”
Strangely enough, until he said that, I wasn’t afraid of the creatures, who obviously looking for food and had no fear of people. David and I courageously decided to back away from the bears. This must have spooked them because the cubs immediately climbed a nearby tree, and the mother roared.
At this time, several other Marines finally noticed the three bears in the midst of our camp. Many of them started shouting, alerting the entire camp of the intruders. This must have annoyed the bears, which now felt it was time to leave. The cubs came down from the tree and the three of them began to slowly walk towards the perimeter of the camp. Of course, they stopped at several of the tents along the way to check them out. The bears went into the tents, and the Marines came running out.
We now became organized and went on the offensive. Within minutes, there were dozens of Marines shouting, waving arms, and making noise in an effort to drive the bears out of camp. The mother bear would turn around and look at us. She gave us a look which seemed to say switch to decaf and calm down, we’re leaving.
One Marine saw this as an opportunity to get some pictures of the wildlife. The three bears courteously sat down and posed for the pictures. They were quickly becoming celebrities and took several more opportunities to stop and pose while we continued to shout and wave their arms.
The bears continued to stroll towards the perimeter and the Marines dug into foxholes and defensive positions. Two Marines saw the bear and jumped out of their foxhole, which the bears immediately took over. Several of the other Marines on watch decided to open fire and shoot at the bears. Because these were war games, everyone had blanks. They were able to make noise, but that was all. The bears came out of the foxhole and sat down, amuse by the nonfatal assault of noise and confusion. They seemed perfectly content to watch the battle, unaware they were the enemy.
The bears ambled over to another foxhole. They went in and the Marines jumped out. One staff NCO noticed the Marines didn’t have their rifles. When he asked them where their weapons were, one Marine responded. “The bear’s got them and I’m not going back in to get them.” A minute later, the bears came out, leaving the Marines’ rifles behind.
Now, several of the cooks, armed with empty pots and ladles, came to reinforce the frontline troops. They started banging on their pots with their ladles. This time, the bears got up and started to run away.
I was standing there amused that these bears posed for pictures and braved Marines armed with weapons, but ran from the cooks. Strange to think our greatest weapon against this threat was Marine Corps chow.