Riding in an MRAP is never fun. You feel every bump. One of my colleagues literally hit the ceiling on one bumpy road. After that I started to be more careful about the seatbelts. In addition, they are top heavy and prone to roll over. A few of my colleagues rolled down the hill near Hadithah Dam. Four times they rolled over. One guy broke his ankle and another cracked a vertebra and a rib, but nobody was seriously hurt. The turret gunner followed his training perfectly. He hunkered down, hung on and walked away with barely a scratch. The gunners are in the most danger and they are often the ones thrown out and crushed. The saving grace of the MRAP is that they are practically indestructible. The same things that make them unpleasant make them robust. It is the dreadnought of land vehicles – and probably as heavy as the original seagoing varieties..
Yesterday we had a particularly uncomfortable ride. We were packed into the MRAP heading toward an engagement, bouncing along with each pothole when somebody started to fart. There were five suspects (I leave myself out because I know it wasn’t me), but nobody would admit it. Once was bad enough, but whoever it was silently broke wind several times. Talk about bad manners. There is not much circulation in an MRAP anyway, so odors of all sorts tend to linger, but then it got worse when the air conditioning broke down. There we were, tightly packed in an atmosphere of dust and warm methane. It makes you appreciate the Humvee, which is more cramped but less close or even the helicopter which has those 80 MPH winds constantly blowing through the open gun windows.
None of the modes of transportation, BTW, provides anything in the way of lumbar support. The body armor provides a useful place to rest your chin, but puts a lot more strain on your lower back. It hurts like mad. I have addressed that problem with one of those u-shaped neck pillows. I got a nice one made of temperpedic material, which I jam up against my lower back. It really works. I don’t leave home w/o it. Some of the Marines say that sort of pillow is an old man’s accessory and they are probably right but when I get out of the vehicles I don’t feel like I fell off the back of a pickup truck. The ridicule is transitory; back pain persists.