Perhaps no day in basic was as anti-climactic as live grenade training; the reason, was safety related. Like anything in basic training there is a walk, crawl, and run phase. The walk phase started the week earlier using rubber grenades. The crawl phase was performing a dry run with practice grenades which had pyrotechnics in them. All this culminated in the run phase with live grenades.
The most important phrase which I had to memorize is a phrase from the crawl phase; forever stuck in my head is the line “proper grip, thumb to clip, twist pull pin, strike a pose, frag out” and then hit the dirt. The reason this line must be remembered and put into practice correctly every single time is for safety.
You must place your throwing hand on the clip of the grenade for the entire duration until the grenade is thrown. It is critical that the hand keeps a steady grip on the clip and not “milk” the grenade – this means changing the grip on the grenade, if you do this motion it looks like you’re milking a cow. If you pull the pin out of the grenade and “milk” the grenade it could explode in your hand.
Thumb to Clip
The next step is putting your non-throwing thumb to the clip of the grenade. The clip literally looks like a key ring. So, in this step you have both of your hands on the grenade.
Twist Pull Pin
Getting closer and closer to the explosion. With the non throwing thumb, you twist and pull the clip out of the grenade. This twisting and pulling feature it would be pretty difficult to do this step with your teeth.
Strike a Pose
The pose looks like a mix of a shot putter and a person dabbing. You’re non-throwing hand is basically supposed to be used as your aim.
The grenade is a fragmentation grenade, because when it blows up it throws fragments through the air, hence the term “FRAG OUT.” This phrase is yelled loud for all others in the unit to hear. Once you throw the grenade, hit the deck. The drill sergeants made it very clear, that if we did not hit the deck, they would not hesitate to throw us to the ground.
Interesting things to note. These steps should take seconds. The practice grenades are harder to employee, pulling the pin out is a real chore, and more dangerous. So, all of this sounds kind of exciting, but when it came to throw the real grenades, I couldn’t wait to get the day over.
All 200 soldiers in my basic training company was stuffed into a bomb proof bunker, with blast windows waiting to throw in one of three grenade lanes (each lane was separated by berms over 20 feet tall). It was extremely hot, and we were in full battle rattle. Kevlar helmet, safety glasses, gloves, ear plugs, and body armor. And it was basic training, so no talking and eyes forward—not that you could talk much with the constant explosions. The only funny thing that happened, one of my friends came back, Brandshaw, with a busted lip. The drill sergeant gave him one look and said, “looks like someone forgot to hit the ground. Don’t worry we will teach you later to hit the ground.”
We were given two grenades to throw. When we ran out to the range cadre we had to yell what was our throwing hand; “right, right, right, right, right…” So, as I got out there the range cadre busted open the containers gave me my grenade, and it was go time; “proper grip, thumb to clip, twist pull pin, strike a pose, frag out” and I hit the dirt. Grenade number two I did the same thing “proper grip, thumb to clip, twist pull pin, strike a pose, frag out” and I hit the dirt. I would like to think that I threw it far, but to be honest, I don’t know exactly where the grenade landed, there was no target to throw toward and it’s not like I could see where the grenade landed. I was just ready to do my job and properly throw my grenades.
And therein lies the reason for the anti-climactic, I had practiced it so many times it became routine and ordinary, it was part of our job. We never lost the sense of inherent danger of throwing live grenades or brushed it off. The crucial thing that we all can do with any high hazardous work is to ensure to have a plan in place, rehearse that plan to ensure it is safe, and perform the task the way it was practiced. This is important to remember whether that be throwing grenades or doing any other types of high hazard work.