M249 SAW gunner – A Simple Man


Earl was one of our SAW gunners in Somalia. The M249 SAW weighed 17lbs. Earl then carried 25 lbs of ammo, 16 lbs of water, 20 lbs of protective gear, a 4 lb helmet, an 8 lb mortar round, and a standard 60-70 lb rucksack. Earl weighed in with 160-170lbs of gear on a good day.

When you first meet Earl, you know right away he’s one of a kind. Having grown up in NC, him being from Iowa made him the kind of guy I had grown accustomed to. A good ole country boy. Not a redneck, just a country boy. Earl and I clicked right away and spent quite a bit of time fishing whenever we could. He’s also one of the smartest people I know. Must be all the corn.

Earl and Mangold first met on the plane to basic training and bonded quickly over some drunk lady on the flight. Because we were in a cohort (we went to basic training, AIT and then to the same unit) Earl and Mangold not only ended up in the same company and platoon, they ended up as roommates and best friends in the same squad.

Brahma was our first squad leader; a Ranger, Brahma was squared away, tough and fair. I doubt a finer squad has ever been molded in any infantry unit to this day. We even won the squad competition by finishing a 12 mile road march in 1 hour and 53 minutes in full gear, though we had to carry Spaceboy the last half mile or so. Ranger standard is 3 hours for such a road march.

In Somalia, Earl had the misfortune of catching Dengue Fever, a disease that he caught another strain of a year later, in a different Charlie foxtrot of a mission. But he recovered and after catching flights with the Kiwis and Canadians to various airfields around Somalia,  he eventually hitchhiked from Mogadishu about 120 miles to us, probably setting a world record.

Earl is a man we could always count on. He has a good sense of humor, is tough and likes to have a good time. Usually a quiet guy, Mangold was his mouthpiece and seemed to read his mind.

Earl is the photographer for Behind the Gun and acts as a buffer between Bravo Charles and the world. He’s just keeping the world safer that way.

Oh, and Earl choked our platoon leader once. Yeah, that was pretty awesome. You can read more about that and Earl in “Behind the Gun”.

~ Bravo Charles


3 thoughts on “M249 SAW gunner – A Simple Man

  1. Earl is an awesome guy and friend. Steve “Mangold” thought of him as a brother. I remember going to Iowa and meeting his family after Mangold got out they were such nice people. I am so grateful that you are writing this book so Mangold’s daughters can learn more about their father.

    Liked by 2 people

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