This cache placed by permission of Little America Hotel owners and management (point of contact: Annie Fitzgerald, 2009). Code on the locks is 14-24-34 (standard combo lock procedures you learned in junior high school). Please come when you have time to soak in the images and stories in the cache. Large cache container is for genuine geocaching.com TBs only, no other items please. Long intro follows but you can scroll down for the direct cache info. Please LMK if there's a TB or coin that's MIA. Also please carefully engage the locking tabs of the ammo can as shown below (cachers have previously broken them off causing me much work and expense for replacement):
The Blackhawk crew had no chance of survival. And Army Snipers Randy Shugart and Gary Gordon hovering overhead in another Blackhawk chopper knew it. The crash site would soon be swarmed with hundreds of heavily armed Somalis. MSgt Gordon requested from their Command and Control to be inserted. He was denied twice with his superiors knowing it was a suicide mission; there would be no way to extract or even help the snipers after they went in.
But Shugart and Gordon couldn't just sit back and watch their fellow soldiers get murdered. And that's was exactly what was going to happen. On their third request they were given permission to insert to the crash site to help defend the crew. They did just that but then had to fight their past RPG and automatic weapons fire coming from just about every shanty shack to reach the injured crewmembers.
But it was no better at the crash site... in fact it was worse. They were totally outnumbered and outgunned by the attacking Somalis but fought back effectively with their limited weaponry, a couple sniper rifles and their pistols. The attacks were vicious, brutal, and endless and yet the two snipers somehow managed to extract the surviving crew members, secure a perimeter, and using their own weapons and some from downed chopper they fight back savagely to protect the crew. But ammo quickly ran low after killing many of the attacking bad guys. Shugart then got killed. Still fighting back and helping equip surviving pilot Michael Durant, MSgt Gordon wished him luck and went out again one last time to defend the site with his last four rounds of ammunition. He too was killed shortly thereafter. They knew this would be the price of helping the crew and they paid it willingly.
Shugart and Gordon's actions were heroic and saved Durant's life. For their actions they were both awarded posthumously the Congressional Medal of Honor (more info: CMOH Site for Shugart and Gordon).
Sacrifices Even Now
This incredible bravery and sacrifice took place in Somalia, Oct 1993. To me there is no finer example of the fighting spirit and bravery of the American Soldier. And yet as we go about our daily lives working, playing, and enjoying our wonderful freedoms similar sacrifices are going on right now.
"Tour of Duty" (TOD) is unabashedly and seriously dedicated to our troops who are giving it their all defending our way of life. CoolCache and the many other cachers who will follow all salute and thank you. Like Shugart and Gordon these brave men and women are making unimaginable sacrifices for us and for one another. Take a moment to peruse the "Tour of Duty" Photo Album inside the cache to see just a few of the images of these soldiers getting it done and showing some their gut wrenching suffering. And TOD is dedicated to all armed services members serving everywhere as they are all part of the team keeping us safe. Most of the images are from Iraq just because these images so readily define and capture the often heartbreaking price these boys and girls are paying for their service.
MTV Generation Answers the Call After 9/11
After 9/11 President Bush advised the military to "get ready." He wasn't kidding. It is now common place for service members to deployed in Iraq for over a year straight coming home for a few weeks and then going out again. There are several Army National Guard units right here in Utah that are experiencing this ops tempo. You may disagree with the effectiveness of our fight but the sacrifice and patriotism of these troops is unquestionable. And to many's surprise there are many from the "MTV Generation" that have demonstrated amazing courage and selflessness in their desire serve and protect. Their purpose is to fight terrorism abroad and prevent another 2,986 souls from dieing in another 9/11 type attack. Please note that this is not a political cache, it's simply a tribute to these brave soldiers who are fighting and dying even now. As such please do not post political statements one way or another in your logs.
About the Container
The container is a 25mm ammo box reportedly taken directly from a Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle serving in Iraq. This box held 25 rounds for the Bushmaster auto cannon of the IFV, its primary defensive armament. When I got the box it was full of desert sand and had a streak of blood on the lid. It's been thoroughly cleaned to provide the TBs a clean home and you a clean caching experience. Inside this ammo box you will quickly discover the Tour of Duty cache guardian: 1/72 scale desert camouflaged Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (by Dragon Models) carefully mounted to the lid. Specifications and photos of this incredible and interesting vehicle are provided inside the container and below in the TOD Slideshow. The Bradley is an appropriate mascot given the container, its ongoing use in theater, and the refuge and assistance it gives daily to our troops. Needless to say this is not a trade item, please leave it on the lid!
About the "Tour of Duty" Cache
There are several purposes for this cache. They are:
1) A tribute and 'thank you' to the troops. I feel this is best done with their images. With them I attempt to provide an insight to their bravery, their sacrifices, their fears, and their anguish. These images are sobering. Current wartime photos are provided for your viewing both within the cache with the TOD Photo Album and with CoolCache's TOD Slideshow link below. And they will be periodically updated.
2) A secure Travel Bug trader right in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. Here you will find a good of combination of privacy, security, and plenty of room at this highly-researched location. On very rare occasions some TBs will earn a "Tour of Duty" visitation tag.
TB Guidelines: Try to leave the same amount you take. This has changed as many cachers took most of the TBs leaving nothing for those who follow and since many out-of-town cachers make a special trip to TOD, this can be a real bummer for them .
3) Closed to trades. All my stocked $2 to $5 items were taken and only geogarbage was left in their place. As such TOD is closed to all non-TB items and such items will be discarded to keep the cache clean. Thanks for understanding.
About the Host
The cache resides on the meticulously kept grounds of The Little America Hotel. This hotel is the largest privately held chain of hotels in the country. This is important as this allowed me to secure permission for this cache directly from the hotel owners, Mr. and Mrs. Earl Holding. Such permission would probably be very difficult if not impossible to secure from a faceless corporation. As such CoolCache expresses his sincere thanks to the Holdings, Ed Box (SLC Hotel General Manager), Annie Fitzgerald, and Travis Deman (Head Grounds Supervisor) for their permission in allowing "Tour of Duty" on The Little America Hotel grounds. All have been most professional, friendly, and supportive for this geocaching venture. While they are well aware of the cache please do not ask them any questions about it as they are sworn to secrecy and quite busy. Also please be careful of the grounds as you visit, leaving no trace.
Finally if you're hungry the Little America cafe and restaurant has great food and service... some of the best. Some waitresses like "Erica" and "Loretta" have been there for 35 yrs which again speaks well for the management.
This cache is not designed to be difficult. In fact you should be able to find convenient short term parking a few feet away (thank you again L.A.) as you make your way to this quick but very secure find. As added security for their visits, CoolCache anchored this large container with galvanized steel chains and bolts to concrete slabs so trade with confidence. 2986 Souls were killed by the terrorists on 911. Never forget ... it's why our military is has been so busy.
For CoolCache's pictorial of today's troops please visit the "Tour of Duty" online Slideshow, below:
Heartbreaking letters from Iraq (USA Today site).... "They tell of sandstorms and triple-digit temperatures, the monotony of war and a gnawing desire for home and normalcy:"
†††† 12/18/05: As previously promised, the "Tour of Duty Heroes" cache was placed today. This resides in separate .50 cal ammo cache right beside the regular TOD cache. It serves as a tribute and memorial to REAL soldiers who are family and close friends of cachers like you who have found "Tour of Duty." No trades or TBs in this companion cache please... it's a museum. Inside are high quality pictures, patches, stories, and service memorabilia honoring these soldiers. Again these are emotionally moving images and heart breaking stories of our own soldiers. This "TOD Heroes" cache specifically honors today's generation of soldier serving in combat operations around the world and the inductee must meet this qualification. Please contact CoolCache through my profile page for things I'll need to induct your soldier. Local and out-of-state cachers are also welcome to submit soldiers for this cache.
†††† 12/21/05: Tour of Duty Hero Adam Galvez inducted into the TODH cache. See my log dated today for his touching story and pictures.
†††† 01/21/07: Maintenance upgrades: enlarged extraction hole, made a dirt shield to keep tops of ammo boxes cleaner, cleaned ammo boxes, WD40'd them, lubed locks, cleaned out receptacle (twice monthly really), and re-bent large box clasp back to original form. Please make sure both sides of the clasps engage in grooves of the large box.
†††† 06/17/09: Locks replaced since again broken by visitors.
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