It was Probably ‘Murphy!’

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by Mark Sigrist

 Murphy facilitated a fractured toe after dropping armor plate from USMC MTVR during routine maintenance. It would have been a lot worse without the steeled-toe combat boot. Photo by Gunnar Sigrist

Murphy facilitated a fractured toe after dropping armor plate from USMC MTVR during routine maintenance. It would have been a lot worse without the steeled-toe combat boot. Photo by Gunnar Sigrist

Last fall, I put a package with split-rim O-rings and valve stem grommets on a shelf so I would know where to find them when the expected tire change on the M35A3 would happen this spring. When spring finally arrived, I went to the exact shelf to get them — no package! A cursory search of the shop turned up nada.

“Okay,” I said to myself, “I must have not looked in the exact location.” So again, I went back to the shelf for a look —followed by several hours’ intensive searching. No joy.

 “Murphy” is a gremlin my brother used to reference whenever something wasn’t going the way it should. For example, Murphy caused the spontaneous combustion of a palm tree outside of the maintenance shop at USMC base at 29 Palms, California. My son Gunnar says that its now, “28 Palms.” Photo by Gunnar Sigrist

“Murphy” is a gremlin my brother used to reference whenever something wasn’t going the way it should. For example, Murphy caused the spontaneous combustion of a palm tree outside of the maintenance shop at USMC base at 29 Palms, California. My son Gunnar says that its now, “28 Palms.” Photo by Gunnar Sigrist

Off to the computer I went to place a quick order with Erik’s Surplus. With Erik’s fast shipping and a few hours of tired muscle labor, that pesky slow leaker on the driver’s side rear-rear was fixed.

Then, a week later, while looking for some other critical part, there was the missing package of rings and grommets – in the exact location where Ihad originally placed them! “Dangit!” as my son at 4-years-old would say. So, the silver lining of the story isthat I now have more spares.

 Changing the wheel axle end on a USMC armored MTVR ­— the USMC 7-ton cargo truck built by Oshkosh. Note the two jack stands for this huge truck, and the laptop used to assist in fault diagnosis. Murphy would have his work cut out for him to foul this operation! Photo by Gunnar Sigrist

Changing the wheel axle end on a USMC armored MTVR ­— the USMC 7-ton cargo truck built by Oshkosh. Note the two jack stands for this huge truck, and the laptop used to assist in fault diagnosis. Murphy would have his work cut out for him to foul this operation! Photo by Gunnar Sigrist

MURPHY DID IT

From the time we were kids, my brother Dave, who is a combat engineer, farmer, welder, and drain-service owner, has claimed that “Murphy” was the culprit for such mislaid items, for things going off track when you are under time stress, and for defaults at the most critical time.

He had a million examples. One of his favorites was while he was in Vietnam in 1968. Standing in the motor pool looking at a 5-ton tractor hooked to a trailer carrying a motor grader, his bunker mate, Bob M. said, “Oh, it’s just gotten brand new brake shoes and wheel cylinders — what could go wrong?” Less than 45 miles later, when coming off a mountain in the A Shau Valley, the brakes were gone — non-existant!

 This photo evidence of Murphy at work was taken during the 2012 MVPA Alaska Highway convoy. The local veterans color guard was preparing for community pot luck and event ceremony at a small town when my son Gunnar asked the flag bearer if the North Star was “down there.” Murphy had turned the State Flag upside down. Photo by Gunnar Sigrist

This photo evidence of Murphy at work was taken during the 2012 MVPA Alaska Highway convoy. The local veterans color guard was preparing for community pot luck and event ceremony at a small town when my son Gunnar asked the flag bearer if the North Star was “down there.” Murphy had turned the State Flag upside down. Photo by Gunnar Sigrist

Murphy was laughing hysterically all the way down and into the river at the bottom. Fortunately, the injuries were not critical.Murphy did get a second lick in on that one, as well.Dave lost all the pictures as the film burned in a fire caused by hostile fire.

Dave would say, “If you shot woodchucks off the cab of your truck, you would eventually shoot the end off of your radio antenna (I did — his truck). And if you shoot through a wire fence, 1 out of 4 times you will cut the wire (both of us did, numerous times).” That’s Murphy at work.

 Murphy disregards ownership of property and is just as likely to break perfectly good USMC wrenches as anyone else’s. Of course, in this case, Murphy got bonus points by having the Lance Corporal “explain” the incident to the Gunny. Photo by Gunnar Sigrist

Murphy disregards ownership of property and is just as likely to break perfectly good USMC wrenches as anyone else’s. Of course, in this case, Murphy got bonus points by having the Lance Corporal “explain” the incident to the Gunny. Photo by Gunnar Sigrist

More recently, Murphy got Brad Nelson in 2009, during the Lincoln Highway Convoy. While crossing the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, the nuts came off a trailer hitch bolt, dropping the trailer nose in the dirt road. Of course, neither Brad nor the recovery guys had the proper length replacement. Instead, they did a field-expedient repair using a Snap-on breaker bar and duct tape. It held for2,000 more miles.

Murphy recently got my son, Gunnar, a wheeled vehicle mechanic in the US Marine Corps. Doing a shop repair on a MTVR (USMC 7-ton truck by Oshkosh), Gunnar pulled a section of armor plating off to get to the errant unit that needed inspection/replacement — a task that he had done numerous time before. This time, however, that armor plate jumped out of his hands and landed square on his foot, smashing his steel-toe boot and big toe. Murphy!

 Moving wheel-well armor on USMC MTVR 7-ton Oshkosh truck. Ever noticed that Murphy seems most prevalent at night when things just have to get done for mission accomplishment? The more hands, the better, with this heavy iron. Photo by Gunnar Sigrist

Moving wheel-well armor on USMC MTVR 7-ton Oshkosh truck. Ever noticed that Murphy seems most prevalent at night when things just have to get done for mission accomplishment? The more hands, the better, with this heavy iron. Photo by Gunnar Sigrist

Murphy has probably been around prior to humans on earth and has had many names through history. Many of the First Nations peoples of North America knew Murphy as “Coyote the Trickster.”

Coyote the Trickster may have a cousin who currently is responsible for an aggravating occurrence: One in three, that’s about the frequency of that drill or socket ratchet that you are using, put down for a second, then pick it up to use again — and now is working in reverse, without anyone flipping the switch. Coyote...er, I mean, MURPHY!

I have to concur with brother Dave. Murphy is the gremlin responsible for so many expectations being rudely bruised and confidence to be so badly tweaked. My other brother, Don, once told me, “If it’s got wheels, it will give you trouble.”

 Brothers Ken and Bernie Field of the Convoy Recovery Unit outsmarted Murphy when they cut the end off of a Snap-On breaker bar for a field expedient fix while participating in the 2009 Lincoln Highway Convoy. Photo by Brad Nelson

Brothers Ken and Bernie Field of the Convoy Recovery Unit outsmarted Murphy when they cut the end off of a Snap-On breaker bar for a field expedient fix while participating in the 2009 Lincoln Highway Convoy. Photo by Brad Nelson

Well, good preventive maintenance will head off most of the trouble (and following the TM, line-by-line, helps you not forget something). Regardless, but inexplicable ‘stuff’ still happens —and Murphy has a strong hand in it.

Murphy cannot take all the blame for all missing items, though. The case of missing rings and grommets was not the only time an item was placed in a specific location at our farm only to have it be missing when we needed it and then subsequently reappear when we didn’t.

Long, slow drives in one of our historic military vehicles leave lots of time to think, to dream, to develop plans, to speculate —and to develop theories. After much thought, I have developed a premise: Truly, there are places in the world — numerous places — where O-rings and grommets as well ashundreds —no, I’m sure, millions — of other items are placed in specific locations to reside in our memories for future reference. These items slip through a hole of some kind — be it a space/time continuum thing or a looking glass to another dimension. They reside there for some period of time, and then, at some random time, reemerge.

 Murphy seems to always get the last laugh. For example, he made the field expedient repair on Brad Nelson’s CUCV with trailer more troublesome by covering it with mud kicked up on the Lincoln Highway through the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah during the 2009 Convoy. Photo by Brad Nelson

Murphy seems to always get the last laugh. For example, he made the field expedient repair on Brad Nelson’s CUCV with trailer more troublesome by covering it with mud kicked up on the Lincoln Highway through the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah during the 2009 Convoy. Photo by Brad Nelson

My anecdotal sample of friends has led me to the conclusion that the only methods to increase chances of those stored items coming back to us is either: Not need them anymore or to buy replacements (especially of you have to pay a much higher price).

So, don’t despair, you did put it there to remember. When Murphy is done with it, he will return it.

Keep ‘em rollin — but keep an eye open for old Murphy!