Scott Fleener is a freshman journalism news major and writes “Headstrong” for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Scott at email@example.com.
Talks of soldiers getting frostbite were quickly spreading across the different companies that day. It was 3-5 degrees outside in South Korea, at best. I was really hoping that the Katusa Snack Bar (KSB) was going to be open, a small restaurant that made meals for our Korean brothers that were usually found on base. In rare cases, KSB was the hero we needed when we wanted spicy and hot Korean cuisine in the bitter cold.
Did I mention how cold it was there? You could feel it in your bones. We were even going home three days early due to safety concerns over the very serious threat of frostbite.
The wind would gust down the nearby mountains and go right through us in the early mornings while our Platoon Sergeant checked our gear. We would stand in formation, shivering and praying that he would let us go back inside the tent soon and warm up.
Now, it wasn’t like we were wearing a big fluffy jacket you bought a sporting goods store. We were wearing military-grade, cold weather gear.
We had layers on layers. We had silks, which are thin, silky clothes for chilly temperatures. We also had waffle tops and bottoms, or slightly thicker clothes. On top of that we had field jackets, a warmer alternative to the standard top that soldiers wear, fleece jackets, wet weather gear for days when it rained or snowed a lot and finally, extreme cold weather tops and bottoms often called marshmallow suits.
Even with all of that, I was often finding myself a little chilly. Many soldiers were getting frostbite, so leadership decided to send everyone home early. I even felt the first stages of frostbite myself: a tingling sensation in my feet, like knives were sinking into them. It felt like my feet, then eventually my calves. were on fire.
That was in January of 2015. Fast forward to this week. Winter, waking up late from it’s nap, decided to go WWE on the state and body slam us into the icy pavement. Students who live on campus shuffle from their resident halls to their classes. Commuter students like myself, dig their car out of the ice, then slide their way to campus and spend the next 15 minutes trying to find a parking spot.
On Wednesday morning, the wind chill could get as low as . Lucky for us, Ball State actually decided to close campus Wednesday for the first time since 2014 and will reopen at 11 a.m. Thursday.
My point is, even with all my cold weather military gear in South Korea, people still got hurt in single digit temperatures. Most people at Ball State don’t have access to this level of gear, let alone a medic that follows them around and whose only job is to make sure they are healthy.
So what will I, the soldier who has braved the frozen temperatures of Korea while others suffered from frostbite around him, be doing during the sub-zero weather this Wednesday?
I’m staying inside with my cat, Potato. We will most likely binge Parks and Recreation for the millionth time, play video games and cook a nice warm meal. I may even play the Sims 4, Potato’s favorite game to watch me play.
But I know I’m definitely not going outside in these dangerous temperatures.
I’m experienced, not crazy. Learn from me and be safe during this frigid vortex.