The Irresistible Horrors Of The US Airman’s Manual

A while back, a reader sent me a page from the US Airman's Manual that included the above instructions for pushing someone's intestines back into their abdomen. Time to explore this manual a little deeper.

Anyone can view the Airman's Manual. Just click this link. In fact, if you don't serve in the military, I suggest you click it and have a look. Because while these 267 pages may be occasionally bureaucratic and dull (who's game for some host nation sensitivity?!), they give you a pretty good idea of what it's like to be an active service member of the US Air Force, and what it's like to know that you are always seconds away from everything turning into shit. Also, it has pictures of burns in it, which is cool.

The Irresistible Horrors Of The US Airman’s Manual

The manual opens with this Airman's Creed. This being the US Air Force, I'm shocked there's no mention of Jesus anywhere in it. You know Fisher DeBerry tried his best to make that happen. Anyway, if I ever served in the Air Force, I would have this creed tattooed on my back, and then undress in front of hookers with my back turned to them, just to let them know what kind of quality customer they've stumbled upon for the evening.

The Irresistible Horrors Of The US Airman’s Manual

Oh Jesus. It's an Inez Sainz situation all over again. Look how she's handling that big, throbbing mike. Tell me she isn't asking for it. And why is she coming on to Peter Sarsgaard? That's Maggie Gyllenhaal's man she knows it. Lovers with double a's in their last name have a bond you can't possibly fathom, lady. Now, to the violence…

The Irresistible Horrors Of The US Airman’s Manual

According to the manual, there are four kinds of Chemical warfare agents out there: Nerve, Blister, Blood, and Choking. None of them are good. Nerve agents such as VX cause "involuntary defecation and urination, cessation of breathing, loss of consciousness, coma, and death." Jesus. Anyway, I think I still might take that over blister agents, which do precisely what you think they do. Look at that guy's feet. Even Eve doesn't have feet that busted. I can't look, and yet I can't stop looking.

The Irresistible Horrors Of The US Airman’s Manual

Getting shot in the chest can cause what the manual calls a "sucking chest wound," which is when the chest makes a sucking sound and "frothy red blood from wound" emerges. Again, the "always check and treat for shock" directive seems like it ought to be just "always treat for shock". Because anyone who is not shocked to see their chest making a sucking noise must be Superman. Sucking chest wounds must be dressed with an airtight seal the manual says can be made of "plastic, tin foil, or an ID card." And now I totally want to walk past someone getting shot in the chest, specifically so that I can dress their wound in front of a crowd and be hailed for my efforts.

The Irresistible Horrors Of The US Airman’s Manual

These are burns. Not fun at all.

The Irresistible Horrors Of The US Airman’s Manual

This is how you handle human remains, and this is the part of the document where I kind of lost it a little. We still have soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan who need to follow the directions in this manual to the last detail, or else they or one of their friends will die, and then they'll be forced to follow the standard guidelines for picking up human remains. It's treated clinically in this manual, as it should be. But it's impossible not to see the obvious subtext of death and horror involved. Your employee manual doesn't have probably doesn't include instructions on finding a buddy to help you transport another buddy's dead body to Mortuary Affairs. That's tragic stuff that's treated as an everyday occurrence in this manual because it IS an everyday occurrence. Someone out there right now is in dire need of knowing this information because they've been shot or burned or because their friend has. And that's a pretty sobering thought. Just another reason to be grateful that I have fellow countrymen who are willing to go overseas to do things I know I never could.