Plenty of us run errands after work -- the scant one or two business hours remaining in a day once we're finally off the clock are usually the only time we have during the week to run down to Piggly Wiggly for a carton of eggs or zip on over to Best Buy and root through the bargain bin for the fourth season of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. People in the armed forces are no different. For example, after completing some training exercises off the coast of Scotland, two Shetland Coastguard pilots decided to make a detour to pick up some steaks from the mainland. And by "make a detour," we mean they flew their rescue helicopter 85 miles across the North Atlantic and landed it outside a butcher shop in Orkney to pick up about $600 worth of meat.
"We don't actually care what it is. Just start chuckin' animal muscles into the back."
Some crusading local managed to capture the whole thing on video and uploaded it to YouTube (it has since been taken down), and the two men were immediately suspended for misusing military hardware. Luckily, the Orkney butcher came to the pilots' defense when he heard of their suspension and insisted that they shouldn't be punished because they use the helicopter to stop by for steaks all the time, which you may have noticed is the single worst excuse for committing a flagrant rule violation outside of blaming it on evil twins. Previously, the two pilots would land at a nearby airport and have the butcher come deliver the meat to them, but this time the butcher recommended that they just park their helicopter next to his butcher shop, since he owned the field behind it anyway.
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"Hey, while you're here, whaddaya say you guys fly up on the roof and get my nephew's Frisbee down?"
The butcher's admission pretty much sealed the deal as far as the coast guard was concerned, and the two pilots were both demoted. Bizarrely, Orkney locals decided to mount a signature campaign to get them reinstated, because apparently no one in Scotland has heard of coolers, ice, or the mail.
April Fools' Day is the one time of year when we can all behave recklessly insane and immediately absolve ourselves of any wrongdoing by yelling "April Fools!" the moment our chicanery is discovered. On every other day of the year, this is simply called "being an asshole." And really, why should the military be any different, other than the fact that billions of dollars in hardware are in play?
For example, Israeli vice admiral Ram Rothberg had the hilarious idea to issue orders for his men to get ready for a 10-day series of naval exercises off the coast of Italy, planning to revoke them on April 1 with the traditional "April Fools!" shout to a chorus of appreciative laughter and applause.
"Oh, man, you got us so good! I sincerely hope you don't die choking on your own blood!"
The problem is, soldiers tend to take their orders pretty seriously. Literally one of the most important parts of military training is to obey the orders of a superior officer, regardless of whether or not you personally agree with them or how little sense their orders seem to make. So on April 1, as Rothberg prepared to deliver the crushing punchline to his humorless, time-wasting anti-joke, he found three fully prepped warships ready to set sail, with hundreds of sailors lined up to go run drills near Italy for a week and a half.
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Needless to say, the joke went unappreciated. The Israeli government called the whole incident "inappropriate," and vowed to come up with some way to ensure that the proper lessons were learned. We can only assume Step 1 would be to schedule Rothberg's court martial hearing for April 1. Although as far as practical jokes go, that's not even the most insane one to come out of the Israeli military ...
When you put in your two weeks' notice at a job you've spent the past few years hating with every fiber of your being, you might feel the urge to mark your departure by pulling some legendary prank that will both burn your bridges with the bosses and make you a hero worthy of song to your fellow employees. This is not such a good idea if the reason you're leaving is that you've been promoted within the same company.
Unfortunately, Israeli paratrooper Major Nir Doft stopped reading after the first sentence of that last paragraph and came up with the ultimate way to punk his fellow officers before moving on from the battalion to accept a new post as a commander. During a farewell get-together in his office, Doft pretended to drop a pencil underneath his desk. When he bent down to retrieve it, he quickly slipped on a gas mask and pulled the pin on a tear gas grenade.
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"Crap, I thought this was a regular grenade. Oh well, it'll have to do."
Then, he sat back and watched as his peers choked and vomited all over themselves as they struggled to escape the room, which of course they couldn't because Doft had placed two enlisted men under his command to block the exit. A good time was had by all. Then, two days after the incident, Doft went on vacation.
He came back expecting to assume his new command as if nothing had happened, but returned instead to find that, shockingly, a full investigation was being conducted by the Israeli military. They are presumably looking to see exactly how many different voices are currently screaming at each other inside Doft's mind before determining whether to allow him to remain in a leadership position surrounded by dangerous weaponry.
Related Reading: For some abuses of military hardware that are honestly impressive, click this link and discover the wonders of a combination machine-gun / tea kettle. If you're more interested in new uses for old-school weaponry, this article will sow you Chinese police and their badass crossbows. And for a look at some insane new weapons that make war look cartoonish, just fondle this hyperlink and be confronted by flesh-eating robot apes.