It has been said that behind every good Warthog Pilot is a geat Tail-Gunner. Well, actually, I have no evidence to support that claim. In fact, I just made that shit up. But that doesn’t make it any less damn true. This SPARTAN has logged enough hours at the controls of the Warthog to earn a permanent imprint of the seat cushion pattern on the ass-end of my uniform. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that your selection of a Tail-Gunner is the most important decision you may make in a forward deployment.
Tail-Gunners come in all shapes and sizes. All armor permutations. All paint colors. In my travels, from Blood Gulch, through Coagulation, and ending up in Valhalla; I have come to know a variety of archetypes into which these friendly combatants fall. To know your Tail-Gunners is to know victory – or defeat! Gather round, fellow pilots, for full disclosure of all Tail-Gunner Profiling is about to be rendered with disturbing honesty:
The Dead Eye
Of all the would-be tail-gunners that may grace [or defile] the temple on the back of your assault vehicle, this is the shooter you want in your employ. The Dead Eye wields a turret like a scalpel, incising opponents off the battlefield like unwanted hemorrhoids from the ass of a desk jockey. When you give this Tail-Gunner a ride, your only concern is where you are going to put all the Wheelman medals they will earn for you. Their Perfection is your Perfection, after all.
The Nerf Gunner
This is the gamer that you “accidentally” splatter when you go to pick them up. No matter how much ordnance they distribute, those telltale stars simply to refuse to manifest in the medal quadrant of your HUD. The Nerf-Gunner’s name does not suggest that the soldier is made of Nerf. Rather, it seems as if their bullets are wrought from harmless sponge, for all the damage [or freaking lack there of] that they inflict on hostiles. Call out targets all you like, you poor bastard. This soul will just spin like a confused top until they puke into the inside of their helmet.
The Bail Gunner
Beware – never to be trusted! Your ride with this Tail-Gunner will be short-lived. As soon as a shiny object comes into view [i.e. their favorite weapon], this gamer will Bail off your rear bumper and leave you hung out to dry in enemy territory. Bailers are also known to be spooked ground-side by the first squawk from the Missile Pod Lock Indicator. Their indifference to the Warthog’s vital combat function can only be punished by a permanent ban from Tail-Gun service. Unless they carry the flag, let them walk. After repeated contact with these individuals, the Pilots in the Roadkill Squadron of the TTL Gunslingers were forced to adopt their near-fanatical mantra:
“The Tail-Gunner Dies With The Hog!”
The Gauss Boss
Much like the Dead Eye [see above], this Tail-Gunner is the unquestioned authority on the lethal application of accelerated particles. A mastery of skill for the Chain Turret does not always translate to a Gauss-empowered warzone. The Gauss Boss is the One-Shot/One-Kill specialist of any mechanized infantry. Everyone thinks they rate as an Expert on the Gauss – a sentimental favorite among UNSC regulars. Any Wheelman worth their salt, however, knows that wielding the G cannon is more art than science. When the Boss is riding the platform, no opponent is safe. Before you can call out a target, you will see them flung from their feet by a bolt of white lightning.
The One-Track Minder
This gunner means well enough; they just can’t multi-task to save their life – or, more importantly, yours! They have no head for the objective route, and they think every fight is decided by kill-count. While you are flinging your Warthog headlong into enemy territory, the One-Track Minder is still looking behind you at the cover they saw someone take as you left your base. If you grant this shooter access to your rear bumper, you are sure to spend the entire fight shouting “Dead ahead!” or “12 O’Clock LOW!” While not a complete and total failure [see Nerf Gunner above], this gunner refuses to admit that some hostiles can be left for the rest of the team to mop up.
The Fire Fighter
These Gunners are a real pleasure to share a Wathog with, if you have an agenda for hearing loss. Instead of waiting for a valid target, the Fire Fighter runs the gun all day long, as if it were a hose connected to a bottomless pit filled with water. Whether hostiles are in sight, or not, the deafening roar of the turret fills the air. Rather than painting a target of opportunity with some purposeful gunfire, the Fire Fighter seeks instead to paint the town red. If the unceasing thunder of the cannon doesn’t burst your eardrums, the vibrations through the steering column will earn you a crippling case of carpal tunnel syndrome. Give this shooter a ride if you want to suppress the enemy with shock and awe, but prepare to find shell casings in the interior of your Warthog for weeks to come.
This concludes an official report from the Tied the Leader Institute for Combat Excellence. Good Hunting, Pilots!