The opinions and views expressed here are my own and do not represent those of the world's finest United States Marine Corps, Department of Defense, or any government organization.
I recount stories they way I remember them. I write the way I speak. All of you grammar compulsive types need to get over that right now.
The language used here is tough. Not vulgar, but I've spent most of my adult life immersed in that great American warrior culture known as the U.S. Marine Corps. We're kind of a rough crowd that way. Go figure.
So get offended, if you want. But offense and insults are like alcoholic beverages. They only affect you, if you accept them.
Below is the final installment of my web site updates from our '07-'08 deployment to Iraq. What is left out are the threats of physical violence I offered to Marines whose poor decision making was likely to ruin our time off in the near future. For instance, there was the brain surgeon who was sent back on the advance party who determined it was a brilliant idea to consume an entire bottle of tequila by himself. Though dumb, this would probably not been an issue until he decided he needed more alcohol and the only place to do this was off base. He drove all the way to the front gate where he side swiped an MP car abruptly ending his tequila fueled libo adventure. As the MPs opened the car door to see if he was injured, the Marine poured out on the road like a bowl of oatmeal. Upon hearing of this, company 1stSgts still stranded in Iraq began head butting each other with vigor.
It is customary to receive 96 hours of liberty (four days off) immediately upon returning from a deployment. This is followed by two weeks of stand downs, safety briefs, and returning warrior classes. I admonished Kilo Company not to lose their minds during the 96 unless they wanted to jeopardize the block of leave to follow. One of my go to lines was to remind the Marines all the alcohol in America would still be there next weekend and they really didn't need to try and drink it all over the 96. They could lose their minds on leave all they wanted, but not before.
Oddly, this admonishment actually worked. We didn't have a single liberty incident until the company went on leave and Marines promptly went bat guano. Marines were arrested for racing crotch rockets on the interstate at near the speed of light. Marital dramas kept my phone ringing the entire leave block. One Marine divorced his wife. She immediately married another Marine from the same platoon. Another of my guys went really big and was rolled up by Army MPs for making quite a scene on leave in Japan. Awesome.
I felt these weren't things family members needed to know about on our battalion web page though:
Aloha! After a well deserved leave block that included eating acres of brownies and other home made confections designed to ruin the rugged masculinity of our collective physiques we have returned to the island home of the world’s finest America’s Battalion.
Our numbers have swelled somewhat with the arrival of our new Marines from the School Of Infantry. We have welcomed them into the tribe with open arms and training is in full swing as we shoot up the rifle range and plan our future operations in preparation for our next deployment.
On the night of the 29th the Marines of Kilo Company enjoyed a formal dinner with the rest of their brethren from 3/3. Your Marines were looking sharp in their uniforms despite the best efforts of home cooking while on leave. Our spouses and dates were particularly lovely and a number of the wives performed a hula dance as part of ceremony. Very cool. A great night of fellowship was enjoyed by all as we looked back at a successful deployment and lean forward into the future.
The boys are back in town doing those things that others are unwilling or unable to do in order to keep the wolf at bay. Iron sharpens iron and as is our tradition your Marines are honing themselves in anticipation of that day in the future when they will be called upon to do what Marines have always done, make history. Semper Fidelis! 1stSgt M. S. Burke Refugee from the island life…
Just another ho-hum month in paradise.
Being island boys stationed out of Hawaii, the Iraqi winter was somewhat of a shock to some of us. Considering it had not snowed in our area for decades it was a bit of a surprise to the locals too. I recall the company commander, company XO, the Forward Air Controller and I had nightly cigars around a small fire. Ah, the days of high adventure...
Happy New Year! This year Kilo Company has resolved that if at all possible we will only deploy to warm weather climates. This means if the Scandinavians have an insurgency then they are straight out of luck. Sorry fellas.
The Christmas dinner went over merrily and with good cheer. Our supporters sent enough gifts and goodies to give all the Marines something two times over. There was so much steak, chicken, turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and a wide selection of fat pills we all hit the rack in a food coma that night. It really was an obscene amount of food and the Marines all enjoyed a meal and a good time with their comrades.
It actually snowed out here last week. Of course upon reaching the ground it immediately melted and what was formerly known as moon dust is now what we call moon glue. It’s not all bad though. When we come in from the elements we eliminate the whole problem of getting mud all over the floor by just sticking our boots right on the ceiling instead. There is so much muck stuck in the soles of my boots I now stand at a commanding height of just over six feet and cut a rather impressive figure if I do say so myself.
How a place renowned for its oppressive heat can generate such bitterly cold wind I will never know. There is nothing as bracing as a blast of freezing wind blowing right up your shorts let me tell you. The only exception perhaps would be lathering up in the shower trailer when the hot water decides to quit. If that’s not enough to make a praying man out of you I don’t know what is. I never knew I had so many sopranos in the company until winter set in.
As the icy fingers of winter close into a fist around the OP we often think of the tropical shores we left behind. But we’re not done here yet. Your Marines continue to conduct operations in order to undermine the efforts of the forces of evil. Their hard work is paving the way for a final transition into the hands of a legal Iraqi authority. Schools are open, the markets are doing business, and people are sleeping peaceably tonight in Kharma town. The example set by your sons and husbands has emboldened many of the Iraqi nationals to make a stand against the insurgency and take back control of their neighborhoods.
So if someone back home asks you if you really think what your Marine is doing out here has made any impact, you can look them straight in the face and say, “Darn right.” Then while you’ve got their attention, poke them in the eye and run like you stole something. Semper Fidelis! 1stSgt M. S. Burke America's 1stSgt
Carry on with the plan of the day!
It has been known for eons mothers possess powers far beyond the understanding of mortal children.
As a wee child I recall being on the hot end of one of my mother's epic scoldings. When the smoke cleared she turned away and went back to doing esoteric mom things. The tiny flame of my rebellion manifested itself in the ugly face I made at her as she left the room. "I saw that!" she announced, not even turning her head, regally continuing on her way. Impossible! What strange ability was this? How could a mere child resist such power?
Years later she would pull this on me when I hadn't made a face behind her back. Ah! Very cunning Mom. I salute you.
In the early 70s we were stationed in Okinawa. I must have been all of five years old. My mother and I were in a local marketplace buying groceries and such. For a little boy who wanted nothing but to explore the jungle wilderness near his home, shopping with mom was hell. Indignantly, I made my feelings known to all within sight and hearing.
My poor mother was handling more bags than her diminutive Irish frame could possibly bare. Her inability to lay a hand on me was a free license to behave like a truculent snot. Suddenly I was airborne as she soccer kicked me in the behind, leaving my belt around my ears. Okinawan ladies giggled having witnessed swift mom justice executed with extreme prejudice. My behavior was immediately modified.
Enjoy your day of honor moms, and thanks for all the peanut butter crackers!
For the record, my wife is very skilled at this too.
You probably heard the collective face palm of the entire American armed forces when it was announced LtCol Jeff Krusinski, OIC of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention program, was arrested for groping a woman. As we brace ourselves for more classes and Uniform Victim Advocate phone drills which will inevitably follow, I would remind everyone Marines actually do take this issue very seriously. Despite what media outlets and opportunistic politicians looking for a sound bite may try leading you to believe, I'd have to say there isn't a Marine within my sphere of influence who thinks their leadership will tolerate such conduct.
Instead of rehashing my thoughts on sexual assault, prevention, and misconceptions about the military, I direct you to a number of links to posts I have written on the subject over the past couple of years.
Life is a good reason to keep a notebook handy. Here is another installment of quotable remarks spoken wide open for everyone to hear.
The military life may just be the single best source of unfiltered insights and off hand remarks. We get the word laconic from the Spartans after all:
"In support of the sequester, we are now only giving 80% effort."
Instructor: "We're on a tight schedule tomorrow, so we're going to
need you all standing outside of your rooms at 0645 for inspection, so
we can run the train and finish quickly."
Marine: "What the hell kind of inspection are we getting?"
"The computers are down this morning rendering us completely incapable of defending freedom."
"If a British Commando says a place is 'a bit sporty,' that means someone will be trying to kill you there. Good to know."
"Coffee and ibuprofen: the breakfast of champions."
Interactions between men and womenare also a gold mine of pithy one liners and original dialogue:
Her: "How were you even able to function before you met me?"
Him: "I did things my way instead of yours." Her: "That still doesn't answer my question."
Her: "I'm not looking at you like you're a dork. I'm looking at you because you're a dork."
Concerning the news media and so called popular culture:
"As soon as I hear the words 'Jodi Arias' come out of the TV, I immediately change the channel."
Her: "He has to be the most boring…" Him: "Meteorologist?" Her: "Yeah, I couldn't even finish my sentence since I lost the will to live."
Medical professionals enjoy a unique culture of their own and pose interesting questions concerning the human condition:
My physical therapist is particularly skilled: "I assure you this won't hurt me in the slightest."
Nurse in a Cleveland Emergency Room on St Patty's Day: "How come only the drunk ones ever ask me out?"
In modern society we seem to take great pride in increasing "awareness" of particular issues by earmarking specific amounts of calendar time in which to be "aware" of things. Some awareness is better than none I suppose:
"Man, I'll be glad when 'Worker Safety Week' is over so I can go back to recklessly speeding through construction zones."
May is Zombie Awareness Month. By no coincidence it is also Military Appreciation Month. Two great tastes that taste great together! In order to increase awareness of why you should appreciate your military for keeping the ravenous hordes of undead at bay, I'm pointing out a few simple apocalyptic tips and links below. During an outbreak of zombie plague my world view will be pretty black and white, so brace yourself.
On Surviving The Zombies:
1. There is only one way to kill the stinkin' things. Brain 'em. You'd think everyone would know this by now. Traumatic brain injury is how we slay the undead. Find something heavy and smash their brain housing group. It's that easy. Stop riddling the undead with bullets and marveling as they continue to shamble on. It's a waste of ammo and drives your SgtMaj berserk.
2. Friends and family who are infected are no longer your friends and family. I love watching characters agonize about the undead being people and how there may be a cure. Anyone or anything actively trying to kill you have become the BAD GUYS. When bad guys are a threat to your survival, they need to be eliminated post haste.
3. Boarding yourself up in a house and waiting for the plague to blow over is a death sentence. There is a reason military types tend to say things like: "shoot, move, and communicate." The law of the jungle proves the more aggressive species tend to thrive. All the successful predators stay on the move; sharks, lions, tigers, etc. Lose you ability to remain mobile and you dramatically decrease your ability to stay alive. I recommend becoming apex (zombie slaying) predators and aggressively conduct patrols. Kill zombies by the truck load.
4. If you are someone who can't get through the week without consuming fast food from the "drive thru" or who cooks meals solely in the microwave, you are probably not going to make it through an apocalypse. Sorry.
Finally, I'm all caught up on The Walking Dead Season 3 [SPOILER!]. I would like to point out if the Governor bit off two of my fingers it would mean I still had three good digits to ram into his remaining eye. They need more Marines on the show and less stupidity. Imagine what the show would have been like if the Governor had been replaced with the SgtMaj. Yeah! That show would rock. Until that happens we can content ourselves with talking zombies and an apocalyptic musical below.
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