Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fear not! I am indeed alive.

"KNOW, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars—Britain, Nippon, Burundi, Eire, Iraq with its dark-haired women and cities of insurgent-haunted mystery, Australia with its breweries, Bahrain with its shadow-guarded tombs, Mongolia whose riders consumed obscene amounts of vodka. But the proudest kingdom of the world was America, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came America's SgtMaj, a Marine of renown, black tempered, bright- eyed, rifle in hand, a leatherneck, a smart ass, a swordsman, with gigantic blarney and a gigantic hole under his nose, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his combat boots."

 Rumors the hordes of darkness over ran the perimeter of the Castra Praetoria and left it burning in the ether are untrue. No really, I'm still here kicking evil doers in the taint and performing other exploits. Various projects, commitments (stupid day job) and just plain lack of material have kept me away from my post this summer.

 You may take my excuses for what they are, but sleep peaceably knowing I am back on my watch, writing.

Semper Fidelis,
America's SgtMaj

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Another ho-hum day for a swordsman.

Behind my desk in my office is a rack of training gear which includes basket hilt swords, bokuto of various sizes, shinai, mokuju, and even a jo stick.  I like to think it makes a visual impact on anyone entering my office.  Truth be told, I do get some perverse pleasure when I overhear Marines whispering about all that, "crazy $#!@ behind SgtMaj's desk."

Plus it's handy to have nearby when counseling sessions turn ferocious.
Last drill the Reserve Bn Commander asked me if I really knew how to use "all that $H!@" or if it was just for show. Discretion being the better part of valor, I decided a live demonstration was not in order and merely replied: "Of course I know how to use it."

I prefer training in a traditional Japanese battlefield system as opposed to other "martial arts" as I'm mostly interested in putting steel on target. The cultural aspects are unimportant to me.  I'm infamous within my koryu for mispronouncing Japanese names of various kata and concepts. For me it's a warrior thing vice a cultural thing. You won't find me doing a lot of grappling or MMA type of training as those are just not my interest. Again, it's about putting steel (or lead) on target.

The other day I was wearing a t-shirt from the Spartan Training Center when I walked into a sandwich shop. I was wearing a light jacket that obscured the text printed on the upper right of the shirt. The young lady at the register said:

"Do you mind me asking what your shirt says?"

With a smirk I lifted open the lapel of the jacket so she could read: 

It's not about making them tap out ... it's about making them BLEED OUT.
Her eyes got big: "Are you a fighter?"

"I'm a Marine."

"Oh, that makes sense then."

 Semper Fidelis,
America's SgtMaj

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Airborne Adventures III

The first week of training at jump school is known as ground week. This is because the Army teaches troops how to fall down in a proper military manner by having everyone hurl themselves into the deck for five straight days.

In order to land safely students must master the Parachute Landing Fall (PLF). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parachute_Landing_Fall

Ocorrding to the Wikipedia link above, the PLF is properly conducted thusly: "While landing under a parachute canopy, the jumper's feet strike the ground first and, immediately, he throws himself sideways to distribute the landing shock sequentially along five points of body contact with the ground:

    1.    the balls of the feet
    2.    the side of the calf
    3.    the side of the thigh
    4.    the side of the hip, or buttocks (as a side note, keeping your head out of your 4th point of contact is highly recommended)
    5.    the side of the back (latissimus dorsi muscle)

After days and days of falling down I noticed I was developing bruises along my lats. I took this to mean I was doing it right. Unfortunately, Ground Week was the first time I ever felt older than the young fire breathers.

At one point during ground week we practiced falling off of something known as the lateral drift apparatus.  This contraption was essentially a short zip line. Students would grab on to the line and jump off a 3 or 4 foot platform. Barreling down the zip line, they'd let go and execute a proper PLF into the pea gravel below.

Feet and knees together dirtbag!
You may note in the picture above everyone is standing in a line along each side of the apparatus. As the line progressed students moved down hopping to their left with their feet and knees together in a PLF position. Keep in mind students were expected to run everywhere they went as well. Punishment for deviating from this routine was to execute a set of pushups. This is because, Airborne!

We spent an entire morning colliding into the planet. Gravel and spittle flew as students crashed into the gravel again and again. I must have executed 1000 perfect falls that morning. Each time I landed I immediately leapt up and ran to the end of line then obediently hopped to my left until it was my turn again.

After lunch we went right back to training. I discovered that sometime over chow my body decided it would no longer participate. Try as I might, I could not execute a proper PLF to save my life. Hurdling into the gravel, my arms and legs went in all directions and my body rolled into a sloppy heap of wet laundry. Frowning, the Black Hats shook their heads in quiet judgement of my unsatisfactory performance.

Young, 18 year old Joes continued to execute flawless PLFs. Leaping up out of the gravel like resurrected phoenix from mythology, they sprinted back into line as fresh as they were this morning. In contrast, my performance was getting uglier and uglier as I bounced like a crash test dummy. I  was just plain beat and realized I was probably unlearning everything I'd trained to do all morning.

My mood began to reflect my energy level as I stopped caring about ridiculously jumping around the stupid training area in a proper PLF position. I deliberately walked throughout the rest of our lateral drift high impact training session. I figured any pushups levied would take less out of me than hopping about like a dumb ass jackrabbit in the pea gravel.

Strangely, none of my Airborne instructors demanded their tribute of pushups for my open rebellion.

Semper Fidelis!
America's SgtMaj

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Source of California wildfires found!

Via Terminal Lance on Facebook:

Trust a giant atomic lizard to ruin weekend libo.

At least the word is getting out.

Of course, if Godzilla were attacking I'm fairly certain you wouldn't need a sign to tell you.

It's drill weekend here, but you enjoy yourselves and mind the occasional blast of atomic breath.

Semper Fidelis!
America's SgtMaj

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Concerning Comportment

I often talk to Marines about their presence and bearing. How we carry ourselves is nonverbal communication to those around us. We encourage Marines to carry themselves with quiet professionalism and competence.

A friend once mentioned I have a bearing that, among other things, says: "Not to be f****ed with." I often joke I am not a big man but I do take up a lot of space. Keep in mind, puffing up your chest and mean mugging everyone within sight and hearing indicates you are a douche vice capable of handling yourself. When you are trying too hard it laughably shows.

I never actually considered how we verbally impact others until recently.  Physical presence is often discussed but I don't think I've ever contemplated verbal presence before.

During my recent travels, foul weather in Chicago stranded me in Phoenix overnight. I called a hotel shuttle to pick me up. The driver arrived, but I didn't see him among the other vans and shuttles hustling about. He got out, maneuvered through the gaggle of people standing around and walked right up to me. I saw by his name tag I had just spoken to him on the phone.

"How did you know it was me?"

"Well, you looked like the voice I spoke to on the phone."

It was a compliment I think?

Semper Fidelis!
America's SgtMaj

Monday, May 12, 2014

Heard In The Clear!

Stand by for another installment of real life human dialogue too good not to record for posterity.

Dream interpretation is the subject of a number of books and esoteric psychological black magic. Interpret the dreams of military members at your own peril:

"Apparently my dreams of being naked in public have been replaced with wearing an unauthorized uniform in public with a Staff NCO nearby."

"I still wake up about once a month in a blind terror because I can't feel my rifle anywhere around me. My wife says I frequently exclaim: 'Crap! I'm in so much trouble!'"

"The other night I had a dream I was chewing a Gunny's ass and woke myself up yelling."

The battle of the sexes rages on:

"Yesterday my wife mentioned she'd like to highlight her hair. I grabbed a Hi-Liter marker and told her to sit down. She did not find it as amusing as I did."

Her: "Remember that time you called me a gutter whore?"
Him: "I NEVER called you that! 'Gutter slut' maybe. It rolls off the tongue better."

Your philanthropy may be questioned:

"Look! They're having a walk to end homelessness." 
"Walking to work might be a good start."

Concerning social interaction:

"Peer pressure is one thing, beer pressure is quite another."

Tact - adroitness and sensitivity in dealing with others or with difficult issues:  

"I'm not here to call anyone's baby ugly, but some of you have some handsome monkey's."

Fun with TSA:

Agent-"General boarding?"
Me-"No, I'm a SgtMaj."

Carry on with the plan of the day!
America's SgtMaj

Friday, May 9, 2014

Airborne Adventures II

Jump school was three weeks long. It consisted of Ground Week, Tower Week, and Jump Week. In three weeks we'd drink from the fire hose of training and indoctrination graduating as super duper paratroopers. 

Airborne instructors salivated at the thought of a Marine Gunny being in their class because they could put me in charge of the rest of the students knowing I would allow little to no anarchy.

I took great delight in messing with young Army troops or "Joes" as their leaders liked to call them (I will admit, the idea of being a "GI Joe" does have a certain appeal). Mostly I just had fun purposely using Naval terminology.  This prompted puzzled looks among the Joes, much to the delight of Sailors and Marines in the class.

"I just posted the duty roster for the week on the bulkhead, " I'd say. "Excuse me, the wall."

"Make sure we get the head cleaned before we go to chow. Pardon me, I meant the latrine."

"Get me someone to sweep the ladder wells. Oh sorry, the stairs."

Listening to Joes bellyache about how they didn't join the Army to learn stupid Naval terms was balm to my soul. But it didn't always go my way with the Joes.

One morning we marched down to a graveled training area where we were going to spend the day falling down a lot. It was still Ground Week where Airborne students smashed themselves to jelly learning how to properly collide with planet Earth without serious injury.

When we arrived I was summoned by one of the Airborne instructors so I could be verbally flogged within sight and hearing of the entire class. One of the Joes had been caught chewing gum and naturally it was all my fault because I let him do it. In defense of Sgt Airborne, I pretty much apply the same logic to my leaders and tend to ask questions like: "Why are you letting them do that?"

After my tongue lashing I sought out the gum chewer with every intention of engulfing him in a cloud of epic profanity. GI Joes were about to witness such obscenities they would all feel the need to shower.

I discovered my target had already been intercepted by an Army Corporal from our class. He had eviscerated the young Joe and was still jumping up and down on his guts when I arrived.  His deep personal offense that "the Gunny" got his ass chewed out because of a mouthful of this clown's chewing gum sapped the rage right out of me. I turned my back on the scene and let him handle business.

Nothing like the fury of a good NCO to make it all better!

Semper Fidelis!
America's SgtMaj