Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wall Lockers and JOBs. BLEEEECH!!!

You recall I mentioned last time how I hate being inspected with the heat of a nova. Why, you ask? What kind of horrifying childhood trauma could make my molars grind to powder at the thought of an inspection?

Let's take a little glimpse at Marine Corps history as seen through the eyes of America's 1stSgt.

Way back in 1775, inspections were held to ensure each of the Colonial Marines had a functioning musket, dry powder, and was wearing his tri-corn hat at the proper jaunty Marine Corps angle. After this they immediately conducted their first amphibious landing at New Providence Island during the Battle of Nassau. This began a long and illustrious history of stomping the snot out of America's enemies. Simple formula right?

Fast forward to the early 1990's in the heady days of MCRES and MCREE or whatever the heck they were calling it that week. Whatever the name, it is a Commanding General's Readiness Inspection (CGRI) and was the cause of many sleepless nights spent ironing boot socks and mastering the fine art of the Wall Locker/JOB (junk on the bunk) Inspection.

Preparation for the Wall Locker/JOB included putting a hot iron to every stitch of clothing you were issued including underwear. Yes, Marines all over the globe spent their off time dutifully ironing their BVDs, t-shirts, and socks to ensure they were crisp and folded in neat aligned stacks. Hours and hours were spent hunting for IPs (Irish pennants), little loose strings which are still anathema to Marines.

The liberal use of spray starch was an integral part of the inspection process. One has not had a full Marine Corps experience until in a brief moment of clarity one realizes he spent the entire weekend starching his drawers. We hung our uniforms up in the wall locker bracing all the sleeves with a folded wire hanger. Then we spray starched the crap out of them. This was to ensure the seams on the sleeves would be flat and all facing in the same direction. It was a terrible crime to not have all the hangers pointed the same way. Having any buttons unbuttoned was liable to get you "not recommended" for promotion.

Dress shoes and black boots were given special attention with q-tips and the sole was given a coating of edge dressing. Not only the sides but on the bottom too. After all, one couldn't give the impression one actually walked around in them.

Every piece of gear issued was cleaned, polished, painted, and suitably worshiped in the proper Marine Corps manner. In the infantry, weapons were cleaned so vigorously the bluing was scrubbed off turning the rifles silver. E-tools, eyelets on belts, and anything metal was painted black. The idea was to make everything look brand new and heaven forbid items such as your undergarments had the appearance of looking used. To this day you can probably still find flat black spray painted outlines of e-tools and tent stakes on the sidewalks near any Marine barracks.

We would go so far as to purchase an entire extra set of t-shirts, socks, and underwear for exclusive use in the Wall Locker/JOB. To counteract this practice it was ordered that all gear displayed would be gear the Marine actually wore. Being adaptable creatures we simply bought the extra set of t-shirts and underwear and put each item on one at a time. As we removed each article we ironed them into a permanent flat square. Come inspection time we could honestly say that we had worn the items on display.

After pouring our heart and soul into creating immaculate shrines out of our wall lockers containing highly polished boots and shoes, decorated with uniforms creased as sharp as a scalpels, the true malicious intent of the Marine Corps inspection preparation process revealed itself. We had to box up all our well manicured uniform items for storage while we deployed to Japan for six months. By the time we got back from deployment all our stored gear was disheveled and somehow all the IPs had grown back. Never fear though, because we got to do it all over again the following year.

An entire book could probably be written about the glorious days of Wall Locker/JOBs and how Marines considered braining each other with e-tools rather than endure another inspection.

Fortunately now days this kind of thing doesn't take up all our time. The 21st Century Marine Corps has turned a corner and is interested in other pursuits, like war. Gone are the hours of labor put into into a single well ironed and painstakingly folded t-shirt that was never actually worn for a full work day. Instead of spending entire pay checks on brand new t-shirts, underwear, utilities, boots, polish, starch, hangars, flat black paint, etc, Marines joyfully spend entire paychecks on cases of Monster energy drinks, Guitar Hero, and on car payments with obscene interest rates. Ah, progress!

Semper Fi!
America's 1stSgt

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hooray for inspections!!

"Paper-work will ruin any military force"
- Lieutenant-General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller

Our focus of effort most recently has been directed toward an inspection we have been enduring, or more accurately, a Staff Assist Visit (SAV). The purpose of the SAV is to give the commander an idea of how well his  functional areas are performing in accordance with Marine Corps standards. Our CO requested the SAV to ensure he was turning over a good product to his successor.

In my professional opinion, inspections should be welcomed as an opportunity to make improvements and refine how your unit operates. Personally, I hate being inspected with the very fiber of my being. There are some deep seeded personal issues I have with being inspected in general which I will discuss another time.

Mostly, I just loathe paperwork.

One of the principal dangers of getting promoted is eventually the Marine Corps will take your Marines away and give you a desk in trade. This is called hell. According to the billet description on my fitness report my desk centric duties include:

- Senior enlisted advisor to the Company Commander.
- Advise the Company Commander on disciplinary matters for infractions of the UCMJ.
- Instill Marine Corps values, customs and courtesies in the Marines and observe training and morale of the Company.
- Develop the professional and personal lives of Marines through formal classes,
mentoring, and informal discussions.
- Evaluate and provide recommendations on retention, promotion, proficiency and conduct of Marines.
- Accurately fulfill and review all Company administrative matters [the horror!] in accordance with established orders and directives.
- Assist in the development and enforcement of company policies in compliance with those of higher headquarters.
- Provide mentorship and leadership for the company's officers, SNCOs, and NCOs.
- Alternate Family Advocacy Case Review Committee Command Representative.

According to my old battalion SgtMaj, America's 1stSgt may be the most administratively inept 1stSgt on Earth and the Milky Way.

In Iraq I would join Marine patrols during the day and at night endured a blistering butt chewing from the SgtMaj over a land line: "I know you're going on patrols with the Marines and that's great. But your admin is suffering! Stop going on patrols and get some work done! You know, your REAL job?" I spent the next day indignantly punching my fingers through a keyboard. Stupid admin.

My personal favorite administrative endeavor is rosters. In the Marine Corps we have a roster for everything. Marriage rosters, personnel rosters, school rosters, awards rosters, light duty rosters, legal rosters, barracks occupancy rosters, duty rosters, training rosters, motorcycle rosters, weight control rosters, safety rosters, emergency data rosters, phone rosters, deployment rosters, non-deployment rosters, non-availability rosters, recall rosters, shot rosters, and on and on. If you can conceive of it the Marine Corps already has a roster to track who has anything to do with it. There are various class rosters to prove things like the fact that you actually told Marines not to drink and drive, not to take drugs, not to commit suicide, not to abuse alcohol, and to wear a seat belt. Kill me.

Fortunately the SAV is going well and we are looking forward to being found "mission capable". I will also have you know there were no findings or discrepancies in any of the areas I was inspected.


Semper Fi,
America's 1stSgt

Friday, June 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Burkhus! Of course, this is a hijack...

It is my job as America's 1st Handler to motivate, sometimes cajole and perhaps, from time to time, nag Michael--amidst the occasional hijacking of posts and taking of whip and chair to unruly lines of html code. Given that, I will assume that the annual outing of Ninja Master of the Universe's birthday falls reasonably within the realm of my role here on CP as well.

So Mike, no, I didn't buy a present for you this year.
I figure, you are like the Dos Equis guy.
What could possibly be worthy?
Other than birthday wishes,
or maybe a reason for you to roll your eyes and offer to remove my liver?

Actually, I haven't given you THAT lately.
I'm such a slacker.
Well, we can't have that!
I have a reputation to maintain.
I heard you can regrow liver anyway.

With this in mind, here are some snippets I found that still make me laugh and remember why I put up with your noise.
Happy Birthday, Burkhus.
It's still fairly decent having you around.
Pictures and Video I Have Wanted to Post, But Just Hadn't Gotten Around To and in Random Order...
(Yes, as an editor, I just finished the title above with no homage to grammar or punctuation.)
Michael dutifully helping me with troop mail last time he was down. Michael finding out it was ARMY mail.
Michael looking for witnesses to his heinous act.

The picture he found hanging on his door when he woke up one morning while he was visiting. It was a two person collaboration, but for privacy reasons, I'm fine with taking full responsibility. We put him in pink tights for cryin' outloud, of course I'll take some cred. He was a good sport though. It stayed on his door the whole visit.

Darn kid.Matthew was pretty funny to watch, too.
Someone asked for a smile in comments a while back.
You're welcome.

In the video below, among bellows and general banter,you'll see him slam his head on the table as I coordinate a morning talk with the student body at my kids' school. Here we have him going over how he expects his minion-in-training to communicate with him for the duration. Pictoral evidence the training was effective.
For those here unfamiliar with the amount of time you can keep 4 to 12 year olds assembled without revolt, let me just say his stories and gesturing (note the above picture is blurry, because he never stopped moving) kept 150 plus kids attention rapt for over an hour. Did he actually have notes or some idea of the talk he was going to give? That would be NO. It was pretty impressive to watch.
and yes, there were multiple reported incidences of knee hugging, high fives and general adulation, with no more permanent damage to his Marine FirstSergeantiness than this post will have.
Again, Happy Birthday, Mike.
Let the eyerolling and muttering begin.
My liver is ready.
Had some trouble with the video editting readers...I'll have to save it for another hijack...