Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fallen, Not Forgotten! A call to arms.

Throughout the various conflicts of the 21st Century many of us have lost fiends and loved ones. My old company commander from 3/3 (yes, the one that tried to kill me) has not forgotten and being a man of action decided to take some. He founded Fallen, Not Forgotten, Inc and wants to send the children of fallen service members to college.

Many boast about taking care of their own. Fallen, Not Forgotten, Inc isn't merely "increasing awareness" of a issue, it's actively doing something to make an impact. You can too! Check out the Fallen Not Forgotten, Inc site and take care of your own as well.

Semper Fidelis!
America's SgtMaj

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Marine Genes II

As a small boy I suffered from a genetic malady which plagued me for years. I recall many adults leaning into each other conspiratorially whispering: "Oh he looks just like his mother!" Since my mother did not resemble in the slightest any of the swashbuckling heroes I aspired to be, I took this badly. Really, anyone who as ever asked a little boy what he wants to be when he grows up has never heard him vigorously shout: "A mommy!" This was my curse it seemed.

The best kept secret at MCRD San Diego in the summer of 92 was that my father was a 33 year Marine Sergeant Major. During third phase the Drill Instructors told us if we had any VIPs in our families who were showing up to graduation they'd better know about it right stinkin' now. It would not do on game day to find out someone's uncle was a general and sitting in the cheap seats.

Humbly, I approached the DIs and informed them: "This recruit's dad is a retired SgtMaj." As this news broke so did all hell. Eyeballs exploded in DI skulls as this revelation swept through the squad bay. I was the platoon guide and was summoned into the duty hut to give details on my father and clarify some specifics on his exploits.  They also wanted to know if my parents were coming to the DI dinner taking place a week or so before graduation.

"Get in here Guide!" I was never sure if the word guide meant what they told us it meant. The way they said it I could swear guide actually meant dung.

The night of the DI dinner we recruits were meticulously preparing uniforms for our final week of inspections and other madness. Throughout the squad bay we sat on our footlockers polishing shoes and clipping away Irish pennants.

Suddenly our DIs burst into the squad bay having attended the dinner. Our Strong J swept by and remarked: "Guess who I met tonight guide. SgtMaj Burke, hard as hell. Almost had to lock my body...but I didn't" My dad always had a presence about him. Drill Instructors were suitably impressed.

The next day our Series Chief Drill Instructor mentioned to me he had seen my father at the dinner. "He looks like a hard man," he said. "Is he your real father?"

Son of a...stupid curse strikes again!

Semper Fidelis,
America's SgtMaj

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Facilities Management? Not so much

Climate control has been an issue in Marine Corps facilities since November 1775. Despite the technological advance of the 21st Century, I fear we will never get it right.

In the late 90's I lived in a barracks on Camp Lejeune. For some reason the facilities ninjas refused to allow room temperatures to ever reach levels one would associate with the word comfortable. In the winter, if Marines complained it was cold in the barracks, indignant facilities trolls would crank up the heat all the way to volcanic, refusing to maintain temperatures more optimal for human life. Likewise, in the summer, our barracks rooms resembled so many meat lockers as the conditions inside were best described as arctic.

I recall the Company 1stSgt and Company Gunny chewing us out because we left the doors open to our rooms all the time. Of course we did! In the winter it was so hot inside we left to door open for some relief. In the summer, the rate of hypothermia shot through the roof so we left our doors open to let a little heat in.  Our doors were open nearly year round! There's nothing quite as bracing as slogging back to the barracks from your appointed place of duty in the North Carolina humidity only to enter room using a snow shovel. The sudden cold snap had been known to send Marines into cardiac arrest.

This morning at Cleveland-Hopkins airport it was 38 degrees. In keeping with Marine Corps tradition the air conditioning is on full blast in my building. At this stage of my career I have given up complaining and have embraced the madness. I now take perverse joy in listening to Marines snivel in discomfort.

Our battalion Gunner spent the morning weeping about the plunging temperature. His tears crystallized into ice before shattering on the floor. Attempting to console him, I said I would handle the issue immediately.

"But how are you going to do that SgtMaj?" Snot bubbles blossomed from his nostrils.

"I'm the SgtMaj sir! I fix problems!" Coffee mug in hand, I immediately stormed into the S-4 office. In the end the Gunner was nonplussed by my solution.

A Supply Sgt, a fleece, and an Equipment Custody Receipt.

 Solve problems, it's what I do.

Semper Fidelis!
America's SgtMaj


Sunday, October 7, 2012

CSM Basil Plumley

You may remember Sergeant Major Basil Plumley. He is most famously known as Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment during the Battle of Ia Drang in 1965. Below is a scene from We Were Soldiers where he was portrayed by Sam Elliot.

The other day I was given a link to Susan Katz Keating's blog concerning SgtMaj Plumley and felt it was worth sharing.  It seems he is in hospice care and not faring well. Take a little time to check out the link and perhaps send good wishes to an old Soldier.

Semper Fidelis,
America's SgtMaj

Friday, October 5, 2012

Morning culture clashes

After a catastrophic encounter with a computer keyboard early in the morning, America's SgtMaj burst into the S-3 (Ops & Training) office pleasantly surprised to see a full pot of coffee freshly made. ESPN is on the television where normally there is news.

America's SgtMaj: "What the hell is this? The world if falling apart around us but heaven forbid we miss last night's sports highlights!"

Young Corporal: "But SgtMaj, if we don't watch football then the terrorists have won."

SgtMaj: "Well said. Carry on."

Semper Fidelis,
America's SgtMaj

Thursday, October 4, 2012

If America's SgtMaj moderated Presidential debates

America's SgtMaj as moderator:

"Gentlemen, if these become knife hands the debate will be over early."

 "You will have two minutes to speak." Loudly thunks tomahawk into moderator's desk for emphasis.  "Any questions?"

"Gentlemen, what is it about two minutes you can't comprehend? No wonder politicians can't cut the deficit! I will NOT allow you to use time you do not have."

"Did someone mention cuts?"

"Talk over me one more ti... SON OF A...!" Takes the stage, heaves offending debater's podium overhead and smashes it to splinters. "WE WILL HAVE GOOD ORDER AND DISCIPLINE!"

Although any Presidential debate I moderate may not clear up any political issues,  a demonstration of Irish Judo is always in order. I suspect more broken furniture and flaming debris would add a little character to the proceedings.

Semper Fidelis!
America's SgtMaj