Sunday, December 30, 2012

Heading in to the new year.

I thought I'd post a link to some of my New Years thoughts from 2011 as they still seem pretty apt. Getting into January I'll have some thoughts on a New Years Initium for 2013. So without further ado:

(It's a link, click on it!)

I prefer: If you don't make a change, you don't stand a chance.

Enjoy the holiday!
America's SgtMaj

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A typical Toys For Tots day.

I've mentioned in passing the numerous man hours the Toys For Tots program consumes during the month of December. By no means has this begun to reflect its true impact on the unit. If you are on I&I duty during Christmas, it is your sole mission in life to collect and process toys. The only other thing in life which matters more is conducting military funeral honors. All told, we at H&S 3/25 conducted 23 military funeral honors in December and attended 82 Toys For Tots events. For some of the Marines, Christmas Eve was the first day off they had since Thanksgiving.

Among the activities this season were the pick up and drop off of Toys For Tots boxes throughout Cuyahoga and Lorain counties. Spending your day driving around hauling toys may sound simple enough, but actually causes premature aging. I opened the passenger side door of one of our box trucks only to have a desiccated corpse wrapped in a Toys For Tots hoodie fall out at my feet. We didn't have time to identify the body so I just kicked it under the tires.

The other joy of the season is attending an unending schedule of Toys For Tots events held by disparate groups, businesses, charitable organizations, or local politicians. Most outfits genuinely want to do some good though I find there is a vocal minority who seem to make it all about themselves. These folks want to add legitimacy to their event by having actual Marines in attendance to collect the loot. This is all well and good as we are generally willing to have Marines participate. On the other hand, some of these events last well until 1 or 2 AM making for a 16-19 hour work day. I finally had to decree our close of business as midnight. This way Marines didn't feel obligated to stay at these things forever and sleep at home occasionally like normal people. Besides, nothing good ever happens after midnight and how many toy stores are open then anyway?

The real heroes are the warehouse ninjas. These Marines crush their souls sorting and processing toys by age and gender, then fill orders from other non-profit organizations who come and pick up toys for the families and children they support. If it weren't for all the civilian volunteers pitching in it just would not be possible.

A quick snap of a days' collection of loot!
The other hazard the warehouse ninjas face are the freeloaders attempting to take advantage of Marines whom I've admonished to be firm, courteous, and tactful at all times. These individuals swing by demanding free stuff or simply try to pass themselves off as a legit non-profit group in an effort to garner a basement full of loot. Hint for next year: if your organization is headquartered at your home address in a residential apartment complex, you might not pass muster.

By way of giving you just a taste of this seasonal delight, allow me to regale you with my own weekend Toys For Tots adventure.

This past Saturday we had at least four Toys For Tots events and two funerals. It may not sound like much but consider each funeral requires a minimum of three Marines and two for each Toys For Tots event. On top of that, almost half my staff is on Christmas this weekend (because they have lives too) leaving us with roughly fifteen or so Marines to save the day. As a side note, let me point out we are a headquarters outfit so we have over twenty Marines on staff at any regular time. The line companies, who are spread throughout Akron, Columbus, Buffalo, and Pittsburg have only nine or ten Marines each. Imagine their pain!

At any rate, I signed up for two of the Toys For Tots events. That afternoon was a typical event where we show up with a truck, take pictures in our blues, women swoon, load up the truck and wave goodbye. Not a bad bit of work there. Then there was the event which was to go that night. We were told to arrive at 7:30 PM (19:30 in real time) at a place claiming to be a "tap house". We assumed it was some kind of Christmas party at a pub and figured we'd spend the evening mingling and shaking down the patrons for toys. We figured on staying until 9PM at the latest. Easy day.

The "tap house" turned out to be a heavy metal bar with floor and ceiling painted black as the bleakest pit of hell. The show hadn't started yet so the chain of severed heads was still in a closet out back. The sponsor of the event managed to brush the unwashed hair out of his eyes long enough to introduce himself and inform us we were early. The doors wouldn't even be open until 8PM and the first of three bands didn't take the stage until 9. I was considering the merits of ritual suicide when a little Marine voice in my head reminded me civilians never do anything on time. It's no wonder the Grinch attempted to steal Christmas.

Word of advice: when the organizer of an event featuring three heavy metal death bands offers you hearing protection, you take it.

The first band eventually took the stage at 20 minutes after 9 (I warned you!). Through the garbled introduction they announced their name which I didn't catch. As the concussive screeching of their first song reached my ears, I dubbed them: "Pagan Dildos."

Checking up on my ninjas participating in a concurrent event I discovered it turned out to be some kind of hip hop concert. Perhaps my night wasn't turning out as bad as it could have. It was just unfortunate my silver lining involved chains, piercings and ear withering death metal.

Eventually the second band began their set. Again, the name of their group was somehow lost in translation, so I began to refer to them as the "Vice Lords of Pooft." I looked around to note everyone was pierced, unshaven, and tattooed with the exception of myself and a Lance Corporal, both dressed sharply in blues.

The second set ended and we began to gather up all the loot around 11pm. We took in a pretty decent haul of toys. Even head bangers like kids. Before we left, the final heavy metal band was announced.  I didn't even bother listening for their name. I'd already decided they would be forever known in my memory as the "Doom Hookers."

Ears still ringing we dropped off the load of toys to be processed the next day. I finally ambled home just after midnight. After draining a mug of hot buttered rum lovingly prepared by Mrs. America's SgtMaj, I promptly crashed. 

This season I personally participated in 20 Toys For Tots events. The math tells me the Marines probably attended three times as many as I did. All that's left is to sweep up the warehouse and turn off the lights. See you next year!

Semper Fidelis!
America's SgtMaj

Monday, December 24, 2012

Little Tomahawk Boy!

This season's Christmapocalyptic offering is brought to you by America's SgtMaj and the world's finest, United States Marine Corps. For the uninitiated, Chistmapocalypse is all about zombies and Christmas. So without further ado...



Flee! They told me, run-run-run-run-run!
Plague is spreading, run-run-run-run-run!
The dead are rising, run-run-run-run-run!
To consume the living, run-run-run-run-run,
run-run-run-run-run, run-run-run-run-run!

So they flew past me at a run-run-run-run-run,
from contagion.

Kill those ravenous things, must be a million!
Gotta shoot the brain, who's gotta gun-gun?
A bat to the skull will do, need to get me one!
That's fit to brain those things, run-run-run-run-run,
run-run-run-run-run, run-run-run-run-run!

Shall I ply my tomahawk-hawk-hawk-hawk,
To save my block?

Living flesh they crave, yum-yum-yum-yum-yum!
Meat and marrow fill their tummy-tum-tum-tum-tum!
My 'hawk dispatches those with infec-fec-fec-tion!
I bang on their skulls like a drum-drum-drum-drum-drum,
drum-drum-drum-drum-drum, drum-drum-drum-drum-drum!

Now the streets are safe to walk-walk-walk-walk-walk
Thanks to me and my 'hawk.


Further plague infected carols can be found here. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas to all!

America's SgtMaj

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Santa is a fat body!

Saw this and had to share. Don't show your face around jarheads unless you meet the standard.

I can imagine how this scenario went:

DI: "Is chow allowed in the sleigh, Santa?"
Santa : "Sir, no, sir!"
DI: "Are you allowed to eat jelly doughnuts, Santa?"
Santa: "Sir, no sir!"
DI: "And why not, Santa?"
Santa: "Sir, because I'm too heavy, sir!"
DI: "Because you are a disgusting fat body, Santa!"

You, of course, may enjoy as many holiday treats as you wish.

Semper Fidelis!
America's SgtMaj

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Feel better about the Mayan apocalypse

Despite the fact Mayan civilization failed to even produce a wheel or predict the day Conquistadors landed, there seems to be a lot of gravity given to the end of their calendar. The Camp of the Praetorians wants to make your transition to a post apocalyptic world less fearful and more cuddly.

Introducing Apocalypse Kitten!

Apoca-kitty takes a turkey peak over the couch. Keeping a low profile is important when the schumer hits the fan.
 Apocalypse Kitty wants you to know the end of the world as we know it doesn't have to be as gloomy as you've been led to believe. With a little prior planning, you too can prevent a piss poor apocalypse.

Apoca-kitty selects his bug out gear. A good tomahawk is handy when prying open the odd can of tuna.
Apocalypse Kitty also advises continuous training in order to keep your individual skills sharp.

Here Apoca-Kitty practices urban camouflage and concealment. Can you spot him?
Always keeping his weapons within paws reach, Apocalypse Kitty is ready for action in the blink of an eye.

"Say when."
Contagion, asteroids, or aliens, Apocalypse Kitten recommends your plan remain flexible in order to respond to all variables. He generally believes if your plan can survive the undead it will endure any emergency. Plenty of cat nip is a good start.

Feel better now?

* Disclaimer: America's SgtMaj does not endorse anything "cute" as a general rule. It is not a word in his lexicon. The only reason the Apocalypse Kitten is allowed to reside under the same roof is his penchant for edged weapons and potential mousing capability. *

Semper Fidelis,
America's SgtMaj

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Another Christmapocalyptic repost

Spreading around some Christmas cheer with another Christmapocalyptic poem featuring America's SgtMaj!

I originally posted this one last year. You can see here. I have been promoted since so today I present the updated version:


Zombie plague 

Infested Who-ville

Many succumbed to the rot...

But America’s SgtMaj,

Armed to the teeth,
Did NOT!
He rechecked his firearms.
On the undead twas open season.

How did the pandemic start? No one quite knows the reason.

An industrial accident? Plotting terrorists!

It could be, perhaps, the work of mad scientists.

But I think that the most likely reason of all

May have been too much TV, the internet, and the mall.


Whatever the reason,

His eyes blazing red,

He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the undead,
Staring down from his bunker through his binos with a frown

At the boarded up windows below in the town.

For he knew every Who down in Who-ville hadn’t fled

And were unprepared to repel those reanimated.

"They’re completely ill equipped!" he snarled with a sneer.

"Tomorrow is Christmas! The horde is practically here!"

Then he growled, his trigger finger reflexively pressing,

"I MUST save the day. Man, this is depressing!"

For, tomorrow, he knew...

...The infected would destroy.

Would run amok through the town. They'd eat every girl and boy!

And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!

That's one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!

On the Whos, young and old, zombies would feast.

And they'd feast! And they'd feast!


Who children fleeing in terror, would fall prey to the beast.

Which was something the SgtMaj couldn't stand in the least!


They'd do something he liked least of all!
Every zombie in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Would stand close together, the odd one still roaming.

They'd gather in a mob. And the dead would start moaning!

They'd moan! And they'd moan!

The very thought of this noise made the SgtMaj groan.
 He exclaimed out loud, "I must stop the undead!
It seems like forever their infection has spread!
I WILL stop them from coming!

...By sword-stroke and hot lead!"

"I know just what to do!" The SgtMaj grinned ear to ear.

And he made a quick inventory of all his war gear.

And he chuckled, and clucked, "What a great zombie fight!
With this sleigh mounted flame thrower I’ll cook them all night!"

On the sleigh he loaded ammo

And his tomahawk axe

Slung his rifle, holstered pistols

And set the flame thrower to ‘max’. 

Then he strapped on his blade,

Hammered in Japanese forge.

A monster cutter indeed,

Crafted for carnage and war.

He cheerfully swung aboard
And the sleigh started down

Toward the homes where zombies

Were already invading the town.

All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.

All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care

When he arrived to confront the horde within the town square.

"You’ll go hungry tonight," the SgtMaj hissed

And his pistols erupted, one in each fist.

Having gotten their attention, he continued the battle

Unleashing bursts of liquid flame and herding them like cattle.
Skin scorched, hair burning, they combusted in fire

Their bodies fell in a heap, a fitting funeral pyre.

The ghouls slithered and slunk, dead smiles unpleasant,

As the SgtMaj realized the fuel tank was most spent!

The ravenous swarm closed in like a mob,

But were dispersed again by flaming molotov.

Then he unslung his rifle. It spoke with a roar.

Well placed head shots splashing brains on the floor.

He was surrounded only once, for a moment or two.

Then drew his monster cutter and fought his way through. 

Heads tumbled like acrobats in the snow near his feet.
At the slaying of zombies he was considered elite.  
The battle punctuated with barking muzzle flashes.

He hurled corpses into the fire, burning them to ashes!

In the face of a ghoul a pistol he did shove

When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.

He turned around fast, and he saw a small Who!

Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was not more than two.

Surprise at the appearance of this little Who daughter

How did she wander out here amidst all the carnage and slaughter?
She stared at him frightened and said, " SgtMaj, why,

"Why do the dead walk the earth? WHY?"

Without another word he snatched her up quick!

Seeking to take her to safety most riki tik. 

He ran and he struck to escape the tide of undead.

But they seemed to appear wherever he fled.

Their clawed hands reached out seeking flesh in their grasp

He cursed at the ghouls and continued to slash. 
Trapped! A dead end with no where to go,

Patting Cindy-Lou on the head, he turned to face the dead foe.

Pissed he had let them corner him so.

Then he did hear a sound rising over the snow.

It started in low. 
Then it started to grow...

But the sound wasn't sad!

Why, this sound sounded merry!

It couldn't be so!

But it WAS merry! VERY!

He stared back at Who-ville!

The SgtMaj popped his eyes!

 Then he shook!

What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Who from Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Were fighting the zombies! Without any training at all!

He HADN'T stopped the undead from coming!

Somehow or other, the Whos fought just the same!

America’s SgtMaj, with his booted feet cold in the snow,

Stood puzzling and puzzling: "Could it be so?"

They brained zombies with hammers! They bludgeoned with sticks!

Hit them in the head with axes, and socks filled with bricks!
“Enough with the thinking! There are zombies to slay!”
Snatching up his tomahawk he rejoined the fray!

And what happened then...? Who-ville they say

America’s SgtMaj
Slew 10,000 undead in one day!

Inspired by his example, Who-ville fought through the night.

They killed invading ghouls until the bright morning light.

And when the battle was over, oh what a feast!

And he...
Served the first MRE!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Heard in the clear!

Another round of remarks made within my sight and hearing. Always a dangerous thing to do within earshot of the Camp of the Praetorians.
Relationships between officers and enlisted are cemented with hundreds of years of martial tradition. Although sometimes I wonder:

XO: "SgtMaj, I was thinking about you last night."
America's SgtMaj: "What?"
XO: "No, no. It was all rated G, hands above the waist."

The lottery was big news recently. Heard this gem come from a TV news anchor:

"The lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math."
Physical training is a cornerstone of Marine Corps training and daily routine. There are those who make it their mission to concoct various ailments in an effort to escape the discomfort of making themselves harder to kill. Some at least are more truthful than others:

SNCO: "Why can't you PT? What are you on light duty for?"
Marine: "I broke my spirit."
It is said one demonstrates their true character when confronted with a task they don't really want to do:

"Anybody can eat ice cream. It takes something extra to eat spinach."
Marines are notoriously unimpressed with the physical stature of anyone but themselves. Overheard while attending an NFL football game:

Her: "Wow! That lineman is HUGE."
Marine: "Meh.  He'll bleed out like anyone else."
Some insults are more generational than we care to admit:

America's SgtMaj: "You didn't make any coffee?"
Sergeant: "No."
America's SgtMaj: "Communist!"
Sergeant: "My grandpa used to call me that."
America's SgtMaj: "........C'mere for a second."                                           

Semper Fidelis!
America's SgtMaj

Monday, December 10, 2012

Merry Christmapocalypse!

Once again we are waist deep in the season of Christmapocalypse. I introduced this special holiday season way back in 2010. This year I will be reprinting some of my Christmapocalyptic songs and poetry to get you in a festive mood. Today's offering was my first and probably favorite Christmapocalyptic poem penned on Christmas day in Amman, Jordan. This version is updated since my promotion.


Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the area
The dead had arisen, spreading plague and hysteria.
Boards were hammered over the windows with care,
In hopes the undead wouldn't break in there.

The children were frightened, hiding in their beds,
With visions of corpses eating the brains in their heads.
Mamma and I stood guard back to back,
Afraid to nod off in case of zombie attack.

When out on the lawn there arose such a sound,
Moaning undead were going to break the door down!
In came the windows with a thunderous crash,
We fled upstairs attempting to save our hash.

Moonlight and a blast of new-fallen snow,
Accompanied the hordes of zombies below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But America's SgtMaj in full war gear!

With a shotgun fed by a drum magazine,
Violently dispatching the foe and wreaking havoc obscene.
The muzzle of his weapon erupted with flame,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them foul names!

"You hookers! You dirtbags!" he cursed as he fought.
As zombie brains exploded with a well aimed head shot.
He cleared the front porch! He cleared the front hall!
Casually bashing their heads as if playing base ball.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
Zombies skulls were caved in or were shot in the eye.
Until none but the SgtMaj stood alone on the floor,
Our living room now dripping and covered with gore.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Heel stomping the head of a corpse that still jerked.
Surveying the scene he gritted his teeth,
Red mist and gun smoke encircled his head like a wreath.

Then he gave me the finger as his voice rose,
"You kind of suck at this! Your security blows!"
The glare of his eye and the way he spent lead,
Made me more fearful of him than of the undead!

He lectured us on gun safety and proper E&E plans,
Signed autographs for the children, his #1 fans.
"Kids remember, steady squeeze of the trigger, control of your breath,
 and only shots to the head will defeat the plague of undeath."

Then he sprang into action and let out a roar,
Back into the darkness to wage zombie war.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he leapt out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Semper Fidelis!
America's SgtMaj

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


It seems the tomahawk is the most featured weapon on Castra Praetoria. Recently in comments I was asked: "Have you scalped anyone with that Tomahawk yet? Did you actually learn how to fight with it, if so where?" 

Since we are in the season of Christmapocalypse, I thought it would be appropriate to address these questions.  Keep in mind I have addressed preferred arms in case of zombie plague in the past. In this case we'll address less fictional applications. 

Identifying myself as an arms carrying professional, I own an assortment of edged weapons.  When it comes to tomahawks, I've collected a few throughout my travels.

Above is the tomahawk I keep on my desk at work. A lovely piece designed for one thing (hint: chopping kindling is not it). In my office it acts as a handy stupidity repellent. All I have to do is wave it around like a wand and boneheads are magically rendered silent. Harry Potter's got nothing on me. 

It is a crying shame I only have two hands.

Pictured above from left to right are a Hardcore Hammer hatchet, Best Made Hudson Bay Axe, Wetterlings hatchet, a Cold Steel Trench Hawk, and a more traditional tomahawk I bought at a gun show. It should be noted the first three are primarily tools which could be used as weapons. The last two are primarily weapons designed solely to inflict grievous bodily harm on evil doers.  In the event I had to run out the door, I've decided the Wetterlings hatchet would be the one to snatch up. It's fits well in one hand and is the lightest of the three tool based designs.

Have you scalped anyone with that Tomahawk yet?
No. There are far better tools for scalping. Like knives for instance.

Did you actually learn how to fight with it, if so where?
Well sure, but probably not the way you are thinking. I have never attended a tomahawk class if that is what you mean. As stated in other posts, I train in a traditional Japanese battlefield system as well as more modern applications at a place called the Spartan Training Center in Sedona, Arizona.  According to Integrated Combative Systems training philosophy: "Most modern training systems take a compartmentalized approach to training the individual in non-natural, fabricated fighting skills. Such training generally covers only very specific weapons and techniques related towards and driven by those weapons." So no, I have not trained to specifically use a tomahawk. I have trained in the use of a broad spectrum of weapons from firearms, to spears, to blades, and open hands.

Ideally this means if confronted with a given situation, I would be able to logically apply the use of any weapon at my disposal. This would be up to and including not using it. I would feel perfectly confident wielding a tomahawk, though I imagine I'd prefer a firearm. In my mind these are not mutually exclusive weapons.

Though I like the idea of a tomahawk I must admit it would not be my go to hand weapon in the event of an apocalypse of any kind. My understanding is the tomahawk was historically an above the neck weapon. This certainly narrows the choice of target areas. I've also been led to believe, over the centuries, frontiersmen eventually transitioned from carrying tomahawks to large Bowie style knives. This leads me to surmise, if they could afford it, those whose lives depended on it preferred large knives to tomahawks.

In the large knife category I prefer these:

Applegate/Fairbairn style smatchet.

Randall Arkansas Toothpick.

In the end I'm sad to say the tomahawk would not be my primary hand to hand weapon of choice. Though the tomahawk does seem like a satisfying way to dispatch a foe, I'm more an advocate of a tomahawk attitude vice literal tomahawk use.

Semper Fidelis!

America's SgtMaj


Monday, December 3, 2012

Best Marine Commercial Ever.

In the spirit of the Toys For Tots campaign, I offer the best Marine commercial of all time.

Semper Fidelis!

America's SgtMaj

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What's been keeping me busy...Toys For Tots!

For anyone involved in the Marine Corps Reserve, this time of year is devoted to one thing: TOYS! Since 1947 the Marine Corps Reserve units have been collecting toys to give to less fortunate kids within their local community. Since most of the Marines in our battalion are from the local area, people who donate to Toys For Tots are essentially putting donations in the hands of their neighbors. We then sort the goodies and ensure local organizations receive gifts to deliver to area children who might otherwise do without.

On embassy duty we used to collect donations from the embassy staff and contact a local orphanage to deliver the loot all gussied up in our blues. Kids dig that.

More history on Toys For Tots:

Folks in the Cleveland area need only dial 211 for more information on how to participate.

Hat tip to Old Man Jay for the video above and this gem:

Semper Fidelis!

America's SgtMaj