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.
Over on Red Bull Rising they have announced "Boonies Haiku Contest." It is being billed as "...a light-hearted poetry competition commemorating the experiences of both
military and civilian personnel downrange—regardless of era—and
particularly those who have supported the war effort from the perceived
safety of larger installations."
Being the competitive type I am, I submitted the below entry of three haiku:
DFAC sparks blood rage Dessert line beckons fat ones Made wrong, Army wrong
No cup cakes today Traumatic tears you drone on Grunts hate you, how come?
We are pretty hard on new Lieutenants. They get treated roughly sometimes, particularly by other officers. More often than not they deserve it too. I've had Captains e-mail me and say when they were Lts, I made their lives a living hell. That tastes an awful lot like a compliment to me. I wouldn't say I treat them like a jerk. I do have a low tolerance for stoopid and your average new Lt is swimming in a lake of idiocy with guys like me standing on the shore waiting for blood on the water.
Case in point, Kharmah, Iraq 2007:
"Lieutenant! What the %#$@* is wrong with your face?"
"Oh, uh, I had a little accident last night 1stSgt..." said Lt X sheepishly as he tried to hide his scuffed up nose and forehead behind some communications gear in the COC one morning.
More often than not I announced my presence in the COC each morning with a comment about why the coffee resembled toilet water. I would immediately blame the nearest watch officer for his utter failure in what is arguably his most vital function while standing watch: the production of hot, dark, liquid perfection. Generally if the coffee met at least two out of three of those standards I would go relatively light on him. This particular morning something else caught my attention.
Lt X had a massive scab on his nose and forehead. Actually, one on his forehead and another on the end of his nose. It wasn't there the day before. The scabs forming were fresh and hideous, indicators of recent idiotic behavior. Being the Company 1stSgt, it was kind of my thing to find out why and how Marines got hurt.
"Sir, what kind of asininity were you up to last night?"
My young motivated Lieutenant (we don't call them "El Tee" in the Corps. If you do, they get to kick you in the groin. It's a rule) had visited the porta john during the night. He instructed the Marine on radio watch to come get him if there was a counter fire mission while he was gone. Naturally, because he was using the head, a counter fire mission came blaring over the radio.
"Sir! Counterfire!", yelped the Lance Corporal as he banged on the side of the porta john.
Lt Brain Surgeon, in his desire not to miss anything he is supposed to be in charge of, decided running in the pitch blackness outside the CP was a good idea. At a full sprint he missed a hard right turn and got a quick period of instruction on the laws of physics. He plowed face first into the concrete wall just outside the door. This no doubt hurt, a lot even.
This information prompted me to declare Lt X would carry a flashlight on him 24 hours a day. He also was no longer allowed to run, particularly with scissors. Someone ended up drawing a chalk outline of a body on the vertical surface of the wall in question.
Oh, and the entertainment doesn't stop there. More next time.
Another installment of great moments in spoken dialogue. All statements quoted here are accurate to the best of my knowledge.
Physical performance depends on a number of factors. Some people who are otherwise great athletes never excel in a particular sport. Others just know when they are out of their league entirely:
"Some people ice-skate. I call it butt-skate, with good reason."
It's a comfort to know when your prime concerns are shared by others:
"That's my priority for today. As soon as I take care of some other priorities."
Drill weekends are an interesting event in the Reserves. My only regret is I am only briefly able to make my influence felt on the battalion. As the first day of a recent drill weekend wrapped up, the Road Warrior was playing on the TV in my office. The H&S Company Commander stuck his head in the door and saw what was on: "The game is on, why aren't you watching that?"
America's SgtMaj: "No thanks, I prefer to watch dudes with mohawks shoot each other in the face."
As I was browsing through the command brief before said drill weekend...
America's SgtMaj: "I see the Intel is claiming there will be no degradation of ground operations due to weather. They are also forecasting scattered showers and temperatures ranging from 47 to 31 degrees. I guess there's no degradation of ground operations due to the fact they'll be indoors with the heat on."
The differences between men and women can and does fill volumes. Here's a small contribution.
Her: "Gosh honey! Is everything okay?" Him: "Yeah, why?" Her: "You just had this really intense look on your face." Him: "Oh, I was just daydreaming about live bayonet training."
A woman's insight into a man's character is often staggeringly accurate.
Her: "I bet you made a great 12 year old. Was that your best year?"
Often, communication issues can be solved by trying to speak the other's language, or not.
Her: "Why does that rifle cost $2,500?" Him: "Well honey, that brand is kind of like the Prada of gun manufacturers." Her: " Ooooh! I get it...So if you get a $2,500 rifle I get a $2,500 hand bag right?"
In the Corps we have a thing about being good with a rifle. This stems all the way back to World War I. Germans first encountered the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments at what they thought were distances well outside accurate rifle ranges. Marine accuracy was such that German soldiers mistakenly believed they had engaged a battalion of snipers. The lethality of Marine marksmanship led General Pershing to remark: " The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle."
Rifle and pistol badges can mean quite a bit to young Marines. To be "unq" or "unqualified" with the rifle is the most egregious of crimes and can cause a Marine unbelievable shame and ridicule. The marksman badge or "pizza box" is the lowest of qualifications but at least the bearer can hit paper with a weapon. In all fairness, there are those who cannot hit the target with a bayonet let alone live ammo. Nonetheless, Marksmen are looked down upon for their lack of ability. Next are the Sharpshooters, whose skill is such that they can at least say they aren't Marksmen. Finally are the heroes who are qualified to sport Expert badges. They righteously look down upon the rest for their inability to manipulate a rifle accurately. The only thing better than an Expert is a multiple award Expert and, of course, being a double expert in both rifle and pistol.
There is such a thing as a Distinguished Marksmanship badge. These are reserved for Marines who have too much time on their hands and get to lounge around rifle range competitions shooting instead of deploying. Distinguished Marksmen tend to respond to such accusations with: "Jealous much?" Very.
I recall being justifiably proud of my Expert rifle badges. It took me a couple of years to figure it out. One day while on the range in Okinawa I thought to myself: "Well maybe I'll try out some of those marksmanship basics they taught me in boot camp." Lo and behold, I qualified a high expert by the end of the week. Go figure.
Seeing a picture of my dad during his tenure as a Marine I noticed his Sharpshooter badges. With all the disdain I reserved for lesser marksmen I asked: "Dad what's up with those weak Sharpshooter badges?"
My father, a combat veteran with two tours of Korea and three in Vietnam, replied: "Yeah? How many have you killed with yours?"
Dad always did have the ability to take the swagger out of my step.
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