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April 22, 2004
Our Military IX - My Old Man Edition
Posted by Frank J. at 01:05 PM | View blog reactions | Comments (36)

Yay! I got some stories from my old man (plus some others). I still have more stories waiting to be published, but, as always, I want more. So, if you have one, e-mail me with the subject "Military". Everyone else, enjoy.

* * * *

My old man, who has a first name that means "Frenchman" and - by the way - served in Vietnam, wrote these two stories, one from when he was in Germany before heading to Vietnam and the other from boot camp (FYI, my dad dodged the draft the old fashioned way - signing up):

I was in the Army stationed in Germany in January of 1969. Having to pull KP duty at least once a month, I always tried to get the position of washing pots & pans because everyone left you alone and it was fairly easy.......no one watched over you much. But one day a particular mess sergeant kept making me re-wash the pots etc because he felt them not up to "his standards"...after about three attempts to pass his inspection I took the ones I couldn't get clean and buried them in the snow out behind the mess hall. I figured someone other then me could worry about them in the Spring!

I went through "boot camp" at Fort Dix, NJ in the winter of 1967-68. I was from Southern California and was here because they wanted me to go to Officer Candidate School as I had graduated from college. Most of the training company I was in was made up of others like me or draftees from the streets of New York City and Philadelphia. The first day that we were given bayonets to drill with, over fifty were "lost or missing" when we turned them in at the end of the day. After searching for hours, threatening everyone with the "brig", and keeping us up until midnight, they finally gave up with about 10 still missing. Everyone was pretty nice to each other from then on, not knowing who had one of the missing weapons!

John helps translate some military lingo for us:

Frank, here's a list of military terms for the Military-English dictionary. I certainly invite other readers to add, edit or correct. Keep in mind that my experience was with the 82nd Airborne, and the Army National Guard. Some terms may have different meanings to other units or branches. Also, this isn't really "family friendly."

Without further fuss, and in no particular order (including alpha) I present the following:

REMF - Rear Echelon Mother Fucker; a clerk, cook or mechanic. Term of derision for non-combat personnel.
Think of PVT Wompum(sp?) in Saving Private Ryan

Top - First Sergeant, senior NCO at Company level.

FUBAR - Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition; hopeless situation or condition. [Ed Note: In programming, common function names for example code are "foo" and "bar".]

Cherry - a new trooper or soldier.

Humvee - OK, dammit - it's NEVER been called a HUMMER by troops (at least when I was in) a HUMMER is something a girl gives you! A HMMWV is a Highly Mobile Multi-Wheeled Vehicle. Far superior to the 50 grand lump of shit civilians are issued.

Cut-V - also Cuck-V; basically a stripped down Ford Blazer with camo paint. Formally known as a CUCV, Commercial Cargo Utility Vehicle.

TA-50 - Equipment issued a soldier upon assignment to a unit. Items such as protective gear, special equipment and such. Different from basic issue which is blouse, pants and boots.

Cunt Cap - Funky looking hat worn by most soldiers before the "Black Beret" was sullied and issued to legs. Class A uniform hat.

Leg - on-airborne qualified personnel. Term of derision.

Red Leg - artillery personnel. Term of endearment.

SPORTS - acronym for performing immediate action to correct firing problems with M16A1/A2 rifles. Slap, Pull, Observe, Release, Tap, Squeeze. Kind of sexy if you think about it.

Bug Juice - basically pure DEET bug repellant. Neat thing about this stuff? Gives a positive reading on nerve agent test strips. Also melts plastic. Really.

MRE - Meal Ready to Eat. Also, Meal Rejected by Everyone, Meal Rejected by Ethiopians. I liked the peanut butter. [Ed. Note: Ethiopia actually was one of the countries that accepted donations of MRE's to be fair]

Poggie Bate - candy, goodies, sweets. Shit that reminded you there was a better world out there.

RTO - Radio/Telephone Operator. The guy who knew what was going on at any given time.

Weapon - M16A2.

Gun - Artillery piece.

Hump - March.

Humping the Pig - the act of carrying the M60 machine gun on a patrol or march.

Short or Short-timer - nearing end of duty period or service commitment.

PLF - Parachute Landing Fall, execution of contact points upon parachute landing to minimize impact.
(See Fourth Point of Contact)

Fourth Point of Contact - Buttocks, derived from PLF.
Often used in phrase "Get your head out of your fourth point of contact."

Light-Blub Leader - also Spot Light Leader; person who performs at highest levels only when being observed by superiors. Usually used in training situations like PLDC (Primary Leadership Development Course for NCO's) or OBC (Officer Basic Course).

Well, that's all I can come up with for now - maybe your readers have more?

Ryan has more on the infatuation of the military with breasts (who woulda thunk?):

Have another "Dolly Parton" term for you. I served in the nuclear navy (Submarine Service, yes, we are weird, why else would I read IMAO?)

The fission product yield curve-


was originally referred to as the "Mae West" curve for obvious reasons. Some instructors at Nuclear Power School in more recent years have switched to "Dolly Parton" because the kids have no idea who Mae West is. Durn kids...
I'm not sure if they even use this anymore, as they started admitting women in '96, and the Navy is very sensitive about sexual harassment.

On a side note, if you look into colleges that give credit for military service, they tend to award more for Army, Navy, and Marine training over the Air Force. I believe this is because the AF training is highly specialized in individual components and "black box" change outs, while the other services concentrate on general principles and system interrelations.
For example-


Here's a Marine's perspective of the Air Force from first hand experience (poor Air Force, but this is pretty damn funny):

My name is Kurt, but I go by "Devil Dog" on your site. That is a nickname that Marines earned during WWI. It was found to have come from the Germans- who said we fought like "tuefel hunden".

Here's another "perspective" story.

First, I need to say that I have supported the Air Force a few times already in some posts here. The Combat Controllers and PJ's are very hard core and tough hombres. The Air Force as a whole is an awesome organization that accomplishes its mission with amazing and highly motivating efficiency.

Having said that, I would add that comparing them to a "military" service like the Army or the Marine Corps is like comparing a district attorney to a police officer. They both work in law enforcement... but that's about as far as it goes. The DA wears a suit and works in an air conditioned court room- often lunching at the local bistro and taking cocktails at the Hyatt. The police officer works with the scum of the planet and eats old sandwiches... and then throws down beer while playing pool in a dirty, but comfortable dive.

I realized early on that the Air Force was different from my Marine Corps. I went to high school with a guy named Ray. Ray enlisted in the Air Force and I in the Marine Corps. Almost immediately after graduation, I went to boot camp, while Ray chose to wait a few months before going to his basic training.

Well, after thirteen weeks of a life altering, incomparably indescribable experience, I returned on leave to my hometown. I went in to visit my recruiter (okay, so I was actually going there to murder him) and saw my old friend Ray in the Air Force office. He was just back from a grueling six weeks of... something he called "basic training". He was wearing his blue uniform and the first thing that occurred to me was that he was in dire need of a haircut. Next, I noticed that he was sporting three ribbons. THREE. I looked down at the breast of my khaki shirt to see nothing but the shiny rifle expert badge. No ribbons.

That was in 1981... and, at that time in the Marine Corps, it was not uncommon to see even a sergeant with only one or two ribbons on his chest. There was no war on at the moment and the Marine Corps does not just hand stuff out. Keep in mind also that for a young man just out of boot camp, having ribbons would have been a very cool thing, indeed.

Anyway, I asked Ray what the ribbons were for. I figured he must have been part of some secret mission, or maybe involved in a life saving operation or something. He smiled as he explained. "This one," he said, "is for graduating basic training."

Huh?? Come again?? You get a ribbon for that? I didn't get one. All I got was the title of a United States Marine and the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor to prove it. Okay, I'm on top with this one.

He pointed to another one. "I got this one for the half day we spent carrying the M16 rifle. We even fired a few rounds out of it."

...fired a few... HOLY CRAP!! I NAMED my rifle-- slept with, made love to, and talked to my rifle for three months!!! And qualified expert on a VERY challenging course of fire. Still... I looked down to my badge... this round went to me also.

As for Ray's final ribbon... I was going to make something up because I really do not remember what he said he got that one for. I decided, though, that wouldn't be right. So, I'll just let you imagine what it may have been for. Maybe someone out there will have some idea what it could have been. All I remember is that it was pretty and shiny, and Ray had put it on crooked.

So, what have we learned? Well, we've learned that we're all different and special in our own way. The Air Force uses decorations to appeal to the ego of the young airman and the Marine Corps uses history and pride and all that stuff. The result is that Marines will fight and win spectacularly, so long as you promise them their rightful place in history while letting them kill bad guys-- and the Air Force will fight and win spectacularly (from a distance, of course), so long as you give them lots of shiny, pretty stuff and lots of creature comforts. Right or wrong, this system seems to work.

Semper Fi!!

P.S. Memo to Air Force: You wouldn't have to "Aim High" if you took the time to learn about the adjustable sights... Kentucky windage is a poor substitute for marksmanship efficiency.

Finally, a number of people have pointed me to this, so I'll finally just put up a link. Here are "The 213 Things Skippy is no Longer Allowed to do in the U.S. Army". Definite drink alert on these.

Rating: 2.3/5 (43 votes cast)

Our Military
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