"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And He did despair, for in His omniscience, He did know that His creations had but three-fifths of the splendor of that which would be IMAO."
-No One of Consequence
"A blogger with a sense of humor."
-Some Woman on MSNBC
Commenter FormerHostage wrote a response to my question. Given his first hand experience of the 444 days Americans were held hostage by Iranian radicals from November 4th, 1979, to January 20th, 1981, I think everyone should give this a read:
As my screenname indicates, I can speak with Complete Moral Authority (tm) on this issue.
On the day of the takeover, the Marines were outnumbered at least 1000 to 1. We held the consulate and the communications vault for over 12 hours, helping to destroy equipment and classified material. We were under STRICT orders not to fire our weapons or pop gas grenades (too late for that last one..hee, hee, hee). We were eventually told that we were on or own and to make a break for it. The monkeys even put one of the diplomats in front of the comm vault peep eye with a pistol to their head and threatened to kill them unless the door was opened. It wasn't and they didn't. Once all the material was destroyed the doors were opened and they all got the crap beat out of them.
When we were first taken, the Iranians took us into a room individually and asked us to sign a statement denouncing the US policy in Iran, Israel, the Shah, etc. The Marines signed with names such as Michael Mouse, Chesty Puller, Dan Daly (google the last two...Marine Corps legends), Harry Butz, etc.
During the ordeal they would try to tape us for propaganda purposes. Personally, I would keep looking down to the ground or hide behind others so that my face wouldn't show (in fact, after a couple of months of not seeing me in any of the videos my records I was classified as MIA). Another Marine and I shared the same cell and when they came in with cameras we'd strip down. I heard a rumor that one of the other Marines smeared ketchup on his face and started howling.
They day before they released us, we were taken to a room with a camera and Mary the Terrorist who was going to interview us. We were threatened that if we didn't say the right things we wouldn't be released. Some Marines gave only name rank and SSN, others sang (Marine Corps Hymn or God Bless America), others just said nothing.
On the day they let us go, I was being herded towards the airplane by a couple of those monkeys. I pulled my arm out of their grasp and let them know that "We're number one"...but used the wrong finger.
For our troubles we were isolated, thumped, went through two mock executions, starved, threatened, and had to put up with useful idiots from Amnesty International showing up just to let the world know how humane we were being treated.
We resisted at each opportunity, except for Army Sgt Joe Subic who collaborated from day 1 and was later snubbed by the rest of us (and was the only one not to receive a citation). We refused to cooperate, stole keys, plugged toilets, pissed in their rations, blew circuit breakers, laughed in their face when they threatened us and cursed them when they beat us. Steve Kirtley even told one of them to pull his finger! The monkey did and Steve was beaten for the inevitable result.
We did this because we were first and foremost, MARINES! Our honor and loyalty to the United States gave us the courage. We would rather die (and that was a definite possibility) than to shame ourselves, our Corps, or our Country. We had to live up to our history and got to measure ourselves and our actions against those of greater men.
Yes, we broke now and then. But would immediately pick ourselves back up and go back to fighting. Which, by the way, confused the hell out of the monkeys!
Pity the poor Brits. All they had was the history of the E.U. and the U.N. as examples.
Former Hostage adds some background:
Originally this was nothing more than a blog comment, but then FrankJ stroked my...ego...and asked if he could post it. Well, we all crave attention (right Rupta?) and other than that embarrassing profile at classmates.com I'd never been "published" before so I said OK. There's a couple of things I wish I had put in or made clearer. (FYI WAL, I use "monkeys" because the other terms we used wouldn't make it through the naughty word filter...and monkeys are creepy)
First off, thanks for the comments and don't feed the troll.
Second, none of us thought that we had done anything special. That's the one thing non-military types have some trouble understanding. Personally, I was (am?) very uncomfortable with the "hero" tag that the press put on us. We did what we had to do, what we were trained to do. It was just something that Marines do.
Third, when the fecal matter hits the oscillating cooling device, you fall back to training.
The Marines have the longest boot camp of US forces, 13 weeks for enlisted. Officers have OCS, which in the Corps is the equivalent of boot camp, and lasts from 12 to 13 weeks depending on what program you commissioned on (glutton for punishment that I am, I earned a commission so endured both Boot Camp and, 10 years later, OCS and I can say from experience that even without the extra 10 years OCS was harder). After that, officers get to spend another 14 weeks at The Basic School (TBS) in Quantico where they get a taste of combined combat arms and do everything from assaulting a beach in AAAVs (sucked) to blowing up stuff with C4 (didn't suck). The Marines also still do not have co-ed training until advanced schools. It's not that women are better or worse, just different in size and strength. HOWEVER, their training matches a male's step for ever lovin' godmyfeetarekillingmewhenisthisgonnaend step.
There's no way to completely match the stress of combat...but the DIs come realllllly close. In the late 70's there was a great hue and cry from some people *cough*democrats*cough* about the barbarity of Marine boot camp. But it is this stress that prepared us for the confinement. If I could put up with 13 weeks of Drill Instructor SSgt Laird in my face, then nothing short of bullets flying would rattle me.
The training is also not all physical. In fact, you'd be surprised at how much time is spent in the classroom learning everything from basic hygiene and first aid, to squad tactics, to the nomenclature of T/O weapons (I can still field strip an M16 and damned if I can't put most in the 10 ring with a 9mm), to History and Traditions.
Finally, History and Traditions. This is one advantage every Marine has. As an average American (pre-pc) we were raised on black and white war movies ("Sarge! You! Scared?" "Sure kid, a man'd have to be crazy not to be scared") and legends: Crossing the Delaware, Gettysburg, the Alamo, the Battle of the Bulge. On top of this Marines have our own history: the Halls of Montezuma, shores of Tripoli, Bella Woods, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Khe Sahn (and more recently Fahluja).
We didn't feel that we did anything special...because we hadn't. We had acted like we were trained to act, as we were expected to act, as those who went before us had acted.
The Marines always celebrate the Marine Corps birthday (November 10th) no matter where they are. One of the traditions is the cutting of the cake with a sword. The first piece is presented to the oldest Marine present (active or retired) who then presents it to the youngest Marine present to symbolize the passing of knowledge and traditions from one generation to the next. I always thought this was way cool. It bonds us in ways that are hard to explain. A few weeks ago our financial advisor asked us out to dinner, something she does with all new clients. My wife and I said yes but were a little uncomfortable because we really didn't know her personally and would be meeting her husband for the first time. Turns out he was a former jarhead and by the end of the night we were all jokin' and smokin' as if we'd grown up together.
Got this in a email, not for the first time and its not funny. But this site isn't all about humor. We love America and We support the troops. We also support loving America. Love supporting the troops. Love loving America and Support Supporting the troops. Here it is.
Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing
Red every Friday. The reason? Americans who support
our troops used to be called the "silent majority." We
are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for
God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We
are not organized, boisterous or overbearing.
Many Americans, like you, me and all our friends,
simply want to recognize that the vast majority of
America supports our troops. Our idea of showing
solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and
respect starts this Friday -- and continues each and
every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a
deafening message that ... every red-blooded American
who supports our men and women afar, will wear
By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the United
States on every Friday a sea of red much like a
homecoming football game in the bleachers. If every
one of us who loves this country will share this with
acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and family, it will
not be long before the USA is covered in RED and it
will let our troops know the once "silent" majority is
on their side more than ever, certainly more than the
media lets on.
The first thing a soldier says when asked "What can
we do to make things better for you?" is ..."We need
your support and your prayers." Let's get the word out
and lead with class and dignity, by example, and wear
something red every Friday.
If you don't own anything red to wear on Red Friday, you might like to buy IMAO's new Red Friday T-Shirt. So you can show you support our troops (not commies.)
Hey there's nothing like demonstrating your support with visual proof, so we're starting an IMAO Red Friday Gallery. Email your Red Friday Photo to me and I'll get it added to the Red Friday gallery so you can show the whole world you support the troops.
Michael Moore asked for letter from veterans, and some responded and were nice enough to forward me their letters.
Dear Mr. Moore, I had the opportunity and the HONOR - yes the immense HONOR - to serve with the First Marine Expeditionary Force in the opening of the War in Iraq last year as a member of Weapons Platoon, Charlie Company, 4th LAR Batallion. I can think of nothing more worthwhile that I have done in my life, other than getting married to my beautiful wife, than serving the American and Iraqi people in the cause of freedom. The Iraqi people were happy to see us, yes - happy. There lives have been improved a thousand times in the time since Sadaam has been removed from power. In the broken English that most Iraqis speak, they spoke the words of a grateful nation to us as liberators. I continue to serve in the Marine Reserve while finishing college at Brigham Young University.
I just wanted to know that of all the Marines I have served with, only one had anything nice to say about you or Mr. Kerry and that the United States Marines, from my experience, overwhelmingly support President Bush. Rest assured, however, that they loathe you, Mr. Kerry, and your disgusting Anti-Americanism.
You are a disgusting, dirty, lying, corpulent liberal, and you look as though you have not seen a shower or bar of soap in years. The American people have spoken for four more years of tax cuts and dead terrorists rather than turning back to the ignorance of the nineties. Thank God (Yes, I am a member of the religious right that believes in God) that the American people have chosen against the inept Mr. Kerry and ignored the lies of your wretched ant-America propaganda film. I noticed while watching the Osama video released before the election that he endorsed the same candidate you did. How interesting. Enjoy the next 4 years, Mr. Moore.
Semper Fidelis and God Bless the USA!!!
Corporal Grant Michael Jensen,
United States Marine Corps Reserve
I proudly served our country from October 1986 through November 1990 and did my small part in helping win the Cold War at Misawa AB Japan. As I was in the intelligence business I cannot say what I did, but when I say that I did my small part it was just that; just as much as anyone else. While in the military, everyone with whom I served believed as strongly as I did about the rightness of what we were doing which was finally ridding the world of totalitarianism under our leaders, Presidents Reagan and Bush.
I do not belong to any political party and normally vote third party. However, this time I voted to re-elect President Bush solely on his foreign policy against the barbarians trying to erase Western civilization. With no intended slight, I believe your passionate work is completely wrong-minded and is creating Republicans faster than anything else in existence. If you tempered your enthusiasm with better manners and truthfulness you would be taken more seriously and would better your cause. Despite my revulsion over some of your work, I wish you nothing but the best. And if you run into Maureen Dowd, please inform her that writing while riding her menstrual cycle like Evil Kneival makes the left look even worse than you have managed to do. Good luck and may God bless you.
Howard E. Halvorsen
p.s. I do not mind my name being used, but knowing dozens of fanatical liberals as friends and their attitudes, I would appreciate it if my email were not given out to prevent countless amounts of hate mail. Divisiveness, I have discovered, is disagreeing with a liberal regardless of how much tact is used.
I heard you wanted to hear from Veterans. Well that's terrific, because I'm one, and I've always thought you should hear from me.
Here's the deal. I don't understand how people on the left don't understand why we veterans don't trust you. What is hard here?
Everytime our military takes action in some place you roll out the banners and take to the streets saying how the US shouldn't be doing that.
Well, this time you decided that your head hurt from getting hit everytime you opposed our troops, so you decided to put stickers all over your Yugo's exclaiming that "I Support Our Troops." There's two things wrong with that: 1) support the troops by supporting the mission, and 2) since when did you consider them "Our" troops? Isn't that the whole point of the "Not in our name" garbage?
Its like you want to be thought of as really liking the troops but despising what they do (hey didn't Clinton say that?). The purpose of the military (as someone far smarter than I put it) is to kill people and break things. That's what they do. And thank God that our military can kill people and break things far better than anyone else's. That means we don't have to take crap from people like Bin Laden.
But, I'm really amazed that a person who is obviously bright enough to be very successful at whatever you do could be such a conspiracy nut. I mean really. On one hand, I'm supposed to believe that George W. Bush is dumber than a stump, and on the other I'm supposed to believe he's capable of all these grandiose schemes and connivings. It just doesn't make sense.
And if we put aside that involvement of George W. Bush, and just say he's a pawn in some larger secretive world of power brokers with hidden agendas... Well, who's THAT smart? We can't even get a decent sugar substititute. And we've got billions of people that would pay lots of money for that! (Wouldn't you? ... OH DAMN! I promised myself I wouldn't bring up your corpulence... sorry.)
If there were some conspiracy out there, and they were this smart, do you think they'd let you run amok with your insane-sounding ramblings, just on the off chance that some disaffected Socialist would believe it?
Turns out that you're actually better than that, and you even got some otherwise normal people to believe it. I know better than to think YOU actually believe it. But hey, it pays the bills pretty good, don't it?
Anyway, you wanted to hear from a Veteran, and so now you have.
My story is important to me and I hold it and the memory of my buddies as a sacred thing of infinite value. I hold it with the feeling that if I let it out in the wrong place at the wrong time or to the wrong person it will be tarnished or diminished in some way. What we went through probably like any group of warriors in any combat ever can not be communicated. The bond formed with someone even in a single night under fire is completely foreign to our everyday lives. It is odd that I am writing you about this as you are, in my opinion, an icon of the unknowing person in our society. You have the ability( great talent even) to make fun and entertaining movies yet you apparently have no idea what we who have fought know. In this world its all about survival. Many layers up from survival is what we commonly live in this country but the foundation is survival. If you knew the things I/we know then you would walk this earth humbly and with thanks in your heart for those that have given you a safe place to walk and for those that put food in your kitchen. You have no way of understanding what it is like to defend your country when asked, whether the cause is just or not, or what we owe those guys that are not here to respond for themselves. So it is doubtful you will understand when I say you are not worthy and those that seek comfort in your understanding, by spilling their treasure( real or imagined) are either gullible, weak, or stupid. A defining characteristic of your ilk is loving that little spark that gives a titillating response ala The Dixie Chicks. They got their little thrill for a minute or two uncaring what effect it had on their myriad fans in uniform. Do yourself a favor. Go into the wilderness for a time alone and on foot. Learn what it is that is at the very foundation of our society. Once you learn that your life on this country depends on many many people staring death and/or failure in the face on a daily basis I think you will be changed and maybe even worthy. Until then I will hold my story and those of the heroes I have known with a resolution you can't begin to imagine.
ex 5th Group Special Forces
resident/patient of Madigan Army Hospital ALL of 1969
currently a farmer
I'm about out of stories, so if you'd like to give your own explanation of why you joined the military or have a military story, please e-mail me with the subject "Military"... especially if your name is Joe foo'. Thanks.
* * * *
Nick writes about his joining the Army:
For as long as I can remember, I have always felt I should join the military. Both of my grandfathers fought in WWII, my dad was an MP in Korea during the Vietnam war, and my uncle was in the Ohio ANG. I spent 13 years living next to Ft. Knox, KY, so I was fairly familiar with the Army.
Upon graduating high school in 1998, several of my friends left for the Navy; I had plans to attend the University of Kentucky. Over the next few years, I talked with some of them, and visited my best friend, who was stationed in NASNI San Diego. It was very interesting, but I don't much care for ships and open water. September 11 came and I wanted to enlist, but my parental unit (mom) resoned that I should finish school and then join. Almost three years later I am finishing at UK; dealing with five years of ignorant, whiny, liberal people who only see their own little view of the world really irked me, so I talked to my best friend, who had just retired from the Navy and joined the Army Reserve back in KY, at Ft. Knox. He just happened to talk to the top recruiter in the region, who set up an Army Reserve enlistment package for me.
I went and talked to the SSgt., with the solitary intention of joining on the spot. He asked me why I wanted to join the Army, and I said because it was just something I felt I should do. My parents paid for my college, we're not rich but not strapped for cash, and with a bachelor's degree I could get a decent job; I didn't HAVE to join the military. All those years of college, the trend of anti-American politics, and constantly seeing people with no redeemable value badmouth the President and what our armed forces are doing in the Middle East really galvanized me.
The SSgt. got the paperwork going, and a week or so later I went to MEPS. Only once did I wonder/question what I was doing, but I quickly reminded myself of why I wanted to join. Any remaining doubt was washed away when I stood in front of Old Glory (and the Marine officer swearing us in) and took the oath. I swelled with pride and knew I had done the right thing. I'm in the DEP program, so I'll leave for BCT & AIT at Ft. Jackson, SC in late December. Right now I am an E-3, and after I get my degree/before I ship I'll be an E-4. My unit is at Ft. Knox, a training command. Within a year I'll be certified as an instructor and get to teach ROTC and future officers one or more courses like small arms, land nav, or FLRC (field leadership reactionary course). I feel better as an American, and I am proud to be serving in the Army Reserve.
MT LAGO writes about his family's military roots and why he loves the Air Force:
I will cross 17 years time in service as of this fall. I have been active-duty Air-Force (6.5 years), and 10 years in 5 different National Guard units (both Army and Air). My wife is active duty Air Force and is headed to Iraq, my "baby" brother is active duty Air force and due to deploy in the near future. I have a nephew currently in Korea with the Air Force, one in Iraq with the National Guard, and another cousin that is due to deploy "somewhere" in September. My father is an Army veteran (between Korea and Viet Nam), two uncles were Navy veterans (Korea), another was in Korea in the Army (he was "black toe-tagged" at an aid station but managed to survive), two more of my older cousins and one uncle were Air Force during Viet Nam (all in Thailand). Last but not least, my Grandfathers on both sides were Army veterans from WWI. My family has a long history of service. We do occasionally get into debates about which is the best service, but the Air outnumbers the other services by a large margin.
The biggest difference I have noticed is that in the Army, "field conditions" normally means "T-rats" and a night spent in a "GP" that smells like a combination of wet dog and mildew, if you are lucky. More likely you will be eating MREs and and sleeping under you "wubby" because you didn't get back "home" to your cot and sleeping bag. Air Force "field conditions" can range from the MRE and "wubby" for the Security Forces/PJs/Combat Comm., etc. (rare exception) to "Motel-6" with no cable-tv or swimming pool (more common). I will admit it, I like the Air Force field conditions, I like to go "camping" on my own terms. I like to go to the dinning hall and have the fine Air Force cooks make an omelet to order, I like sleeping in a heated or air-conditioned (as climate dictates) tent or motel room, I like having an air-conditioned truck to haul my troops from job-to-job. I like the fact that I am treated like a "technician" with a brain rather than being treated like a "grunt" without one. Am I a "wimp"? Maybe, but at least I am a well fed, warm, and comfortable "wimp". Aim High!
Stephen writes about the call back to duty after 9/11:
Well, I had always wanted to be a Navy officer, my father being career Navy. My eyesight was not 20/20 and I did not get a waiver for the Naval Academy so I thought it was a nonstarter. While in college I saw a recruitment ad for the Army Reserve and figured, why not? So I enlisted and did four years, sometimes taking a semester off to get some extended active duty (shows you what I found more fun to do!).
Just before my final semester I heard that the Navy’s requirements for OCS were not as strict as for USNA, i.e., vision only needed to be correctable to 20/20… so I spoke with some recruiters, did the paperwork, and was accepted. Within two weeks of completing my degree requirements I was at Newport, Rhode Island. Served eight years on active duty after commissioning and then did three years in the Reserves, but missed being at sea. So right before Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait I joined Military Sealift Command, an agency of the US Navy, and went back to sea as a Purser (ship’s paymaster and admin officer). Spent the first Gulf War as a Supply Officer aboard a Navy oiler, providing refueling at sea to carrier battle groups. Served aboard six different ships, all providing fleet support in the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Persian Gulf. Seven years later, decided I had enough and left.
Boy, was I wrong (happens from time to time). Spent five years working ashore and missed the ships daily. After 9/11 I decided the job I had was not right and reapplied to MSC. They wouldn’t hire me back as a Purser, so after some thought I resubmitted my application as an Ordinary Seaman. They liked that one better, so off I went. During Gulf War II I was aboard USNS Shasta, an Ammunition Ship in the Gulf, working the hardest I ever have and having more fun that a grown man is entitled to, at least when getting paid. I am an Able Seaman now, still having fun, and planning to get a Deck Officer’s license and eventually get back into khakis. Not that there’s anything wrong with wearing dungarees, but so long as there’s an upward path I’m aiming to move along it. Unlike most civilian occupations, being a mariner for MSC gives plenty of opportunities for doing new and different things and seldom gets boring. They’ll give you as much responsibility as you are willing to take on, much like the military will.
My grandfather, Master Sergeant Peter Lefavi (ret), fought in the Pacific front in WWII, serving on a B-17 bomber. He was a career military man, serving in the Air Force (after it was formed) until he retired. He died after a long fight with Alzheimer in December of 2000.
This, though, is the story of my grandmother, Dorothy Lefavi. I recently talked with her about what it was like to be a U.S. citizen during WWII. As you'll read, it had its own hardships and even casualties as people did their best to support the war from home. I hope this is informative for everyone.
* * * *
I met your grandfather in 1940. It was open house at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois, the largest technical training base in the U.S., and I went there with two friends who lived Kankakee (Chanute is 60 miles south). We drove down to the air force base and walked across it, and two fellas offered to show us the base. Since we didn’t know where we were going, we accepted. They invited us to stay for the dance that night, first taking us to dinner and a show. Your grandfather kept coming to Kankakee after that.
Since he didn’t have a car, he kept hiring friends to take him to Kankakee. His home base was Mitchell field in NY where he was assigned after training. Before returning there, he proposed to me. He sent the engagement ring in the mail after he left.
The war started December 7th, 1941, and then I was married to your grandfather on January 1st, 1942, in Tucson, AZ. I didn’t want to get married if war started, but he talked me into it. I went by Greyhound to Tucson and married in a Methodist church there. One of the men from his outfit was there with his girlfriend as attendants. Your grandfather left the day after we were married for the south Pacific. The next time I saw him was in the union railroad station in Chicago, IL, about three years later.
It was the time of gas and food rationing, with books of stamps for gasoline and food staples such as sugar. Everyone was in the same boat then, and you didn’t think about it much. I took the civil service exam and then went to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio for work. I worked as a typist in one of the offices. While working in Wright-Patterson, I would take the train from Springfield, Ohio, to visit my family in Illinois because of the gas rationing. During some of the time when most of the men were gone it was difficult for businesses to find help. At one time, they needed some one on the gas island, so I worked at a gas station in Kankakee.
Airmail letters used onion skin paper, and we had APO’s to write to. Your grandfather wrote everyday while away, but the mail was censored, so some of it was occasionally cut out. I would get several letters at a time. I wrote back to him everyday, too.
While he was in the South Pacific, they would fly into Australia for a break. He would send gifts from there such as sheepskin rugs - a pink one and a white one - and a shell necklace. He would use broken pieces of windows from crashed planes to fill the openings of the sea shells. For some of the clothes from Australia, the buttons were made of tin – they didn’t have normal button material in Australia.
Shell necklace made by my grandfather
For entertainment, I would go to movies and learned to roller-skate. That’s when roller-skating rinks started. I lived near a small town called Bonnefield which had an old hall they turned into a roller-skating rink. Your grandfather sent me a pair of shoe skates with zippers.
They sent over men to the Pacific they called 90-day wonders because that’s all the instruction the pilots had. Your grandfather opened a school in the jungles to help train them. His main job, though, was as a tailgunner and chief engineer in a B-17 bomber. During his tour, he was in the Fiji Islands and New Caledonia. He had a stack of pennants from all the islands.
Your grandfather took a GED test while in the service. He could have gone to OCS while overseas, but then he would have been sent back for another three years.
The government eventually built Elwood ammunition plant in the cornfields of Illinois. I worked in the fuse and boosters section until I was asked to move into the laboratory where gunpowder was tested for moisture. While working there, I wore uniforms I changed into at a change house where you had to make sure you had no metal on you so there couldn’t be sparks. There were no nails in shoes - used wooden pegs in place of them. Instead of hairpins, we used little pieces of wood with toothpicks in them. Everyone was warned if there was an explosion of any kind not to go to the change house because between where we worked and there was where the black powder was stored.
One night during the graveyard shift in the summer of ‘42, the lights flashed as if it were lightning, and we thought there was possibly an electrical storm. We heard a loud BOOM! Everyone ran out into the field as instructed. We found out that there had been an explosion killing a number of people and breaking windows in Chicago - about fifty miles away. Who worked there were mostly other women like myself and a few men.
One fella said he was standing next to a conveyor belt and saw a fireball coming down, and, next thing he knew, he was picking himself up out of the field with a broken collar bone. There were also pieces of bodies found in the trees scattered over a large area. Forty-eight civilian workers were killed.
I worked at the city national bank in Kankakee as a teller in the car loan department until your grandfather returned. He came back in December, in time for our third anniversary.
Here are more military stories. I have a decent backlog of stories and am working on a special "Our Military," but I'm always accepting more. If you'd like to give your own explanation of why you joined the military or have a military story, please e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
Dennis writes about his past experience and how he is continuing to try to serve today:
I'm an old guy, so this'll take a little.
Graduated High School in 1972 and knew I'd be going in the military. Oh, the draft was there but my number didn't get drawn till the next year. There were 11 other kids in the family, I didn't know what I wanted to do when I grew up but I did know a stint in the military would give me a chance to see some of the world and figure out what I wanted to do.
Wanted to fly helicopter gunships but the Army turned me down, said they had too many pilots already.
Found the Coast Guard was running river and coastal patrols. That looked like fun! Enlisted.
Halfway through boot camp, found out that the Coast Guard had completed its mission regarding the small boats and had turned all vessels over to the South Vietnamese Navy. Was now a waiting list for the few billets left in country. (rumored to be seven years) Shifted my sights to become a helicopter Search and Rescue aircrewman and served four years on active duty, mostly on deployments on icebreakers. Finally got out when I decided the pilots were insane. (in the wrong way, insanity on it's own doesn't bother me.)
After three years of being away from active duty, I was getting homesick. My evil older brother talked me into joining his National Guard Infantry unit. The following year, I paid him back by talking him into going to OCS. We became "those crazy lieutenant brothers".
Twenty three years after our commissioning he's retired but I'm still in, now in the Army Reserve, trying to get deployed at my advanced age.
I'm obviously insane myself, because I've never worked so hard to go do something that I already know I'm not going to enjoy. Duty does indeed call, now if it would only buy me a ticket.............
Rob writes about the Air Force and how it has affected his patriotism:
There are countless reasons why I enlisted in the USAF. Just a few are:
extreme love of country, college help, top-of-the-line technical training, pride in seeing a US military uniform, paid travel around the world, and need of a steady paycheck. Let me give you a bit of foreshadowing.
I was laid off from Sprint in the fall of 2001. I had a job there that I dearly loved and I wanted to continue working in the networking field.
I put the words "telecom, networking" into job search engines all over the place and in every single search the Air Force would pop up with jobs available. At the time the military was pretty far from my mind, even with the 9/11 attacks. So after months of fruitless searching for a new telecom/networking job I went to college in January of 2002. I did a year in college and did very well, but it just wasn't what I needed to do. Just before classes ended in December of 2002 I started searching hard for jobs once again. The Air Force kept rearing its head all over my job searches. I grew tired of not being interviewed for jobs I was well-qualified for and said "screw it, USAF here I come."
I talked to a recruiter in January of 2003 and was put on delayed entry.
I really wanted to get into satellite communications since I already had good knowledge of terrestrial communication technologies, why not branch out and expand my knowledge? My recruiter helped me find the SATCOM job, but there were no openings in it until very late 2003. So I went to basic training as an Open Electronics in the hopes I could land the SATCOM job, however unlikely that would be. I went to basic in late March 2003.
During the 6th (really, it's the 7th) week of basic training all of us "open" career people found out our jobs. I got SATCOM! I was thrilled, ecstatic even! On a side note, I earned the name "Old Man" in basic due to my elderly age of 25 and many white hairs scattered on my head.
After basic I went to Keesler AFB, MS for basic electronics training then on to Ft. Gordon, GA for SATCOM training.
I graduated SATCOM school in December of 2003, took some leave, then reported to a USAF base in the United Kingdom in early January 2004.
I'm once again doing a job I love in networking, satellite networking to be exact, and it's guaranteed I'll be in this career for another three years! Well, that is unless I get killed in Iraq/Afghanistan.
But that's ok, I'll die doing what I love for a country I love. How many people can say that?!
It's amazing to say, but my love for America has grown exponentially since joining the USAF. I didn't think I could love my country any more than I did before being in the military! But it's true, I fallen deeply, honestly, and truthfully more in love with this country. I'm proud to serve in the greatest military of the greatest nation in the world.
Robert writes about his experience of a "more sensitive war" in Germany:
Baseball Bats and Terrorists
Normally I don’t care about politics except to throw out the occasional cynical comment or two. I’ve been cynical since 1973, when they replaced a whole summer’s worth of Romper Room and Captain Kangaroo with the Watergate hearings. There’s nothing like listening to endless testimony from Ehrlichman and Mitchell-- when you were expecting Mr. Green Jeans and Mr. Moose-- to make a kid cynical.
I soon figured out what all these world leaders were after was power and/or money. In my arrested 5-year-old view, politicians want power over ‘the masses’, to bend them to their will, to control their thoughts to some degree. You can see this on a small scale in any family, any playground in America. So an election, to me, is about selecting the power-hungry guy whose views happen to most closely align with yours. It never feels good because you can never be totally aligned with your ‘leaders’ and you have to constantly resist their attempts to morph your thinking into their thinking…wrap your head in tin foil if you have too.
However, a post by Evilwhiteguy, pointing out Kerry’s asinine statement about running a ‘more sensitive war on terror’ brought up some suppressed memories of my time in the Army. I had intentionally blanked out those memories-- from the time I got off the bus at Basic Training to that glorious last day four years later when, during the exit process, some scumbag stole the clothes out of my suitcase-- but this ‘sensitive war’ thing brought back memories of my tour in West Germany.
I was in Germany, West Germany then, for 3 years-- around the time when the Red Brigade and other terrorist cells were sporadically car bombing US bases in Europe. I don’t really care why they were targeting us; it’s all the same isn’t it? Some little guy feels powerless so he lashes out any way he can. Ultimately, the little guy wants to be a big guy and have some kind of power, some kind of control. Never, it seems, is any terrorist fighting for the freedom of individuals to make their own choices.
Anyway, I worked at a network control station, relaying information to a network of mobile Pershing missile units. Our site was not mobile, it was fixed, occupying of about 10 acres in a German forest, with plenty of little deer and wild boar wandering around the RLP antenna field.
Now, our leaders knew these people were out there targeting us. Every month or so, someone would drive a car up to the gate of a military base and blow it up (literally the gate and maybe a few guards). They had even bombed some radio installations, knocking down an antenna at another site. So our leaders put as on alert. They had us patrol the perimeter of our 10 acre site night and day…carrying baseball bats. I’m not kidding…BASEBALL BATS.
The thinking was that since tensions were high, if we had real guns and real bullets a dumb soldier might get jumpy and accidentally kill some poor German out hiking through the woods. I’m not saying that wouldn’t have happened; there are some dumbasses in the military, no doubt. But we were in Germany to do a job, our radio site and our lives were in danger, and we kept our weapons and ammunition locked in a safe while we walked around the fence…with baseball bats. I don’t know about you, but I doubt terrorists would have respected our commands to “Stop! Or I’ll…sswingg batter-batter sswiingg.”
If (and that’s a big capital ‘IF’ that depends on many factors and should be weighed very carefully), but IF you’re going to commit to fighting a war, even a war on terrorism, then fight likes it’s a war. Don’t make it more sensitive-- war is not sensitive. Don’t make it safe for the enemy-- make it as safe for your troops as you can.
(Ah, if only there were blogs back then. Now back to my real pastime, commenting on how the proliferation of Half-Baked technology will soon lead to an 8 hour work week.)
Here are more military stories. I have a decent backlog of stories, but I'm always accpeting more. If you'd like to give your own explanation of why you joined the military or have a military story, please e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
AndyJ writes about his Vietnam experience (he served in Vietnam? Maybe he should run for president):
I did the usual drinking and partying type of college education thing and did the usual flunking out. But I kept getting my 2S deferment. After a year of working in the steel mill, I called the draft board to ask why I was still getting my deferment. All I heard on the phone was "Get his name" Well, that afternoon, I went to the Navy recruiter to ask if I signed up right then, and got my draft notice tomorrow, who would have possession over my body. The Navy guy said that the Navy would. So I signed up hoping to stay out of Vietnam (this was 1966). The next day my draft notice arrived in the mail. Well, after boot camp and gunnery school, I received my orders to a certain ship. I inquired where the ship was home ported, and yes, it was Vietnam, river patrol work. Spent 2 years there because my brother was in the Army at that time and they had a rule that 2 brothers wouldn't be sent into a combat zone at the same time, so I stayed in Nam until he only had a couple of months left on his enlistment and couldn't be sent there.
Samuel writes about starting a career in the Navy:
I was enjoying a full ride to community college, which you can get if you score high enough on the ACT. I changed majors more often than I changed T shirts, and realized that when my ride was up, I was probably going to join the military. A Navy recruiter called me, and I decided to hear what he had to say.
I kicked some butt on the ASVAB, and was able to get into the nuclear engineering program (reactors, not bombs). After about 2 years of schooling, I went to my first submarine, a Trident SSBN, where I spent 5 years and did nine 70 day patrols.
I'm still in the Navy, and am working for a recruiting command's advanced programs department, ensuring a supply of bright minds to keep our Navy manned into the future. I plan to make a career of the Navy.
John writes about the Air Force (I wish I had a guidance counselor like his):
Hi Frank, I've been lurking on your website for a while, keep up the good work! Here is my 'how I joined the military' story plus a funny story from my first assignment (well, funny to me, but it's definitely a different kind of humor in the part of the military I'm in right now).
In high school it was pretty much assumed I was going to a college of some flavor. I had straight As, good SATs, played lots of sports, had my Eagle Scout badge, blah, blah, blah. Granted, I went to a public high school in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, so my competition was a little weak in the book-learnin' department, if you get my drift (think 'Welcome Back Kotter' meets 'Deliverance'). But I did pretty well, all things considered. So at the end of my junior year, I thinking about trying for Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, Georgia Tech, those kind of places. One day, though, the new assistant guidance counselor asked me to drop by his office.
As it turned out, Ron was an old high-school buddy of my mom's. It also turned out that he had volunteered for Vietnam as an enlisted door gunner on Air Force rescue helicopters. After a couple of tours in Vietnam, he got a bachelor's degree while still in the Air Force, got his officer's commission, then became a Combt Controller (Air Force version of Special Forces) and retired as a captain in the mid-80s after almost breaking his back parachuting into some trees in Oregon on an exercise. Pretty much a bad-ass any way you cut it. So here's this muscled, retired military officer calmly checking me out from behind his desk. On the wall are pictures of him jumping out of military aircraft and posing with other John Wayne-looking military guys carrying tons of guns. Here's how my conversation with him went:
Ron: "So, I see you have good grades and you play football, wrestle and run track. You hunt much?"
Me: "Yes sir, Usually just small game and birds, deer huntin' eats up too much time."
Ron: "What are your plans after high school"
Me: "Uhh, I figured on going to Duke or Georgia Tech and getting an engineering degr. . . (my voice trailed off as Ron started shaking his head slowly).
Ron: "You interested in the military?"
Me: "Of course!" (back then in the rural mountain towns, if you were a teenage guy and didn't at least claim to be interested in joining the military, you might as well wear a dress and carry a sign saying "I'M A BIG HOMO")
Ron: "A guy like you would be bored stupid at some civilian school. You want to do men's work (tosses me an admissions program from the Air Force Academy). Go to the Academy, then go to pilot training and fly something that shoots bullets or drops bombs. Don't be a pussy and waste your time listening to some hippie with a PhD."
Me, pondering a future flying cool aircraft versus sitting in a lab or an office cubicle: "Sounds good to me. Is the Academy hard?"
Ron: "Of course, wouldn't be worth doing if it was easy. Tell Anita (my mom) I said hi."
And that was that. I went to the Air Force Academy (the airliner that flew me to Colorado was the first time I'd ever been in an airplane), graduated in 1992, went to flight school and have spent the last 12 years flying special operations helicopters (I fly MH-53M Pave Lows, if you're into the whole category thing). I've worked with some of the smartest, toughest, and funniest people on the planet and had a blast doing it. So listen to your guidance counselor (but only if he's a combat vet with forearms the size of small hams).
Oh yeah, the funny story. When I first started flying special operations helicopters, my first assignment as a co-pilot was to Osan Air Base in South Korea. I was warned that the enlisted guys like to try and rattle the new pilots to see if they have the right stuff, so I should act calm and collected now matter what. So I'm in Korea my first weekend, standing in the hootch bar behind the squadron drinking a cold one. All of the sudden, the sergeant behind the bar looks up and starts grinning at something behind me. Before I could turn around, a big, hairy door gunner named Diekman (he was so hairy, his nickname was "Kee-rok", as in the old SNL skit about the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer) walked up next to me buck naked and started humping my leg. "What's up, sir?", Kee-rok asked while giving me my Naked Gunner Hug (a tradition that gunner's had been doing to new pilots since! Vietnam, I later learned). Showing as much outward calm as I could muster (inside, I was gibbering like a screech monkey and fighting the urge to flee out the door), I took a sip from my beer and replied "Not much, just trying to keep my hands away from your hairy nuts, I guess". He laughed (along with all the other pilots, flight engineers and gunners in the bar) and walked off to put his pants back on, apparently satisfied that I wasn't easy to rattle. Later, I took a long shower and burned my clothes a la Ace Ventura. Yep, those were the days.
Here are more military stories. I'd like to keep this going as long as I can, so, if you'd like to give your own explanation of why you joined the military or have a military story, please e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
My story is a bit more haphazard than most… A mix of Bipolar decisions and youthful mistakes. And for those parents out there, it all started with too many video games. One thing military shooting games and such really need is a sweat, blood and tears factor. Like maybe a tazer built into the mouse, so when you get hit, it shocks your whole system. And a maybe a breathing mask, so when you run in the game, it limits the oxygen you get… But alas, I digress.
I had dropped out of collage in my second year to make video games. After a year and a half of playing… One Christmas Eve I thought to myself, "I should join the Army, by golly I will."
By the end of January I was enlisted and sent to Fr Benning for Infantry training and Jump school, then on to the 82nd. I justified it all (both to myself and to family and friends) as an experience of a lifetime. Stories to tell, self discipline to set me strait, money for school… Blah blah blah…
In the end, I did it for my country. One thing basic training teaches you and is later built upon by being a 24 year old E-2 in the 82nd… Freedom is something to be cherished and NEVER EVER taken for granted.
I left the Army with a pride in myself, the Army and my country. Over the past few years, the civilian world has begun to erode away some of that pride. Washing it away with the flood of materialism in our culture and the superficially sacrificial values of our society.
Over the past few years, I really began to miss the Army. Not the BS details, or the long hard hours. But the outstanding (even if not perfect) citizens I served with. Those who would go forth into the unknown, all for his own reasons, and yet all for the same reasons.
I've gone back into the reserves recently, and plan to stay. Once I make some rank, I plan to finish out a career in the Army. I've been a civilian, and I've been a soldier. The latter is by far the tougher course. But I would rather make something of myself than make money for someone else.
TXVet has this to add:
I enlisted in 1970
To Protest !!!
protest the draft dodgers that is
In 1988 I'd been out of school for four years. The Air Force was a chance to get paid while learning to work with computers. My goal was four years and out. Sixteen years later it is my career and my passion. Every day I put this uniform on, I take pride in the knowledge that I have made a commitment to our nation that a very small percentage of our citizens make. I would not trade what I feel when I salute the flag for anything else in the world.
I am intensely proud of my military heritage more as time goes by. My father served 6 months in Korea at the beginning of the war in some of the fiercest fighting. He has five wounds and an artificial knee. My uncle was a B-17 pilot shot down and killed on the 2nd Schweinfurt Raid in Oct. 1943. Most of my uncles served in WWII. My great-great grandfather, a German immigrant in 1953 fought for the Union with the 14th NY Heavy Artillery.
The military doesn't pay a lot, but money can't buy the feeling that comes from being a part of a brotherhood that goes back more than 228 years. I am proud to be a small part of the forces that preserve and defend freedom.
Jennifer writes of a mcuh more recent enlistment:
Why did I join? Basically because I wanted to serve my country the only way I know how, and I knew I was going to need a lot more help with college than I was getting (I am working for Ups as a package handler).
I had a certain admiration for those who served in the military, as any American should. Probably also because my dad served in Vietnam (drafted into the Army), my maternal grandfather (died when my mom was a kid) was in the Navy during World War II and Korea, my grandpa (my mom's dad) was in the Air Force for 30 years and has been a Lutheran minister for 40 years thanks to the G.I. Bill, my godfather was in the Navy, a gentleman in my church was in the Coast Guard and a Pearl Harbor survivor (he passed away around Christmas), my best friend's dad was in the Marine Corps, and I have a friend who washed out of Basic and her husband was in the Marines for twenty years. Because of my maternal grandfather and hearing that all you need to enlist is a high school diploma, I decided in the fourth grade that I wanted to join the Navy after I was done with high school.
Well, that changed. Fast forward to 2003, when the war in Iraq was starting up. I got into a few arguments with my parents about going into the military. Their reason was simply that they did not want their daugher going into the military.
A year passed, and I bumped into my friend and "cohort",as my mother refers to her as, Barb. One day, there was an Army recruiter walking around school, so she encouraged me to talk to him about enlisting. I did, and then after a couple of months of waiting for him to call back (he was based in Joliet, come to find out), I started talking to another recruiter. Anyway, I went to the station, took the ASVAB, went to MEPS, and I will be leaving this August for Fort Jackson, South Carolina for BCT.
Here are more military stories. I'd like to keep this going as long as I can, so, if you'd like to give your own explanation of why you joined the military or have a military story, please e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
Colton writes about his recent signing up with the Air Force:
There are two reasons that I joined the Air Force. One is that I've always wanted to fly. So why not get paid to do it? I can't really explain why I didn't do that right away after college. Instead I moved to Arizona for a few years and worked for a printing company. Then the second reason happened. September 11th probably sounds like a clichéd reason, but it really was the event that spurred my decision. It wasn't immediate, though. A little while after the attacks I found myself at work talking with a fellow employee, and heard myself say, "I just wish that there was something I could do". It struck me as a very hypocritical thing to say. I was 25 (at the time), healthy, and not particularly enthralled with my job. I COULD help, and so I decided to do it. I bought myself a pilot's license, submitted my application, and now I'm in Navigator school here in Texas.
Scott writes about jumping (and what happens when you refuse to jump):
I've often joked with friends that the initial training I received in the Army (Basic, AIT and Jump school) was the best fun I ever had that I'd never want to repeat. It was during basic paratrooper training that one of my favorite Army Moments (tm) happened.
The third and final week of jump school is appropriately called "Jump Week." Candidates are expected to make five successful (!!) jumps over five days to earn the coveted wings of a paratrooper. Two weeks of preparation on the ground and in the training towers are meant to provide sufficient mental conditioning to override any natural resistance to throwing one's self out of a high-performance aircraft at 1500' during the final week. To accomplish this, the regimen includes a seemingly endless repetition of the steps performed aboard the aircraft prior to the actual jump. Falling is the easy part of an airborne operation; gravity does most of the work. It's getting out of the plane that takes some skill.
My stick and I (jumpers are broken down into 12-person groups called "sticks") were on the last load of the day. We'd spent more than 12 hours on the airfield enduring the heat and humidity of a Georgia summer, the whole while laden down with jump gear and with nothing to divert our minds from what we were about to do. Sweat, fatigue and nerves would take their toll on one of our number shortly.
The aircraft reached jump altitude and we were on heading to the release point. As the Jumpmasters opened the doors on either side of the aircraft, the anxiety level shot off the scales. Both Jumpmasters turned to their sticks (one on each side of the aircraft) and began issuing the final instructions:
JM: "Check equipment!"
Jumpers: *nervously touching everything associated with their chutes and harnesses to make sure nothing looked out place, and not really knowing what an out-of-place item would actually look like*
JM: "Sound off with equipment check!"
At this point, the last jumper in each stick is supposed to yell "Okay!" and smack the jumper in front of him on the helmet, ass, or arm. That jumper then shouts "Okay!" and smacks the jumper in front of him. This goes all the way to the front of the stick, with the first jumper being expected to look the Jumpmaster in the eyes, point at him and yell, "All okay, Jumpmaster!" From which point the Jumpmaster can order the first jumper to "Stand in the door!" and await the green light to "Go!"
That's what's supposed to happen.
We had made it to the equipment check, and the chorus of voices relaying the "Okay!" status got to the first jumper in my stick. He looked the Jumpmaster dead in the eye, pointed to him and shouted, "All okay, Jumpmaster! But I'm not going!"
The Jumpmaster's mouth fell open in a look of shock and disbelief. He glanced over to the Jumpaster at the other door, who had a similar look on his face. A glance back at the offending candidate, another look to the other Jumpmaster and then a look of well-controlled, angry determination settled on his face. He peeked out the open door, took a step toward the candidate, and before we could register what was happening, grabbed him by the harness and threw him out into the sky. Jumpmaster settled back into his position by the door, looked at the new number-one jumper in the stick, glared at him and issued the second to last command, "Stand in the door!"
When he ordered the command to "Go!", no one else in the stick had any trouble finding his/her way to the exit.
Exredleg has a story about children's strange affinity for MRE's:
Okay ... here is a little story for your "Our Military" section! BTW ... I was stationed with "DNice" at that Lance Missile Battalion in Germany (2-12th FA! Herzo Base!)
While out in the German countryside during a REFORGER exercise, our field site was practically overrun by little kids seeking chem-lites or our MREs (God knows why!).
One little guy was very persistent. He'd ride his bike through our site asking "MRE? MRE? MRE?" To his credit, he usually brought some REAL food from home to trade (and the occasional bottle of beer).
One day, on what must have been his ump-teenth visit to our site, he rides up again begging us for MREs ...
"MRE? MRE? MRE?" the little German kid asked.
"Yeah, I'll give you an MRE ..." said one of our smart-ass mechanics, " ... for your sister!"
We all had a good laugh as the kid sped away from out site.
Not 20 minutes later ... the little guy came back with his sister; his BABY sister ... in the front basket of his bicycle!
We gave the kid a bunch or MREs, and even some bonus chem-lites ... and let him keep his sister!
Here are more military stories. I'd like to keep this going as long as I can, so, if you'd like to give your own explanation of why you joined the military or have a military story, please e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
Chuck(le) writes his reason to join up:
So I was a freshman in college in 1970. Living at home.
One day my Father and i got into something of a discussion. Something about politics. At any rate, the tempers flared and he says, "I'm putting you through college."
My reply was, "I'm not going to let you hold that one over my head for the rest of your life." The next day I enlisted.
Got a bachelors and a masters out of the WWII version of the GI Bill as a result, and got out as a lieutenant colonel.
It's as simple as this. I spent 18 years living under the freedom of this country, and decided it's time to give something back. So I joined the Marine Corps so I could kill everything and anything that threatned our freedom.
And I enjoy that.
So here I sit, five years later, having fought in Operations Iraqi and Enduring freedom, in which many lives have been lost, and many more to get where we are today as a nation. And yet it still drives me crazy that there are people out there that don't give a damn about freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Instead they'd rather protest with their hippy-liberal democratic buddies instead of supporting our President and his decisions and our men and women oversea's fighting the fight...
That doesn't matter, I will glady die in defense of our freedoms, just as the rest of our brothers and sisters will do the same.
D'oh, I forgot to copy the name of who wrote this. Anyway, here's another good story of joining up of which I'll add the name later:
I know this is pretty much for people who have been or are already in the military but I guess this is close enough. I'm not a Marine...yet. For pretty much my entire life I wanted to be in the military. In high school I didn't quite know what branch I wanted to go into, all I knew was that I was dead set against going into the Marines so I contacted recruiters from the Air Force, Army and Navy. The Army and Navy guys were pretty cool and their pitch was okay...the Air Force guy was an asshole, he acted like he didn't want any recruits (and it wasn't like I was a dumb ass, I was taking calculus in high school at the time).
I then dislocated my left knee in my martial arts class and again during a soccer practice. I started listening to a lot of people convince me to forget about the military and go to college and I used my knee injuries as an excuse not to join. I went to a Static-X show and some guy fell into the side of my left knee making it go like this ">." I got it checked out by a doctor and he said I shouldn't need surgery and by this time I was getting tired of college. I finally sat down and thought to myself, "What would I really be happy doing?" and a life in the military just trumped everything. It's not like I don't have a clue what I am going to be getting myself into, I have plenty of family and friends telling me about their experiences good or bad.
I went around looking at recruiters again but this time I only wanted to check out the Army and Marines because I wanted to fight in combat. I was on my way to see an Army recruiter and I thought to myself, "If I want to fight why not do it right and go check out the Marine Corps?" so I went to the nearest Marine recruiting station istead. I walked in and the recruiter that greeted me was, no lie, Ssgt. Buck. First thing that intered my head was, "Buck the Marine...this has got to be an omen." So I enlisted and now I'm in the delayed entry program waiting to go off to boot camp and I've been working out my knee to get it stronger to help against knee injuries, as of now it never felt better.
My brother's best friend from college and the Marines and - as I can say from my own experience - just a plain 'ole great guy is currently serving in Iraq. He wrote this e-mail on the 4th July and I think it's really worth reading to put things into perspective:
To All My Family and Friends,
Hello everyone. I am writing you today from a free Iraq. I want you all to know that I am doing well and are in good spirits as I fight for freedom and democracy half way around the world. For those of you who have not gotten a chance to see the other e-mails that I send or read the letters of my Commanding Officer, let me bring you up to speed on what I have been doing over here for the past four months.
My battery operates and controls the ground of an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. Within this area, we work hand-in-hand with the local community to repair and rebuild the infrastructure that has been neglected for the last 14 years. In the four months we have been here we have been able to stabilize and repair the power grid for the main town and its two suburbs. We have improved water production and created a sanitation department to start picking up all of the trash in town. We started a farming CO-OP to help local farms get the equipment and advice they need to plant crops in this region. We have delivered school supplies to the local schools and helped to start and adult literacy program. While this may not sound like much, this is more than what Saddam provided for his own people.
We have helped to stabilize the area by working with the Iraqi Police Service and the Iraqi National Guard. We conduct joint patrolling and training to create a secure and safe environment in this area. We have worked very hard to screen and evaluate Iraqi's to serve in the Iraqi Security Forces. We will soon see the products of our efforts, as the first group will head to Baghdad to begin training in the coming weeks. We have also been working with the Iraqi Border Guards and Customs Police. Our efforts with them helped in the opening of the Iraq-Saudi Arabia border. This is allowing millions of gallons of fuel, heath care, and food to begin flowing into the country. This will provide much needed relief to the country of Iraq.
But the most important part of this whole process is that not one single shot has been fired at Coalition Forces in anger since October of last year. This is completely related to the aggressive and professional attitude of the Iraqi Security Forces in the area. We have become a team working for the improvement of a free Iraq.
This has been a very rewarding experience for me. I have taken some time to reflect on what we are trying to accomplish here. Especially on the Fourth of July and the 228th year of our independence. Just 6 days ago Iraq took its next step to becoming a democracy or at least not a dictatorship. Despite what you might see on the news, hear on the radio, or read in the newspapers, good things are happening in this country. The majority of Iraqis want to live a normal peaceful life with all the normal things that we have in America. There are only a couple of thousand people in a country of 24 million that are trying to stop the good things that are happening in this country. Just a few thousand have taken the attention of all the major news networks in the country and put an evil face on what is being accomplished over here. The terrorists never had better allies than the American News Networks!! It is because of the media that the terrorists continue to fight.
Please take everything you see on the news or read in the paper with a grain of salt. There are Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors in parts of Iraq that are having great successes in the communities that they are living around. Our story is not being told and it is the story that should be told the most. Please help the Americans around you to realize that we are struggling to create a free and democratic country over here and it takes time. It took 14 years for the United States to have a constitution that worked after we declared our independence. It then took another 150 years before everyone in this country could vote. After World War II we had troops on the ground for years helping to rebuild Europe and Japan. This is not an easy process. It takes time and a lot of hard work. Remind other Americans to be patient. You cannot buy freedom on the shelf in a store. It is paid for with blood and hard work.
I wish you all the best on this Fourth of July. I love you all very much. I will be coming home soon. My count down has me here for just less than 3 more months. Remember, Freedom is not Free!
Here are more military stories. I'd like to keep this going as long as I can, so, if you'd like to give your own explanation of why you joined the military or have a military story, please e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
This was posted by John in my comments, but I thought it needed more exposure:
I have buried a few Marines. The last one was during the Clinton adminstration. After the minister says his peace, Taps is played and the salute is fired, the flag is folded and presented to the familiy. As you give the wife / mother the flag you are supposed to say "On behalf of a greatful nation and the President of the United States, I present you this flag as a token of appreciation for your husband's faithfull service." I substituted the "Commandant of the Marine Corps" for the president. The ladies husband had died, no reason to insult her further.
I have also buried a few Soldiers and Sailors. The Army had a policy that they would not travel more than 50 miles to bury a veteran. The Marine Corps policy was that we would go wherever. So soldeir's families started calling us for help. This made the news, Army policy changed.
The sailors had been Corpsmen who served with the Marines and wanted us to do the ceremony. One called to talk to me about it before he died. He wanted to make sure that we would do it, he "didn't want any sailors messing up his funeral." I assured him it would be no problem and told him to give my name and number to the funeral director he was going to use. Got a call three days later. Sad business, all of the details I did where for older veterans, doing one for one of these teenagers getting killed in IZ would be rough.
I've written a couple of military emails already, but I thought I'd share my most embarrassing moment in the military, just for a laugh (at my expense).
We were on bivouac while I was going through US Army Chemical School at Ft. McClellan, AL. We were at Pelham Range training area off of Ft.
They taught us that the easiest way to go #2 when in the field (and not cr*p in your pants accidentally while copping a squat) was to lean with your back to a tree. This position allows you to do your business in the greatest comfort and least mess.
I woke up in the middle of the night and nature was calling. I crawled out of my tent and decided to warm up at the fire barrel first. There were 2 or 3 other guys there keeping warm (it was November in Alabama ... yeah I know, but did get cold at night.) After a few minutes, I took off into the dark with my ET (that's Entrenching Tool for all you civilian types.. a funky folding shovel) and my roll of TP. Problem was, in the dark, you can't see too well. And you certainly can't see that where they burned the underbrush away at this camp site so we'd have a nice open area to put up our tents, they'd also burned the bottoms of the small to medium trees right through.
Its a shame you can't see that in the dark, because that is useful information. I could have used that information just before I dropped my pants and put my back against the tree. But, I didn't have that information. And I was now rolling around on the ground with my pants around my ankles, trying to find my TP, and my ET ... and my pride.
I found another tree ... TESTED IT, this time, and took care of business. When I got back to the fire barrel the two guys there just looked at me in disbelief. "What the heck were you doing out there?"
"I don't want to talk about it," as I walked straight past them to my tent.
ALWAYS test your trees, gentlemen!
Finally, here is a narrative on joining the military by Barney Rubble:
When I was in the first grade I used to get chased home by the other kids in the neighborhood.I suppose it had something to do with my personality, me being six years old, they being in the 4th, 5th and 6th grade.
Anyway one afternoon I was running home from the bus stop (I Was being chased...again). It had rained that afternoon and the rest of the kids were picking up mud clods and throwing them at me. I made feeble attempts to throw some mud back but, this only resulted in my being hit in the face with mud clods. I was getting pelted left and right. Since I lacked any real athletic ability, my throwing mud back at my pursuers was in vain. I saw my apartment complex and hastily retreated inside.
Once inside my tormentors continued to throw mud at the door in which I had just gone through, they were also hitting the various windows next to the door. I stuck my head out to agravate the kids who were pelting me. "You missed me, NYaaa...CLOMP", I had just gotten hit once again, this time in the mouth. As I retreated into the complex once again I couldn't help but notice that the floor in the complex was covered with mud (I was hit with a barrage). I also noticed this strange man, at least feet tall with a flat top, poking his head out of his apartment.
"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE YOU STUPID LITTLE F*#K", he inquired.
"There's these kids throw...", I tried to reply.
"SHUT THE F*#k UP AND TAKE A LOOK AT THIS MESS. WHO IS GOING CLEAN THIS SH!T UP?".
"I...uhh, don't know, the janitor", I suggested.
"I'm the janitor you dumbass and I sure as hell ain't cleaning up this sh!t".
He then retreated into his apartment and got out some cleaing supplies. I then did my first field day (unbeknownst to me). After I had done a satisfactory job he then looked at me inquisively. "What are you gonna be when you grow up?".
Trying to sound tough (and being that I saw a movie with Jeffrey Hunter fighting the Japanese the day before) I relpied, "I gonna be a Marine".
"OH, you are! Wait right here". He retreated into the apartment again. This time he returned with a thick brochure (a Marine recruitment tract for sure). It was glossy 8 x 11 showing a bunch of bald headed guys going throught what the man called "boot camp". This looked scary since all the pictures showed this guy with a big green hat yelling at the bald guys as they were doing push ups, obsatcle courses, shooting, etc.
I asked, "why are these guys getting yelled at?"
"Well that's because they are getting ready for war, most of these recruits will be going to Viet Nam. The Drill Instructor is yelling at them to psych them up, get them motivated to fight for their country, and also to remind them that they are not a bunch of pussies".
I kept turning the pages some black and white photos appeared showing some guys in the woods, they looked cold.
"World War 1, Belleau Woods", he explained.
More pictures, this time the guys looked like they were out of the Jeffrey Hunter flick.
More photos of Korea and Viet Nam. then the final photo was of a Marine in his dress blues. He had a purple medal with a white stripe on it.
"What he get that for?", I questioned. "Oh he was injured in battle and lived to tell about it. Here", pulled off his shoe and showed me his wooden foot, "I got his in Viet Nam at_____________[insert some village that only a 6 year old would forget]".
"That's neat", I replied "can I get a purple heart when I join the Marines".
"Maybe, go ahead and keep the magazine".
So I went home and showed my mom. I told her I wanted to be a Marine, go to boot camp and get yelled at. Then I would go to Viet Nam get my leg blowed off so I could get a Purple Heart. My Mom protested and said we would move to Cananada before that would happen.
Twelve years later we were still living in the U.S. and I had gone to my first year of college earning a whopping 1.20 G.P.A. (Smoked a lot of pot I did). So she was bugging me about getting a full time job during the summer, going to summer school, doing chores around the house and not going to any summertime parties (basically anything that would make me feel miserable as only a parent would want their kid to be miserable). Being fully depressed about my circumstances I went to my room to do what most young men do best. Low and behold At the bottom of my pile of Hustler magazines I saw this 8 X 11 glossy recruitment brochure for the Marines.
"Hey mom rememeber when I said I wanted to be a Marine...."
Here are more readers explanations of why they joined the military and other stories. I'd like to keep this going as long as I can, so, if you'd like to give your own explanation of why you joined the military or have a military story, please e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
Al from New Cumberland PA writes:
1. I joined the military at age 18 because I was a little wild--in a blond, middle-class white guy sort of way--after high school. I didn't want to go to college, my car broke down, I broke up with my girlfriend, my parents had just had a bad divorce that had followed a really bad marriage, and my Mom and I weren't getting along. So I had her drop me off at a local mall, joined the USAF, and two weeks later I was in basic at Lackland AFB. Best thing I ever did--taught me self-respect, honor and dedication to something other than my own selfish needs.
2. We all loved Reagan, especially those of us overseas in the early 1980s (I was in West Germany). We sensed that he understood us and the seriousness of the threat posed by the Warsaw Pact. Also, he gave all of us a badly-needed raise in pay.
Here's a Ranger story from jg:
Saw that Shazam! Story about the guy on guard duty.
Here’s one that I heard many years ago, from a couple guys that had been to Ranger School (can’t vouch for the veracity of it, since I wasn’t there).
Ranger School is pretty intense, lots of patrolling in God awful weather with insanely heavy rucksacks, not very much food and very little sleep – any time of the day or night.
Anyway, they’ve got a group of Ranger students doing a patrol in the middle of the night and they’re all exhausted, tromping around a thickly forested area – the footing sucks, can’t see holes or ditches - basically sneaking up on an objective. There’s always a Cadre member tailing the groups for grading purposes, making sure nobody gets hurt, lost or whatever.
So, one guy takes a tumble, there’s some clatter, and curses loudly. The cadre member is somewhere off in the dark and starts yelling, “who is that, who’s making all that goddam noise?!!” The guy that fell says, loud enough to be heard, “fuck you!” The cadre guy goes insane, yelling “who is that? Come over here right now!” The guy that fell says “you don’t know who this is?” The cadre guy says, “no, who is it?”
Then you here a chorus of “fuck you” and snickers from all over the dark.
I’m sure all those guys got smoked-till-their-elbows-broke afterwords, but it was pretty funny.
Here's a warning from Malcolm about aviators:
Did you know that June is National NAS Awareness Month? NAS, or Naval Aviator Syndrome is a tragic disease afflicting many former Navy Airmen, and not a few civilians who have watched “Top Gun” a few too many time.
Please post these danger signs on your influential and respected website.
We’re NASSTY (Naval Aviator Syndrome SocieTY), and we can help.
Top Ten Signs your loved one is afflicted by Naval Aviator Syndrome
1. Always rides with one passenger. Passenger must sit in back seat behind driver and navigate. Passenger must answer to name “Goose”.
2. To depart house, parks car at end of driveway, applies brakes, revs engine to redline rpm, salutes smartly and pops clutch.
3. Welds pipe to front fender and connects it to gas tank. When the low fuel light comes on, announces “bingo fuel” and attempts to dock with a gasoline tanker on the freeway for “in-flight refueling”.
4. Paints crosshairs on windshield. Whenever a Yugo is aligned in the crosshairs, will depress 4-way flasher button and yell “Fox one”.
5. Feels uncomfortable unless accompanied on freeway by “wingman” who must drive one lane to the right, three cars back.
6. In case of engine trouble, will shout “Eject! Eject! Eject!”, pull the hood release handle and depart the vehicle through the sunroof.
7. Equips car with radar detector. When it goes off, throws tinfoil out the window and conducts “evasive maneuvers”.
8. When gassing up, requests attendant supply “0.12 thousand pounds of fuel”.
9. Purchases house with circular driveway. Enters driveway at 40mph. In the event the car is not perfectly aligned, shouts “Bolter! Bolter!” and accelerates out of the driveway at full speed.
10. Spends one day a week on the garage roof grading other drivers on their “landings” in the driveway.
For those wanting information on donations and how to help (it may surprise you who are the biggest donators to Iraq):
Hello! I am Specialist David McCorkle - 308th Tactical Psychological Company, back in the USA after serving in Iraq starting in March 2003 before the war began. I started an organization called American Aid for Children of Nineveh Iraq (AA-CNI), www.iraqkids.org last year while I was serving in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division. AA-CNI's purpose is to help the orphans and street children in the Nineveh area of Iraq as well as helping schools. Our focus is education, getting sponsored children back into the classroom and off the streets, helping schools with needed supplies, equipment, workbooks desks etc, and launching a safe house for homeless street children working with a partner organization called Concern4Kids.
This isn't the story I am writing you about!!
The story I am writing about is our sponsors and donors! A majority of our donors are US Army Soldiers and US Marines as well as their Dependants and families. I received a letter about 10 days ago from the student council at the Rainbow Elementary School in Ansbach Germany. The students there raised over $100 dollars for us to send to Iraq to help a school there. Most of these kid's dads are deployed in Iraq and in incredible danger. Still these children want to reach out and help the Iraqi children. We have sponsors taking on the responsibility of supporting an orphan or fatherless street child paying $60.00 a month from their military pay. Some of our sponsors themselves are deployed in both Afghanistan and Iraq. A lot of our sponsors are reservists and at least one is an MP. In light of the prison scandal isn't this a story that needs to be told to the American people? I am so proud of these people I am writing to you about! I think if someone told the story America would be so proud too. For people interested in sponsoring a child, donating toward our other projects or getting involved please e-mail AA-CNI at email@example.com or visit our website www.iraqkids.org .
Here are more readers explanations of why they joined the military. I'd like to keep this going as long as I can, so, if you'd like to give your own explanation of why you joined the military or have a military story, please e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
Why did I join the Military?
Let see the choices were being Drafted into the Army & going the tropical paradise known as Vietnam, or joining a branch of service that not enjoying that paradise. So I joined the Coast Guard (which had just pulled out of Vietnam the year before). I thought the war in Vietnam was bad, not because we were there, but we weren't allowed to win. The service taught me several things (other than the skill of electronics repair): it taught me how to be and act like a man, how to work with other people (even though you do not like them), it taught me camaraderie (sailor bar fights), and self sacrifice (having to save a stranded fishing boat in a raging hurricane, plus our unofficial motto was "You have to go out, but you don't have to come back"). Am I happy I joined the Coast Guard, you bet!! I probably would have been a worthless snot nose Liberal if I hadn't. Semper Paratus "We're Always Ready" to Do or Die
Grew up reading about WWII and Korea. Found the American Heritage history series in the school library. Took up building models as a hobby, first aircraft, later ships and tanks. Would sneak downstairs to watch 12 o'clock High (came on at 10pm Friday). Thought the pilot episode of Combat was the best of the series (had American tanks, even though they got knocked out.)
Won $20 on a bet over the 68 worlds series, only Mets fan in the town that had the Orioles Triple A farm team (Rochester Red Wings).
Saw Battle of the Bulge when it came out in theaters, memorized the Panzerlied, wondered how come we didn't have similar songs. Took up wargaming courtesy of Avalon Hill and SPI. Watched Kelly's Heroes in the theater, numerous times, appreciated the actual M4s used in the film and the effort to turn T34s into Tigers. One of the few roles I've seen Donald Sutherland in that I liked. Oddball was a tanker's tanker.
Did the math early on and figured out that I could graduate after summer school following my junior year if I dumped study halls and substituted classes that were creditable, also take summer school following soph and junior years. Army recruiter gave a talk to our high school government class, told me to stay in and graduate, then join up if that's what I wanted.
Graduated summer of '74 (class of '74.5?). Actually went back to high school that fall auditing a couple of courses, Geometry and AP Chem, as I recall. Occurred to me in November that I was spinning wheels, stopped in at Army recruiter, joined delayed entry program December of '74, went active January '75, retired February '95.
I joined the Marines in 1999, signing on for a stint in the infantry. It was something I always wanted to do. I am proud of my country and I felt that this would be a good way to pay the debt I owe to so many men who have served this great nation. I fought in Iraq last year, and I must say that it felt good to go over there and take care of business since we missed out on kicking the Taliban out of Afghanistan. There are a lot of people in that part of the world that needed (and still need) killing. I am still serving with a reserve infantry unit in Utah while I am going to college.
Worth every inch of shit I wade through - and it is above my head sometimes.
Here are more military stories. I'd like to keep this going as long as I can, so, if you'd like to give your own explanation of why you joined the military or have a military story, please e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
LCpl Zachary, USMC, writes:
I joined the Marines a little over a year ago. I joined the reserves because I go to college and am also going for OCS. I can’t say this was anywhere near the path I thought I would be going. I went through my freshman year of college becoming anxious of the future and feeling I had no idea what I wanted to do or how I wanted to get here. I also felt I had been going to school for so damn long that I needed something different, a new type of challenge. So I go by the local recruiting stations and figured I’d check out the Marines first because I had a few friends in the Corps but I can’t say I knew what I was getting myself into. All I knew was that they were the best and if I was gonna join I’d join the best. Needless to say I did my time at PI and came out a new man, with goals I want to accomplish and know how to accomplish them. It was truly a growing up experience. I still love that I made this decision and will never regret it. I plan on going into JAG the hard way now, the Marine Corps officer program instead of going halfway and going through the Air Force or Navy. Wish me luck at OCS July 11 I ship out once again to face the wraith of the Drill Instructors. I cant wait.
A reader Chris sent this in, and I remember having seen it on snopes but have decided to print it here too:
As I head off to Baghdad for the final weeks of my stay in Iraq, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who did not believe the media. They have done a very poor job of covering everything that has happened. I am sorry that I have not been able to visit all of you during my two week leave back home.
And just so you can rest at night knowing something is happening in Iraq that is noteworthy, I thought I would pass this on to you. This is the list of things that has happened in Iraq recently: (Please share it with your friends and compare it to the version that your paper is producing.)
* Over 400,000 kids have up-to-date immunizations.
* School attendance is up 80% from levels before the war.
* Over 1,500 schools have been renovated and rid of the weapons stored there so education can occur.
* The port of Uhm Qasar was renovated so grain can be off-loaded from ships faster.
* The country had its first 2 billion barrel export of oil in August.
* Over 4.5 million people have clean drinking water for the first time ever in Iraq.
* The country now receives 2 times the electrical power it did before the war.
* 100% of the hospitals are open and fully staffed, compared to 35% before the war.
* Elections are taking place in every major city, and city councils are in place.
* Sewer and water lines are installed in every major city.
* Over 60,000 police are patrolling the streets.
* Over 100,000 Iraqi civil defense police are securing the country.
* Over 80,000 Iraqi soldiers are patrolling the streets side by side with US soldiers.
* Over 400,000 people have telephones for the first time ever.
* Students are taught field sanitation and hand washing techniques to prevent the spread of germs.
* An interim constitution has been signed.
* Girls are allowed to attend school.
* Textbooks that don't mention Saddam are in the schools for the first time in 30 years.
Don't believe for one second that these people do not want us there. I have met many, many people from Iraq that want us there, and in a bad way. They say they will never see the freedoms we talk about but they hope their children will. We are doing a good job in Iraq and I challenge anyone, anywhere to dispute me on these facts. So If you happen to run into John Kerry, be sure to give him my email address and send him to Denison, Iowa. This soldier will set him straight. If you are like me and very disgusted with how this period of rebuilding has been portrayed, email this to a friend and let them know there are good things happening.
Ray Reynolds, SFC
Iowa Army National Guard
234th Signal Battalion
As for this story from Ernie G, all I can say is, "Shazam!":
My funniest military story happened before I went into the service, during ROTC Summer camp, at Fort Belvoir in 1959. We were doing Interior Guard at night, "guarding" the streets in the barracks area. A cadet in my platoon reported the following incident:
"The sidewalk was heavily shaded, and I saw someone walking toward me in the dark. I came to port arms and challenged him:
'HALT! Who is there?'
'Advance, motherfucker, and meet Batman.'
So he steps out of the shadow and the first thing I see are silver railroad tracks, then a name tag: MARVELL. He had a big grin, and we exchanged salutes. He was a dentist or veterinary or something. Thank God he wasn't R.A."
Cpl. Joe foo' tells me that Ronald Reagan meant a lot to people in the military, as he always saluted. "One of the worst things than not saluting is not returning a salute."
In a way, I think our currently fighting is an extension of Reagan's optimism, that a brighter future is possible even a land that seems to have been war-torn forever.
Anyway, here are more explanations by readers of why they joined the military. I still have a lot of stories waiting to be posted, but, if you'd like to give your own explanation of why you joined the military or have a military story, please e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
Jeff from Connecticut writes:
I joined the military in 1987. I don't come from a poor family. I was not unemployed when I went in. The military was not the only job I could get in those unfortunate economic times. I enlisted so I could get money for college.
I was 25 when I enlisted in the Army, several years older than most typical recruits. I had gone to college for a couple of years, blew it off, then joined the working world. Once I came to my senses and realized that the best way to get a decent, good paying job in an office was through college, I was faced with a decision: I could take 97 years of part time night school to get my degree (and that was an optimistic time frame, given my total lack of self-discipline), or I could suck up a couple of years in the military, take some classes while I was in, then get out and finish up my degree on Uncle Sam's dime. I chose the latter course.
It worked out. I was in for over 6 years (I re-upped once so the wife and I could squeeze out a young 'un), I finished college in 2.5 years and now I'm a corporate drone earning in the top quintile. For all of the weenies who believe that the military is the job of last resort for low-income or unemployed people, I know first hand that's a crock of dung. Surely there are some people who went in for those reasons, but they were in the minority. Most of the people I served with were in exactly the same boat as I: looking for a way to fund college without saddling their families with the tab or coming out with a boatload of debt. Some folks liked the military life enough to make it a career. And a good career it is. You serve your country in an immediate, fulfilling, and meaningful way, you get to do all manner of cool things like fly in and jump out of helicopters and airplanes, you get 30 days of paid vacation starting from year 1, you are REQUIRED to shoot and blow up stuff, and you can retire with full lifetime benefits (pension, free health care, commissary privileges, etc) after 25 years. If you go in when you're 18, you can get out when you're 43 and have a whole other civilian career.
Is the military life hard? Sure it is. You endure long separations from your loved ones, you operate in all manner of weather and environments, you sleep (if you're lucky) on the ground for weeks at a time, and oh yeah, I almost forgot, every now and again people try to kill you. But I have NEVER, before or since, felt the camaraderie and sense of duty that I felt while I was in. I'm proud of my service, and I'm grateful to those who are serving now.
El Jefe writes:
I graduated from Christian Brothers High School in May of 1981. I was working at Victoria Station (not Secret - unfortunately) restaurant for the better part of the previous 2 years. I had done the 'American Dream' by starting off washing dishes, moving on to salad bars, bussing tables, bar back, prep chef and finally waiting tables.
In late August I went off to college at Abilene Christian University in Texas. (Yeah, I know. Catholic high school and Christian university. Hey, you can't say I'm not religious.) After the first semester I decided that college wasn't for me at that time in my life. So, in the summer I came home to Sacramento and went back to work at the restaurant. After a couple of months it was time for me to make a decision. Either go back to school, move up to management at the restaurant, or something else. Back to school was out. Management was looking fairly good except I saw how beat down my friends were after spending nearly 80 hours a week there for not a lot of money.
The military was looking like a good option. My father, great uncle and cousin had all spent time in the Air Force. (My great uncle was a retired Chief Master Sergeant in the Army Air Corps and was in during the Bataan Death March - which he refused to talk about.) I thought about all the services and here are my reasons:
Army - Pro: Quick promotion depending on your career field
Con: Limited career fields that I was interested in
Marines - Pro: Instant respect no matter where you go/camaraderie/esprit de corps
Con: Same as the Army
Navy - Pro: Go EVERYWHERE in the world/good career fields
Con: Didn't know if I could handle being on a ship for 6 months a year
Air Force - Pro: Lots of career choices/good world-wide locations
Con: Slow promotions
Oh, yeah. Pro for each was discipline.
I ruled out the Army and Marines for career choices. It was down to the Navy and Air Force. I went on ship tour in 'Frisco and talked with the Petty Officers about their lives and ship life in particular. They showed me their living quarters and that basically sealed it for me. You see, I'm 6' 5" tall. Bunks on a ship are maybe 6' long. You do the math. That and there's 3 to 6 in each berthing. I lived in a dorm in college and I know how 3 guys in one room are. Yes, I could handle being on a ship (biggest concern was if I had the stomach/sea legs). No, I didn't want to.
So, it was the Air Force. I went and spoke with the recruiter (who lied - which one of 'em don't?) and he started spewing on about the 'AF doctrine' and all that. I knew better. I asked what career fields he had open. He looked at my education (honor role material) and noticed that I'd taken language courses in high school. He said, "How about being a linguist?" I looked into it and found that I would have a year in Monterey learning to be fluent in the language of my choice. Now, remember, this is 1982 and the Cold War was still on full boil. So, I said that if I pass the test to get in could I choose German? The reason is that I had taken 2 years' worth in high school and that I knew I would get stationed in Germany and fly around on the AWACS planes. My dad said that it would be a good choice for when I got out because the CIA, FBI, and a number of civilian firms would be looking for that line of work.
To make a long story somewhat shorter, I passed easily, got a delayed enlistment (5 months), and went to basic in May '83. Now, the week before I went in, I drove down to Texas to see some friends. On the way back I got 2 speeding tickets (I had a 1970 340 'Cuda at the time - easy mark). When I got to basic I had to go for a security interview to see if I would qualify for a Top Secret clearance. The interviewer noted that I got the tickets within 24 hours of each other and after I pled my case he still denied it to me.
This left me in a quandary. Get out, go back home, and work at the restaurant or see what other jobs were available. Home was not an option. I was offered the standard 'open general' options: Burger flipper, Fuels specialist, Weatherman and Cop. (Why cop? ALWAYS a need for those and with my heavy foot...). The last option was Computer Operator. In high school I'd taken a couple of programming courses and enjoyed it. So, I asked if Computer Programmer was available. The guy said, "Let's see what you do on the test." You needed 51 for Operator and 72 for Programmer. I scored 85. Guy still said, "Operator. Take it or leave it." I took it.
Best damn decision I ever made.
BTW: I got my Top Secret clearance less than 3 years later because the AF merged my career field with another that required it.
P.S. My ENTIRE family lectured on and on about NOT going into the military in 1981. After I retired last April, not one of them wasn't proud that I served my country for 20 years.
El Jefe, who sent this to me some weeks ago, happened to end the e-mail with a Reagan quote. I know I've seen it everywhere, but it's worth repeating:
I hope that when you're my age you'll be able to say, as I have been able to say: we lived in freedom, we lived lives that were a statement, not an apology.
Connecticut Yankee writes:
I joined the Navy for several reasons, first, just about every male relative I have on both my mother's and my father's side of the family was either a sailor or a marine, (although I heard rumors growing up that one or two black sheep joined the army) as far back as the American revolution; a fact that my grandmother was always proud to tell us. She was a member of the DAR. My great grandfather was in the "Great White Fleet" of Theodore Roosevelt. So I guess it was a tradition in the family. Anyway, I am a little older than most of the people who write you, (although not ancient by any means, I love this site and have a great appreciation of your humor and talent, can anyone say free "Nuke the Moon T-shirt?"). [Ed. Note: Not me]
I was born in 1956 after my father returned from the Korean War; Navy of course. I grew up during the Viet Nam War and watched it every night as we ate dinner. During junior high and later high school, I watched as upperclassmen graduated and were drafted, then watched as my cousins went off to Viet Nam. I also knew that these boys were not being allowed to win and it sickened me to watch them fight, bleed and die while anti-war protestors undermined the country's efforts and provide aid and comfort to the enemy (are you hearing me John Kerry and Teddy Kennedy?). I made up my mind that I was going to either enlist, if the war was still going on, after high school or somehow get into college and join after finishing my degree.
The war ended before I graduated from high school (1974), but I still felt a need to serve my country; must be in my DNA. Anyway, there was no way I was going to afford college on my own, my parents divorced when I was in the seventh grade, and in those days, child support rarely included college tuition. So I tired to obtain an appointment to the Naval Academy, but my grades didn't impress my congressman we're talking a "C" student, sports, student council and scouts. I truly think that GOD intervened on my behalf and I was awarded a full four year NROTC scholarship. My entire family was extremely proud of that fact that, even though all my male ancestors on both sides were Navy men, as far back as anyone could tell, I was going to be only the second officer; I had a great great uncle who was an officer in the Union Navy during the civil war.
Anyway, it was a great college experience. Utah, is a nice conservative state where short hair wasn't out of the ordinary in the middle and late '70's; plus the skiing was fantastic! By the way, my NROTC Battalion, I kid you not, had a Marine GSGT who looked and sounded just like R. Lee Ermy of "Full Metal Jacket" and "Mail Call" fame. His last name was Pickles, so any of you who were in the Marines knows with a name like AND a Gunnery Sergeant, that he was one tough old son of a gun. Sgt. Pickles did 2 combat tours of Viet Nam, and I respected him. (However, that doesn't mean that we didn't have some good laughs at his expense; another story.) I mean this guy gave the same cadence as in FMJ for crying out loud. When I went to see FMJ, I sat there and laughed out load during the whole Paris Island section because it was so absolutely SGT Pickles! People in the move theater ! must have thought I was some nut case or psychotic loon!
The Navy was the best thing to ever happen to me. I received a top notch education, that I would not have been otherwise able to afford. I was commissioned and Officer and given great responsibilities which I took very seriously; much more so than I thought I would while I was in college. I met some of the greatest people in the world, real salt of the earth types. I got to run multi million dollar equipment right out of college; try that in the civilian sector. I could go on and on but I am probably boring you. Just one more thing though, and I think this feeling is shared by everyone who served; I would, in a heart beat, join again and volunteer for Iraq if they would take 48 year old out of shape old geezers like me. I'd especially join again if it meant I could take the place of one of the young guys over there now who haven't had a full life yet, like I have.
I'd like to say that I joined the military out of a sense of civic duty and patriotism. I can't say that, though.
I had spent 3 years in college wasting time and money (my money, not that of my parents nor governments) and finally moved to Dallas to live with my brother and find work in law enforcement. I had wanted to be a cop ever since I was a kid. It was all I thought about.
I interviewed with every PD in the DFW area and not one offered me a job. Despite 3 years of Criminal Justice undergrad work and a clean record. Finally, after one interview in Plano, the officers broke it down for me.
"Look," they said, "you're not a minority and you have no previous law enforcement experience. You're a good kid, but you also need to mature. Have you ever considered joining the military as an MP?"
I had not ever considered military service. But they assured me that if I did a tour as an MP, my Honorable Discharge would be my ticket to becoming a policeman in just about any jurisdiction I applied.
So, I pulled into the first recruiting office I could find - and it happened to be an Army one. I told the recruiter that I wanted to be an MP, and naturally he signed me up to be a Legal Clerk. He assured me that it was pretty much the same thing and that I could always change my MOS after I was in.
**NOTE: NEVER, EVER, EVER believe ANYTHING a recruiter tells you.**
Well, the upside was that the 82nd Airborne needed legal clerks, so at least I got to be a little hard core and got my wings and ended up with 25 or so jumps - including one from a Huey after PLDC (Primary Leadership Development Course - required for promotion to Sergeant).
That was 1986. I ended up doing 4 years active, and then I got out on "Green-to-Gold" and finished my degree and got my butter-bar. I did 6 more years in the National Guard as an Engineer Platoon Leader and then Company XO. I got out when they said I needed to move to Battalion staff to make Captain - to me, it was only worthwhile when I was with the line troops.
So, I resigned and I cried like a baby when I got home after my last drill. I still miss the Army life.
I never became a cop. But I can say that joining the Army was one of the best things I ever did, aside from marrying Mrs. Rockynoggin!
Sorry to have not done this feature in a while, but here are some explanations readers gave of why they joined the military. I plan to alternate between these and other stories in the future. I now have a lot of stories waiting to be posted, but, if you'd like to give your own explanation of why you joined the military or have a military story, please e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
Alan Anderson writes:
Why I went in the Marines...by me
First I have to date myself, this was almost 44 full years ago..
Working class neighborhood, South Side of Chicago....
Uncles worked in the steels mills, set tile, nailed boards....
Old man, old country type guy worked in soap works, made a hell of a lot of soap, you start by cooking down a whooole lot of pig fat, stinks, plant runs 24/7.. Steel mills run 24/7..
Sherwin-Williams paint plant runs 24/7 stinks even worse than soap works..
Steel mills very hot, lot of fire, (they were not called "open hearth" for no reason) break back shoveling...Illinois Central Grand Central Yards very cold in Chicago winters..
None of the above really appeals to me, saw it all first hand, rather wash dishes
No urge to go to college, not a lot of money, old man doesn't believe in college.. draft waiting unless I want to be a father at 19 oh oh no go with that option....
Late High School experiences show me that a life on the dark side is not for me..I always got caught..but in those days anything up to a Felony can be settled with a good beating and a threat to call the old man...
Wild Uncle Peter (I only knew family stories) killed in USAAF, North Atlantic, 1943.., Uncle Martin flew off carriers in the Pacific 1944-1945 after training on carriers in Lake Michigan, he very glad the Bomb dropped... whacked out cousin Brent wandering the world in submarines, since 1952, cold off North Korea...
Time to get out of town and bond with the crazy side of my family, Staff Sergeant recruiter asked "you sure you want four years??" Yep, why not....
What happened then???
Grew up fast...learned I was smarter than I thought...given a whole lot of responsibility when I was still a teenager..radios, airplanes, bombs, on my own on strange islands responsible for nine others and a boat full of gear before I was 20..
Had a ringside, sea borne, seat at the Kennedy-Johnson follies of 1962, 63, 64, and 65.. On my way to Cuba while Kennedy jerked around...on my way to VN before and after Kennedy Ok'd the hit on Diem.. sailing into Yokosuka the day Kennedy shot (good liberty and got drunk, quart of Gordons Gin 89 cents at the Navy NCO club if I remember correctly)..back to VN when Johnson finally managed to imitate his hero and Token Gulf blew up... up and down the Mekong, back up north, back south, listening to Armed Forces Radio report that Johnson was calling Goldwater a warmonger, HA...Politics time, can't have any formal troop landings so soon after the election and over Christmas...on to Hong Kong, best eight day liberty of my life...back to States, on to North Carolina..can't stand it...can't get transferred "you been to VN can't leave the States for a year OOPS revolution in Dominican Republic..you guys got to go,you know how to do it for real..."But Gunny you said" ..OK last time....watched Moran almost go blind on rot gut bootleg rum....beat the Airborne in by four days...Ha
Came within a week of re-enlisting.. Received my hiring letter for the Chicago Police Department four days before I was going to re-up...GI Bill very very good to me...couple of degrees and another 35 years of chasing another type of barbarian in another type of jungle...
Nothing I had to do for the rest of my life presented a problem which could not be solved or accommodated, the Corps gave me all the tools I would ever need...Other than my kids the best thing that ever happened to me..
Two great kids (one Army Major) five tremendous grandchildren. I am a happy man....
UPDATE: Alan wants to add that his eighteen year old neice reports to Marine Corps, Parris Island, in October, so let's wish her luck and God's protection.
LCpl Baisley, USMC, writes:
The draft should be a no-go. I would not want to be fighting along side of some one who does not want to be there. as far as the comment about only poor people joining up the military, I am gonna have to disagree, just about all of my buddies come from regular middle class, there are even a few rich ones here and there. I definitely did not come from a poor family and had plenty of options. I joined because I wanted to serve my country and kill people who don’t like it. And I went with the Marines, because if you are going into the service, then why not be the best. Just thought i would share that.
I joined the Army because it was a little more profitable than the cult I had been running. No, I'm serious. My late teens were a bit on the, uh, abnormal side. If I hadn't had this damned virus in my heart I'd be retiring as an officer in intelligence here in a few years. Based on this I must say viruses suck.
I had my dreams of earning respect the easy way and having all the uniform groupies chase after me. Instead, I got to be a loser who got kicked out for what was, at the time, an unidentified illness. (The technology to diagnose the problem didn't become available till later, or most doctors are morons.)
I always recommend military service. Sure, it's a good way for the poor to better their lot in life, but it's also a good way for those who have money to become respectable.
Brian Dunbar writes:
So there I was, a middle class suburban white kid. Everyone, but everyone I knew was going to college, somewhere. I just couldn't see wasting the money (mom and dads) and the time (mine). Too well off for a financial scholarship, too indifferent to grades for an academic ride.
And anyway, by my Junior year I'd pretty much had my mind made up on the service, and the Marines called to me. Patriotism, sure. But mostly a change to DO something strange and exotic.
Tulsa, Oklahoma is a lot of things, but exotic it's not.
Did I mention that no one in what passed for a social set in High School joined up? The ones you'd expect did - the kids who majored in Shop or Vo-Tech, of course. The thugs. And me. I don't think any of the 'college track' kids even considered ROTC.
Here are some more great military stories; I hope everyone else is enjoying these as much as I do. As for the response on why people joined the military, I'm going to organize and pose those later. If you'd like to add to that or have a story, e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
Here are some non-sordid interrogation stories from jg:
Our team during the Gulf War (1991) had received a Tank Brigade Commander – we didn’t have a lot of details on him on the time, and he was proving difficult to break. We tried a harsh approach and he wasn’t impressed. Mutt and Jeff didn’t work. So there we were carrying on for about a half hour – none of us spoke Arabic and we had an interpreter, so imagine a bunch of gringo’s and an interpreter being theatrical (Doom! Doom!) with this COL, who was taking it pretty well. I guess we all ran out of breath and in the pause, the guy says, in perfect Oxford English, “Your aircraft destroyed all my tanks, just look outside your tent and you can see where they all are!” We felt like dolts and shoo’d him back into the holding area.
During an exercise, interrogators practice on each other, largely for language skills. On one exercise, I was playing the prisoner and we were speaking Czech. The guy who was interrogating me was actually a friend, so I was acting belligerent and jokingly told him in Czech that I wouldn’t talk to anybody but a big, blond, busty American wench. So he left. I was thinking OK, whatever. We actually had a big, blond, busty, American female in the unit, and in she walked. I almost fell off my chair when she came in, Equal Opportunity, Sexual Harassment, etc, etc, I’m going to be crucified flashed through my brain. She actually thought it was funny though, and agreed to it to see if I’d actually fall off the chair.
Here's an amazing story from Vietnam from Greg. When I say "Our Military", I also mean our allies who fight along side us:
Not only Americans served in Viet Nam. There were Australians, South Koreans and lots of Canadians. One Canadian was a guy on my team. Good guy, good soldier. He was a little crazy, though. One time out at an FOB, he walked into the commo room with a North Vietnamese grenade and proceeded to take it apart. Those grenades were notoriously unreliable and guys actually jumped out the windows ‘cause it could have gone off – fortunately for Dave, it didn’t. Another time, we were in the Club at Chi Lang and some guy walked in who had a .410 shotgun made into a pistol. Dave was mightily impressed and, after a long examination of the weapon, asked the guy if he could fire it.
The guy said, “sure,” expecting Dave to go outside - as we all did. Dave pointed the pistol to the ceiling and blew a hole through the roof. We were banned from the Club after that little trick. Unfortunately Dave’s mother was a liberal Canadian. She wrote him a letter – which I read – that included this thoughtful remark, “I hope you get killed before you have a chance to kill Vietnamese women and children.” Dave soldiered on. (He never killed any women or kids as the only enemy we ever engaged were NVA.) The odds finally caught up with Dave and he took a round in the head. It entered his left eye and came out the back of his skull. We did what we could and medevaced him to Can Tho. We called our CO, who was in Can Tho at the time, and told him to go to the airfield and identify the body. When the dai oui got there, not only was Dave still alive but he was conscious. It was a fucking miracle. Dave now lives in Florida – he was/is a hell of a Canadian.
I’m sure there are still some left out there but if you read the media - well, you know what I mean.
Here's yet another miracle from the Vietnam war from SSG. Adam D.:
I've got a good one for you about one certain incident that occurred during a patrol I was part of in 1967, near Nha Trang.
My platoon had been dispatched to a remote stretch of jungle, and were humping along. For three hours, we saw and heard nothing but the trade mark pitch blackness that was Vietnam at night. We had gone about two clicks away from our infil point where the Huey had dropped us off when the point man gave us the hold sign, by throwing up his clutched fist. Apparently, he had heard "clicking bamboo," the signal the VC used to communicate.
Our LT got on the radio, and had the artillery boys in the rear throw up three flares. Instantly, the pitch black was turned to noon in Texas. My detachment found ourselves nearly face to face with 15 or 20 of the dreaded Viet Cong. A firefight naturally ensued, and we shot every single bullet from every clip and chain we had on us, as did our fearsome enemy.
About fifteen minutes later, silence soon overtook us. LT had a few more flares put in the air, and we checked our men. As we were doing this, so were the VC. Not a single soldier from either side had so much as a scratch on us. Both realized this at the same time, looked at each other with a "WTF?" expression on each of our faces, and stood there for about 30 seconds.
Soon, both platoons raised their hands, and slowly backed away.
After that night. I knew that I'd come home alive. I don't know, and never will, how we escaped that, but I will forever thank God for his protection on that night.
Finally, here's some great wisdom gotten from duty in Korea:
This is Jeff from Connecticut. I'd be more specific, but Connecticut is so freakin' tiny, everyone knows me here. Here's my military story:
I was stationed in Korea in an artillery battery: M109, 155mm Self Propelled. Very cool, very lethal, make big boom. In the States, most of the training is done on firing points on the base, so we usually travel on roads within the confines of the Army post. In Korea, however, the firing points are close to civilian areas, often next to small villages and towns throughout the countryside. As a result, we often traveled on public roads. We'd be driving these 20-ton tracked monsters, throwing off track pads, right on the same highway filled with cars full of nuns driving tiny little Kias and Hyundais. In order to minimize the impact we'd have on civilian traffic, our headquarters units would stage each battery on a staggered schedule so we weren't all on the roads at the same time as we traveled to and from the training areas.
One day, we were coming in from a long field training exercise. Our battery was scheduled to be one of the last units in the line of march, so we pulled over to the side of the road to wait for a couple of hours until it was our turn to take to the highway. I decided to walk to the other platoon to talk to a buddy and was accompanied by one of the KATUSA soldiers I had befriended. (KATUSAs are Korean Augmentees to the United States Army. These guys were members of the Korean Army who had some rudimentary English skills and were assigned to the line units to learn to use American equipment. They were often employed as interpreters when we encountered Korean nationals).
The 3 of us walked about a quarter mile away from the idling vehicles to get away from the diesel exhaust and climbed to the top of a small berm. After a few minutes, we noticed some Korean soldiers about 200 meters away waving at us. We waved back. They waved some more and began yelling at us. We waved and yelled 'Hello' to them. They kept waving and yelling. We finally turned to the KATUSA soldier to ask him what they were yelling, but he had run away across the parking area. About the time we noticed his absence, a giant explosion went off in front of us. We dove down beside the berm and covered up as dirt and rocks started to rain down on us. Apparently, we'd stumbled upon a Korean demolition range and they were setting off explosions. They were yelling 'Fire in the hole' in Korean, which to me sounded strangely similar to 'Hello American GI'. The moral of the story is: If you're in a foreign land and your translator runs away, run after him. Don't wait around to find out what he was running from.
Here are some more stories. I've already gotten some accounts of why people joined the military and will put them up soon, but I would like more. So, if you have a military story or want to explain your reasons for joining the military, e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
Chad sent me this letter from Iraq which has an interesting connection with the current controversy:
A feller who used to babysit me when I was a peck has been over in Iraq for quite awhile now. He sent this letter to his dad, who forwarded it to me.
So let me give you an update. We were attacked yesterday, a rocket went into the TV area, good thing it was at 6am so not to many people were in it, it just destroyed our TV, not to bad, then a Car bomb went off at the end of the block. at the QRF police station 4 dead 14 wounded all Iraqi Cops. three nights ago we lost 2 soldiers just wounded, by an IED in the road, they were placed on a medivac to Germany, they should be ok. I have been on 150 raids, on a raid about a week ago I broke my nose, it hurt, I had climbed the wall into the compund, to check the gate and I was in the yard alone, when we began to take fire from the house so the rest of the SRT team Broke the gate down just as I was moving from my position to another, the gate flew open with 9 guys behind it, my weapon was up so the weapon hit the gate and my rifle hit my face, needless to say my nose lost, it completly knocked me out, but I came to got up and continued, and we got the bad guy. I got a letter of commendation from a general the other day, this is what it said
Dear CPL [name withheld],
I want to extend my sincere appreciation for your proffessionalisim and your dedication to duty. Your success in this theater of war is a direct reflection of your diligence and commitment to excellence. Your accomplishments in single handedly running the entire prison facility are outstanding. You will leave an enduring mark of excellence on the Iraqi Police Officers you are training and the Iraqi Family memebers visiting your facility. You will also leave a very favorable impression of American Soldiers with the Iraqi citizens. You are a source of inspiration and pride. You give every American many reasons to be proud and thankful for everything you do.
[Ed Note (from Chad): Karpinski is being called on about the prisoner abuse scandal. The subject of this letter is no longer in charge of this facility; he is home with his family)
AllenS has this little story of what would now be called soldier abuse:
I was drafted into the Army in 1966. I took my basic training at Ft. Leonardwood, MO. I was in awe at the drill instructors. Not so much at their so-called toughness, but by what those guys would say. One day while we were standing in single file outside of the mess hall, waiting for one of those wonderful meals, one of them yelled this: "Awwwwwllllright in that chow line, I want to see you assholes to bellybuttons, if the man in front of you ain't smiling, you ain't close enough." I just about split a gut.
Drew has this story about snipe hunts and things just sound like them:
As a young airman at my first base I was very aware of the snipe hunts devised for young troops, things like finding 50 gallons of prop wash or 100 feet of flightline. I'm suspicious by nature and was determined not to fall for one of these tricks. One day I was told to bring a tool kit to the marshalling area for deployment. The NCO inspecting items before loading took one look at my tool kit and told me I needed a non-flammable gas sticker on my fire extinguisher. To me this was a pretty obvious snipe hunt...but it wasn't. I really had to get that damn non-flammable sticker.
Are you sure a simple compressed gas sticker wouldn't do? Oh no, we had to make sure that fire extinguisher was properly labeled non-flammable.
Finally, Timmer has this humorous description of military ranks:
Military Rank Guide
Leaps tall building in a single bound
Is more powerful than a locomotive
Is faster than a speeding bullet
Walks on water
Discusses policy with God
Leaps short buildings in a single bound
Is more powerful than a switch engine
Is just as fast as a speeding bullet
Walks on water if the sea is calm
Talks with God
Leaps short buildings with a running start and favorable winds.
Is almost as powerful as a switch engine
Is faster than a speeding BB.
Walks on water in an indoor swimming pool
Talks with God if special request is approved
Barely clears a Quonset hut
Loses tug-of-war with a locomotive
Can fire a speeding bullet
Is occasionally addressed by God
Makes high marks on the wall when trying to leap buildings
Is run over by locomotive
Can sometimes handle a gun without inflicting self-injury
Talks to animals
Runs into buildings
Recognizes locomotive two out of three times
Is not issued ammunition
Can't stay afloat with a life preserver
Talks to walls
Falls over doorsteps when trying to enter building
Says "look at the choo-choo"
Wets him/herself with a water pistol
Plays in mud puddles
Mumbles to him/herself
Lifts buildings and walks under them
Kicks locomotives off the tracks
Catches speeding bullets in his/her teeth
Freezes water with a single glance
I want to keep this feature going, but I'm nearly out of stories. So, if you have a military story, e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
Here's a Marine's praise for patriotic civilians in Iraq. A great story:
I was sent to do some work in Baghdad and billeted at the CPA headquarters in the Green Zone. The CPA headquarters was an eclectic collection of people from all over the world -from Ambassador Bremer to the Gurhka guarding the door it was a strange brew indeed. One day I sat down for chow with three civilians. I'm guessing they were 65, 45, and 30 year old men (not guessing about the men part). They were from different parts of the county, but all worked for the Army Corps of Engineers as hydro power gurus. We struck up a conversation and I asked them what brought them to Iraq. A standard question in the Green Zone and the 30 yr old's was typical.
He said - "They came around the office and announced that the Corps of Engineers needed to send some people to Iraq. They asked if anyone wanted to volunteer. I thought it would be interesting, kind of an adventure - so I signed up." That was pretty much what most of the civilians in Iraq would say - a few would also add, " and the money is good."
The 65 yr old said - "I am the boss back where I work. I have been employed by the U.S. government for over 30 years and have never really had to do 'anything above and beyond' my day to day duties. I thought this would be my opportunity to pay the country back." I hadn't heard that one before and was a little bit taken aback. The 45 yr old's response only solidified the fact that there are Patriots in America, and there not all wearing a uniform.
He said - "Same here, they came around the office looking for volunteers and told us we had a couple of days to think it over. I wasn't really sold on the idea, and went home and talked to my wife about it. I imagined that she would be adamantly opposed and I wasn't going to push the issue. I mentally ran through the list of reasons she would come up with and sure enough she hit me with - 'you'll be gone for 6 months, isn't this really dangerous, it will be hard to run the household without you, what are the kids going to think.' We talked briefly about it, she thought for a few minutes and then said 'all those things are true, but we owe this to the country' so here I am."
I just nodded, didn't really know what to say - after twenty years in the Marine Corps I usually thought of civilians as lesser mortals that needed my protection (with only about 20% worthy of it ). Even after 9/11 I thought - sure, there are a lot of flags out these days, and people are inclined to be a little more patriotic, but talk is cheap and a flag and pole cost about 40 bucks. Now when I see some old lady waiving a flag, or hear some trucker talking about what he would do to UBL if he could get his hands on him, I think back to that conversation and conclude that the enemies of America have no idea what they are up against. If need be - the 65 year old men and engineer's wives of American can take UBL and his ilk any day.
DNice has some stories of some fun in Germany:
When I was stationed in Germany (1986 - 1988) I was in a Lance Missile Battalion. I had heard that we were the "most forwardly deployed nuclear capable unit" in Europe. We were 60 kilometers from the Czech border. (I have no independent corroboration of that... whatever.)
Anyways, because we had nukes, we were stationed out in the middle of nowhere (which is pretty hard to do in Germany, but they did it). There were corn fields as far as the eye could see. And worst of all, we were in probably the only town in Germany that didn't have a train station!
When we went out to the field for exercises, we didn't go to Graf, where everyone else went (a big training area). OHHHHH nooooo! We went out into the German countryside and set up the woods between small towns.
We would regularly have German citizens walking their dogs through our areas.
My first time in the field I was guarding the entrance to the woods where our Battery was set up. We pulled a fallen tree across the dirt road, and I was sitting prone in the bushes with my M16. A car pulls up and stops at the log, I jump out of the bushes in my BDUs, kevlar, and M16 and the guy almost has a heart attack. He rolls down the window and asks in broken English if the woods are full of soldiers. I said yes, then he picks up a shotgun... I freak out and jump back about 10 ten feet (I don't have any real ammo...). Suddenly I realize he's trying to tell me he wanted to go hunting and would he be allowed?
Another time, in the middle of winter, we got a visit from some neighborhood kids while we were set up outside this small town. We bribed them with camo sticks (the camouflage makeup sticks) and MRE's to get us some beer. They come back with a whole rack of beer from a nearby Gasthaus. Awesome!
Then we got the order to move out the next day, so we paid the kids with chem-lite glow sticks and some more MRE's and they broken down all of our equipment and packed up our tents for us. We sat on the truck and drank the beer. God bless those kids!
Paul from Memphis, TN, has another story about dealing with the Germans... though from a quite different era:
This one is about 3rd hand, but it's still pretty good. My dad worked as a law clerk for a federal judge down in Mobile, AL who had served as a P-38 pilot in WWII in Europe. The P-38 was an amazingly versatile and dangerous aircraft (to the Krauts, that is). One of the missions that got flown a lot was tank busting -- German tanks were highly superior to American ones, but the USAAF ruled the skies. The worst nemesis of Allied armor was the King Tiger, the Panzerkampgwagon VI.4.c B -- the frontal armor was 150mm thick, which, for reference, isn't too shabby for today's MBT. It was essentially invulnerable to frontal assault; a King Tiger with a clear field of fire could whipe out entire batallions of Shermans or T-34's alone -- the high power 88mm gun was a killer. But the King Tiger presented a quandry for the air force as well: the armor was so thick, even on top, that 500! pound bombs had a tendency to bounce off. So, what the pilots resorted to doing when out on bombing runs against King Tigers, was to drop bombs on either side of the tank, and the concussion from the blast would actually FLIP the vehicle over. Sounds weird, but it's true.
I want to keep this feature going, but I'm nearly out of stories. So, if you have a military story, e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
John sent in some more military terminology:
Here are some Navy/Submarine terms
sluff- short little ugly fat fucker
non-qual- person who has not qualified in submarines. Lower than whale shit
buff- big ugly fat fucker
bug juice- Navy Kool Aid. Also a good degreaser.
midrats- late night meal
push button petty officer- A person that was given a petty officer pay grade because of their school and didn't have to test for it
chop- supply officer
cob- Head enlisted man on the submarine (Chief of the Boat)
boat- submarine. We don't call submarines ships successful deployement-number of surfaces equaled the nuimber of dives.
DaDougster sent this in. I know I've seen the first part before, but the rest is new to me...
USMC Rules for Gunfighting
1. Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one.
2. Decide to be aggressive ENOUGH, quickly ENOUGH.
3. Have a plan.
4. Have a back-up plan, because the first one probably won't work.
5. Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
6. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun whose caliber does not start with a "4."
7. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is expensive.
8. Move away from your attacker. Distance is your friend. (Lateral and diagonal movement are preferred.)
9. Use cover or concealment as much as possible.
10. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.
11. Always cheat; always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.
12. In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.
13. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating or reloading.
14. Someday someone may kill you with your own gun, but they should have to beat you to death with it because it is empty.
15. And above all ... don't drop your guard.
And just to be obnoxious:
Navy SEALS Rules For Gun fighting
1. Look very cool in the latest sunglasses.
2. Kill every living thing within view.
3. Return quickly to looking very cool in latest beach wear.
4. Check hair in mirror.
US Army Rangers Rules For Gun fighting
1. Walk in 50 miles wearing 75 pound ruck while starving.
2. Locate individuals requiring killing.
3. Request permission via radio from "Higher" to perform killing.
4. Curse bitterly when mission is aborted.
5. Walk out 50 miles wearing a 75 pound ruck while starving.
Army Rules For Gun fighting
1. Select a new beret to wear
2. Sew combat patch on right shoulder
3. Reconsider the color of beret you decide to wear
US Air Force Rules For Gun fighting
1. Have a cocktail
2. Adjust temperature on air-conditioner
3. See what's on HBO
4. Determine "what is a gunfight"
5. Send the Marines
Navy Rules For Gunfighting
1. Go to Sea
2. Drink Coffee
3. Send the Marines
That has to be the fifth reference I've seen to the Navy doing nothing but drinking coffee. I really like coffee; maybe I should join the Navy.
On a more serious note...
I am Proud
I've always had serious pride in the United States' Military. Great men with bad guns willing to do bad things for my freedom. Now, I have even more pride. I've never claimed that my brother and I see eye to eye on anything except the military, but he's still a great man. I found out today that he's off to Iraq and he's no longer in the Special Forces. He left American soil as a member of the Delta force. He will be fighting soon for your freedom and for my freedom. Sgt. Marc and everyone in the military (but mostly him right now) deserve many thanks. So, something I never thought I'd say.....Thank you Marc....Please, be safe. Marc is very religious and as everyone knows, I am not. In this case, though, I'll say that if there is a god.....Watch his back. Marc has the mind of a genius and the heart of a child...Let no one take this from him. I know he's a very competent man and that anyone near him is safe. May that competence bring him home alive. Please, don't get killed. I'll have to join the military and avenge your death. This would end badly and with many nuclear weapons, so, for the sake of humanity....COME HOME SAFE.
To anyone that reads this I say, "Sleep well this night." There are man and women fighting like hell for you and I to sleep well. To all those men and women in the military I say, "When you get the chance to sleep, please know there are people that appreciate you more than words can describe." To Marc, "You are loved and sweet dreams, if that's possible where you're at."
I want to keep this feature going, so, if you have a military story, e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
jamestox (AT3, U.S. Navy) sent this joke in (though it probably has a lot of truth about military life):
From: Attack Squadron XXXXXX-XXXXX
To: Family members and close friends of service members
Subject: Return of service member from at-sea deployment
This letter has been written to give you advance warning of the forthcoming return of your service member, on or about XX December, 19XX, from deployment in the Mediterranean Sea with Carrier Group XXXX, embarked on USS XXXXXXXXXXXXX (CV-XX), a unit of Battle Forces SIXTH FLEET.
Due to the nature of duty your service member has been subjected to, you may find it necessary to "retrain" him for non-deployment life. With your full
cooperation in following the proven recommendations in this letter, your service member's transition back to full, non-deployment "normal" life should be obtainable within a maximum of 2 to 3 years - assuming there are no additional deployments in the meantime.
The following recommendations may seem a bit harsh at first, but your service member will benefit greatly from them and will love you more for your loving care and understanding.
TO HELP YOUR SERVICE MEMBER TO READJUST TO HIS NEW ENVIRONMENT, PRACTICE THE FOLLOWING:
1. Secure (close and lock) the bathroom for a minimum of 23 hours and 45 minutes daily.
2. Put toilet tissue out only once a month (supply other family members with their own rolls during the readjustment period).
3. Limit the service member's water usage to a maximum of 30 gallons per day (to include laundry, dirty dishes, car washing, and lawn/garden watering for the entire household, as well as the service member's personal needs).
Under no circumstances should you let your service member take a hot shower; this could cause permanent psychological damage. This can be done by securing the valve from the water heater when the service member enters the bathroom.
As for the service member's laundry, always return fewer clothes than he puts in or instant insanity could result (due to having too many clean clothes to choose from). When washing his clothing, add at least one full cup of itching powder; this will make his clothes feel "normal" and keep him too busy to yell orders to you or anyone else in the vicinity. Over time, reduce the amount of itching powder, since this condition is only temporary and will dissapear with love and time (in that order).
You may find it necessary to move your household to a location beneath a bowling alley for the service member to fall asleep at night. He is accustomed to hearing loud noises above him while he is sleeping (e.g. catapult shots, aircraft engaging arresting gear during landings, F-4 Phantoms crashing on the flight deck, etc.). If it is impossible to find a bowling alley with a basement, a large steel mill will suffice - although it must have a stamping press that runs at night.
All meats must be prepared in such a way as to be burnt on the outside and still frozen in the center. Mashed potatoes should be prepared in a manner that will cause them to "run" all over the plate and mix with his dessert. Fresh milk should be available only for the first week of the month, with "long-shelf-life-container" liquid milk provided for the next three days, and nonfat-dry milk the remainder of the month. Canned, mixed vegetables, ketchup, and pepper hot sauce are to be provided for two of the three daily meals to allow the service member to make vegetable soup if he so desires. Pancakes can be made in one of two ways: thin and rubbery or thick and hard (the service member will recognize these two varieties as "tire-patch" and "armor-plate"). Powdered and brewed beverages (instant lemonade, Kool-Ade, iced tea) should be mixed with a minimum of sugar and diluted to about half its intended strength. Coffee should be brewed a recommended three days.
The following may occur from time to time during your service member's stay at home and are nothing to be alarmed about. Do not be concerned with unusual reactions to normal, everyday sounds such as those created by handheld electronic games, railroad trains, doorbells or telephones - to which he may exit the front door, pulling on his clothes at a dead run to "man his battlestation." Conversely, he may secure himself in some manner to something solid such as an indoor column, bannister, or commode in preparation of a collision with another seagoing vessel. This behavior becomes instinctive through the practice of shipboard "drills" and is considered quite normal so soon after an at-sea deployment. Your service member can be restored to a non-drill condition by sounding one short blast on a whistle and saying, "Now, secure from ..." and state the drill in which he was taking part. Simple observation and common sense will cue you on the type of drill. Some quite common shipboard drills are: General Quarters ("battlestations"), Collision, Man-Overboard, and Mail Call. Note: until your service member fully realizes he's no longer on deployment, we recommend you "drill" him ocassionally to prevent a sense of paranoia and psychological unease. One highly recommended drill is General Quarters; this drill should be held during his normal sleeping hours and last a MINIMUM of 2 hours. Be sure to pass the word: "No eating, drinking or smoking", as this is a normal condition during G.Q. - and one in which some service members are lax.
Do not be alarmed if your service member sets the television picture out of focus, turns up the volume to the point of loud distortion, then starts complaining that, "...the TV is mess ed up again because the idiot running the studio used the WRONG lens on the projector to show the movie." He may also kick the coffee table over and put his heels on it after sitting on the sofa and loudly mumble to himself for long periods. This condition is normal and temporary, lasting through the first few months of non-deployment life.
There may be other unusual things you will notice your service member doing; such behavior normally disappears over time in his new environment. Some examples may include measuring and stirring sugar into his coffee with either a knife or fork, using an unusually heavy (and nearly inedible) amount of seasoning on his meals, going through a safety-gear checklist prior to mowing the lawn, performing a "FOD walkdown" on the driveway every morning, or loudly shouting "door coming closed - stand CLEAR!!!" when shutting the garage door. I must once again stress that these things are perfectly normal and almost always harmless.
If there is anything our squadron can do in helping you with your service member's reacclimation to non-deployment life, feel free to call us or your nearest Armed Forces activity. The US military has a fine medical department with 24-hour emergency psychiatrists on duty, should you or your service member require immediate attention. I hope this letter has been of assistance to you. I must assure you, there are only a few things your service member need be taught again.
Post-deployment Assistance Officer, ATKRON-XX
Jason writes about a usual day for the National Guard:
I spent a couple of years in the New York Army National Guard. The National Guard gets a lot of stick, this story I about to relay is a good example of why. Our 2 week annual training every summer was usually pretty uneventful. I and 3 of my buddies had managed to secure three of the most coveted positions in the company. I was the CO driver, another was a Platoon Leader driver and yet another was the XO driver. This probably was done on purpose to try and keep up separated. The unforeseen problem was that this gave all three of unfettered access to vehicles 24 hours a day. The base we were on was no base at all. It was a ‘camp’. In theory it was the equivalent to Camp David, but for the governor of New York and not the President. Camp Smith, as it is called, is pretty open. It is not unusual for military vehicles to leave there at any time of day. One afternoon ‘Dan’ had purposely gotten the XO vehicle dirty. He was unable to clean before chow that night telling the XO he would do it after chow. The thing was the bay for washing vehicles close before evening show. The XO, of course had no idea. At about 2100 that night, Dan, Steve, and I slipped into the night the Sgt. ‘nobody’. We took a Sergeant because the rest of us were SPC. and we needed someone to take the blame if we got caught. Everyone except for Dan was in civilian clothes. Dan had his in a bag. He has to at least drive of camp in BDU’s. We drove about 30 miles to Wallkill NY. We figured that was sufficient enough not to raise any alarms. First things first we had to get the M1009 washed. The M1009 is a Chevy Blazer outfitted for the military. In Wallkill NY seeing a blazer painted camouflage does not tend to get noticed. Anyways what easier ways to wash it then to take it through an automatic car wash, right? No. We had forgotten about the $600 radio antenna that was tied down on the side of the M1009. It snapped in two pieces in the car wash. It was at this time the sergeant with us realizes why we had brought him along and proceeded to freak out. He was then offered the option to walk or continue the mission. We just ended up going to some sports bar. That was pretty uneventful. We headed back to Camp Smith. There was still the issue of the antenna that needed to be taken care of. Dan said he would take care of it. We were all in our bunks by 0300. We only had to be up in two hours. When we did get up, Dan was immediacy greeted by the XO. “SPC. Podinski I was looking for you last night, you were not in your bunk.” Sir, I may have been in the Latrine” “I checked the latrine, you were not there” Sir, I said ‘I may have been in the latrine’, I did not say I was there.” “You were not in your bunk, where were you?” “Sir, I can neither confirm nor deny that I was not in my bunk at that time you specified because my watch is broken.” At that point the XO gave up and walked away, seeing how he knew what had happened, and knew that we could not prove it. Our story does not end their kids. You all remember that antenna that got broken, right? It turns out that Dan had taken the antenna of the M1009 that Steve was driving. So Steve ended up having some explaining to do, but it was all good since the whole excursion was his idea anyways. I am since out. Steve and Dan both went on to OCS and now have their enlisted men pulling the same kind of stuff on them.
The names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Chad got this from his roommate and it shows a different side of Iraq:
I got this email from my cousin who is in iraq right now. i thought you guys might find it interesting. it makes me either want to not pay taxes or
join the army....im not sure:
Things have been quite a bit calmer as of late. I'm just living one day at
a time out here. I noticed that when I start to think about coming home I get depressed and the days go by slower, so I just try to keep the though of what day it is out of my head. I know I don't have a whole lot of time
Iraq isn't my favorite country to say the least. One Iraqi man asked
me if I enjoyed being here in Iraq, I just glared at him, I couldn't believe he
even asked me that. A vast majority of the Army out here does nothing...literally. They are just bodies used as man-power. I've noticed their lifestyle, and talked to a couple of 82nd Airborne guys and they
told me all about how most of the soldiers wake up whenever they want, go to
eat chow, watch a couple of movies, do whatever, then their "work day" is complete. I think I know how a lot of these guys handle being out here for
a year or so...they don't do ANY work. What a joke, what a horrible waste of tax-payers money. 1 Thing I will never forget about the military is the disgusting waste of our tax dollars. No one seems to care about it either, it's amazing. Abuse of government vehicles, ragging on them to amuse a few people, and various other things. It makes me sick that my taxes are being spent to fund stupidity. Anyhow, enough of my ramblings, I'm a bit tired right now. Thanks for the news! Love, Matt.
I'm just going to have one story today, as it's longer than usual and more serious than most. This was sent in by a reader and is an interview she did in 2001 of her father about his involvement in Vietnam and the Counter Culture (such as joining Vietnam Veteran's Against the War). It's well worth a read.
I still have a number of more stories left to print for future editions, but I still want more to keep this feature going. So, if you have one, e-mail me with the subject "Military". Thanks.
* * * *
David was born in 1950, a middle child of 28 children in a Mormon family, sharing blood with approximately 14 of them. He experienced his childhood in general poverty, moving between living with relatives, orphanages, and Indian reservations. He dropped out of high school in 1969 to enlist in the Army, and served until 1971. In 1974 he married Deborah, and started on his first of three children. In 1976 he joined the Army Reserves. Now he is a computer programming consultant for several companies, and an avid sailboat Captain and sailing instructor.
This interview is being conducted by Megan [his daughter], and it covers the late 1960's through the early 1970's, specifically David's involvement in the Vietnam War and the Counter Culture, as well as the Civil Rights Movement. The Vietnam war was not one that we declared, but one that snowballed out of control. In 1954 the Vietnamese defeated the French, and the Geneva peace conference "temporarily" divided Vietnam into a communist north and a non-communist south, with an election scheduled to elect a single Vietnamese government. The United States then organized SEATO, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization to contain Asia. In 1964 Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorizing the President to wage undeclared war. By 1966 America had 275,000 combat troops in Vietnam, one year later that number totaled 485,000, and in 1969 the number reached it's maximum of 543,000. At the same time a new lottery system was created to reduce the number of draftees by two thirds, and Congress repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution the next year. A cease fire began on January 27, 1973 confirming the American withdrawal from Vietnam. The Counter Culture consisted of several different types of ideas, but most of the people involved were known as hippies. Those who were seriously involved in the counter culture shunned the middle class American way of life, while many were kids expressing their personal alienation by sampling drugs and listening to psychedelic music. The Civil Rights movement also occurred in this era, allowing for minorities such as Blacks and Women to finally voice their oppression to an audience.
DAVID. I dropped out of the 11th grade in high school to enlist for three years in the Army. I was stationed in Vietnam for 3 combat tours. A combat tour is 6 months long. While in Vietnam, I joined an organization named 'Vietnam Veterans Against the War'. You may directly infer from this that the counter culture was even having an impact over there. I used to joke with people after returning to "The World" that perhaps we could have won the war if I hadn't been a doper over there. In retrospect, it may not have been such a joke. A lot of us were users of something or other. It was all cheap and super easy to get. It is real likely that it was so readily available because our adversaries were the principal suppliers. My rank was Sergeant E-5. Job description - Radio Teletype Operator Team Chief - Skill Development Base. This last thing meant that my non-commissioned officer rank was awarded me by attending school as apposed to earning it in the field. While stationed overseas, I never worked at the job I was trained for. Instead, the positions I held were as follows: Telephone lineman - String wire on telephone poles, Water truck driver, NCO in charge of company communications, Door Gunner on Huey helicopters (not gun ships), Manager of unapproved company level NCO lounge, Stock control clerk - Inventory guy.
Received honorable discharge in 1971 but there was a code on my discharge papers that marked me as a doper. After marrying your mom, I re-enlisted in the Army reserve as a computer programming specialist. Received a truly honorable discharge with no little codes marking me as a bad guy. However, the job description I held required a security clearance which I never could get. When a government tells you to turn yourself in and they won't hold it against you; they are lying.
MEGAN. What caused you to drop out of high school and join?
DAVID. Hormones, a constant war with your grandmother, three older brothers had been in Army, school sucks, no role models, hated getting up in morning.
MEGAN. What changed between when you dropped out and when you joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War that made you change your mind?
DAVID. Peer pressure. Being in country. Immature before I enlisted; a different kind of immature when I joined VVAW.
MEGAN. Were you a minority or a majority for choosing to go instead of being drafted?
DAVID. The majority of enlisted people were drafted.
MEGAN. From the list of positions you gave me, why did you go from what I assume to be an honor of being a non commissioned officer to a manager of a lounge to stocking shelves?
DAVID. In all cases, I kept the NCO rank. The positions were various jobs I was assigned to. The short answer is that I wasn't reliable, trustworthy, or capable. The actual jobs I did can't really be ranked in an apples to apples comparison. The NCO lounge manager was the best job I did; right up to where I quit. The most fun was the door gunner job. I had left out NCOIC (NCO in charge) of communications.
MEGAN. Did the training you received in school start you in the field of computers that you are currently in?
DAVID. No. Had an interest in them; probably because I don't like arithmetic. Went to a computer technical school after I left the service the first time. I had used up all my unemployment from being in the service; all the money I'd saved in the service, and the GI bill was the only source of money available at the time short of getting a job.
MEGAN. What specifically was your involvement in the Vietnam Veterans Against the War?
DAVID. Just sent money for membership and joined. No active participation.
MEGAN. Did it effect the way others on your tours treated you?
DAVID. No. Didn't really advertise joining.
MEGAN. How did getting dope from the enemies work? How did you know when to buy from them vs. when to fight them?
DAVID. The enemy and the friendly all looked alike. Drugs were purchased on the black market. It was pretty much the same kind of supply chain that exists in the U.S. for buying drugs today.
MEGAN. What was the general opinions of the other soldiers of the Vietnam war?
DAVID. I can't answer this. I think the majority were level headed conscientious people doing what was required of them. Just a way higher percentage than normal either did dope or booze.
MEGAN. What was your opinion on the war?
DAVID. Came away believing that the only way of winning a war was total annihilation of your enemy. That is every mother, father, son, or daughter that is your enemy or can grow up to be your enemy must die. This proposes a dilemma. How can you wage war and be humane?
MEGAN. Is this what decided you against the war?
DAVID. No. Total lack of support of the U.S. at virtually every level; including our government.
MEGAN. Did the Vietnam war make you more politically aware?
DAVID. Not really. I'm still not very astute.
MEGAN. What were your main objectives over there?
DAVID. I personally had no objectives. It is a side affect of being a doper.
MEGAN. What was a typical day like, what did each job entail?
DAVID. Hot. Wet. Finding drugs. Buying drugs. Using drugs.
MEGAN. Was there any protesting taking place?
DAVID. Not that I was aware of.
MEGAN. Did you ever refuse to perform an assignment?
DAVID. No. You can be totally incompetent in the military so long as you are never insubordinate.
MEGAN. Did anyone over there foreign or domestic agree with the U.S.
DAVID. Someone must have.
MEGAN. Were Vietnamese women as readily available as the movies portrayed them to be?
DAVID. Probably more so.
MEGAN. How and Did the war change you?
DAVID. To the extent that it got me off the Indian reservation and out into the world, it changed me a lot.
MEGAN. Did you ever have to take life?
DAVID. Don't know. Shot up a lot of trees and rocks when I was a door gunner though.
MEGAN. Did it get easier to take life over time?
DAVID. Seems to me that however much you respect your own life and place value on it determines how easy it would be to takes someone else's. Two things muddy this up a little. They are an innate fear of the unknown after death or if you can hate someone else enough to take the one truly precious thing they have. This latter was said well by Clint Eastwood in the movie Unforgiven. He tells the kid that killing is taking from a man all was, is, or will ever be. I am paraphrasing here. Watch the movie; the actual quote is better.
MEGAN. Were you ever concerned that civilian life was being taken?
DAVID. No. Civilian life is really a funny sort of concept. If your politicians and your taxes support your military; if you support the actions of your military; just how civilized are you?
MEGAN. Was the war what you were bargaining for when you signed up?
DAVID. Since I wasn't bright enough to foresee any future for myself, there was nothing that I was bargaining for.
MEGAN. How would you compare the military then as to now?
DAVID. I really can't. I have no expertise on today's military. It seems to be far more high tech and there appears to be a desire to wage war without casualties. We don't seem to want to fight.
MEGAN. Do you see any similarities between then and what is happening now?
DAVID. Yes. We weren't committed to winning at any cost then or now. Nor were we in Korea or the Gulf war. We essentially have lost every war we have fought in since WW2. We claim victories in every engagement except Vietnam but in truth, the same enemies with the same agendas are still there and fighting against us even after we call ourselves winners and go home.
MEGAN. What do you think of our governments handling of foreign relations?
DAVID. I am far more impressed with the foreign relations of Ghengis Khan, or the Roman empire with their 500 years of peace, or the British government when they dominated the oceans of the entire world for as many years. When a Roman Centurion was killed, ten of the Roman enemy was killed to avenge his death. That was foreign policy. If we implemented that policy after 09/11/2001, that would require us to kill 60,000 of those aligned against us. So... Is that justice? Bin Lauden believes so. How best can we demonstrate to him the consequences of his beliefs?
MEGAN. How did your service to our country effect your life?
DAVID. Got me away from home. Got me the GI bill for education. Afforded me the opportunity to go down a path that didn't exist where and when I grew up. Was able to pass GED test for high school. Don't believe I ever would have completed conventionally. Picture yourself in my place with no one pressuring you to finish.
MEGAN. Did it make your more responsible, compassionate, bitter, etc...?
DAVID. Marriage is what really did all those things for me. Until then I was pretty much a tumbleweed with IQ to match.
MEGAN. Would you recommend the service for today's youth? Why or why not?
DAVID. Yes. Everyone needs to work. I'm all in favor of anyone that wants adventure and can't afford to pay for it, joining. It would be good for some, bad for some, but at least they'd know.
MEGAN. Where do you think you would be in your life had you not joined?
DAVID. This is a fallacy of logic called arguing from a hypothesis. It is equally feasible that I could have become a felon, or a teacher, or a mercenary, or a street person.
MEGAN. What was your opinion of how Americans received the returning veterans?
DAVID. I never took it personally though I know that many did.
MEGAN. How were you received personally by those that knew you?
DAVID. Like a returning soldier that they were proud of and glad was back.
Particularly since some thought I was a far better candidate for jail when I went in.
MEGAN. Did you lose many friends to the war?
DAVID. Every friend I made that I lost track of was lost. None died that I'm aware of.
MEGAN. What about the vietnam war makes it hard for you to talk about?
DAVID. Nothing any more.
MEGAN. What do you think makes it hard for others to talk about their experiences?
DAVID. Either shocked at what they did; didn't do, saw, didn't see, behaved, didn't behave. A saturday evening sitting in front of the TV getting fat may well kill you, but it surely doesn't test your fiber or beliefs.
MEGAN. Did doing the drugs make it easier or harder to cope in retrospect?
DAVID. People who do drugs aren't really coping; they are turning their brain off.
MEGAN. Was that your opinion then?
MEGAN. Were you involved with the counter culture before leaving for the war?
MEGAN. When you came home?
DAVID. I moved in those circles but was pretty much outside them too.
Harken back to image of brainless tumbleweed.
MEGAN. Did the civil rights movement of the 60s affect you? How?
DAVID. Yes. Not directly. Didn't consider it my problem. Was perfectly willing to believe black people did have a problem.
MEGAN. Did your beliefs mirror those of the counter culture?
DAVID. Probably not. My favorite author was Ayn Rand.
MEGAN. Were you involved in the war when the Viet Congs Tet offensive
DAVID. Tet offensive was 1968. I joined 1969. First tour in Nam was early 1970. This was an event that even me in my turned off ignore everything daze was aware of.
MEGAN. Was it a factor in your joining the VVAW?
MEGAN. Do you remember Martin Luther King¹s assassination? And how did if effect you and those around you?
DAVID. Yes. Not at all. I didn't identify with people who were passionate enough to assassinate someone nor with the victims either.
MEGAN. Was there racial tension over there?
DAVID. Perhaps. My black friends could call me a honky because I didn't care but I couldn't call them niggers because they did care.
MEGAN. What was your opinion of Nixon and his foreign policies?
DAVID. Voted for him every time he ran from when I was in the 6th grade.
Would have voted for him again.
MEGAN. Did you get to watch Armstrong walk on the moon when your were over there?
DAVID. Saw the TV pictures. Your grandmother never did believe it was real.
MEGAN. What was your most dangerous assignment/ job?
DAVID. Door gunner.
MEGAN. What made the door gunner job the most fun, if fun can be used to describe anything that went on?
DAVID. Why did you like jumping out of a plane or being at the helm with a rail buried in the water?
MEGAN. Did you use the same guns as Rambo?
DAVID. Don't know what Rambo used. Used an M60 machine gun mounted on a pivot with butterfly triggers and every 5th round of 7.62mm ammo a tracer.
MEGAN. Same gun. Were you ever in any harry situations? What happened?
DAVID. Not really. They mortered the flight line a mile away while an idiot Sgt. 1st class had us all standing in close formation to give us hell for not going to the bunkers. Airlifted a Thai soldier out of an LZ once that was shot in the back pretty bad. I fired a lot of suppression fire with no one firing back. Almost crashed a helicopter once because I didn't tell the pilot he was letting the tail come around to engage a tree. It was my job to do that but even now I have a tendency to just let a bad thing happen and see how it comes out.
MEGAN. Do you owe your life to anyone, or does anyone owe you their life?
DAVID. Sure. My family, those that brought me and those that I leave.
Especially you. You are my future and my pride.
MEGAN. Do you feel anger against our government for lying to you about disclosing your drug use?
DAVID. Not at all. They really had no choice either.
MEGAN. What were you at war with Grandma about?
DAVID. She was a bright headstrong willful person who had been kicked in the teeth her entire life. I inherited many of her tendencies.
MEGAN. Do you ever wish you had stayed home and finished high school?
DAVID. Not really.
MEGAN. What kind of immature were you when you joined the VVAW? Are you mature now?
DAVID. Well, obviously, the same kind as you. I couldn't formulate a tactful question, even if it was a multiple choice question with one answer given. Is it true that is how they get you artist types to pass tests in college? Now I am very mature because you can no longer get me to rise to the bait of this kind of question.
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?)
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.
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.
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.
I really like this feature, so, if you have something, either a story or a joke, e-mail me with the subject "Military". Everyone else, enjoy.
* * * *
Pw2 who can confirm firsthand that those camel spiders are large and hard to squish, writes about the incompetence of his own branch:
Many of the comments from Marines about the Air Force not being ready for combat are unfortunately spot-on. I’m a Major in the Air Force Reserve, actually I’m a full time member of the reserve I’m what is know as an Air Reserve Technician. Last year I deployed to Al Udeid Air Base Qatar from June to November in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was deployed as the Deputy Air Reserve Component Liaison. That means I worked for a full Colonel (O-6) who was the Air National Guard’s (ANG) and Air Force Reserve Commands (AFRC) representative on the staff of the Commander Air Forces Central Command. (My Colonel was the go between from the 3 star ANG General and the 3 star AFRC general to the Active Duty 3 star general in charge of the air war.) So as to provide continuity, the Liaison position and the Deputy Liaison position were on staggered 120 day tours. That means the first Colonel I worked for left after about 60 days and a new Colonel replaced him. (I left about 75 days later and was replaced by an ANG Lt Col)
As part of our duties we traveled around the war zone and checked up on the ANG and AFRC troops and made sure they were getting treated fairly. So while I was in the ultimate REMF (Rear Echelon Mother F*%$#r) position, I did travel into Iraq several times. Now the first guy I worked for was pretty sharp I would have confidently followed him into battle. However, the second guy (I’ll call him “Brother Bob”) while a good man who I am sure will get into heaven, would not inspire fear in the hearts of our enemies.
On my first trip into Iraq with “Brother Bob” pretty well sums up why Air Force Officers probably shouldn’t carry guns. Since we were leaving early Tuesday morning, we went to the “armory” on Monday afternoon to get issued weapons (9mm pistol). Since tent city is a weapon free zone, I stored my weapon in Col “Brother Bob’s” trailer inside the CAOC (Combined Air Operations Center) compound. I frankly forgot about the weapons after we locked them up. Since we had a lot to do before traveling (packing, laundry drop off, working out, putting DCU (Desert Camouflage Uniform) covers on our body armor…) we agreed to take care of our errands and meet up again after chow.
When we met back up Col “Brother Bob” (sorta under his breath) told me he needed my help because he had “broken” his gun. He tells me that he was trying to slide it back like he did at the range and it came apart and he couldn’t get it back to together. He goes on to tell me that he asked one of his roommates for help (another Air Force Colonel) and he couldn’t get the gun put back together either. Trying not to laugh, I tell him not to worry I’m sure I can help him put his weapon back together. So we go back to his room were he hands me the disassembled weapon, and I attempt to reconnect the slide to the receiver. It won’t go back together (the two Cols were right about that). Here is where I add to the Air Force Officer mystique, as I removed the slide to investigate what is wrong I forgot to put my thumb on the recoil spring to hold it in place. The recoil spring fell out of place and launched the guide pin across the room. At this point Col “Brother Bob” begins to get nervous and starts to question if I know what I’m doing. I of course assure him I do and I was just careless to let the “pin” get launched like that. (Which is actually true I did know what I was doing, but I was careless) I do admit it took me another couple of minutes (rather than the few seconds I anticipated) to figure out the problem and get the weapon reassembled. (One of the Colonels “twisted” and locked the disassembly button so the weapon could not be reassembled. Once the problem was identified it was easily corrected.) I then briefly went over how to cock, load and reload the M-9.
As a safety measure since we weren’t leaving the Air Base, I made sure we kept our weapons unloaded while in Iraq. I couldn’t think of any viable scenario where the time it takes to put a clip in the weapon would make any difference (with our limited amount of ability) between victory and defeat. I was convinced then and am still convinced we would have much more dangerous to ourselves than to the enemy if we had loaded our weapons. War is Hell!
David sent me this letter from Brad about how things are actually going in Iraq:
I just watched the evening news from last night. We get CNN on delay from the states. I realize that most of you dont know anything about what it is like over here except what you hear in the news. It is hard to believe just how wrong they are until you live through it. From what I hear in the news Our position is about to be overrun and we have resorted to negotiating with terrorists to take cities. That is bullshit. I just want to set the record straight. You dont hear about the operations going on 24 hours a day and the stories of guys giving it all for millions of people they dont know. You cant understand the "negotiations" the cobra gunship pilots are bringing to bare until you have seen one screaming across the open desert with singular intention. You dont hear of all the victories the truck drivers and logistics guys win each day just to get us food and water. You sure as hell dont hear about the intel victories. It is so true that when we do things right nothing happens and when we miss something everyone knows.
I was being harrassed by an Iraqi woman the other day for our pilots shooting a mosque. She couldnt see that a sniper in a minerette earned that full belt of 20mm cannon fire from the cobra. I mean, who knows...the pilot could have missed with the first 200 rounds. Better to be safe and finish off the can. Besides the gun camera shots make great morale films for those of us at base. There is nothing like seeing your enemy blown free of a 100' tower on a night vision scope. Perhaps it makes me a warmongering, blood thirsty, zealot, but I find that the only solution for fanatics is to bring to bare fanatics of our own. Did I mention I love my job. Ok enough of my ranting, I just wanted everyone to know that we are not sitting idly by waiting for insurgents to drop rounds on our heads, we are taking the fight to them. Each in our own way. We constantly remind these people of the great freedoms and liberties we offer and also the terrible swift sword that seeks those wh o bite our open hand of offering.
Yankee Imperialist Running Dog has a few more variations of the snipe hunt for newbies:
Frank, very funny stuff.
All the others, good stories, keep 'em coming. My Dad was in the Army, airborne infantry, in WWII and told me he sent money home to his folks to buy him a colt M-1911 .45 pistol as a back up even though he was supposed to have a sidearm since he was a Sgt., so who knows things fall through the cracks.
I was a newly minted ensign in '80 and, I guess, really a FNG and very green. An old CPO sent me on a snipe hunt down in main engineering as my right of passage. Embarrassing but all in good fun. Later, as an LTJG, I sent new ensigns to stand watch for the mail buoy and to the Quartermasters for some sky hooks.
Thanks for bringing back the memories. God bless are brave men and women in harms way that someday they will have memories of happier times.
Pam sent this story in which I assume is a joke:
A Marine was deployed to Afghanistan. While he was there, he received a letter from his girlfriend. In the letter she explained that she had slept with two guys while he had been gone, and that she wanted to break up with him ... AND, that she wanted the pictures that he had of her back.
So, the Marine did what any squared-away Marine would do. He went around to his buddies and collected all of the unwanted photos of women that he could find.
He then mailed about 25 pictures of women (some with clothes, some without) to his girlfriend with the following note ...
"I don't remember which one you are. Please remove your picture and send the rest back."
BloodSpite sends this one in about Rangers versus Special Forces:
Rangers vs SF
The Chief of Staff of the Army asked his Sergeant Major, who was both Ranger and Special Forces qualified, which organization he would recommend to form a new anti-terrorist unit. The Sergeant Major responded to the General's question with this parable: If there were a hijacked Boeing 747 being held by terrorists along with its passengers and crew and an anti-terrorist unit formed either by the Rangers or the Special Forces was given a Rescue/Recovery Mission; what would you expect to happen?
Forces/Equipment Committed: If the Rangers went in, they would send a Ranger company of 120 men with standard army issue equipment.
Mission Preparation: The Ranger Company First Sergeant would conduct a Hair Cut and Boots Inspection.
Infiltration Technique: They would insist on double timing, in company formation, wearing their combat equipment, and singing Jody cadence all the way to the site of the hijacked aircraft.
Actions in the Objective Area: Once they arrived, the Ranger company would establish their ORP, put out security elements, conduct a leaders recon, reapply their face cammo, and conduct final preparations for Actions on the OBJ.
Results of Operation: The Rescue/Recovery Operation would be completed within one hour; all of the terrorists and most of the passengers would have been killed, the Rangers would have sustained light casualties and the 747 would be worthless to anyone except a scrap dealer.
Special Forces Option
Forces/Equipment Committed: If Special Forces went in, they would send only a 12 man team (all SF units are divisible by 12 for some arcane historical reason) however, due to the exotic nature of their equipment the SF Team would cost the same amount to deploy as the Ranger Company.
Mission Preparation: The SF Team Sergeant would request relaxed grooming standards for the team.
Infiltration Technique: The team would insist on separate travel orders with Max Per Diem, and each would get to the site of the hijacking by his own means. At least one third of the team would insist on jumping in.
Actions in the Objective Area: Once they arrived , the SF Team would cache their military uniforms, establish a Team Room, use their illegal Team Fund to stock the unauthorized Team Room Bar, check out the situation by talking to the locals, and have a Team Meeting to discuss the merits of the terrorists' cause.
Results of Operation: The Rescue/Recovery Operation would take two weeks to complete and by that time all of the terrorists would have been killed, (and would have left signed confessions); the passengers would be ruined psychologically for the remainder of their lives; and all of the women passengers would be pregnant. The 747 would be essentially unharmed, the team would have taken no casualties but would have used up, lost, or stolen all the "high speed" equipment issued to them.
Anonymous (though I know who he is) has this little vignette:
Love your military stories, by the way. Here's one you can post as from an anonymous reader. True story, happened to me.
I'm an Air Force guy who spends a lot of time in Army support assignments. Once while deployed in a tent city environment I was standing in line for chow in a tropical downpour, ankle deep in mud. A soldier in line in front of me turns and says "Hey, are you Air Force?"
"Yep" I reply.
"Man, I wish I'd have joined the Air Force" he said, "you guys don't have to put up with this shit."
Never occurred to him we were both standing in the same line.
I'm starting to run out of anecdotes, so, if you have any more, e-mail me with the subject "Military". I'm trying to get some from my non-lazy Dad from his experiences in Germany and Vietnam, and I'll see if my lazy brother Joe foo' the Marine has anything to say from his tank experience.
* * * *
Scott from the State of North Carolina writes in defense of the Air Force and inter-branch harmony:
I’ve got to defend the Air Force a little here. I realize the majority of people in the Air Force are not required to bring the battle to the enemy on the ground and will never be asked to do so. Our people are well taken care of and, by everyone’s admission; we contain the some of the brightest enlisted and officer corps of all the services.
I’ve partaken in a little service rivalry from time to time, but I will never forget the honor of the Marines, the ruggedness of the Army or the perseverance of the Navy (what else would you call six months away from friends and family) because it’s all done in good fun, for the most part. But I’ve got to take issue with the comment about how silly it was that the AF NCOs were taking out trash. As an NCO, I lead my troops, they are not my servants, and I never ask them to do anything I would not do myself, I would not belittle them and refuse to take out the trash because it was “below me”. We don’t have a huge amount of lower enlisted men and women, our people are busy and overworked, we do what we have to do to make things happen, if I have to take out the trash to take some of the burden off my airmen, I will do so. I’ve been told by leaders I respect that my airmen have only been loaned to me, and it is my responsibility to return them in the same or better shape than when they arrived.
I know some Marine NCOs, Army NCOs and Naval NCOs, and most I have known would agree with me. There are some in every branch that sink to the level that their troops are there to serve them, but, in my experience, they never make it too far and they are not well respected among their peers.
Why focus on how good you are at pool and being a dick to fellow servicemen when your branch has taken part in the great struggles of this nation and obtained victory? Why sneer about someone with more rank than you taking out the trash when your service was named “Devildogs” by its greatest enemies?
Service rivalry is a good thing and those who have served should take part, but don’t forget where you come from and don’t brag about your toughness, actions speak louder than words. Recent events prove as much, Marines have balls of steel, they don’t need to tell us that fact. Service members should provide insight not vitriol for this forum.
One other thing, there is no Sergeant rank in the Air Force, that’s a Senior Airman (E-4), and that rank is the same as a Corporal. In the good ole days there were Buck Sergeants, but that rank no longer exists. A Staff Sergeant (E-5) in the Air Force equals a Sergeant in the Marines and there is no such thing as a Master Technical Sergeant. There is a Technical Sergeant (E-6) and a Master Sergeant (E-7).
Just my two cents.
Timmer has some good things (and a few bad things) to say about all the branches of the military:
Master Sergeant, United States Air Force, I'll have 20 years in July and the last 6 years have been in joint assignments so I've been around all branches of the service, not just my own near and dear Air Force.
First of all, without a doubt, the United States has the best armed forces in the world. Why? Because we're Americans and as Americans we never lose our sense of independence and our ability to, ummm, adapt the rules when they're in the way of getting the job done. If we'd ever gone against the Soviets, we'd have been hurt, but we'd have won. All we had to do was take out their officers and they'd have been clueless.
There isn't an American enlisted person who doesn't KNOW that they've got a better idea. I know that most of the world considers us arrogant, I just refuse to aplogize for having our act together.
Air Force. Enlisted corps is mostly made up of very smart and smart assed personnel. The smart assed part never quite wears off. However, after a deployment or a Temporary Duty or a short tour to locations unpleasant, they also usually get it. What's "it?" It is knowing that what you're doing affects a LOT of different people and if you screw up, someone could die, or worse, not get paid. We're in the country club of the armed forces and we know it. A lot of that comes from not carrying a gun and/or getting shot at very often. We have the best food. We have the best quarters. We also work on multi-million dollar systems and have more and take more responsibility than some other branches.
Air Force Officers trust their enlisted personnel with their lives and their careers. We live up to that or we get out or we get asked to leave. It's not our job to be "hard core." It's our job to make sure the systems we work on are hard core.
Navy. They're smart and they know it. They somehow think that crusing around the ocean all crammed together makes them better at what they do,
having never done that, I'll not give judgement. I will say their
Senior Non Coms have got it right. They run things, they know it, so does everyone else including the Captain of the boat. Navy Officers are stuffier than other officers. Some of them simply don't know how to relax around their enlisted folks. Oh...and submariners and carrier squids are crazy. No, really. Bubbleheads (submariners) are just plain weird. And Carrier Operations make us Air Force types cringe. 18 hours of non-stop air operations on a boat?! IN-FREAKING-SANE! I'm glad they're out there.
Army. Two kinds of enlisted folks. The dumb ones and the wicked smart ones who act dumb. Never underestimate the Army. The quiet guy who's been acting clueless for the past six months will come up with just the right way to work a problem just when it matters. Army officers trust their enlisted folks once they figure out what kind they have. The Army does have an annoying habit of "banishing" their truly clueless to the staff level. Not all of them, they don't want to make it obvious, but the deal is, if they can't make it in the field, then they sort of get recommended to a staff job. Having known Army guys off-duty, I know they find this funny.
Marines. I've worked for Marines and I've worked with Marines and I've had Marines work for me. Read this carefully and try to understand it fully. Absolutely nobody does it better than the Marines. Their officers trust their NCOs from ALL branches of the servie without hesitation and have very high expectations. They're hard to work for, but you know exactly what they expect and they're better at sharing credit on a project than any other officers I've ever met. Working with Marines can be hard, they're freaking tireless. Supervisiing Marines is an absolute joy. They do what they're told when they're told to do it and they never question their orders. That makes supervising them very difficult too. You have to be careful what you say...they may think it's an order.
Finally, Mike write about Dolly Parton and the misunderstood coolness of tanks:
I've got a couple of items.
Dolly Parton is something of a military icon. Two examples I'm aware of: the Russians came out with an improved t-72 that had extra armor on the turret front, which made two noticable bulges. It was dubbed the "Dolly Parton Special." At Ft. Hood, on one of the tank ranges, there is a large, round hill. It is named, naturally, "Dolly Parton." I bet Dolly would get a kick out of this.
Here's an amusing tale, for your "dumb-ass tankers"
file. My Guard tank company was on a range for gunnery qualification (at the above mentioned range, in fact). I was hanging out with some of my buddies in our sleeping area when this Deuce-and-a-half drove by. In it were a bunch of female soldiers (who, we found out later, were nurses). They drove by slowly, and we all stared at each other. Then they continued on down to a covered structure that we used as a briefing and eating area. They got out there and hung out with the guys who were observing tanks. Then they left abruptly. We found out later what happened.
Everything was all nice and flirty until a tank in the first firing position fired. This position was VERY close, and thus very loud. All the tankers started yelling "Woooo!" "Hooo-ah!" "Yeee-haw!" and similar sentiments. Meanwhile, the nurses nearly flinched out of their skins and covered their delicate ears. One more round, and they'd had enough and split. The tankers shrugged and went back to cheering the big booms.
One of the guys made a recording of one of the crews in action (there was a radio monitoring their intercom, for evaluation), and got a great sound of the tank firing. A long, reverberating "booooooooom!"
He took this tape to parties. He said other people (i.e. non-tankers) didn't seem to understand why it was so cool.
Here are some more military stories I've been e-amiled. Thanks again to everyone who's e-mailed and I'll try to put them all out eventually. My dad who - by the way - served in Vietnam has a few anecdotes I always like, so I'll have to see if he'll write them out.
Once again, there is no editing so beware of foul language that might soil thine ears.
* * * *
Drill Sergeant Rob disputes a few things said previously:
I've been reading for a looong time, but I don't usually comment much. I was gonna stay out of this, but here's what I got in response to the piece by the Marine.
If you’ve ever been in the middle of a Barroom fight, you know that sometimes it’s best to secure a corner, shelter your beer (or Peach Daquiri if you’re in the Navy) from harm, and watch the fun without actively participating. There is a lot to be said for having ringside seats at a slugfest and staying out of trouble at the same time. (Especially when you have some rank to lose.)
Then it happens… some Marine takes a poke at one of your boys… and it’s on. Rank be damned, joke over, the Guiness either hits the floor or somebody, and it’s into the fray you go.
Now I like Marines, I really do. Some of my best friends are Marines and I love the fact that once they figure out what you’re saying (You have to speak slowly) they will defend their beloved Corps to the death. But now that the first few punches have been thrown, I think I need to finish this fight.
I think a quick jab… followed by a hard right to the chin should do it.
“ The Air Force does have the highest ASVAB requirements... they are the same as the Marines.”
The Air force has the highest requirements, with a minimum score of 40. This is a good choice if your idea of being hardcore is living in a hotel without a concierge service for the duration of your deployment.
The Navy comes in second with a minimum score of 35. See the world, destroy the enemy from half a continent away, cross the equator several times… always claiming it is your first, what could be better?
The Marines actually come in third, with a minimum score of 32… but this is waiver-able with as low a score as 25.
And the lowest standard for the ASVAB belongs to, of course, the Army. HOWEVER, this is only waiver-able down to a 26.
So assuming you are a complete lug-nut, OR you indulged more than most on the night before your test and filled in A C D C over and over for the length of the score sheet and scored a 25, you will be forced, as a last resort, to enter the Marines. (source)
(that was the jab… here’s the haymaker)
“The US Navy is the only branch of the US military that is older than the Marines, and the Royal Marines of the UK are the only Marine Corps that is older than the US Marine Corps. The US Navy was officially formed in the first half of 1775 (I don't remember the date because I don't consider the start up date for a taxi service to be important), while the US Marine Corps was formed by an act of the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775 (Veterans Day falls the next day). The United States of America was not even formed until 1790 at the earliest, and the US Army was not formed until 1796.”
So which MEU did General Washington command, anyway?
The United States Army was created by the second Continental Congress on June 14th, 1775. (That’s six months prior to November, Pyle) (source)
And I know it’s been a little while since I last took American History, but I would have sworn that the United States was created with the Declaration of Independence in 1776. (Here’s a clue…Fireworks). But maybe you were talking about the introduction of the Articles of Confederation. Oh wait… that was 1778. Ratification of the Constitution? 1788. Election of the first President? 1789.
So what did happen in 1790 that would concern Marines? Well… I was at a loss, so I decided to Google it. Apparently 1790 was the year that a predecessor of the US Coast Guard was formed. It was actually known as the Cutters, or A System of Cutters. It was formed out of necessity, since the US Navy had been disbanded in 1785. This would be a very significant date for the Marines, who had apparently been forlornly standing on the Dock for five years…waiting on a ride.
(Before you get all riled up, remember that this is all in fun… and all our fellow Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen are across the water working together, doing a hard job in a hard situation. We need every branch of service and I salute anyone who is willing to serve this great country in whatever service they choose.)
Jim sends in this story about training, snakes, and gnarring:
You posted my story from Osan about my Air Force brethren and more enjoyably sistren, muchas gracias it cracks my friends up.
The next post was from
AJ (LC The Humble Devildog) Garin from The People's Democratic Republic of Madison, WI
Although my 312 area code screams Chicago, I actually am a citizen of Moscow of the Midwest, Madison, Wisconsin. I would appreciate if you could send my contact info to your Leatherneck buddy as I am always looking for brothers in arms.
Just For Grins Marines and Their Army Instructors, We, Army Special Forces always impress.
The game, for Frequent Storm, was this. The island nation of, whatever name some jagoff major in DC gave it, was bad. At this time that meant communist but for whatever reason we were going to make a “regime change”. Our role in this is known as guerrilla warfare. We sneak in and link up with locals who don’t like the Jagoffian government. We train and equip them and then help these intrepid freedom fighters “Enact a regime change.” It should surprise no one that our government has been practicing this. My favorite image is the Van Hagar video for “Right Now” they have subtitles through the whole thing and at one point it shows animated stick figures. Two are talking and a third is kneeling behind the victim. One shove and the victim takes a fall while the text reads, “Right now our government is doing things we think only other governments do”. Hmm. We are aren’t we? Anywho.
Whatever intentions we may have had for lollygagging our way through this exercise, Chief Rodd was going to train, and his ally was the team sergeant Butch . That was too much for the rest of us too overcome, so we resigned ourselves to actually busting our asses. We didn’t know just what we had just bought into. We had almost a full week for isolation, way too long. That gave Chief Rodd plenty of time to show us how much fun patrolling in the jungle can be. Now all of us had patrolled in the jungle before, we just hadn’t done it anywhere near as slowly as we soon learned we needed too. We had plenty of time scheduled to practice all of our walking in the great outdoors procedures, and the first afternoon was a real eye opener. We saddled up and figured we would wander around doing hand and arm signals for a while and then head back to the hooch. We got about 10 steps out of the compound before Chief Rodd halted us and told us we were not going to move very far, but he wanted us to pay complete attention to what we were doing. Now you have to understand, hearing “We are not moving very far” is normally excellent news, and in all honesty we moved less than 1000 meters. But it took us almost four hours. That’s not because we laid in the shade and rested, then walked in at the end. It’s because we moved that fucking slow. Lawdy lawdy, we would take a step and then freeze, listen, smell, sense, commune, meditate, and many other very passive things that you can do while crouched in the jungle carrying very heavy things in the stifling heat. The truth is that is was instantly obvious that Chief definitely knew what he was doing, and also that it was kicking our asses.
Our re-invasion of Okinawa paled beyond insignificance when compared to the original. WWII was close to over when we invaded, but Okinawa had to go before we could take a shot at the main islands of Japan. The Japanese were dug into the caves and hills of a tropical coral aquarium toy and they were deep into the kamikaze mentality as an enemy. They had no supplies and no real hope but somehow that made them tougher as every encounter was a last shot at immortality for a Japanese soldier. The island was so unbelievably harsh that walking, or more accurately crawling over much of it gave us incredible empathy for everyone who had to finish up a war here.
Our mode for sneaking into Jagoffia involved a rented,shrimp trawler with our rolled up Zodiac boats and gear dropping us about 10 miles off the coast from our beach landing zone. We inflate the boats and drive to a link up with our new allies, sounds not simple but doable. Before we could do all this water operating we needed a briefing about the dangerous marine life. Our medic “Gorgeous” George told us of the dangers from sea snakes. Now George is from near Boston so he has that accent to start with, but he is also Portuguese so there is that flavor thrown into the mix. But, the kicker was that he dipped Copenhagen snuff about half a can at a time. Add this together and you have a completely incomprehensible individual. As he informed us of the dangers posed by sea snakes he stated in a mélange of accents that I will not attempt to reproduce, “Now sea snakes are as deadly as anything on earth, but they can’t bite you very easily because they have tiny little teeth. They almost gotta get a little flap of skin like between your fingers and gnorr on it.” Now the only word I changed was gnaw to gnorr. You have to hear that whole quote in the combination Boston, Portuguese, Copenhagen accent to truly love it, but once he said gnorr we all lost it. I asked the question on everyone’s mind “George, what the fuck did you just say? It sounded like you said the snake had to gnorr on you to hurt you.” “Yeah that’s right they gotta get a real little piece of skin and gnorr on it. They got little tiny teeth, that’s all they can do.” He replied. I had to finish up with the question on everybody’s mind “Are you saying that the snake has to gnaw on us in order to hurt us?” “Exactly” he answered, “They gotta gnorr on ya’.”
We managed to navigate our way onto our home island without any gnorring related injuries. There we met up with our guerrillas and moved to the base camp. Our guerrillas, for this exercise, were Marine aircraft mechanics and our opponents were a Marine infantry unit portraying the military of Jagoffia. Actually, our opponents were a particularly famous marine infantry unit with two unit flags obtained during a noble exploit, their difficulty was that we had actually done extensive work under the canopy of this hellhole, and they had no clue how horrible the ground really was.
Part of guerrilla warfare is taking people with few combat skills, like our mechanics, and teaching them to fight and survive. Craig and I took a patrol out to practice some of theses skills and along the way we came upon the other famous island snake, Habu the pit viper. This sweet critter was also in George’s briefing and we were informed of the nastiness of it’s venom and it’s inch and a half long fangs. When our point Marine froze and pointed to one coiled on a rock in a creek bed, Craig decided it was a good time to start his snakeskin collection. Somehow Craiggles had confused the sea snake and habu. He thought that habu was the one with the tiny teeth that had to gnorr on you. The Marines, who knew how dangerous the snake was, watched awestruck as Craig pulled out his K-bar and started poking at the viper. I could see some of this from my position at the back, but I couldn’t believe the answer when I asked one of the Marines what was going on. “Sgt. Lewis is killing a habu with his knife” came the reply. “WHAT?” I hissed. “Yeah, he told us to let him know if we saw any ‘cuz he wanted the skin” the private informed me. “Holy Shit!” was all I could manage. I hurried to where Craig was crouching down doing his best Crocodile Hunter imitation with the snake draped over his not very long knife blade. “Drop it you fuckin’ idiot” I told him. He flashed me his most charming, dumbass smile and said, “Relax man. This is habu, remember “they gotta gnorr on you” you know, George, all that shit.” “Drop the fuckin’ snake Craig.” I commanded, “That was sea snakes that gnorr. THAT is a fuckin’ habu with big fuckin’ teeth.” Craig doing the best job of turning ghost white I have ever seen for a black man, promptly dropped the snake and jumped several feet backward. I then did the bright thing and dropped a BAR (big ass rock) on the snake, which up ‘til then had been too amazed to bite the fool.
I grabbed Craig who was shaking pretty good and said, “You are one lucky motherfucker. If that thing had bit you I think I might’ve just let you die ‘cuz that was Darwin Awards quality stupidity.” “Oh my God” was all Craig had left. “Alright now get your shit together,” I told him, “Those Marines think you did that shit on purpose. We’ve got the makings of an excellent legend here. These fucker’s are gonna be telling the story of crazy Sgt. Lewis who kills vipers with a K-bar, for the rest of their lives. You gotta play this off like you meant it.” That was something Craig could buy off on, so he sucked it up and headed back to tell the troopies not to try this at home because we were trained professionals. He graciously donated the skin to one of the Marines who “cured” it with salt from his MREs and made a hatband for his flop hat. The problem was once the story got out all our guerrillas wanted to be mighty, snake slayers and pretty soon our base camp looked like a taxidermy shop with hides tacked to every tree, most perfectly, harmless varieties.
Mark writes about military friends and life on a ship:
One thing to remember about guys who are remembering their military past is that back when they were in, they probably didn't like the guys they hung around with - while if they were to run into one of them in the present, they'd probably just about kiss them.
For men thinking back on it, the most important thing is to remember that back then they were young, and healthy with no worries and if any worries showed up, there were 20 buddies who had your back.
Thinking back on it...
There was the guy who manned the consol that controlled the nuclear-armed Tomahawk cruise missiles...and all he wanted to do was be allowed to launch just one at the middle east to settle it out a bit; that was back in 1985 - the man was apparantly psychic (addendum; I can neither confirm, nor deny, that there were any nuclear weapons on board my ship).
There was the guy who got hungry one night and beat up the Domino's delivery guy because he wouldn't give him a free pizza.
There where the two who would wrap electric cables around their heads, don capes (ie, towells) and jump about being RADIOMAN, DEFENDER'S OF DEMOCRACY (and beer).
Navy ships are "dry", but it was always funny the way the XO would get himself tangled up in the security curtain every time he went into the radio shack.
Uncle Sam is an ok friend - he tied up a barge alongside and allowed us to drink beer on it in the middle of the Persian Gulf...ok friend; had he been a good friend it wouldn't have been 3.2 beer and there would have been more than three per man (then again, 300 drunken sailors armed with nuclear weapons might have caused a diplomatic incident, or something).
How do you replace a broken copier? Well, you can either fill out a bazillion forms in triplicate, or you can just toss it over the side, report it "lost at sea" and they'll express one out to you at God only knows what cost to the taxpayer...
Don't tell anyone that what they're actually doing out there at sea is fishing...please pay no attention to the vast array of fishing gear each ship has on it as it heads to sea.
You drink a lot of beer and tarry with women of low repute when ashore because you can, and its fun.
Bob Kingsbery from Frisco, Texas has a WWII story about the lengths men will go to for cold beer:
My father, Jack Kingsbery, was a bomber group crew chief in England during WWII. Here is one of his stories...
On one bombing mission German fighter planes hit one of our B-24's engines. The pilot was able to feather the engine and fly it home safely. There was a shortage of bombers; so all combat-damaged planes were repaired as fast as possible and sent back into action. We removed the damaged engine and had the new engine installed by daylight, ready for a test flight to be sure it functioned properly.
This was in mid-July and it can get hot even in England. The British pubs served their beer at room temperature. American soldiers really complained about the "warm" beer but drank it anyway. Sometimes Air Transport Command personnel who flew new planes to our base would bring several cases of good old American beer for our base personnel. Since there was no ice on our base our soldiers had to drink the American beer warm.
A new B-24 had come in from the states that morning and was parked next to our plane. The ferry crew gave our ground crew two cases of Lone Star beer. About that time a flight crew came out for the test flight on my plane. The normal test for a new engine is to fly 30 or 40 minutes at about 5,000 feet. Since we had worked all night replacing the engine I felt my crew needed a reward. I changed the flight plan and wrote that the plane needed to fly to 25,000 feet. The temperature at that height would be about zero. I told my ground crew to fill two five-gallon buckets with water, put the bottles of Lone Star in the water and load the buckets on the plane.
The test flight crew never questions the authority of the crew chief so off my plane went into the wild blue yonder. After reaching 25,000 feet the water in the two beer buckets began to freeze. When the plane landed the Lone Star was icy cold and our crew had a well-deserved beer bash. Flying a B-24 to 25,000 feet requires lots of fuel. I'm sure we probably set an all-time record for the cost of producing cold beer. But my crew said the cold beer was great.
* * * *
I have a backlog of more to put up, but keep it coming. If you have military experience (first-hand or second-hand) I'd love to hear more jokes and anecdotes. E-mail me with the subject "Military".
More military anecdotes, and hopefully none of these will get any blood boiling. I don't edit these like I do The Limey, so they may have foul language if that bothers you.
* * * *
Max has a bit more on the feared drill instructor plus other comments:
I've been a reader for some time. Great work! Saw your call for anecdotes from former military folks. I was in the USMC Reserves from 1982-1988, doing active drills from '83 to '86, and active duty for training. Never saw combat, but like a lot of reservists, I was going to school at the time - in my case, I was attending UC Berkeley, which was a different kind of combat.
I've had the usual radical-vs-military debates hundreds of times, dignified as "debates" only because they were filled with sound and fury, and signified nothing. The usual flow was something like this:
Them: Reagan's a Nazi!
Me: Well, I think Reagan is okay.
Them: You fascist!
Me: Hey, what's fascist about that?
Them: Next question.
Me: No, really, what's fascist about that?
Them: If you have to ask, you're beyond help.
My favorite military anecdote is from boot camp. One of the DIs threw away an old pair of shoes, and one of the recruits pulled them out of the trash, I think to see how well-polished they were. Later, the DI came out of the duty hut, noticed the shoes, and started screaming at the recruit. "God Damnit! I can't even fucking throw things away without monkeys like you digging my shit out of the garbage? I can't believe it! Thank God I flush after I go to the head, or you'd probably fish that out and send it home to your momma, too!" Poor kid about had an embolism on the spot.
I also cracked up (inside, so that I didn't have to join the guy being disciplined) every time that a DI told a recruit "you're gonna do this until I get tired." You have to be there to understand it... It's hard to explain how funny Drill Instructors can be when you're tired, and stressed, and close to graduation.
Adam from Utah(NBCOFL) writes about the need for sidearms:
I think the military branches have two things totally in common.
Their number one goal is protecting america by killing evil forigners, either from above(USAF), below(NAVY), from afar(ARMY), or upclose(Marines), and thusly will always have my utmost respect and admiration.
They also have in common the fact that vile nasty liberals will always oppose their number one goal even at the cost of the lives of these heroes.
I have only an example from my best friend who is a marine. He just returned from IRAQ. He said the biggest problem he had with the combat wasn't the killing or the bad food or the dusty hellhole that is IRAQ. It was that thanks to Clintons slashing and burning of america's military, only officers got issued sidearms. This is still the case after 4 years of a sane president trying to recover from Clinton! when riding from one place to another he got to sit unarmed in the front seat, and when they came under fire (numerous times) he had the distinct pleasure of having to run to the back of the vehicle, under fire, to retrieve his M-16 before he could get back to goal #1.
I know this is a marine story, but i bet other services have other such gripes, even if they aren't so vividly played out under fire.
I never knew the rules on who gets sidearms in the military, but it seems to be pretty bad to go out where you might have actual combat and not have a backup gun.
Lydia writes about here military experience with pudding:
I wasn't gonna inundate you with more military stuff, but I've got a good anecdote you might like to hear.
I was in GW I, and one of my fondest memories is an incident between myself and my Squad Sgt, Sgt. Salazar (Sgt. Sal).
I had just finished night shift, and he was my relief. We grabbed some chow, which (rarely) included pudding. Kicking back and eatin in the shelter (very cramped, squat-T-shaped metal box on the bed of a truck), Sgt Sal was busy watching the switchboard, while I went off into la-la-land, dredging up memories of how me and my brother used to do the ole "you like seafood?" bit. So, as a gag, I put some puddin in the yaw, and patiently waited, and waited, and waited for Sal to turn around. But my patience wouldn't last long, because the simple expectation (plus being giddy after 12 hrs) of his reaction brought on uncontrollable, yet stifled giggles. Just when I couldn't hold it anymore, Sal turns to me RIGHT as the giggles turn into full blown laughter, and **SPLAT**, I spew pudding all over him, mostly his face.
Well, I began laughing like a fucking hyena at this point. The look on his face was to die for... a WTF? combined with "what a fucking maroon" and then an eventual smile and laughter, cuz laughter after all, is contagious.
Jeff from St. Paul Minnesota sent this:
My brother, who graduated from the Air Force Academy, sent me these. I was instructed to open them in the following order: Marine, Army, Navy and Air Force.
Good 'ole Serenity has this about hazing the new guys:
Don't have any long particular incidents to tell you about and I don't know if anybody has already told you about this little trick we used to play on the FNG's (F*cking New Guys) aka newbies.
I was a Military Police officer and while we did mostly garrison duty, we also had to go out to the field quite a bit to train for war time situations and how to set up perimeters, road blocks, deal with EPW's, etc.
Therefore, if one wasn't scheduled for duty, meaning, garrison duty, that person would be in training. Whenever we would get a newbie, they always went straight into training for one to two weeks. Part of our training was dealing with maps and also maintaining our HUMVEES. (It's been so long I forgot the correct abbreviation).
To break the newbie in and to give ourselves a nice laugh at their expense, we would be in the middle of training and the trainer would stop and say, "Damnit! I forgot the grid squares! PVT Newbie! Go to the 1st Sgt and get the box of grid squares from him. They're in his office."
And the newbie would go.
As you know, there is no such thing as a box of grid squares. The grid squares are already drawn on the map.
Other times we would be out at the motorpool going over our vehicles, HUMVEES. If we had a newbie, we would send him off on a mission.
"PVT Newbie! Go to the person in charge at the motorpool and ask him for the keys so we can start these HUMVEES."
And off the newbie would go.
HUMVEES don't require a key to start. It's a matter of flicking a switch. What's even more hilarious is that the ONLY keys required were the ones to unlock the steering column/wheel and we would have already done this, right in front of the newbie.
This was a great way to size up the newbie, see how smart they were and welcome them into our platoon.
Reminds me of when I worked in the foodcourt of a mall, and the common joke for a newbie was to send him to another resturaunt to get a bucket of steam. I was spared the joke because I never listen:
"I'm here to get something." "What?" "I dunno; call 'em back and ask 'em."
Finally, Darin has some wisdom from the definitve source:
My favorite military quote: "They don't call me Colonel Homer because I am some dumb-ass army guy" -Homer Simpson
Bonus point to who can identify the episode that's from without looking it up.
* * * *
I have a backlog of more to put up, but keep it coming. If you have military experience (first-hand or second-hand) I'd love to hear more jokes and anecdotes. E-mail me with the subject "Military". A big thanks to everyone who has sent in e-mails already.
I'm honestly not trying to start any feuds; all you military branches should play nice. BTW, do people in the military have jokes at the expense of civilians?
(warning, items contain adult language - hell, how many kids read this site?)
* * * *
This represents an Army view of the Air Force.
As usual we were arguing as we headed to Easy Rider’s, a wonderfully, sleazy biker bar outside Osan AB, Korea. “There is no fuckin’ way that shit will still be on the wall” I informed Sammy. “Bullshit” he retorted, “If God actually does still love us then it will be there”. The “shit” under discussion was a chalk-written phrase on the wall of the bar stating, “Day 105 and God still loves us” that we put there a year previously. We walked in and began looking for the graffiti. There was plenty about, just not the piece we wanted. The exact location was a little hazy due to our condition when writing it. “Right there” Sammy declared, “It was right there”. That’s a fucking dart board you jackass” I informed him. “Then it must be behind it” and he climbed on a stool and pulled the whole thing off the wall and…of course… there it was.
It was significant because the number of days, 105, represented the time since Sam’s resurrection from his first divorce. After a weepy, drunken orgy of self-loathing and decrepitude Sam busted out and became the raving beauty we all loved. This happened shortly after his arrival in Okinawa to B Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, which at the time was a very famous unit. The fame, more properly infamy, was due to the Sergeant Major of the unit going to Leavenworth for smuggling guns onto Okinawa, apparently for sale to the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia. The payment apparently was gold and someone involved failed a piss test for drugs so we changed the unofficial company motto to “Bravo, First of the First, Drugs, Guns and Gold”. We considered making t-shirts but assumed that someone in authority would disapprove. Sam and I were both fresh from the Special Forces Qualification Course or “Q” course and Oki was our first Special Forces assignment. Normally cherries don’t go to Oki because it is forward-deployed and gets much more dangerous missions than the stateside units but there were other members of the unit involved with the smuggling and the command structure wanted some fresh meat not connected to the incident or individuals.
Having found the evidence that God still loved us; we assumed that boded well for the rest of our evening. Grabbing multiple rum and cokes we proceeded to the pool table. Sam is a legitimately good player with flashes of brilliance and I often don’t suck, but that night the juju was all good. We won the table and Sam informed the room “Table stakes is a round for the winners and we will kick the shit out of any of you Air Force homos who step up”. This went over like a turd in a punch bowl and we readily had our first victims. The prediction was eerily accurate though, as we just couldn’t lose. We quickly accumulated a long row of full glasses and every victory was accompanied with much pontificating as I educated all present on the shortcomings of the US Air Force and their lineage. “The main problem with the Air Force is that it’s not really even a military service. You live in dormitories and eat in cafeterias. Christ it’s a fuckin’ fraternity.” I taught. Our continued success and verbal excess was beginning to chafe, and the natives were seething. The flashpoint was Sam lining up on the eight ball then looking away at me, smiling at the poor wingnut, and burying the ball in the pocket without even looking, proclaiming “Next!”
I was in the process of remounting my soapbox to continue my education of the unwashed masses, when I heard a nasty thwack and turned to see one of guys we had just thumped, thump the ground. I looked back and Sammy had a pool ball in his hand and an amazed look on his face. “Damn” he said “That fucker was gonna hit you with a cue”. That was about all the discussing we did, as this was obviously time to exit. After an adrenaline-filled run through the alleys we stopped and I asked him “What the fuck just happened?” “I told you mothafucker that mothafucker was gonna hit you with a pool cue. I think I broke his skull” “No” I said, “I saw him he was OWT out but his head was OK”. “I hit him with the fuckin’ cue ball BAM” Sammy recalled, “He just laid right the fuck down”. “No shit” I agreed, “Just out of curiosity, you don’t happen to know where the fuck we are do you?” We both looked around and it was apparent that we were in Korea but as to where no clue.
AJ (LC The Humble Devildog) Garin from The People's Democratic Republic of Madison, WI writes:
Reading all of your comments by Air Farce, Army, and Navy veterans has compelled me, a humble Marine (no such thing) to chime in.
1. The Air Force does have the highest ASVAB requirements... they are the same as the Marines. The Marines are the hardest branch to get into because you have to be very smart AND strong AND tough AND just a touch crazy. The average Marine enlisted man when I was in (1989-1992) had 3 years of college, more than Army officers! And that includes people like me, for whom Boot Camp was my higher education. (btw, only Marines go to Boot Camp, all the others go to basic training)
2. The Marines have a heated rivalry with the Navy that goes back to before this country was even official, but the Marines and the Army have actually exchanged fire with each other, during a time of war, in a combat zone, on the front lines, ON PURPOSE! The two regiments in question had to be pulled off the front line during a heightened alert to keep them from trying to kill each other. It happened during WWII, I believe it was during the battle of Guadalcanal, but it might have happened later. I have read several accounts of the incident, but the US Government tries to discourage research into the incident because it kinda makes the Army look bad.
3. The US Navy is the only branch of the US military that is older than the Marines, and the Royal Marines of the UK are the only Marine Corps that is older than the US Marine Corps. The US Navy was officially formed in the first half of 1775 (I don't remember the date because I don't consider the start up date for a taxi service to be important), while the US Marine Corps was formed by an act of the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775 (Veterans Day falls the next day). The United States of America was not even formed until 1790 at the earliest, and the US Army was not formed until 1796. So the Marines kinda view the Army as the (somewhat retarded) younger brother who tries so hard to impress his older brother, but always seems to wind up falling of his face in the process. As all big brothers must do, when the little brother fails, we have to go in and pick him up, dust him off, and show him how it's really done.
4. Just because Marines charge machine-guns for a living, does not mean they are stupid, but it is a good indication.
5. This Marine's feelings on the other branches:
a. Army stands for Ain't Ready for the Marines Yet.
b. We like the Navy... they give us rides.
c. It's too easy to pick on the Air Force, no challenge in it. They're Boy Scouts with planes.
6. When I was in the Middle East for Desert Shield/Storm/Saber, I had to make a trash run. We had to take all of the trash our company had generated over the past 4 weeks to the dump to, well, dump. While we were there, we ran into a trash detail from the Air Force. We compared living conditions. The Air Force pukes were telling us that their conditions were brutal because there was only enough hot water on the base for everyone to take only one hot shower a day... their second shower had to be a cold one. We only had enough water to drink... no showers, or laundry, or shaving with water (yes, we still shaved, just not as often). I wanted to punch the pukes. The only consolation was that our trash detail was 2 non-rate enlisted men (E-3 or lower, of which I was one), and a Corporal to goof off with us, er, make sure we didn't goof off, while their detail was 1 Sergeant (equal to a Corporal in the Marine Corps/Army), 1 Staff Sergeant, and 1 Master Technical Sergeant... they were the most junior men in their unit! In the Marines, Sergeants DO NOT DO trash details, that's what they have us Lance Corporals for.
7. The only thing you need to know about the Marines is that we guarantee it will be destroyed overnight, or the next one's free.
P.S. Buck the Marine couldn't be more of a Marine unless he lost the ability to speak and grunted all his responses. And Marine is ALWAYS capitalized, even when referring to the Royal Marines. The 3 significant Marine Corps are the US Marines, the Royal Marines of the UK, and the Naval Spestnaz of the former USSR. I do not know if the third one still exists, because there was such a small number of them that they were inconsequential. The Republic of Korea also has a Marine Corps, which, while very small, is mentioned in some Bibles in the 11th commandment "Thou shalt not fuck with ROK Marines, for an ass-beating shall soon commence, and thou shall be on the receiving end". They are very tough, very mean, and very well trained. (they get ALOT of live fire training... with live targets...their main job is fighting North Korean infiltrators)
Christine from Foley, AL writes:
I had to relate an experience I had at BMTS (Lackland AFB, San Antonio, TX). It was in August...HOT, HOT, HOT!!! Anyway, it was towards the end of the six weeks 'basic training' (of course the AF has the 'smarts'...why go to 8 weeks or more of boot camp when you can get it over with in just 6?), and it was the weekend. We were relatively 'free' from our TIs, although we did have work to do. The group I was with was assigned to set up a water cannon to spray over a vast expanse of lawn. (Remember, it was August, and HOT, HOT, HOT! Have to keep those AF bases looking green and lush...must continue to make other branches envious). We had the hose hooked up to the hydrant, but couldn't get the water started. I guess only 6 weeks of training wasn't enough to build up our muscles...or else, as women, we were waiting for some of those good-looking Marines to come by and help us! We really enjoyed watching them as they did their PT, blasting "Proud to be an American" on their boomboxes. (Sniff, brings a tear to my eye...patriotism and gorgeous men all wrapped up in one package). Anyway, as we struggled in the heat, a TI from our neighboring flight drove by and saw the problem. So of course he pulls up, parks next to the lawn, and proceeds to come over and chew us out. He then shows us exactly how to get the hydrant opened....it opened alright. But, he forgot to notice that the water cannon was aimed directly at his vehicle....and remember, it was HOT, HOT, HOT, so he had the windows down in his car. The water blasted through one car window at out the other. Thank God I was third generation military....(Granddad was an early Navy pilot on the original aircraft carriers when they still had wooden decks, and Dad was a navigator on the JFK). So I kept my military bearing (i.e. I kept very still, made myself very small, and made NO movement that might be interepreted as the beginning of chuckling, guffawing, or ROFLMAO!) The TI turned off the water as fast as he could. We stood there, fearing the worst. The TI stood there, fists clinched, his face turning red, and then purple. What fate awaited us, what punishment would befall us?????!!!!! Absolutely nothing. The TI ignored us, walked to his car and opened his door. Some water poured out, splashing his feet. He got in and drove away, without looking at us. As soon as he was out of sight, we were ROTFLOAO!!!!!! Had this been the Marines, we still would have been doing push-ups or cleaning latrines or God knows what. I have related this story to my kids, and so far, only one is thinking about the AF (he tends to want to take the easy way out). One other son is thinking about being a Navy pilot, and the third, the toughest, most stubborn of the bunch, wants to become a Marine, of course. I do have a daughter, who doesn't want to join, but then, she's probably thinking about all the men in uniform that her brothers will be around....does anybody know a good convent school I can lock her in until she is about 35? Just kidding. I am proud of ALL the branches of the United States military. (After all, the Marines are just a department of the Navy....the MEN's department!!!! Just kidding, Dad and Granddad. I am proud to have been a Navy brat, proud to have had a brother in the Army, and proud to have been in the Air Force/Texas Air National Guard.)
Thank you for your site, Frank. My husband and I enjoy your humor and intelligence....you would have been an awesome Marine or a kick-ass Navy pilot....and with your viewpoints, Rummy might have chosen you to be his aide and heir....America has really missed out with that.
P.S. Bring back "Nuke the Moon" T-shirts, please, please, please!!!!!!!
Even my mom is nagging me on that one. Well, if all the nagging is any indication, maybe I can sell another batch.
As for the military, I've serious considered joining the Air Force a number of time (when I started college and the National Guard after 9/11) but never went through with it.
* * * *
I have a backlog of more to put up, but keep it coming. If you have military experience (first-hand or second-hand) I'd love to hear more jokes and anecdotes. E-mail me with the subject "Military". A big thanks to everyone who has sent in e-mails already.
Marines are commonly refered to as jarheads. I think it is because there heads aren't screwed on straight.
How can you tell if a Marine has been in your backyard? Your trash can is empty and your dog is pregnant.
As far as I know the marines haven't lost a gate yet.
The only good marine is a submarine.
A marine general, an Air Force general, and a Navy Admiral were on a golf course one day arguing who had the most courageous men, so they decided to put it to the test. They went to the marine base and the Marine general walked up to a marine and told him to pull the pin on a grenade and fall on it. The marine did as he was told and was blown up. The Marine general said "Now that took guts". The Air Force general said "That's nothing". They all went to the Air Force base, the Air Force general walked up to an airman told to take a plane up to 30,000 feet and jump out of the plane without a parachute. He did as he was told and promptly became a spot on the ground. The Air Force general said "Now that took guts". The Navy Admiral said "That's nothing". They went to the Navy base and the Admiral took them on an Navy Cruiser. There was a seaman working on an antenna about 200 feet in the air. The Admiral hollered up to the seaman "I want you to jump down here right now!" The seaman hollered back "F_ck you Admiral"! The Admiral looked at the other 2 and said "Now that took guts".
I did my AIT (advanced individual training) for the Army on a small navel base in Mississippi. We once made them open the only mess hall on base to because we were late getting our training done that day. It took about an hour and call from the base commander to get them to open it. They were not very happy. They also did not like it that we got up at 0400 and made a lot of noise when we went to PT. The Seabees usually got up about 0700.
The moral: the Navy is only open from 0700 to 1700. The Army never closes.
Since Marines are paid by the Department of the Navy, their no better.
I don’t recognize the Air Force as a real armed service division since only their officers do the dying.
I was in the Army, served four years, got in the Reserves/Guard and was called up for Gulf War 1. Retired in 99.
I was in Armor, which is the guys that drive, shoot, live in tanks. Being on the ground is dangerous when tanks are moving. And it seems like whenever it is dark, crappy weather, the tanks are moving. So, tankers like to stay on their tanks. It is extremely hard to get run over by a tank if you are on a tank. If I had someone who would bring me chow, I wouldn't have to get off of the tank for any reason.
The ground is where the Infantry lives, and down there it is either muddy or dusty or something uncomfortable. I didn't want to be in the Infantry, so I tried to stay on the tank.
Some truisms about Armor.
1. Nothing on a tank weighs less than a railroad crosstie.
2. When a tank gets stuck in mud, big (huge) cables are needed to get it out.
3. You can learn to sleep on hard, flat steel.
4. Tanks are cold in the winter, hot in the summer.
5. Second Lieutenants shouldn't be trusted with that much destructive power.
6. If a Second Lieutenant finds himself in command of a platoon of tanks, he should listen to his NCO's. They will keep him out of trouble, and will keep him from killing himself or someone else.
The biggest truism about the Army in general and the Guard/Reserve in particular is the unbelievable education of the troops. My last driver was a young corporal who had joined the Guard to get an education. He had his Bachelors degree and was within striking distance of his Masters. We had a medical unit attached to our battalion. There were enlisted medics in that section. All of the enlisted medics were Registered Nurses. One of my NCO's was a practicing attorney, another was a CPA. Fully 60% of the unit was enrolled in college. In short, the guys in the Guard/Reserve take advantage of the educational opportunities, and they make the unit stronger because they are so educated.
Army -- Exists to lose the territory in the first place.
Air Force -- then overflies the territory to see how deeply the Army took it in the shorts.
Navy -- Provides the boats to carry the...
Marines -- who then take the territory back.
Bob has this little saying about your National Guard:
From one who served in the same unit with GW:
"Sleep Well........Your Guard does!"
Finally, Charles has some info on what it is like to be a Marine and Marine Drill Instructors:
I served 4 outstanding years in the Marine Corps. I can describe the life and times of a Marine, but it's impossible to convey the true experience. The Marines is not a 'job', a 'vocation' or an 'opportunity to see the world', though it offers all these things...it's a way of life, a religion. He is recognizable by his bearing and discipline wherever he goes, even out of uniform. Strangers still ask me, after years as a civilian working for the military, "were you a Marine?" I don't really have any jokes to tell, I served during the Clinton years and I felt I had something important to say about that time.
I went to boot camp at MCRD San Diego, which makes me a 'Hollywood' Marine, There are also Parris Island Marines who went through boot camp in SC near Beaufort. The only difference between us are sand fleas and mountains (trust me, sand fleas are hell...especially when you're not allowed to touch your face or scratch.) which always makes for some friendly jabbing among us (I visited Parris Island with a couple of buddies and remarked on how flat, pretty and green it all was...which set off a wrestling match, they also get to see girls (female marines)). My junior Drill Instructor was once an extra in some skating movie in the 80's, he was the scariest 5' 6" human being I have ever met. I'll have to go on a tangent to describe the DI:
Drill Instructors have special powers granted by a special formula given to them after passing one of the most difficult, anal, and stressful schools in the entire Marine Corps:
1) The ability to camoflage themselves into walls, objects, vehicles and sand dunes, whenever a recruit makes a mistake, approximately 200 DI's will 'uncloak' and simultaneously appear in your location, utilizing their other special powers listed below.
2) DI's can teleport from one location to another in less than a second, often appearing to scream at you from behind walls.
3) The Voice: Many (not all) DI's are capable of screaming in a false, hoarse and unmistakeable voice for several hours, sometimes days. Many learned this skill in Boot Camp themsleves after yelling "AYE, SIR!!!!!!" into the wee hours of the night. This Voice has a strange hypnotizing effect on the victim causing him to instantly obey any command the DI makes, such as "Build Mt. Sirubachi in my squad bay by piling footlockers and throwing mattreses on top!" or "stare at a mirror and tell yourself 'NO, I'm not fat! you are!! and repeat until I get tired!" (yes, both of these really happened)
4) Inability to get dirty. DI's never get dirty, even in a sandstorm a DI will still appear clean and sparkling as if protected by a force field, which it may well be since no recruit has ever laid hands upon a DI and lived to tell about it.
5) Growth. Many DI's are under 6' tall, however they are capable of growing to immense size has their temperature rises. There are others who believe that in fact the recruits shrink instead of the DI's growing, but it may be a combination of both.
6) Telepathy: DI's can read the minds of recruits sensing our fears and thoughts, however this power may not be very strong as recruits constantly surprise the DI's with their stupidity.
7) the ability to see in all directions. It's isn't clear whether there is a 'third eye' or if a DI's normal eyes can revolve around their heads 360 degrees. However they can see any action taking place around them and instantly react.
8) super vision. Besides being able to see in all directions, DI's can spot even the smallest blemish in your uniform, even ameoba and paramecia.
there are many other powers such as 'drink all night, sleep with 3 women and appear completely sober and and angry as hell at 4 in the morning' but I'm running long.
okay, I'll get serious now:
My life in the Marine Corps was the greatest in my life, although I never saw combat, I was always ready to do so, unfortunately a few of my friends have died in combat and training for combat. I was stationed at Cherry Point, NC and many people in the area and in towns around it hated and despised us before 9/11 and the Iraq War. It's as if people didn't care that our lives could end any moment fighting for our freedom. We used to drive up to a college town nearby, Greenville, where the ECU campus is, to have beers and meet women. We'd get laughed at because of our haircuts and the way we'd tuck our shirts in, shave, and dress properly (behind our backs of course). College girls would ignore us or treat us with contempt all the time. The college guys there hated our guts, and knowing we couldn't afford to get in a fight would goad us all the time, key our cars and slash our tires. These people had their hearts and minds poisoned against us, I suspect, by liberal professors and jealousy. Their heroes were their fake warriors such as football players and basketball players. I heard things have improved quite a bit, but I still have to subdue an urge to punch any college prof. I meet. If you're getting that urge right now, please do so.
* * * *
I have a backlog of more to put up, but keep it coming. If you have military experience (first-hand or second-hand) I'd love to hear more jokes and anecdotes. E-mail me with the subject "Military".
Here's some more of what I got. I'll probably be making a regular feature of this because I enjoy it at least.
* * * *
Gregg from Alexandria VA writes:
I thought you might enjoy this description of the Branches of the U.S. Military. In the interest of disclosure, I should tell you that I spent 12 years in the Air Force.
If you ask the Marines to “secure a building”, they will send a squad under cover of darkness who will place explosive charges and blow the building up. They will then report back that the building is secured.
If you ask the Army to “secure a building”, they will send a platoon of soldiers with artillery support who will clear the building and establish a 360 degree cordon around it. They will then report back that the bldg is secured.
If you ask the Navy to “secure a Building” they will send 2 Sailors and a Chief (who will undoubtedly have a cup of coffee in his hand). The Chief will order the two Sailors to turn off the coffee pot, turn off all of the lights and lock the doors to the Building. They will then report back that the building is secure.
If you ask the Air Force to “secure a building” they will get you a 6 year lease with an option to buy.
Okay Frank, I'll give it a shot for the Army.
I read, with great interest, the ravings of the Air Force puke. What a wuss and a whiner!
By the way, in basic training (NOT BOOT CAMP!!! Basic Training!!!), one of the first things they taught us was not to stand around with our hands in our pockets. Our Drill Instructors referred to this as wearing your Air Force gloves.
I was stationed in southern VA near an Air Force Base, and we did some joint training with them, and I kind of got to know some of them (we'd go to the same church off post, etc.). What Wacky Hermit says is generally true regarding rank and whatnot. But I spent a bit of time on the Air Force Base and I can tell you, while they may not have got the promotions and pay, they had a KICK ASS standard of living. Those places were PLUSH compared to the stinking holes we lived in. And the food at the mess hall!!! Damn they ate good.
Here's a piece of trivia for you. The Army has the largest number of personnel, more boats than the Navy, more aircraft than the Air Force, more brains than the Marines (sorry, I couldn't resist) and the smallest budget of all of the services.
Anyway, if you really want to know what day-to-day life in the Army is like, then watch Platoon. Take out all of the drug stuff (that was WAY
overdone) and they really got it right. The lingo, the uniforms (one of my pet peeves is to see how movies screw up the wearing of uniforms...
insignia all wrong, pinned where they shouldn't be), the way they interacted. It was exact. In fact, they have a scene where the new lieutenant comes through the tent where the enlisted guys are hanging out (doing drugs... DAMN!) and the way he is REALLY uncomfortable and they are making him know he's not one of them... Everyone who's been enlisted in the Army has been in that room, and seen that exact scenario play out. It was priceless.
BTW, I saw that movie in a U.S. Army movie theatre in Erlangen Germany in 1988, and there were still a bunch of Vietnam Vets in our unit that went with us. There was dead silence after it was over and everyone just walked out (kind of like the Passion is doing today). We knew they had got it right.
Also, Basic Training is over rated as being hard. It was hard if you don't like people yelling at you (curiously people from broken homes had a hard time with this... never figured the connection out, but it was pretty universal). It didn't bother me that much. It was 8 weeks of camp for me. When I was going to make Sergeant (E-5) they sent me to the NCO Academy in Kitzingen Germany for 4 weeks of pure hell! THAT was hard. It was WAY worse than basic training! Lights out at 11:00pm and wake up at 3:00am with PT twice a day, and 12 hours of classes in between! FOUR WEEKS! That was the hardest thing I've ever done.
That's it, hope it helps.
Young and impressionable that is exactly what I was. A walking piece of meat to recruiters. I went into every branche's office. The Navy, well they had the promise of getting me an education and traveling the world, Army was just what everyone was doing, it was packed full of highschool seniors being promised the MOS of Army Ranger, the Air Force had some cute girls signing up (which is a rarity) and well the Marine Corps was empty with just some mean looking Staff Sgt's arm wrestling.......yes sooo stereotypical....sooo me.
No promises of bonus's, education, girls, just the promise of the toughest recruit training in the western hemisphere, hell for the world for that matter. With that In mind I signed over my soul to the United States Marine Corps. I was a decent 18 year old, pretty smart, got along fine with my parents, no legal problems, could of gone to a good college, but no welcome to the school of hard knocks...Known to most has Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
Yes every red blooded American has seen "Full Metal Jacket" and Most dismiss it has an exagerated horror story.......Au Contrair! While slightly dramatic and exagerated it was pretty damn close. As part of 1st Btn Charlie company Plt 1077, I learned what it took to become a man, then destroyed that mold and became a MARINE. You start off on black sunday when you first meet your drill instructors. The first two to three weeks are the worst. The DI's are always screaming and yelling at you, kicking sand in your face, making the over weight kids dance in their skivies to circus tunes. After the first couple weeks every recruit breaks, whether it just be a small tear to a compelte mental breakdown. The DI's are doing their job. You want to learn, the thought of running into machine gun fire to save your squad sounds like a good idea. Soon the DI's ease up a bit and let the Platoon's police their own. Whether it be a shouting match between squad leaders to a complete bloody brawl. As every Marine Knows, what goes on behind those walls stays behind the walls. After dozens of three mile runs, Island hopping campaigns in the sand box's, and quarter deck sessions; the recruits are ready to head to Camp Pendleton to Edson range where they will learn to become trained killers, they will learn to become one with the M-16A2 service rifle. To most branches the M-16 is a cool "gun", or a "thing" I shot in boot camp. Umm Negative ALPHA ONE...........Every Marine from Female private Admin 01 to Alpha Male Gysgt Scout Sniper 8541 can drop a man size target at 500yds without even thinking about it. After hundreds of rounds sent down range and what seems like humping hundreds of miles around shitty southern California you are ready to graduate. The men that swore at you, made you cry, made you wish you wear wearing that Air Force Bus driver getup, are now your fathers. And when that Senior Drill Instructor hands you the revered Eagle Globe and Anchor. You are eight feet tall, bullet proof, use the F* word as if it is a noun and a adjetive, you are now a United States Marine. You hug your parents your mom crys, your dad says im proud of you son, your friends are now scared of you, but all you want......all you want it to F* the living daylights out of the first girl you see and then do it again and again. And if her boyfriend says anything, you have a new talent to show him, its called the Marine Corps Martial Arts. Time to head home for 10 days till you back at it again.......and then that is where the fun begins.
Fianlly, here are some anecdotes and some jokes from Adela:
This isn't the full description that the other person's was, but...
Her Air Force description was very good. One thing though, concerning the joke, it probably originated as she said, but people tell it using whatever branches suit them. Ex. a Marine will tell it as the Marine being the one who didn't wash because he didn't pee on himself.
The Air Force is the most well-treated branch, and yes, they are known for being the smart branch who does nothing physical. This is mostly true. When the war in Iraq just started, I saw an officer from another branch (I think it was a Marine) being asked a few questions. When the reporter asked how things were going in general, the Marine officer said, "Oh it's getting really serious. So serious in fact, I saw an Air Force officer going to the gym yesterday."
My dad said that when he went to Guantanamo Bay Cuba with the AF the Navy stayed on their ship, the Army and Marines stayed in tents and he stayed in a 5-star hotel.
The Air Force often uses the Army to do their manual labor - cooking food, cleaning, etc. or they hire civilians. I don't know how unusual it is for an AF person to do such a job, but I do know it's not a bit uncommon for them to hire out.
The Air Force has the shortest (and reputedly easiest) boot camp - only 6 weeks.
So, the AF is the smart branch. Marines and Army are dumb and tough. The Navy is known for being the gay branch.
Navy joke, perhaps not family-friendly enough for your site:
Why did the Navy switch to powdered soap?
It takes longer to pick up.
Oh! On AF fighter pilots being egomaniacs - I've heard the same about all fighter pilots, but I have not personally met one. However:
Q: What's the difference between a fighter pilot and a jet engine?
A: A jet engine stops whining when the plane shuts down.
Q: How do you know if there is a fighter pilot at your party?
A: He'll tell you.
During training exercises, the lieutenant who was driving down a muddy back road encountered another jeep stuck in the mud with a red-faced colonel at the wheel. "Your jeep stuck, sir?" asked the lieutenant as he pulled alongside.
"Nope," replied the colonel, coming over and handing him the keys, "Yours is."
* * * *
Having just moved into his new office, a pompous, new colonel was sitting at his desk when an airman knocked on the door. Conscious of his new position, the colonel quickly picked up the phone, told the airman to enter, then said into the phone, "Yes, General, I'll be seeing him this afternoon and I'll pass along your message. In the meantime, thank you for your good wishes, sir." Feeling as though he had sufficien! tly impressed the young enlisted man, he asked, "What do you want?"
"Nothing important, sir," the airman replied, "I'm just here to hook up your telephone."
* * * *
On some air bases the Air Force is on one side of the field and civilian aircraft use the other side of the field, with the control tower in the middle. One day the tower received a call from an aircraft asking, "What time is it?"
The tower responded, "Who is calling?"
The aircraft replied, "What difference does it make?"
The tower replied "It makes a lot of difference. If it is an American Airlines flight, it is 3 o'clock. If it is an Air Force plane, it is 1500 hours. If it is a Navy aircraft, it is 6 bells. If it is an Army aircraft, the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 3. If it is a Marine Corps aircraft, it's Thursday afternoon and 120 minutes to "Happy Hour".
* * * *
Officer: "Soldier, do you have change for a dollar?"
Soldier: "Sure, buddy."
Officer: "That's no way to address an officer! Now let's try it again!"
Officer: "Soldier. Do you have change for a dollar?"
Soldier: "No, SIR!"
* * * *
"Well," snarled the tough old Navy Chief to the bewildered Seaman. "I suppose after you get discharged from the Navy, you'll just be waiting for me to die so you can come and urinate on my grave."
"Not me, Chief!" the Seaman replied. "Once I get out of the Navy, I'm never going to stand in line again!"
* * * *
I have a backlog of more to put up, but keep it coming. If you have military experience (first-hand or second-hand) I'd love to hear more jokes and anecdotes (though I doubt anyone can beat Blackfive on military anecdotes - if you never read about his encounter with a French General, do so now). E-mail me with the subject "Military".
When I asked for more jokes and descriptions of military branches, I got a ton of responses. I'll print some today and more later.
Ryan writes this about the Navy:
For the Navy, our common stereotypes include:
- called bubbleheads
- are deathly afraid of women (hence no women on submarines)
- wear sneakers instead of uniform shoes
- are deathly afraid of any loud noise
- listen to whales for fun
- are maniacs that like to kill people
- can only talk about killin’, drinkin’ and “the mission”
- all live on Coronado island
- wear brown shoes, and thus think they are cool
- wear flight suits, and thus think they are cool
- wear dark sunglasses, and thus… yeah, see above
- have to get 6 hours of sleep between operations
- get to drive Nuclear Carriers later on, and in general suck very much at driving the carriers
For submarines, a post I found on military.com:
For all you non-quals out there, here's a short primer on submarine life. enjoy.
Obtain a dumpster. Paint it black, weld all the covers shut except one which can be bolted closed from the inside. Hitch it to the back of your wife's mini van. Gather 12 friends and bolt yourselves inside and let your wife pull it around for several weeks while she does the errands.
Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Replace the closet door with a curtain. Six hours after you go to sleep, have your wife whip open the curtain. shine a flashlight in your eyes, and mumble "Sorry, wrong rack".
Don't eat any food that you don't get out of a can or have to add water to.
Paint all the windows on your car black. Drive around town at high speeds with your wife standing up in the sunroof shouting course and speed directions to you.
Renovate your bathroom. Build a wall across the middle of your bathtub and move the shower head down to chest level. When you take showers, make sure you shut off the water while soaping.
Repeat back everything anyone says to you.
Sit in your car for six hours a day with your hands on the wheel and the motor running, but don't go anywhere.
Put lube oil in your humidifier instead of water and set it to "High".
Don't watch T.V. except movies in the middle of the night. Also, have your family vote on which movie to watch, then show a different one. Record The Sound of Music and show it at least every other night.
Don't do your wash at home. Gather your neighbors clothes along with yours, pick the most crowded laundromat you can find, and do the neighborhood laundry in a single washer and dryer. Make sure that 12% of the laundry is lost and 20% of the finished laundry is incorrectly distributed to the wrong neighbor.
Leave lawnmower running in your living room six hours a day for proper noise level. (For Engineering Divisions)
Have the paperboy give you a haircut.
Take hourly readings on your electric and water meters.
Sleep with your dirty laundry.
Invite guests, but don't have enough food for them.
Buy a broken exercise bicycle and strap it down to the floor in your kitchen.
Buy a trash compactor and use it once a week. Store up garbage in the other side of your bathtub.
Wake up every night at midnight and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on stale bread, if anything. (Optional--canned ravioli, cold soup, or beanie wienies)
Make up your family menu a week ahead of time without looking in your food cabinets or refrigerator.
Set your alarm clock to go off at random times during the night. When it goes off, jump out of bed and get dressed as fast as you can, then run out into your yard and break out the garden hose.
Once a month take every major appliance completely apart and then put them back together.
Use 18 scoops of coffee per pot and allow it to sit for 5 or 6 hours before drinking.
Invite at least 85 people you don't really like to come and visit for a couple of months.
Store your eggs in your garage for two months and then cook a dozen each morning.
Have a fluorescent lamp installed on the bottom of your coffee table and lie under it to read books.
Periodically check your refrigerator compressor for "sound shorts".
Put a complicated lock on your basement door and wear the key on a lanyard around your neck.
Lockwire the lugnuts on your car.
When making cakes, prop up one side of the pan while it is baking. Then spread icing really thick on one side to level off the top.
Every so often, yell "Emergency Deep", run into the kitchen, and sweep all pots/pans/dishes off of the counter onto the floor. Then, yell at your wife for not having the place "stowed for sea".
Put on the headphones from your stereo (don't plug them in). Go and stand in front of your stove. Say (to nobody in particular) "Stove manned and ready". Stand there for 3 or 4 hours. Say (once again to nobody in particular) "Stove secured". Roll up the headphone cord and put them away.
Write a controlled work package to change the oil on your car.
Most civilians don't realize how much the standards have been weakened over the last 40 years.
I was in the Navy from 1969 to 1976. At that time you had to be six foot tall to join the Coast Guard.
That's so if your boat sank, you could walk to shore.
I am a West Point graduate and did 12 years in the Army, so I know of what I speak ….
We had a saying in the Army that you could get along with the Marines because they were hard core, knew they were hard core, and acted hard core. You could get along with other Army guys because we had it rough (not as hard core as the Marines mind you), knew we had it rough , and acted as if we had it rough . You could get along with the Air Farce (your previous poster talked about a Rivalry, maybe the Air Force considers us a rival, but that is not true in the reverse) because they were in a country club, knew they were in a country club, and acted like they were in a country club. But you could not get along with anyone from the Navy because they were in a country club, thought they had it rough, and acted as if they were hard core.
The example we loved to give was how the services acted during Gulf War I. In the unit I was with, we literally had so little water that we did not get to shower for 32 days straight, instead using a 5 gallon jug a day for 40 men to take whore baths (that is where you wet a rag and scrub your pits and other bits). We slept 20 plus to a tent which was often not even deployed because we hit our next area without enough time to set it up causing us to tie our shelter halves to our vehicles and making improvised lean-tos. We ate only MREs for over 30 days, we put socks around our water bottles, then urinated on them and let the evaporation cool the bottles so the water was not too hot to drink. The marines we met up with had it worse. The Air Force Forward Observer with us who called in air strikes was living in an air conditioned van. The Navy on the other hand, well the Navy was reported in Stars and Stripes as filing grievances with their superiors because the soda fountain on the carrier ran out of carbonation so the drinks were flat. Yes, that really was news reported in the Stars and Stripes, you can only imagine how well it went over with us on the ground.
You gotta love people who know who they are and act accordingly, you can only pity those who are that self delusional.
I know a number of Navy guys who would probably take offense to that.
Anyway, I wouldn't dare speak againt John Kerry's service record having absolutely no record of my own, so I'll let RockyNoggin do it:
OK, Frank J., I want to lay something out that nobody has said because they don't want to hurt feelings.
First, let me say, I'm an Army veteran of the Cold War so I never got shot at or fired a shot at a commie - although I prayed day in and day out for the chance...
otherwise, what's the point of being in the Army?
Second, I respect anyone who served in any branch - they all suck in their own way and we all got/get paid the same no matter what branch.
JFKerry was a squid, OK? He wasn't an Infantry soldier or a Marine or anything bad assed. He rode around in the water in a lil' boat taking shots at villagers on the banks of the river. Sure, it was dangerous work (sometimes the villagers shot back), but it wasn't like that guy was in the bush. His camp is showing pictures of him in OD's, holding an M16 in the jungle - that was probably some hero bullsh*t he had a buddy take.
So, not to diminish the service of any vet, of any branch, but let's be real. Kerry was looking for light duty and he served 4 months of a 12 month tour.
If that guy had gotten shot the f*ug up like your boy Bob Dole (a REAL American hero) then OK, I'd show some respect. But hell, I coulda done what Kerry did - sheez, my wife coulda done what Kerry did.
I know you can find military jokes easily on the web, but what I'm looking for are more personal descriptions and what are the jokes and stereotypes people in the military encounter most often. See that first post for what I'm looking for. Keep e-mailing more to me with the subject "Military".
A few facts you should be aware of, should you decide to write an Air Force character into the In My World series:
The Air Force, known derisively as the Chair Force, is the branch of service best known for harboring smart people who really don't want to get involved in combat. The minimum ASVAB score for enlisting in the Air Force is the highest of all the services. Except for the small percentage that are fighter pilots, Airmen don't generally go directly into combat situations; instead they provide technical support such as radio communications, repair services, and logistical support. It is also relatively difficult to make rank in the Air Force, compared to other services, but it is easy to get medals. My husband spent eight years in the Air Force and had more medals than stripes. Many Airmen from one unit my hubby was in had a lot of free time when not being deployed, and many got hooked on porn. Thus your stereotypical enlisted Airman is not just a smartass, he's a low-ranking smartass who's just smart enough to resent the bureaucracy that's keeping him down. Of stereotypical servicemen from all the branches, the Airman is the most likely to complain about the food and the boots and the mind-boggling stupidity of his fellow stereotypical servicemen. As for the small percentage who are fighter pilots, they have a reputation for being cocky beyond all reason, and thinking they are God's gift to the world. Plus they are all officers, which means they go to college.
Because the Air Force originated as a branch of the Army (the Army Air Corps) and only became a separate branch after WWII, their strongest rivalry is with the Army. There is an old Air Force joke that goes as follows: an Army guy and an Air Force guy walk into a bathroom and use the urinals. After finishing, the Army guy goes to the sink to wash, while the Air Force guy starts to walk out the door. The Army guy indignantly calls after the Air Force guy, "You know, in the Army they teach us to wash our hands after we use the bathroom!" The Air Force guy says disdainfully, "In the Air Force, they teach us not to pee on our hands!"
True story from the Air Force: my husband spent some time in a unit that worked directly with Army guys. He reports that the Army guys had training manuals that were comic books. One illustration he described showed a bikini-clad woman pointing to a tank and saying, "This is a tank!"
Sounds like the Army need to respond to this one.
By the way, my grandfather on my mother's side served in the Army Air Corps during World War II in a B-17 bomber and then later served in the Air Force when it came about (he was career military).
We civilians would certainly love more descriptions of branches of the military form the horse's mouth, so keep e-mailing them to me. I'll print the best ones.