Things happen when Marines get bored. There are only two possible outcomes in this very common instance: either something amazing is going to happen or something absolutely horrifying is going to happen. There’s no middle ground here.

Let me tell you a story about bored Marines.

We were at PTA on the big island of Hawaii for our annual training. You see, in Hawaii, it is against the state law to use heavy explosives and other large munitions on the small island of Oahu where the base is located. As such, once a year they fly all of the Weapons Platoon (0331, 0341, 0351, 0352) Marines out to the Big Island to conduct heavier training like rockets, demolitions and machine-guns and such. For some reason, we had finished the training evolution but my section (Assaultmen) were stuck there for an extra day or two with no one but our section leader looking after us.

There is very little to do at the PTA base. There’s one very small PX with a pizza shop and basically no cell phone reception if you have AT&T. Needless to say, we got really bored. So bored, in fact, that we thought of a really awesome contest. Two Marines would do an MRE battle, to see who could eat the most MRE contents and calories before either giving up or vomiting. The first person to do either one loses. The simplicity of it was magical, but not quite enough. During the challenge, both Marines had to be in their full sleeping systems (double sleeping bags and bivvy sack), with the MRE heaters activated inside. The top hood of the sleeping bag was taped to both Marines foreheads so only their face and one arm for eating was exposed.

I won’t mention names, for their own sake (and one of them is no longer with us), but I abstained from the challenge because I valued my stomach contents and well-being.

About three full MRE’s and over 4,000 calories in, sweating profusely from the heated sleeping bags, one of the Marines had gotten to what would be the end of his challenge: the beef patty MRE. If you’re not familiar with the beef patty, it’s a lot like cat food, but packaged for humans but it’s still cat food. Really, this thing is hard to stomach when you’re not on the verge of spewing your intestines out as it is, but the Marine got one whiff of its oddly fishy odor and let loose like a Yellow Stone geyser. We had conveniently placed a yellow mop bucket in front of them in the event that one of them was surely to reach the limit, and it served its purpose tenfold.

I have never in my life seen more putrid vomit leaving a person’s mouth, the yellow mop bucket almost overflowing by the time he was done.

The moral of the story?

There is none. We were bored.