Terminal Lance #27 “Challenge Coins: Not a Grunt Thing”
April 6, 2010
I almost felt bad about making this strip (almost), because I know that the challenge coins do hold some tradition and are kind of a soft spot for the older folks of the Corps. Regardless, they definitely skipped my generation, and have always been regarded as being somewhat “lame”. I will say that I see no problem with collecting coins, as it is a common practice of Marines and children alike–but the idea of actually using it in a bar setting has always been comical for me. Not once have I ever actually carried one of these things in my pocket. If someone did, hypothetically, present me with the challenge of a unit coin, I would probably scoff aloud at best.
In any case, the coins are really a cultural thing in the military. I think companies actually make substantial money off of unit coins as well as coin cases for holding and presenting said coins. Strangely–oh how strange it is–it never really caught on in the infantry. I think a lot of it has to do with “motivation,” that grunts seem to lack. Frankly, I think the idea of “motivation” is bullshit anyway. It’s really just a perversion of traditions and practices that at one point were commonplace and practical, but no longer are.
I discussed this subject with my SNCOIC recently, and the subject of Chesty Puller and his following of blithering motards came up. Chesty Puller was a great man, and a great Marine. But Chesty was a Marine’s Marine, a grunt’s Marine. The distorted ideals of motivation; i.e., high and tights, perfect uniforms, regulation thumping, etc., use this blind idea of worshiping guys like Chesty but fail to realize that he himself wouldn’t give two flying shits if someone’s hands are in their pockets in 40 degree weather. These ideas aren’t the Marine Corps, these ideas are a perverse entity that has gone on so long that any semblance of why they exist in the first place has been replaced with the word “tradition”. It leads to the idea that grunts are somehow “nasty,” and don’t follow regs like they should.
Grunts are the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps is founded on the idea of practicality and adaptability, and who better than the grunts to look at for these virtues? The separation of garrison and the field has always existed, and as a result you have two completely different, competing cultures. On one hand, you have the regulation side (garrison), where things don’t make sense and people are out to get you for doing something you didn’t even know was a rule. On the other, you have the practical side (field), where you can unblouse your boots and not worry about sleeves and senseless “traditions.” In all reality though, the grunt in the field is the tradition, and not vice versa. The grunt in the field is what the Marine Corps is supposed to be, it’s the Iwo Jima picture, the famous battles of Guadalcanal and so-forth, and everything else the Marine Corps has established itself to be in this world. That is the Marine Corps that Chesty Puller is from, and that is the Marine Corps that you should be looking to to define motivation.
The next time you think to yourself that high and tights, tight sleeves, high boot blouses, a clean shave, challenge coins and all the other bullshit that’s been distorted to mean “motivation” makes a good Marine–I suggest you spend some time with the nasty grunts in the field, sweating and bleeding to ensure you guys are able to tell your friends and family why they call you “Tuefelhunden” or whatever other bullshit you’re feeding them.
So that was somewhat long-winded… In all honesty I kind of just type what’s on my mind. I was actually considering saving that rant for a strip about Chesty Puller, but I didn’t know when I’d actually get around to doing that and it was fresh in my head. Moral of the story: Challenge Coins are gay.
Believe it or not, I don’t actually make an effort to alienate the POG readers, I just can’t help myself from being honest. You know I love you guys, but there’s definitely some ladies and gentlemen on your side that don’t do you justice. I get a lot of feedback from POG’s, they all seem like great guys and gals and I hold no grudges. But, I said it something like 25 strips ago and I’ll say it again: Terminal Lance has a target audience, and if you haven’t figured out who it is yet… then I dunno what to tell you.
In other news, I’m considering putting up the original artwork from Terminal Lance #15 “SPECIAL EDITION” up for auction on eBay. Anyone interested? I need a new computer in order to keep providing you with your twice-weekly dose of awesome…