Can we just talk about how shitty being in Camp Guard is?

Non infantry-folk probably never really had to deal with this wretched duty, but for those of us that have, it was an absolutely miserable experience.

So typically the way it works right after boot camp is you go home for 10 days or whatever and then you get sent to either SOI West or East for your MOS training. POG’s go off and do their little MCT thing for a few weeks and the grunts stick around and do their MOS training over the course of eight weeks. You’re told to report into SOI West after your boot leave so you can get assigned to your training company. That is, as long as there’s room.

As an active duty guy, I got wait-listed for two weeks while the reservists were rushed into their training company. So what is a boot student Marine to do for two weeks while he waits for a new ITB class to pick up?

Camp motherfucking Guard.

This consisted of 8 hour rotations patrolling the base in teams of two wearing orange glow vests, being on QRF in case some “shit” went down, or being on rest. There was no libo, we had to go to chow in formation, no cell phones or other luxuries were allowed, and you’re just generally treated like the lowest form of shit on the entire base by instructors and other Marines alike.

Having just graduated boot camp, I was fairly excited to begin my new Marine Corps adventure, only to find myself in Guard purgatory for what seemed like the longest two weeks of my life until Bravo Co. picked us up. Having been to Iraq twice, it seems like a silly thing to complain about, but it really was miserable.

The trademark of Guard? Having drunk Marines drive by and shout “OORAH GUARD!!” and other obscenities at you while you just… did whatever it is you were doing. And because all Marines are assholes, I also partook in the belligerent shouting at Guard as soon as I was out of it.

In other news Gen. Dunford just took over as Commandant of the Marine Corps. He seems legit as fuck, and everyone is generally pretty happy about the change. For a laugh, watch the Color Guard fall the fuck out at 89:20

 

Oorah, devil dog!

I’m sure all of you are aware of the Marine Corps’ favorite nickname “devil dog.” Lore has it that it was given to the Marines during the Battle of Belleau Wood in Germany, translated from “Teufel Hunden,” as the Marines were so fierce in battle that they were described as being “Dogs from Hell.” Of course, there is some factual controversy surrounding the idea that I won’t really get into, but it’s a nice fiction at the very least. Regardless of its factual legitimacy, it’s a moniker that has stuck to Marines for as long as I’ve ever known of them.

Still though, we share some eery similarities to dogs that I would argue are unrelated to their fierceness… Though, once again, I fail to see the meaningful connection to Marines and bull dogs.

If you’re curious as to what a WAG (Waste, Alleviation and Gelling) bag is, it’s basically a disposable poop bag for humans. Inside the bag is a pretty neat concoction of dehydrated fungus that breaks down the excrement in a biodegradable bag that will actually decompose naturally. Typically, as a Marine, you’ll only really encounter these things overseas, but you’ll most likely shit in a bag at least once.

On a side note, as a dog owner, there’s nothing more awkward than standing behind your dog and waiting for him to drop a massive deuce. You just stand there with a bag wrapped around your hand, waiting for him to finish so you can sweep in and pick it up.

He moves to the side and just stares at me, knowing it is he who is the true master.

I just want to start off by saying that I’m a terrible person and the Ebola crisis in West Africa is a very serious event that’s taken over 4000 lives as of writing.

With that said, I guess when I read the news that 100 Marines and up to 4000 soldiers were being sent to the region to contain the virus I was a little perplexed as to what they planned on actually doing upon arrival. I doubt the Marines themselves even knew, but from what I’ve gathered, they plan on setting up mobile medical centers and labs for treating, diagnosing, and containing the horrendous virus rampaging the area.

I’ve been following the Ebola virus outbreak pretty closely since maybe a month ago when it started really making headlines. I’m not a virologist or a scientist (obviously) but it is a very interesting pandemic to see unfold from the safety of untouched California. The panic in the west it has stirred has been interesting, but not unfounded. While it is true that there has only been a single death in the United States as a result of the outbreak, it is also true that people have a natural inclination to fear such a deadly virus.

If you’re looking for a way to help, I would check out Doctors Without Borders, who have been on the forefront of the crisis since the beginning. You can donate to them here.

In the famous words of Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn, there’s always a bigger fish.

This is especially true in the military, where everything is based on clearly defined ranks and rate. As such, no one is immune from a good, old-fashioned ass-chewing; not even your company Gunny or First Sergeant. Given that the demographic of Lance Corporal is one that involves regular blasting from SNCO’s and above on a near daily basis, it’s understandable that in those rare moments when you get to see your superiors reamed as badly as you were the day before, it’s a somewhat magical event.

This isn’t something you normally see simply because no one wants to undermine someone’s authority in front of their subordinates. It’s a bad practice in the military environment (or anywhere else, really), but it does occasionally happen. My Battalion Sergeant Major was not a man of large physical stature, but that didn’t stop him from getting into someone’s ass any chance he could, regardless of rank.

I recall being on a working party at Battalion Headquarters (enemy territory by any means), mopping the floors as people of countlessly higher ranks sped by, constantly greeting every person I saw with the appropriate greeting of the day as a lowly Lance Corporal. Outside of the Sergeant Major’s office, I saw one of the HQ Company Gunnies catch the SgtMaj as he was leaving. The Gunny was approaching the SgtMaj about a leave request he had submitted, and the SgtMaj said no.

The reasoning was of no concern to me, but the Gunny was unsurprisingly unhappy about the affair, and he mistakenly let the SgtMaj know about it in a rather ungraceful way. While trying to keep my eyes on the floor of the HQ, I overhear a quaint yet powerful, “Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?”

The Gunny then proceeded to receive an epic ass chewing not normally witnessed by people of my lowly stature.

It was glorious, and made the working party totally worth it.

Bradley Cooper is America’s newest sweetheart, much like Meg Ryan was back in 1995, but hotter. Regardless of his sweltering charm and good looks, he also happens to be the leading role in the upcoming Clint Eastwood film about the infamous sniper Chris Kyle, American Sniper. Here is the official trailer released yesterday:

I normally take the idea of upcoming military movies with a grain of salt. I don’t put any particular stock in the genre of war films over any other type of film; I do, however, put stock in directors. Clint Eastwood is a fine director who has proven himself talented and capable over the last many years with movies like Flags of our Fathers and Gran Torino (the latter a personal favorite of mine). Likewise, Bradley Cooper is a great actor by any measure, and this is not just a “war movie” but clearly a character piece. I think the two of them combined will be able to pull of something really great here.

Plus, as one of my commenters on Facebook noted:

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As for Chris Kyle himself, I don’t really have anything opinionated to say about the deceased. His legacy has been fraught with controversy and frivolous lawsuits by irrelevant and mostly insane old men, but I certainly don’t doubt his character and formidability on the battlefield or otherwise. Obviously I did not know him personally, so there’s no point in me having an opinion on him to begin with.

Whatever there is to say about him, the movie definitely looks good, and I look forward to seeing it in the future.

 

Quite possibly the most cruel and unusual form of punishment while attending the fine resort town of Marine Corps Recruit Depot (San Diego) is the proximity to San Diego International Airport. Surely this is a convenience, seeing as it makes transporting new recruits from the airport to MCRD a breeze for those involved with the logistics. However, it ends up being a tortuous affair during your three months aboard the boot camp training environment.

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These two entities aren’t merely close to each other, they’re fucking attached via a small chain link fence that will torture you during your company PT sessions. The sound of the planes isn’t bothersome, hardly a bore compared to the constant berating and screaming done by the drill instructors around you. It is nothing so tangible about the planes flying overhead that will drive you absolutely mad, but in fact the wish that you could be on every single plane you see taking off.

You long for it, you count the days in your hand-drawn calendar next to your list of fatty home cooked foods you plan to eat when you’re done there. Those planes will drive you mad with envy as you can practically see the faces in the windows as they take off and away from the misery you’re experiencing.

I know it’s always considered boot as fuck to talk about boot camp, but can we just universally acknowledge that boot camp fucking sucks. I mean, really, it does. In retrospect its probably one of the least noteworthy events of your Marine Corps career, yet the only one many people even know about thanks to popular culture. However, in those three months you experience it for the first and only time, it is absolute hell. It’s hard to describe it without actually going there for yourself, but those are three months I would happily never repeat for as long as I live.

 

For all of the good that Marines do in the world, sometimes they can be a bad influence on an indigenous population. I spent a large chunk of time as a turret gunner during my first deployment to Iraq, and imagine my surprise when I found all of the kids flipping me off for no apparent reason. I would wave to them and be greeted back with with a stark middle finger and a smile. They actually had no idea what they were doing, but the unit that we replaced had taught all of the children to flip people off instead of wave.

I actually really enjoyed the turret, it was my favorite job on the vehicle. Up in the turret is a little personal bird’s nest where I could set up things the way I liked them and got a good view of everything around us. Another one of my favorite parts about it is being able to interact with people, which you don’t really get to do much sitting in the back seat. As such, I took it upon myself to erase the middle finger from the local children and replace it with the Hawaiian “shaka.” Though we had replaced 2/7 from Twentynine Palms, I was a Hawaii Marine with 3/3, and the shaka seemed like a somewhat more wholesome option anyway.

If any of you were paying attention to the Terminal Lance Facebook page you probably noticed the fun we had with the President’s “Latte Salute” over the last few days. I feel like half of my audience understood me and that it was simply for the laughs, the other half took it as some kind of political statement in protest to the President’s sloppy salute. If you know me and you’ve been following me this long, you know that Terminal Lance is apolitical on all topics, and this one is no different. Honestly I didn’t really give two shits about his salute itself, my response to it was in the spirit of having fun with it, as is everything I do.

Not everything is a statement. Learn to laugh at things, you’ll live longer.

There’s an old and eerily accurate saying in the Marine Corps:

There’s only one thief in the Marine Corps, everyone else is just trying to get their shit back.

Then again, there’s also another saying:

Gear adrift is gear a gift.

One of my first experiences with lost gear was at SOI at Camp Pendleton. About halfway through the two month ITB cycle I somehow lost my goretex jacket. I have no idea how, it was there one day and the next day it wasn’t. I asked everyone I could and no one had any idea what happened to it. Mysteriously vanished. I want to believe it was taken by the One True Thief, if only for the fact that it would take the blame off the people around me.

However, it is rather telling that I’ve never seen a “Lost and Found” section of any platoon.

If you lose a piece of gear in the Marine Corps, I absolutely promise you that you will never see it again. It’s unfortunate, but true; and thus the reason I ended up spending $90 on a replacement goretex at one of the military surplus stores at Oceanside. Unsurprisingly, the store sells a lot of actual issued gear, and they pay money for gear they can sell. I wouldn’t be surprised if the goretex I purchased that day (that also broke my bank account since I was a PFC with no financial management skills) was the exact same one I had lost weeks prior. After all, gear adrift is gear a gift… for the person that stole my goretex.

Either that, or he was just trying to get his shit back.

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.

Religious extremism is a scourge on an otherwise decent earth we live on.

I have a theory (backed up by nothing but pure and largely comical speculation) that if we got all the idiot terrorists in the world to just stop killing each other for like a few hours and sit them down and have Neil DeGrasse Tyson talk about the universe and shit, they would eventually reach the conclusion that murdering people for no apparent reason is fairly petty in contrast to the massive scale of the galaxy and everything beyond it. I know that whenever I feel like going on a murderous religious rampage and forcing weird and archaic laws on people against their will, all I have to do is look up at the night sky and remember that I’m one dude sitting on one relatively small (and extremely lucky) rock revolving around a relatively small star in a galaxy filled with about 300,000,000,000 other stars.

That’s pretty fucking mind boggling, and makes everything else seem really fucking stupid.

There’s probably a much larger and more intelligent dialog to be had on the idea that lack of education is the source of most evil. As well, this is certainly not a stance or argument against religion as a general thing. Frankly I wouldn’t care if you worshipped Pan, the pagan goat god, as your lord and savior; as long as you didn’t use it as an excuse to cut peoples heads off on YouTube. Unfortunately I really doubt any of the people we’re about to unleash hell on are going to take a step back and examine the intricacies of the universe and all of its infinite splendor. Instead, they’re just going to keep being assholes, and so they are going to be treated like assholes.

It was weird watching the President talk on Wednesday night about the state of affairs in Iraq and the war plan. It was an intense deja-vu for me back to 2003 and watching President Bush sell us basically the same thing. Circumstances are different, naturally, but it’s weird to think that Iraq has been a part of our national dialog for almost half of my life now. Having been there twice myself, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll ever see the end of it.