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.

I don’t write enough non-comic blog posts on here, I really should more often.

Terminal Lance has been around for a while now. I guess I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all of the fans that have kept me going over the years. There’s been a lot of really silly internet drama over the last couple of months; I’ve mostly avoided it because its not really worth my time. This comic of mine has been a pretty crazy journey over the last few years, I started it when I was active duty in 2010 and it has since ballooned into the monster it has become. It is worth noting that since day one, I have always put my name on every single comic strip (my full, real name), because I stand behind my work and everything that I do.

I take Terminal Lance very seriously, which might sound counterintuitive given the nature of the product (a comedic comic strip), which is why it has been able to last this long. There are over 600 comic strips between the website and the Marine Corps Times newspaper, and something like that doesn’t happen without a serious investment of time and effort. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve laid awake at night trying to figure out the right way to sell a punchline or whether or not a joke is too far–or perhaps even not far enough.

People I meet often ask me what I do for a living (a regular topic for most people by any measure), and sometimes it’s kind of hard to come up with a normal answer. Am I a cartoonist? A writer? An illustrator? All of the above? I went to the California College of the Arts in the San Francisco bay area after I got out of the Corps and got my Bachelor of Fine Arts in animation (with distinction). While the animation program naturally focuses on the medium of film and TV, the school’s own slogan probably rings the truest for me: make art that matters.

I think about this statement a lot, and I think I can say, unlike many artists, that my work actually has mattered in the grand scheme of things. I think the goal of any artist really is to have some kind of cultural impact, and I would argue on all fronts that Terminal Lance has achieved just that. It paved the road for critical discourse of the military, it opened the door for social media in the military environment, and it brings light to important topics of discussion in a way that is digestible to an audience through means of comedy. I’m sure so many officers and Staff NCO’s were rolling their eyes when Terminal Lance launched in 2010, brushing it off as some small annoyance, but now embrace it as a regular mainstay of the Marine Corps culture. As I said, it’s been a weird journey, and one that I’m proud of.

But none of this would have happened without the readers that read it, and for that I am forever grateful. My goal has never been to drag the Marine Corps down, but to make it laugh.

I’ve still got a lot of things up my sleeve. The White Donkey is the current project, but there are many more to come. Look forward to some great new creations in the near future, as well as possibly some changes to the site. I don’t want to say much more than that at the moment, but stick around and you’ll see for yourself.

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.

If life were an RPG, and the Marine Corps were part of that RPG, the SIQ chit would be a +10 enchanted weapon. With it you wield a godly power sought by all Lance Corporals throughout the ages: Unlimited Skating Potential. The power it contains may as well be sorcery, for those who carry the Chit are granted an exponential bonus against all Fuckery rolls. Corpsmen hold an express power over this wizardry–or as we call it here, Butt-Fucking Navy Sorcery. It is through bribery and parlor tricks blow jobs you might be able to persuade one of them to grant you this revered document, for no Marine has ever been known to attain one through genuine means of illness.

Okay I don’t really know where I’m going with this, I just know that Destiny is out today, and I suspect there’s going to be a lot of sick people in the barracks the world as the game makes the rounds.

I’m a huge nerd, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of you that have kept up with me this long. I oftentimes reference video games in my humble comic strip, because video games have been a central pillar of my hobbies for as long as I can remember. Hell, I could probably attribute Metal Gear Solid 3 as being at least 24% of the entire reason I joined the Marine Corps. What can I say? I love them. I’ve actually found they have a very real stress-relieving effect on myself. When I’m feeling too overwhelmed with the world it is often a good few hours of game time that will bring me back to sanity. There’s something about laying back with a controller in my hand, blankly staring at the TV that I find irreplaceably relaxing and soothing.

That is, unless I’m playing Mario Kart. It is not time to relax when I’m playing Mario Kart. If I’m playing Mario Kart, children and elderly should probably avoid me, because the amalgam of anger and hateful curses that exit my lips goes beyond anything even most Marines would be accustomed to.

Anyway, if you follow me on Twitter I occasionally broadcast my gaming live on Twitch. Because, I dunno, why not? I don’t do it often, simply because I don’t have the time to, but keep an eye out on my twitter and my Twitch channel. Last time (a couple weeks ago) myself and some helpful individuals finished the Silent Hill “PT” demo on PS4.

(Scary as fuck, by the way)

More specifically, this the anatomy of the “Post 9/11 Veteran.” You can also refer to this look as “The Operator.” Before a bunch of angry veterans with similar fashion choices start becoming upset, know that this is an observation made from my own experience. I am no different, as I also rocked the baseball cap, Oakleys, t-shirt and cargo pants. The only thing I was missing was a beard, but that was more a circumstance of unfortunate genetics than anything else.

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Myself about 2 months after my EAS date.

I’ll try to explain this item by item.

  • Baseball cap
    • Marines are used to wearing hats. Well, covers, as they’re known to us. It’s embedded into you during bootcamp with the passion of a thousand angry baboons that you should not ever walk outside without a hat on. The concept of someone screaming at you angrily because your head isn’t covered is strange, I know, but all of us have been there. As a result, adapting to life without a hat takes time.
  • Oakley Sunglasses
    • Oakleys are a big deal in the military. A good pair of Oakleys are exponentially better than the shit ESS glasses you get issued at CIF, and you can wear them in civilian attire without looking like a complete tool. They last a long time and most veterans simply have a pair of Oakleys from their time in, why replace good sunglasses when you don’t have to?
  • Beard
    • After years of repression and Recon envy, most Marines stop shaving the moment the clock strikes midnight on their EAS date. I can probably count the number of times on one hand I’ve actually taken a razor to my face since I got out of the Marine Corps. Of course, I don’t grow a full beard (I blame my father), but I don’t clean shave either.
  • T-Shirt
    • Who doesn’t wear t-shirts? Specifically though, this is a neutral color to go with your hat and/or cargo pants, which are most likely khaki or brown. Odds are you have a ton of old skivvy shirts laying around, and they’re a shirt like any other, only they have the sentimental value of having been on your back during arduous times like deploying overseas or having to Chinese field day. The T-shirt may or may not have the words “America,” “fuck,” “infidel,” or all of the above on it.
  • Non-military Cargo pants
    • Adapting to life without cargo pants is as difficult as adapting to life without a hat. Where do you put all of that random shit you carry around? Where will you put your hat when you walk inside? Eventually you’ll get used to living with just a cell phone, keys and wallet like a normal person, but for the first few months you’ll insist you need the extra pockets because you never know.
  • Extra few pounds
    • Lets face it, you’re gonna get out of shape eventually. You thought that those light morning PT sessions weren’t doing anything, but they were actually keeping your fat ass in check while you binge drank and ate pizza every night in the barracks. I’m a skinny guy naturally, so I actually have the reverse problem where I start to lose mass if I don’t work out to retain it.

As for the lack of fucks, well, what do you expect when you put a guy whose had more life experience in four years than many people have in their entire lives into normal life. You get used to it eventually, and the fucks will start slowly coming back, but it takes time.

 

Dogs seem to be a common theme over the last couple of weeks around here. For as stupid as this joke is, I always really liked this comic. As much fun as using curse words and the like are, sometimes I just enjoy a silly joke now and again. MRE’s are a mainstay of typical infantry culture, but that doesn’t make them any less despised. In all fairness, the newest MRE’s are actually not nearly as bad as they have been in the past.

Still though, we know where they get their meat.

With the long holiday weekend where I avoided my computer like a syphilitic barracks rat in heat, and with everything I have to get done today I actually didn’t get a chance to make a new comic strip, so here is a previously published comic from the Marine Corps Times to quench your thirst.

The thirst.

I never really understood why bulldogs were the official mascot of the Marine Corps; English bulldogs, at that (as opposed to an American breed).

I’ve been a dog lover my whole life. I grew up in Oregon with at least 3 dogs in the house at any given moment in time. I love dogs and I can’t imagine my life without one. But please, indulge me for a moment and take a look at this animal:

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Chesty XIV

I don’t mean to pick on him, because he is adorable in a kind of hideous way, but contrast this rather stout puppy with another dog actively serving in the Marine Corps and you can quickly illustrate everything that’s wrong with the Corps in two photos.

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Drak, wounded by an IED in Afghanistan

The German Shepherd Belgian Malinois here is a dog’s dog, doing real work where it matters. Typically Military Working Dogs (MWDs) are German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois and various lab breeds because of their versatility, intelligence and function in the real world. The English bulldog isn’t so formidable in any circumstance, barely able to tread water if it had to due to its compact body mass. I suppose it reflects metaphorically the idea of the Marine Corps being a small, but fierce force in the world; but it really is an odd choice to represent a fighting force typically seen as fearsome and daunting.

In the end, I don’t particularly care either way, I just couldn’t help but laugh at the idea of Chesty XIV getting promoted to Corporal in the news this week.

It brings to mind a moment I had when I was active duty in Hawaii, living in base housing over by Ft. Hase beach. I took my dog, Charlie, to swim on one weekend. Charlie is a lab mix and adores any chance he can to go into the water. English Bulldogs are a popular choice amongst Marines simply because of their iconic representation within the organization, and I was not surprised to find another Marine at the beach with his stocky little dog. Upon seeing the world of fun me and Charlie were having, he decided he would see how his dog fared in the salty ocean.

He picks the guy up, walks about waist-deep into the water, the dog stricken with a look of terror the entire time. He stops and places the bulldog into the water to see what he would do. The dog, barely able to float, clumsily splashes and kicks his way back to the safety of the shore and vows never to return to the watery prison.

Meanwhile, my dog is looking at him like this:

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Charlie the Dog

*EDIT*

Apparently there actually was a ceremony where they pinned the dog, but in chucks instead of cammies and it was the Commandant that pinned him. The center panel is not intended to be a drawing of the Commandant.

**

I mean who doesn’t hate boots?

Okay, some Marines definitely take the boot-hating thing a bit too far, but it’s kind of just the natural order of things. The infantry hierarchy of boots and seniors is there for a reason, but it’s mostly because of the infamously unforgiving cutting score system that sees a lot of infantry Marines stay Lance Corporals their entire career. Since rank is essentially thrown out the window in a squad composed entirely (or mostly) of Lance Corporals, you need some way to distinguish who rates and who doesn’t. Someone needs to be on working parties and clean shit up at 0530, and until you’ve gone on a deployment, it’s going to be you.

Being a boot in an infantry battalion is probably the worst place to find yourself as an unsuspecting new Marine. You spend three months at boot camp, learning simply how to be a Marine, then two months at SOI learning your job. You’re hopeful and optimistic about going to the fleet; you think after 5 months of arduous training that you’ll finally be treated like a real Marine. 

Keep hoping.

When you arrive at your unit in front of a bunch of pissed off Lance Corporals that just got back from a tiresome deployment overseas, you quickly find yourself at the bottom of the food chain once again.

I posted something on the FB page a couple weeks ago regarding boots, and some people mentioned that they would “never stand at parade rest for a Lance Corporal,” and “if they said I had to, I would laugh in their face.”

This is my general reaction to that sentiment:

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I thought the same thing before I hit the fleet… that only Corporals and above were to be addressed by rank and stood at parade rest for. It was about 30 seconds after I arrived at MCBH Kaneohe Bay on that fateful night, with about 100 drunk Lance Corporals fresh from Iraq were standing over the 4 of us just waiting for an excuse to beat the shit out of us, that I quickly changed my attitude toward the idea. Pride is a big deal in the infantry, and until you’ve been through what they have, you simply don’t rate. You are new, you aren’t to be trusted, and you are literally hated until you can prove you’re worth something.

After about 6 months of training and another 6 months in Iraq, we came home, got our own boots, and the cycle started all over again.

And of course, amongst my peers, there was always at least one guy that just absolutely, vehemently, hated boots.

On an unrelated note, I’m going to leave you with this tweet I saw tonight.

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As you may recall, in Tuesday’s comic update I challenged the Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Jim Amos and Duffel Blog founder Paul Szoldra to the ALS Ice Bucket challenge.

As well as pouring some tremendously cold ice water on my head, I also donated $100 to the ALS Association and passed the challenge on. Paul was apprehensive about the entire endeavor at first, but after some convincing, he donated $100 in lieu of the otherwise icy cold fate. A respectable result while still maintaining his professional composure.

Now, honestly, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the Commandant. Most people assumed he wouldn’t touch it, but I reserved hope when I saw that President Obama had actually donated $100 himself to the Association. Yesterday I was able to talk with a representative of HQMC regarding the matter, and he informed me that it is actually illegal for any service member to donate or affiliate with any charity or fundraiser in uniform or as a representative of the Marine Corps; additionally, since the Commandant is legally unable to separate his title and stature from his personal identity, he simply can’t engage in any of these shenanigans.

This is the email in question:

We are the fun police, and instead of doing awesome shit that’s fun, we’re just gonna send out this cop-out email that says lol no thanks.

-Assistant General Counsel (Ethics), Department of the Navy

Okay, that’s not really what the email says, but come on. No one is going to care, and at the very least someone could have made some video dumping ice water on their head, not donated any money, and engaged with people in a funny way without “endorsing” the organization in question.

Even when I was in Iraq we were actually forced to donate to the Combined Federal Campaign under the threat of punishment. I remember flipping through the book of charities, unable to find anything of interest (and I had to find something), so I just picked some obscure organization that rehabilitates bald eagles or something. I love animals and bald eagles are badass, so it seemed like the best choice at the time.

For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, the CFC is this annual charity thing the Marine Corps (military wide?) makes you participate in. You pick a charity from an approved list, fill out the form, and the money is deducted from your paycheck.

So hey, fine, I get it.

You don’t want to have fun with this, that’s okay. Since I’m not a DOD employee, and my only official title is “Total Badass,” I’ll spot you this time.

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I went ahead and donated $17.75 for you, but don’t worry, it’s NOT the Marine Corps.

Civil War reenactments are weird. But before I get into that, I want to take a moment to respond to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge I received earlier today from fan of the site Justin Keller.

That’s right, you heard me, Gen. Amos and Paul Szoldra. 

I’m calling you out.

Generally, this challenge calls for you to either donate $100 to the ALS Association or dump ice water on your head. Since I’m a Marine, and I do things balls out or not at all (literally, I’m wearing silkies here), not only did I dump fucking freezing ice water on my head, but I also donated $100 to the ALS Association under the name of Terminal Lance. As far as the video goes, I just want to note that it might not look like there’s ice in there, but that’s just cause a lot of it melted while I was rehearsing what to say over and over. Since it sat for a bit, the water was also fucking ridiculously cold and a lot more brisk than I had expected, which is why the look on my face is one I hope to never make again.

My camera girl, Melissa, cut the video off right as I was saying, “That is fucking cold.” (direct quote)

Here is proof of my donation to the ALS Association:

 

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So anyway, Civil War reenactments.

I was always admittedly creeped out by these things a little. It’s like a bunch of people dressing up as guys that are dead and reenacting what was possibly the most traumatic and terrifying part of their lives. I also always wondered where the line was for reenacting. Is it a green light once everyone in that particular conflict is officially dead? Is that the line? This comic is only partly accurate, mostly because I’m sure if they ever did do an Iraq War Reenactment or some such, I imagine it would be exclusive to the more action-packed segments, of which I certainly wouldn’t be portrayed in.

In any case, I fully understand that these reenactments are treated with reverence and respect for the events they depict.

What I do not understand, is why people in the South seem to want to watch themselves lose so many times.