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:

J-Jameson-laughing-Meme-peter-parker-spider-man

 

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.

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 11.49.29 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 1.39.13 PM

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:

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 12.33.31 AM

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.

If you’ve ever been a boot in a line company you know the sinking feeling of having the Duty NCO knock on your door at 0530. It’s not a fucking mystery, you know exactly what he wants. The boots need to gather and police call the parking lot, sweep the catwalk and take out the duty trash before morning formation. There’s little you can do to avoid it, because if you’re not in your room 15 minutes before formation where the fuck else would you be? If you’re lucky though, the interest of time will overshadow the principle of things, and the duty will eventually move on to another room and wake up some other boots less versed in the art of skating.

Being a boot is absolutely miserable in the infantry. It really is. I remember being so confused when I arrived at 3/3 in Hawaii on a late night in 2006. The duty van picked us up from the airport and gave us rooms in the barracks, and for the first time ever a Lance Corporal was yelling at me and demanding I call him by rank. I’ve seen POG’s tell me, ‘I would never call a Lance Corporal by rank, I would tell him to suck my dick and punch him,’ and I have a hardy laugh at the idea that they have any idea what they’re talking about.

I give this statement about the same amount of attention as the civilian that says, “I couldn’t join the Marine Corps cause if a drill instructor yelled at me I’d punch him in the face.”

The infantry is prison rules, you get there and you’re fresh meat. It’s easy to posture the idea of ignoring the rank of “Senior Lance Corporal,” until you’ve got about 30 Lance Corporals fresh from a deployment to Iraq threatening to beat the living shit out of you (and they will), and they all literally hate you for no apparent reason. I spent time working at the base ComCam during my last months in the Corps, it gave me a good perspective on how a typical POG “shop” operates. The hierarchy of boots/seniors doesn’t really exist, because they don’t base rate off of deployments like the infantry does. They are two completely different cultures, despite being under the same red and gold flag of the Corps.

On a lighter note, did you know we recently revamped the Terminal Lance Store? Check it out and order some badass shit, yo.

I was profoundly surprised when I got to college at how easy it was (granted, I did go to art school). Yet, somehow, I saw other students struggling and failing. This should come as no surprise to me, really. Prior to enlisting I attended Portland Community College to a less-than-favorable performance. For some reason, being 18 years young it was hard for me to grasp the concept of showing up on time, doing the work and being personable was the secret to college success.

It really is that simple. Even if you’re struggling with the material, most of your grade comes from just being there and turning things in on time. Like, really, how hard is that? I’m not going to sit here and claim that the Marine Corps graced me with some magical virtue of discipline, but when you’ve spent the last four years being yelled at and in situations where the stakes can literally be life or death, college feels exceedingly simple in comparison. Additionally, being blessed (seriously, it’s great) with the Post 9/11 GI bill meant I had no excuse to fail.

If you’re a Marine facing your looming EAS date with worries of the impending future, I will tell you here and now to fear not. You’re going to do fine, you’re going to be surrounded by hot 18 year old girls, and you’ve already done more than a lot of these kids ever will.

In other news, I think its worth mentioning the untimely passing of the amazing Robin Williams.

628x471

 

There was some scuffle on my Twitter yesterday as I found myself overtly pessimistic about the passing of another celebrity. I had considered doing a comic on the subject, but I felt like it would almost be a petty retort and in the wrong spirit of things. I chose to do a comic unrelated, because I feel like Robin Williams, of all people, would want nothing more than to make people laugh.

Celebrity deaths are often greeted by the veteran community with a passive anger, lamenting the societal sadness that comes with it. The anger comes from the idea that people will mourn the loss of one celebrity but will have no mention of the many men and women that gave the ultimate sacrifice overseas (and at home). The anger has a logic to it, but I do feel like it is misguided. The simple explanation is that, while the loss of our troops is immensely sad in itself, people don’t feel a personal connection to them in the same way they do a celebrity like Robin Williams. While I might not have known Mr. Williams, I have always known who he is. I grew up during the height of his career, he’s made me laugh for essentially my entire life.

My mistake on Twitter was that I assumed the worst, when in fact the veteran community is generally remorseful toward the loss of Mr. Williams due to his close ties to the USO, and the fact that he is also just a decent person that made everyone laugh. I believe, as well, that the nature of his untimely death resonates with the veteran community in a way that I wish it didn’t, drawing attention to the many veterans that have ended their own lives after returning home from over ten years of conflict.

The sadness of his passing is overwhelmingly laden with a depressing sense of irony. A man who gave his entire life to making people laugh lost the ultimate battle against his own depression.

Rest in peace, Mr. Williams, there’s not a soul in the world that hated you.

I know I’ve said it a million times, but making Lieutenants the butt end of comic strips here is so easy its hard to resist. They’re universally despised by basically everyone. Senior officers hate them because they’re boots, Staff NCO’s hate them because they’re boots (but are in charge of them) and junior enlisted hate them because… well… they’re boots (but equally in charge of them). Okay, obviously not all Lieutenants are boots, but a lot of the time they are and it is frustrating. So full of enthusiasm and pride, the Marine Corps having yet to suck the hope from their lives. I suppose it would be harmless if they were like most boot PFC’s, who are completely unable to express their inherent motivation beyond the form of a shitty high-and-tight haircut. However, since they are in charge of you, you’ll often find yourself indulging their weird egos with moto runs and stupid exercises they learned at OCS.

No one cares, sir. Hurry up so I can go back to my room and shower my hangover away in peace.

As you may have guessed by the title, today’s strip is actually one that was previously published in the Marine Corps Times newspaper. Well, more or less, this is actually the unedited version that didn’t make the cut. The published one changed the punchline to “idiot.” While it is an equally deserving rip, it does lack the gusto of ‘douchebag.‘ Finding a good name for your dog is important, since it will become his primary sense of identity for the rest of his short life. In real life, I named my dog Charlie.

SONY DSC

Charlie the Dog

I guess I didn’t really have a profound reason for the name, but it seemed like a good fit and he seems happy with it. I also just wanted a reason to put a photo of my dog up, because all of this Iraq business has me down.

Well, not so much down as immensely frustrated.

The Lance Corporal Underground is not a place of mythology or science fiction, despite what many young commissioned officers would believe. Broadly, the Lance Corporal Underground refers to the almost legendary methods that the lower enlisted use to acquire and spread information and rumors. Oftentimes, news of upcoming field ops or extended weekends will hit the Lance Corporals of a battalion before the CO has even made the decision.

As fast as one can think up the next rumor to spread, phones and Facebooks light up with messages and calls. Cryptic and ominous, the Lance Corporal Underground makes sure all of the lower enlisted know what’s going on long before it’s actually announced.

Strangely, the Underground existed long before the advent of mobile smartphones and the internet. Some believe the crossed rifles on the Lance Corporal chevron act as a radio antenna of sorts to intercept information as its broadcast from LCPL-Actual.

But alas, I would let you all in on the secrets of how the Underground operates, but then I’d have to kill you all (except for the Lance Corporals, obviously). In the meantime, I’ll just let Wolf Blitzer continue to uncover the mysteries for you.

140728132951-sot-wolf-hamas-tunnels-exclusive-00055424-horizontal-gallery

Okay… this isn’t actually the uncovering of Lance Corporal networks, this is from his broadcast about the Hamas tunnels going into Israel. I hope you guys caught this reference, otherwise this comic isn’t nearly as funny.

 

Easily the biggest fear of any aspiring Marine (also called a Recruit) is getting dropped to MRP during boot camp. Medical Recovery Platoon is where you go when you’re just too ill to train, but are expected to recover at some point so you can finish the trials at hand.

Speaking purely as an observer, I can’t imagine a more miserable place. Tales of attempted suicide and misery permeate the Depot from the deepest bowels of MRP. Boot camp is already miserable enough as a regular, healthy recruit. The constant berating, screaming, games and physical arduousness are something I would never want to do again, but I was fortunate enough to only have to do that for three months. I stress the term fortunate here, because I was actually almost dropped to MRP myself during my stay at MCRD.

I, like most recruits, came down with the “crud” as they call it. I had a pretty bad case of pneumonia right before we were supposed to go up north to Camp Pendleton. The Navy doctor told me I would have to be dropped to MRP, as I was simply too ill to go up north. Horror struck over me at this realization, I’d have to be here for another two weeks?! (2 weeks is how long it would take until I could pick up with Alpha company) Two weeks might not sound like a lot on the outset, but two weeks in boot camp is like 3 years in civilian time dragging your genitals through Frank’s Red Hot I put that shit on everything. Luckily, like the hand of God himself, my company commander called medical moments after gave me the news. He spoke with the doctor and convinced him to let me go up north with my platoon. I was ecstatic. Well, I mean, as ecstatic as one can be with a fever 0f 103 and lungs full of shit.

I was told that my company had already lost too many recruits and could not afford to lose any more, under any circumstances, so they hopped me up on Motrin and penicillin and sent me off. I was fine after a few days of course, but it was a close call and I would rather tough it out with a high grade fever for a few days than spend another minute longer on the Depot than I had to. I might be the exception here, but I remember on graduation day, many of the recruits stayed behind to take photos with the drill instructors and show their parents around. I sought no such thing.

The moment we were dismissed I found my mother in the crowd and the first words out of my mouth were, “Did you bring my clothes? Good, let me go change so we can get the fuck out of here.”

Why has no one done this yet? It would certainly be a welcome addition amongst the thousand barber shops and military surplus stores along the Oceanside strip. Then again, basically anything would be a welcome addition to Oceanside that isn’t a stripper looking for a Marine to marry for money or a boot wearing mom jeans and a digital camo backpack.

I tend to bias toward Oceanside and San Diego when I do these kinds of strips because I have never been to Camp Lejeune. From what I understand, Jacksonville is the equivalent to San Clemente and Oceanside, but without a nice California beach and with more pregnant meth addicts (more being the keyword here). These small towns outside of the large bases form naturally as a result of people kind of just… ending up there due to their enlistment. As most of you know, I was stationed in Hawaii with 3/3, and it pleases me to mention that MCBH doesn’t really have this phenomenon. Unless they’re already from the island, most people generally don’t stay in Hawaii once their commitment is over. I’m not sure why, I actually really miss it sometimes; but I can say with confidence that Kailua (the town immediately outside of MCBH Kaneohe Bay) is nothing like what you find around Camp Pendleton or Camp Lejeune.

My experience with Camp Pendleton is mostly from my days at SOI. I recall with little fondness taking the Sea Breeze boot bus out to Oceanside to spend the day getting a haircut and browsing surplus stores. It’s not hard to find a place that gives haircuts, or a place that gives tattoos, or a place that sells Oakleys… But if you combined them all into one, you would be king.

Please don’t get me wrong, as usual, this is much more of an observation than a call to arms. Abe (and myself) is simply too apathetic to really, genuinely want to get involved in something if we don’t have to.

It is a weird feeling though, every time I turn the news on there’s some war breaking out on the other side of the planet. I mean, I suppose it’s nothing new, the Middle East is always full of fuck and Russia has simply run out of fucks to give. With the war in Afghanistan winding down and with the US showing no genuine interest to get involved anywhere at the moment, things just feel… quiet. Tensions are rising on the opposite end of the earth, but for Marines in their daily lives (infantry at least), it’s time to stand by in the barracks.

Being a grunt in peacetime or in between deployments means a life either in the field, at the armory cleaning your weapon, or in the barracks catching up on your favorite shows or video games. I spent more time on “stand by” in the barracks than I care to admit.

What are we standing by for?

The word, of course.

Anyway, late update today, SgtMaj Kent and Paul Szoldra kept me out too late in San Francisco last night with their shenanigans. I was definitely the lowest ranking person there. If you’re in San Francisco, and a Marine, definitely check out the Marine’s Memorial Club & Hotel downtown, the top floor restaurant/bar is awesome and the “Leatherneck” beer actually isn’t too bad.

David Brooks, SgtMaj Kent, SgtMaj Grizzle, Paul Szoldra, myself

David Brooks, SgtMaj Kent, SgtMaj Grizzle, Paul Szoldra, myself