Terminal Lance #474 “Small Victories”

May 23, 2017

When life sucks, it’s the little victories that can make a good day.

Luckily, in the Marine Corps, your odds of literally everyone being too hung over to PT in the morning are pretty good on most days. I’d say there’s about a 50/50 chance* you’ll actually have to do some lame real PT rather than just some bullshit jog around the barracks for 5 minutes before you all go back to your rooms and try to sober up before breakfast.

*Odds increase exponentially if your Platoon Commander arrives in PT gear with a dumbass look on his face like he wants to PT with you.

Marines drink. Given that the Corps was founded in a Tavern in 1775, Marines drinking is an earthly constant much like gravity and Lance Corporals complaining. These are laws of nature that cannot be changed or altered, much like energy cannot be created nor destroyed.

Still, drink responsibly. You don’t want to be the guy plucking dried vomit chunks out of his leg hair in the middle of morning PT (I’ve seen this personally).




Terminal Lance #473 “OPFOR”

May 19, 2017

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret that you might not discover until you’re a coveted “Super Senior” Lance Corporal and most likely on your way out… OPFOR is one of the best times you’ll ever have on a field op.

This is when you’re told to dress up as a pretend terrorist and essentially annoy the rest of your platoon for 3 days speaking offensively fake, shitty Arabic and throwing rocks at them from the bushes while they patrol Bellows.

I recall being tasked with enacting the opposing force (OPFOR) during a trip to Bellows training area in Hawaii. I basically treated it like a long game of Metal Gear Solid–I laid elaborate traps and ambushes in the container villages (all “notional” of course) and annoyed my platoon so much they made me a blindfolded POW for a good 4 hours or so when they finally caught me.

It was a blast, to be honest, and probably the only time a field op is genuinely fun.

Do it for the goat virgins.



Terminal Lance #472 “Why We Hate CIF II”

May 16, 2017

CIF employees and armory custodians have a lot in common… That is, they’re both fucking assholes that no one likes.

As well, they both turn away your shit for totally ridiculous reasons.

CIF gear is always required to be washed and cleaned when turning it back in, which would be fine if their standards weren’t so ridiculous, considering that the gear is designed to be used by people who literally sleep in dirt for a living and wash their assholes with baby wipes because they don’t shower for days at a time.

Of course, these days gear gets replaced with newer, better gear all the time. I turned in an ILBE pack that Marines today no longer use, but was issued brand new from the package. This serves to make the practice of vigorously cleaning your shit even more useless since most of it will be replaced with new gear anyway for the next generation.

In other news, Terminal Lance is back stateside and jet lagged as fuck, but otherwise operational! Stand by for some cool new stuff coming soon!



Terminal Lance #471 “Coin Purse”

May 9, 2017

On Saturday of last weekend, I attended the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s annual award ceremony dinner and received the James Webb Award for Fiction for The White Donkey.

It was a huge honor and I am immensely grateful for the consideration (especially considering we got snubbed at the Eisner awards), and it was great to meet both Sergeant Major Green and General Neller, whom presented the awards to the many fine recipients.


Shortly after this photo was taken, Sergeant Major Green handed me one of his signature Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Challenge Coins. For those of you unaware, it’s traditional for a Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps to hand out challenge coins during base visits and other events.

But I couldn’t help but wonder… Is he carrying a pocket full of challenge coins in his dress blues?

Clearly there’s no way that can be the case, and while I wasn’t able to find a poor Lance Corporal with jingling cargo pockets at the event, I’m left to assume that this must be the case.

In any case, apologies for the late updates lately, I’m currently out of the country again, but we have some cool announcements coming soon when I get back. Stay tuned for more TL!



Terminal Lance #470 “Secret Weapon”

April 28, 2017

More like a one-man Corps, am I right?!

I often wonder what it’s like to be General Mattis, partially because I’ve never had a 13-inch penis, but mostly because the idolization and memefication of him has to be a strange feeling. The Legend of Mattis is further amplified by the modern phenomenon of social media, and honestly I’m not sure there’s ever been anything similar to compare it to within the military community. He really is like a legendary warrior at this point, only missing an eyepatch and a robotic arm.

As a general thing, I suppose it’s a good thing for the military as a whole to have a Secretary of Defense that is universally loved and adored across all ranks and rates. As far as the legends and memes go, those that have met the Honorable Secretary can attest that underneath all of the hype is a genuinely good, down to earth man that loves his Marines.

Also worth noting is that the 66 year old man likely doesn’t spend a lot of time shitposting on Facebook anyway.

He’s better off, really.



Terminal Lance “Things Are Heating Up”

April 25, 2017

Heating up, indeed.

Well if you haven’t noticed, things are getting a bit spicy in North Korea. While this is undoubtedly exciting for Marines like Abe, it’s concerning for most of the world–especially our allies in Japan and South Korea (not to mention the huge US military populations in both of those areas).

There’s been lots of rattling and rumbling over the years, but it really seems like things might come to a head here as an outside observer. Don’t get me wrong, of course I don’t want to see Marines get sent into harm’s way. As a somewhat ubiquitous figure in the Corps culture, I often feel a weird sense of responsibility to the young Lance Corporals of the world.

Still, Marines have to be ready for anything, and if you’re anything like Abe, maybe the prospect of being surrounded by Korean girls isn’t the worst thing in the world.


Hell, anything that gets us out of the middle east might be nice.

On a side note, super huge thank you to everyone that came out to the panel at the LA Times Festival of Books on Sunday. I’ll be in DC this weekend to receive the James Webb Award for The White Donkey. If you’re there, feel free to say hi!

Random question, am I allowed to just knock on the door at 8th & I?



Terminal Lance #469 “Endless Conversation”

April 21, 2017

An interesting phenomenon occurs in the lower ranks of the Corps where Marines can talk to each other literally 24 hours a day and never run out of shit to talk about.

Think about it this way: Marines live in very close quarters with each other, they go to work together, and most often spend their weekends together. Marines are never apart from each other in any practical sense, yet still they can’t seem to shut the fuck up when they’re together. Every topic is up for grabs and every topic becomes intrinsically interesting upon intellectual dissection and discourse.

Marines will spend their hours talking about everything from (most commonly) the women they have slept with (and how each of their respective vaginas differed from each other), to the difference between soft drinks being called soda or pop.

It’s soda, by the way.

Married couples don’t even talk to each other the same way that Marines do. I suppose when you’re isolated in a shitty situation together, pretty much anything is a worthy escape.

In other news, if you’re in LA this weekend, come by to the Los Angeles Festival of Books and come see me talk about my book and war literature in general with some other really awesome guests. I’m super cool in person and I will sign anything you put in front of me.

Here are the details! See you on Sunday.

As for Starkiller base, I have issues.

First off, how the fuck does the base get close enough to a star in order to suck it up into the gun? The earth is roughly 90 million miles away from our sun, and it’s fucking 90 degrees outside today here in LA. There’s no way a planet could get that close to a star without boiling its atmosphere off and murdering everyone on the surface.

Second, does the planet have hyperdrive capability? We never see any “engines” on the damn thing, how does it move around the galaxy and suck up stars? Can an entire planet travel through hyperspace?

Third, how do the beams move across the galaxy so fast? Traveling at the speed of light, it would take beams of light 4 years to reach the nearest star system to earth (Alpha Centauri), yet somehow this shit leaps across the galaxy in an instant.

Fourth, how could you possibly program a beam weapon to “seek” a target? We see it bend toward the planets in the film and it makes no sense.

At least the Death Star was believable.



Terminal Lance “Tax Day 2017”

April 18, 2017

Well it’s that time of the year again… The time when PFC’s and Lance Corporals across the Corps learn how to do their taxes for the first time in their fresh adult lives. For the average young Marine, they’ll find they most likely get a nice refund, as most states tend to pay back in full any taxes paid while active duty (at least that’s how it was for Oregon).

This money will be cycled back into the economy in a number of ways, though most likely through the thong of a stripper in Oceanside in the form of a crisp $1 bill.

Anyway, I don’t have much to add. I just paid my taxes today and I’m going to go cry. Late update today, cause Mike Dowling invited me out for his birthday with about 5 minutes of warning, so I’m writing this from a bar in North Hollywood.

Stay tuned, lots of good stuff coming down the pipeline in Terminal Lance land.

Oh one last note! I’ll be at the Los Angeles Book Festival on April 23rd from 12:00pm – 1:00pm on a panel and book signing. If you’re in the LA area come by and say what’s up! The details are here.



Terminal Lance “Happy Easter 2017”

April 14, 2017

You really can’t trust Marines to help with the base Easter egg hunt.

May baby Jesus bless the hearts of those that run MCCS programs for Marines and their families. No, seriously, that stuff is greatly appreciated and rarely mentioned around here, but being a Marine is shitty enough as it is, so anything that alleviates the shit really helps.

I don’t have too much to add to this strip. I debated a few topics today, such as taxes or even the “MOAB” strike in Afghanistan that everyone seems obsessed over for some reason (we’ve been bombing Afghanistan for like 15 years now, FYI). If you’re Catholic, or even just Mexican, Easter is probably a big deal to you. I’m Jewish, so the depth of it was limited to egg-birthing rabbits growing up, but knowing my audience (and the fact that I was one of two Jews in my boot camp platoon) makes me feel like a Passover joke would have passed over some heads.

In any case, Happy Easter and Chag Sameach!



Terminal Lance #468 “Personal Financial Management II”

April 4, 2017

Man you can save so much money when you don’t have a life.

Marines are terrible with money. We all know the jokes about paying for a new Mustang with 75% interest, but they’re not really jokes at all because these motherfuckers do it every day. It’s always interesting how broke Marines generally are on that “Lance Corporal pay,” (myself included) when you consider the fact that single Marines don’t have to pay their own rent or for their own food if they don’t want to. The paycheck that Marines do get is nearly 100% disposable income, and it is more often than not disposed of at strip clubs and on copious amounts of alcohol from the 7 day store.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for anyone to live the boring ass life of an old man or worse, a Staff NCO; but I often regret how much money I wasted while I was aboard MCBH Kaneohe Bay. Let’s be real for a second, the chow hall food isn’t that bad.

Some of the best omelets you’ll ever have, to be honest.