Well it’s official, Marines have ended operations in Afghanistan and handed the base over to the Afghan National Security Forces. With the combat operations in Afghanistan drawing to a close, it’s hard not to feel sorry for poor Jody as he realizes that he’s not going to have nearly as much time with your girl.

He’s harmless though, really, he’s just a friend. Sure he’s funny, smarter than you, has rich parents and a 9 inch penis, but you didn’t have anything to worry about anyway. He’s just a coworker, or a classmate, or a friend from high school with unclear motives–you’re the only person she cares about and that’s all you need to know. Either way, Jody’s late night movie sessions are over for the time being, just don’t check her Facebook messages and you’re good to go.

On a more serious note, the end of Marine operations in Afghanistan is a pretty big deal. It’s been a long time coming, and a lot of tremendously brave Marines not only fought, but gave their lives for the mission of Operation Enduring Freedom. I believe, however, there’s somewhat of an uneasy aura about the move with things heating up in Iraq again. It is as if we just went through this same thing in Iraq not long ago, and we can only hope and pray that Afghanistan can hold its own–on its own.

Hope and pray.

There isn’t much worse for a grunt than having to let the Platoon Commander tag along during a field op or a range. Generally, field ops and ranges are fairly hands-off. The Platoon Commander stays in the COC (the ‘Cock,’ as its known) and the squads are left to do their business on their own. Obviously not all Lieutenants are boots, but no one likes to babysit; or especially be babysat.

Still, there’s not really any stopping it. If the LT wants to join you, he will. Maybe he just wants to see something cool like rockets being fired (if you’re an 0351), or he wants to get a feel for how his platoon is operating. Eventually, he will tag along and it will be miserable.

Flashback to PTA on the Big Island, running the large platoon-sized attack range with fully operational SMAW firing. Not only our Platoon Commander, but the Company CO himself decided to tag along with one of the Assault sections to see the climactic SMAW shot on the objective. Apparently not fully understanding the functionality of the SMAW, our CO found himself in the largely inconvenient position of being directly within the backblast radius of the weapon, to which our section leader at the time had to violently pull him to the ground before the rocket did it for him. This obviously isn’t to say that officers are inept, but rather that they simply aren’t fluent in the small-unit operations of each squad or section, and can find themselves in precarious situations simply because they aren’t familiar with the way each team works.

But anyway, it’s just a rant. In the end, no one likes it when their boss is standing over them while they work, no matter who you work for.

In other news, I just want to give a shout out to Saul Elbein for writing his small piece on me in the Men’s Journal this month. If you haven’t had a chance, go check it out! It should be on shelves now, it’s the one with Jimmy Fallon on the cover. On another random note, I noticed a lot more really fucking weird people on the FB page lately. I suppose any publicity has the potential to attract good and bad attention, but I prefer to keep things on the lighter side.

Terminal Lance is fundamentally about having a good laugh, so lets keep it that way.

Skating in the Marine Corps is an art that not everyone is fluent in. It’s not just about making excuses, it’s about bullshitting so hard that not even you are sure it’s a lie.

I feel like my own MOS of 0351 Assaultman is especially adept at the art form, as we’re an MOS that neither stands out as being particularly important but above the general 0311 populace. With a spot firmly in the back of Weapons Platoon during formations, it becomes easy to “fly under the radar,” as the general skill set of demolitions and shooting rockets doesn’t really lend itself to daily activities. It can be a double-edged sword, however, as I was simply turned into a turret gunner during my first deployment since no one was using 0351′s to their extent at the time.

I will concede, however, that the 0341 Mortarman might actually be a top-tier skater as well. Often times on major, integrated field ops like Mojave Viper or some such, the mortars will simply disappear somewhere for days at a time. No one is really sure what they’re actually doing, but it probably involves large amounts of playing Spades.

As for the late update today, I’m running into some awful issues with Photoshop ever since the newest WACOM driver update. Drawing this strip was a massive chore as my linework was shakier than a crack head’s (presumably while on crack).

On a random note, does anyone else think Gen. Dunford looks like your best friend’s dad that you’re just a little scared of? (It’s like, you know he’s not going to hit you, but he might.)

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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.