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.

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.

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