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Terminal Lance “Birthday Boy”


Well I don’t want to delve into details, but I figured I’d do a strip about birthdays today because… you know… it’s sort of my birthday. Please don’t beat me. I think my favorite birthday memory from my time in came from Iraq, actually. The Marines in my platoon made me a birthday cake out of an MRE poppy seed pound cake, some tootsie rolls and matches. The tootsie rolls were morphed into a Star of David atop the cake, a reference to my Jewish heritage.

The typical time-honored tradition of celebrating birthdays in the Marine Corps usually involves beating the living shit out of someone for no apparent reason. This is a cruel and unusual cultural staple that I can’t really explain, but it’s a thing. Also a thing, are motivators like the guy in the 2nd panel here. For some reason I always sort of despised this kind of Marine, the kind that ends sentences in “oorah” and uses “Semper Fi” in a casual sentence. I’ve always had an aversion to being sucked into cultures that were not my own (hence the reason this comic exists), and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with adopting outside mannerisms, it always seemed kind of odd to me. It’s one thing to speak the language when you need to, it’s entirely another to absorb yourself into a new identity.

That is, essentially, what the “motivator” is. He is someone that has allowed his own identity to be supplanted by the Marine Corps’. I’ve mentioned before that my entire experience in the Marine Corps often felt like that of an outside observer, a spy of sorts, but I first noticed this in boot camp. A few weeks into it, I started seeing recruits just like myself adopting language and mannerisms that were not their own, picked up from the heavy influence of our drill instructors.

The said recruit would look at me and say, “Kill bodies, oorah,” a series of words that he never would have spoken prior to his arrival at the Depot in San Diego. I would look at him and think to myself, “No, I do not want to be like that. I like who I am.”

After Terminal Lance had first came out in 2010 and became noticed by the Marine Corps at large, I had a chance meeting in the Base Commander’s office of MCBH Kaneohe Bay. The Marine (now civilian government employee) said to me, “Semper Fi,” as I was leaving his office. I replied to him, “Thanks, you too.”

He asked me, “Do you ever say it?”

“Not really,” I replied with a smile.

Anyway, today is my birthday, so I’m going to go do what men do on their birthdays: measure their lengthening scrotum with a yard stick and put a notch on my thigh to mark the occasion.

Infantry Marine turned Combat Artist turned animator turned bestselling author turned dad.

Terminal Lance #295 “Bricks Life”

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