Terminal Lance “The Transformation”

March 5, 2021

Enlisting into the Marine Corps can be quite the transformative experience. For some, moreso than others. While many are able to resist the temptations of becoming a total toolbag upon graduation from boot camp, there are just as many who succumb to the irreversible identity changes boot camp instills in young Marines.

What was once a chill, regular dude you went to high school will return home with a fresh high-and-tight haircut and a moto shirt he bought at the MCRD PX on graduation day. Instead of speaking like a regular person in your town, he speaks in strange idioms and manners he picked up from his Drill Instructors. He asks you, repeatedly, if you “undastand” him, or if you’re “tracking.”

Be patient. Do not blame him, for he knows not what he has become.

Give him a couple of years in the fleet to wash off all the moto, and slowly return to the person he once was. These things come in cycles, but be assured he does still exist in there somewhere.



Terminal Lance #570 “The Ultimate Gamble”

January 24, 2020

There’s a lot of different people that join the Marine Corps. Some are pragmatic and measured in their decisions, factoring in a variety of different life variables in what should be a fairly major life decision of joining the US military. Maybe they’re thinking about career prospects in the future. What MOS should I pick that I can use to get into a lucrative career? Or maybe you’re an artist looking for an experience that enriches the soul, so you join the infantry, hoping to find that something that you don’t quite know…

…Or maybe you just straight up don’t give a fuck and you go open contract.

This is the ultimate gamble for the enlisted Marine, vesting your fate solely in Lady Luck. Perhaps you are a gambling addict, or maybe you grew up in Las Vegas. Maybe you have a disease of the brain that prevents you from making smart decisions, or maybe you have a terminal disease and you just don’t give a fuck where you go anymore.

These are the kinds of people that go open contract.

Open contract can lead you anywhere from the trenches of war as infantry, to the trenches of the chow hall as a cook. The options are limitless. Those who choose this option are the Marine Corps’ ultimate thrill seekers.

Would you take the gamble?



Terminal Lance #538 “Phase One”

February 26, 2019

Don’t get too close to the recruits… Not only are they laced with more diseases than rubella-stricken children of anti-vaxxers, but they also smell deeply of hand sanitizer and farts. Boot camp is a disgusting place, filled with badly shaven teenagers and the crushed souls of the damned, underscored by the distant echoes of frog-voiced drill instructors screaming their anger away.

People talk about the honorable work that Drill Instructors do for the Corps and Country, and I am inclined to agree. I don’t know how they do it. Cellulitis, pink eye, pneumonia, bronchitis, and other mostly eradicated diseases make regular appearances at the Marine Recruit Depots so much that it would put a 1950’s quarantine ward to shame. Drill Instructors deserve a goddamn medal or a 96 or something for their honorable work corralling these fucking plague rats every day.

For the next war, I suggest instead of sending the recruits to the fleet we just send them to the frontlines midway through phase two. With all these idiotic anti-vax parents out there, you know the next generation of recruits is going to be a biological weapon in of itself filled with ancient bacterias and antibiotic resistant pandemics.

Jihadi Joe is going to start worrying less about IED’s and AK-47’s to defend himself and more about MSRA and polio.



Terminal Lance #517 “Boot Camp: Medical Bench Commandos”

May 29, 2018

When you arrive aboard the beautiful Marine Corps Recruit Depot of San Diego or Parris Island, you’ll inevitably make a trip over to Medical at some point during your short recruit tenure. There you will find the cretins of the medical bench. These pale, broken and sickly recruits are frequent flyers of the bench, and seem to know all of the secrets and life hacks to getting a medical discharge, should you require it.

Well, they say they do at least, but it hasn’t seemed to help them much. It doesn’t seem to stop them from insisting that they do. What’s funny is that these guys are so ubiquitous, that my recruiter even warned me about these guys before I got there. I’ll admit, I had every wish of getting the fuck out of that depot the day I got there.

But try these methods at your own peril, for should it not go in your favor, you could end up MRP (Medical Recovery Platoon) for an extended stay. As they say during your orientation, the fastest way out of boot camp is simply to graduate on time. Stick it out, get yelled at, play the game, beat the game, unlock the hidden outfits, etc.



Terminal Lance #501 “Everything New is Old Again”

January 23, 2018

To be honest, most of the things that happen in the Corps have little purpose other than to mess with you and keep you miserable. In reality, infantry Marines probably don’t really need to go to SOI at all. Well, the weapons MOS’s probably should learn some baseline stuff specific to their jobs like mortars and the soon-to-be-defunct Assaultmen; but the rest can and probably should just be taught on the fly. ITB and SOI teach you one set of skills that are rarely translated into the fleet, at least not specifically. I suppose there’s merit to doing the multitude of hikes across the alpha shelf of Camp Pendleton, but very little else is going to make it to your final destination.

When I arrived at 3/3 in Hawaii, I was told nearly this same thing.

Forget everything you’ve learned so far.

Well. Shit. I mean. That’s all I’ve got. The MCRD recruit depot doesn’t teach you how to do convoy operations in Iraq, nor does ITB–but that’s what I ended up doing when it mattered most. The idea of boot camp itself has shifted from being an actual training event to being more of a symbolic rite of passage. “Breaking you down” is more important for boot camp than any knowledge you’re taught. It’s worth noting, however, that there were actually Marines in the Korean War that never even went to boot camp, yet earned the title of Marine on the battlefield.

At the very least, I learned in boot camp that you can have pink eye in both eyes coupled with pneumonia all at once, and it fucking sucks.

On a sidenote, shout out to Bridgeport, where I’ll be freezing my balls off next week with the Marines in the field. As well, shout out to Publisher’s Weekly for giving the upcoming Terminal Lance Ultimate Omnibus some kind words, including comparing me to the legendary Bill Mauldin. I’m incredibly honored to be held in such high regard, and the Ultimate Omnibus is available April 24th in stores everywhere, preorder now!



Terminal Lance “Assault Up”

January 9, 2018

This is bullshit. My MOS is getting phased out.

When Hope over at interviewed me for her breaking story, the first thing I thought to myself was: is this actually happening this time? For my entire enlistment, since the day I arrived at ITB West and tested for the 0351 MOS, I was told repeatedly that the Assaultman wasn’t going to be around much longer. Of course, this was written off as just being another Lance Corporal Underground rumor at the time, but it looks like it might actually happen now.

It’s bittersweet for me, I suppose. I loved the idea of shooting rockets at things and blowing stuff up with C4 on occasion, but we never really did it. During my first deployment to Iraq, myself and the rest of the Assault section were turned into a mounted platoon, where I sat atop an MRAP behind an M2 .50 cal machine gun. Needless to say, I wasn’t shooting rockets at anything.

They say it’s because they don’t need an entire MOS to shoot rockets… But I suspect they just don’t want some other pissed off 0351 Lance Corporal starting the next Terminal Lance.



Terminal Lance #497 “The Little End”

October 24, 2017

As a Marine that’s over 6 feet tall, I just want to give a special shout out to the little end:

Fuck you and I hate you all.

For whatever reason, short people are terrible at marching in formation. How do I know this? Well, I gathered this expert opinion during my 3 months aboard MCRD San Diego, where I was repeatedly yelled at by sweaty, angry men because the people behind me were fucking everything up.

Formation in boot camp is organized by height, and as a tall guy, this meant I was at the front of the formation for most of the time. As such, I was never able to physically see what was going on in the rear of the formation, but I could see other platoons. The little end is always shit, their small legs trying desperately to keep up with the marching pace of those in front of them. They diddy-bop and do basically whatever the fuck they want because they secretly despise taller people for their blessed height.

So to the little end, if you’re reading this… You suck.

On an unrelated note, Thank You For Your Service comes out this Friday in theaters everywhere. Writer and director Jason Hall (also screenwriter for American Sniper) sat down with myself and Paul Szoldra of Duffel Blog in our latest podcast episode of After Action. Click here to check it out!



Terminal Lance #464 “LOL Boots V”

March 14, 2017

Traverse around any schoolhouse, smoke pit, working party or barracks balcony and you’re near guaranteed to find some skinny, nineteen year-old boot with a high and tight doing the signature frog voice with his hands on his hips, mimicking the Drill Instructors they just left behind months prior.

It’s a strange phenomenon, akin to some kind of Stockholm syndrome, wherein the new Marines feel inclined and take great entertainment in pretending to be drill instructors. You’ll see them with their knife-hands and their intensity, and every single one of them will find it funny every single time. This usually lasts for a few months to a year after leaving boot camp, and for some that never deploy, it could last their entire enlistment.

Boot camp is, more than anything else, the most commonly shared experience of all Marines, regardless of MOS or gender. No matter where you hail from, all recruits are treated equally as shit. As such, any Marine you talk to will have a boot camp story that you can identify with, no matter where your enlisted careers take you after the fact.

I’m sure someone more psychologically enlightened than myself could detail the mental intricacies involved with mimicking these authority figures, I feel as if it’s a reclamation of the 3 months of freedom lost.

Whatever the case may be, it’s annoying as fuck.

But then again, boots usually are.



Terminal Lance #461 “Drill Instructor Academy”

February 28, 2017

Did you know that Drill Instructors have to go to Drill Instructor School? We’re led to believe it’s 12 weeks of grueling physical training designed to produce the sharpest, most physically perfected Marines to put in front of recruits. That’s what the brochure says, I’m sure; but my gut tells me there’s at least 2 weeks dedicated to learning colorful insults via improv classes in order to fully be able to verbally denigrate and dehumanize shaved 18 year olds.

I say this because Drill Instructors possess a unique and somewhat supernatural ability to come up with amazing insults on the fly. Some of the most brilliant strokes of verbal takedowns I ever witnessed were at the hands of my Drill Instructors, who always seemed to have some amazing amalgam of horrendous shit to scream into someone’s face on a whim.

As a comedy writer, I can tell you that this stuff doesn’t just happen. Someone, somewhere, is sitting in the duty hut writing down good insults and waiting for the right moment to use them. After all, nothing is more rewarding to a Drill Instructor than the perfect moment a recruit fucks up, allowing the profanities to flow from their mouths like vomit from a hungover Lance Corporal during morning PT.

I’ve always admired this about Drill Instructors. If nothing else, I think the quick wit involved with colorful insults and the ability to keep a straight face in the process would prevent me from every being able to professionally scream at people. To each their own, I suppose.

On a side note, I’m super excited to announce that The White Donkey was selected by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation to receive their James Webb award for 2017 for fiction.

If you’re unfamiliar with The White Donkey, it is my 250 page graphic novel about Abe and Garcia and their deployment to Iraq. It’s an easy read, I recommend it.