Thursday, March 29, 2007

Rendering Appropriate Honors

10. Salute all officers and all colors and standards not cased.

-from General Orders for a Sentry

On most Marine bases, the era of an actual bugler, standing in front of the flag pole and playing his little heart out, has long gone. Buglers are still used, but usually for more formal, solemn, or public relations related events. Now days you mights notice several large speakers that will play all of the calls. If you are in the right position, you might hear the recording turn on, and have a few seconds of heads up before the 'call to attention'. After call to attention, there are a few seconds, and then the call representing the appropriate honors will begin, i.e reveille, taps, etc as the flag is raised or lowered.

Now, Marine Corps bases are laid out for training, and not for acoustics. In some areas, you can actually hear quite a few different clusters of speakers all barking out the came call. Because of the differences in distances, what you actually hear is a jumbled mess. SOP in that situation is to just face the nearest flag, render a salute, wait for the end of the call(s), and go about your business.

One afternoon, the entire Battalion was at the staging area for the Battalion hump. I have a love-hate relationship with humps (forced marches), more hate than love, of course. The staging area was just behind some barracks, on a dirt trail that lead off into the hills, and it was where the Battalion would set up, make sure that all of the companies and platoons were in the right order, and the individual Marines would contemplate the pain that lay ahead. There was always pain. Perhaps not as much for the regular infantry guys, but when you are carrying crew-served weapons systems as well as your own full pack, there is always pain.

So the Battalion was all set up, everyone was accounted for, and we were just waiting for the Battalion Sgt. Major to give the order to 'get up and get your shit on', when behind the general background noise of Marines shooting the shit, you could hear the sounds of distant music.

Now this was kind of a dilemma. Normally, when one is in the field, either in training or in combat, there is no saluting. When you are in garrison, you always salute. As a Pvt. or Pfc. one useful phrase you learn is 'when in doubt, whip it out (the salute, not the 'little general'). Much better to say, salute what turns out to be a foreign military Sergeant and get a minor ass-chewing, than to not salute a Chief Warrant Officer and get the mother of all ass-reamings that gets into the Guinness Book of World Friggin Records.

As we were literally about twenty feet from the nearest building, and therefore 'garrison', one motivated knucklehead sounded off with "COLORS!!!", which is the standard alert for everyone else to stop what they are doing, face the flag or music, and give a salute. That is what the entire Battalion did. The shouts of "COLORS' traveled up the line, from one end of the formation to the other. Usually, you don't get into trouble for being motivated, but this was a little bit different. After about 5 or 10 seconds into the salute, we realized that; 1) Hmmm, the flag is not supposed to be lowered for about 45 minutes or so, and 2) isn't this the time that the roach coach (ice cream truck / mobile sandwich shop) usually makes his rounds? Sure as shit, if you listened closely, you could hear the strains of 'the entertainer', as played from the speakers on top of the taco truck.

About 700 sheepish Marines cut their salute and stepped off for the hump, eager to leave anyone who might have noticed us far behind us.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sea Service

I was lucky enough to participate in a deployment once to various countries in and around South America. In getting some information about the training, liberty, and expected conditions of the deployment, I was pretty pumped. The ship that was planned was a huge new uber-ship, the liberty was well known by most to be a good time, and everything looked great.

One of the first things that went off track with the deployment was with the ship.

Apparently, Lord Murphy has some distant relatives that decided to enlist and proudly serve in the navel forces (not a typo). Got our nice, new ship either broken and/or re-assigned. Never fear, another boat was on standby, and it turned out to be a doozy. Commissioned in the late 60's, this old girl had been there / done that, got the t-shirt, bumper-sticker, and the free koozie.

Let me put it this way, the sailors on the boat with a more than passing knowledge of the girl's capabilities had a pool going on when (not if) the ship would break down and the deployment would be scrapped.

Not a good sign.

First time on board I think that it only took me about 15 minutes to get completely lost, and it wasn't that big of a boat (LSD-37). Also, I must have alternately scraped my shins and hit my head about 10 times on those funny little hatches. That were at the entrance to each room. And hallway. Every 10 feet. Made general quarters drill quite...interesting, but I am getting ahead of myself. Of course, immediately following the goat rope of classic proportions in our feeble attempts at boarding all of our gear, bodies, and weapons, not too mention all of the stuff that the Navy side was trying to do, the Platoon Commander called a leader's meeting. Following that, I attempted to make my way to my berthing area (living quarters).

20 minutes after starting out, I finally got to 'my' room. Bonking my head once again on the narrow door, I looked inside. I don't remember the measurements for my room, but I do remember this; We had just about the entire mortar section in one room. Racks about 4 high, lined up on the walls, and with a few more stacks in the middle, for good measure. If you were in between racks and wanted to pass someone standing in the space between the racks, about your only option was to decide which side of your body you wanted to be rubbing up against the other guy as you attempted to negotiate the narrow passageway. We were situated directly above one of the engine rooms, down the hallway from the shitters and showers, and the room right next to some machine gooners.


I noted that the only available rack in the room was the one tucked into the far corner, two inches above the floor. This space, directly above the engines had an actually somewhat pleasant constant muffled drone, that did actually help me get to sleep quite rapidly. The light was blocked out, also aiding in sleep. The (or should I say 'One') problem with this bed was that it was two inches off the floor, or about the height of a normal guys foot when he is walking along. I got kicked more than a few times as people were walking by, climbing in and out of racks, and just shooting the breeze. I could kinda schootch over to the other side of the bed, but then I would be getting way to familiar with the Marine in the next rack, and that wasn't an option. I hadn't been on ship for anywhere near long enough for that.

There is a routine for just about everything, and anyone who has moved around a bit or spent some time on ship can go into excruciating detail about routines on ship. I believe that the Platoon Sergeant was trying to avoid some of the less productive routines when he announced on the flight deck our Plan of Action. The 'plan' called for time on ship to be spent productively. Every morning we would leap out of the rack at Oh-my-God-Dark-Thirty, and commence to at least an hour in the gym and 30 minutes running in small little circles on the flight deck. We would then break for morning chow, and continue on to weapons, history, and culture classes. An admirable goal, but one that didn't turn out as planned.

First of all, the main purpose of our deployment was to cross-train with the various foreign forces that we visited. Secondly, the Navy never seemed to want to co-operate with our platoon schedule. Jeez, flight ops, general quarters drills, and fire alarms can really cut into the hours of the day, you know?

Fast forward a month....

In the mortars room, lights are out. If you listen closely over the hum of the engines, all you can hear are various Marines snoring, and the occasional passage of a sailor or Marine in the main passageway. An alarm goes off. Several people groan. With a few choice words, one Marine cuts off the alarm and asks, "Anybody going to lunch? I'm starving, somebody grab me a biscuit."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Marine artwork

There is a notebook, just the size of the cargo-pocket of a cammies trouser. Covered in a soft, light-green cloth, it is the perfect size to take any kind of notes for classes, training, and patrols. Marines will usually place their names , ranks, military occupational specialty (MOS), on the front for identification or boredom prevention purposes. The artwork on the front will usually include some sort of variant of a skull and crossed bones, and some reference to death.

So in all my time in, what was the best example of MOS, artwork, and catch phrase? Was it Pilots - 'Death from above', an artilleryman's - ' Steel rain', a Snipers - 'you can run, but you will just die tired'? Nope. The best on I ever saw was from a Marine Combat Cook. Along with the 8831 MOS (If I remember correctly), and the flaming skull, it said;

Marine Combat Cook....Death from Within.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lost in Translation

In Columbia for a training exercise, we had a few hours worth of a tour through a military academy. Little kids were hanging around, practicing their English and trying to see what kind of goodies they could beg, borrow, or steal. As we were showing them the wonder that is the modern MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat), some of them decided to impress Joker with a song. I believe it was some sort of school song, with pride of the school, state, and nation. Joker was listening to the song, and dutifully clapped at the end. One of the kids struck up a conversation with him, but due to the child's poor English and Joker's nearly complete lack of Spanish, they quickly came to a frustrating stand-still.

Catching sight of me eating nearby, Joker got my attention and asked me how did one say the word 'American' in Spanish. For those not in the know, it is a fairly easy translation, just add the letter 'o' to the end. What I told him was similar, but not exactly the same."It's easy, Joker. 'American' is a word nearly the same in Spanish as it is in English." The resulting translational error was unintended, but nonetheless hilarious.

I continued to chow down on a particularly heinous MRE, the dreaded jambalaya, while Joker started to sound out the sentence that he was trying to get across.

" Hmm, I think that's it! (Turning back to the kiddos) Yo soy maricon!"

At this statement, I snorted a mouthful of MRE about 10 ft, and all of the children began laughing, pointing, and waving their 'Jazz' hands about.

'Maricon' is one way to say 'homosexual'.

'Jazz hands' there is roughly the equivalent of the limp-wrist pose, here in the states.

Joker had roughly, and erroneously, proclaimed his personal proclivity for hot man love.

Joker didn't understand what was so funny at first, I guess he thought that the children were celebrating his beginner attempts at conversing in their language. He also missed the fact that I was attempting to quietly chortle in the background, tears rolling down my face, my food forgotten. I realized that he had figured it out when a half-eaten pound cake slice went flying past my head with the accompanying, "Murphy, you're an ass-hole!"

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Panama was one of the places where the US used to send people to get some good jungle warfare training. As soon as the door of the plane opened up, you knew that you were in a jungle environment. Soon after getting all of the gear off of the plane you would find yourself drenched with sweat, and feeling completely wiped out. The first order of business was actually getting to the base, and that was an interesting experience all of itself.

The airport that we came in on was on one end of Panama, and the base we were heading to was on the other. In between was the Panama Canal. We loaded up all of our gear onto a circa 1980 school bus that had definitely seen better days, and were off to the base. Our driver, 'Pablo' looked to be about 15 years old. Driving across one of the many small bridges, one Marine noticed that he was looking straight down to the water, about 20 feet below. Getting up, he crossed to the other side of the bus and looked out that window. Nothing but water. Half a platoon full of Marines, all of our weapons and gear were on a 20 year old (at that time) bus, driven by a fifteen year-old, across a tiny bridge.

We made it to the base eventually, and began to settle in for the night. We were put up in a huge barracks, with about 150 racks to a floor. There was no air conditioning there, and just lying down in the middle of the night, you would be sweating profusely. The main job of the fire watch that night was to steal the solitary fan from the other platoons in the squad bay, and bring it over to our area without getting caught by the other platoons' guard.

The first class that we got from the soldiers stationed there was a booby-trapping class. It was very interesting, if only to re-emphasize that bombs can be made out of just about anything, with a lot more ease than I would have suspected.

As an aside, I remember one IED class that we got from a particular staff NCO. He was in the middle of his class, describing all of the various ways that he could construct something to make sure that you had a Very Bad Day. Pausing in his lecture, he asked if anyone had any dip for the poor old Gunny. The first can that he got was a can of Skoal. 'Not this crap, does anyone have any REAL dip, Copenhagen?' Of course, in a platoon full of Marines, there is always a wide assortment of smokes and dip, so he was able to 'feed the need'. After packing the tobacco, and taking a Gunny-sized dip, he placed it into his lip and with the practiced motions of long habit, placed the can into his cargo-pocket.

A few Marines chuckled, and reminded the Gunny that the dip wasn't his. He apologizes, and returned the can to the Marine. He then continued his class. Towards the end of the class, he had just finished emphasizing that we should never assume anything, when he pointed at the Marine with the Copenhagen. 'Did I return your can to you earlier?', he asked. When assured in the affirmative, he instructed the Marines to open his can of 'dip'. Neatly packed into the interior of the can was an IED. Not enough to do a lot of damage of course, but probably enough to let you know that you had assumed something, and we all knew what happened when you assumed...

The other classes were equally as entertaining, and they covered a lot of material. Just about anything there can kill you, or make you wish that it had. Finally it was about time for the practical application of our classes, the patrol and range fires.

Stepping off on our first patrol, we heard what sounded like a pissed-off gorilla at a distance of about 15 feet. That thing was loud, with plenty of bass. Made me kind of wish that I had something other than magazines full of blanks and a K-Bar to do any damage if I had too. As the beast was not actively tearing us limb from limb, we carried on with one eye on the patrols, and one eye looking out for him.

When you hear the phrase 'triple-canopy', they aren't kidding. When you are a mortar man, and you can barely see any blue sky to shoot into, this makes for some interesting live-fires. At one security halt, the Platoon Sergeant had a sneaking suspicion that we would be called on to fire soon. Looking around, he saw that only 2 of his mortar teams would be able to fire. Better than nothing, but still not very good. He noticed that there was one branch stretching across an opening. If he could just knock down that branch, he might be able to get another team ready to fire.... He attached a saw-blade to some 550 cord, tied it off, and threw the blade up into the branches.

Meanwhile, directly below sat two Marines, me and this Corporal. According to the SOP that we had at the time, I was on guard and he had a few moments to grab some chow. He had just dug into the jambalaya, I believe it was, when the Platoon Sergeant began sawing on the offending tree limb. After one drag of the blade, the old limb snapped off at the hilt, and fell straight down...

Right onto the Corporal's helmeted head. He was pushed down by the weight and speed of the limb, and rolled down a small hill. The Platoon Sergeant later confessed that he thought that he had killed one of his Marines and that he saw his whole Marine Corps career flashing before his eyes. Thankfully, the Corporal had somewhat of a hard head, and was none the worse for the wear. The MRE didn't fare as well, but that can hardly be considered a loss of any great significance.

After a couple of days, we kind of got into the swing of things, and got to where we could patrol, execute live fires, and return without too much difficulty. I still don't know how great of an idea it is to do it with 81mm mortars, but I suppose that you have to train for every eventuality.

Then came the competitive hump.

The hump was a race between all of the mortar platoons training there. It involved a treacherous hump, timed, along a set course. Platoons had the option of going with flack jackets and Kevlar helmets. A live fire was conducted at the end, and that figured into your 'score'. After the requisite trash talking between Marines, it was time to start. In the interest of not actually losing anybody in the jungle, the platoons were stagger started. This meant that there were no more than two platoons actually conducting the hump at any one time. This cut down on the number of moving parts, and allowed the instructors to adequately keep an eye on their charges.

The platoons that went before us did not fare too well. One platoon finished the course, but with an incredibly looong time. They were unable to get it together to fire accurately at the end of the hump. The next two platoons that went through had a 50%+ heat casualty rate, so the hump and live fire was canceled for them. Perhaps this should have been a clue as to the difficulty of the hump, but we were hard core, we were not troubled. (Sheesh)

This was without a doubt, one of the hardest humps that I have done. With my long legs, growing up playing soccer and swimming, humps have never been too difficult. This was way different. First of all the humidity just sucked all of the energy right out of you. There had been some recent rains so the terrain was about 90% mud, and you would invariably find yourself crawling through the unrelenting vegetation on the up-hill, and sliding down the down-hill, soon to be joined by the rest of your gear and the Marine behind you, falling on top of you. In addition to this, the Platoon Sergeant had such confidence in our manliness that he had decided that we would go ahead and do the hump with flacks, Kevlars, and mortar rounds already issued and stored in our packs.

This kicked my ass, I am unafraid to say.

It kicked my ass enough that I was the last Marine to cross the finish line, and when I did so I celebrated by just leaning over to the starboard side and damn near passed out. As I was unashamedly displaying what I had eaten for breakfast, the instructor complimented us on our 100% completion rate, and commented that he had never actually seen anyone do the speed hump with their flack and Kevlars. After about 10 minutes of shade and copious amounts of luke-warm water, I recovered enough to contribute to the team in the live fire, which we actually did not too bad in.

Traipsing back through the jungle towards the end of the training evolution, we came to a clearing on the edge of the foliage. On a tree stump about 30 feet away from us was this tiny little monkey, watching our progress. Most of the platoon had actually exited the jungle when this little guy opened his mouth, and what should come out but the sound of the Gorilla that we had heard earlier.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Paddy's Day

My machine gunner in Iraq was an Irishman. Stereo-typical Irish stuff, loved his pints, quick to anger, and quick to resolve differences over a Guinness. Great at impressions, had some hilarious jokes, and had an interesting accent. When you first meet him, you spend most of your time trying to figure out what in the hell he is saying. After a while, you get used to him, and he to you, and you get along well. After he has had a few pints in him, no one knows what the hell he is saying, aside from (perhaps) close family.

This guy had his moments.

In the effort to avoid 'collateral damage', there was quite the effort made to avoid killing of civilians. Unfortunately, the bad guys had at that time stepped up in their efforts to use Suicide Vehicle born Improvised Explosive Devices (SVBIEDs). One attempt that we made at the time to warn civilians away from us was the use of flash bang grenades and flares. Flash bangs are grenades with no shrapnel, but plenty of noise and light.

We would use these tools to get the attention of civilians, and to suggest that they kindly stop immediately what there are doing, so that we might not have to kill them. Usually this was because they were traveling towards our convoy at a high rate of speed and disregarding all of the signs that we displayed that indicated our decided lack of interest at being overly friendly at at that moment. It was decided that, if time allowed, the turret gunner would deploy flares or flash-bangs, along with hand/arms signals and verbal commands to instruct the civilians in what they needed to do to keep their original number of body openings.

'Paddy' was great at this.

He tried to forewarn me when he could, but usually there was only enough time to throw the flares or toss the flash bangs, and let me kind of figure it out for myself. In the heat of the moment, he would also forget the basic Arabic that we had all been taught, and scream out in English and Irish at the poor locals. Someone pointed out that the civilians could probably not understand him (Hell, WE barely could), he replied that it was the thought that counted, and they could probably understand the gist of what he was saying, especially once he grabbed his 240G 'universal translator'.

Traveling along the road, with the wind whipping through the Hummer I would catch phrases of his diatribe - '... the fock outta da bloody focken wankah!...flare, Sergeant!!!...if'n me mah could see this shite...move yer arse!!!...'

Poetry, pure poetry.

The only problem that I had with his deployment of flares and flash bangs were the few occasions that they would be used together, for an interesting auditory combination. There were many things that would get a good ping on the old pucker factor, but a combination of 'WHOOOSH!!!!' (flare) and 'BOOOOM!!!!' (flash bang) would ALWAYS register in my mind as a RPG, EVERY TIME. I am sure that it was humorous at times, me screaming like a little school girl, only to realize that is was just Paddy up top, warning the locals away and offering his own unique commentary on the situations that we found ourselves in.

Here's to you, Paddy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Swim Qualification

Being the Men's Department of the Navy, the Marines Corps requires that all Marines qualify in swimming proficiency. Easy, right? Sure...

There was this one Marine, Lcpl. A. who came to me a few days before the swim qualifications to confess that he had some concerns. When I asked what was the problem, he told me that he never swam as a child, and had to have a lot of help to figure out just how to float. I asked him how he managed in boot camp, and he told me that he had a lot of help there too. He told me of a theory that he had regarding Africans having a higher bone density that made flotation and swimming more difficult for him than some others. It sounded only somewhat plausible to me, but what the hell do I know about bone density? I do know how to swim, so I offered to give him some help.

There are several levels of swimming qualifications, the level of which you are awarded are dependant upon the last level passed. To explain further, everyone gets into the water for 4th level. All will do all the techniques, and those that pass will have the option to continue to the 3rd, 2nd, etc., each level adding in number of techniques, difficulty of same, and length of swim. There are those that are quite content to crawl from the pool with a 4th level qualification. There is no shame in this, swimming is not something that we had the opportunity to train in regularly, and everyone recognized that swimming came a lot harder to some Marines, whatever shade of green they were.

When I had the opportunity to test for the highest level, a jump from the high dive lead off to the swim portion. This was to simulate having to abandon ship. The Marine was to; 1) Step to the edge of the board. 2) Cross feet (hitting the water from upon high with legs spread was a sure way to have a Very Bad Day). 3) Cross arms, with one hand pinching shut the nostrils. 4) Look down to ensure that you wouldn't land on anyone, or anyone important. 5) Raise gaze to the horizon, and 6) step. Now swimming was fine, I've just never been terribly fond of heights. I can deal with it, but I very much don't like it.

Upon getting the order to step to the edge and prepare to leap, the instructor started to get pissed when he thought I was taking my sweet time. He then noticed my toes inching in infinitesimal increments towards the edge, and my muttered curses at the world, and asked "are you afraid of heights? Ok then, just take your time and get it done." I remember being kind of surprised by his consideration, and I definitely remember being very surprised when the fucker pushed me from the board.


Back to the Lcpl., I gave him the same advice I give everyone, from how to pack your gear, what are the easiest strokes to maintain buoyancy and economy of motion in the water, and told him that I would be at the pool to offer advice when he was in the water. First thing off was the low board leap. It is the same event as for the higher level of qualification, just from the lower board. He did all the steps, and entered the water...and sank like a stone. We were starting to be concerned, when he finally began to rise. He broke the surface and began to swim.

You know how in the cartoons of childhood, the character will have all arms and legs moving sooo fast that they are just represented by circles? That is what he looked like. His arms and legs were pumping and kicking, water was flying into the air. It took me a second to realize that he was not moving. He was bobbing up and down on the near tidal waves that he was causing, but there was absolutely no forward motion. At all.

I started screaming at him to calm down, breath, cup the hands and all that jazz. He nodded, slowed down, sank about two feet, and almost drowned. Back to 150,000 rpm and 0 mph. After a solid two minutes of all out going nowhere, he actually started to drift backwards. I have never seen anything like it. I could not figure out how someone could be working that hard and be going backwards.

He drifted back so far that he ran into the wall underneath the diving board. Using the wall to kick off from (technically a no-no, but no-one was going to give him any grief considering how hard he was working), he managed to gain some momentum and to keep it going enough to slowly, painfully, inch his way to the other end of the pool. He was so exhausted he had to be helped from the water. 25yds, about 4 or 5 minutes.

He was quite happy to leave the water, but kind of disappointed in his performance. I explained to him that methods and techniques can be taught eventually. It was his display of will power and refusal to quit when the going got tough (or even underwater) had impressed me and most others, for sure.

Man, he was terrible at swimming.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Boot Camp Humor

Boot camp is where just about all Marines develop their unique sense of humor. There comes a point where you learn to laugh about situations, (on the inside, of course) because the fact of the matter is, there is not a darn thing that you can do about it. This is one of the many lessons learned in boot camp that to this day I repeatedly remember.

For example, our Drill Instructors were very strict about mail. Letters and cards were ok, but if you got any food or packages, you were a marked man.

There was a recruit from Louisiana that wrote home and described how he was always hungry, and especially missed dad's beef jerky and mom's hot sauce. Well, his parents wanted to take care of their son, so they sent him a care package. I vividly remember the recruit taking breaks from his exercises to chug the hot sauce while the Drill Instructors sampled the jerky. They explained how, if there wasn't enough for the platoon, there was no need for the individual to get anything 'extra'. As we had about 76 recruits at the time, that would have been one heck of a shipping charge.

Another recruit had the benefit of a twin brother who had entered the Marines a few years earlier. This guy had sent a package to his brother, and addresses it attn. Sgt.Maj (recruit) Jeffrey 'Big Boy' Johnson.

The Drill Instructors had a field day with that.

When the soon to be hating life recruit 'Johnson' opened up his package from his mischievous brother, he found it full of male stripper specialty magazines, lotions, and 'adult toys'. That recruit got very strong from all of the push-ups that he had to do on account of his brother.

Almost as bad, one recruit's parents wrote TO DRILL INSTRUCTOR 'EVIL' and asked him to personally look after their 'schnookums'. They were really worried about him, and apparently having never heard of the Marine Corps, decided it would be a good idea to request additional care and attention. That poor guy certainly did get the 'extra' attention.

One Sunday, we got back from the chow hall, and prepared for religious services. I really like Sundays, because we got to sleep in an extra half hour, and actually kind of got half a day off for church. All church services didn't go on at the same time, so if you were going later in the morning, you had time to read a paper, write some letters, etc. As I was writing some letters at my foot locker, I remember feeling hungry. That was kind of odd, because I knew that we had only been back from chow for about 45 minutes.

I had never had the pleasure of experiencing severe food poisoning before.

After another 20 minutes, I started to feel ill. I then spent the next 15 or 20 minutes trying to decided which end needed to violently explode, in the relative peace and quite of the heads (bathrooms). After a particularly violent episode, I was lying on the deck of the heads, trying to get the world to stop spinning, when unbeknownst to me, one of the other recruits had gone to advise the duty Drill Instructor of my condition.

I opened me eyes to the sight of the Drill Instructor looking at me from about 2 inches away. He waited until my eyes were about half way open before he started to scream at me to stop malingering, and told me that he would ensure that I had something to be sick about. He then glanced at the evidence of my illness that was (mostly) contained in the toilets, and muttered to a few other recruits that they better help me get some gear together for a trip down to sick bay.

It was at this time that another Drill Instructor came running up to inform the other that there were 5 or 6 recruits up-chucking in the dirt in front of the barracks, another 7 in the squad bay that weren't feeling too hot, and a Staff Sergeant on the phone with am illness advisory.

Turns out that there were many, many recruits that got sick that day.

A couple of my buddies helped me to the pick-up truck that one of the Drill Instructors would use to drive us to the sick bay, and they helped me into the cab. "OH, HELL NO!!!. YOU MUST BE HIGH ON DRUGS, NUMBNUTS!!! YOU ARE NOT WORTHY TO RIDE UP FRONT WITH ME, GET IN THE BACK, THING!!!' politely suggested the designated Drill Instructor driving. So, I piled in the bed of the truck with about 10 other sickly recruits. This is where I first head the joke,

Question: How many Marines can you fit into a pick-up/Hummer/LAV/etc.?

Answer: One more.

In our condition, it got a few amused/ill groans.

To say the least, the sick-bay was overwhelmed. I wound up sharing a puke bowl with two other recruits, in one corner of the receiving room, until they could free up enough beds. Not a pleasant afternoon.

As a result of some suspicious ham and milk, quite a few of us got three days of bed rest in a barracks designated 'sick-bay central'. After the first day, most of us were going stir crazy. They did have one Drill Instructor from another platoon to baby sit us, and he did his job of ensuring that we went from the rack to the heads and straight back to the racks. So to pass the time, we started doing what many recruits and then Marines did, we started talking shit.

Some of you who have experience in the military or more specifically the Corps know that Marines will talk shit to just about anybody. If there is no one else around, we will talk shit to other Marines. We were having a conversation (amongst many) of who had the worst Drill Instructor. I had just completed a fairly decent recap of the 'Evil' story to the other sick bay commandos when who but Drill Instructor 'Evil' himself came walking through the squad bay. Of course, we popped to the position of attention, still lying down in the beds, and gave him the appropriate greeting of the day.

To the severe befuddlement of my story and to my own personal amazement, he was quite civil. He had just come to check on us, to make sure that we were recovering well, and getting fed enough. Jeeezus, if I didn't know better, I would suspect that this guy was actually human!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Scuzz Brushes, Punishment, and Evil

There are all kinds of people that attend Marine Boot camp. Most of them you will find are very young, 18 to early 20s. Some are older, very few are younger. Some have had other jobs, like cops, firefighters, or worked in an office. I knew a Marine that ran a computer business, got bored with the work and wanted to do something that meant something to him. He gave up a $65,000/year job in the mid 1990s to make Pvt. pay for the Marine Corps.
This is a story about one person who joined the Corps at 17, all names changed, as usual.

There was this kid, we'll call him Neets. Neets was still in high school when he decided that there was nothing in life that he would rather do that enlist in the Marine Corps. Instead of postponing his entry until he turned 18, he got his parent to sign the waiver and he got in when he was 17.

Marine boot camp is what you might call a stressful environment. Others know of it as a three-month kick in the balls. The trick is, you have to help your buddies, and know when to rely on them to help you out, i.e. teamwork. It really is a marvel of preparation for combat, when I think about it. During and after Iraq I realized how much of boot camp was oriented towards preparing the Marine for all of the little things that can wear one down in the fog of war like lack of sleep, confusion, reliance upon those in charge to make the right decisions, and a deeply help personal refusal to quit under any condition save for being dead. These are just a few of the characteristics that are ingrained in boot camp. Like I said, somewhat of a stressful environment.

A little too stressful for Neets...

He was otherwise a good guy, I think that the stress of it kind of got to him, once in a while.

One of the favorite mind games of the Drill Instructors was the scuzz brush races. To explain, the scuzz brush was a hard-bristled brush, about 6 inches long. This brush was used for everything from cleaning uniforms, boots, knocking crud off of weapons, and as a projectile when one of the Drill Instructors found one lying around.

Racing would entail the recruit placing both hands on the brush, the brush on the ground, and then pushing the brush through the squad-bay.

One day one of the Drill Instructors got a wild hair up his ass and a crazy look in his eye.

Oh, Shit.

He sounded off in the way that only Drill Instructors can...



We new what was coming, and why we had been performing close order drill with everything in the squad-bay. Close order drill is what you sometimes see a platoon doing with their rifles. Right shoulder, left shoulder, port arms, etc. Try to imagine doing a right shoulder movement with a full foot-locker, or a bed, for that matter. The devious purpose of the harried squad-bay redecorating was to clear the 'race track'.

According to the rules of the Scuzz Brush 500, while 'scuzzing' along, the recruits had to make noises of a race car. If your thighs gave out and you fell to the ground, you had to make crashing noises. All alot of fun for the Drill Instructors, I am sure.

After about 10 minutes of this, things were getting interesting. Thighs were getting burned out, shoulders were screaming, and we were still going round and round, with the Drill Instructors adding their own brand of color commentary. At the far end of the squad-bay where all of the foot-lockers and beds were piled, one recruit thought that he might have a few moments of respite. He was crouched down trying to rest his cramped legs, while all of the other recruits were 'driving' past.

WHAT IN THE HOLY HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING, NUMBNUTS?!!!! Queried a curious Drill Instructor. The recruit, thinking fast responded with 'Sir! This recruit is undergoing a pit stop as a normal course of the race, Sir!'

Pit Stops were then officially banned for the duration of the race.

After another 15 minutes or so, on one pass I noticed Neets lying on the ground. A glance over my shoulder confirmed that there were no Drill Instructors in immediate visual, so I stopped to ask what was wrong. All I heard was some muffled sobs and a comment about his legs. I told him that I knew his legs were hurting, everyones were. I also suggested that he get off of the deck before he incurred the wrath of the Drill Instructors.

After that, I proceeded to 'race another lap'. About half-way though the lap, the particular incoherent scream of a Drill Instructor viewing a recruit taking it easy told me that the DIs had spotted Neets.

Poor Bastard, it was nice knowing him...

Coming around, I noticed that there were two Drill Instructors, crouched over him. Their veins were throbbing, they were the customary 1/10000 of an inch away from him, and they were screaming themselves hoarse. Neets did something that was blood in the water for the DIs.

He started crying.

As I was passing by, I don't really know why, I grabbed Neets by the scruff of his cammies, and attempted to pull him along behind me. Perhaps I thought that by showing the Drill Instructors that other recruits were taking care of him, they could cut him a little slack. All it did was make them notice me. They kindly suggested that I lay on the deck (read, they threw me to the ground) in front of him so that they could yell at us both.

Sweet relief for my legs!!!

See, at this time I had long ago developed the ability to 'turn off' the screaming, yelling, and insults. I had realized that this was their job, and that there was literally nothing that I could do to avoid the stress. Neets had not developed the ability, yet.

So now, amidst the almost forgotten Boot Camp Scuzz Brush 500, all of the recruits (save 2) scuzzing around and around, there were two guys laying on the deck, with 4 Drill Instructors yelling and screaming. One of them had even gotten a tent stake and was beating it in a trash can, a la Full Metal Jacket. Neets was still crying, face down. Me, I was directly in front of him, staring straight ahead, enjoying the break for my shoulders and legs.

One of the Drill Instructors decided that it would be a good idea to try to get a hold of the situation. He instructed two of the other DIs to see to the rest of the platoon, and he attempted to reason with Neets. He was trying to explain to him that this was nothing personal, they were just doing their job. They were trying to instill in him the ability to persevere, to accept and handle the stress, to find in himself the refusal to quit. Neets was still whimpering in front of me.

The Drill Instructor wanted to make sure that he had Neets attention and understanding. He told him (actually not screaming, for once) 'Neets. Hey, Neets. Come on. Look at me.

This. Is. Not. Personal.

Stop crying. This is just a job, man, no need to cry. Look into my eyes. Am I telling the truth? Tell me what you see when you look into my eyes.'

In response to the 'what do you see when you look into my eyes' question, Neets raised his head from his arms, tears streaming down his face, and with his own particular half-whine, moaned out


The Drill Instructors could not keep it together.

This was the only time possibly in recorded history that all Drill Instructors could not keep from cracking a smile.

They attempted to maintain composure, even to the point where they all retreated to the duty hut (an office just inside the front door). Periodically, one would come out of the hut with a kick-ass look on his face, start to yell and scream, snort... chuckle, and have to return to the duty hut.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Developing the Warrior Spirit

Essentially, the whole of Marine Boot Camp is oriented to one thing; combat.

Hand to hand combat is a rare event now days, but it is an aspect of training that gives multiple benefits. Besides developing fitness and stamina, it gives the young Marine more tools for his Warrior toolbox. When it came time for the hand to hand training I had a blast, for the most part. I had grown up competing, in all kinds of different sports.

One of the last that I had most recently started was karate.

I really liked the sparring because it was like a physical game of chess, with a forced move time limit. You had to think quickly on your feet and analyze your opponent. You could agree to focus on one aspect of sparring to develop a skill set, or you could just go all-out to test your stamina.

The Marine training was necessarily a little rigid. They have to boil down the concepts enough to be able to trail them to a large number of recruits in what I am sure they feel is nowhere near enough time. As always, though, the Drill Instructors provided the motivation for us to give our utmost effort, all the time. Finally, we had trained enough to spar.

Standing in line, waiting for one's turn to spar, a recruit had to perform a number of exercises. There were stations with dip bars, jump rope, pull-up bars, etc. The concept was again oriented towards combat. Total exhaustion, no other weapons available except for your fists, what are you going to do?

While going through the stations, I was idly counting the number of matches before me, and decided to count the number of recruits in the other line to see who I would be matched up against. I figured that the recruit I would fight was a pretty scrawny guy who I out-weighed by a good 20 pounds,


Unfortunately, I had forgotten about 'Recruit Murphy'.

The boxing rings themselves were tiny little things. If I remember correctly, you have room enough to circle your opponent, and not much else. Basically, the recruits are at about arms-length distance, and expected to slug it out. The Drill Instructors line the sides, providing motivation and instruction. If things got out of hand, all they had to do was reach into the ring to grab a recruit. Getting into the ring, I was confident.

About 5 seconds later, I was fighting for my life.

Turns out the little guy was some sort of junior golden gloves champ.

Needless to say, I got my ass unceremoniously beat down.

Looking for redemption, I eagerly awaited the pugil stick competition. A pugil stick is kind of like an over-sized q-tip. It is meant to stand for a rifle, and what techniques you would use a rifle for if you were out of ammo and had to beat someone down with it. Surely, I thought, I would do better in this. I had done some wooden staff training, and while this was also different training than what I was used to, unless I got paired up with a former Shaolin Monk in the pugil ring, I figured that I would do pretty good.

Again, you go through the stations, awaiting your turn. This time, however you can't see your opponent. He is on the other side of the building. The 'ring' is actually a small building, slightly recessed in the ground. As you approach the building, you see through the doorway that there is a short hallway leading into the only room. There is another doorway on the other side, from which your opponent enters. Windows near the top of the room provide for the Drill Instructors viewing pleasure.

While waiting for my turn, the Drill Instructors outside were explaining the rules. Make sure that you have all of your protective gear on. Even though the tips of the pugil sticks are padded, if you get whacked with one, you will feel it. Fight until the Drill Instructors tell you to stop. A head shot is usually a killing blow. If you are a coward, the Drill Instructors will let you get your ass beat for longer, so you might as well go in swinging. Etc. etc.

I was pumped.

For some reason, I didn't figure that Recruit (first class) Murphy was there for that training period. With a motivated war cry, and a burning desire to make up for the earlier boxing fiasco, I charged down the hallway at the first milli-second of the starting whistle...and tripped entering the room. Flying through the air, I had just enough time to see my opponent enter the room, and then I did a passable imitation of a human lawn-dart, head first, into the sand. Before I could spit the sand out of my mouth or open my eyes, I could feel my opponent attempting to drive the pugil-stick through the back of my skull, repeatedly.

An easy win for him.


Thursday, March 8, 2007

What is in a name

Names can be brought about and mean many different things, depending on what part of the world you are from. For example, for some of the Native Americans names were a reflection of an animal, or a certain characteristic that they were supposed to have. For some in the middle east, a name can tell people where your tribe is from, and what is your lineage. Some Hispanics can trace their lineage back through the years through their name as well. I had a friend of mine that had about 8 or nine names. While not quite as long as his, my name is long, and is actually 2 names, hyphenated.

In the military, for official documents, names are not usually hyphenated. That meant when the Drill Instructors would be conducting roll call, when they got to my name they would pause, mutter "what the fuck?", and then proceed to butcher my name. After a day or two, it got to where the Drill Instructor could only get to "What the..." and I would sound off with a loud, "Here Sir!" Another day of being named recruit 'What the..', and one of the Drill Instructors officially changed my name to Alphabet.

Drill Instructors did that often, whenever a recruit did something somewhat memorable, or there was some particular trait about the guy. In my time I have known many Marines that if pressed, I would not remember their name. I would remember on the other hand, that we called them names like Barf, Crazy, Elmo, Barney, and Bear.

Recruit 'Crazy' was an interesting fellow. I didn't really get a good read on this guy in boot for several reasons. The biggest one was that there were only so many seconds in a boot camp day that one had time to get to know people. He seemed like a nice enough guy, with an odd sense of humor. He would do stuff that just boggled the mind, just for 'shits and giggles'.

A basic layout of a squad-bay. Imagine a very large 'H" shape building, several stories tall. The 'center line' of the H would be the heads (bathrooms), the 'legs' would be the squad-bays. There would be stairs leading to the different floors where the legs would intersect the center line, and that is where you would enter your squad bay. The first portion of the squad-bay contained the quarter-deck and the duty hut. The duty hut was the Drill Instructors' office and had a rack for the duty DI to sleep in at night. The quarter-deck was where recruits went for some quick classes, and where they passed the time in 'additional incentive training'. The rest of the squad bay was where the racks were set up.

In order to pass from the squad-bay main area to the heads, one had to pass in front of the duty hut. The Drill Instructors always kept the door open, so in order that a recruit might not violate their privacy with their unworthy eyes, the recruit was to face away from the duty hut, and practice side-stepping (a close order drill movement) whenever he crossed in front of the door.
Crazy was heading to the showers one evening, and as he was side-stepping in front of the duty hut open door, the towel that was wrapped around his waist dropped to the floor. He shifted the wash-cloth, shampoo, and soap-box to one hand, bent over and retrieved his towel. As he was facing directly away from the duty hut, he also flashed his ass, in all its glory, to the Drill Instructors. That troubling view, intentional or not, got him a trip to the quarter-deck for some of that 'additional incentive training', when he was fully clothed, of course.

The above-mentioned training was perhaps the thing that got us into the best shape. It was a standard set of exercises that increased in repetitions just about every day. It got to the point where the Drill Instructors would tell us to stop counting, and just do the exercises until they told us to switch to the next one. I (now) fondly remember doing push-ups until my arms fell asleep up to the elbows, doing flutter-kicks to the point of dry-heaving, and doing leg excercises until one recruit's eyes rolled up and he went ass over teakettle to the deck.

Crazy spent so much time on the quarter-deck that he would volunteer to thrash. Sometimes the Drill Instructors would have a few moments, so he would pull out his 'shit list', and read off the names of the recruits that had incurred his wrath earlier. When the DI would get up to the quarter-deck, most times he would see crazy there, whether or not he had been called out.

The other thing that Crazy liked to do was to torment the recruits on the other side of the squad bay. For those that have seen 'Full Metal Jacket', do you remember the evening inspection scene? Boot Camp was pretty much exactly like that. All recruits in the platoon were lined up in their skivvy-drawers, at the position of attention. The Drill Instructor would walk the line, inspecting the recruits for any medical, physical, or other issues. When the Dril Instructor would get to you, you had to stare straight ahead, and sound off with the authorized responses to his questions. The problem for me was that I happened to be staring right at Crazy when speaking to the Drill Instructor.

One night Crazy got a weird look in his eye, and as the Drill Instructor was inspecting me, Crazy (behind the Drill Instructor's back) started blowing kisses at me, trying to get me to crack a grin at his stupid antics and get myself into trouble. When that didn't work, Crazy started running his hands silently over his body, tweaking his nipples, and doing a spastic dance. I think that the Drill Instructor might have suspected something was up, because he did turn a few times to look over his shoulder. Every time that he did glance around though, all he saw was Crazy and the rest of the platoon in the model, picture perfect position of attention, patiently awaiting their own inspection.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


Marine recruiters are some of the most professional, hard-working Marines out there. Mine were great, but then again the whole process was pretty easy. They did have a few non-recruiter Marines working there that were pretty upfront about the whole boot camp process, but by then I was already in, if not already completely signed up. This post is not about the hard chargers in the recruiters fold, but what happens after the one rotten apple gets the gullible kid to sign on the dotted line. Enjoy.

Most Marines that I know have heard one or two stories about unscrupulous recruiters. Those that were really pushing the hard sell, or tweaking the truth. You can't really fault them for being thorough in their job, but when they do lie, it makes for some interesting stories. One of the best ones that I have heard of, from another Marine, is the one about the Asian kid who showed up to boot camp with the bag full of advanced mathematics book, and a very broken command of English. Turns out he is there for a math camp, not Marine boot camp. 'Welcome to the Corps, Wakahiri...'

A few of my own stories might beat that one, we shall see...

Very shortly after being dropped to our DIs, one recruit decided that he had experienced enough. With full intensity, he assumed the position of attention (PoA), and sounded off to the DI that he wanted to take advantage of the 'switch service' option of his contract.

Insert the movie sound of the record being scratched as it is taken off the player, cut all background noise. The pin hangs suspended two inches above the floor, afraid to go any farther...

The DI, instead of literally killing the recruit on the spot, inquired politely (for a DI), what in the hell the recruit was talking about. The recruit elaborated (dug his own grave deeper) to the effect that his recruiter had made very clear to him that he could attend Marine Corps boot camp for up to 2 weeks. If, anytime in that initial 2 week, he determined that perhaps the Marines were not for him, all he had to do was notify his chain of command, and he could switch over to the Navy, no problem. This was reasoned as an attempt to find the best fit in the service for the individual. It sounded to me like the recruiter had a way with words to convince a shaky kid. Back to the story

The combination laughter/shrieks from the demons that run Hell (DIs) was something that I will remember for the rest of my life. The DIs probably could not believe it.

Me, I was relieved.

Remember how I mentioned that I had volun'told', violating one of the cardinal laws of boot camp? This gullible recruit had just wiped the memory of my name from all DIs' minds for the immediate future. They had a new play toy. For three looong months.

He was screwed.

The other not-so-honorable mention was a kid who was positive, as positive as one can be, that he had a guaranteed slot in the Marine Band. Not just a base band, but the one that plays for the president. One night, the DI was instructing us on how to report our physical condition during evening inspection. Among many other bits of information, we had to sound off with our name, MOS, and the fact that we did or did not have any physical maladies to report at that time. The DI would then visually inspect us (a la Gunny Hartman in Full Metal Jacket "Toe jam!...Trim those nails!..." you get the picture)

This guys first mistake was in deciding that it would be a good idea to question the DI about his MOS. This immediately drew the DI to a distance of about 1/1000 of an inch away from the recruit, screaming almost incoherently about everything regarding the recruits mental function or lack thereof. I have to give the kid credit, he was able to somewhat coherently explain to the Drill Instructor his belief that he had been guaranteed a band position, and he wasn't sure why he was classified as 0300.

For those not in the know, 0300 signifies infantry.

He was really screwed.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Boot Camp

I'm sure many of you have heard of Murphy's Law. When that law came into being, Mr. Murphy was a civilian. What you might not know is that in May of 1995, Mr. Murphy came with me to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. His stint in the Corps was a raging success, and the basis of this whole blog. While I only made it up to the rank of Sergeant, Murphy made it up through the ranks, eventually being promoted to Lord Murphy, Ruler of all Mortals and Commander of all Combat.

I got shafted, huh.

Going into boot camp, I had a little bit of an idea of what it was going to be like. I was in pretty decent shape (I thought), had a decent head on my shoulders (most of the time), and used to generally higher levels of stress. Let's just say that boot camp was still a kick in the balls, the first of many in my time in the Corps.

When you get to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), several things are happening at once. Different flights are getting in at different times and days. Recruits are showing up, getting assigned to receiving platoons, filling out paperwork, and the like. There are Drill Instructors (DI) here, but these guys are not the platoon's eventual DIs. These guys are just making sure that you are getting where you need to go. They still could be somewhat intimidating, though. Not much, just enough to confirm that you hadn't entered the Peace Corps.

This is where you first got to know the guys in your platoon. Most of the sentiment was somewhat an excited 'can't believe we are here!' rather than the moaning of several days later 'can't believe we are here!'. After a few days, you get 'dropped' to your DIs, and that is where the fun (for them) begins. Looking back, much of it was hilarious, but at the time...

The first thing that I noticed was the variation of the people that came. Of course there was different races and ages, but there were also variations in professions and educations that surprised me. Roughly half the platoon had some sort of college education, somewhat normal I hear for a summer boot camp platoon, due to the number of reservists that entered the Corps at that time. There were also a number of college graduates, people that had really great jobs, but were just not happy with their life and wanted a sense of accomplishment. Some had been cops, some teachers, and one guy ran his own computer business.

Murphy made his first appearance to me early in boot camp. Due to the (I gather high) level of test score, I was withdrawn from my platoon to do some additional testing. There were about 2 days of additional tests, with questions like If 'toujs' means apple, 'slodv' means market, and Androv is a name, then what could the following sentence be translated as (provide 3 different possibilities.)? Androv fui slodv, guidmn toujs.

What the hell?

After a while, one of the instructors came to the front of the class after a period of testing, and announced that we were going to be going into a different military occupational specialty (MOS) than what we had expected. We were to go into some sort of military intelligence field.

What the hell?

Not really sure how it happened, perhaps I tanked on a few tests after that, but I was soon after unceremoniously kicked back to my platoon. The DI who I met greeted me and in no uncertain terms let me know that 1) my continued existence offended him 2) if I was smart enough for additional testing, I was smart enough to be the 'prac recruit', and 3) my continued existence still offended him. He threw me (actually threw AT me) the recruit book of knowledge, and I was on my way.


Two days into boot camp, and I had already broken a couple of rules.

1. Never volunteer for anything.
I know I didn't volunteer, I was 'voluntold', but the fact of the matter was I now had additional duties. The prac recruit was the guy who had to stand in front of the platoon and teach them anything and everything related to memorized information that the platoon would be tested on.

2. Don't let the DIs notice you, stay in the middle of the pack.
I suppose that this was a 'good' way to be noticed, but never fear, I would have plenty of brain farts to challenge any presumption of a modicum of intelligence.

to be continued...

Monday, March 5, 2007

Come to the dark side

In high school (mid 90s), when I first started to get asked the age-old question of "so, what are you going to do with your life?", I wanted to scream. It seemed to me even then, that after only 17 years old, most people were not going to know exactly where they were going to end up in life. Through the ensuing years, my initial thoughts were proven correct, for the most part.

I was pretty active in high school with sports, work, and maintaining a pretty decent average. I was initially in a Baylor Medicine prep group, but as requirements and fees kept changing, like most of the group, I said 'thanks, but no thanks'. I did talk to some of the recruiters, just about everyone but the Marine Corps. Those guys were kinda weird, to my mind. The Air Force and Navy were kind of interested in me, especially after I mentioned that I had taken the ASVAB on a whim, and scored fairly well. In talking to the Navy, I even retook the test. I remember something about if I had a higher score, I could get into submarines, but after a long night of work and a little partying afterwards, surprise surprise I bombed the test. The recruiters stopped calling after that...

By this time, I had already been accepted to the universities that I applied for, so I figured that I would put the military on hold, check out the college scene, and try to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life - after college.


There are quite a few things that I am thankful for having experienced in College, but for the most part it was a disaster. A 300 seat auditorium for a math class taught by a TA with a strong Indian accent, pretty girls, and not enough sleep did not reflect well on grades at the end of each semester. Throughout the course of my first year, it became apparent that I might have to obtain a back-up plan for the event that this school thing didn't work out, so I started to re-examine the military. I talked to a number of servicemen, but really didn't get any kind of warm and fuzzy from any of them until I spoke to a few Marines.

Perhaps it was the difference in how they spoke about their services. For most of the recruiters, it was all about what they could offer me, the bonuses and the guarantees ad nauseum. The Marines that I spoke to basically told me, "It's a kick in the balls, but if you think you're man enough..."

With sweet talk like that, my future was decided.

At home for Spring break, I borrowed the ever sexy mini-van and drove over to the Marine Recruiter's office. I walked in and told the Corporal, 'sign me up'. What luck, the Marine Corps just happened to have a few open spots in the infantry, now one of them had my name on it. I was slated to go to Marine Corps Recruit Depot in the summer of '95.

Pretty stereotypical response, my dad was worried but tried not to show it, my mom was freaked out and definitely let me know it. My friends were on either side of the debate and I was stoked.

I remember reading some of the literature from the recruiters and noting a passage that mentioned '...the Drill Instructors will ensure that you get plenty of exercise and training...'

Interesting phrase, that...

In the beginning...

Perhaps that is not the best of titles for the first entry. See, I would wager the Murphy's Law has been around for quite some time, and will be with us for even longer.

As long as I am wandering around, I am convinced that Murphy has a special interest in me, and will continue to show Himself to me in His own special way.

Right now, He is demonstrating His powers in my life as it relates to setting up this blog.

Murphy's Law, now out of the service, is quite quick to adapt to new environs, i.e. home ownership, working a '9 to 5' (Ha!), and all of the various other aspects of life that I find myself sometimes anticipating, usually encountering, and occasionally being run over by.

We shall see how this goes...