Friday, August 31, 2007

Libo, Booze, and a Hasty Field Day

Navy ships can be awesome weapons, capable of projecting massive amounts of firepower incredible distances to basically lay waste and sow huge amounts of pain and hate. And then there was the PoS that I was on. Built in the early 70s, I believe that it has now finally been de-commissioned. In one of its last cruises before being put out of its misery, it got assigned to carry a bunch of Marines around the coast of South America. I am only half-way joking here when I say that quite a few of the engine bunnies actually had a poll going on when (not if) the engines would die on us. By a couple of countries into the float, so did we.

The berthing room that housed the mortars platoon was a comfy little nook, positioned directly above the engine room and next to the heads. After the a/c broke down about 2 weeks into the float, we were hard pressed to decide what was worse, the heat and fumes from the engines, or the reeking shitters next door. I spent a lot of time at the gym, in the library, the smoker's deck, hell, anywhere but in that room of man-reek of epic proportions. Liberty was a godsend, and another opportunity to see what kind of mischief we could get into. Said mischief was not limited to the time that were actually fuschnukered and out on the town...

One night just as liberty expired, in stumbled the last of my wayward Marines. My guys were a great group, we were just one way or the other getting into some sort of trouble. They worked hard, and partied harder. Perhaps a little too hard. Back to the story, the last Marine in was our platoon mascot of sorts ('Mascot' of course, his name for the purposes of this little blog), being not too bright, pretty short, very stocky with an abnormally amount of junk in his trunk, and usually spotted with a cig in one corner, the largest dip of cope you have ever seen in the whole other cheek, and if at all possible the cheapest and largest beer can in one of his paws. He kind of resembled that axe-wielding troll guy from the Lord of the Rings movie.

Anyways, he stumbled in, reeking of cheap hookers, dried beer and cigar smoke, and crawled into the rack. Not the freshest smelling of fellows on a normal day, we started to make noises in his general direction re taking a shower. After a good 20 minutes of laying in his rack and drunkenly slurring to us to "Shut up, bishes, 'fore I stick my c@ck in yer...", and in an un-precedented display of speed and coordination for a definitely un-coordinated guy, he leaped out of the rack. Not to obey our request, no. He was puking like it was going out of style.

Ever see in the movies how you have to go ass-hole to belly button to pass someone in the passage way? That's how it was in our quarters. Picture if you can, 30 Marines crammed into a small room, some still in their garish Hawaiian shirt-style libo attire, others drunkenly attempting to display their prowess on the x-box, and a few actually attempting to prep their gear for the next training evolution.

Into this picture place a short, stubby, puking Marine. Despite moving with all haste, he threw up about 5 times before he made it to the shitters. He spewed on Marines, laptops, down the ladder-well to the engine compartment, field gear, other Marines, himself, at least two racks, and for good measure, a sailor that was passing through (poor lil' guy). His awesome display of projection was the trigger for two others to display what fine-dining establishment they had attended that night.

The room was stunned silent. There was puke dripping from cots, Marines, and the walls. Heck, I think there was some on the ceiling. A sailor came up the ladder well from the engine room to inquire WTF?!! and if it was safe to pass.

Mascot returned from the head. As he entered the room, we could see that he had managed to puke all down his front side, back side, and general everywhere. With a 1000 beer stare, he trudged through the room, around Marines, and crawled into his rack.

The room was still stunned silent. There was still puke dripping from the cots, Marines, and the walls. There was definitely puke on the ceiling. A gathering of sailors and Marines grouped, not inside our berthing, but at the hatch that wasn't covered in tossed cookies. Mascot laid down, sighed, and prepared to rack out.

It was almost mutiny. We were hard pressed (the Corporals) from keeping everyone else from slaughtering the guy. Kind of like family, we would have stood up for him to anybody else, for just about anything, just because of the platoon thing, but here, in our berthing, like this?

Oh. Hell. No.

Drunk or no, he was going to clean up himself and his impromptu interior decor. After enough threats we got Mascot up and out of the rack, got him hosed down, and made sure that he had ample opportunity to clean up the room. He looked so miserable, still 3 sheets to the wind and swabbing the deck with the broken off, bottom-half of an old, old mop that despite the carnage and the smell, I just had to chuckle.

Ahh, the end of another successful liberty pass...

Stuff to do...

1) Balance checking account.

2) Haircut (cause 1.5 in is just way too long).

3) Find the tabulature (chords / fingering for the guitar) for this song.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Olfactory Assaults & Delights

Transporting the I dunno how long deceased/buried/dug-up body of an ING soldier about 30 miles from one base to another, those of us not in the gun truck were having a few chuckles at the poor bastards who were stuck in the vehicle with the leaking body bag. Due to our recently found natural ability to locate IEDs with our vehicles, all vehicle were buttoned up, as well as our un-uparmored, jerry-rigged, underground-doped-dealed-steel-plates-welded-to-the-doors, only-been-rolled-twice POS Hummers could be. Add to this aromatic assault on the senses the relatively nipply 110 degrees, and it makes for an interesting eau-de-dead guy. The Vehicle Commander could hardly avoid gagging every time he came on the radio to request that we haul ass back to the house. This occured roughly every 5 minutes.

The road we were using (& hoping had no recently planted "things that make you go 'boom' ") was mainly a convoy route, plainly marked as a convoy route by the numerous 3 to 4 ft deep craters on alternating sides of the barely one-lane road. Made the concept of traveling with all due haste pretty much moot. I hated convoys, because it seemed that they were all to often getting: 1) lost and in need of rescue. 2) lost and ambushed and in need of rescue. 3) lost, ambushed, and then opening up on anybody in the immediate vicinity, to include friendly forces. (my personal favorite). Of course, not all were that bad, just the ones that we had to deal with. And we had some doozies...

Sure enough, here comes one of those long-assed convoys. Yay.

SOP for our area was that all convoys had right of way. Fine by me, let them sweep the route. Besides, if the convey is escorted by an Army unit, there might be some hot chicks manning the turret guns. (After a couple months of Iraqi TNA (toes and ankles) all chicks are hot chicks, even the Army ones. The cammies effect, anyone?

A few words on the plumbing of military bases at the time.

There were actual flushing toilets on bases, but the overwhelming majority of crappers were the port-a-john variety. Of course those things needed to be emptied regularly, and that called for what we ever so eloquently dubbed 'the shit-sucker truck'. As bad as some of our duties were, at least we weren't the poor SOB that had to do that one. Said duty was performed by a local, and is the same that is done here in the states. Truck rolls up, guy gets out and unreels a large hose, er... cleans up the deposits, then uses another hose to fill the tank, cleans up the interior, etc. Something that most don't think about is what happened to the uh, 'collection' once it is removed from the cans. Out of sight, out of mind.

In Iraq, the trucks would drive to a location off the grounds of the base, dump their load (Har!), and then get back to the base to resume work.

Well before the convoy can make any attempt to run us off the road, we stop and turn off into the dunes. We get set, only to realize that, once the winds shifted, we were pretty much on the outskirts of the shit-dumping-ground from the nearby Iraqi Air Base. Joy!

Some 45 vehicles, (only 4 with any kind of turret guns, what genius planned that one?) only one 'hot' chick, and dunno how long later, we finally got moving again to the relief of all, especially the dead-guy taxi crew.

Got back to the forward operating base to find that: we had missed the PX truck again (not really, at least we got to look at it as we escorted it back to civilization) and, I 'shit' you not, some one had taken a dump in the newly set up and now secured shower tent. WTF, over?

At least our admin guys got to clean their cracks that month before it got shut down.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chow Time

... they say that in the Marine Corps, the chow is mighty fine...

...the chicken jumped off the table, and started marking time...

-Marine Corps cadence

1200 hrs, and a whole lotta nuthin' was going on in the mortar teams' berthing compartment. Living la vida loca on the high seas was already getting old, and we hadn't been on ship for that long. I had gotten into the habit of going to the ship's small gym early in the mornings, and this particular morning I had inadvertently worked out through the breakfast hours. Not that I was missing much, it was the same old stuff that they always had. I could probably stand to lose a few pounds anyways.

Heeding the call of my empty belly, I shimmied out of my rack (the one almost all the way in the corner, roughly 2 inches off the deck), threw on a pair of boots, cursed, took off those boots, located my boots and put them on. (When you cram about 25 Marines and all their crap into the space of a household master bedroom, things tend to get mixed up and wander around.) Winding my way through the racks stacked 4 high, I exited our quarters, thankfully without smacking my head or shins on the hatches. Those things were definitely not designed with taller people in mind.

Strolling through the ship, I picked a stairway that appeared to be a likely candidate for the general vicinity of the mess deck, climbed the stairs, and exited right into the line. As the entrance to the chow hall was on the other side of the ship, this told me that the wait was going to be quite long. Again. Turning sideways to make my way past the sailors and Marines already waiting, I took my place at the end of the line, and pulled out my crossword puzzle book. Those things were a life-saver as far as I was concerned, when it came to killing time.

I killed time for about an hour and a half. Still wasn't there, yet.

Approaching the entrance to the chow hall, I could hear some cussing from up ahead. I figured that it was due to the food selection.

I was partially right.

See, due to the fact that the ship would be pulling into port in the days ahead, some well-meaning person had decided that the entryway for the chow hall would be a good place to post information for the crew. Pretty good idea, right? Well yeah, stuff like the current exchange rate, cafeteria hours of operation when the ship was at port, and the like was helpful. What was informative and at the same time disgusting was the stuff on STDs. Yup, that's right. That same well meaning individual had posted several, full-sized and in living color, examples of anything that can go wrong with 'Mr. (or Mrs.) Happy'. If it dripped, leaked, puffed, rashed, caused pain or discomfort, lost color, gained a rainbow of colors, bled, or anything out of the ordinary, there was an example of it, for all the ships little boys and girls. I was scarred for life.

Eeew does not begin to sum it up.

Attempting to shake my mind of the nastiness I had just witnessed, I entered the serving line.

ME: Hey Cookie, whatcha got?

COOKIE: Sides are first. Broccoli?

uh, not this time.

COOKIE: Cauliflower?


COOKIE: Red apple sauce?

Blurf. Is everything going to remind me of those friggin' pictures?

ME: Think I'll pass on those, thanks.

COOKIE: Moving right along, then. What do you want for main dish? Chilli-dog weenies?

Ungh. Is this for real?

COOKIE: Roast Beef sandwiches?

What the hell?!?

ME: You know, I think I'll just stick with a salad today, thanks.

COOKIE: Hmm, popular choice.

... they say that in the Navy, the chow is mighty fine...

... gonna triple-wrap my junk, before I wine and dine...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Musical Insubordination

'Cadence' in the Corps is a sort of call & answer type song used to keep a group in step while running. It is sometimes called a 'Jodie', as a nod to the guy who is at home, schtupping the lady while we are away. It is sometimes also used in a slower tempo, during marching. There are an infinite number of cadences ranging from simply introducing a singsong of foot placement, to traditional song, to more modern... creative works.

One day, way back when I was a Lance Corporal, one of the platoon's Corporals was marching us around to some classroom or the other. He decided that it would be a good training opportunity to have one of the 'Lance Criminals' get some experience marching a small unit around, on the return trip. His intent was to call out one of us, provide some direction in the vein of simple marching commands, salutation of any and all Officers, etc. and let us go to town.

CPL - I need a motivated Marine to march the detail back!

*not a peep, no eye contact, nada*

CPL - You (pointing to me) thanks, for volunteering, get yer ass up here!


CPL - You know what to do, just try not to screw it up too much.

As I already had a fairly decent grasp of the basics of drill movements and commands, I did ok, I suppose. Good enough that the Corporal decided that he wanted to hear a cadence, or my version of what would pass for a song.

CPL (marching a few steps behind the group) I'm bored! Sing something! Better make it good, too!

Oh, I got your good cadence right here, buddy...

ME: (singing to the group) Who can take your Grandma....!

LCPLs: Who can take your Grandma...!

Cpl: Hey-

ME: Bend her over a chair....!

LCPLs: Bend her over a chair...!

CPL: Wait a minu-

ME: Stick it right up her-!

CPL: WHOA! SHADUP!!! How about something that won't get me busted down to Pfc, numbnuts!

Damn, foiled again...

ME: Roger that, Corporal!


ME: Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream!

LCPLs: Row, row, row your boat, gently down th-

CPL: No, no, damnit! Something serious!!

Hey, harmony can be hard work!

ME: Aye, aye, Corporal!


ME: AAaaaaaaavvveeeeh Mariiiii-iiiiiii-iaaaaaaa!

LCPLs: ?!?!?!

ME: Graaa-aatziah ple-eenaaaaaa!

CPL: You're fired! Get back in formation!

Everybody's a critic...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sleepy Time, the Oorah Bus, and Classy Ladies

Insomnia sucks.

It happens on occasion, and hopefully this occasion has just about run its course. I don't even need to look at the alarm to know that it has been right around 3 hours, 10 minutes.

Wide awake.


Thinking about sleepy time a few years ago.

The Oorah bus was an old school bus that was 'donated' to the Corps, painted (disguised from recovery?) white, gold and red with a garish Marine Corps motto logo, complete with bull dog, 'semper fi', and about every other symbol remotely related to the Corps. Not really something to be used for covert insertions. What we did use it for, were the occasions that a large number of Marines needed to go off base for a non-formal occasion, like parades, award ceremonies, Toys for Tots, etc.

I don't remember what occasion we were going to, but there was only about one platoon in the bus, one evening. Naturally, that evening was on the weekend, when only the very best parties, filled with freaky deaky wimmens were sure to be on their very 'best' behaviour. To say that we were kind of grumpy to be voluntold for some duty or the other would be a slight understatement.

The interior of the bus had, instead of the normal, forward facing cushion seats, long wooden benches that lined the windows. There was also one bench that ran the length of the bus, right down the middle. The slats weren't very wide, just enough room to get enough of your butt on the wood, not enough to get comfy. Definitely not wide enough to sleep on. There was a caged compartment in the rear of the bus, used for sea bags, crew-served weapons, and other miscellaneous gear.

It was late in the evening / early in the morning, and we still weren't where we were heading. Some of the more sleep-gifted Marines has proped their feet on the portion of the bench facing them, stuffing their ass in the back of their own bench, propped their back against the windows, and commenced snooze time. The cage was long since claimed for the senior Marines' rack ops. To my eternal joy, I discovered that a large portion of the deck underneath the bench was unclaimed. I scooted down, ignored a few comments and the occasional boot, folded my arms behind my head, and stretched out for a little snooze.

I remember, half awake, hearing muttered conversation of some Marines that decided any efforts at sleep were wasted. They remained awake, providing a running commentary on the Corps, passing civilian traffic, and the like. Whenever they would spot a good looking girl, they would think of all the good parties that they were missing, by being stuck with a bunch of stinky dudes.

A horn started blowing.

Normally, this would be due to the driver, one Lance Corporal Sleepy. Lcpl. Sleepy, for whatever reason, was one of the few guys that had gone through the certifications for driving just about every vehicle the Corps had. It was an ongoing plan that we would send more Marines to be certified, but for a long while, not too much was officially done. He was usually driving, and I suspect that he was a closet narcoleptic. Horns a-blowin' when he was driving was not always a rare event.

The horns were not due to his driving, this time, however. A small red pick-up truck had pulled up along side of the Oorah bus, and started honking the horn. Two 'ladies' started to hang out the window, giving thumbs up, blowing kisses, and waving.

This, amazing as it might sound, got some attention on the bus.

A few of the guys stirred enough to sit up and glance out the window.

A few windows were opened.

A few comments were returned to the red pick-up.

Now, I appreciate the ladies as much as the next guy, but there is something that we used to call the 'cammie effect'. The theory goes as follows, when a man puts on the cammies, and knows that women are a no-go (for however short a period of time), the ladies get more attractive by a factor of 10. Actually similar to when I put on the dress blues. Marine dress blues will make even a schmuck look half way presentable.

Therefore, I figured, when with a platoon of Marines, a couple of guys proclaiming 'hot chicks off the port side", the definition of hotness could reasonably be suspect.

As I was still underneath the bench, vainly plugging away at this fantasy of 'sleep', I was wholly unprepared for the mad rush of Marines to the left side of the bus and the unified howl of


...that filled the air. Friendly girls, they were.

Can you guess what happened?

Yup, I bolted up (to admonish the guys, say a few prayers for their hedonistic souls, and to cover those poor girls who can find nothing to cover themselves, sure), and promptly discovered that one should always maintain situational awareness. Even while sleeping. With a hard wooden bench about 8 inches above one's head.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I can flunk a session of Boot Polishing

'Back in the Olde Corps' (as Marines like to say to other Marines with one day less time in service), the Corps used black leather boots. One pair jungles, and one all leather. Most kind of fell into a habit of rotating boots depending on need and purpose. For example, when a pair of boots would finally fall apart, I would reluctantly trudge down to the nearest px and buy another pair. The new pair would become my inspection boots. The boots that were inspection worthy were now my field boots, my old worn out field boots were sometimes thrown away and sometimes stuffed with shrimp and used for nefarious purposes. Obviously, all markings, stamps, and dog tags were removed from the boots before their final mission.

Field boots were, amazing as it might sound, for the field. They got enough polish to keep the scuffed leather from showing through, and that was about it. They were quick to acquire plenty of character in the form of scuffs, toe dents, 550 cord for laces, and such.

Inspection boots were another animal alltogether.

Inspection boots were those used for first boot camp and School of Infantry inspections, and then gear inspections and the random times when even in cammies, one needed to have everything obsessively surpassing Marine Corps regs, like parades, boards, promotions, and dog & pony shows. They were meticulously looked after, stray threads clipped, any and all metal parts emnued (uniformly painted black), and polished to perfection. When you can see your reflection in a pair of combat boots, that's when you know you're starting to get a hang of the whole polishing thing.

One method that I liked to use to get my shine on was to, after applying a good solid base coat of polish on the leather, open the can of boot polish and set it on fire for a few seconds. This would allow the semi-melted polish to get down into the tiny cracks and pores of the leather, filling them up and getting them ready for a good polishing.

The introduction of fire to a story involving Marines is usually a decent indicator of good times ahead. With me in the story, the probability of hilarity is multiplied by a factor too large to accurately determine.

Setting the polish on fire would melt (ideally) only the very top of the polish in the can. Remember to blow out the flame before it can burn for too long! A quick dab of a taut polishing rag into the polish vigorously applied to the boot in small circles, interrupted by an occasional use of spit, plenty of elbow grease, and a little time would usually end in the desired result.

So there I was, hunched over the boot in my lap, just going to town. Anybody walking up from behind probably thought that it was waaay past time for me to find some sort of female companionship. After finishing application of yet another coat of polish, I paused and grabbed my lighter, taking a moment to adjust the volume of the CD player. I lit the polish and sat back to enjoy the finale of the 1812 Overture.

Yeah, I'm a geek.

Remember where I wrote about blowing out the flame? Well, if the flame is not allowed to burn for too long, it's not that much of an issue. When the flame is allowed to burn for too long, the flame is somewhat more established and not as easy to blow out. Amazing, huh. What to do, then? Well, instead of, oh...say putting the lid on the can, removing the oxygen supply of the fire and thereby putting it out, I decided to... just blow harder!

Hot, melted, and sometimes still flaming boot polish does wonders to a freshly laundered uniform, documents, furniture, and bare feet.

The best part about this story is that it didn't just happen once. Brain farts, like chow, sleep, and intell updates, can be continuous. Needless to say, I don't melt the polish anymore.

Lest anyone suspect I only have Pure Thoughts

From one of her posts today entitled 'Sometimes you wonder how they remember to breathe', Tamara had a comment that made me chortle out loud. In reading the line where she writes "If it's green and tube-like, it's probably dangerous..." I couldn't help but think of this story.

Hmm, would that fall under shameless link whoring for; linking to a big name, linking to myself, or commenting on how yes, just about anything can be connected to funky good times?

a) Yes
b) No
c) You suck, stop writing.
d) Funky good times make the blog world go 'round.
e) 'insert' (get it? Har!) your own comment.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


It's not that the gear wasn't over there right away, it was just that there were certain priority levels that needed to be filled until gear got down to, you know, the guys who actually needed it. Sometimes it seemed like it had to filter down through the various units that ordered it, received it, transported it, and distributed it, heck, sometimes I was kind of grateful to be kept in supply of the sand-paper, single ply, finger prone to poke through whilst - you know - tp. Made for interesting comments when we would form a sewing circle to repair uniforms, tape up boot holes, etc. when certain supply guys were rolling around in the latest super sneaky ricky recon gear. It should be mentioned that even half-way through the deployment, the situation was a lot better (not that it could get any worse), and we eventually got most of what we needed, and even a few wants, here and there. The guys who were the pro taxi service for the Battalion Commanding Officer, while I am sure they had their difficulties, did seem to get alot of the stuff that they needed, right away.

Personal Security Details (PSD) are small groups that are tasked with, believe it or not, personal security. When these squads are used for higher ranking Officers, this can be somewhat of a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you don't have to do a lot of the normal pain-in-the-ass stuff, like standing all manner of watches, chow duty, mail runs, and various other duties. On the other hand, you are always hanging with light Colonels and above, something that I would consider with few exceptions, to be a unique level of Hell. Seriously though, any time the Lt.Cool wants to go frolicking through the friggin dunes, well someone has to take him there. Most of the time it seemed to me, was fairly decent duty. Of course, I was never PSD.

At the onset of the Iraq deployment, well, it was a goat-rope the size of which has never been seen.


I am not really sure where the hang-up was, exactly, but I did know that there was a humongous problem with vehicles, weapons, supplies, comm, intel, and pretty much everything else needed to complete a mission to the chow hall. Let me paint you a picture...

Leaving for patrol one morning you take inventory:

You have one radio for all vehicles.

You have no .50 cal, Mk-19, or even one stinkin 240G.

You have one Squad Automatic Weapon (yay!).

Your vehicles are soft, ie no armor.

Not even at the turrets.

That's ok, because for most of them, there is nothing to put in the turret, except for one Marine and his rifle.

His. Friggin. Rifle.

Hold on, Lcpl Vato just managed to mount an M9 pistol in the turret, as his commentary of the situation. Goes nicely with the skull and crossbones flag, cause when you're a pirate, you don't need no stinkin' armor (Arrr, Matey!).

As the squad before us on patrols returns to base, we immediately help unloading one of their vehicles that is to be hot-racked (in continuous use) for our patrol. Due to a lack of numbers, at that time most of the Hummers had been hot-racked at one time or the other, and were in pretty rough shape. Mine was probably in the best shape, because roughly 5 months before I got in country, it had rolled over. After being repaired, it never really got sent back into rotations, why, I dunno.

As we are finishing preparations for patrol, PSD rolls by, going to pick up the big Kahuna. Every vehicle is up-armored, with turret armor. Radio antennae poke every which way (verses my initial comm plan of stick yer haid out the window, look back and scream, "Hey y'all, were gonna turn right *don't forget to point*) Every vehicle has a .50 cal machine gun or a MK-19 grenade launcher. (I think we had a slingshot in one turret) From previous conversations with their Sgt. I knew that every vehicle also had a 240-G as a friggin dismount weapon. *Insert wistfull, red-headed step child looks onto our faces here.* I guess it was fair, Kahuna had the rank, I have my witty dialogue.

I later got into hot water for the ole pistol mounted in the turret gag. I thought it was kind of a clever statement, myself.

A few months later, things had kind of smoothed out. We had gotten issued a pair of 240-Gs, one more SAW, and were swapping out a MK-19 and .50 with another squad. The vehicles were still shit, but we were making do. At least we had turret armor on them, now. We also made friend with some CBs (construction battalion sailors) and were doing all kinds of dope deals to get additional jerry-rigged armor, steel plates, etc. for the vehicles. It definitely wasn't pretty, actually kind of looked beverly hillbillyesq, but it got the job done.

We were tasked with meeting a new Battalion's PSD at the air-base, and escorting them through the area. When they rolled up, I had flashbacks to our PSD. New Hummers (up-armored natch), big guns, and all the accessories. After the brief, one of the PSD Corporals had a question. Looking from his hummers to our frankensteins, from his weaponry to what little we had, despite the fact that they had weeks in town compared to our months, he asked, "Are you guys escorting us, or are we escorting you?"


Saturday, August 18, 2007


Whenever I hear about a protest involving illegal guns, I kind of understand what they are getting at-but for all of that, I just picture in my mind's eye of a sad looking counter-protester (moi), walking the streets with a sign that proclaims 'No Gun should be Illegal'.

I know, I know, shameless.

As a result of this upcomming protest, an idea, from Mr. Codrea.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Gear adrift... is a gift.

Alternate titles:

Something along the lines of 'It's because of assholes like you that there's any thievery in my beloved Corps'.


'It's not that there's any theft in the Corps, everyone is just trying to get their own shit back'.

You would be amazed at the way things just disappear in the military. We usually try to keep a handle on most of it by marking everything. Marking usually consists of a stamp pad with one's name and initials. A sharpie works just as well. Makes for irrefutable proof when you call out another Marine for horking your shit. Heh, I remember, this one time, on ship... (bleh), I was chewing out Mascot for some post operative brain donor move. As he was leaving, another guy on my own personal shit list was walking up. It was like a bountiful buffet of opportunity. All the guys that I wanted to personally assist with cranial removal from anal entrapment were coming to me, instead of me having to track them down, for once.

As Mascot started to slink away, I noticed that his skivvie drawers were protruding from his pt shorts. Disgusting. What was even more disgusting that I was able to recognize MY NAME (!?!?!?) on the tighty whities! I am reasonably certain that this occasion was not a mastermind criminal enterprise, 'cause, if you are out to steal some goods, why go for another mans crotch wadding?

One of the things that you learn early on in the Marines is to always figure for gear accountability. I would make it a habit to sweep an area any time that my Marines would move from point A to point B. While not stopping gear migration entirely, it did pretty good to keep it to manageable levels. Other efforts in this endeavor include dummy cording (literally tying a one end of a cord around an object, that the other end on yourself), gear self-checks, inspections, etc. Eventually, most of my Marines developed some of the quasi obsessive-compulsive tendencies of super-anal gear retention. Some also learned the flip side of this coin, a highly developed sense of gear acquisition.

There were a number of times when I would walk up to a group of unsuspecting Marines to discover that they had in their possession all kinds of odds and ends, including, but very much not limited to: Navy covers (hats), extra rope, candy from the Supply Corporal's desk, supplies from the Supply Corporal's desk, anything shiny, an old, scratched up DVD of Showgirls (sans case), one (left foot) sock from some hooker out in town, and items that *sniff-sniff* must have been rescued from the nearest dumpster.

I always knew when my guys were up to something when I would be walking around the Forward Operating Base, returning from an intel dump or something and two of my Lance Corporals would intercept me before I could reach the rest of the squad. They would proceed to ask all kinds of diversionary questions like; 'So, Sgt....How's your day going?'. 'Nice weather, huh? They say it's a dry heat, ya know?'

This usually meant something was up. Hell, it always meant something was up.

Eventually, I would get fed up with 20 questions, and usually cut to the chase. "Ok, my little Lance Criminals, is there anything that I should know about, or perhaps at least allow myself plausible deniability for?" They would usually recommend visiting the port-a-johns for just a few minutes or so. This would be followed many times by muffled shouts, much scurrying about, and innocent countenances as if to ask me for whom should they light candles for on my behalf in their evening prayers?

The thing about other Marines is, they usually make it harder to get away with most of this kind of activities. Other service members, on the other hand... Let's just say that sometimes it was a full time job herding my boys away from golden opportunities like Hummers, Apache Helicopters, Tanks, and various NFL cheerleader teams. Big guys with shiny stuff on their collars might take notice if any of the above were to suddenly go missing... and they knew that there were confirmed Marine grunt sightings in the area.

One day we managed to free up enough time to stop by Camp Cupcake and hit the PX. I told my Marines to make it pretty snappy, gave a few buck to one of the Corporals and told him to pick me up some dr pepper, if they had any left (War is Hell, I know). I had volunteered to stay with the vehicles, look them over to see what needed repair, replacement, or a mercy shot. As I was doing this, a Hummer came up to the parking lot. Fairly new Hummer, as frustratingly many of the Hummers on the huge base were (they were never going to see any more action than whomever managed to sneak a visit with the female mail clerk), and it had all kinds of doo-dads on it. Fuel and water rack on the back, nice, non-spider webbed windows, friggin' spot lamps, and, what the hell is that, AC or an ice cream machine? Don't think I would have been surprised to see a pair of fuzzy dice on the rear view mirror or those bull's balls hanging from the rear fender. Who's a guy gotta sleep with to get some of that stuff, I wonder?

As I was hanging out two soldiers got out of the vehicle, stretched, scratched themselves, and started to walk into the px. One of them remembered the order to utilize a chalk block (to prevent the vehicle from rolling away...on the flat the middle of the friggin desert...), stopped, muttered a curse, trotted back to his Hummer, removed his kevlar helmet, stuck it behind a wheel, and raced to join his buddy, leaving the Hummer all on its lonesome.

must resist... temptation very strong...

It always made me laugh when Area of Operations Situation Reports would come out listing the number of large items missing (i.e. transport vehicles, construction equipment etc) not from a combat loss or convoy mishap, but from misadventures in parking, or apparently storage malfunctions.

And no, I did not liberate the vehicle or any of its contents that day. I even managed to protect it from some of my more stickily fingered boys, at least on that particular occasion...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tall Tales & Suck Ups

I was sitting at the bar one night, sulking at the fact that I got my ass handed to me at the pool table.

By a woman.


At the time I had experienced enough dateless nights to consider myself a fair billiards player, and I guess you could say that I am pretty decent when it comes to the game (Dating follies were pretty much continuous at the time, resulting in many dateless nights). The unending source of my grief is the fact that some wimmens know how to gain an unfair advantage at the table. Works every time, dangit. Quite the distraction. As I was sitting at the bar, contemplating how to ask her to show me how she made a few of those bank shots without coming across as a horny goat (not to say that I wasn't, just that I didn't want to make it too obvious, and it was an excellent series of shots), a slightly pudgy drunken monkey snags the stool next to me.

SPDM: Hey buddy, you in the Marines?

ME: Uh...yup.

SPDM: That's cool. I was gonna join the Corps.....

Here we go again...

There are a lot of guys out there that, for whatever reason, were unable to join the Corps. I don't pretend to judge another man's decisions when it comes to his life, because it's really none of my business. I know of a few guys that would have made fine Marines, soldiers, cops, or whatever but they needed to raise younger siblings, see to dying parents, or had various other commitments / restrictions. It just seems to me that in a bar situation, it is only the drunken monkeys that come up to hassle me though.

SPDM: ...but after I got off of probation, I decided to join the Air Force & Rangers.

Oh really? Air Farce Rangers, huh?

ME: Cool... So, did you got to the airborne sniper school in Seattle? I hear that one's a mother to get through...

SPDM: Were you an airborne sniper?

ME: Nope, just a regular grunt.

SPDM: Yeah, I went to a school like that, wasn't too bad, though, 'cept for the CQB training.

I'm gonna have fun with this one...

ME: I thought the knife training was pretty interesting, myself (true). Marines are taught the basics of target selection, various ways to attack those targets, little things like the blood groove on a k-bar, bayonet training, and alternative uses for a blade (true). It was only when they brought in the inmates that it got...*shudder* kinda gruesome. (sliiight exaggeration).

SPDM: Inmates?

ME: Yeah. Don't think they do it anymore, cause of all the screaming commies nowadays, but they used to have this deal where they brought out some really bad dudes towards the end of our knife fighting training. Incentives was that if they won, they got a reduced sentence, if we won, well, either way we got some good experience.

I can't believe my ability to BS sometimes, this crap is flowing like pure gold!

SPDM: Whoa. *slurps from almost forgotten beer* Didn't guys die, or somethin'?

ME: On occasion. Good thing about it was we had plenty of Corpsmen there, kind of a joint training thing. You would be surprised, the number of things a good doc can do to stop a dude from bleeding out (last part was true).

SPDM: Dude... I, uh, gotta go but lemme buy you a beer before I go...

He shoots, he scores! Now where was that lady from before? Don't think I made enough of an ass of myself earlier...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Combat Soccer

One morning, for reasons unknown, the machine gooners decided to challenge my platoon to a game of soccer. Soccer, football, or futbol, however you know it, is a heck of a game. Teamwork, strategy, and endurance out the wazoo are just a few qualities that you need to play the game. Whether it is the passing of the womens teams, the more aggressive styles of some European clubs, the magic that is the foot work of South Americans, or the theatrics that is the World Cup, I love it all. I even get a kick outta this guy:

Anyways, there were only a few guys that had played any soccer growing up, and the rest were completely clueless when it came to the game. When asked what they thought of it, one responded, "uh, yeah. Aren't we just supposed to riot afterwards, or something?" Some were most definitely not keen on all the running around that was needed.

I was attempting to be everywhere and do everything. Too bad I was only at most a sorta-kinda good player. I was actually doing ok, feeding the ball to some of the other guys, not letting the other team score, etc. when I caught a shot right to the inner thigh / groin area.

Not good.

I immediately hunched over in the universal sign for 'don't nobody screw with me quite yet, I still have to figure out if the boys are still attached' position. Amazingly enough, I distinctly remember standing up, taking a few steps, and letting out a very relieved sigh when I thought that I had narrowly avoided disaster.

I got about two more steps when the delayed agony of a direct hit set in.

Those are the worst.

The game was essentially over for me at that point.

Watching from the sidelines, it was interesting to note the devolution of standard soccer by the Marines. I don't remember who was the guy to throw in the three extra balls, just that he probably had some rank to declare that all four soccer balls were now in play, and everybody generally agreed that this was a good idea.

Tackles were also introduced at around this time. Not the standard soccer tackles, where one player will, at a dead run, sit his ass down on the grass extending his foot for a kick at the ball, oh no. These were the tackles of American football, jaw snapping, shoulder to the gut, blindsided hit that makes everyone exclaim "Ooooo..." tackles.

Grappling was initiated soon after the onset of tackling in the soccer match.

At about this time one of my buddies showed up to watch the festivities. Upon his arrival he observed; one 'wall' of Marines, like you see for the defense against penalty shots, and a couple of Marines kicking the ball at them like an episode of 'Jackass'/game of chicken. Three guys were working on their pull ups on the top bar of the goal, and there was about 4 grappling pairs scattered throughout the field. All this while the rest of the guys were actually playing a game semi-recognizable as that of traditional soccer. With flying tackles.

And that was how combat soccer was born.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Bunny

Inspiration from an old Murphy's Laws of Combat T-Shirt, this site, and some mischievous Marines

Monday, August 6, 2007

Update on Teaching Mom...

This has been an interesting experience, for a number of reasons. Lots of interesting advice, both on-line and in person have probably saved me quite a bit of time. Thanks.

One poster, Anony, recommended a couple of books in the subject of women and shooting. While I have not managed to pick them up yet, the subject of books brought up a thought or two.

I am a voracious reader. One of the gifts that my mother gave to me was a love of reading and many, many, many trips to the neighborhood library. Didn't cost hardly anything, and kept us kids busy for hours at a time, a genius idea really. Nowadays, if you go into the spare bedroom of the house, I have an extra bed, the computer set up, and a bookshelf lining an entire wall with all kinds of books. There are many different subject lines, ranging from reference, classic, military history, fiction, martial arts, poetry, art, the list goes on and on. Kind of nice to read another blogger reference a certain book in a post, go into the room and find the book they were talking about. Often, I will find myself re-reading that book, just for kicks.

One subject that I find myself needing to build is that on the subject of firearms. I have a few books, but they are mainly what I would consider reference types; firearms of the 20th century, military rifles of the past 100 years, and anything related to any weapon I had even remote contact with in the Corps. *sigh* I guess enlarging my weapons literature is another thing that I will have to look into. It's a rough life, I know. (Hmm, question: can a 60mm or 81mm mortar and/or ammo be used in home defense? Probably about as well as claymores and other booby traps, that is to say exceedingly well, but strongly frowned upon by neighborhood friendly law enforcement, and with large gains for local construction companies.)

I intentionally haven't picked out a specific weapon for my mother, for a couple of reasons. I would like to start with showing her what I have (which isn't much), and perhaps the collection of a few of my buddies. This would be just to cover the basics, and help us get a better idea on what types we might recommend. Then it would be off to the candy store, and help her pick out her gun, if I haven't been banned for excessive drooling on the windows.

That's another thing. I am really lucky in stores in the area. With very few exceptions, the gun stores around here have good collections with certifiable gun nuts running the show. Very knowledgeable, not pushy, heck, not afraid to admit when they might not be 100% positive on something. S'ok, they just look 10 ft away and there is a good chance that the resident 'revolver nut' is right there biting his tongue to not ambush into the conversation. One thing that I am most impressed with was a conversation with an employee, about a week ago.

I had gone into the store to get some night sights and to browse the holster collection. After a minor purchase, the employee ringing up the sale asked me if there was anything else that he could help me with. Out of curiosity, I asked him about mom. Before I even stopped with the descriptions, he was nodding his head. His recommendation, as well as that of the other two guys that were hanging out, was a revolver, more likely in the .357 variety. Ammo was a little more debated, but all agreed that the whole thing really kind of depended on the shooter. As the other two guys drifted on through out the store, the employee continued by actually recommending that I take mom to one of his competitors who had an indoor range and a ladies night with instructors for the newer shooters.

Hanging out at work the other day...uh...'working' and stuff, I was talking to a receptionist about parents. On the subject of fathers and during the course of the conversation, she mentioned that her dad liked to shoot, she was curious, but never really got around to it. I mentioned my current situation, and offered to take her to the range sometime. She seemed very receptive, and even inquired if she might bring her mother along sometime, as her mom was interested as well. The more the merrier, I suppose. How is it I can go from doing my own thing to teaching two or three new shooters in a short period of time? I am definitely not complaining, by any means, s'just kind of funny how it developes.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Murphy's Adventures in Dating; Volume 1, Book 1, Chapter 1 ...

Alternative title: Cupid is a Punk

Here ya go, Deborah,























I really didn't want to be at work that night.

Unfortunately, one of the bouncers needed the night off to visit his dying grandmother (think it was the third time she died), and I had no other plans for the evening. As my most recent ex was somewhere in Europe probably having a 'grand old time' and I was not really keen on spending what little money I had, I decided to take him up on his request of covering his shift. Heck, even if I am only making a little bit o' money, that usually means that I'm not spending it, right?

I really didn't want to be at work that night.

Instead of making the big bucks behind the bar, I was relegated to checking IDs and baby-sitter duty at the front entry. At least one of my buddies was there, so I could piss and moan in between fake IDs, early drunks, and the like about all that was wrong with the world, namely; women. He had recently sworn off women (read - he got kicked to the curb, as well) and was most definitely in the same frame of mind. Eventually, we both agreed that somebody upstairs was having a whole bowl of Chuckle-Os at our expense. I had a personal theory that if Cupid really existed, he was testing out new and unproven bows & arrows at the shooting range that was moi.

As bar nights go, it was generally an uneventful night. Not too much in the way of disturbances, due to the Deputies that were recently hired to keep a wary eye on things. They were happy to take the additional money from the bar, but not too keen on actually working. Not that they were afraid of working, but if they did have to break a sweat, well... let's just say that when the hangover wore off, there were going to be some achy bodies the next morning. My kind of guys.
Towards the end of the night our focus, as bar employees, went from watching the people coming in to watching the people going out. There are always a few guys that think they can just go out to the parking lot immediately outside the doors to engage in a tussle, or a few guys that believe if they just don't look at us as they stumble and stagger out the door, we somehow wont notice them as they try to twirl their car keys, whistle out of key, bump into three stools, drop their keys, apologize profusely to the stools, throw up a little in their mouths, cop a feel on one of the unsuspecting stools, stagger to their feet, walk two paces, remember their keys, snag them up, and finally figure out how to operate that tricky door thing to the parking lot.

It kept us occupied.

During the last hour of the night, one memorable drunk came up to me.

DRUNK - Heh....hey!

ME - Yes sir?

DRUNK - Hey!

I think we already covered this

DRUNK - Hey...Lemme ash you a queshion!

This was about when they normally asked me for a telephone number for the local cab company, where their friends were, what restaurants were still open, or where they parked their car.

DRUNK - Hey!

ME - Yes sir -whoa! Watch out there (he almost fell over on my feet).

I helped to support him by placing on hand on his back. In return, he flung his arm around my shoulder. At that point I started to look around for the Deputy. If this guy was serious about leaving the bar, it was something I kind of felt that Mr. Deputy should be aware of. Fortunately for my drunkard, a group of people came up at just that moment, grabbed his arm, apologized to me, and walked him out of the bar.

Just as the door closed, I could have sworn that I heard a twanging sound, a ricochet, and some soft angelic-type curses.

I had turned back from the exit door to watch the people still in the bar. As I was faced in this direction, I failed to notice my drunken friend re-enter the building. He stumbled up to me, threw one arm around my shoulders, put his other hand on my chest for additional stabilization, and slur-shouted over the music-

DRUNK - Hey!


ME - Sir, we have cards for a local cab there on the counter -

DRUNK - Hey! I gotta queshion that I really wanna ashk you!

Of course, just before his actual question, the music ended, and the dj was just a little bit slow in beginning his into for the last song of the night. The result? Dead air (no music, just the murmur of conversation)


Several things happened at the same time.

About 500 heads turned in my direction.
My buddy very nearly pissed himself.
Mr. Deputy placed one hand on a table, bent slightly, and began to examine the floor. Intensely.
My drunk started to cop a feel.

What commenced for about the next twenty seconds was the rather rare dance of bouncer attempting to avoid the unwanted drunken caresses of an amorous admirer. This was accompanied, naturally, by chuckles throughout the bar. Now, despite my military background, I have nothing personally against those types, I have some good friends that are gay. It's just that working at about the picture definition of a country bar would be the last place that I would expect to be hit on by another guy. Geez, he didn't even try to smooth talk me or nuthin'! His friends came back in, gathered him up again, and whisked him out of the bar. Naturally, most of the employees came over to congratulate me in my return to the dating pool, and to ask me if I had any recommendations in re their interior design.

As I looked up to the heavens to express my displeasure at the situation, I swore I would find Cupid and arrange a new quiver for his arrows.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The I Can't Cook Entry / Chez Ranger

A lot of the bloggers that I like to read tell some great stories, have loads of good advice, and occasionally throw in a tasty recipe or two. Some have said that I have some humorous stories (usually but not always at my expense) and my advice normally consists of "whatever you do, don't do what I did that one time..." When it comes to cooking, I can make a tasty bowl of mac n' cheese and have a mean piece of toast, and that's about it.


Short story.

One day in college I came back from blowing a math test outta my ass (intro to pre-basic business math for complete morons (2nd time)), and was somewhat hungry from my battles with the dreaded calculator. Wandering through the living room/dining room/computer room/spare bedroom and into the kitchen, I opened up the fridge to reveal a 2 month old bowl of potato salad, some beers, one apple core, and 14 packages of honey. (Ah, the bachelor life). The freezer had a half full box of fish sticks...and half a tray of ice. Scrounging around the cupboards produced a bag with enough rice for a bowl, and lunch was planned.

While eating my fine cuisine, I could hear the neighbor girl step outside of her half of the duplex for a smokey treat. I head her talking on the phone, exclaim loudly, and walk over to my door. Opening the door (we were pretty close, keys to each other's places etc), she yelled "Oh. My. God. Something died out ther-...holy shit! It's in here! I could smell it from the porch!" lifting my snout from my scrumptious feast, I sniffed the air - smelled fine to me.

That was when she explained to me that while possible, it is not usually recommended to prepare fish sticks in the microwave. Also, expiration dates are something not to be tested. Interesting...

I thought of that story when I got an e-mail relating another funny military mis-adventure. I have gotten that e-mail a couple of times as it makes the rounds, but this is the first time that I have this blog thing to put it up on and have a somewhat easy place to refer back to it. This time, the e-mail had a link.

May I humbly present:

Chez Ranger

by Frank Rodgers

I had a date the other night at my place. On the phone the day before, the girl asked me to "Cook her something she's never had before" for dinner.

After many minutes of scratching my head over what to make, I finally settled on something she has DEFINATELY never eaten.

I got out my trusty case of MRE's. Meal, Ready-to-Eat. Field rations that when eaten in their entirety contain 3000+ calories. Here's what I made:

I took three of the Ham Slices out of their plastic packets, took out three of the Pork Chops, three packets of Chicken-a-la-King, and eight packets of dehydrated butter noodles and some dehydrated/rehydrated rice. I cooked the Ham Slices and Pork Chops in one pan, sauteed in shaved garlic and olive oil.

In another pot, I blended the Chicken a-la-king, noodles, and rice together to make a sort of mush that looked suspiciously like succotash. I added some spices, and blended everything together in a glass pan that I then cooked in the oven for about 35 minutes at 450 degrees.

When I took it out, it looked like, well, ham slices, pork chops, and a bed of yellow poop. I covered the tops of the meat in the MRE cheese (kinda like velveeta) and added some green sprinkly thingys from one of my spice cans (hey, if it's got green sprinkly thingys on it, it looks fancy right?)

For dessert, I took four MRE Pound Cakes, mashed 'em up, added five packets of cocoa powder, powdered coffee cream, and some water. I heated it up and stirred it until it looked like a sort of chunky gelatinous organism, and I sprinkled powdered sugar on top of it.

Voila--Ranger Pudding.

For alcoholic drinks, I took the rest of my bottle of Military Special Vodka (yes, they DO make a type of liquor named "Military Special"--it sells for $4.35 per fifth) and mixed in four packets of "Electrolytes - 1 each - Cherry flavored" (I swear, the packet says that). It looked like an eerie kool-aid with sparkles in it (that was the electrolytes I guess... could've been leftover sand from Egypt).

I lit two candles, put a vase of wildflowers in the middle, and set the table with my best set of Ralph Lauren Academy-series China (that shit is fucking EXPENSIVE... my set of 8 place settings cost me over $600), and put the alcoholic drink in a crystal wine decanter.

She came over, and I had some appetizers already made, of MRE spaghetti-with-meatballs, set in small cups. She saw the dinner, saw the food, and said "This looks INCREDIBLE!!!"

We dug in, and she was loving the food. Throughout the meal, she kept asking me how long it took me to make it, and kept remarking that I obviously knew a thing or two about cooking fine meals. She kind of balked at the makeshift "wine" I had set out, but after she tried it I guess she liked it because she drank four glasses during dinner.

At the end of the main course, when I served the dessert, she squealed with delight at the "Chocolate mousse" I had made. Huh? Chocolate what? Okay... yeah... it's Chocolate Moose. Took me HOURS to make... yup.

Later on, as we were watching a movie, she excused herself to use my restroom. While she was in there, I heard her say softly to herself "uh oh" and a resounding but petite fart punctuated her utterance of dismay.

Let the games begin.

She sprayed about half a can of air freshener (Air Freshener, 1 each, Orange scent. Yup. The Army even makes smellgood) and returned to the couch, this time with an obvious pained look.

After 10 more minutes she excused herself again, and retreated to the bathroom for the second time. I could hear her say "What the hell is WRONG with me???," as she again send flatulent shockwaves into the porcelain bowl. This time, they sounded kinda wet, and I heard the toilet paper roll being employed, and again, LOTS more air freshener.

Back to the couch. She smiles meekly as she decides to sit on the chair instead of next to me. She sits on my chair, knees pulled up to her chest, kind of rocking back and forth slightly. Suddenly, without a word, she ROCKETED up and FLEW to the bathroom, slammed the door, and didn't come out for 30 minutes.

I turned the movie up because I didn't want her to hear me laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my cheeks.

She came out with a slightly gray palor to her face, and said "I am SOOOOOO sorry. I have NO idea what is wrong with me. I am so embarrassed, I can't believe I keep running to your bathroom!!" I gave her an Immodium AD, and she finally settled down and relaxed.

Later on, she asked me again what I had made for dinner, because she had enjoyed it so much. I calmly took her into the kitchen and showed her all the used MRE bags and packets in the trash can.

After explaining to her that she had eaten roughly 9,000 calories of "Army food" she turned stark white, looked at me incredulously, and said "I ate 9,000 calories or dehydrated food that was made 3 years ago?" After I concurred, she grabbed her coat and keys, and took off without a word.

She called me yesterday. Seems she couldn't shit for 3 days, and when she finally did, the smell was so bad, her roommate could smell it from down the hall. She also told me she had been working out nonstop to combat the high caloric intake, and that she never wanted me to cook dinner for her again, unless she was PERSONALLY there to inspect the food beforehand.

It was a fun date. She laughed about it eventually, and said that that was the first time she'd ever crapped in a guy's house on a date. She'd been so upset by it she was in tears in the bathroom while I had been in tears on the couch.

I know, I'm an asshole, but it was still a funny night.