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...


Anonymous said...

Back in my Navy days (I was an LCAC mechanic, so I spent more time with the USMC than the blue water guys), I was the Procurement Petty Officer. We had a supply officer, but I was the one who made friends with EVERYBODY, so if there was something that was needed and we did not have time to wait for it to come on the next UnRep, or we had no real reason to order it in the first place, I was tasked with seeing if I could acquire that something through whatever legal or extra-legal means I had at my disposal.

Personally, I would have liberated the Hummer, that would be a steady supply of trade goods (I was a mechanic, I could have stripped it down to untraceable bits in a solid morning).

Mark said...

Sir, I don't know why a Requisition for an M60 MBT was sent out from our Unit, (Field Hospital Unit) But the PTB's actually filled the Req and we had an M60 MBT sitting in the Ambulance yard in between the CUCV Ambulance and the HMummer ambo. We kinda parked the 5 1/4 ton ambo in front of it. But this was back in the 80's when we couldn't even get stretchers and gurney's, because we were a Pre-Place unit, meaning all of our stuff was already in Germany. Kinda bad a hospital unit and we didn't even have bandages in the supply room.

Hammer said...

Did you get your skivvies back or did you even want them back?

Great stories!

Deborah Aylward said...

From the memories of 6 uncles who served in WW ll, there was never one who told of thier skivvies going missing!

Although, with the shortages during the war everything was up for, available for did what one had to do.

Two uncles who served in the Pacific theatre always remembered that there was always lots of paint...which they said came in really handy when something was permanently borrowed from another unit.

While we laugh now, it's sobering, indeed, to think of Troops in a theatre of war having to scrounge on gargantuan levels because their unit has received its' "quota" from supply.

However, the tales make fine reading!

Veritas et Fidelis Semper

Johnny Law said...

I love this blog! The army was the same way and all the ex-military types seem to continue their behavior in the police department. You leave a flashlight or clipboard in the patrol car and you can consider it gone. I've lost track of all the handcuffs that have gone missing. Of course, I just take that as an excuse to "find" another pair.

Murphy said...

Anony: I loved my mechs. There were a few guys in my squad who tooled around on lowriders on their off time, they could keep a Hummer running on zip ties, duct tape, and by liberal use of the force.

Mark:Hospital unit w/shortage of bandages, sounds like a Murphy's Law of emergency medicine there.

Hammer: My skivvie drawers were a gift, no return necessary. Quarters were so tight on ship, and the lockers so small, there was gear floating around constantly. Glad I wasn't on ship permanently.

Deborah: It's not that the stuff isn't there, it's just that the way it's distributed is kinda kooky. I'll have to see if I have a particular related story up here yet.

Johnny: 'Bout the only way to keep from losing something was to paint it hot pink, scribble your name on every flat surface, and/or strap it to your body. Makes for an interesting gotta-take-a-dump like crazy shuffle when you have a compass, m9, NVGs, etc all strapped on. Heck I've seen guys who have a problem holding on to stuff have to individually dummy cord every item of gear to their body to include m-16 magazines, pens, and notepads.

Sassenach said...

As a Coastie, I learned from a wiley Chief that you can steal anything from the Navy so long as you're wearing a hard hat and carrying a clipboard....