Thursday, February 14, 2008


Maybe there's hope for my wayward package(s), afterall. Link is to an article detailing a postcard, mailed in 1929, that was recently delivered.

Yup, that's what I thought, too.

One of the roughly bajillion classes that we got before our 'world tour' was regarding mail. The Staff-NCO who gave the class was full of helpfull information, including the use of field expedient postcards (MRE box sections, probably one of the few good actual uses for some of them besides, you know, choking them down), free postage, and rules & regulations regarding authorized items in the mail system.

He told a few horror stories about guys trying to mail home explosive and grenades, with the predictable result.

He mentioned the fact that he got a care package during his second deployment... that was mailed to him during his first deployment.

Basic rules of thumb were;

Don't mail anything stupid, like grenades or landmines.
Don't mail anything valuable, either monetarily (electronics) or personal ('special' pics of the ole lady).
Don't mail anything issued, like gear, weapons, or First Sergeants.
Don't mail anything (else) on the prohibited items list. This one would change about 3 times a week, so if you weren't sure about mailing the First Sergeant, just wait a bit. The list might change.

You know, it's funny, the way one can accumulate stuff when living out of ones seabag. Aside from all of the reading material that I brought along with me (actual reading material, guys), friends and family were good about mailing a couple of books to me with most of the care packages. Mom and Dad would send a few disposable cameras with their packages, and the rest of my stuff I would amass when the opportunity arose.

What would happen with general 'Any Marine' care packages was this. Whoever was on mail detail would take note of the address, and prompty ensure that it went to a 'random' platoon. 'Random' means, of course, his own platoon. As admin was always on primary mail detail, guess who got the choice pick of goodies?

Never fear, though, for I had A Plan.

See, a Sergeant of Marines has to make a lot of rounds throughout the day. He might have to go visit Company or Battalion Command, might have to meet a number of NCOs and Occifers from outside his chain, just to make sure that his guys weren't getting screwed when it came time for acutal work. I'm not even going to mention much the abilities of nearly all Lance Corporals. Heck, one of their more popular monikers is, 'Lance Criminals'. Those guys can mostly fend for themselves.

Well, all Sergeant were all once Lance Criminals, as well.

I would take note of which office had the goodies, and might actually snag some loot before getting chased off my some Staff Sergeant. I might casually pass along the word to one of my sticky fingered charges, and that was pretty much the end of my part of the operation. Occasionally, I would see a couple of my guys running around a corner with a tray full of Dr Peppers, boxes of candies, or other assorted goodies.

Remember, Marines don't retreat. They just make rapid tactical advances to safer positions. Especially when facing hot pursuit by some cranky Corporals.

It wasn't all that bad, you know. Some of the other platoons' guys wouldn't mind one or two Marines going through their 'platoon box o' goodness'. Most of the stuff had been pretty well picked through, already, and most of the guys were pretty generous. When roughly half a dozen Lance Coolies from one squad are observed skulking around a box full leftover smokes and dip, well, that could be a sign of an impending non-official raid by friendly forces.

Back to the link and the theme of this story.

Round about a month left in country, and I realized that I was going to have to start thinking about getting all of my crap back home.

Being alive: Good Thing.
Realizing I had too much crap for one seabag and pack: Not.

I started divvying up all my stuff, all of the things that I would hand off to the guys who were relieving us, and all of my personal junk. I had quite a bit, too. Other than issued gear, I had a folding stool, tons of books ranging from fiction to classics, about half a dozen ammo cans, containing all kinds of stuff ranging from extras (extra batteries, extra slings, extra of just about... everything). I had a CD player, DVD player, and quite the collection of CDs. I had tons of paperwork (seriously, I was at the burn pit for friggin' days.)

I had lots of cold weather gear, 'cause whod'a figgured it would get that cold in the desert? I made out better than most guys, as it was, because in addition to the issued stuff, I had brought some of my own cold weather gear. Just about everybody had to buy, 'aquire', or have more stuff sent from home, though, when it got no shit below freezing a couple of times. Yeah, waiting for cold weather gear (roughly 2 to 3 month wait) when it was already cold was a bit rough, as some guys found out.

I wound up mailing somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 or 7 boxes back home.

In the excitement of getting home and the various festivites of same, I didn't even realize that I was short a box or two for quite a while. At last estimate, it was the box that contained nearly all of my extra-backup cold weather gear (yeah, obsessive, I know) and somewhere around 3 or 4 disposable cameras.

At the very least I kind of hope it was returned to Iraq to someother guy with a simlar name, so that somebody might get some actual use out of it.


threadbndr (karla) said...

The first two packages that I mailed to the Marine!Goth when he was in-country the first time went MIA. I know for certain that there existed at least one other LCPL J D&&$*& (mine has a "2" on his official email).

Old NFO said...

Heh- try getting a Christmas card 4 years late and on the opposite side of the world... Mailed to me in 1977 on deployment in Japan, received 1981 on a Med deployment... That was the nice thing about flying to and from work- I made damn sure our 'stuff' got on the airplane first, then I worried about the official stuff :-)

Mark said...

I remember Recieving a letter from my mother that was perfumed. My mother wears a LOT of perfume so the letter picked up the smell, well it was sent in august, to me at Ft. Sill OK, I recieved it at Ft. Sam Houston in San Anotnio 6 months later. And it had obviously had been opened, and it still smelled like perfume.