Thursday, February 28, 2008

OCD as an Asset, Pt2

There are basically three different types of gear in the Corps.

  1. Serialized gear.
  2. Serialized gear.
  3. Serialized gear.
Personal gear. This is everything and anything that has nothing to do with the Corps. Yeah, sometimes you hear reference to ones personal gear while out training or on patrol, but that use is for when there is no such thin as personal gear, or better to say, your personal gear is your field gear. Clear as mud? Great.

Field gear. This is everything that is issued to the Marine for use in day to day life, training or combat. Good examples might be your sleeping bag, cold weather gear, unis, boots, pack etc. etc. (and once again, felt especially during the humps) etc. This gear is infinitely more important than ones personal personal gear (at least in the eyes of the Corps), like DVD players, mp3s, or private collection of uh... alternative reading material.

Serialized gear. Anything with a serial number. This is the only real type of gear, in the eyes of Gunnys and higher. Rifle, binos, compasses (compi?) NVGs, k-bars, bayonets, machine guns, mortars, the list goes on and on, and 'be the one' to lose it, you'll find out that the hassle is coming out of you're ass, boyo.


No one from your chain will give a rat's ass about your new duds guaranteed to attract the ladies, but they will make sure you are properly attired for duty. True story, "Size!" barked the Staff Sergeant, crouched over the box of... disturbingly scented gas masks. "Large!", I responded, trying to simultaneously hold my breath and sound off 'like I had a pair'. "This'll do, get outta my face, Pfc!", he shouted, tossing me a medium sized gas mask.


When it came time for weapons issue, you first receive your weapon(s), check and ensure clear, then read off the serial number. You sign (always sign, c.y.a) in triplicate. One copy to the armorer, one to the individual, and one to the scribe (poor schmuck who keeps the paperwork). Any issues with the condition of the weapons should be noted (and signed) and documented right then and there. Not so much a big deal with the stuff you got time and time again like rifles, but for the items like binos and NVGs that might get issued around. If it was broke and you were the last one in line to have been documented as using it, well, stand by...

So one day a couple of the Corporals were hanging out in one of the classrooms, discussing, er... personnel issues...

"Anyay'all remember Lcpl. Feo?", asked one of the senior Corporals. "Nope", Nu-uh"s, and "Huh?"s, were the majority response, with only a few guys commenting in the affirmative. "He the short and chunky Panamanian?", one guy asked, got out about a year back? Senior Corporal responded, "Nah, he's the tall Meskin dude. I heard from a friend of a friend that he's working as some sort of stripper nowadays."

"Gay or straight?", I asked, among the color commentary.

"Why, you interested?" came the response.

I should have seen that one coming...

As we started to discuss the intricacies inherent in modifying the Marine Corps Dress Blues into a suitable stripper costume (velcro top would be easy, the rip away pants might be a little more tricky), and just as one Marine removed his cammie blouse to demonstrate the proper twirl of clothing while thrusting ones hips, one of the Sergeants came into the room. He wasn't amused by one of the jokers calling the room to attention. He passed some word about the upcoming range training, medical, and promotions. That's when we found out that Mikey was going to pick up Corporal.

Back to business.

We decided that along with the rank, Mikey was going to have to pick up some additional responsibilities.

There were essentially two determiners of importance for us, and they were rank and billet. Unfortunately (or fortunately), 'boobies' were not in consideration. Rank is what... your actual rank is, like Corporal, Sergeant, Captain, etc. Billet (maybe better 'position') might be described as what you did, like gun team leader, platoon commander, ammo tech, etc. We had more than enough senior Corporals with established positions in the platoon, no schools were likely for the immediate future for him, so we needed to find something for him in-house.

I suggested we make him the Serialized Gear Corporal for the platoon.

This was initially met with some reservation. Most of the guys knew about Mikey's... unique characteristics, and we spent some time analyzing his prospects for the position. Some were worried about his obsession with the Platoon Sergeant, excessive hygiene, or odd habits. Some were hesitant after discussing his incessant counting of... just about everything. A few argued that the constant counting might actually be considered a Good Thing. We argued that he was so anal-retentive when it came to organization and gear-super-accountability, that it would be darn near impossible for us to lose or 'temporarily misplace' any item of serialized gear, even if we wanted to, with Mikey at the clip board.

He just about had a spontaneous flaming ulcer when he found out he picked up Corporal, and he was now responsible for all the Platoon's serialized gear. Poor bastard.

Usually, after all Marines had been issued personal weapons and serialized gear, and all teams had completed their issue of mortars, we would take a platoon count. This count would be held by the Serialized Gear Corporal, and supervised by the Platoon Sergeant. It would entail the Marines with the gear in question holding the item in the air for the official count. Usually took total, five minutes. Mikey took about 20. He wanted to check every digit of every number personally.

He took to sidling up to me and everyone else in the platoon several times a day, striking up a conversation, "So... how about the weather, huh?" while trying to surreptitiously read our serial numbers. If we went to take a leak, we could usually find him at our mortar positions when we came back, peeking over the shoulder of our Marines, reading the numbers off the mortars.

He started calling platoon-wide serialized gear checks, several times a day. Our Officer initially loved it, because he was big on constant gear accountability, but eventually even he got tired of hustling over for yet another check. He made the call that we would go back to how we did it before Mikey, one check before heading to the range, personal to gun team accountability during the day, and the occasional platoon check at night.

He suggested we move Mikey to some other position in the platoon, not as a demotion, but a transfer of responsibility. We never did misplace anything while Mikey was running the checks, though...

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