Monday, March 31, 2008

Coming Home

Staff Sergeant Keith Matthew Maupin

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Guess we were wrong, huh.

Recently discovered footage proving Hillary's heroic combat insertion under sniper fire with daughter and comedian story.

Bwahahaha!!!! "Snipery". Hahahah!!!

Shamelessly pilfered from here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Class Time Fun Time

A 'Hip Pocket' class was one that an NCO was expected to be able to give on a moment's notice. It was so named for the small, green-cloth covered notebooks that we all had just about at all times. As a mortar NCO, I was one of those expected to be a resident expert on most all areas of the subject, and was voluntold numerous times to give various classes.

Classes like... Call for Fire.

The Call for Fire class was actually more of a radio class than one dealing with the 81mm or 60mm mortar, but it was vital nonetheless.

One day the squad leaders got together and made up a plan for the various classes that we were to give. If I remember correctly, one Sergeant was going to give the actual Call for Fire class, another, the FDC (Fire Direction Control) Chief was going to give the gun-line guys a rough idea of the workings of the platoon's brainiacs, and I, with my FO (Forward Observer) experience, was going to hold hands with the Marines that were having any issues and needed to cover the material a little bit slower and more in depth.

Why? I'm a glutton for punishment, I suppose.

I selected a few Marines that I knew were going to need some help in advance, and told the other NCOs to send any others to me as their eyes started to glaze over.

I didn't have to wait very long.

I started my class the same way that most Marines started their classes. I introduced myself to the FNGs, stated the objectives of the class, and told a bad joke.

I continued with (attempts at) stressing the importance of being able to call for fire.

ME: Why is this an important class?

CRICKETS: *chirp, chirp*

ME: Bueller?.... Bueller?

CRICKETS: *chirp*

ME: Ok, let me try this, what is our main purpose in life, as Marines in combat?

One enthusiastic Devil Dog responded with a motivated, "To Kill Fuckers and Break Stuff!"

ME: Okaaay, I was kinda looking for something along the lines of, "To locate, close with, and destroy the enemy", but you know, 'To kill Fuckers' actually sums it up rather nicely. 'Break Stuff' is more of a side benefit, really. Now, what are we gonna do if we are tasked with regular grunt work, sans 81s, and see some bad guys outside of small arms range, or tucked behind some cover or in some defilade, where we can't get at 'em with direct-fire weapons? Call for Fire.

I did not clue in the boots that its proper name for our radio was not the, 'PRC (prick) E-6 or 7'. They'd learn that lesson better by experience. It was usually funny as hell, too.

Radios are an awesome asset, but you do need to know a little bit about it to use it properly. I told them that like many other situations where they, the (relatively) lowly PFC, might be running the radio (read: Bad Day), they were always free to use plain speak. The important thing was to get the information out to others that can help out. Learning the proper way to Call for Fire would make things run much more smoothly, and if they were doing the talking, that would probably be a Good Thing.

I emphasized that even though they might think they might think they were merely gun-line bubbas, they would be expected to have a good grasp of this class and all that it entailed. That being said, I asked one of the Marines what his issues were with the class. Was it how one got the information to send over the radio, or actually using the radio?

"Just the radio" was the response.

"Great!" I responded, "that's the easy part!" (my standard response). I grabbed two radios. Pointing out a known target on our maps, I told him he was now attached to a rifle platoon, and I was going to play the part of our FDC radio man, in the rear with the gear. I instructed the Marine to give me a call for fire on the pre-selected target.

He started out, "Uh... fire on targe-"

Oh, brother.

"Do you remember anything about radio usage?", I asked quietly.

"Nuh-uh. Kinda fuzzy."

Kind of?

"Call signs, think call signs, bro". I was trying to jog his memory. Upon reflection, it probably would have benefited more from a solid kick-start.


I sighed. "Remember something along the lines of, "You, this is Me, over..."?

His furrowed brow brightened. "You, this is Me, over! Fire on this target!", he enthusiastically called out while pointing at his map.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Obedience to Orders

Okey. So, I don' know aboot -


[the management would like to take this moment to apologize for the residual Yank accent. Further posts will be conducted in the proper Texan drawl.]

I don't remember exactly when it happened, but apparently one day the Platoon Sergeant woke up and decided that the platoon needed some sort of Big Green Weenie Injection of Motivation. He figgured that a good way of perking us up would come to him on the next hump.

Now, faithful reader(s) of my little blog here will understand the whole love/hate relationship with humps. It's a necessary evil, outstanding exercise, and one heck of a pain in the ass, neck, legs, back, and just about everywhere else. I would have no idea why Marines would get somewhat tuckered out after carrying a full pack, crew-served weapons components, ammo, and miscellaneous gear... in the middle of the night... all night. No idea, really.

One evening/night/morning/whatever, the Platoon Sergeant had a great idea. In between bouts of yelling at the gun team leaders to keep their teams together, harrying the stragglers, and generally providing a wholly unnecessary aura of excess motivation (where's that noise discipline when you really need it?), he got the attention of the platoon. "All right, 81s, when I sound off with, 'MOTIVATION CHECK, 81s!!!', you will respond with a loud and motivated, 'OORAH!!!'.

While this might sound somewhat motivating, the overwhelming consensus in the Platoon was that they would rather suffer through the tail end of the hump in silence rather than proceed with the boot-camp heavy sense of false moto. Rank being what it was, however, we were compelled to sound off with a loud and (somewhat) motivated, 'OORAH!!!'. Several times.

This 'motivation check' unfortunately turned into a somewhat regular event. I dunno if it motivated the hell out of him, or he thought that it motivated the hell out of us, but he kept it up. Fortunately, about this time, the Staff Sergeant bought himself a digital camera. Staff Sergeant being the guy he is, he wanted to take it out for a test run at his earliest opportunity.

A live-fire exercise was the perfect excuse.

On the gun line in between missions, he broke out his camera and started playing around. He gathered jokes, impressions, and commentary on the training. While a bunch of the guys were sitting around doing this, he asked everyones opinion of the regular motivation checks. Firmly informed of the groups feelings on the subject, he got a rather crafty look in his eye, and issued his order.

"From now on, whenever the Platoon Sergeant calls for one of those motivation checks, I want the entire platoon to sound of with a loud and motivated, 'FUCK THAT SHIT!!!', sounds good?"

Oh yeah, game on.

Surprisingly enough, for the rest of the day, the Platoon Sergeant was a little on the quiet side, or as quiet as a Platoon Sergeant can be expected to be.

Then came the hump.

The end of the day was filled with breaking down our mortar positions, accounting for all rounds fired, all charges unexpended, doublechecking our serialized gear, and plans for the movement to the next area. Finally, it was time to load up and step off.

The hump was like most others; heavy gear, moderate pace, and a motivated Platoon Sergeant. The time came, the Staff Sergeant had his video camera ready to go, and the motivation check was called. While the look on his face when we sounded off with the most recently ordered response was priceless, it wasn't the best.

The best part of this story was the Staff Sergeants opening words, "From now on..."

Some of you might see where this is going.

Commanding Officers, Exectutive Officers, and others, live in what is sometimes known as Officer Country. This might be an intimidating area to the younger guys, and while it loses some of that indimidation level as you progress through the ranks, the more senior enlisted guys tend to stay away unless they have some sort of pressing business in the area. Like say, visiting with the First Sergeant or Company Gunny.

It is a rare event when you might have an entire platoon in the realm of the Company Offices, but it happens on occasion. Especially when the platoon needs to be in an area heavily... infested with brass, the NCOs are usually very close by to ensure that order is maintained. For us, in the purposes of this story, it involved the Corporals and Sergeants making sure that the majority of the platoon was centrally located in one of the spare classrooms, not breaking stuff, and whatever squad was on deck to meet with one of the higher ups were lined up in the hallway, keeping the noise to a minimum.

I'm not sure what compelled the Platoon Sergeant to announce a motivation check to the squad lined up in the offices hallway, but they definitely remembered their last given orders. The thunderous, "FUCK THAT SHIT!!!" could be heard outside in the parking lot, some say.

The Staff Sergeant was kind of hard to find that day, but the Platoon Sergeant was right there in the middle of it.

Poor guy.

Murphy was a... Cop?

Oh brother, I'm laughing with you, not at you... mostly.

Judging by the way that 'Sparky' started to hop right back up just before the end of the vidoe, I trust that his 'injuries' only consisted of some minor scrapes, bruises, and one helluva wallop to his pride.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Texas Torment


Go here, and read.

And I quote, "Well, in Texas we have lots of Texans, who generally are superior in almost every way."

No argument there, of course, but it did give me a chuckle. Sabra provides us with a hint (just a hint) of the Texan mindset / loyalty / culture / etc. that some Texas expats (yup) are famous for. Seems like every unit I was with in the Corps had at least a coupla guys that we might as well call, 'Tex'. You know the type, great guys, for the most part, lean hombres that talk with a relaxed drawl, partial to boots and large buckles, and seem to have a cowboy hat stashed away where ever they happen to be.

Heck, I knew a few that would take their boonie covers and, with a coat hanger graciously donated to the cause, shape the brim of their covers into cowboy hat shape... at least until the higher ups saw them on a hump with their modified covers.

Where was I... ah yes, Texans.

I remember this one guy, 'Tex'. Tex was a good guy, just a little bit on the stereotypical Texan side. Let me put it this way, if there was a country bar anywhere in the liberty area, he was there. He was always decked out in cowboy hat, boots, and a buckle you could signal aircraft with. His jeans all had that faded ring in the rear right pocket, and they were tight enough you could almost tell - well, you could tell way too much about the man, let's just say that.

When it came to the mortar gun line and elsewhere in the field, he definitely knew his stuff - Good.

He sneered at everything non-Texas related - Not so good.

Not that it wasn't humorous, or even bad, really, it just got kind of old, after a while.

One series of days at the mortar range, Tex was giving some grief to another Marine that was working the gun. Said Marine was from parts North, which to Tex was any lesser area North of, you guessed it, Texas. Tex started to look to me for some support in his tirade. He looked towards me because I told everyone I was from Texas. Guess I should have said that I was most recently from Texas. See, I've moved around a bit in my life, and rather than go into the whole life's story, I just tell 'em the last place I called home.

Yup, confession time, I wasn't born in Texas.

Now that I've been disowned by the truly die hard, I'll continue.

I might have a hint of Texas accent at times, and according to my family up north it's about all the time, but it's not really that thick (I think). I occasionally toss in the random y'all, or howdy, and have been here off and on long enough to pass as a native.

I also have the occasional gift for some accents, hollyweird, regional, or from my memory banks.

Tex's eyes about popped out of his head, when I broke into, "Yeah, Tex, bet 'cha did'n know I spent some time growin' up in Minnesoootah, did'ja now?"

"What the holy he-"

"Oh yeah!, Lotsa time up north, you betcha!"

Me and the other Marine on the gun had a blast from then on with poor, poor Tex.

ME: Okeey, you got dem HE rounds prepped over dere?

MARINE: Oh yeah, you betcha!

TEX: Jesu-

ME: Got 'em prepped super-quick?

TEX: ... jumping on a frigg-

MARINE: Yeah, super quick, don'cha know!

TEX: ... almighty!

I think we started to get out of hand when we started speaking Canadianese to the poor guy. I dunno when exactly it happened, but before I knew it, we were doing a passable impression of these guys.

MARINE: Got any smohkes, eh?

TEX: What the Hell? It gets worse?

ME: Take off. Not while we're firing, eh.

MARINE: Hoser.

TEX: Make it stop!

MARINE: It's kinda cold, think we can get out our tuques, soon?

ME: Sure thing, good day, eh.

MARINE: Oh yeah, good day..... eh.

TEX: Lord, take me now.

ME: Oh Jeez, 's not that bad, hoser.

A Good Night Was Had By All

If green is the official color of St. Paddy's day, why the faces with the distinctly greenish hue this morning?

Pppppffffttt! Figgin' amateurs!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Paddy's Day

Think I'll have some celebratory Guinness & Boondock Saints...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

(Yet Another) Trouser Mouse Caught in a Trap [SNAP!]

This one goes out to the guy(s) that come to find that they've pissed away their high status, prestigious job, 'good' reputation, and just about everything else, all on account of thinking with the little head.


By the by, knowing me, this link is totally and completely work safe. Safe for the kiddos too. I recommend you turn up the volume.

Riiiiiight. *snort*

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Many, many copies were made,
spread out on the table, they were laid.

Pencils were sharpened to a fine point,
I read all about threats to send me to the joint.

A few prayers were uttered,
more than a few curses were muttered.

I pulled yet more forms from the dreaded bin,
with a 'here goes nuthin', I dove right in.

Earnings, credits, and interest, Oh My!
One day this'll be easy, when pigs fly.

In my mind, I saw my savings go bye bye,
I dunno how I didn't jam that pencil in my eye.

Only towards the very end, did I venture to think,
that maybe this year, I wouldn't take it up the stink.

Standing straight up, I let out a holler,
Looks like I'm getting 'bout 500 dollar!

I rule.

Seems like taxes were a heck of a lot easier back in the day. Of course, when your assets consists of a rather impressive combat boot collection, somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 in the bank... on a good day, and... and... and... not much else, the Infernal Ravaging 'Service' (Kidding, Kidding! Love the shoes, guys, great polishing job! Nice Suits!) isn't really interested in ya. These years, I imagine they're a bit more keen on my situation.

Last year about this time, I eventually gave up. For some reason, after many, many frustrating hours spent looking up charts, filing out forms, and planning an extended trip to Canada, I came to the conclusion that I was in over my head. All the various accounts, forms, interest, charts and income numbers were all kicking my ass repeatedly, and to the tune of wildly different numbers, each time. I wasn't exactly sure where I was messing up, neither.

I swallowed my pride and went to one of those tax-preparation services.

One of those annoyingly cheery ladies was there, hands neatly folded & waiting at her desk, apparently living for nothing more than tax preparation. I shuffled over to her and explained to her that I was totally lost, and the voices in my head weren't helping me out much. That kinda froze her smile, at least for a few seconds. I wasn't sure if I owed big, or was getting a fat check. Eventually, she toned down the cheer enough to bring her back into the realm of normal human beings, and I even managed to relax a bit. Banter, even.

All of her comments while running the numbers sounded promising. Whilst clacking away at the keyboard, she even managed to point out a few errors that I had made without making me sound like too much of a mathematical/tax goober. I idly thought about using my return to buy one of those 'Tax Tips for Complete & Utter Morons' books, in preparation for coming years - nah, I'd rather buy DVDs of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, than think about tax time any more than absolutely necessary.

Looking up at the gradual deceleration of keyboard clacking, I (by now) eagerly awaited the verdict.

"$2,700" She cheerily exclaimed.

I offered my input on the apparent return with "Hell Yeah! I'm going to Disneyland! I rule!"

"Oh my", she tittered (still with the God-awful smiley voice), "I'm terribly sorry, $2,700 is what you owe, sir."


But hey, that's all in the past, this year I got money coming back at me. It's not a whole heck of alot, but I'll definitely take it. Too bad it's already spoken for, cause Daddy needs some new toys like you wouldn't believe!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Don't Mess With Texas


Short version;

Soldiers are out on patrol in Afghanistan. Their patrol gets hit.


Five guys are down. The doc, a Specialist Brown (of Lake Jackson, Texas), grabs the aid bag and goes to town.

Incoming small arms and mortars, danger close.

Doc moves the soldiers (500+ yds) and patches some holes, by all accounts doing a helluva job. Doc's getting awarded the silver star.

Any question as to why grunts love their docs?

Oh yeah, the kicker to this story, about the doc?

She's 19.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Cadet (for now) Snowflake

So, speaking of ballsy...

Get it? Ha! Sometimes I slay myself!

... of course, (thankfully) not really in the same way, check out this story of the biggest cajones you ever heard. To bad the post-operative brain donor's career was over before it even started.


Of course, if you haven't read his list already, check it out. I dare you to make it though without a chuckle or seven.

Uniformity, Down Time on Ship, and Shorty Shorts

We got the word during our work up that all hands needed to go run down and buy a couple of pairs of those UDT shorts, made popular by Navy SEALs... and Lt. Dangle. One thing that might not be known is that those things tend to be kinda short, and tend to run kind of on the small side. Made for some interesting pt formations, that's for sure.

They were almost instantly christened, 'catch me / fuck me's'.

I know, I know, but that's what we called 'em.

It started out as part of the pt uniform, probably because the non-slip surface of the boat's 'flight deck' would tear our regular pt shorts, aka 'silkies' to shreds during our regular pt sessions. This way, the surface would only tear us to shreds. Awesome.

One we got closer to the equator, and (naturally) the ship's ac died, the pt uni (green skivvy shirt and catch me/fuck me's) became the uniform of the day. The navy boys weren't to keen on this, probably cause the poor bastards still had to go to work in the engine room in their coveralls. And we were pretty damn sexy, if I do say so myself.


It was only a couple of days later that we were told that it was deemed unhygienic for us to be in the chow hall in our pt gear, what with everybody sweating buckets. The word was that we could continue to wear the catch me/fuck me's, but we would have to put on the cammie blouse to go to chow.


The thing is, those cammie blouses are designed to have a little bit of extra fabric than your regular civilian shirt, so when the guys would throw on the blouse to go to chow, it looked like a platoon fulla guys wearing cammie tops, boots, and... not much else. Screw that, I would toss on the trousers as well. I figured I was sweating like a pig anyways, the trousers weren't gonna kill me. "No one ever drowned in their own sweat", right? Until me, anyways...

Oh yeah, another thing about the shorts,

The 'flight deck' on the boat was only nominally for flight ops. I think it could muster the space for a (one) helicopter... barely. It was also where we would keep some of the vehicles, because there wasn't enough space down in the well deck. It was up around and in those vehicles that I would go to hang out and watch the waters, do some crossword puzzles, or just enjoy the sweet, sweet smell of non man-stanked air.

One day I was hanging out at the vehicles, trying to think of something like a 17 letter word for 'feline', and it wasn't looking good. It appeared that the 3rd through 9th letters were all 'm'.

I didn't say that I was particularly good at crosswords, but I do like to do them.

One of the other Corporals came up to where I had put my stool in the shade of the hummer. Placing one of his boots on the doorless frame of the vehicle, he inquired as to what I was doing. I looked at the front of my book, right were it said 'Crossword Puzzles', sighed, and responded, "Solving world hunger. How about yourself?" That's when I made the mistake of looking up at him.

See, the UDT shorts that we were all wearing were, as mentioned, really, really short. Pretty much provided a direct line-of-sight to the free balln' Corporal's giggle berries. Not a pretty sight.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Final Flight

Go. Read about a fine man, a part of his story, and his Final Flight.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Thank ya, thank ya very mush

It's official, I rule.

Acknowledgement (and/or blame) to the amazing shrinking AD.


Goaded along by the nagging knowledge that I've not had a regular pt schedule in a looong while and the predictable result - holy hell, is that a gut? - I went for what can only be very generously called a run the other day.

Run... more like a jog.

Okay, okay, so it was more of a shuffle interspersed with wheezing, bursts of disgust, a vague sense of blehitude, and the like. 'Course, all this is compounded by the fact that not too terribly long ago I was in pretty good shape, and I still try to do what I once was able to.

Then: Last half mile? Start kicking it up a notch to a finish in a dead sprint.
Now: Try not to drop dead. Try not to think about how dropping dead might actually be an improvement in sensation.

Then: Stop after running for 45 minutes, not from exhaustion, but to go to the gym.
Now: Stop running. Exhausted. Screw Jim.

"What we gonna do when we get back?!? Drink a beer and hit the rack!!!"
"Please God make it stop."

[Note to self, screw the changing of fonts, 'cause it'll screw with you]

Then: Easy pace is anything in the neighborhood of 7-8 minute miles.
Now: Takes me about 8 minutes to tie my shoes.

Then: "Eh, think I'll run for 10 miles today, what the hell, might as well"
Now: [Crawling through the front door] Two miles. Enough. *pant, pant*

So I finish my 'run', shower up and try to get some Zs. Did I mention that I'm going through another bout of insomnia? At least I'm not a walking zombie like last time, I suppose. I'm just about continuously tired, sure, but I figured that getting some more excersice should help with the whole situation. It remains to be seen...

To top it off, something I ate last night definitely didn't agree with me.

I was sitting at the computer after dinner, updating some files, when I heard/felt a disturbingly familiar rumble in my gut.

Oh.... crap.

Like clockwork, 'bout an hour later I started feeling... hungry.

Not good.

Cold sweats, nausea, and several episodes of toilet time that we'll not go into here later, and I was hating life. Called off from work today, tommorrow doesn't look good either.

Heck, I didn't know if my thighs were quivering from the run... or from the runs.

Sorry, couldn't resist.