I Am Guilty of Stolen Valor

I don’t know quite how to say this, but I’ve high-stepped a line in the beach sand that a naval type should not, no not ever, cross. I’ve stolen someone else’s honor. All for my greedy fingered consumption. There exists a precise term for such an occurrence, stolen valor. And I am most certainly guilty of it. To my eternal shame.

My happenstance started innocently enough in pleasant, downtown Kearny Mesa. This afternoon. (Cue mild bird-watching music from the PBS archives.) For the unknowing, Kearny Mesa is home to a large population of Asian folks. And I like to shop their stores for all sorts of delicacies. I strolled the aisles of Murukai Japanese Food Market, looking for my favorite tea. I found it, Genmaicha, a curious creation of green tea and toasted rice. Slangly, it is known as popcorn tea, due to (yes) its popcorn-like flavor.

My day would not be complete without some gyozas, so those too went into my basket. And I ambled over to the already long line. Still in uniform, I did not rate a second look from anyone. Naval Air Station (NAS) Miramar sat once right ’round the corner and before the Marines thieved ‘er from us, hardy naval folks were a common sight. Now she is known by the scalawag name of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (MCAS Miramar), but that is a scuffle for ‘nother blogpost. I must confess my crime, free my gravy’d conscience from the cellar where it has cowered for the last three hours. Cold, shaken, and stunned.

To the front of the line I go: my tea and my beloved gyozas. The kid running the cash register did not offer me a bowed konichiwa like the last customer. Rather I get a casual: Good afternoon, Chief.

Now let me make it perfectly clear, the Chief I thought he was referring to, was the Chief employees all over the States sling, along with: boss, pardner, and hoss.

It did not dawn in my military mind that he thought me a dues-paying member of the Goat Locker. No Sir. I mean, No Chief. Never did that bright 100 Watt lightbulb (an old-school one without all the mercury) flicker magically above my shaved head. At least, not for the first two seconds.

What made my crime worse: I liked it. Is that so wrong? I smiled when the lightbulb finally sparked on. And when he told me: Have a good one, Chief, I did not (in good conscience) correct the boy. No, I sauntered out of Murukai Japanese Food Market: me, my popcorn tea, my gyozas, and finally a grin. Some smooth criminal I was. Guilty of stolen valor. Now which Goat Locker do I need to turn myself into?

23 thoughts on “I Am Guilty of Stolen Valor”

  1. Loves me some gyoza, ate my share and more back in the day. The small soba and gyoza resturants were usually our first stop out on libs. I’m apt to enter Japanese resturants here in the Metro Mess solely in search of it. I haven’t thought of looking in a store, that will be my next quest.

    As for impersonating a superior being, that will be forgiven this once. Let it happen again and it will go on your PERMANENT record.

  2. I once had some thing similar happen to me, through default, not from the choice of my making…

    I was part of a security team that was due to inspect a Royal Naval Air Station, and ‘as was my want’ in life, I chose to attend the RNAS the afternoon prior to the official visit; for a simple browse around the lonnnnggggggggg perimeter fence, as well as to catch up with some good mates (bootneck’s), who were part of 3 Brigade Air Squadron RM.

    It was a Wednesday afternoon, which traditionally within the RN/RM is a sports afternoon ‘make-a-mend’.
    (The true given phrase is ‘make and mend’, which has been used since Nelson was a lad; it allowed matelot’s & bootneck’s to make and mend clothing and personal equipment).

    As usual, I digress.

    I was in sports rig as were the majority of those not on essential duties.
    Having ‘run the fence’ with a couple of my mates, I sat on a bench outside of the NAAFI shop sucking copious amounts of air, wondering which lung wasn’t firing properly.
    Slowly a group of RN personal started gathering around me, each with notebooks and pens in an eclectic mix of sports rig and dress uniform (an ominous sight if ever there was one).

    From around the corner appeared a ‘senior’ Chief in rig with a ‘pace stick’ wedged under his arm; he was the double of ‘Victor McLaglen’. He appeared to be suffering a ‘fit of the vapours’ (imagine the old fashioned horse drawn steam-boiler ‘fire engine’ going like the clappers, ‘Chief’ looked like the lead ‘nag’ with foam and steam pouring forth from his mouth and flared nostrils)!

    He slowly gathered his composure and addressed the hastily gathered group ranting forth the following…

    “Right listen in! As heads of department you will ensure tomorrows security inspection runs smoothly. As a department is finished with, chat the security team up and ask who they will be visiting next; then call that department to warn them off; then call me on a mobile number that I am about to give you! I will be with the XO monitoring events, when the call comes through to me I will leave the meeting room and advise you on what to do next”.

    The rant went on for 15 minutes and I was in a quandary, obviously the RNAS was a large base and ‘Chief’ would not know every one, and as yet he had not ‘clocked’ me as an innocent ‘by-sitter’. Should I simply shuffle away and hope he doesn’t ask who I am? As I sat and pondered what to do, he then finished with…
    “The team is made up from our own people (matelot’s), civil servants, and a few ‘stupid f*****g bootnecks’; the latter of which, will not know their arse from their elbow. Any questions for me”! (A small murmur ensued from the gathered HOD’s with much shaking of heads).

    The Chief looked around to dismiss every one when he saw right through my invisibility cloak! He pointed his stick directly at me and said “who the f**k are you, are you part of 3 BAS”? (My moustache and cropped hair had given me away)!

    What could I say? He would meet me the following morning as part of the ‘team’ anyway. So, with all those gathered watching me, I hopped onto the bench for all to see and replied…

    “Chief I am one of the ‘stupid f*****g bootnecks’ who will be auditing your security tomorrow”. Then turning my back to them all I pointed to various parts of my anatomy and said, “this is my elbow, and this is my arse”! Turning to face them I then said…

    “I am qualified and ‘experienced’ in every aspect of documentary and physical security, that includes way up and beyond the ‘Directly Vetted’ status of the base CO”. I then introduced my name and rank.

    ‘Plink’ (pin dropped). The nag was given its nosebag, the steam from the boiler vented slowly; the fire was out! The gathering dismissed itself…

    He winked at me and said, “C’mon Royal, lets go to the mess and I’ll buy you a pint”… which we did, and quaffed copious amounts outside in the barbecue area; swinging the lamp long into the evening, all on his mess bill. I was poured into the duty land-rover and taken back to my hotel at stupid-o-clock in the morning.

    So for 20 minutes or so in my 23-year career, I once assumed the ID of a matelot!


    Yours Aye.
    (With a memory happily returned)

    1. Ah, yes, Ex Bootneck; I remember quite clearly who Victor McLaughlin is, was and has been across the years…of Quiet Man fame…brother to the lovely Maureen O’Hara who was I believe nineteen at the time…and she looked far older and wiser than she actually was…..enjoying my eggnog (lower calorie, of course, with a shot of Canadian whiskey thrown in)…amazing…and we thank you for remembering what else we as Americans have to be thankful for this day…your friendship from across the pond…and we offer respect and gratitude you remain there, although there have been many times we don’t necessarily deserve it…take care and have a wonderful day…Kris…k

  3. EB: Victor McLaglen? I just read the IMDB link. Not previously familiar with his work. Good story and good thing the gentleman took it so well.
    Kris: Ditto everything you said far better than I.

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