A Navy Chief, a Watchbill, and a Marine Corps Master Sergeant

I have a particular job that requires a watchbill. It is pretty standard in the military, making a watchbill and rotating folks in every four days, every eight days, every month, or every six weeks. It depends on the watch.

Ours is simple. The watchbill coordinator is in charge of making sure everyone on the bill is qualified and no one who has left the command is put up for watch. When I started this particular job, a Chief became my new watchbill coordinator. No problem, right? He’d stood watch for years of his life, no doubt.

Bottom line up front, he was a disaster. Every time he told me the watchbill was good to go, there were people who were long gone from the command on it. He put un-qualled people up for watch. Mistakes that I pointed out to him went uncorrected.

One day, I had it. I complained to the Senior Chief who used to sit near me.

Well, have you told him? He thinks he is doing fine, she said.

Yes, every time it is jacked up, which is always, I tell him. Last month, I scrapped what he did and made up a fresh watchbill myself. 

I’ll talk to him.

A month goes by and he emailed me to tell me the new watchbill was ready. Looking forward to a mistake-free bill, my hopes were crushed within ten seconds. Officers and Chiefs no longer at the command were on it. And I go over to his desk in person and point out the mistakes. 

I complained again to the Senior Chief. All jacked up, like usual.

He is having problems. He got back from his IA in Afghanistan and may have some issues.

I am not hard to please. It is an easy job. I’ve written hundreds of them. Just get it right. 

He may not be the guy.

Just my luck, a Marine Corps Master Sergeant checks into the command. Me and the Lieutenant Commander, who I work for, strike a deal with him. You don’t even have to qual for this watch. Can you do a watchbill?

He looks at us like two kids. Watchbill? Of course.

One year later and not one mistake. Great guy. Quiet perfection. Just today, I am at his desk talking about the watch, the folks ready to qual, and the great gun sales at Turner’s Outdoorsman. Above his cubicle is a box of vitamins. And the label says something like: Supplements for Military Personnel.

Well, that is kind of goofy, Master Sergeant. Do we really need specialized vitamins? 

Um sir, see the model on there? The one in the wheelchair?

Yup.

That is the Captain’s wife. He nods to the desk next to us. She is combat disabled. 

Good thing the Captain is not here.

Good thing. 

And the final story goes to the Chief who jacked-up the watchbill to begin with. Just yesterday, the Senior Chief invited six of us to have lunch in the Chief’s Mess. I’ve been in there a couple of times and have always enjoyed it. We get in the Goat Locker and the Chief who I wanted to strangle is in there all alone, just staring at TMZ on the teevee.

I’m glad the Master Sergeant came to the command. I would’ve strangled Chief by now.

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?

What is Navy Life Like?

A young girl at Yahoo Answers asked the question:

What is the navy like?

I am a female and i am joining the navy. Please tell me everything you know! From good to bad ( preferably people in the navy). Also what should I expect? and what are the best jobs? Thanks!! :)

And an enterprising answerer sent the young lass to this website, which is a list of ways to simulate the Navy at home:

  1. Buy a dumpster, paint it gray and live in it for 6 months straight.
  2. Run all of the piping and wires inside your house on the outside of the walls.
  3. Pump 10 inches of nasty, crappy water into your basement, then pump it out, clean up, and paint the basement “deck gray.”
Utterly hilarious. Gotta love the Goat Locker. . .

Chief Tweets About Missing Sheep

Navy Chiefs, they are amazing. They even have taken to tweeting when they lose their sheep. Wait? What the. . .

“There is a brown and white sheep which has gone missing with a nylon rope around its neck and it belongs to Mwangi’s father,” the Chief tweeted recently in the Swahili language. The sheep was soon recovered.

Oops, wrong Chief. This was a Kenyan Chief, Chief Francis Kariuki.

Tweeting Navy Chief Francis Kariuki. Oops, Tweeting Kenyan Chief Francis Kariuki.

These Kenyan Chiefs don’t refer to themselves as the Goat Locker, but the Sheep Locker:

US Navy Chiefs, Goat Locker

 The Sheep Locker. Now that is one baaaaaad joke. Sorry, Chiefs. . .