A Pictorial War, Navy Against Marine Corps

Someone (a Sergeant Major in the Marine Corps who shall remain unnamed) thought it funny to label the below picture as me:

Navy Sailor

With one google search, I came up with the pic of a Marine Sergeant Major Master Gunnery Sergeant. Say whatever you want about the below butterball (check the SEAL trident), at least he is closer to the regs than the above pixie dust sprinkler:

Fat ass Sergeant Major, United States Marine Corps

War, we may be fighting one. . .

Breakfast in Bed

I know these are groan-inducing but whenever someone entering the military asks about sleep, I smile. You may get 7 hours in the rack, but you might have watch in the middle of the night.

We had 85 guys in one long building called a “ship.” And I had one or two snorers who slept near me. We even had a guy who wet his bed, from the top rack. His bunkmate was far more understanding than I would’ve been. Here is your sleep question:

Q: Can my recruiter guarantee that I will get 6-8 hours of sleep when I enter Army basic training?

I need at least 6-8 hours sleep otherwise my body may not perform very well especially in basics. and besides this is even the doctors recommendation for everyone. Can the recruiter guarantee that we all will get our zzz’s so that we will perform great?

A: of course he will also guarantee that you get breakfast in bed at weekends and you will not need to train if the weather is bad, however the sergeant major who will be training you may have a different approach

Breakfast in bed? Man, the Navy never promised us that! Of course, this “press-ganged” clown makes the above genius sound like General Patton.

An Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Korea, and Vietnam Vet

United States has many places for retired folks to stroll out their golden years in peace. Presumably, these neighborhoods are cheaper, with available services nearby. If you are retired military, especially Navy or Marine Corps, many of you’all don’t leave San Diego or the Norfolk area.

In my gym this morning, I had three conversations with retired vets. One was a Surface Supply Corps guy who taught at the local high school. He felt embarrassed because even though he had retired many years ago, he asked me if I was in the Marines or the Navy. I smiled and said, Navy, and took it as a compliment. Maybe you Leathernecks might be insulted. Nothing I can do. Blame the Supply Corps and their weak uniform recognition.

The second was a quiet, elderly man. He had been stationed at the ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) base over in Point Loma. You know of it? he asked.

Yes sir, my dentist is over there, I said before leaving him and the locker-room.

And the third veteran was one I had chatted with a couple of times in the past. He looks about 65 years old. Except, he fought in World War II, after enlisting at age 16 in the Marine Corps. I’m 86, he had told me once.

I see him working out on one of the machines as I head toward the door.

Hey sir, save some weights for us, you can’t lift ‘em all!

He laughs. Keeping my weight. I was 123 pounds when I joined up. Not anymore. My rifle and bayonet were way over my head when held to my boot.

Marine Corps, are you not the Department of the Navy? I ask with a wicked grin.

He shoots me a look of miscomprehension, before boxing my arm. I guess so.

How long did you stay in the Marine Corps?

Three wars, he replies. (Not, I retired. Not, I did my hitch. Not, I did twenty years. But, three wars.) World War II, in the Pacific, I was shot twice. Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal. Korea, and of course, Vietnam.

I look at my watch. I am late for work, I had lifted weights after cardio. Still, I listen as he continues.  You hear all these guys saying they have PTSD? I had it. We all did. You better not creep up behind me. It’s all part of war. 

How was coming back home?

Different in each one. They offered me a slot at OCS when I was in Korea. I was a Staff Sergeant then. I could sign on as an officer, but I would have returned to Korea.

You still can, we need you!

He laughs. Me and this other guy both got talked to. He took it, and retired a Major. I passed and retired a Sergeant Major. I’m just a guy. A Sergeant. I didn’t have no education. I was happy.

You miss it?

Yes I do.

How was Vietnam?

What you read and what you hear are nothing close to what happened. You know Tet?

Sure.

I was there. Our first day was rough. But after that, we kicked the dog-crap out of the VC. Sixty, Seventy thousand dead. Or more. There was none left for us to fight.

I have always thought you all deserved better when you returned.

Yeah. Maybe. I never got called nothing. No baby-killer. None of that. Maybe it was my look. I would’ve beat the pis out of anyone that did.

Sir, I say. I got to run to work. Thanks for chatting.

He shakes my hand and off I push through the doors out into a San Diego morning. I am late. But it was worth it. I don’t get to speak to heroes like that every day.

Oddly, enlisted Sailor, Marine, Soldier, or Airman is listed as the third-worst job by CareerCast.com to hold. In my eyes, most polls, lists, and surveys reflect bias:

In their annual career survey, an online job bank ranked one of the nation’s toughest, proudest and most critical occupations as the third-worst job to have: sailor.

Sailors stand at attention while manning the rails on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) as the ship pulls out of Naval Station Everett, Wash.

In fact, the CareerCast.com survey didn’t appear to appear to distinguish between the services; the category was named “enlisted military soldier,” but the photo accompanying it features four models in Navy uniforms (BDUs, crackerjacks, flight suit and summer whites). Only lumberjack (first place) and dairy farmer (runner-up) edged out enlisted as the worst-of-the-worst. (To be sure, newspaper reporter was not far behind at fifth-worst.)

To any young man or woman considering enlisting, I can tell you that joining the military is the challenge and time of your life. You can take my word for it or I can introduce you to an old Sergeant Major, the kind of man maybe we don’t raise anymore in this country. He’ll tell you, he wants back in. . .

America’s 1st Sergeant Becomes America’s Sergeant Major

Promotion is a fact of life in the military. I’ve seen some Sailors stagnate at a rank because they like and enjoy its duties. And they do not desire to take on more leadership roles. Compare this with the British military who allow for terminal Corporals and Sergeants.

Still, there are certain ranks that immediately confer respect. Among those is Sergeant Major. And a fellow blogger just pinned it on. Congratulations America’s Sergeant Major:

America’s 1st Sergeant Becomes               America’s Sergeant Major

 Us here in the Navy salute you, SGM, and stand ready to ferry you and your boys around. As usual. All we ask for is five hots and an extra-long cot.

I guess my days of joking about the Gilmore Girls are over. . .