A Military Personality

Is there such a thing as a military personality? Psychology Today addresses this very topic:

I don’t believe there is a “military personality” per se. But service members do share a number of mannerisms, beliefs, traits and perceptions.

Confidence, for example – service members have an air of self-assuredness, poise and downright coolness. A purposeful and swift stride, eye contact with strangers and a head held high with a slight controlled swivel is a dead giveaway that a confident soldier, sailor, airmen or Marine is in the area.

Hmm, that would mean there are a lot of military types here, for example. (One weensy editorial qwibble, why is Marine capitalized and not Sailor?)

Clowns and Soldiers

Army Soldier?

Two types of folks are going to be really jazzed by this development: clowns and Army Soldiers. (Which sometimes are the same thing. . .just kidding!)

Robert Lochhead invented a face paint formulated to protect skin from heat exceeding 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit. His invention is funded by the Army’s Natick Soldier Systems.

The paint uses silicone and a hydrogel, a polymer that is formed from water, which offers protection from heat for at least 15 seconds.

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?


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. . .

Yahoo Answers

Yahoo has a section of their site (Yahoo Answers) that offers “expert opinion” on a variety of different matters. Some of it is accurate, as in good gouge. Other opinions are laughable and some are flat out wrong. The answers get rated, which help the folks answering the questions get a rank. Some funny military questions:

Q: What are you guys opinion on the Navy? I’m thinking about joining soon! I think its a great branch in the military.
A: Ships only sink once.

Q: My recruiter told me that I could leave the Army at any time within the first year if I don’t like it. True?
A: Ya, but first you have to bring a note from you mom.

Q: What are some non violent Army jobs for women? Preferably someone who works behind the scenes or with the soldiers?
A: Breastfeeding the marines.

Q: What is the correct military etiquette for Navy personnel if they see an officer of a different navy?
A: Noogie.

You asked. Someone answered. That answer and 3 dollars will buy you a cup of coffee.

Operation Hero: The Army Finds an Iraqi Dog and Brings Her to the United States


Dogs and the military go together like bacon and eggs.

On a deployment, I once approached a leashed Malinois, the Belgian cousin to a German Shepherd. They are military working dogs (MWDs) and probably should not be bothered. But I chatted up the handler anyway, who let me pet the dog. It was a little slice of home in a place most assuredly not.

And at NAVCENT, I used to pause at the Military Working Dog (MWD) kennel, to see if any of the pooches were out and about.

So when I saw this picture:

Hero, Justin Rollins’ dog

And then read the story, a blog entry by an ABC News 20/20 reporter, I was hooked. The media team had traveled to Newport, New Hampshire to speak to Army Specialist Justin Rollins’ family. Justin was an 82nd Airborne Soldier, stationed in Samara, Iraq. And he had tragically passed away from an IED explosion.

The family had a picture of their son holding Hero up from when the dog had been a puppy. And he had sent it to his fiancee, Brittney Murray, the day before he had died.

Army Specialist Justin Rollins and Hero the Dog

The family asked the Army brass at Justin’s funeral if they could find the dog from the above picture. Push comes to shove and the Army runs Operation Hero. Of course, they locate the lucky canine and deliver her to the Rollins.

The ABC reporter, Kimberly Launier, had the following to say about the picture of Hero standing in the ray of light:

I was filming soldier Justin Rollin’s parents Skip and Rhonda playing with their dog Hero, whose rescue from the Iraq War zone where Justin died was nothing short of a miracle.

Sometimes when Rhonda hugged Hero she would softly pet her face and coo, “Justin, are you in there?”  It was Rhonda’s gentle way of remembering their son and his last living connection to Hero. At one point, Hero wandered off and took a stroll in the backyard. All of a sudden, the clouds broke and a light began to solidify in a beam directly down on Hero — a kind of vertical halo.

What a great picture, moving story. After the dog returned to the States, Hero traveled to New Hampshire Congressman Paul Hodes’s office. And guess what Hero did?

The puppy soon hit the tarmac, and began earning impressive frequent flier miles traveling from Iraq, Bahrain, Brussels and New York before finally landing in New Hampshire to a full-blown media circus fit for a rock star. At Congressman Paul Hodes’s office, little Hero claimed the territory her own.

She christened the carpet,” remembered Rhonda.

Reporters crowd Hero

I am a sucker for dog stories. Cat tales? Sure, why not. Here’s one, nothing more than an after-dinner mint really.

Matilda III is the house cat at the Algonquin Hotel. If the hotel’s name sounds familiar, it should. It was home to Dorothy Parker and the Round Table. As for Matilda:

The city’s favorite feline, a blue-eyed ragdoll, took up residence last winter. She’s the 10th Algonquin cat since Rusty, aka Hamlet I, moved into the hotel, legendary home of the “Round Table” literary salon, in 1932.

The pampered pussies are as much a part of The Algonquin’s cozy confines as the oak paneling and upholstered chairs and sofas. Hotel staff have delighted in pointing out Matilda’s hiding places to guests.

Matilda III at the Algonquin Hotel

New York City’s Department of Health & Mental Hygiene has struck again. The cat now must be caged or leashed.

So the city can’t sweep some hippies, the Occupy Wall Streeters, out of a park. And the mayor enforces restrictions on trans-fats and salt. Now he seems intent on adding a puddycat to that list.