The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

SAFELY HANDLING RADIOACTIVE STUPID |

September 10, 2009

SAFELY HANDLING RADIOACTIVE STUPID
Name: America's 1st Sgt.
Posting date: 9/10/09
Stationed in: Iraq 
Milblog: Castra Praetoria
Email: castrapraetoria1@gmail.com

Framed AmFirst stupid1

It’s funny how young Marines feel they deal with a lot of stupid stuff. They think getting up in the morning is a pain in the neck. Having to shave is an inconvenience. Keeping their area squared away is imposing on their right to self expression. The list goes on.

Often I ask a group of Marines who among them thinks they put up with stupidity. Inevitably a forest of hands goes up until I bark, “Well try putting some rockers on and see how stupid it gets!”

Things 1stSgt’s deal with include...

Other people’s marriages:

Everyone just has to get married right before deployment. These individuals are always lined up outside my office with their marriage packages in hand; oblivious to everyone who is getting divorced right before deployment who are waiting in another line to see me. There is a mysterious phenomenon occurring here, where these two groups of people are utterly blind to the existence of the other and will heed no one’s advice about waiting until after deployment or at least until he gets to know her better.

Framed AmFirst stupid2

Then of course there is everyone who is getting married during post-deployment leave (at least they waited for the deployment to be over). This is followed closely by all those getting a divorce immediately following the deployment. The classic example is the Marine who returns home to an empty house having had no idea his spouse had left him. His chain of command and all his buddies no doubt told him it wasn’t a good idea to marry a stripper he had only known for four weeks but did he listen?

Once I had a Marine get a divorce right before we deployed. When we came back seven months later, one the guys from his platoon ended up marrying the girl on post-deployment leave. I think I broke at least three of my own teeth during this episode.

There have been cases where Marines have deployed while neglecting to make sure their spouse had any money to live on while deployed. No ATM card, no checks, no direct deposit. Hey stud, do you think she might need to buy food and pay your rent?

My favorite is forgetting to mention to your spouse that you are going to be gone for seven months in Iraq at all. This is more common than you might think. I’ve even had Marines forget to tell their mothers that they were deploying. Awesome!

Now with the advent of 21st Century technology you can fight with your loved ones a dozen times a day and still be 8,000 miles from where they are. We’ve got clowns that call multiple times a day and then get belligerent if the wife hasn’t answered the phone on the first ring. Brain surgeon, she has to go to the crapper some time. If you don’t trust her then maybe you shouldn’t have married a woman that was sleeping around with you behind her previous husband’s back when he was on deployment. Sometimes people just get what they deserve.

Other people’s parents:

Then there is the odd Marine who writes home to his mother that he doesn’t get to eat. She naturally writes her congressman in concern which starts a whole chain of e-mails with a subject line containing the letters W, T, and F. Now of course there is plenty of food for this Marine and his delicate palate to consume he just doesn’t like it. Here’s a news flash: None of us like it!

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that military food is just plain rancid. MREs, Tray Rations, and UGRs are only slightly less foul than what passed for chow back in the Old Corps. But guess what? There is plenty of it so there is no reason to complain about hunger. I remember once the little heathens ate everything in sight and my Company Commander and I were left eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made out of shelf bread. So Mom, check it out: your son is being fed plenty; he is just being a sissy because you are not cooking for him anymore. Tell him to man up. I already did; that is why he sent you that whiny e-mail.

Most mothers want their sons home from combat. I don’t blame them. I want their sons to come home from combat too; right now in fact. Here’s the problem, we all signed up to do a job. It’s called a contract. When you don’t live up to it then you are called a dirt bag. So Mom, please stop sending the command emergency Red Cross Messages requesting the presence of your son because you are having a bunion removed. No one in the entire theatre of operations is going to approve that emergency leave request. There’s like a war on.

Self inflicted wounds:

In the Marine Corps we have standards; standards of conduct; standards of dress; even height and weight standards. The weight standard is particularly amusing especially when the fat Marine in question is completely mystified by the fact that you want to break a park bench over his back. Of course it is never his fault; no one told him he looked like a beach ball with lips. Maybe when that gigantic orb of flesh called your gut began to affect the tides it should have given you a clue. Listen, when Japanese fishermen start licking their lips when you walk by it’s time to cover your blow hole and run.

Alcohol is the perennial villain in many a tale of liberty gone awry and is usually prominently featured in any and all of the above scenarios. Its uncanny ability to cripple what is already questionable judgment is legendary. Lessons like it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle under the influence are usually learned the hard way vice simply listening to your 1stSgt tell you it is every weekend. The fact that stumbling around Waikiki blind drunk at 0300 in the morning will make you a victim is another good one.

Framed AmFirst stupid3

Even as you read this I am probably standing in front of a group of Marines getting ready to fly home from Iraq. I am more than likely trying to convince them that all the alcohol in America will still be there the day after they get back and that there is no need to attempt to drink it all in one night. Will they listen? That remains to be seen this trip.

Comments

This was hilarious and oh so true. My work has put me in close contact with the marriage/divorce roller coaster and it's every bit as un-pretty and bizarre as you've put it here. The comments about Japanese fishermen were priceless, as were the instructions to moms to stop listening to their kids' whining about the food. Loved it all.

Oh my God, I laughed my ass off when I read this post. After 28 years in the military (Navy submarines, Army Guard Signal and Infantry) I have nothing but sympathy for your position. If you write, sometime, I will tell you about when I was an LPO having to pick up an AWOL sailor in Las Vegas who was hiding with a biker chick into S&M, 2 days before deployment.
God bless you for the care and dedication you put out there for your Joes; I can only tell you it was one of the more exasperating and difficult jobs I've done and I would go back and do it again in a nano-second if I could. From one 'Top' to another, HUA. Fair winds and following seas, and I will pray that you and your kids all come back safe.

This really was hilarious. Its good to hear that all stories from the Middle East aren't simply doom and gloom. (Don't get me wrong, I do feel sorry for you. If working with Marines is anything lke working with kids, then I completely sympathize!)
Thank you for brightening my day :)

Your coments are funny but they constantly demean the men and women under you. Obviously you have little or no respect for them. Anything for a laugh even if it means making your men look like idiots. Too bad.

Here's a suggestion, Frank: lighten up. Just because the Top's exasperated by some of the heedless, lemming-like behavior of his Marines doesn't mean he disrespects them. Unless you've been there you don't have any right to pass judgment on how Top conducts himself or views his job. You must have been unconscious if you didn't notice the deep sympathy and concern for his Marines shining through this post.

God I almost blew my tea out my nose laughing so hard. I think I'm in love!

Stay safe one and all.

God Bless Tops, CMC's, First Sergeant's etc. The only reason this is so damn funny is the same words were said in 1776, The Civil War, WW1, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, and DS. Young folks are just plain stupid and its up to the old farts to steer them straight and help fix their screw ups.

God Bless you all.

Thank you for the humor. I know that protecting this great land can be tough. For that I am extremely grateful for each military persons service to protect and keep this country free from the enemy. My brother was a sargeant too, in the Army, and said some of the same exact things, put rockers or stripes on an it changes everything.

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