In 2006, a film about how 300 Spartan warriors, led by a king known as Leonidas, went to war against a massive Persian army debuted in cinemas across the globe.
The film was an instant success. Suddenly, it was a universally accepted fact that Spartans kicking the crap out of someone is a reliable way of ending a dispute. The story follows King Leonidas, a man bred to be a warrior king from the moment he was born, as he leads his loyal army against Greece’s enemies.
Though extremely outnumbered, Leonidas valorously leads his mean up against the odds and ends up dying alongside them in battle — which is totally unheard of today.
Many so-called “leaders” actually lead from the rear, which means they issue an order, watch their men do all the dangerous sh*t, and then take all credit for it.
King Leonidas was in front of all the battle formations and would often step forward, on his own, to kill as many people as possible.
That’s what we call a freakin’ leader.
2. He f*cks the enemy up on the spot
King Leonidas wasn’t out to win any hearts or minds. Instead, he intended to rip out your heart and put a blade through your mind.
If you come around his FOB and talk sh*t, he’ll Spartan kick you in front of everybody.
3. He is the same person at home as he is with his men
Some troops in high positions shed their aggression when they get home — not King Leonidas. In fact, he started training his son in hand-to-hand combat while he was still wearing diapers. That’s what we call “startin’ em off early.”
4. He knows a sh*tty soldier when he sees one
Leonidas knows talent when he sees it. He plainly dismisses a fellow Greek’s plea to fight the Persian empire because he wasn’t physically capable of fighting like a true Spartan. Real leaders don’t want you on their team if you can’t keep up with the rest of the hard-chargers.
Leonidas develops a master plan to use the land to his advantage and take out a vast Persian army with only 300 men. The idea works, too, until that dude who he denied earlier snitches him out like a punk-a**. It happens.
People around the world watch in awe as the Olympic Games begin. Athletes, who have spent their entire lives mastering their given sport, are pitted against each other for the chance to emerge as the world’s greatest.
Yet, there’s always the few watching who say to themselves, “pssssh, that’s easy! I got this!” Many members of that group are veterans. Based entirely off of stereotypes associated with each branch of the armed forces, these are the events that we would dominate if given the chance.
1. Soldiers would win the biathlon.
In case you don’t know what a biathlon is, you cross-country ski for around 10 kilometers while carrying your rifle to eventually shoot at targets.
It’s basically a ruck march in the snow, minus the rucksack and plus some skis. And you actually get to shoot your rifle instead of just carrying it.
2. Marines would win shooting events.
Every Marine is a rifleman, right? The one thing Marines can confidently brag about over everyone else is their marksmanship.
If they brag about being able at shoot 500 meters with a rifle chambered in 5.56, they should clean the floor at 50 meters, prone with a .22 LR caliber rifle.
So, you’re a high-speed, low-drag new trooper who wants to have a successful and rewarding military career. The only problem is that you’re lazy.
Not “I can’t get out of bed without a personal pep talk from Richard Simmons” lazy, but more, “I’m not going to make my bed because I’m just going to ruin it tonight” lazy.
In the civilian world, that’s fine. But in the military, you can actually get demoted for not making your bed. So how do you get ahead in Uncle Sam’s Rifle Club with minimum effort? Easy. You learn to sham (or if you joined the sea services, “skate”).
Shamming and skating are the fine arts of doing little to no work while avoiding friction and punishments from command.
The trick is to pace yourself throughout the day, doing work only when necessary but also giving the perception of constant activity.
A top-shelf sham day starts with not doing physical training. The most obvious way to get out of this is a pass from the medics. WATM does not encourage this…but here’s our guide. If you can get a full-day pass to stay in the barracks, your shamming is now in easy mode.
But sick call slips and chits are rationed, and remaining on quarters for too long can get you kicked out for “malingering.” If you want to get promoted, you’ll have to get more creative.
First, always know who is instructing PT in the morning and what the planned activity is. If Spc. McMuffin is leading the platoon on a slow jog down the main strip, just bite the bullet and do PT. But if Sgt. Creatine is leading a ruck-run and circuit-training Crossfit extravaganza, then you need to volunteer for a work detail.
But wait, wait, wait! I thought you said I wasn’t going to have to actually work?
Sure, volunteering for work may seem counterproductive. But pulling a 12-hour guard shift on some ammo in a field while you’re playing the newest Candy Crush level and taking turns napping with the other guard is way better than playing log throw with Capt. America and then spending all day at a desk.
Speaking of desk work, there are ways to sham through that if you get stuck in it. If you permanently work in an office, the best thing you can do is create the impression that you’re always working way too hard to be interrupted.
This can be achieved with multiple little green notebooks, legal pads, and an endless number of browser windows. Spread the legal pads and notebooks around the desk and fill the open pages with illegible writing. Draw lots of arrows between areas of text.
If anyone asks what you’re doing, start talking a lot about guidance from headquarters and how it affects 3rd quarter mandatory training. There’s not an NCO in the world that will stick around.
When you’re only working the office for the day, the best thing you can do is offer to shred things and take the trash out. No one is timing these tasks, so there’s plenty of time to joke around with buddies or check your phone. You should take the trash out at least three or four times in a regular duty day.
And, once you volunteer to take the trash out enough times or to run other errands, people will start thinking that you must be doing said errands when they can’t see you.
Now you’re in business. Once they stop checking up on you, start adding a 20-minute nap to each errand and trash run that you do.
Another place you can work constant naps into the day is the motor pool. Avoid emptying and reloading connexes by volunteering to PMCI vehicles. At each vehicle, open the front doors and raise the hood, then rack out in the back seat for a few minutes. Finally, declare the vehicle ready to go, close everything up, and move on to the next one.
At the end of the day, there’s always the risk that a pleased platoon or first sergeant will want to inspect the room of such a squared-away individual.
Fear not — passing room inspections is easy. The trick is to get the barracks super clean one time. We’re talking perfection here. No dust anywhere, scrub the backs of the appliances, secure the bedspread with bungee cords and glue the hospital corners into place. Tie up your roommate and hide him in the woodline.
Place neatly organized study cards next to your computer, which should have exactly one browser window open to whatever your branch’s promotions and accessions guidance is.
The platoon and first sergeant will not believe their eyes. They’ll praise you in front of the formation and talk amongst themselves for days about how polished you are.
Then they’ll become complacent and they won’t inspect you anymore. They might come by for payday inspections and the company change of command, but that’s about it.
The rest of the year you can walk around in your room dripping marinara sauce onto the floor, and no one will know or care.
That barracks will become your palace of filth, and no one will be the wiser. In fact, they’ll be so impressed by that one inspection and all those guard details you volunteered for that they’ll promote you ahead of your peers until you get paid to move out of the barracks — you won’t even have to get a contract marriage to the first person you meet off-base.
Congrats, shammer. You have arrived.
(Also, maybe retrieve your roommate from the woodline at some point. He could legitimately die).
The commander is the head of every unit — there’s no question about that. But sometimes, you just need the ‘neck’ of the unit to turn just slightly towards your paperwork to get it expedited. That ‘neck’ is the training room clerk.
Now, flat-out bribery is a UCMJ offense, but you don’t need to be all “Fat Leonard” to get things done the way that you want. Maybe you’ve got a school you really want to get to, an award packet that’s been sitting in the inbox for too long, or you’re kinda hoping that your leave packet gets approved. If the clerk is on your side, things will definitely be more pleasant.
These are 5 ways you can persuade that clerk. Remember, you’re not ‘buying’ your way through the training room — it’s their job, they should do it anyways — you’re just making friends.
5. Befriend them off duty
Training room staff usually are stuck in a vacuum. While most of the unit bonds over shared suffering, they’re often handling hand receipts or training calendars.
Invite them out for a drink and you’ve got yourself a friend on the inside.
4. Bring them stuff from the shopette
Once again, flat-out bribery is punishable under UCMJ. But is it still bribery if you’re just saying, “hey, training room clerk, I’m making a quick trip to the gas station. Want anything?”
Technically, yes, it’s bribery if your intent is obviously to get the paperwork done. It isn’t bribery, however, if one troop is just being nice to another.
3. Scratch their back first
There’s an old military saying about having four friends. You want to befriend “the cook, the medic, supply, and (insert whoever is saying the phrase).” It may sound trite, but it really does apply to everyone in every unit.
Of course, support MOS’s have more lucrative tokens with which to barter, but that doesn’t mean the combat arms guys can’t help the training room clerk be less of a POG.
Oh? You want more bacon? That’s funny, because I want to take leave… (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jesús Rodríguez)
2. Welcome them in doing “non-training room” things
Everyone joins the military for different reasons. That’s over two million people with over two million unique goals in life. One common thread, however, is that many enlist to satisfy a sense of adventure and for a chance to do cool sh*t. They probably didn’t join the military so they can skulk around an office all day.
This is what the combat arms guys bring to the table. Bring the training room guy along to the fun exercises and let them play soldier for a few hours. That way, they can get back to processing your boring paperwork feeling a bit more accomplished.
1. Don’t be a dick
Simply put, raising your voice at them won’t work. It may feel like you’re accomplishing something when you watch a private wet themselves, but it probably won’t make them shuffle your paperwork to the top.
Yes, they should move at the military’s pace and not their own. If there’s a real problem, address it in a professional manner. If the kid is left alone with stacks of paperwork, cut them some slack and at least pretend like you empathize with them.
Pfc. Harley Dennis, of Anderson, who serves with the Missouri National Guard’s 276th Engineer Company in Pierce City, assists Sgt. 1st Class Eric Corcoran to deliver more than 300 Valentine’s Day balloons to area school kids in the southwest Missouri town. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Dennis Chambers/Missouri National Guard)
In our house, Valentine’s Day isn’t really a thing. As a general rule, the Marine isn’t home for the “holiday,” and since there are a lot of holiday’s he spends away, courtesy of the USMC, this is one day we just don’t really concern ourselves with.
But this year we ran into a snag. Their names are Bethany, Zachary, and Christopher — also known as the three youngest members of the Foley Fire Team.
On the edge of the dreaded teenage years, Bethany came home a few days ago armed with a love note from her “boyfriend” (that asshole), and sat down with her younger brothers to plot out “The Best Valentine’s Gift Ever;” it apparently consists of a lot of bacon (they DO take after their mother, after-all), and a seven-hour nap time while they’re at school. Because adulting is hard.
They presented their plan to the Marine, and then waited with bated breath for him to tell them his grand scheme for the Day Of Love.
“I just bought Mom curtains and a new curtain rod. I suppose I could hang them up before she wakes up?”
The two youngest of the fire team promptly ran off to tattle on Daddy. Not buy Mom a “love” gift? He’s practically an abomination to them right now.
While the boys were relaying the horrifying ordeal to me, I wondered how the Marine was going to get out of this one. It’s perfectly fine to explain to the 12-year-old that sometimes Dad just doesn’t really subscribe to romantic things. As a girl she’s going to have to come to terms with the fact that dudes like him really do exist.
But try explaining that to two 8-and 9-year-old boys who are currently at the dining room table gluing pink and red hearts all over their camouflage Valentine boxes because they know that, while they like camo and guns, girls sometimes like hearts. How Daddy doesn’t understand this is totally beyond their capacity.
“Maybe Daddy is planning a surprise and he doesn’t want to ruin it,” I whispered conspiratorially. The boys nodded and agreed that that’s exactly what was happening. It was the only thing that made sense to them.
“You’re going to want to brain storm some last minute ideas, dude,” I told the Marine later.
“Can you do that crowd-sourcing thing you do on your Facebook and I’ll pick something from that?” he asked.
So that’s exactly what I did, and let me say, I was surprised. Not one girl said she wanted flowers, chocolate, jewelry, or even anything expensive or time consuming, and a lot of their gift suggestions included food.
In fact, because I know the Marine isn’t the only one out there who is finding himself in a gift pickle at the last minute, here’s what actual military spouses said they really want for Valentine’s Day, word for word and complete with all their annoying little emoji things:
1. Bacon roses
Because Valentine’s Day just screams “pork,” right?
2. Not celebrating Valentine’s Day at all.
Jeesh, more “romance” in our marriage/dating? We already have enough of that already…
3. Homemade vouchers for cool stuff
How about a movie night, a kiss and makeup session no matter how upset I am, free kisses anytime all day, etc.
4. Stay at home “date”
My husband is hitting up the USO tomorrow during lunch for flowers and cheap chocolate. ?. Yes he told me he wants to do that. He’s ridiculous. Lol. But in seriousness, even a nice walk or living room picnic on the floor. Super cheap, corny, and fun
5. Waffle House
Hands down. If you sneak them like $10, they’ll let you smuggle in wine sometimes (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything).
6. Beach stroll
This year we are going to take a few hours during the day to run to the beach and just put our toes in the sand before kids get home from school.
7. Mom time
Netflix movie, homemade desert, and pjs. 🙂
8. Cheap sushi
We went to Hamazushi last night because it’s very inexpensive (most items are ¥100 a plate), all you can eat, good quality sushi. Plus it’s all served on conveyor belts and ya can’t beat the novelty of that. 😉 Also, [He] started college again and has a lab tonight, so he won’t be home for “actual” Valentine’s date stuff.
9. A cuddle
After being apart—just being together is enough. I know that may sound cheesy, but it’s so the truth. Being preggo and sick, I’m hoping our date will include pj’s and our couch and the latest “this is us” episode.
10. Couch time
We spend all our budget on the kids. We will stay home with popcorn and a movie to celebrate it.
11. Old School necking
In the car…in the driveway!! ??
12. A load of beef … with love
I’ll make him his fave meal at home… meat loaf!
13. Learn something new
We are taking a couples cooking class tomorrow ❤️
14. A full-on pizza and bubbly extravaganza
[He] & I have done the same thing every year since we’ve been together: Heart-shaped homemade pizza (with mini heart pizzas for the puppies) + our favorite prosecco (the same brand from our wedding) and chocolate covered strawberries (sometimes homemade, sometimes from HEB)… and then turning on a cheesy movie or tv show on Netflix.
It started out the first year or two as our “thing” because we really couldn’t afford too much else. But now it’s a special, almost sacred ritual for us. I wouldn’t trade our little cozy tradition for a world-class meal. It’s just too important to me. I should clarify and say “every year he was actually HERE to celebrate.”
15. Some shootin’
Well, we got married Valentine’s day. We celebrate by hanging out and we go to dinner either the day before or the day after (since payday is always afterwards)because it’s always less crowded. This year is our 20th and we both took the day off. We’re having a range and lunch date. Since it’s a work day, lunch isn’t as crowded and definitely cheaper.
So what are you doing for Valentine’s Day?
And if the Marine is reading this, bacon roses are totally appropriate.
Before any service member deploys, they have to visit the supply depot on their station. Now, these supply depots issue out a bunch of items. But for the most part, they’re worn down and look like something a homeless guy would reject.
The fact is — you’re not the first guy or gal to take a nap in that sleeping bag or to load rounds into that M16 magazine. It’s been well used before you even thought about touching it.
After seeing the state of some of this gear, service members typically think about the months of deployment time that lies ahead and remind themselves how much stuff the military doesn’t voluntarily distribute.
So check out our list of things you may want to consider buying before going wheels up.
1. Bungee Cords
Like 550 cord, these elastic straps are strong as Hell and will secure down nearly everything.
If you need to tow it, bungee cord will probably hold it. (images via Giphy)
2. Blow up sleeping pad
Traditionally, supply issues you a ratty foam mat which is like sleeping in a really cheap motel room.
Purchasing a quality air mattress can make all difference. (image via Giphy)
Getting issued a flashlight that’s designed to clip to your uniform (which is what you’ll get) is fine if you’re okay with tripping over everything in the pitch black (because it doesn’t point to where you’re looking).
Get a red-filtered headlamp for combat zones — it could save your life. (images via Giphy)
4. Rite in the rain
Normal paper isn’t meant to repel water. You never know when you need to take notes in the field while it’s pouring down rain. “Rite in the Rain” is waterproof paper you can still jot notes on.
With a “Rite in the Rain” it doesn’t matter if it’s raining, you can still takethose unimportant notes your commanding officer thinks is critical. (images via Giphy)
The 30 round magazine that the supply guy handed out has seen better days and has a single compression spring built inside which can increase the chances of your weapon system jamming when you need it the most. The polymer version made by Magpul is much better — so good, in fact, the Marine Corps is issuing it to all Leathernecks.
P-mags are dual spring compressed, decreasing your chances of a weaponsmalfunction. (images via Giphy)
Over the years, I’ve had my nerves scraped raw by Americans who flippantly ask the question, “Have you ever killed anyone?” The fact that those who ask completely fail to understand or truly care about the veteran experience has calloused my soul just enough to optimize the efficacy of humor as a deflection device and coping mechanism. Let my pain be your lesson and follow me to disgruntled depths!
Imagine you’ve stopped off at the gas station to grab a pack of smokes and are striking up a casual conversation with the attendant when he suddenly hits you with, “Hey, what was the worst thing you’ve ever experienced? Any recent deaths in the family? Any childhood or sexual trauma? No? Haha. Okay, well Kit-Kats are two for $1 if you’re interested.”
How would you respond to some stranger casually prying into the darkest moments of your life? If your knee-jerk reaction is to rip out their trachea and bugle their death song as they fade into the abyss, you might be a veteran. The first time a sniveling college kid asked if I’d ever killed someone, I completely fumbled my response. It was C-minus at best. I regret it every day. I’m better than that. It was my first time, and I just got a little nervous.
As the bloodthirsty, village-burning, baby-killing assassins that we American veterans (apparently) are, our response to this utterly tone-deaf question is important, and it’s our duty to rise to the challenge and represent our community when the time comes. Fortunately, I’ve worked up 10 responses any vet can use when asked the most astoundingly inappropriate question in the history of traumatic events.
Knock ’em dead!
HOW TO RESPOND TO “HAVE YOU EVER KILLED SOMEONE?”
1. Become visibly nervous, lean forward, and then whisper, “So you see them too?”
2. “Only the short ones.”
3. Note the color or feature of their shirt. “Only people in [insert their shirt color] … There’s just something about that color …” follow with dead silence and a disconnected gaze.
4. “Yup! Wait, you meant like in the war? Haha. Oh no, I was supply.”
5. “Not on purpose.”
6. Pull out a coin and stare at the individual. Actually, you’re not trying to stare at them, you’re staring into them. Gaze deeply into their very soul and hold the coin out until the tension in the room is palpable, then simply ask, “Heads or tails?” Flip the coin, catch it, and intensely stare at the palm of your hand without letting them see the coin. Shake a little bit for dramatic effect if you want. After several moments suddenly change your expression to light and happy, then inform them that they were correct.
7. Really emphasize the word “people” in this one — “What like people? No, I’ve never killed any people.” Do not elaborate. If they persist, make a loose reference to aliens, something like “We don’t know what they were” will work fine. End with “I’ve already said too much,” and walk away.
8. If they’re young, say, “Yes, and I was one short of unlocking the Chopper Gunner.” (They’ll get it.)
9. “With what?”
10. “I’ll only answer your awkward question if you answer one of mine first.” Then proceed to ask them one of the following:
Have you ever heard your parents having sex?
In 200 words or more, describe your last shit.
What’s the last thing you cried about?
Can you meet me in the bathroom and tell me if this rash looks serious? I can’t show you here.
11. Bonus answer perfect for post-pandemic dinner parties: “Only when we were hungry.”
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake, Tim, and Chase speak with stand-up comedian Mitch Burrow about what simple luxuries we wished we had while on deployment.
Mitch is a Marine Corps veteran that served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. He then started a career in manufacturing before realizing that it sucked. Now, Mitch has found his true calling in acting silly on a stage in front of strangers on a nightly basis.
Being forward deployed without the amenities that service members are used to from back home can suck. While some military branches have chow halls with an all-you-can-eat menu, others are forced to eat highly-processed foods from heavy duty plastic bags — a.k.a. MREs.
Although we wish for the most part that our livelihood will remain the same while on deployment, it’s the simple things service members miss the most.
“Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” “The Mask,” and “The Santa Clause” were just a few of the hilarious movies that rocked theaters back in 1994.
But for veterans, one comedy stands out from the rest: “In The Army Now” starring former MTV Veejay Pauly Shore. It’s not known for being the most authentic military film ever, but it’s pretty freaking funny.
Shore, who plays “Bones,” is a complete slacker/electronics salesman who gets fired from his job and joins the Army reserves with his buddy specializing in water purification.
After doing sh*t ton of push ups in boot camp for being a goofball, the Glendale reservist gets called to action as a conflict breaks out in the African nation of Chad.
Peel back the layers and check out a few life lessons from the film that may reshape how you see this cult classic.
1. How to keep your retail job when the boss wants to fire you
Step 1: Humorously tell your boss why you can’t get fired.
He’s a crazy boy. (Images via Giphy)Step 2: Have one of your closest friends page you by name over the intercom system strictly for customer service reasons.
“Bones to the service floor. Bones to the service floor.” (Images via Giphy)Step 3: Sell an expensive product right in front of your boss.
Sell that sh*t. (Images via Giphy)Just don’t get busted like our friend Bones here.
Busted. (Images via Giphy)
2. Everything sounds great in the beginning
Joining the military is a life changing event. You should take more than just a few minutes to decide on the huge commitment. Have a buddy go with you to the recruiter’s office to play devil’s advocate on your behalf.
Wait! Think this through now. (Images via Giphy)
3. Embrace the new military you
Those who are blind heading into boot camp will be issued a pair BCGs. Let’s face it, you’re not going to get a date for Saturday night wearing them, but having a strong personality behind those thick frame glasses couldn’t hurt — you’ll stand out more.
Fashionable. (Images via Giphy)
4. Finish the fights you start
Don’t even think about dropping your guard or risk getting the sh*t kicked out of you.
He dropped his guard. (Images via Giphy)
5. Don’t piss off your fellow troops
They just may kidnap you, tie you up and put you on display.
You know that had to hurt. (Images via Giphy)
6. Mind over matter
Things always seem to appear worse than they are at times. Especially when someone thinks there’s a scorpion on their back. That’s just crazy talk.
Calm down. (Images via Giphy)There really was a scorpion on his back. Oops!
Oh, sh*t! (Images via Giphy)
We’ve said our goodbyes, given out our hugs and kisses. We have left the comfort of home, often for the first time, to go serve in the world’s greatest military. In our minds, life was about just about to get real, and that is true…but some of those expectations were quickly tempered, especially joining the Air Force.
Here are 5 things we all wish we knew before joining.
1. If you think you’ve avoided college…think again.
Many of us joined the service anxious to get out on our own and start making a living. We didn’t know what that looked like but we knew it wouldn’t involve dorm rooms and college, at least not right away.
What’s the first thing we get once we get to the operational Air Force? Dorm rooms and college courses, of course.
2. You’re going to fight the war, just like in the movies.
Every job in the Air Force supports the fight. From Services and Security Forces, to Medical Administrators and Dental Techs, we all pitch in to help fight the good fight.
The problem is, supporting the fight could be anything from handing out towels at the gym to doing Hearts and Hands mission downrange. You just never know what you’re going to get.
It can be disappointing to not feel like you’re doing enough, but just remember that we’re all part of the military machine as a whole — supporting roles are important, too.
3. You’re a grown-up now, right?
On the surface, yes. Every man and woman serving in the U.S. military is an adult, but slow your horses.
Just because you can fight for the country doesn’t mean you can indulge in all the adult activities you want (namely: drinking alcohol). Being an 18 year old service member does not privy you to alcoholic beverages.
If you’re like me, you probably didn’t even know underage drinking was a thing prior to being told that if you’re caught drinking or drunk you’ll be on the way back to mama’s house quick, fast, and in a hurry.
4. You get to grow a big beard and wear shades all the time
Hollywood has lied to you. The small section of members that are allowed to rock those gnarly beards earn that right through training and perseverance.
Even those elite members are subject to some form of relaxed uniform standard.
The shades are cool though. Except when in formation.
And they can’t be reflective.
Or overly stylish.
Essentially they’ve got to be plain, conservative, and non-attention drawing.