If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then giant border walls must be made of the same material. For the cost, these fixed national fortifications did little good in keeping out those meant to stay on the other side.
Historically, most barrier fortifications fall well short of its designer’s expectations and these were no different: they were just the most famous ones.
1. The Great Wall of China
This series of walls and forts was actually contructed over many centuries, beginning in the third century, BCE. The Chinese originally wanted to keep out roving barbarians from the North while protecting that border from invasion. It did neither.
Originally conceived to be 3,000 miles long and anywhere from 15 to 50 high, it was the largest construction project by any civilization ever. Eventually, the Chinese expanded well beyond the wall. And even when they had to retreat, they were still overrun by the Liao and Jin people…and later, by the Great Khan.
2. The Theodosian Walls of Constantinople
These walls were also a series of fortifications built around the furthest extent of Constantinople (now Istanbul) by Emperor Theodosius II between 412-414 CE. While the three miles long, 40-foot walls were effective at keeping out medieval attackers, they weren’t so good against the new cannon technology.
The walls of the city fell in 1453, breached by the Ottoman Turks after only 53 days. The Byzantine defenders knew about the technology but spurned the inventor of the siege cannon because they couldn’t afford it. He then turned around and sold it to the Ottoman Sultan.
3. The Siegfried Line
This monster fortification featured concrete walls and ceilings anywhere from 20 inches to five feet thick. It had thousands of bunkers and tens of thousands of pillboxes and tank traps. Much of the 390 mile stretch of wall, concrete, razor wire, and mines must have been a very formidable sight, after its construction between 1938 and 1940.
What slowed down American tanks at this “West Wall” in September 1944 was a lack of gasoline, not the line itself. The truth is that after years of neglect, the wall was overgrown by vegetation. The Germans didn’t have the manpower to man the wall and it wasn’t designed to fight the newest tanks built for the war. The Americans penetrated the wall within weeks.
4. The Maginot Line
The French did not actually believe their 940-mile network of bunkers, rail lines, concrete and steel would permanently keep out invaders, they just wanted something that would allow them to mobilize an effort to repel anyone who attacks them. So they built the Maginot Line between 1929 an 1936.
In the end, it didn’t even do that. The Germans attacked through Belgium, just as they did during the previous World War. And when the Nazis did advance on the Northernmost sections of the line, they took the fortifications in four days.
5. The Bar Lev Line
The Israelis built a $300 million fortification along the Suez Canal. They also knew it wouldn’t hold the Egyptians off forever if they were attacked suddenly. The Bar Lev Line was expected to hold them off for at least 24-48 hours while the IDF mounted a counter attack. You can probably guess how well it worked.
Armed with 100 water cannons, the Egyptians broke through the $300 million fortification in about two hours. The water cannons swept away the earthworks and a 53-minute artillery barrage breached other, reinforced areas of the wall.
The strength of a nation is directly tied to its naval power and command of the seas. It was for this reason that an island nation like Great Britain was able to create such a vast empire and dominate so much of the world. Today, America follows this naval principle by maintaining freedom of maneuver and overwhelming superiority on the open sea. Since the nation’s birth, the U.S. Navy has fought in epic battles that have changed the course of history. From these events come some of the most badass Naval quotes that we can enjoy today.
1. “I have not yet begun to fight”
This naval quote comes from none other than John Paul Jones. John Paul Jones was America’s first naval hero of the Revolutionary War and is considered the father of the American Navy. In 1779, Jones commanded the 42-gun Bonhomme Richard and led a squadron of five ships attacking British vessels around Ireland, Scotland, and northern England. On September 23, he encountered a large merchant convoy escorted by two British ships of the line. Bonhomme Richard engaged with HMS Serapis and her 50 guns.
Realizing he was outgunned and outmaneuvered with the wind dying, Jones made an effort to lock the ships together. With Serapis in a position of advantage, the British hailed the Americans and asked if they wished to surrender. “I have not yet begun to fight,” was Jones’ reply. Consider this the 18th century naval version of Captain America getting back up during a fight and saying that he could do this all day. Jones’ fighting spirit, and that of his crew, won the day. Though the Bonhomme Richard was lost in the fighting, Serapis was captured by Jones who was knighted by King Louis XVI of France for his valor.
2. “We have met the enemy and they are ours…”
Ever heard of Captain James Lawrence? You can thank him for this quote. During the War of 1812, Captain James Lawrence commanded USS Chesapeake against HMS Shannon in single combat. Chesapeake was quickly disabled by gunfire and Lawrence was mortally wounded. He issued his dying order, “Don’t give up the ship. Fight her till she sinks,” before he was carried below decks. Sadly, the crew was overwhelmed by a British boarding partly shortly thereafter and the ship was surrendered. After his valiant command and death, Lawrence’s words were taken up by his friend and fellow naval officer Captain Oliver Hazard Perry. Perry ordered a large blue battle ensign stitched in white with the phrase “DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP” and flew it in the Battle of Lake Erie. During the battle, Perry’s flagship, USS Lawrence, was also named for his fallen comrade. At the onset of the battle, Perry fortuitously stated, “If a victory is to be gained, I will gain it.”
A badass quote on its own, Perry was a man on a bloodthirsty mission of revenge against the British. When the battle was won, Perry had the British come aboard his ship to surrender so that they could see the sweat and blood of his men. But, the cherry on top of Perry’s revenge sundae was the battle report that he sent to future president General William Henry Harrison. “We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.” For all the fighting and passion that went into the battle, Perry was famously brief with his summary; casual like an action hero not looking back at an explosion.
3. “Damn the torpedoes…full speed ahead”
This hardcore quote comes from Admiral David Farragut, a Southern Unionist from Tennessee who opposed secession and the Confederacy at the outbreak of the Civil War. Though he was a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, Farragut’s loyalty was still questioned because of his Southern roots. However, he was given command of the Union’s Gulf Blockading Squadron and captured the city and port of New Orleans in 1862. For this achievement, he was loyalty was solidified and he was promoted to Rear Admiral, becoming one of the the Navy’s first four active flag officers. On August 5, 1864, Farragut was given the task of taking Mobile, Alabama, the Confederacy’s last major port in the gulf. Though the bay was protected by torpedoes, as tethered naval mines were known then,
Farragut ordered his fleet to charge the bay. When USS Tecumseh struck a mine and sank, other ships halted their charge and turned away from the bay. When Farragut saw this, he called over to one of his ships, “What’s the trouble?” USS Brooklyn replied, “Torpedoes!” “Damn the torpedoes!” Farragut proclaimed and issued orders to continue the charge. “Four bells, Captain Drayton, go ahead. Jouett, full speed.” With the “Leroy Jenkins” type charge, the fleet burst through the defenses and into the bay where they destroyed the Confederate batteries and captured Mobile May. Today, Farragut’s quote is most often paraphrased to, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”
4. “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley”
Some quotes are famous because they are linked to important historical events: “Et tu, Brute” with the death of Caesar which led to the end of the Roman Republic or “Molon labe” with the last stand of the 300 Spartans which gave rise to a united Greece against the Persian Empire. In modern history, it can be argued that Commodore George Dewey ushered in the age of American supremacy at the Battle of Manila Bay. Just after midnight on May 1, 1898, Dewey commanded the U.S. Asiatic Squadron through the Boca Brande Channel off the coast of the Philippine Island of Luzon. America was at war with Spain and Dewey was poised to strike a major blow to the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. Dewey’s flagship, USS Olympia, was to fire the first rounds of the American attack. As dawn broke, Olympia‘s commander, Captain Charles Gridley, waited for his orders as Spanish shore batteries fired harmlessly at the out-ranged squadron. At 5:40 AM, Dewey gave his now-famous order, “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.” The Spanish fleet was obliterated in the bay and the capital city of Manila was surrendered. This action signaled to the world that the centuries-old Spanish Empire had come to an end and that America had arrived as a major naval and world power.
5. “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition”
Military chaplains play a major role in maintaining the morale and welfare of a unit. Regardless of religion, chaplains can motivate troops to push through hardship and win through to victory. Moreover, chaplains are prohibited from actively participating in combat. So, on December 7, 1941, Lt. JG, CHC Howell M. Forgy did everything he could to keep his fellow sailors in the fight. Like the other ships that were still fightable, New Orleans and her crew filled the skies above Pearl Harbor with anti-aircraft fire against the Japanese surprise attack. New Orleans didn’t have any electrical power during the attack, so ammunition had to be carried up from the magazines below decks. After some time, the sailors began to exhaust from the strenuous work. Lt. Edwin Woodhead was in charge of an ammunition line that fed the guns.
“I heard a voice behind me saying, ‘Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,'” Woodhead recalled. “I turned and saw Chaplain Forgy walking toward me, along the line of men. He was patting them on the back and making that remark to cheer and keep them going. I know it helped me a lot, too.” With enemy bullets and bombs falling from the sky, here comes the chaplain telling you to praise God and keep the ammo moving. Forgy’s words of encouragement helped keep New Orleans in the fight and were later used in a patriotic war song. “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” was published in 1942 as a response to Pearl Harbor. The 1943 recording by Kay Kyser’s orchestra reached number 1. Gamers may recognize the tune from such titles as BioShock 2, Mafia II, and Fallout 76.
There was a time when the only Westerners who sported tattoos were sailors.
Tattoos in Western culture can be traced back to Captain James Cook’s visit with the Maori people in the 1700s. His crew decided to get them as souvenirs, and the Western tattoo culture started from there, according to Steve Gilbert in his book Tattoo History.
Traditional sailor tattoos symbolized experiences such as travel, achievements, rank, status, significant life events, superstitions, and more. These are a few examples of the meaning behind traditional sailor tattoos:
Anchor: associated with the Boatswain’s Mate rate or Chief rank, but also symbolizes safety and stability
Dragon: associated with service in Asia
Nautical Star: symbolizes the North star and guide for a safe return home
Lighthouse: symbolizes safe passage to home port
Old sailor or captain: symbolizes life experiences
Rudder: symbolizes control of a destiny
Sailor tattoos fell out of style for several decades but made a comeback thanks to pop culture. Today, sailor tattoos are more popular than ever — and not just with sailors. Celebs, musicians, sorority girls, homemakers, techies — everybody’s getting inked.
Here are some of the coolest Navy-inspired designs recently sighted around the web:
Hollywood makes plenty of military movies, but that doesn’t mean they are always accurate.
Military veterans can be especially judgmental in the accurate portrayal of military films — despite critical and audience acclaim — and some can be impossible to watch when they are filled with technical errors.
Whether its a low budget film you probably haven’t seen or a blockbuster film you love, here are 9 scenes in military movies where Hollywood got it completely wrong.
1. Rambo: First Blood Part II
Mistake: After rescuing the POW’s and getting them on the helicopter, Rambo uses an M72 light anti-tank weapon (LAW) to shoot at the Russian Hind Helicopter and no one on board his helicopter gets hurt.
Reality: The back blast of the M72 light anti-tank weapon (LAW) can kill up to 130 feet. Rambo would have killed all the POW’s he just rescued and possibly destroyed the helicopter.
2. The Hurt Locker
Mistake: Sgt. First Class William James goes AWOL to avenge the death of his friend.
Reality: No soldier in their right mind would go AWOL in combat to avenge someone’s death. He would be prosecuted under the UCMJ. Of course, this is only one of many technical errors in “The Hurt Locker.” This meme pretty much sums it all up:
3. Heartbreak Ridge
Mistake: Gunny Highway shoots live rounds at the feet of his Marines during training.
Reality: Sure, realistic training is good for troops headed into combat, but shooting live rounds at troops is a serious offense and Gunny Highway would be prosecuted under the UCMJ.
Mistake: After learning the war is over, Marine Anthony Swofford says he never shot his rifle, to which his friend replies: “You can do it now.” He fires his rifle in to the sky and all the Marines follow by shooting wildly in the air.
Reality: Marines are professional and disciplined war fighters. Every one of these Marines would be brought up on charges under the UCMJ.
5. Full Metal Jacket
Mistake: The colonel salutes Joker first after speaking with him at the mass burial site.
Reality: No matter what branch of service, enlisted service members always salute the officers first, not the other way around.
6. Navy SEALs
Mistake: During an operation one of the Navy SEALs addresses a team member by his real name over the radio.
Reality: Real names are never used over the radio during any military operation.
7. Zero Dark Thirty
Mistake: Navy SEALs yelling orders during the Osama Bin Laden mission.
Reality: Unless absolutely necessary, verbal communication during a covert operation, let alone any mission, would not happen. Hand signals would be the primary way of communicating.
8. Top Gun
Mistake: Maverick flying inverted within 3 feet of the MIG while Goose takes a picture.
Reality: The tails of the fighter jets would be around 9 feet and a collision would be inevitable. There are many, many more problems with “Top Gun,” detailed here.
Reality: The ribbons and patches this “Colonel” wears makes him look more like a boy scout than a soldier. No branch of service allows service members to wear their ribbon stack on their camouflage uniform.
This was only the tip of the iceberg. What other scenes in military movies did you find were total Hollywood screw-ups? Leave a comment.
Spending the better part of a year on a deployment 3,000 miles away from home is hard for anyone and can feel like an eternity.
On the ride home, many vets think about the first thing they’re going to do when they return, like biting into a perfectly-grilled cheeseburger, getting a good night’s sleep in their own bed or taking a long hot shower.
Aside from those iconic ones, here are a few things you could do to welcome back your spouse and make his or her homecoming a glorious affair.
1. Bring unexpected family members
Consider bringing man’s best friend along — the one who walks on four legs and thinks his returning buddy is king. There’s nothing better than the welcoming face of a faithful pup after a long time apart. Returning home is an emotional time for everybody, so why not bring everyone?
2. Bring tobacco
Puffing a fresh cigarette or packing your lip with a fresh pinch of dip can make a world of difference for someone who spent that last 13 hours on a plane and is itching for a hit of nicotine.
Sure, this isn’t the healthiest gift. But it could make your loved one do a celebration dance when they’re packing a freshie.
3. Bring a cold beer (or beers)
General Order #1A prohibits service members from drinking alcohol while deployed — and it’s rarely lifted.
It’s a known fact when you want something bad and can’t have it, you want it even more. Heineken, Corona, or PBR are just some of the popular choices sold at the local base PX.
Letting your spouse toast a few with his or her buddies for a job well done is a great and inexpensive way to close out a stressful deployment.
4. Have an escape plan checklist
Unfortunately, it’s not always a situation where your loved one can just walk off the plane and go straight home — there’s always a list of “to-dos” before he can pull chocks. So make sure your spouse has a get-home-quick plan so those logistics hurdles don’t get in the way of a quick trip to the casa.
Find the family, hug it out and take a quick photo.
Mark your seabag and other baggage so the kids can spot and retrieve it while you drop off your weapon at the armory.
Meet at the car and load up.
Find the nearest exit gate with the least outgoing traffic.
5. Have a clean house
Being cramped into a small bunk on a ship or sleeping on a narrow cot in a dusty tent takes its toll. Entering a cleaned up and tidy house — even a modest one — can feel like you just walked into a newly designed multi-million dollar mansion.
6. Make a home-cooked meal
Some military installations have better chow halls than others. And a lot of deployed personnel had to make due with eating MREs or C-rations three times a day, which are tough to stomach over a long deployment.
So there’s nothing like sitting down at the table with your family over a perfectly cooked steak with all the fixings.
7. Bring a change of clothes
After months of doing laundry in a bucket, having some fresh clean clothes that don’t have a last name stitched above the pocket is a step in the right direction when trying to return to normal.
Everyone knows being a Blue Falcon is bad, but no one believes that they’re the blue falcon. Here are 7 indicators that maybe you should start shopping for nests.
1. When someone asks for volunteers, you immediately start thinking of who isn’t doing anything.
Look, it’s the platoon sergeant’s or the chief’s job to figure out who is doing what. If they don’t have a grip on their troop-to-task, that doesn’t make it O.K. for you to start naming who’s free for a tasking.
2. You find yourself saying, “Well, so-and-so did it earlier, first sergeant.”
Keep your mouth shut, snitch. First sergeant doesn’t need to know who snuck to the barracks first during those engrossing Powerpoint presentations battalion put together. Let him yell at you until he runs out of steam, then go back to the stupid briefings and suck it up.
3. You make the kind of mistakes that trigger company recalls.
Everyone screws up a few times a year, which is normal. Not everyone screws up so badly that the entire rest of their unit has to come in Saturday morning. Maybe keep your infractions a little more discreet in the future.
Or, make your mistakes epic enough that the unit will enjoy the recall just because they get to hear the story. “Wait, we’re here because Schmuckatelli crashed the general’s car with the installation command sergeant major’s daughter in the front seat? Can I make popcorn before you start, first sergeant?”
4. You frequently hear bus sounds or the words, “Caw! Caw!”
Yeah, your friends are trying to give you a hint, dude. You’re throwing people under the bus and then buddy f-cking them as they crawl out.
5. You take too much credit — especially for stuff you didn’t do with your own hands.
Always share credit. When you’re praised for rifle marksmanship, mention who helped you train. If you perform superbly at the board, mention the guys in your squad who quizzed you.
But, when you weren’t there, you shouldn’t take any credit. Say who actually did the work. Do not take the recognition, do not take the coin, do not tell stories about it later.
6. You’re always the guy that the team or squad leader has to pull aside.
Look, sucking at your job is a version of being the blue falcon. It’s not as malicious or direct as being a credit hog or a snitch, but not learning how to fulfill your position in the squad screws everyone else over. Read the manuals, practice the drills, watch the other guys in the squad. Learn your role.
7. Someone sent you this list or tagged you on Facebook in the comments.
Yeah, there’s a reason someone thought you, specifically, should read this list. Go back through it with a comb. Read each entry and keep a tally of which apply to you. Then, stop being a blue falcon. Caw caw.
Despite having the world’s second largest military budget, the Chinese military is far behind the U.S. in taking care of their troops. An article on Yahoo claims that the total value of a Chinese service member’s gear is roughly equivalent to the cost of two iPods whereas the U.S. spends approximately the price of a mid-level car on each service member. This means that not only do U.S. troops generally enjoy greater comfort and security, but that the Chinese are putting their military dollars into other projects.
The lack of spending on troop gear has not gone unnoticed by Chinese troops. According to a PLA political officer, “If we provide him with advanced protective equipment he will feel very assured, and as a result he will have more confidence to win the war.”
1. They used rope to hold up their underwear until recently.
2. Most of them are still wearing steel helmets.
3. None of their headgear features communication equipment.
4. Helmets weren’t standard issue during the Vietnam war.
It’s Friday, so that’s good. But it’s three weeks since the military’s last pay day and we all know you’re staying in the barracks this weekend. While you’re crunching on your fast food and waiting for your video games to load, check out these 13 military memes.
Real guns are super heavy.
It’s guaranteed that this was a profile pic.
Maybe if we just taxi it near the maintenance chief really slowly, he’ll tell us if it’s okay.
Don’t use flashbangs near the uninitiated.
Coast Guard couldn’t make it. They were super busy helping the TSA foil terrorists.
Just salute, better to be laughed at than shark attacked.
But hey, at least they don’t have to wear PT Belts.
Be afraid, be very afraid.
That’s why they have planes.
Notice the National Guard sticker on the cabinet?
Whatever, the Marine is the only one working right now.
The sweet, sweet purr of the warthog
You start off motivated …
Just wait until you leave the retention office and realize you re-upped.
Navy SEALs are all over the place. In books, at the movies, and on the news. But when they assault a target, they do so quickly and quietly, trying to get the job done before anyone realizes they’re around. Here’s how they do it.
The SEALs will plan their missions down to the finest detail and, when possible, rehearse it beforehand. They’ll review all intelligence and check all their equipment before heading out. When possible, they prefer to time their missions for early morning or late night when the U.S. military’s optical equipment gives them a major edge over the bad guys.
One of the hallmarks of the SEALs are the many cool ways they can arrive at an objective. Their name is even an acronym for sea, air, and land, the three avenues they’ll attack from. They can ride to the beach on a boat deployed from a ship or helicopter, they can parachute in, or they can even move in using clandestine submarines.
While part of the team moves to the target buildings to force entry, part of the team will split off and establish overwatch positions where they’ll keep an eye out for dangers like enemy reinforcements, people trying to escape the target building, and fighters attempting to maneuver on the other SEALs.
SEALs can’t afford to be stopped by minor things like steel doors or fortifications. They’ll go through windows, force open doors, or even blow out walls to get at their targets.
Assault through the house
Once inside, the elite sailors will go through the building and seek out their objective. SEALs train extensively on close quarters combat and urban operations, so they move quickly. As in the picture above, team members look in different directions to ensure they aren’t ambushed.
After grabbing or killing their target, it’s time to leave, or exfiltrate, the objective area. If the SEALs rode a boat in, they might take that back out to sea to link up with a Navy ship. They can also call in helicopter extractions, move out on foot, or take a swim to a rendezvous.
Please, please, please. Don’t ask this question. We are trying very hard to live in la la land. Right now that date is spoiling everything and haunting our every thought. Do you go to buy milk at the grocery store and cry when you happen to see THAT date on it? No? We do. We know you mean well, but instead of reminding us of impending doom….distract us. Oh, and don’t ask when he’s coming home either.
Uh….we don’t have a choice. We are the lucky ones that fell head over heels in love with a man that happened to be in the military. It’s not something we chose, but someONE. If you really love someone, you’ll make whatever sacrifice necessary. And by the way…it’s not ALL bad! I truly love this life. Have you ever had a homecoming? You’ll never experience what I feel is the most amazing event EVER. I do it because I love him; I do it because I love military life.
Just stop. Have you met a military spouse? We don’t ask for help. You don’t survive this life by being weak – we do it all ourselves. We fall into bed at the end of a very long day wondering how we’re going to do it again tomorrow and the next day for the next…how many days do we have left? In order to help us out, please be pushy. Try mowing the lawn without asking. I will never forget when I was cleaning the house one day only to look out the window and see my neighbor mowing the front lawn. He GOT it. And of course I cried. Someone noticed and didn’t make me ask for it. Yeah, maybe you don’t want to just show up with dinner because you don’t know our plans for that night…so instead pop a gift card to Panera in the mail. Or bring a dinner you prepared and froze to be used when we’re having that day. Tell her you feel the need to hang with the kids for a few hours at the park – we’ll know you are lying. But we’ll pretend you’re not. The point is, just do it. TELL us what you are doing. If you give us the opportunity to say no, we will.
5. How do you do it all?
Through God’s unending grace. Grace has become something I’ve been clinging to over the last several months. I always thought of grace as in forgiveness. To me they were simple synonyms. But man, God’s grace is so much more than that. It’s not just forgiveness for my screw-ups, it’s allowing me to screw up in the first place. See, I’m no longer afraid to fail. I WILL fail. It is something I have only now learned – I am not superwoman though non-military members will tell you so. I think that gets in your head after a while. We constantly worry that to everyone else we at least look like we have it altogether and I’m sure most of us take pride in that. But we forget that it’s okay to be a broken mess sometimes. We simply can’t be perfect. Once we begin to accept that, so much stress just seems to dissipate. Our life is stressful enough, don’t carry the baggage of being superwoman on top of it.
This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.
The Marine Corps is filled with individuals from all walks of life. Regardless of where you came from, every single person who bears the title of United States Marine started out at either the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California or the one at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Marine recruits come from all over the country (some are even originally from other countries) to earn their place among the world’s finest fighting force. So, it should come as no surprise that you’re going to meet several different types of people as you train. Everyone’s different, sure, but you’re definitely going to meet these archetypes.
Atop the list is the most common type of recruit. It’s the people who spent their high school careers bouncing between different sports who have the easiest time with the physical training or “incentive” training. You might also find that some of the more physically fit recruits are some of the dumbest. But, then again, it is the Marine Corps.
At first glance, you might think this guy is the same as The Athlete — he’s not. Someone who has big muscles might not have an easy time with the cardio-based workout regimen put forth by Drill Instructors. Usually, these types are the berserker-class of recruit and they’ll do as much heavy lifting as they can to maintain their mass.
Make no mistake, though, big muscles will not intimidate Drill Instructors. In fact, they’ll probably pick The Bodybuilder out as a prime target to break mentally.
There’re always bigger fish.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Damon A. Mclean)
The JROTC douche
These are the types who show up to boot camp thinking they know how to play the game and usually try to be a guide for others right off the bat. The problem, however, is that they think their military knowledge is enough to get them through. They often underestimate the Drill Instructors and overestimate their own mental fortitude.
These d-bags show up cocky and leave feeling like the common folk.
The military brat
This person might not have been in JROTC, but they grew up hearing stories from one or both of their parents about boot camp from ages ago and show up thinking they know how it works. The truth is, they don’t — and they’ll come to understand that soon enough.
Their parents’ service isn’t encoded in their genetics. It doesn’t count for anything except (maybe) a cool story.
The ninja or thief
They’ll try to tell you that no one steals in the Marine Corps. Yeah, that’s bullsh*t. People steal all the time and it’s certainly no secret. You’ll meet the thieving types during boot camp. The ones who will lie, cheat, and steal, either for personal gain or to help out their platoon.
When it comes time to return gear or someone needs a specific item (i.e. extra undershirts, peanut butter, etc.), you might be willing to cut a deal with them. Maybe you’ll take their midnight firewatch in exchange for their “services.” As much as it sucks to have something stolen, these types often come in handy in saving you (and the rest of the platoon) from an infamous “tornado.”
If they do become a scribe, make sure you’re friends. They may come in handy.
These recruits are not very common but every platoon will have at least one. You often question why they chose the Marine Corps since their intelligence and physical performance level screams Air Force. They may not always be the most physically fit, but they’re often the most mentally strong since they have to compensate in some way.
This can mean a few things. This recruit is good at drawing, painting, singing, or all of the above. Regardless, one thing is for sure: They’re here for the same reason you are. The drawing/painting types might end up as an “artist recruit” who paints emblems or draws cool things for the Drill Instructors, but they strive to be Marines first and foremost.
The grand old man recruit
They’re not actually very old, given the Marine Corps’ recruitment age cap is set to 28 without a waiver. Since a lot of recruits in boot camp are between 18 and 21, the “grand old man” is usually between 24 and 26. Most people around that age get sent during the spring or fall when the 17-year-old prospects are still in high school, but they still might end up in platoon full of much younger recruits.
They usually have a lot of life experience, some might even have college degrees or be married. These are the recruits you want to talk to for some wisdom since they know more about life than you do.
Many Soldiers seek Air Assault School as a simple way to get a skill badge for gloating rights. It’s only two weeks of sliding down ropes — how hard could it be? Kinda difficult, actually, if you’re not prepared.
Being a dope-on-a-rope is the fun part, but cocky and unprepared soldiers will often get dropped before they reach that point. To get the opportunity to really learn what rotor wash is, you’re going to have to do a lot of work. There’s a lot more to the school than you might think. Here’s what you need to know if you want to make it through.
I honestly don’t know if that guy was planted there by the instructors, but we all got the message. There’s no messing around at this school.
(Photo by Army Spc. Brian Smith-Dutton)
If you’re at the Sabalauski Air Assault School, for the love of all that is holy, don’t sh*t-talk the 101st Airborne
If you’re stationed at Fort Campbell, home of the Sabalauski Air Assault School, you’re more than likely going to be voluntold to attend. The 101st is pretty fond of their Air Assault status and almost everyone at the school is rocking their Old Abe.
If you’re not in the 101st and are attending on TDY, it’s ill-advised to sport an 82nd patch or Airborne wings. You might get pestered if you do, but won’t get kicked out or anything. All of that goes out the window, however, if you mouth off about the divisional rivalry.
Just how easy is it to get kicked? Here’s a fun, true story: A guy standing next to me on Day Zero couldn’t hold his tongue. He told the instructor, who kept his composure throughout, that “if you choking chickens can do this, so can I.” The instructor just opened the fool’s canteen, poured some water out, shook it near his ear, and told the idiot that he was a no-go before he could set foot on the obstacle course.
Get as much time on obstacle courses as you can before attending
The Day-Zero obstacle course isn’t that physically demanding. Every obstacle is designed so that everyone from the biggest gym rat to the smallest dude can pass. It’s more of a thought exercise than a physical exam.
The challenge that gets the most people is the rope climb. You can climb a rope with almost no effort if you carefully use your feet to create temporary anchors as you work your way up. Check out the video below for a visual example.
The “Air Assault” that will forever play in your head will remind you why your knees are blown out at 25.
(Photo by Master Sgt. Matthew Hecht)
Get used to saying “Air Assault” at least 7000 times a day
“When that left foot hits the ground, all I want to hear is that Air Assault sound.” This literally means you’ll be saying, “Air Assault” every single time your left foot hits the ground while you’re at the school. It’s not very pleasant considering it’s a three-syllable phrase and you’ll be uttering it every other second.
The answer to every question is “Air Assault.” Every movement is “Air Assault.” You’ll probably start mumbling the phrase after a while, but don’t let the instructors catch you doing it.
Also, don’t sleep in class. That’s a shortcut to getting kicked.
(Photo by Army Spc. Brian Smith-Dutton)
There’s actually a lot of math
After you’re done with the obstacle course, the first phase is all about the helicopters. You’ll be expected to memorize every specification of every single helicopter in the Army’s roster.
And, yes, you’ll need to brush up on your basic math skills to plot out how far apart each helicopter should be given their size and area of landing. But don’t worry, you’ll get to the fun stuff soon enough.
Another heads up: That yellow stick thing is super important. You don’t want to learn the hard way why you have to poke the helicopter with it.
(Photo by Pfc. Alexes Anderson)
Expect to do more sling-load operations than fast roping
Oh, you thought Air Assault was all about jumping out of helicopters and quickly touching on what it takes to be a Pathfinder? That’s hilarious. You’re now going to be qualified for a detail that will almost always come up when you’re deployed: sling-loading gear to the bottom of helicopters.
The math skills and carrying capacities you crammed into your brain will ensure that you’re the go-to guy whenever a sling-load mission comes up. It’s only after that test that you move onto the repelling phase. This is when things gets fun.
Do units still do blood wings? Probably not. It’s not that bad, really.
(Photo by Sgt. Mickey Miller)
Make sure your 12-mile ruck march is up to speed
If you’re in a combat arms unit, making a 12-mile ruck march in under three hours isn’t asking much. That’s just one mile every fifteen minutes if you pace yourself properly. The ruck is the absolute last thing you’ll be doing at Air Assault School, just moments before graduation. And yet, people still fail.
If your unit came to cheer you on and give you your blood wings and you can’t complete the elementary ruck march at the end, you’ll never live down the fact that you failed while everyone was finding parking.