Navy recruiters talk a good game to get young prospects to sign multi-year service contracts, but some people need more than words to get motivated. For those young adults out there that need a visual, the Navy filmed inspiring, powerful commercials.
We’ve all seen the posters of Navy ships sailing the seven seas and yes, the idea of becoming a Navy SEAL is pretty badass, but it’s the epic commercials that so often put the final touches on someone’s ultimate decision to make the commitment.
In this ad, a motivated female sailor tells us why joining the U.S. Navy is unlike anything we’ve ever done before. Paired with stunning imagery, this commercial displays the realistic intensity of life in the Navy.
The Military Influencer Conference, held in Dallas, Texas, from Oct. 22 to Oct. 24, was organized by recently retired Army 1st Sergeant Curtez Riggs, who dreamed of designing a conference that merged entrepreneurship, military spouse networking, and the blogging community into what would ultimately become the Military Influencer Conference.
The event was supported by major sponsors, including USAA and National Geographic, which helped contribute to its massive success.
We Are The Mighty was there and we were blown away by how great the event was — but don’t take our word for it. Here are 18 sources who will back that up:
Lakesha Cole, entrepreneur, blogger, and military spouse, explains how the Military Influencer Conference “reset the standard moving forward” for all other military oriented conferences. Diversity and the ability to network are just two of the things Cole found to be game changers for future conferences.
Shiang-Li and Miranda from The Hive and Co. were motivated to find different content than they normally see at conferences. Their thoughts on whether you should attend the conference next year? “You won’t be disappointed.”
Pilcher’s in depth focus on TNT, or Trust, Need, and Transparency, explains how Military Influencer Conference founder Curtez Riggs was able to put together this explosive conference in only months. A little help from Philip Taylor — (PT Money and founder of FitCon) — and a whole lot of elbow grease, and Riggs set the whole place on fire.
Dan Dwyer, owner of Vet2BizLife, LLC, recognized the passion, motivation, and ambition of the attendees at the Military Influencer Conference, and he has 10 tips on how to keep that ambition moving forward after the fact. His 10 tips will help you solidify “an action plan that you’ll be able to execute once you’re recovered, reinvigorated, and ready.”
Founders Dave and Sharon Gran both had two very interesting things to say about the Military Influencer Conference. Sharon: “The Military Influencer Conference is the only conference around for military spouses, veterans, and active duty members who blog, write, speak or own businesses in the military space to come together and learn from each other.” Dave: “The conference is not only a venue to hear the stories and advice from successful entrepreneurs, but an opportunity to network and build relationships.”
Retired Air Force veteran and founder of the Unconventional Veteran Bernard Edwards praised the Military Influencer Conference in its hands on approach and ability to relate to the typical veteran (who is, apparently, not a general or a pilot).
Global business advisor Ed Marsh outlines what made the Military Influencer Conference different from most conferences, and how that difference is what made the entire experience worth him waiving his normal speaking fees and travel costs. Calling the attendees “Quiet Professionals,” Marsh notes that “there was the quiet confidence of a group that knows they’ll win. They may not yet be sure how, and may not even yet be clear on what challenge they’re facing — but experience tells them that their grit, determination, doggedness, ingenuity, and flexibility will enable them to prevail.”
Founder of GreenZone Hero John Krotec writes “I can’t ever recall experiencing anything like it at any of the professional conferences that I’ve attended throughout my thirty-plus year business career. Honestly, it was electric.” His observations of the Military Influencer Conference are a must read.
Nicole Bowe-Rahming, aka “The Fortitude Coach,” notes that the Military Influencer Conference elicited moments of “aha!” and humility, as well as a need to get back to the harmony between being an entrepreneur and an influencer. Her biggest “aha” moment? When Daniel Alarik, CEO and founder of Grunt Style, said “You can’t, but WE can.”
Anna Blanch Rabe, an Army veteran who’s worn so many hats she could open her own hat store, attended the Military Influencer Conference against her will after spending 4 months touring the country. She wrote of her concerns with attending the event: “I would regret not spending extra days in Washington D.C. with my husband after the Marine Corps Marathon.” Rabe soon found she was mistaken.
MadSkills co-founder Erica McMannes discusses three things that you missed if you missed this year’s Military Influencer Conference: how to perfect your pitch, the way the military spouse community was embraced as part of the group rather than just married to it, and how important validation is.
Air Force veteran and current military spouse Alana Wilson digs in to what it means to be a military influencer, and how impressed she was with the over-all community. She writes “My biggest takeaway is that I sit back in awe of the military community. Even after being in this community for 14 years now, I have a whole new wave of appreciation for the kind of people that make up this group. These people are some of the most creative, loyal, hard working, no-quite, all grit, give you the shirt off their back type of people.”
According to Fred Wellman, “It was hard to predict how the first MIC would go. It was clear something special was in the making, based on the incredible list of speakers and sponsors taking the leap of faith on a first-time event.”
And special it was. He listed big takeaways from the event, including the fact that sixty percent of the attendees were military spouses, proving what we’ve known for a long time: our families are a vital part of our military experiences and capabilities.
The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Since it’s 4th of July, we found the most patriotic photos among the best military shots:
USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) arrived in Yokosuka to join the forward deployed naval forces deployed to Japan. Like and share to welcome the Chancellorsville crew to the U.S. 7th Fleet.
Sailors engage in a simulated aircraft fire in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Harry S. Truman is underway conducting tailored ship’s training availability (TSTA) off the east coast of the United States.
The U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon performs during the sunset parade at the Marine Corps War Memorial, Arlington, Va., June 30, 2015. The Honorable Mr. Ashton B. Carter, Secretary of Defense, was the guest of honor for the parade, and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, was the hosting official.
Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia – Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green, the 18th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, presents medals to the Marine Corps Sitting Volleyball Team during the Department of Defense Warrior Games at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.
U.S. Airmen with the Bagram Air Field Honor Guard stand ready to present the colors during the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing change of command ceremony at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, July 1, 2015.
Thunderbirds Solo pilots perform the Opposing Knife Edge Maneuver during the Minnesota Air Spectacular practice show June 25, 2015, at Mankato Regional Airport, Minnesota.
A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crew chief, assigned to the Alaska National Guard, conducts water bucket operations during a firefighting mission south of Tok, Alaska.
Paratroopers, assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, conduct an airborne operation on Malamute Drop Zone, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
“I will ensure that my superiors rest easy with the knowledge that I am on the helm, no matter what the conditions.” – Surfman’s Creed
Anastacia Marx de Salcedo’s new book Combat-Ready Kitchen: How the U.S. Military Shapes the Way You Eat explores how many of the processed foods we buy at the supermarket are prepared using technology and techniques invented by the military to preserve and transport food for troops in battle. To celebrate its release, the author gives us a glimpse into the book’s subject with a list that highlights just a few ways military research affects our daily diet.
Marx de Salcedo’s book dives deep into the subject: she gains access to the DoD’s Combat Feeding Directorate at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. She explores the research and reflects on the role of processed food in the civilian diet and wonders about its long-term effects on health. It’s an ambitious book: she weaves military history into a discussion of the food industry and modern health policy, all filtered through her own family’s experiences.
Nooo! Your favorite cyclical McDonald’s treat, the brainchild of the U.S. Army? That’s right. Restructured meat, of which the McRib is an early example, was an outgrowth of a Natick Center program to lower the meat bill by gluing together cheap cuts to look like more expensive ones. The army’s veal, pork, lamb, and beef entrées hit the field in 1976 and were soon served to troops in the new MREs. McDonald’s first used the technology in 1981, but turned it into a tempting baby back shape and amped up the flavor with spices and sauce.
2. Supermarket Bread
Natural bread goes stale. Supermarket bread doesn’t. What’s the difference? Starch-snacking bacterial enzymes, discovered under a Quartermaster Corps contract with Kansas State College, now University, in the 1950s. The enzymes, like their bacterial host, tolerate the heat of baking, and keep on working for weeks, keeping bread soft and fresh.
Who put the cheese in cheesy snack foods? Until the U.S. military invented full-fat dehydrated cheese during World War II, as part of an effort to reduce weight and volume of food shipments abroad, the nation forlornly munched naked corn chips. After D Day, the cheese dehydrators needed new customers, pronto. They found them in the emerging snack and convenience food manufacturers. Today the tangy orange powder is everywhere—especially your fingers!
4. Energy Bars
Energy bars are the result of an almost a century-long quest for an emergency ration that was light, compact, and nutritious. They began as a nasty meltless chocolate bar, which became the D ration, produced by Hershey in the 1940s. They then took a detour through freeze-drying, being served in cubes during the 1960s space flights; astronauts claimed they cause nausea and weight loss. Finally, in the mid-1960s, the Natick Soldier Systems Center got inspired—by the Gaines-Burger dog food patty, the first intermediate-moisture food, which meant it stayed soft even when stored at room temperature for months. The first modern energy bar was one of these—although apricot, not hamburger, flavored—and was munched by David Scott on the Apollo 15 flight.
5. TV Dinners
The first TV dinners weren’t for dining by the flickering blue light of the boob tube but for bomber crews on long overseas flights during World War II. They were invented by an armed forces contractor, which froze meat, vegetables, and potatoes in a tray. (The microwave, also a military invention, came later to heat these up quickly.)
6. Cling/Saran Wrap
Cellophane, the only food film available during World War II, allowed moisture in, so edibles got soggy. So the Quartermaster Corps added food packaging to its wish list of everyday items to be replaced with plastics ones from a classified research program at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. Saran film was developed in collaboration with Dow Chemical,which brought it to consumers as soon as it possibly could, filing a patent for the invention just days after Hitler’s death. The first cling wrap appeared in stores in the 1950s and quickly became a kitchen staple.
7. Refrigerated Guacamole
It might not look it, but that creamy, green dip from the supermarket refrigerator case has been crushed by the equivalent of a stack of twenty minivans. High-pressure processing was developed by the Natick Center with a consortium of university and industry contractors in the 1990s. It’s now not only used for rations and your guac, but for fresh-squeezed juices, sauces, preservative-free deli meats and heat-and-serve entrees.
8. Room-temperature Sof Tortillas
Seem odd that that package of soft tortillas can be left indefinitely in the cupboard? Thanks to hurdle technology, a discovery by a scientist working for the German army, room temperature foods can be preserved with a number of mild barriers to microbial growth instead of a single large dose of chemicals. The Natick Center quickly adapted the technique, first using in its famous poundcake and then moving onto more complex items, such as the three-year, shelf-stable sandwich. Coming up next: pizza!
Consumers never cottoned up to the army’s largest, longest-running, and most expensive food research program, radiation sterilization. After hundreds of employees, four decades, and $80 million, the only items in our supermarkets routinely zapped with ionizing radiation are herbs and spices, which can harbor deadly pathogens, especially when imported from abroad.
10. Plastic Coolers
Your beach brews are kept icy cold by a 1950’s Natick Center project to develop cellular polymers, foamed plastics, as building materials. The rigid, strong, and lightweight stuff was quickly incorporated into other uses, including refrigerated containers and insulated food coolers.
Anastacia Marx de Salcedois a food writer whose work has appeared in Salon, Slate, the Boston Globe, and Gourmet magazine and on PBS and NPR blogs. She’s worked as a public health consultant, news magazine publisher, and public policy researcher. She lives in Boston, MA. Visit AnastaciaMarxdeSalcedo.com.
It could be argued that the history of aviation spans thousands of years, but in the last generation alone, mankind has developed technology that has allowed humanity to not only take flight, but to accomplish powerful feats of aerodynamic speed, distance, and heights. We’ve also built advanced weapons — both manned and unmanned — that have changed the scope of warfare forever.
This is a list of the top 10 fighters to transform the aerial battlespace for better… or for worse:
(Photo by Dimitri Tarakhov)
10. Su-27 Flanker
The Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker introduced a true modern fighter for the Soviet Union. It was developed in response to the F-15 Eagle during the Cold War and would become one of the most impressive fighter jets of the 20th century. The combination of AA-11 Archer missiles and Helmet Mounted Sight system introduced a true close-in threat to western fighters. The Su-27 might even have an edge over the F-15 in a dogfight — if the Eagle’s superior avionics let it get that close, but I’ll let you guys debate that in the comments.
Built for air superiority, the Su-27 has the flexibility for interceptor and ground attack missions and it remains in service as a multi-role fighter to this day.
The F-86 Sabre was the first swept-wing airplane in the U.S. fighter inventory. It scored countless air-to-air kills against Soviet-built aircraft during the Korean War, namely the MiG-15 Fagot. In 1948, an F-86A set a world speed record of 570 mph; model upgrades would go on to beat that record when an F-86D flew 698 mph in 1952 and then hit 715 mph in 1953.
While the United States would discontinue production of the F-86 in 1956, it still boasts the legacy of defeating its enemy with a victory ratio of 10-to-1 over the Korean Peninsula, where nearly 800 MiG-15s were destroyed at the cost of fewer than eighty Sabres.
(Photo by Stefan Krause)
8. Fokker Dr 1
The Fokker Dr 1 is infamous for its missions at the hands of German World War 1 ace Baron Manfred von Richtofen — otherwise known as the Red Baron. In fact, it is the very plane he was killed in after his 80th and final victory. The triplane was built to outmaneuver Great Britain’s Sopwith Triplane — and it did. While relatively slow with a maximum speed of 115 mph at sea level, it could, according to the Red Baron himself, “maneuver like a devil.”
More impressive, perhaps, were its thick cantilever wings, which needed no struts or bracing wires, unlike most other planes during the war. While later variants of the Fokker would surpass the Red Baron’s driedecker (translation: triplane), the Fokker Dr 1 earned its reputation paving the way for aerial dogfights.
The F-4 Phantom made this list not only because it was one of the most versatile fighters ever built, but also because of its bad a** Wild Weasel role during the Vietnam War. The Phantom was specifically designed to go looking for trouble, flying low and slow to light up enemy SAMs (surface-to-air missile sites).
Early models of the F-4 didn’t even have an internal gun — it was built for beyond visual range weapons. Carrying everything from the AIM-9 Sidewinder to nuclear weapons, the Phantom ushered in modern air combat as a true multi-role fighter.
With the Bf-109, the P-51 Mustang, and P-38 Lightning in the skies, it can be hard to choose a favorite plane from World War II, but we’re giving the glory to the Supermarine Spitfire. The British icon was built with an advanced all-metal airframe, making it fast and maneuverable. It was also full of firepower, and its role in the Battle of Britain against the German Luftwaffe gave the Allies a crucial victory when they needed it the most.
During the D-Day invasion, the Spitfire Mark IX carried 20mm cannons and .50 calibre machine guns, carrying out critical ground-attack missions — and even injuring General Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, himself.
(U.S. Dept. of Defense photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon II)
5. F-117 Nighthawk
While stealth technology had been explored since World War II, the F-117 Nighthawk gets credit for bringing true stealth capabilities to combat. Shrouded in secrecy during its development, the F-117 was designed to attack high-value targets without being detected by enemy radar. In 1981, it became the world’s first operational stealth aircraft.
In 1999, the U.S. lost its edge when an F-117 was shot down in Yugoslavia. The details about the event are still classified, but it’s known that the aircraft landed relatively intact, potentially allowing Russia and China to enter the stealth technology game.
The F-117 saw combat during multiple operations over two decades and it paved the way for the 5th generation stealth fighters we fly today.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Rob Tabor)
4. F/A-18 Hornet
The F/A-18 Hornet was the first tactical aircraft designed to carry out both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, making it a versatile fighter for both Naval aircraft carrier duty and Marine Corps combat operations. The Hornet could switch roles easily, a feat it performed successfully during the Persian Gulf War when it shot down two Iraqi MiG-21s in fighter mode and then took out a ground target in attack mode during a mission.
The Hornet is not only the nation’s first official strike-fighter, it’s proven to be one of the most reliable as well, operating as a fighter escort, fleet air defense, and providing both close and deep air support.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt)
3. MQ-1 Predator
The MQ-1 Predator brought true combat drones to reality and marked the beginning of the end of man-powered aerial combat. Yeah I said it. Come at me, flyboys. With its first Hellfire kill in November, 2002, the Predator changed warfighting forever.
The Predator was operated remotely by a pilot and one or two sensor operators. It was a multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance asset that primarily operated as an ISR platform, but its armament capabilities offered it the ability to strike targets as needed.
The U.S. Air Force officially retired the Predator on March 9, 2018, to give way to its super-sized follow-up, the MQ-9 Reaper, which saw the Hellfire missiles of the MQ-1 and raised it some JDAMs and the GBU-12.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Michael Ammons)
2. F-15 Eagle
The F-15 Eagle boasts an undefeated record in air-to-air combat, with models still in use today despite the design being from the 1970s. Its longevity can be attributed to its unprecedented acceleration, groundbreaking maneuverability, and impressive weapons capabilities. It’s high thrust-to-weight ratio and low wing-loading allow the Eagle to turn tightly without losing airspeed while its top speed above Mach 2.5 made it the first U.S. fighter capable of vertical acceleration.
It’s avionics package and armament specs — notably including the AIM 120-D AMRAAM radar-guided missile — combined with flight performance defined air superiority and it has yet to meet an enemy capable of bringing it down.
The F-22 Raptor is the most powerful air dominance fighter in the world — no, in the universe. Considered the first 5th generation fighter in the U.S. inventory, the Raptor boasts unprecedented attack capabilities, integrated avionics, and battlespace awareness, as well as stealth technologies that allow it to protect not only itself but other assets.
In air-to-air configuration, the Raptor carries six AIM 120 AMRAAMs and two AIM-9 Sidewinders, while in air-to-ground mode it can carry two GBU-32 JDAMs (while bringing along two AMRAAMs and two Sidewinders just for kicks).
The F-22’s powerful engine and sleek aerodynamic design allow it to cruise at supersonic speeds without using afterburner and its flight controls and maneuverability are unmatched by any other aircraft. Ever.
If that list doesn’t make you want to cross into the wild blue yonder, then dammit, I don’t know what will. Leave a comment and let me know.
Being clean shaven every day in the military is an absolute must — unless you’re a special forces operator and are allowed to grow out a manly beard. Every morning, men (and some women) wake up during with a 5 o’clock shadow that is required to disappear before morning muster.
But the day you signed your DD-214 and no longer fall under the rules and regulations of shaving, it’s time to grow out that impressive separation beard — just because you can.
Not every beard is right for the individual. With several types of styles to choose from, it’s necessary to grow one that fits your specific personality. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you pick one out that fits your unique look.
Not to be mistaken for the “Homeless Man,” this style says “I work my ass for a living, but it’s usually somewhere outside in the cold.” It’s popular for keeping your face warm and catching food crumbs.
2. The Chuck Norris
One of our favorites, this traditional style relays to the world that not only can you be rugged, but you take enough time to trim up. This typically looks good enough to step into the boardroom for a presentation, then head right out to the gun range.
Chuck Norris doesn’t shave — he orders his beard to stop growing.
3. The “I’m not too worried about it”
This unique look informs the world you’re just chilling, you’re in no hurry, and whatever happens, happens.
Named after the talent actor-comedian Zack Galifianakis, this ensures your fellow man that you’re a hard worker, but you know how to crack a good joke and don’t take life too seriously.
5. The Fuzz
Not everyone can grow a full separation beard — some of us grow them in thin-to-thick patches.
This doesn’t inform the world you have low testosterone (the male’s dominant hormone) because it isn’t a facial hair growth factor — dihydrotestosterone is the chemical that promotes thick beard growth and unfortunately is linked to hair loss. Bummer!
We still respect your commitment.
6. The Shaggy
A fashionable look for those who received their separation paperwork and ran straight to the bar, leaving their razor or clipper behind in the barracks.
Service members come from every walk of life. Just because someone doesn’t walk around looking like Mat Best, doesn’t mean they’re not a veteran. Even if someone walks around in a perfectly squared away uniform, it doesn’t mean they’re a veteran. Stolen Valor dirtbags have probably figured out how to use Google.
If you’re uncertain whether someone is really in the military or faking it, talk to them. Google will only help them out so far. Pull them aside and ask them a few questions, calm and collected, so they’re off-guard. Bear in mind, if they fail a question, they may still have served. Traumatic brain injury and dementia are common among veterans. If you’re giving hell to the guy who can barely remember his daughter’s name because of an IED in Iraq – you are the dirtbag.
The trick is to catch them playing along with a lie you made up. Praise something that doesn’t exist and if they latch on hoping to get your approval, they’re full of sh*t. Add in minute details that should set off red flags if they don’t look at you’re crazy. From there, it’s up to you. I, personally, recommend just shaming them into going back home and changing out of the uniform of good men and women. You do whatever you see fit.
“That’s impressive, I heard about the serious fighting in Atropia, Iraq. Were you there?”
For some reason, no one ever pretends to be a part of the 97% of the military that are POGs. Stolen valor dirtbags always go big. If you make up some random place that sounds vaguely foreign in Iraq or Afghanistan, they won’t know that the place doesn’t exist.
The people of Krasnovia didn’t deserve the hell brought to their homes —mostly because the people of Krasnovia don’t exist.
“How long did it take you to make insert a rank not indicated by their uniform?”
Memorizing very important details is hard for dirtbags. Specifically, details like believing you can make E-7 in three years. Added bonus if they don’t correct you on saying the rank incorrectly.
“Did you ever serve with my buddy Wagner? Man, I can’t remember what that dude kept going on about loving…”
If there’s one thing you can always count on is civilians not truly understanding the real size and scope of the military. With over 2.2 million troops in the United States Armed Forces, there’s no possible way to know every single person serving.
“Oh nice! What was basic training/boot camp like? Were the Drill Sergeants/Instructors mean?”
Soldiers do not go through boot camp. Marines do not go through basic training. To civilians, they’re used interchangeably.
If you intentionally mix them up, and they don’t politely correct you or immediately look at you like you’re an idiot, you got ’em.
If they’re in a dress uniform: “That ribbon is nice. Did you get it for -whatever-?”
According to basic human psychology, liars always elaborate their stories to try and make their story seem more believable. If you point higher up on the ribbon rack, those can be awarded for some insane things. But it’s the lesser awards that are basically handed out for not messing up anything. When you point to, say, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and they say it’s for saving their platoon: laugh.
Marine Corps boot camp is a slice of hell that turns civilians into modern-day Marines.
With constant physical training, screaming drill instructors, and so much close-order drill recruits eventually have dreams about it, spending 12 weeks at boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina or San Diego, California can be difficult for most young people.
Having stepped off a bus and onto the yellow footprints at Parris Island on Sep. 3, 2002, one of those young people was me. While in hindsight, boot camp really wasn’t that bad, I thought then that it was the worst thing ever. While writing this post, I thought I would speak in general terms, but since my mother kept all my correspondence home, I figured I would go straight to the source: my original — and now-hilarious-to-read — letters back home.
Drill instructors are the worst.
Having a crazy person with veins popping out of their neck scream in your face and run around a barracks throwing stuff can be quite a shock to someone who was a civilian a week prior. Although I later learned to greatly respect my DI’s, I didn’t really like them at the beginning, as my first letter home showed.
“Our DI’s are complete motherf—king a–holes. There’s no other way to describe them,” I wrote, before including a great example: “Today they sprayed shaving cream and toothpaste ALL OVER the head and we had to clean it up. Yesterday, threw out all of our gear, had to change the racks, and sh– was flying.”
Sounds about right.
My recruiter totally lied to me.
It’s a running joke in the Marine Corps (and the greater military, really) that your recruiter probably lied to you. Maybe they didn’t lie to you per se, but they were selective with what they told you. One of my favorites was that “if I didn’t like my job as infantry, I could change it in two years.” That’s one of those not-totally-a-lie-but-far-fetched-truths.
In my initial letter, I took issue with my recruiters for telling me that drill instructors don’t ever get physical. Most of the time they won’t touch you, but that’s not exactly all the time.
“Oh, by the way, recruiters are lying bastards. They [the drill instructors] scream, swear a lot, and choke/push on a daily basis,” I wrote. (It was day three and I was of course exaggerating).
Mail takes forever to get there.
Getting mail at boot camp is a wonderful respite from the daily grind at boot camp, but letters are notoriously slow to arrive. In my letters home, I complained about mail being slow often, since I’d ask questions in my letters then get a response of answers and more questions from home, well after I was through that specific event in the training cycle.
“Sometimes I write more letters than everyone back home and I have way less time to do it,” I wrote in one letter.
The other recruits were terrible.
I’m sure they said the same thing about me. Put 60-80 people from completely different backgrounds and various regions of the United States and you’re probably going to have tension. Add drill instructors into the mix constantly stressing you out and it’s guaranteed.
Then of course, there’s the issue of the “recruit crud,” the nickname for the sickness that inevitably comes from being in such close proximity with all these different people.
Throughout my letters home, I complain of other recruits not yelling loud enough or running fast enough. “They don’t sound off and we are getting in trouble all the time,” I wrote. No doubt I was just echoing what the drill instructor has given us as a reason for why he was bringing us to the dreaded “pit.”
Getting “pitted” is the worst five minutes of your life.
Marine boot camp has two unique features constantly looming in the back of a recruit’s mind: the “pit” and the quarterdeck. The quarterdeck for recruits is the place at the front of the squad bay where they are taken and given “incentive training,” or I.T. — a nice term for pushups, jumping jacks, running-in-place, etc — for a few minutes if they do something wrong.
But for those times when it’s not just an individual problem — and more of a full platoon one — drill instructors take them to sand pits usually located near the barracks for platoon IT. Think of them as the giant sandboxes you played in as a kid, except this one isn’t fun. For extra fun, DI’s may play a game of “around the world,” where the platoon is run from one pit to another.
The U.S. military is awash in regulations, laws, and official traditions. How troops march and salute, what uniform to wear to what event, or what you are supposed to say when greeting a superior are all examples of “on-the-books” behaviors expected of service members.
And then there are the “off-the-books” traditions. They are the unwritten rules: traditions that go back way before the books were printed. These activities — especially the ones involving hazing — are often frowned upon, but still continue to happen, usually without any official recognition.
Here are eight examples.
1. Fighter pilots (or members of flight crew) get hosed down after their final flight.
The “fighter pilot mafia” is definitely a thing in the Air Force and Navy, which is the nickname for the pilot sub-culture within each service. Soon after aviators get to a new unit they will go through an unofficial ceremony of receiving their callsigns, and they usually are not very flattering.
On the flip side is the final flight. Much like a football coach gets a giant cooler of Gatorade dumped over their head at the end of a game, pilots sometimes will get hosed down with water by their comrades. In some cases, they’ll be doused with champagne.
In the case of Maj. Vecchione (shown below), his peers also threw string cheese, flour, and mayonnaise on him. Personally, I would’ve thrown in some ketchup and mustard, but hell, I wasn’t there.
2. At a military wedding with a sword detail, the wife gets a sword-tap to her booty to “welcome her” to the family.
Nothing like a little tradition that allows some dude to tap your brand new wife on the butt. When a service member wants to go through the pageantry of having a “military wedding” — wearing their uniform at the altar and bringing along a sword detail — they can expect that at the end of it all, some random dude will be sexually harassing his wife for the sake of tradition.
It goes like this: On the way out right after the ceremony, the couple passes over an arch of swords on both sides. They go through, kiss, go through, kiss, then they get to the last one. Once they reach the final two and pass, one of the detail will lower their sword, tap the bride, and say “welcome to the Army [or Marine Corps, etc]!”
Here’s the Navy version:
3. When a Navy ship crosses the equator, sailors perform the “crossing the line” ceremony, which frankly, involves a lot of really weird stuff.
The Crossing the Line ceremony goes far back to the days of wooden ships. According to this Navy public affairs story, sailors were put through this hazing ritual designed to test whether they could endure their first time out at sea.
These days, sailors crossing the line for the first time — called Pollywogs or Wogs for short — can expect an initiation into the club of those who have done it before, referred to as Shellbacks. During the two-day event, the “Court of Neptune” inducts the Wogs into “the mysteries of the deep” with activities like having men dress up as women, drink stuff like a wonderful mix of hot sauce and aftershave, or make them crawl on their hands and knees in deference to King Neptune. I swear I’m not making any of this up.
In the modern military that is decidedly against hazing rituals, the events have toned down quite a bit. In 1972 a sailor may have expected to be kissing the “Royal Baby’s belly button,” which again, is totally a real thing.
Nowadays however, there’s much less of that sort of thing, and the Navy stresses that it’s all completely voluntary (ask any sailor, however, and they’ll probably tell you it’s “voluntary” with big air quotes).
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
4. Before going on deployment, Marine infantrymen who have never deployed need to shave their heads.
Don’t ask me where this unwritten rule came from or why — other than to distinguish who the total boots in the platoon were — but Marine grunts who have never done a deployment are often told to shave their heads before they move out.
Again, this is one of those “voluntary” you-don’t-have-to-do-this-if-you-don’t-want-to kind of things, but there were 3 guys in my platoon who decided to keep their hair before deploying to Okinawa in 2003. Interestingly enough, they were put on plenty of cleanup details and other not-so-fun jobs as a result.
5. When achieving the next rank or earning parachute wings or other insignia, a service member may get “blood-pinned,” though it’s rare these days.
Soldiers who get through five successful jumps at Airborne School in the past could expect to get “blood wings,” but that practice has died down in recent years as the public has learned of it. After a superior pinned their wings on, a soldier would get their new badge slammed into their chest, which often draws blood.
This kind of thing is frowned upon — and prohibited under military regulations — but it still sometimes happens. In some cases, it’s considered a rite of passage and kind of an honor. I personally endured pinning ceremonies that I volunteered for when I picked up the ranks of lance corporal and corporal.
6. Some units have mustache-growing contests in training or on deployment to see who can achieve the most terrible-looking ‘stache.
The military regulations on facial hair offer little in the way of good looking when it comes to shaves. Most men are not allowed to grow beards (except for some special operators) and although they are allowed, mustaches are generally frowned upon. Why they are frowned upon usually comes down to how terrible they often look.
Don’t expect any mustache greatness ala Rollie Fingers; troops usually have to keep the mustache neatly trimmed within the corners of their mouth. Those regulations give way to the terribleness derived from the “CAX ‘stache,” which is what Marines refer to as the weird-looking Hitler-like mustache they’ll grow out while training at 29 Palms.
These contests sometimes extend overseas, especially when junior troops are away from the watchful eyes of their senior enlisted leaders. But whenever the sergeant major is around, you might want to police that moostache.
7. First-year West Point cadets have a giant pillow fight to blow off steam after the summer is over.
Before they become the gun-toting leaders of men within the United States Army, first year cadets are beating the crap out of each with pillows in the school’s main courtyard. The annual event is organized by the students and has occurred since at least 1897, according to The New York Times.
While it’s supposed to be a light-hearted event featuring fluffy pillows filled with things that are, you know, soft, some [blue falcon] cadets have decided to turn the event bloody in recent years. One first-year cadet told The Times in September: “The goal was to have fun, and it ended up some guys just chose to hurt people.”
That quote came from a story that broke months ago after the “fun” pillow fight ended with at least 30 cadets requiring medical attention, 24 of which were concussions.
8. Naval Academy midshipmen climb a lard-covered monument for a hat.
Around the same time that first-year West Point cadets are beating each other and causing concussions, 1,000 screaming Navy midshipmen are charging toward a 21-foot monument covered in lard with a hat on top. The goal: Retrieve the first-year “plebe” hat and replace it with an upperclassmen hat, a task which signifies their transition to their next year at the Academy.
Beforehand, upperclassmen hook up the plebes with about 200 pounds of greasy lard slapped on the sides of the Herndon Monument, making their task a bit more difficult. They need to use teamwork and dedication to climb their way to the top, which can take anywhere from minutes to over four hours (Class of 1995 has the longest time 4 hours, 5 minutes).
According to the Academy’s website, the tradition is that the first guy to make it to the top will likely rise to the rank of admiral first. That is if he or she doesn’t get themselves fired first.
There are three people you should always be friends with: The cook. The medic (or Corpsman). And whatever the MOS of the person repeating the phrase.
Everyone in the military serves a purpose in the grand scheme of things, but this week we’ll break down why the cook always belongs on the top of that list.
This is first in a series that will cover the benefits, both obvious and subtle, of befriending service members of another MOS. Stay tuned for more! Who knows? Your MOS might be next!
Why they’re important
6. Everyone needs food
Just a fact of life. The average human needs 2,000 calories a day to stay functional — and that number is far higher for people with an active lifestyle, like troops.
There’s only a certain amount of MREs you (and your digestive tract) can take. That’s where the chef comes in — with fresh food.
Even on the other end of the spectrum, if you’re so POGgy that all you eat is fast food — well…you do you. You f*cking POG.
5. Despite the jokes, they’re actually really good chefs
“But they always serve those gross eggs that come in plastic bags!” the uninformed are typing furiously in the comment section.
This is true. Not denying that they do serve mass quantities of food that can only be eaten doused in sauce. But take a look at the stuff they can make when they have the time, like on holidays or “best chef” competitions. Even that awkward E-2 you only ever see in the smoke pit can probably pull off some really impressive work those days.
Why they’re actually important
4. They can get you more of the good food
They do have to hold on portion sizes during meal rushes to make sure everyone can get something to eat. It’s just the way things go if you’re told you have 400 pieces of bacon and 100 people to feed. You’d logically give four pieces to everyone. But the cooks know that there won’t be 100 people who want bacon.
Once they know that it’s cool, they will definitely toss those extra bacon strips your way.
3. They have access to the real deployment gold: Rip-Its, muffins, beef jerky, etc.
The weirdest thing happens on deployment. Money becomes meaningless (because everyone has expendable cash and nothing to spend it on) and minor things like Rip-Its, despite being half the size of the same ones they sell at the dollar store, have more value and trading power than the 5o cents it’s probably worth.
Why barter for gold when you could go to the goldmine itself?
What happens when you’re their bro
2. They can get you food on the off-hours
If you’ve ever worked KP, you will probably notice the bullsh*t that is all of the leftover food being tossed. Just trays of bacon being thrown directly into the trashcan. Most cooks are just like every other troop: plenty of them would rather save that bacon for their bros than see it in a landfill.
On top of that, there’s this weird thing about cooks. Most actually enjoy cooking — on and off duty. They may also just whip you up something in the barracks kitchen if you ask them nicely.
1. They will make you the food you actually want
Remember those disgusting bagged eggs from earlier in this article? Cooks can make you a real egg omelet if you ask them. Same goes for everything else in the “made to order” lines.
But the real kicker are those little comment suggestion cards they always have at the end of the dining hall. Not to blow their secret, but most cooks have a hard time coming up with countless menu options day in/day out, so they’ll stick to a schedule or a guide that has been passed down since god knows when.
If you say to your cook friend, “Hey man, I found this recipe for some Brazilian food. Looks easy enough,” they’ll likely give it a shot — and you’ll feast at “Brazilian Day” in the chow hall sooner or later.
Summer’s officially here, the BBQ is hot, the beer is cold, and it’s time to party. Old Glory is still soaring from when we honored Memorial Day, but now we have a holiday where the only requirement is to celebrate.
It’s the 4th of July.
If you’re gonna have an epic party, you need an epic playlist. These tunes will light some fireworks in your soul. Enjoy.
9. Team America World Police — “America F*#k Yeah!”
I LOVE THIS SONG EVERY TIME I HEAR IT.
8. Tom Petty — “American Girl”
A good party playlist should rise and fall. Tom Petty and his ode to the American Girl can keep things calm for a few.
7. Bruce Springsteen — “Born in the USA”
This is a classic and cannot be omitted. Let it happen.
6. Lenny Kravitz — “American Woman”
This makes every woman, including yours truly, want to lose some layers and show off her moves. You’re welcome.
5. Iced Earth “Declaration Day”
Sometimes you just need to say it with metal: “Freedom is not free.”
4. Katy Perry — “Firework”
This song is catchy as hell and you know it.
3. Brad Paisley — “American Saturday Night”
You had me at French kissing and a cooler of cold Coronas.
Not only was Houston’s voice absolute perfection, when she recorded this song, she donated the proceeds of the single to benefit the veterans of the Persian Gulf War. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, she re-released it, this time donating her profits to the firefighters and victims of the attacks.
For those of you who are out there continuing to fight for the freedoms we cherish, you have our gratitude. Stay safe.
American military heroes typically spend a lot of time fighting in other countries. The leaders of those countries can give medals or official thanks, but sometimes they induct American warriors into their chivalric orders and turn them into knights. For American citizens the honor comes without the title of “sir” or any of the official perks, but it’s still way better than a challenge coin.
1. Gen. James Doolittle
Medal of Honor recipient and leader of the Doolittle Raid, Gen. James Doolittle also has a number of honorary knighthoods including Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath from Great Britain, the Order of the Condor of Bolivia, and the Grand Order of the Crown from Belgium.
2. Adm. Chester W. Nimitz
The naval hero who commanded the fleets at the battles of Midway, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and others was named to two foreign knighthoods. First, he was appointed as Knight Grand Cross of the Military Division of the Order of Bath by Great Britain, then Knight Grand-Cross in the Order of Orange Nassau by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.
Gen. Omar N. Bradley was a five-star general, World War II and Korean War commander, the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the first Chairman of the NATO Committee. For his years of military service, Bradley was made an honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire.
5. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower
General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower has way too many knighthoods to list here, but some highlights include: Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath from Great Britain, Grand Cordon with Palm of the Order of Leopold from Belgium, and the Grand Croix of the Legion of Honor from France.
6. Gen. Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur retired from the Army in 1937, but returned in 1941 after a request from President Roosevelt. Gen. MacArthur went on to become commander of occupied Japan and of United Nations Forces in Korea. For his World War II service, MacArthur was appointed as a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath of Great Britain.
7. Gen. George S. Patton
A veteran of the Border War with Mexico, World War I, and World War II, Gen. George S. Patton was named to numerous orders including the Order of the British Empire, the Order of Leopold, and the Order of Adolphe of Nassau, among others.