They’re few, they’re proud, they are Marines food service personnel (aka Marine cooks) tasked with providing satisfying sustenance to warfighters in every clime and place, but not many people know about them or their capabilities.
That’s it… Most people are unaware of this. Marine occupational specialty MOS 3381 food service specialist — it’s a thing.
2. Marine cooks rarely work in chow halls.
Marine Corps chow halls are contracted to Sodexo, the same company that provides prisons with their food service. The similarities may not surprise you. While Marines will sometimes augment chow halls, deployment schedule and support to infantry units is the primary job of most 3381s.
3. They are the people you want to know.
Everyone eats, which means Marine cooks network with everyone. If you want to know a guy who knows a guy that can make whatever happen, the cook is the only friend you need.
4. They control the Rip-Its and coffee in-country.
On deployments, the cooks control the inventory and dispersion of rations – to include not only all the food, but the drinks as well. Imagine quad-cons full of Rip-Its and coffee drinks. Befriend the gatekeeper and you can all live like kings.
5. They know the food isn’t always good.
Field rations are created to endure both high and low temperatures for extended periods of time without going bad. It is meant to provide calories, not so much taste. This is why so many condiments are made available.
If your Marine cook had the time and resources to put out Michelin-star cuisine, he would. But until that miracle of supply and tax dollars happens, blame only yourself for enlisting and suck up what’s available.
There are multiple-day competitions held that involve both Marine and civilian teams competing for pride and prizes. These, along with inter-service competitions, have cultivated some real culinary talent among the ranks.
7. Marine cooks work when you’re off.
You remember those mandatory fun days? You know, the ones where you had to show up to some lame cookout on a Saturday where officers and high enlisted wore polo shirts and above-the-knee khaki shorts with a braided belt and Oakleys? Yes?
Well, that guy cooking, cleaning, and serving the food has been there for hours and can’t leave until everything is cleaned up, the trash is taken out, the trucks are turned back in, and everything is squared away.
Not to mention the Marines stuck working in a chow hall seven days a week.
Bonus! They deploy as far forward as people who need to eat.
This is Sam in Herat province, Afghanistan… Sam is a United States Marine, 3381 food service specialist, living his dream.
There’s no shortage of heroic war stories — truth or fiction — with heavy amounts of glory and honor in them, which can cause young adults to crave certain adventures. Although serving in the infantry does bring a level of individual satisfaction, many facts tend to get left out regarding what it’s really like to be a ground pounder.
So before you run to your local recruiting office to sign on the dotted line and become a hero or whatever, here are a few things you might need to know:
1. It’s a dangerous job
Movies do a great job depicting how dangerous war can be as directors add in cinematic kills and awesome camera work.
In real life, there’s no pulse-pounding theme music or slow motion effects — the sh*t is real.
Once you make a friend in the infantry, you always have that special bond no matter what.
Hopefully, you’re the “Maverick” in the relationship. (Image via Giphy)
3. It can be really, really boring
You’ve probably heard the phrase “hurry up and wait.” In a grunt unit, everything takes more time than it should and you’re going to have plenty of down time. So make sure you have games downloaded on your smartphone to play and help you stay awake while you wait for the higher-ups to “pass the word.”
It’s called a “working party.” This sounds way more fun than it actually is. Instead of plenty of beer and drunken coeds, you’ll be outside in the heat “police calling” cigarette butts or mopping your boss’s office.
If this looks fun, being a boot in the infantry may be your calling(Image via Giphy)
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 one thing no one ever talks about with deployments is the mind numbing boredom that comes between missions. Times have changed from the “Wild West” days of early 2000’s where even having a power outlet was a luxury.
Things have gotten slightly less monotonous but they haven’t changed that much. Troops are still sitting at the same USO, playing on the same broken Foosball table, watching the same videos that have been shared by everyone.
Here are some pro-tips that help make the deployment a little less sucky.
1. Coffee pot ramen
There was nothing more valuable than a cheapo coffee pot that every PX larger than the back of a semi-truck sold. Even then they would probably still sell them.
Instead of using it for coffee like officers in S-3 do, place ramen noodles in the glass carafe and the powder on top where the hot water will eventually drip down. It will save you time on running to the dining hall or spare you another night of MREs (depending on your level of POG-ieness).
2. MRE hacks
You can talk about the blandness of MREs for months at a time, but there’s hope: you can combine your way through any MRE, it just takes a lot of ratf*cking a bunch of ingredients from several other MREs. It’s common knowledge to combine the Cocoa powder, coffee, sugar, and creamer to make Ranger Pudding, but with enough creativity, you can take it to the next level.
Taken to the extreme, even the old dreaded Egg and Cheese Omelet (which was thankfully removed years ago, a long enough time to make it inedible by Army standards) could be mixed with the Beef Stew and crackers to make it “decent”.
If all else fails, have family members send out cheap seasonings like Lowry’s or Tony Chachere’s.
3. Knock off all that inter-unit bullsh*t
There’s no reason to keep up the “screw (whatever MOS) platoon!” Don’t stop playful banter — but don’t be a jerk, either. One team, one fight.
Everyone has one or two things that can help everyone else while deployed. Commo always have batteries and new movies. Medics always have medical supplies and hygiene stuff. Chaplin Assistants always have the best care packages. Mechanics always have cigarettes. The list goes on.
4. Living Space
If you can manage to get a bunk bed all to yourself, you’ve got it made.
Instead of storing gear on the empty bunk, hollow the bottom bunk out and brace it with plywood. This way you can use that space for your own bedroom. Complete with tough box furniture and one of those cheap lawn chairs.
5. Cotton sock cooler
Troops always deploy to unpleasant areas of the world — usually in crazy hot climates. It gets so bad that drinking water becomes so blistering hot, you feel more thirsty after drinking it than you did before you took a swig.
Here’s the solution: Take a single cotton sock and get it damp. Put a cool bottle of water from the dining hall or S-shop mini-fridge and stick the bottle in the sock.
The eventual evaporation helps cool down the water bottle inside. Same concept behind sweating. Because science. It won’t relieve much boredom, but at least you’ll feel better.
6. The Postal Service is faster than the Connex
Deploying to the sandbox and coming back stateside, troops split their gear and personal belongings into two categories: Stuff they take on the plane with them and stuff they send with the connex (which arrives months later).
Why not split it into a third? Things too bulky for the plane, but things you’d want immediately. The moment you get the APO address, send out your Xbox, cheapo TV, gear that might be useful, and extra personal supplies (hygiene stuff, ramen noodles, etc.)
Same deal for your return trip, too.
7. Scorpions glow under UV. Weird way to kill boredom, but we’ll take it.
If you are deployed to an outlying post in the middle of nowhere, you probably noticed a few scorpions.
Spotting them while you’re walking at night is tricky. Since scorpions glow, pick up a black light flashlight to help guide your way.
8. MOLLE pouch for your Woobie
In the PX, there’s countless amounts of “sort of” military gear that no one is ever issued and no one really has a purpose for. The M249 SAW ammo pouch, however, can come in handy for plenty of things.
If you get sent on multi-day missions, that pouch fits your Woobie perfectly. No need to awkwardly dig through your assault pack when the ammo pouch is on the side.
9. .50 Cal Brass as a cigarette cover
We Are The Mighty does not encourage smoking. But if you must smoke…
Every smoker who goes without a cigarette for an extended period of time can tell you that you can spot a cigarette from blocks away.
In the day time, the smoke floats and gives your position away. Especially dangerous at night is the glow of the cigarette, which can give a sniper a bright red target to aim at.
Take an expended .50 cal brass from the Ma Deuce and place it over the cigarette if you just need to have one while on mission. Still does nothing for the smell though.
10f. No one is as stealthy as they think
It should seem obvious, but with your entire platoon squished into a tiny tent on a tiny outpost, there is very little privacy. The sooner you realize it, the sooner your platoon stops mocking you.
If you think you can take a piss in a Gatorade bottle without everyone else in the tent hearing it because you’re too damn lazy to get out of your bunk, you’re wrong. Same goes with everything else that happens in the tent.
We’ve all seen Marine officer recruiting videos either on TV, on our mobile devices, or posted on a billboard next to the highway. For many, the video’s imagery, music, and testimonials cause young minds to consider joining the Corps — for one reason or another.
The video states what you’re going to learn and what awesome prospects lay ahead. Those who attend and complete the training can move on and serve in the Marine Infantry if that’s the path the individual has set for himself.
But what the training book doesn’t teach you is the role outside of the technical. Life in the Marines as an officer is a proud one, but it’s also stressful.
We sat down with our resident Marine infantry officer Chase Millsap and discussed what you should know before taking on the vital leadership role.
1. Your primary weapon is the field radio
It’s your job as a leader to organize your Marines while taking contact. Knowing how to use your radio to instruct your Marines and coordinate supporting arms is paramount.
Not that type of radio Jean-Claude. (Image via Giphy)
2. You will always eat last
In the Marines, enlisted Leathernecks get to eat their chow before anyone else, which means officers are always at the end of the line.
It’s tradition. (Images via Giphy)
3. You will almost always be the least experienced person starting day one
Everyone has to start out somewhere (unless you’re prior enlisted). Listen and learn as quickly as you can.
No doubt you’ll be motivated the first day though. (Images via Giphy)
4. Physical fitness isn’t optional
The minimum PT score is 300 — just saying. And you’d better never, ever let that squad leader beat you on a unit run.
None of those count, sir. (Images via Giphy)
5. Pony up the big bucks to take care of your grunts
We’re not suggesting you buy everyone in your platoon houses — that’s crazy talk. We mean forking out cash for cigarettes, rip its and dip. It will boost your unit’s morale.
Goodbye hard earned cash. (Images via Giphy)
6. You don’t have to be nice.
But you do need to be fair.
That’s hilarious but it’s so mean. (Images via Giphy)
7. You better know why you’re giving those orders
Having the power to give a Marine an order is a big deal. So you need to be sure that it’s well thought out ahead of time.
Dating a service member is different than dating a civilian. But just how much different is it? Here are eight things to consider before jumping into a relationship with someone in uniform.
1. Service members are independent and you should be too.
Troops have to deploy, which means not having him or her around for important events like anniversaries, birthdays and weddings. If you’re a person that constantly needs their physical presence, dating a service member is probably the wrong choice.
2. Don’t be jealous.
Most of the U.S. military is integrated. They deploy to remote locations and work long hours with members of the opposite sex. You’ll have a hard time trusting your significant other if you’re naturally jealous.
3. Don’t overly display supportive military gear like you’re rooting for your favorite sports team.
It’s okay to be proud of your boyfriend or girlfriend serving in the military, but you can take it a bit too far. Gear includes t-shirts, bumper stickers, jewelry and more. You may think it’s cute and supportive, but you’ve just painted a target on the back of your significant other as the butt of many jokes.
4. It’s not being mean, it’s tough love.
Service members are used to direct communication, so avoid that passive aggressive, vague, manipulative language that your mother-in-law likes to use. Direct communication is instilled from day one in the military. I can still remember my drill instructor yelling, “say what you mean, and mean what you say!”
5. There will be secrets.
Depending on their specialty, service members are trained to be more guarded than others. This is especially true with members that require a clearance to do their job. You can poke and prod all you want, but it’s not going to happen. You’ll have to be okay with not knowing that part of their life.
6. You have to be willing to move.
If you’re looking for a life partner in the military, you’ve got to be willing to give up ties to a specific location. This could mean giving up your career and being away from family. Some service members move every three years. Are you willing to live like a nomad?
7. You have to be flexible.
Plans might change or be canceled at the last minute. One moment they’re free to go on a date night, the next day they’re pulling an all-nighter. Same goes for weekends. Just because they spend one weekend with you doesn’t mean that next weekend will be the same.
8. Learn to tolerate his buddies.
The military is a brotherhood. Their lives depend on this special bond, so don’t think that they can just go out and get new friends. Learn to get along with friends, even the annoying immature one.
As veterans, we’ve all thought about signing back up at one time or another. But what would it take to truly get us back in uniform, to don all that heavy gear and take the fight to the enemy as we’ve always done?
Though we all have to take into consideration all the formations, bull-sh*t we receive from the chain of command — and let’s not forget all those wonderful uniform inspections. Everyone loves those.
With all the crap that comes with serving, many veterans still miss some aspects of military life.
Let’s gear up and go to war! (Images via Giphy)
Check out our reasons why we would gear back up to take on the bad guys.
1. If another major terrorist attack happens
The Sept. 11 attacks stirred up patriotism in millions of Americans, and some joined the military during that period just to get a little revenge.
I represent ‘Merica! (Image via Giphy)
2. For a huge bonus check
Everyone wants to line their pockets with extra beer money.
And a case of beer! (Image via Giphy)
3. If your military family went as well
The military brother and sisterhood have a very tight bond, you f*ck with one brother or sister — you f*ck with whole while family.
You said it girl. (Image via Giphy)
4. If you just couldn’t find a good enough job that suits you
Because office work just didn’t satisfy that inner combat operator in you.
These guys were all former snipers. True story. (Image via Giphy)
5. To feel that combat adrenaline rush again
Shooting and blowing up the bad guys makes an operator feel great about themselves. It’s a morale booster.
He nailed every shot too. He’s that good. (Image via Giphy)
6. To get some adventure
Post-military life is hard to adjust too. Sometimes you just want to leave the homeland and get back into the sh*t.
Can we go with you? (Images via Giphy)To all of our military family already forward deployed — we salute you.
Can you think of any more reasons to throw those cammies back on? Comment below.
For decades, Hollywood has made military-based films that touch Americans’ hearts with epic characters and stunning imagery. Not every movie has a big budget, but it’s the attention to detail that the veteran community respects. When their branch is accurately represented on the big screen, Hollywood scores big points.
Still, even when some filmmakers think they’ve done a great job, veterans notice the smallest error of detail in movies.
Here’s a simple list of five movie mistakes we always seem to spot.
In Jarhead 2, a senior officer (Stephen Lang) would know better than to put on the wrong color undershirt, wear gunny sleeves, and sport a cover that looks like a blooming onion. Plus, he’s wearing a guard duty belt for some reason.
You know you can Google our uniforms and learn how to set everything up, right?
You could afford a talented actor like Stephen Lang, but researching Marine Corps uniforms wasn’t part of the budget? (Image from Universal Pictures’ Jarhead 2: Field of Fire)
4. “Flagging” your boys
Any person on earth can tell you that pointing a weapon at one of your friends is a bad thing, and pulling the trigger in their direction is even worse. In the infantry, we’re always training to maneuver on the enemy without pointing our rifles at our own people.
1987’s Full Metal Jacket showcased a prime example of “flagging” as “Doc” runs in front of his squad and they shot around him. Every veteran watching this scene is shaking their head.
See anything wrong with the image below? Shy of the obviously awful salute, her beret shouldn’t be that low and the back of it is supposed to be flush with the skull. It makes the beret look better if you shave off the fluff.
Several films are guilty of this common mistake, but we like looking at Jessica Simpson.
Jessica Simpson does look good in the beret, though. (Image from Sony Pictures’ Private Valentine: Blonde and Dangerous)
2. One too many flags
In 2008’s The Hurt Locker, Col. Cambridge appears to have more patriotism than any other soldier in the Army.
There’s only supposed to be the one flag on his right shoulder — not two. The “field” is supposed to be facing forward. You know, like someone running into battle with the flag.
But this colonel decided to show up to work supporting America twice.
Col. Cambridge should have known better. (Image from Summit Entertainment’s The Hurt Locker)
Saluting officers stateside — or when you’re facing an epic ass-chewing — is an absolute must. But salute an officer in the middle of a war zone in real life, and you just might get him or her killed by an enemy sniper.
In war, saluted officers make great targets for the enemy. (Image via GIPHY)
When a commander designates you and your squad to be OPFOR (Opposing Force), what they’re doing is giving you an opportunity at the most fun you can have in training — playing bad guy.
This is a way for you to use all the knowledge and dirty tricks you’ve ever learned to put other troops in your unit through the ringer.
The purpose of this is to give realistic training to test the unit’s knowledge and metal so your commanders can figure out where the faults are and how to fix them. While being OPFOR is still training to a degree, it’s a great way to skate in the field and get the hell away from your platoon for a couple hours.
Your goal as OPFOR is to ultimately “die.” The unit you’re fighting against will have a mission and a plan, which typically end in their victory. Don’t let that get you down — you still need to put up a good fight. Don’t just hand them an easy victory. The point is to give them some good training; so put them through hell so they can learn something.
2. Be deceptive
Deception is key in any form of a defense. Your goal is to fake out the enemy to make it easier for you to wipe them out. If you’re unpredictable, the enemy’s life will be much harder when they come after you. In the case of OPFOR, you’ll already know what you’re defending so make sure to lead your “enemy” through a big maze.
3. Use their tactics against them
They’re your unit, so you understand their tactics and standard operating procedures, which gives you an edge that a real enemy won’t have. You know what they’re going to do in any given situation so you can provide a perfect countermeasure. When evaluating your unit’s SOPs, be sadistic in your planning to give the ultimate defense.
4. Use your environment
Urban areas are filled with tons and tons of props. Training sites will likely imitate this and place old furniture all over the place, and if you’re training in an abandoned housing area, the chances of this will be much higher. If there are doors around, set up barriers or obstacles. Make your enemy work for their victory.
5. Use every weapon or tool you have
If you’ve got para-cord/550 cord with you, use it. Set-up as many booby traps and trip-wires as you possibly can to increase the level of difficulty for the guys trying to get to their objectives and accomplish their mission. If you have smoke grenades, oil, and/or trip flares, use those to the most frustrating extent possible.
The use of unconventional tactics dominates on the modern battlefield; when you’re OPFOR, it’s a great opportunity to toss out the rule book and mix your conventional knowledge with unconventional tactics to kick some serious ass.
Fight aggressive, fight dirty, and be deceptive. Fight to win and give the guys in your unit a real challenge to test their steel. If you manage to beat the hell out of them, it only increases the amount of fun you’re already bound to have playing bad guy.