7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit - We Are The Mighty
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7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

You just got your DD-214! Congrats, you made out alive. You’re officially a veteran.


Now that you’re not under any specific grooming standards or have to wear the same thing every day — how will your fellow veterans know who you are?

You’re in luck. We created a checklist of everything you’ll need to start your new life as a post-service veteran.

Write this down:

1. Oakley sunglasses

Any sunglasses will do, but since this line of eyewear looks freaking tactical — you’ll continue to wear them just to prove you know how to operate.

 

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

Oakley, when you want people to know you used to be tactical AF — without telling them. (Source: Defense Review)

2. A “heroes bracelet” designed for veterans

What better way to remember your fallen brothers than this black or silver engraved piece of gear. They’re durable, inexpensive, and meaningful. Be ready to drop kick any civilian that tries to make fun of you for wearing a bracelet.

 

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

3. An assault pack

You know that awesome camouflage pack you didn’t get to keep when you did your final check out?

Well, guess what? You can buy it online or from the base PX (bring that new green ID) and use it to carry all your school books when you start using your G.I. Bill.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Rip Its not included.

 

4. A veteran separation beard

Guess what? You don’t have to shave every day if you don’t want to — not anymore. So toss away that single blade razor until you f*ckin’ feel like using it. You’re a free man now.

5. A shirt from a veteran owned business

Now that you’re a veteran, it’s time to dress the part. Wearing a kick ass design from Grunt Style, Ranger Up, or Article 15 Clothing will ensure that everyone knows you’re in the club.

 

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
www.gruntstyle.com

6. A ball cap with the American flag on it

Nothing says “I love America” like a tan ball cap with a curled brim.

The curled brim doubles as a great place to rest those Oakley sunglasses when the sun goes down and you don’t feel like holding them in your hands or clipping them to your shirt.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Source: Rally point)

7. You still buy 550 cord — because it’s freakin’ great!

You never heard of this outstanding cord before serving — but now that you know about it, you can’t stop tying everything with it.

Just when you think the whole world has let you down, 550 cord won’t.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

MIGHTY TRENDING

5 reasons why ‘Bangin’ in Sangin’ was like the Wild West

In October 2010, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines started clearing the Taliban insurgency from the Sangin District in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Once 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines handed over the area of observation to 3/5, things escalated quickly, making this campaign one of the bloodiest in American history.


Marines who headed out to clear the enemy-infested area were met by a dangerous environment and an extremely complicated IED threat — as a result, casualty rates climbed.

Eventually, the actions of the Marines of 3/5 were unofficially dubbed, “Bangin’ in Sangin.” The narrative that unfolded there was very close to that of a story set in the Wild West. Here’s why:

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Cpl. Robert Santiago, front, from Perth Amboy, N.J., and Sgt. Eddie Glowacki, from Great Valley, N.Y., Security Force Assistance Advisor Team 2-215, look out over the Sangin Valley during an operation near Forward Operating Base Nolay, Afghanistan, Jan. 27, 2014. The SFAAT considered the operation to be a success and was dedicated to helping the ANA in the region to become completely sustainable and self-sufficient. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua Young)

Paved roads were scarce

In most parts of the world, people drive on paved roads with designated lanes. Well, for British and American forces, the only option was to drive and patrol on roads made from loose gravel. The main roads in the district were described as nothing more than “wide trails.”

Since the majority of the Sangin population uses animals to haul their cargo, in the troops’ perspective, it was like jumping into a time machine and transporting back to the Old West.

The local cemeteries

How many Westerns have we seen where the cowboys, on horseback, encounter an eerie cemetery as they travel through uncharted land? Too often to count, right?

Well, Sangin was no different. Many of the graves were decorated with rocks and flags tied to wooden staves — just like the movies.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
HM3 Mitchell Ingolia, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment conducts a security patrol through the dangerous area known as Sangin, Afghanistan. (Photo by U.S. Marine Cpl. David Hernandez)

 

The nasty terrain

In many Westerns, the cowboys add days to their journeys because of some unmarked obstacle blocking their path, forcing them around.

In Sangin, the rough terrain provided for some unique challenges. Harsh conditions plus the fact that mud structures can be destroyed and rebuilt quickly made keeping maps current nearly impossible.

The locals lived in tribes

In the old days, Native Americans lived in settlements and did every they could to make ends meet while answering to the chief of the tribe. In Afghanistan, Marines commonly patrolled through similar villages — and the locals answered to their Islamic religious leader, known as the “Mullah.”

Though modern in many ways, social organization on the local level remains tribal.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jose Maldonado (left) and Cpl. Rocco Urso (right), both with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, provide over watch security during an operation in Sangin Valley, Afghanistan, on Oct. 7, 2010. The Marines conducted a two-day operation to clear insurgents from the Wishtan area. (USMC photo by Cpl. David Hernandez)

 

The Marines lived like cowboys

When Marines left the wire for several days, they packed ammo, food, and their sleeping system. Since they didn’t know where they were going to be sleeping each night, Marines found rest in places most people couldn’t even imagine.

Lists

These 7 photos prove the F-4 is the greatest multirole fighter of all time

The arguments have raged in the back bars of officers clubs for years about which fighter is the greatest. (And many times a pilot’s vote is for the airplane he or she happens to be flying at that time.) But in terms of staying power and mission agility, no other military airplane can match the track record of the venerable F-4 Phantom.


Here are 7 photos that prove the point:

1. Air-to-air

 

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

 

The Phantom was the first American military jet made with air-to-air missiles as the primary offensive weapon, and over the course of the airplane’s long history that capability was used to good effect by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and a host of foreign countries including Israel, Iran, and Turkey. USAF F-4 crews alone scored over 107 kills during the Vietnam War.

2. Air-to-ground

 

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Photo: USMC)

The F-4’s bombing capability made it a workhorse during the Vietnam War. The Phantom’s power and number of weapons stations allowed it to carry a wide variety of ordnance, which allowed it to be tailored to a specific mission in ways that were impossible for other airplanes.

3. SAM suppression

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Photo: USAF)

The “Wild Weasel” variant of the F-4 had the mission of flying into surface-to-air missile envelopes in order to coax SAM operators to come to life. Once they did, the Wild Weasels would take the SAM sites out with Shrike missiles or conventional bombs, but in the process aircrews often found themselves dodging missiles shot at them from the ground.

4. Reconnaissance

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Turkish RF-4 over Syria. (Photo: NATO)

The photo version of the Phantom had cameras in the nose cone and took advantage of the jet’s speed and agility to get important imagery to military decision-makers in a hurry.

5. Test and evaluation

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Phantoms were used by NASA and a variety of military TE squadrons for data points around supersonic flight and other mission areas. At one time the F-4 held 15 world records for flight performance. Here, VX-4’s “Vandy One” with arguably the coolest paint job in military history chases an SR-71 over the Mohave Desert.

6. Flight demonstration

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Blue Angels diamond flies along show center at Nellis AFB with Thunderbird No. 1 parked on the ramp in the foreground. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The F-4 was used in the late ’60s and early ’70s by both the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds. The rear cockpit was generally unoccupied for demonstration flights. The Phantom show was a crowd-pleaser — fast and loud. The airplane was ultimately too expensive and too much to maintain on the road, so the Blues switched to A-4s and the Thunderbirds went to T-38s.

7. Target drone

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Look, ma, no pilot! At the end of their lives, a number of Phantoms were turned into drones for missile exercises and advanced testing.

Bonus . . . Mothballed asset

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Photo: Google Earth)

Phantom phans, take heart: There are hundreds of F-4s lined up in the Arizona desert outside of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base ready to come back into service if the need arises.

Lists

7 first-world problems only sailors will understand

Living in American can be tough when you have to deal with problems most people in other countries can’t even imagine, such as having so much food in the fridge that there’s no room for leftovers. Yes, the struggle is real.


Being a sailor in the U.S. Navy brings its own set of unique hardships, which service members of other branches and sailors from other nations just wouldn’t understand. Here are seven first-world problems that sailors can relate to.

1. “I have so much cash in my wallet during port visits, it hurts my butt when I sit.”

Yes, this is a thing. You can’t always rely on vendors to accept your credit card, but cash is internationally accepted.

2. “The steak and lobster we have every Friday is just terrible.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

MRE, what’s an MRE? Sailors eat warm meals, silly grunts.

3. “We have to buy small souvenirs during port visits because we don’t have anywhere to put them.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Photo: Seaman Daniel Schumacher/US Navy

Instead, they have to settle for small things like jewelry, video games, and DVDs.

4. “Amazon always gets the ‘expected delivery date’ to my FPO AP address wrong.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Crossley/US Navy

Amazon forgets the part about packages being delivered to ships. What’s up with that Amazon?

5. “They called ‘general quarters’ so I have to be in my rack, but I’m not really tired.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Photo: Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Aaron Ansarov/US Navy

The ship’s personnel hate it when people get in the way of their drills, so they make airedales and Marines jump in their racks.

6. “My fat uniform is now my uniform.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

Lobster and steak can take its toll on a sailor’s uniform allowance. Hopefully by that time, you’re ready to become chief.

7. “It’s so hard to choose between Master and Commander, Top Gun, and The Hunt For Red October when the ship plays them at the same time.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

It’s rare, but it happens, sometimes the ship’s movie programmers schedule these Navy staples on different channels at the same time.

Can you think of more first-world sailor problems? We’d like to know, leave them in the comments area below.

Lists

The most famous battles fought by Gen. George Patton

A list of all important battles fought by George S. Patton. This battles list includes any George S. Patton battles, conflicts, campaigns, wars, skirmishes or military engagements of any kind. This list displays the battles George S. Patton fought in alphabetically, but the battles/military engagements contain information such as where the battle was fought and who else was involved. List items include Battle of the Bulge, Allied invasion of Sicily and many additional items as well.


If you are looking to answer the questions, “Which battles did George S. Patton fight in?” and “Which battles was George S. Patton involved in?” then this list has got you covered.

Politics History Lists on Ranker

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6 pictures of how military working dogs train

Soldiers and military working dogs demonstrate their skills at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 7, 2017.


1. Jerry and his human.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Army Pfc. Heaven Southard releases her military working dog, Jerry, during a demonstration at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 7, 2017. Southard is a military working dog handler assigned to the Directorate of Emergency Services in Kuwait. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

2. Jerry shows how he would take down a terrorist.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Army Pfc. Heaven Southard, rear, watches as her military working dog, Jerry, bites and takes down Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Sullivan during a demonstration at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 7, 2017. Southard is a military working dog handler assigned to the Directorate of Emergency Services in Kuwait. Sullivan is a public affairs noncommissioned officer assigned to U.S. Army Central. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

3. Diana teaches her human obedience.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Army Spc. Michael Coffey practices obedience with Diana, his military working dog, during a demonstration at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 7, 2017. Coffey is a military working dog handler assigned to the Directorate of Emergency Services in Kuwait. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

4. Hide yo’ kids. Hide yo’ wives. Diana gonna find you.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Diana, a military working dog, searches for a training aid during a demonstration at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 7, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

5. Freddy is on the hunt.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Freddy, a military working dog, searches for a training aid during a demonstration at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 7, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

6. Freddy walks his human.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Army Pfc. Elizabeth Adrian walks with her military working dog, Freddy, during a demonstration at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 7, 2017. Adrian is a military working dog handler assigned to the Directorate of Emergency Services in Kuwait. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

Lists

16 of the best excerpts from the greatest military speeches ever given

For as long as wars have been fought, great military leaders have been able to use the power of the pulpit to motivate their troops. The right words delivered in the right way at the right time have helped to turn the tide when morale was suffering, when casualties were high and ammo was low.


Here are 16 excerpts from the best orations given to key audiences during history’s crucial pivot points:

1. PERICLES appealing for war against the Spartans, 432BCE

“When our fathers stood against the Persians they had no such resources as we have now; indeed, they abandoned even what they had, and then it was by wisdom rather than by good fortune, by daring rather than by material power, that they drove back the foreign invasion and made our city what it is today. We must live up to the standard they set: we must resist our enemies in any and every way, and try to leave ot those who come after us an Athens that is as great as ever.”

 

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

2. HANNIBAL addressing his soldiers after crossing the Alps, 218 BCE

“On the right and left two seas enclose you, without your possessing even a single ship for escape. The river Po around you; the Alps behind hem you in.Her soldiers, where you have first met the enemy, you must conquer or die; and the same fortune which has imposed the necessity of fighting hold out to you, if victorious, rewards than which men are not wont to desire greater, even from the immortal gods.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

3. ST. BERNARD rallying the troops before the Second Crusade, 1146

“Christian warriors, He who gave His life for you today demands yours in return. These are combats worth of you, combats in which it is glorious to conquer and advantageous to die. Illustrious knights, generous defenders of the Cross, remember the example of your fathers who conquered Jerusalem and whose names are inscribed in Heaven.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

4. QUEEN ELIZABETH I supporting her military against the Spanish Armada, July 1588

“I am amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honor and my blood.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

5. GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON calming his increasingly rebellious and doubtful army, March 15, 1783

“You will, by the dignity of your conduct, afford occasion for posterity to say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to mankind, ‘Had this day been wanting, the world had never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining.'”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

6. GENERAL NAPOLEON BONAPARTE firing up his forces before the Battle of Marengo in Italy, June 14, 1800

“Shall we allow our audacious enemies to violate with impunity the territory of the Republic? Will you permit the army to escape which has carried terror into your families? You will not. March, then, to meet him. Tear from his brows the laurels he has won. Teach the world that a malediction attends those that violate the territory of the Great People. The result of our efforts will be unclouded glory, and a durable peace.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

7. PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN speaking to the 166th Ohio Regiment, August 22, 1864

“For the service you have done in this great struggle in which we are engaged I present you sincere thanks for myself and the country. I almost always feel inclined, when I happen to say anything to soldiers, to impress upon them in a few brief remarks the importance of success in this contest. It is not merely for today, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children’s children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives. I beg you to remember this, not merely for my sake, but for yours . . . The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

8. PRIME MINISTER WINSTON CHURCHILL before the House of Commons as the French retreat from Hitler, May 13, 1940

“We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalog of human crime. That is our policy.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

9. PREMIER JOSEPH STALIN appealing to the Russian people to defend their soil as the German Army advances, July 3, 1941

“The issue is one of life or death for the Soviet State, for the peoples of the U.S.S.R. The issue is whether the peoples of the Soviet Union shall remain free or fall into slavery . . . There must be no room in our ranks for whimperers and cowards, for panic-mongers and deserters. Our people must know no fear in fight and must selflessly join our patriotic war of liberation, our war against the fascist enslavers.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

10. GENERAL SIR BERNARD MONTGOMERY speaking to his demoralized troops before defeating Rommel’s Afrika Corps, August 13, 1942

“Here we will stand and fight; there will be no further withdrawal. I have ordered that all plans and instructions dealing with further withdrawal are to be burned, and at once. We will stand and fight here. If we can’t stay here alive, then let us stay here dead.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

11. GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON exhorting the Third Army, Spring 1944

“I don’t want to get any messages saying, ‘I am holding my position.’ We are not holding a goddamned thing. Let the Germans do that. We are advancing constantly and we are not interested in holding onto anything, except the enemy’s balls. We are going to twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all of the time. Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy.”

12. GENERAL DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER ordering the Normandy Invasion, June 6, 1944

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the eliminations of Nazi tyranny over oppressed people of Europe, and the security for ourselves in a free world.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

13. MENACHEM BEGIN speaking to the people of Israel on the radio, preparing them for an Arab attack, May 14, 1948

“We shall go our way into battle . . . And we shall be accompanied by the spirit of millions of our martyrs, our ancestors tortured and burned for their faith, our murdered fathers and butchered mothers, our murdered brothers and strangled children. And in this battle we shall break the enemy and bring salvation to our people, tried in the furnace of persecution, thirsting only for freedom, for righteousness, and for justice.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

14. GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR addressing West Point, May 12, 1962

“Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government; whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing, indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grow too violent . . . These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution. Your guidepost stands out like a ten-fold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

15. PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY bracing the nation for the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 22, 1962

“The path we have chosen for he present is full of hazards, as all paths are; but it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation and our commitments around the world. The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission. Our goal is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right; not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom, here in this hemisphere, and, we hope, around the world. God willing, that goal will be achieved.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

16. PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN hastening the fall of Communism while speaking at the Berlin Wall, June 12, 1987

“There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Easter Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

(The complete transcripts of these speeches and many others can be found in Charge!, History’s Greatest Military Speeches, edited by Congressman Steve Israel and published in 2007 by the Naval Institute Press.)

Lists

The greatest tanks of World War II

In World War II, armored warfare played a key role in North Africa as Patton, Montgomery, and Rommel duked it out. They moved across the plains of Europe and fought through the snow in Russia. But not all tanks were created equal. Vote for your favorite tanks of World War II in the list below.


Greatest World War 2 Tanks 

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13 funniest military memes for the week of Sept. 8th

F*ck off, North Korea. We have Harvey and Irma to worry about. Unlike you guys, these hurricanes actually can reach our shores.


#13: Guaranteed to pass your next POV inspection

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Meme via PNN- Private News Network)

#12: The line between brave and stupid is subjective.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Meme via PNN- Private News Network)

#11: Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Meme via Army As F*ck)

#10: “But my substandard living allowance!”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

#9: To all of my civilian friends who say they want to go backpacking in the woods with me. F*ck you.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Meme via Pop Smoke)

#8: Whenever Commo guys say “It’s in the FM.” FM stands for F*cking Magic.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Meme via Pop Smoke)

#7: Protip- Buy a used woobie at a surplus store, turn that one in, and keep the one you’ve grown attached to.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Meme via Pop Smoke)

#6: Whoever decides “Let’s set the dinner hours to close 30 minutes after close of business and still take out their meal deduction!” is one of the biggest Blue Falcons in the entire military.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

#5: Hollywood Marines be like “I only eat free-range, gluten-free, locally sourced crayons.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

#4: I believe in you. All those years of shamming will be experience you’ll need in college.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Meme via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

#3: If it looks stupid but works, it ain’t stupid. If laying fire directly into a hurricane doesn’t work…

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Meme via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

#2: Let’s see – 12 pack and about two handles a week, a stupid amount on payday weekends, and almost my entire paycheck on four-days puts me roughly at liver failure by the age of 40.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Meme via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

#1: Frodo and Sam would make great E-4s. An entire fellowship forms to help them and they’re like “Nah, dude. We’re going to do our own thing.”

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
(Meme via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

Articles

7 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp

The Marine Corps doesn’t promise you a rose garden.


When potential recruits show up to boot camp, they quickly realize what they are in for. While standing on the yellow footprints at either Parris Island, South Carolina or San Diego, California, young men and women are lined up, berated by drill instructors, and then go through a 36-hour whirlwind of receiving.

And then they have three more months to go. It’s a huge culture shock for civilians who have little idea of Marine culture or what happens at boot camp. The shock leads to some complaints, though they will likely never dare mention it to the drill instructors.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis

1. These drill instructors are literally insane.

They scream, use wild gestures, throw things, and run around a room and back again. In the eyes of a recruit, a drill instructor is an insane person, hell-bent on making his or her life a living hell. They kind of have a point.

During the first three days or so of boot camp, receiving drill instructors take recruits to supply, get their uniforms, feed them, and house them, before taking them to their actual DIs that will have them over a period of three months. As trained professionals, the DIs put on a front of being upset about basically everything a recruit does, right or wrong.

2. There’s no way I can put on this uniform in less than 10 seconds.

One of the “insane” things that drill instructors constantly stress is that recruits move fast. Impossibly fast. DIs will give countdowns of everything — from tying your right boot to brushing your teeth — that usually start from very small numbers like 20 seconds that rapidly dwindle depending on how hard the DI wants to make it.

The countdowns induce a level of stress in recruits that are used to completing tasks at a leisurely pace. When a DI says you have ten seconds to put on your camouflage blouse and bottoms, you better not still be buttoning at 11.

3. How are there no freaking doors on these bathroom stalls right now?

Who needs privacy when you are trying to forge a brotherhood of Marines? Walk into any male recruit “head” (aka the bathroom) at the depot and you’ll notice a couple of things: There is a big trough-like urinal with no dividers, and bathroom stalls have no doors on them.

Even during the times when a recruit is used to having maximum privacy, at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, there is none. Thankfully, once they are Marines, they will earn their Eagle, Globe, Anchor — and the right to have a bathroom door.

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit
Photo: Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple/USMC

4. This recruit really wishes he were treated like a human being.

The moment boot camp begins, drill instructors are teaching recruits that they are pretty much worthless, and they have a long way to go before they earn the title of Marine. Being the “worthless scum” of recruit means not even being able to speak in the first person anymore, and having to ask to do basic human functions, like using the bathroom (often refused on the first request).

No longer can recruits use “I,” “me,” or “my.” Instead, they must say “this recruit” in its place. “Sir, this recruit requests permission to make a sit-down head call,” is the way you ask to go #2. Three months later, it’ll be a bit weird at first when a new Marine can just walk into a bathroom and go.

5. What the hell is fire-watch?

Though it may not seem like it, recruits at boot camp usually get around seven to eight hours of sleep per night. But most will have to pull “fire-watch” during the night. Fire watch, put simply, is guard duty. But unlike a guard duty they may pull in Iraq or Afghanistan behind a machine-gun, guard duty at boot camp means recruits walk around aimlessly in the squad bay for an hour.

Pulling security and protecting your team of Marines is a basic function that recruits need to learn. But it’s also incredibly boring, and seems pretty pointless. And then, sometimes this happens in the middle of it:

6. Going to the head? ‘El Marko’? What language are these people speaking?

The Marine Corps has its own language, and recruits get their first taste of how weird it is during boot camp. There’s naval terminology mixed in with other terms that seem to not make any sense, and it takes a while to pick up. The bathroom is referred to as “the head,” a black Sharpie is now called an “El Marko,” the “quarterdeck” is where the drill instructor “smokes/kills/destroys” recruits.

Suck it up, buttercup. There are plenty more phrases you’ll need to learn in the years to come.

7. These flies are the devil (Parris Island recruit) — or — These airplanes are the devil (San Diego recruit).

The Marine Corps Recruit Depots on the east and west coasts follow similar training programs, so it’s hard to call either one easier or harder than the other. But they do have their own unique quirks. For recruits on the east coast, Parris Island is known for sand fleas, which make their home in the infamous sand pits and humid air of South Carolina. While recruits are getting “thrashed” — doing strenuous exercise — in the pits, sand fleas provide another terrible annoyance. But don’t dare swat one. If you are caught, a drill instructor is likely to scream about an undisciplined recruit and make you hold a funeral for the fallen creature.

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Meanwhile, San Diego recruits live right by the busy airport downtown. Throughout their time there, they will hear airplanes taking off and landing, and it’s usually not a morale boost. While PI recruits are isolated, San Diego recruits often daydream about being on one of those flights taking off from the nation’s busiest single runway airport.

MORE: Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine boot camp is like

ALSO: 23 terms only US Marines will understand

OR WATCH: Life in the U.S. Marine Corps Infantry

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The US Navy’s 5 fightin’-est flattops

From Langley (CV 1) to Bush (CVN 77), the U.S. Navy has operated dozens of aircraft carriers in its 245-year history. From the first time Lt. Ely had the guts to fly a rickety biplane off of the bow through the first airstrikes against targets in Afghanistan after 9-11 carrier air power has changed the face of warfare.


Here are 5 among them that earned their place in history by valiantly fighting the enemy:

1. USS Lexington (CV 2)

 

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“Lady Lex” was originally designed as a battlecruiser but later modified into an aircraft carrier to comply with the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which basically halted all new construction on battleships. Lexington was used to develop many of the carrier tactics employed during World War II (and, ironically enough, successfully conducted sneak attacks against Pearl Harbor a couple of times before the Japanese did it for real). 

On May 7, 1942 aircraft from Lady Lex sank the light aircraft carrier Shōhō during the Battle of the Coral Sea, but did not encounter the main Japanese force of the carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku until the next day. Aircraft from Lexington and Yorktown succeeded in badly damaging Shōkaku, but the Japanese aircraft crippled Lexington. Vapors from leaking aviation gasoline tanks sparked a series of explosions and fires that could not be controlled, and Lexington had to be scuttled by an American destroyer during the evening of May 8 to prevent her capture. (Source: wikipedia)

2. USS Yorktown (CV 5)

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Yorktown air wing aircraft got some payback on the Japanese on behalf of the crew of Lexington during the Battle of Coral Sea, sinking the destroyer Kikuzuki, three minesweepers and four barges. Later, after a quick drydock period to repair damage sustained during Coral Sea, Yorktown was on station for the Battle of Midway. After her scout aircraft spotted the Japanese fleet, attack aircraft were sortied to strike but met with disaster. Of 41 planes launched from three carriers, only six returned.

The Japanese followed with a savage attack that the carrier’s Wildcats tried to stop in spite of being outnumbered. The Japanese scored several direct hits on Yorktown using torpedos and bombs, but the crew fought valiantly to keep steaming while air wing aircraft continued to attack the Japanese fleet. After abandoning ship it looked as if she might be salvageable, but as a skeleton crew attempted to save the ship, she was hit by another torpedo and ultimately went down. (Source: wikipedia)

3. USS Enterprise (CV 6)

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The “Big E” was the sixth U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and one of only three commissioned before World War II to survive the war. She participated in more major actions of the war against Japan than any other U.S. ship, including the Battle of Midway, the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, the Guadalcanal Campaign, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. On three separate occasions during the Pacific War, the Japanese announced that she had been sunk in battle, earning her the name “The Grey Ghost.” Enterprise earned 20 battle stars, the most for any U.S. warship in World War II and became the most decorated US ship of World War II.

4. USS Hornet (CV 8)

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Hornet launched the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo and participated in the Battle of Midway and the Buin-Faisi-Tonolai Raid. In the Solomon Islands campaign she was involved in the capture and defense of Guadalcanal and the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands where she was irreparably damaged and sunk by enemy destroyers. Hornet was in service for a year and six days and was the last US fleet carrier ever sunk by enemy fire. (Source: wikipedia)

5. USS Franklin (CV 13)

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(Photo: Life Magazine)

“Big Ben”served in several campaigns in the Pacific War, earning four battle stars. She was badly damaged by a Japanese air attack in March 1945, with the loss of over 800 of her crew, becoming the most heavily damaged United States carrier to survive the war. (Movie footage of the actual attack was included in the 1949 film Task Force starring Gary Cooper.) (Source: wikipedia)

Now: 28 photos from the Navy’s 240-year history

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Military working bees and other animals you didn’t know serve in the US military

Most people know about military working dogs, but there are some lesser known creatures that also conduct missions for the U.S. military:


1. Honeybees

Honeybees can smell explosives and other compounds nearly as well as dogs can, so researchers have begun training bees in bomb detection. The bees are trained to believe that sugar water is typically located near TNT. Once they make the association between TNT and sugar, they can be employed in two ways.

First, they can be restricted to glass tubes at check points. When people, cars, and packages are moved through the checkpoint, handlers watch the bees to see if they start moving their proboscis, a feeding tube that is part of their mouth. Movement in multiple bees is a sure sign that explosives are in the area. Alternatively, the bees can be fitted with radio transponders and released into a large area. Handlers then watch on computer screens to see where the bees swarm to and then check that spot for a mine.

2. Dolphins and Sea Lions

Though they’re slowly being replaced by drones, the Navy still uses trained dolphins and sea lions to hunt for mines and enemy swimmers. The animals are trained over a number of years and then deployed in vulnerable harbors, marking the mines and swimmers for human personnel to clear or capture. The aquatic mammals mark divers by attaching devices to their scuba tanks or limbs. They mark mines by attaching a cable or buoy to the mine. The mammals have been deployed to Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and both U.S. coasts.

One team of dolphins and handlers in the program, MK8, can deploy ahead of an amphibious landing group and indicate safe routes for ships, Marines, and other forces.

3. Mules

The Marine Corps has come up with a few innovative ideas for resupplying forward Marines, including stepping back to the days of pack animals and running mules. Mules were used in Afghanistan and the Marines maintain a training program at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California to prepare troops to use pack animals overseas.

4. Insect cyborgs

Currently going through development and testing in various DARPA programs, cyborg insects are designed for disaster relief and search-and-rescue missions. The bugs; muscles are controlled through implants. Researchers are experimenting with different power sources for the rig and any sensors strapped to the bug. One option that has been tested is nuclear cyborg bugs, where a low-radioactivity isotope is slowly broken down to power transmitters.

5. Horses

Most horse units were transitioned to mechanized in the lead up to World War II, and almost every U.S. horse unit has been shut down. But, there is an active law enforcement horse patrol in the U.S. Air Force. At Vandenberg Air Force Base, police have to clear launchpads and the surrounding area during missile launches and some of the area is too rough for ATVs. Also, patrols of the 40 miles of beach cannot always be done with vehicles due to a federally protected species that lives on the base. The horse patrols cover both the rough mountains and the beaches where vehicles can’t go. The U.S. also trains Marines and Special Forces to ride horses and other animals for certain operations.

 

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The 5 best military ghost stories

The military fights wars, and that’s bound to have created a few vengeful spirits over the last few centuries.


Here are 5 stories of these sorts of mil-ghosts from around the webs. (And if you have any cool ones, share them in the comments.)

Listen to our veteran hosts discuss haunted bases and urban legends in the U.S. military.

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1. The combatants from Little Big Horn are still fighting.

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Lithograph: Library of Congress by Charles Marion Russell

The U.S. Army’s “Soldier’s Creed” calls for troops to never quit, never accept defeat. Apparently Maj. Gen. George Armstrong Custer and his men got the message 127 years before the Soldier’s Creed was written, because they’re still fighting the lost Battle of Little Bighorn.

The story goes that visitors have seen spirits moving around the battlefield, and at least one has seen U.S. soldiers and Native American warriors fighting to the death.

2. A Revolutionary War general rides through Pennsylvania trying to find his missing bones.

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Photos: Wikimedia Commons and Wikimedia Commons/Niagara

We’ve previously discussed Maj. Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne and the fact that he’s buried in at least two places. Wayne died while touring military defenses in Pennsylvania and was buried near Lake Eerie. When his son came to recover the body twelve years later, he found that Lake Eerie had preserved the body.

Since the younger Wayne only had room for his dad’s skeleton, he had the flesh boiled off and then moved the bones across the state in a cart. The story goes that he lost a few pieces along the way. “Mad” Anthony Wayne’s ghost still rides the trail, trying to recover the bones his son scattered like some kind of sick Johnny Appleseed.

3. An Air Force base’s security headquarters has a helpful ghost nurse.

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Photo: Wikipedia

Look, few people particularly love military police and security forces, but they provide a needed service. It’s sort of rude to put their headquarters in a haunted building, but that’s what happened at Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.

Building 34 used to be the base hospital, and supposedly a nurse still roams the halls and tries to do her job. No word on how many sleeping staff runners have been woken up with ectoplasm IVs, so we have to assume more than 20.

4. A group of fiery monks protect the Alamo.

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After Santa Anna’s forces finally captured the Alamo, Mexican forces had to decide what to do with it. They decided to raze it to the ground in an effort led by Gen. Juan Jose Andrade. Andrade sent a colonel who attempted to complete the mission, but came running back, babbling about ghost monks.

Andrade went to destroy the chapel and remaining fortifications himself with a cannon and torches. When the general and his men arrived, they took aim at the chapel doors. Six monks with flaming swords walked out of the walls of the chapel. As they and other spirits began hurling fireballs at the Mexican soldiers, the general ordered a tactical retreat.

5. USS Hornet is the most haunted ship in the Navy fleet.

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Photo: US Navy

The USS Hornet saw extensive service in World War II and the Vietnam War, and so it’s no surprise that a couple of ghosts may have decided to make it home.

It has a reputation as an extremely haunted place though. Visitors to the museum regularly report seeing officers in their blue uniforms or a sailor wearing his dress whites. (No one knows why an eternal spirit would decide to spend his time looking like the Cracker Jack mascot.)

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