Oliver J. “Porky” Bickar rolled out of bed on April Fools’ Day, 1974, looked out his window to a white-topped mountain outside Sitka, Alaska, and told his wife, Patty, “I have to do it today.” She replied with age-old words of wisdom: “Don’t make an ass of yourself.”
Bickar, then 50, had lived in Sitka for 15 years. He was a logger by trade and no stranger to the local editors of the small town Daily Sitka Sentinel newspaper. The showman and serial prankster routinely entertained onlookers with a stunt that involved felling a large tree to smash a target, typically a hard hat, on the ground.
As April had arrived in each of the previous three years, Bickar had postponed a stunt for which he needed perfect weather conditions. But April 1974 provided a clear blue sky with visibility for miles. His mind raced as his elaborate plan went into motion.
He immediately phoned his conspirators. Harry Sulser, Ken Stedman, and Larry Nelson were close friends, and the group referred to themselves as the “Dirty Dozen.” They all regularly met for coffee at Revard’s Restaurant. The group met at a hangar at the local airport where Bickar had 70 old and discarded tires waiting. He had been collecting them for years for this project. Now they needed air support. Two helicopter pilots refused to join the plan, but Earl Walker from nearby Petersburg accepted.
The pranksters took all 70 tires, piled them into two large canvas bags with 150-foot rope slings, and attached them to the bottom of the helicopter. They also brought along black smoke bombs, several gallons of kerosene, some rags, and cans of black spray paint. The hooligans scrambled into the chopper and took off toward Mount Edgecumbe.
Mount Edgecumbe sits on Kruzof Island, separated from Sitka and the mainland by about 10 miles of water. While Sitka, a fishing village, sits at sea level, Edgecumbe rises to 3,000 feet, dominating ocean views from the town, which today is a favorite for visiting cruise ships and other tourists. But in the 1970s, the town was an out-of-the-way fishing village and Edgecumbe a volcano that had been dormant for 50 years.
But Bickar’s plan was to convince the town that Edgecumbe had awoken by setting the tires ablaze on the mountain’s peak.
As outlandish as Bickar’s plan seemed, he knew he had seen crazier. The jokester had enlisted in the US Army in 1942 and worked in a unit that waterproofed vehicles such as tanks and trucks in anticipation for the saltwater immersion of the D-Day invasion.
Bickar arrived in Normandy three days after D-Day. “It was all a dream,” he said in 2002, a year before he died, at a ceremony honoring veterans with the Jubilee of Liberty Medal, an award the French government created for participants in the invasion. “A big dream. I was seasick and so scared and mixed up. After I hit the beach, and got my feet settled, I came out of it — and became the man, the soldier, I could be.”
Bickar also served with Lt. Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army and participated in its march through France, Belgium, and across the Rhine River. He told the Daily Sitka Sentinel in 1984 about a harrowing experience in which he and another soldier overpowered and killed a German soldier who was marching them to a POW camp.
When the chopper landed on Mount Edgecumbe, Bickar used black spray paint to draw a message in 50-foot letters for those he knew would soon come to investigate. And the other men doused the tires in kerosene and lit them. By the time they reached Sitka to complete their getaway, an air-traffic controller reportedly told them, “The son of a gun looks fantastic.”
To prevent an overreaction, Bickar had let police, fire department, and airport officials know what he had planned. But he forgot to tell the Coast Guard, which sent a helicopter to investigate and found Bickar’s message in the snow: APRIL FOOLS.
The phones at police, fire, and radio stations rang off the wall from concerned citizens. The story even made national news on The Associated Press news wire. Jimmy Johnson, the vice president of Alaska Airlines, instructed departing planes to fly over the mountain to give all the passengers onboard a laugh.
The following year, Alaska Airlines sponsored the Alaska Brag Contest. Bickar sent in this entry: “On April Fools’ Day, I hired a chopper and flew 70 old, kerosene-soaked tires on top of the dormant volcano, Mt. Edgecumbe, that looms over Sitka. I set the tires on fire, and the billowing black smoke created one hell of a commotion in Sitka. I dare you to top that April Fools’ joke.”
Surprisingly, someone did. The contest winner was a story about a bear attack.
Robert O’Neill, the former SEAL Team Six operator who is credited for firing the shots that killed Osama bin Laden, has a new venture. This time the only “pop-pop” coming from O’Neill is the pop of a beer tab.
He has a pre-IPO investment opportunity for anyone who’s both a fan of the armed forces of the United States and of craft brews: Armed Forces Brewing Company.
O’Neill made a fun, goofy and at times purposely over-the-top commercial/investment pitch video, recently shared on YouTube. The video takes shots at foreign breweries, beer hipsters and more, all to get you to invest in the company.
The former Navy SEAL kills aliens, trashes the competition and even pokes fun at himself, referencing the Delta Airlines flight in which he refused to wear a mask and was subsequently banned from the airline. Have a look:
The new venture is a brewing company comprising three brands: Seawolf Brewery, Soldier Brewery and Airmen Brewery. As of July 2021, only two beers under the Seawolf brand appear on the website. Launched by O’Neill and other special operations veterans, it’s designed to pay tribute to all branches of the military (yes, even the Space Force).
If beers like Special Hops IPA and Cat Shot American Craft Lager sound good to you, then you can not only buy one, you can own a piece of the company. Armed Forces Brewing Company is looking to raise $7.5 million in a campaign to grow its business. With a $200 minimum investment at $10 per share, interested parties can not just get a piece of the company, they can score some fun perks.
According to the investment site, there’s more to the brews than a gimmicky commercial and one of the world’s most famous special operators. The site says its products are brewed by an award-winning brewmaster, that it’s run by successful, seasoned hospitality industry veterans and that there are plans to hire a workforce made up of 70% military veterans.
Right now, the beer is available only in a handful of states but will soon be available in as many as 46. The company also says it’s planning a national expansion and already has a foothold to get three of its beers into military exchange stores.
As for the perks, $200-$499 will get investors an Armed Forces Brewing Company logo stick, challenge coin, a 5% discount online, along with your name on its online wall of investors and an invitation to the company’s annual shareholder event. Other levels offer VIP access at events, early tastings and even the chance to create and name one of the company’s beers.
Perks are all well and good for a casual investor who wants a stake in a veteran-owned business. The biggest question for any serious investor is: is it a sound investment? According to the company’s SEC filing, Armed Forces Brewing Company has some big obstacles:
It’s a relatively new entity with limited tangible assets and its continued operation may require substantial additional funding
The company has a very short operating history and no assurance that the business plan can be executed
The company has entered a highly competitive industry and within this highly competitive industry are companies with established track records and substantial capital backing.
The industry in which the company participates is highly speculative and extremely risky.
But there’s no significant reward without significant risk, as Robert J. O’Neill would likely tell you. Armed Forces Brewing Company could become the veteran-owned longshot-turned-competitor, in the vein of great companies like Black Rifle Coffee and Hire Purpose.
Today’s soldiers hear a lot about the “Old Army,” when men were men and privates weren’t allowed to speak.
Soldiers Magazine got veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm together to check out modern first aid kits. The old-timers were impressed by how much gear was in the kit but were confused by some items.
WASHINGTON (April 1, 2021) A U.S. Navy graphic celebrating April FoolÕs Day 2021 and the 128th Chief Petty Officer Birthday. (U.S. Navy graphic).
So far, the year 2021 has been largely a continuation of the unprecedented challenges of 2020. However, that didn’t stop the U.S. Army and Navy from having a little fun on April Fool’s Day.
The Army is currently evaluating a new light tank prototype. Called the Mobile Protected Firepower, the competitors are being tested at Fort Bragg, N.C. However, it seems like the 3rd Infantry Division is ahead of the curve at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
On April 1, 2021, the 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office released a statement titled, “3rd Infantry Division tests new hover tank technology.” In it, 3rd Infantry announced that it had begun initial operational testing of the Main Battle Hover Tank. “We cannot be more excited to be selected to test this new technology,” said 3rd ID’s senior commander. “Our mission has always been to close-with and destroy our nation’s adversaries in combat, so adding the MBHV to 3rd ID will increase mobility, firepower and force protection to make the Marne Division an unstoppable fighting force.”
While the Army’s April Fool’s post was good for a chuckle, you have to give props to the Navy for their simple April Fool’s post that managed to combine two April 1 celebrations.
The first day of April is not only April Fool’s Day, but also the official birthday of the U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer rank. Established on April 1, 1893, Chiefs are the senior enlisted sailors in the Navy. Without them, nothing would get done. Of course, without coffee, very little would get done across the military as a whole.
On April 1, 2021, the U.S. Navy Facebook page posted NAVADMIN 04/01 — SUBJ/NAVY SERVICE WIDE CLEANING OF CHIEF’S MUGS. The post reads, “As an immediate action to help support health protection efforts, the U.S. Navy has directed the proper cleaning of all personal coffee mugs or ‘Chief’s Mugs,’ at least once per week, during cleaning stations.” You know exactly what they’re talking about too. It seems like a requirement for senior enlisted military personnel to have that crusty, stained coffee mug sitting on their desk. It probably hasn’t been cleaned since they got it after their E-7 promotion ceremony either; just filled up a couple times daily with more coffee.
The Facebook post included a link to the full NAVADMIN. Of course, the link revealed the post to be an April Fool’s joke along with a birthday greeting to Chief Petty Officers across the fleet.
With all the challenges faced in 2020 and now 2021, it’s little jokes like these that can brighten someone’s day and bring a smile to their face.
The Dining-In is a military custom that predates the Air Force, the military, even the United States. There are many versions of it, whether that branch calls it Mess Night, Regimental Dinner, or something else. Though other branches hold these, this is one of the oldest traditions of the youngest branch of service.
The Dining-In is held at any unit level – Wing, Group, or Squadron. This is the most traditional form of Air Force unit social events, where dress uniforms are expected and rules and ceremony are to be followed. A proper Dining-In will include hails and farewells, as well as recognition for achievement. The function is supposed to be a morale-building event, after all.
The Dining-In is one of very few events in official Air Force culture where drinking a lot in front of your unit is encouraged and being an overachiever won’t get you sent to ADAPT. Just have a designated driver (or four) on stand-by. The rules are strict and many will be sent to the Grog Bowl (more on that later).
Chief Master Sgt. William Wade, the superintendent of the 59th Clinical Support Group, samples the grog at the 2nd Annual Joint Dining-In. (U.S. Air Force photo by Robbin Cresswell)
The Air Force iteration is said to have started in the 1930s with the Army Air Corps’ General H. “Hap” Arnold’s “wing dings.” Many of its original traditions are still very much alive. While the customs of the Dining-In holds formality above all else, it’s important to remember the point of this is to have fun and build morale.
Dress is considered “Black Tie.” Officers will be in mess dress, Enlisted will wear mess dress or semi-formal dress uniforms. Some events will have a military band present, and as such, the diners may be ordered to march to their seats.
And there are other orders.
The Rules of the Mess
Thou shalt arrive within 10 minutes of the appointed hour.
Thou shalt make every effort to meet all guests.
Thou shalt move to the mess when thee hears the chimes and remain standing until seated by the President.
Thou shalt not bring cocktails or lighted smoking material into the mess.
Thou shalt smoke only when the smoking lamp is lit.
Thou shalt not leave the mess whilst convened. Military protocol overrides all calls of nature.
Thou shalt participate in all toasts unless thyself or thy group is honored with a toast.
Thou shalt ensure that thy glass is always charged when toasting.
Thou shalt keep toasts and comments within the limits of good taste and mutual respect. Degrading or insulting remarks will be frowned upon by the membership. However, good-natured needling is encouraged.
Thou shalt not murder the Queen’s English.
Thou shalt not open the hangar doors. (talk about work)
Thou shalt always use the proper toasting procedures.
Thou shalt fall into disrepute with thy peers if the pleats of thy cummerbund are not properly faced.
Thou shalt also be painfully regarded if the clip-on bow tie rides at an obvious list. Thou shalt be forgiven, however, if thee also ride at a comparable list.
Thou shalt consume thy meal in a manner becoming gentlepersons.
Thou shalt not laugh at ridiculously funny comments unless the President first shows approval by laughing.
Thou shalt express thy approval by tapping thy spoon on the table. Clapping of thy hands will not be tolerated.
Thou shalt not question the decisions of the President.
When the mess adjourns, thou shalt rise and wait for the President and head table guests to leave.
Thou shalt enjoy thyself to thy fullest.
Violations of Etiquette
Failures to comply with the rules of the mess are “punished,” generally with fines or a trip to the Grog. The Grog, held in a Grog Bowl (usually an unused toilet), consists of multiple types and flavors of alcoholic drinks blended together, and may even contain other things, like Tootsie Rolls or oysters. It is a punishment, after all.
Any member of the mess can call out violations warranting a trip to the grog bowl at any time. Members bring infractions to the attention of the President by addressing the mess and raising a point of order. If the validity of the charge is questioned, members vote by tapping their spoons on the table.
When the President sentences a violator to the grog bowl, the person proceeds to the bowl promptly, remembering to march and perform all proper facing movements. The bowl is usually located on or near the Vice’s table. Upon arriving at the grog bowl, the violator does the following:
An about face and salutes the President
An about face to the bowl and fills the cup
An about face and toasts the mess: “To the Mess”
Drink the cup completely then inverted over their head to ensure it is empty.
Does an about face, replaces the cup, about faces again, salutes the President, and returns to their seat.
Except for the toast, the violator is not permitted to speak at all.
President – the central figure of the event and primary planner, usually the ranking commander of the organization. The President will oversee the Dining-In and appoint subordinate officers:
The President also ensures the Dining-In has a speaker and a chaplain for the Invocation. He or she will greet all the guests before dinner is served and will open and close the mess.
Vice-President – The chief assistant to the President, usually the most junior-ranking officer (but the President may choose anyone to serve in this role). The VP sits alone in the back of the room, facing the President, observing the proceedings and making not of violations of the Rules of the Mess and breaches of etiquette.
While usually the VP is a comfortable position, here the VP is the MC – the toastmaster – the success of the event depends on the Dining-In VP’s wit, levity, and ability to keep the show going. The Veep is also responsible for opening the lounge, sounding the dinner chimes, and preparing toasts as directed by the President. He or she must compose poems and jokes (in good taste) at the expense or tribute only to those persons and organizations who are present. The VP is the last person to leave the party.
Arrangements Officer – Responsible to the President for handling the details involved with planning the evening’s events, but is not to make any final decisions without the advice and consent of the President.
The AO will set the seating arrangements and ensure each seat is marked with the proper name and organization, will ensure proper flags and awards are in place, set up suitable microphone and lectern systems for the speaker and chaplain, ensure the VP has the necessary dinner chimes, arrange the photographer, publish a proper agenda for the evening as well as a guest list, and hire the hat and coat check team.
The day after, the AO will prepare letters of appreciation for the President to sign and send to guests of honor and others who helped with the evening.
Mess Officer – The Mess Officer will handle all responsibilities related to the actual food preparation.
Protocol Officer – The Protocol Officer Ensures everyone receives a formal invitation at least four weeks in advance of the event and will take RSVPs and will get biographical information on special guests for the other officers. The PO will ensure transportation and billeting arrangements are made and will make the seating arrangements for the Head Table. The PO briefs the Escort Officers on protocol requirements related to the guests, handles parking arrangements, and advises on flag arrangements.
Escort Officers – One escort officer should be appointed for each official and personal guest. The EO will contact their assigned guest in advance to discuss dress, location, meeting point, and composition of the audience. If the guests are from out of town, the EO will meet them at their initial arrival point and arrange for transportation and accommodations during their stay. It is essential the EO brief the guest on the customs, courtesies, rules, and procedures of the Mess.
Make sure the guest is properly introduced to as many members of the mess as possible. They will ensure their guest is always in the company of several members of the mess, yet take care that no individual or group monopolizes the guest. Upon their guest’s departure, the EO will escort the guest to the point of departure and bid farewell on behalf of all members of the Mess.
This is how a dentist loads the Grog. (U.S. Air Force photo by Robin Cresswell)
Addressing the Mess
A member may want to raise a point of order, propose a toast, or identify infractions to the Rules of the Mess. The proper way is as follows:
Rise and state “Mr./Ms. Vice-President, a point of order”
When recognized by the VP, identify yourself and state your business.
It is required to speak in rhyme when addressing the Mess. The President may waive this and all other requirements as he or she sees fit. The penalty is being sent to the Grog.
Sequence of Events
The event starts with a cocktail hour. At the end of that hour, the VP will chime the mess to dinner. Members of the Head Table will remain in the cocktail lounge. Once the guests are in the dining area and standing at their assigned seats, whether marched or not, Head Table members file into the room in order and walk to the Head Table. After ruffles and flourishes are played, the President then calls the mess to order with a gavel and will propose the first toast. The first two are always the same and should be given as such:
Toast: “To the Commander-in-Chief”
Response: “To the President”
Toast: “To the Chief of Staff, United States Air Force”
Response: “To the Chief of Staff”
The proper response to further toasts is “Hear, Hear”.
Improper toasting procedures will be punished by a trip to the Grog. Serving staff should be prepared with a few bottles for each table – Often many toasts are given by the President, including to the heads of state of foreign visitors, the colors, other services, and more. When the President is done, the floor is open to any further toasts from the guests throughout the remainder of the evening.
Stand and identify yourself
Address the VP by saying, “Mr. Vice-President, I want to propose a toast”.
The VP informs the President and receives approval.
Everyone stands and the toast is given.
After toasting, the President will explain the POW/MIA table, make opening remarks and introduce the guests of honor – then dinner will be served. After dinner, the President will rap the gavel three times and call the house to Recess. During Recess, diners are excused to the lounge for cocktails while dinner is cleared and dessert is served. The VP will sound the chimes again to reconvene the diners (do not bring cigarettes or cocktails into the dining room).
As coffee and tea are served, the guest of honor will speak. After the guest speaks, the VP will propose a toast to him or her and the President will close the Mess, thanking the planners and retiring the colors. Between the posting of the colors and the retirement of the colors, other events are allowed, including handing out awards, and multiple guest speakers.
The Combat Dining-In
The newest of these traditions (and probably the most fun), these are very similar in function to the rules and tradition of the Dining-In, except they are far less formal. The rules are similar – but the differences are important to know. There aren’t any hard or fast ones because they vary by unit.
The sky is the limit – you may be forced to eat with your mess kit… or maybe they’re only serving MREs. You may not even get to eat because you’ll be throwing your dinner on another reveler. There are many variations to the rules of the combat version of this tradition.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks launched the war on terrorism and ruined air travel as we knew it. So the TSA was born.
You used to be able to get through security in less than 15 minutes, but with the creation of the Transportation Security Administration the process takes a lot longer. However, despite this first-world-problem, TSA has foiled over 39 terror plots, according to The Heritage Foundation.
Some may see the TSA as an inconvenience, but to the al-Qaeda fighters in this video, “they are an elite force of anti-terrorist commandos.”
Who doesn’t love a good laugh at their employer’s expense? It’s all the stuff that you have to deal with, day in and day out. Only this time, it’s poking fun at the bear. It’s not you on the chopping block, it’s someone else. That means it’s time to let loose and relax — all while getting in a solid chuckle. There’s no exception for Army jokes. In fact, we laugh that much harder, knowing there are so many solid jokes at the expense of Uncle Sam. Take a read and join us in chuckling over the expense of the institution that is the U.S. Army.
Acronyms at their best:
ARMY — a recruiter misled you
2. This low-blow at boots on the ground:
What do you call kids in the military?
3. Getting cheesy:
What do you call a soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray?
A seasoned veteran.
4. When backtalk is still funny:
As a group of soldiers stood in formation at an Army Base, the Drill Sergeant said, “All right! All you idiots fall out.”
As the rest of the squad wandered away, one soldier remained at attention. The Drill Instructor walked over until he was eye-to-eye with him. The soldier smiled and said, “Sure were a lot of ’em, huh, sir?”
5. Past careers come to light:
Did you hear about the karate master who joined the military?
He saluted and nearly chopped off his own head.
6. Training done right:
A drill sergeant grumbles at his fresh young trainee, “I didn’t see you at camouflage training this morning, Private.”
“Thank you very much, Sir,” replies the soldier.
7. The laws of nature:
If God had meant for us to be in the Army, we would have been born with baggy green skin.
8. Pulling rank:
During training exercises, the Lieutenant who was driving down a muddy back road encountered another car stuck in the mud with a red-faced Colonel at the wheel.
“Your car stuck, sir?” asked the Lieutenant as he pulled alongside. “Nope,” replied the colonel, coming over and handing him the keys. “Yours is.”
9. A macabre play on words:
Overheard at the VFW, “When I was in the Army, I got both my arms shot off.”
“I shouldered on, anyway.”
10. A trip down memory lane:
Son: Dad, what was your favorite day as a soldier?
Dad: The first time I sent some private to find batteries for the chem lights.
11. A difference in opinions:
The company commander and the sergeant were in the field. As they go to bed for the night, the first sergeant said: “Sir, look up into the sky and tell me what you see?”
The commander said: “I see millions of stars.”
Sgt: “And what does that tell you, sir?”
“Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Theologically, it tells me that God is great and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you, Top?”
Sgt: “Well sir, it tells me that somebody stole our tent.”
12. Getting punny:
What do you get when you drop a piano on an Army officer?
A flat major.
These jokes poke fun at the largest military branch to date, we can all slap our knees at its expense. Whether you’ve served or just enjoy a quick chuckle, these jokes are bound to brighten your day.
Have some great Army jokes to share? Tell us below.
You’ve done the crafts, you’ve read the entire internet and you’ve finished Netflix. All there’s left to do is cry, eat and laugh. We’ll help you out with the last one. Hope you and yours are staying safe, healthy and somewhat sane.
These are your top 50 memes and tweets for the week of April 20:
1. Everything is fine
At least he’s maintaining social distancing.
2. The word of the mom
3. Conference calls
Zoom backgrounds make it better.
4. Laughter IS the best medicine
Oh Dad. So smart.
5. Happy little tree
I want peopleeeeeee.
6. Atta boy
Nothing to see here, nothing to see.
7. True transformation
I’m not proud of how hard I laughed at that one!!
8. The boombox
We’ve trained our whole life for this.
9. So loud
What are you eating, BONES?
10. M.J. knew
Now if we could just heal the world…
11. More vodka, please!
These are good life skills.
12. Reality tv
No wonder my kids like to watch other kids playing with toys on YouTube. We do the same thing with HGTV.
13. No pants
I can’t imagine having to wear shoes to a meeting again…
14. Hand washing
So many temptations to touch your face.
15. Catch me outside
How bout dat?
16. Shady pines
Might have to binge watch Golden Girls.
17. So much truth
If you having tortilla chips for breakfast means I don’t have to cook…
18. Iguana private office
Something about you getting on the phone screams, “COME TALK TO ME.”
19. SPF 15
At least you’re getting your vitamin D.
20. Dreams do come true
You bought it “for the pandemic.”
21. Pro tip
It’s like working out, but easier.
The sun is not impressed.
Every parent ever.
The sweatshirt is a nice touch. I bet her Barbie dream house is covered in crafts and regret.
25. Jax beach
26. What happens in Vegas…
Quarantine needs to stay in April 2020.
27. SO much truth
And most of them look tired.
28. Pajama shorts
Trick question. You don’t have to wear pants.
29. Good PR
Mmm ice cream.
30. Singing in the rain
31. Sick car
Taped together and barely holding on — a working title of everyone’s 2020 memoir.
32. Get it girl
No but seriously, why did I eat all my snacks?
33. Dun-dun. Dun-dun. Dun-dun.
To be fair, everyone didn’t die.
34. Lightning speed
Well played, fastest man in the world.
35. All by myself
We feel you, Ernie.
The isolation has turned to boredom.
We heard there’s a DUI checkpoint in the hallway though, so be careful.
38. Last nerves
Every. Little. Thing.
39. Grooming at home
All of our DIY haircuts and grooming.
40. Apologies, ya’ll
Lots of self-awareness happening.
It does, Kermie. It does.
42. Mind over matter
Beware my special powers.
43. Dogs know the truth
Stop judging me.
44. You can’t have both
This is why we can’t have nice days.
Deep thoughts by Dad.
46. Zoom stand in
I think people would pay for this.
47. You did it!
At least you didn’t quit.
48. Pinky promise
Just boxed wine. Not the ‘rona.
49. You know that’s right
Maybe you’ll get a “spa day” in the bathroom by yourself.
Each culture around the globe has its set of legendary creatures tied to its way of life. Naturally, not scientifically proven, the invulnerability associated with these beasts forms part of different cultures’ folklore. In many cases, real animals have gained attributes with supernatural capabilities and mixed with mythological lore to form invincible hybrids – at least in the mythical world.
With different levels of fame, some creatures have become more obscure while more prominent ones have been featured in stories like The Lord of Rings and Harry Potter. Being utterly indestructible except for one obscure part of the body would have given modern-day troops complete invincibility. The heroes are best known for their most terrifying actions in battle – which beast would you ride into combat?
The Centaur is a mythological creature in Greek culture with the upper human body and lower body of a horse. According to the culture, its origin comes from Lexicon’s attempt to sexually assault Hera, the wife of Zeus.
Upon finding out, Zeus modeled a cloud into a figure called Nephele and brought it near Lxion. Fooled by the nymph, Lxion sexually assaulted the Nephele, an action that angered Zeus and made him tie Lxion to a whirlwind in the underworld. The result of the union was Centaurus, who was born in the form of a hailstorm.
As far as I know, if centaurs were real, going on a foot patrol would be a lot quicker. Hikes would be less taxing because they would also be used as beasts of burden. Additionally, the added psychological effect of a horse-man going Splinter Cell on the enemies of freedom is fun to imagine.
The Chimera is a female monster commonly known to breathe fire and dominating Asia Minor. At a glance, this beast looks like a lion, but with the head of a goat breathing fire and a snake as its tail. Chimera was common for ransacking many villages – slaying innocent people and devouring cattle.
Although she was, for long, perceived to be invincible, her weakness was hidden in her fiery breath. According to mythology, while in battle, Bellerophon rode a winged horse and drove an iron sword into the beast’s fiery mouth, choking her with molten metal.
In pop culture, Chimeras can be experiments gone wrong such as Full Metal Alchemist’s child-dog hybrid. Which deviates from the traditional imagery. Other references such as in the Dungeon and Dragons tabletop game Monster Manual depict Chimeras like the ancient world. Regardless, a multi-headed, fire breathing, can-only-die-from-its-own-weapon kind of monster is exactly what the Pentagon would need.
Medusa is a famous creature in Greek and Romanian folklore and is often associated with powerful evil. She was the only mortal of her two sisters – Stheno and Euryale. Although once a beautiful maiden, her curiosity to open Pandora’s box that had been brought from the underworld to free one of her imprisoned friends turned her into a hideous creature. With the face of an ugly woman, anyone who dared look at her immediately turned into stone. Consumed with hatred, self-pity, and despair, she became as brutal as her outward appearance. Just like my ex-girlfriend.
Any monster that can turn the enemy into stone instantly is definitely going to give the military advantage. Is an enemy who is turned to stone still considered to be covered under the Geneva Convention or is there wiggle room, for let us say, it accidentally “fell” over.
The Minotaur is a half-bull, half-man beast who lived in a cave beneath the court of King Minos. It all began when Poseidon gifted King Minos with a bull he was supposed to sacrifice, but he instead kept the bull to himself. Angered by his selfishness, Poseidon made the king’s wife fall in love with the bull, and in their union, gave birth to the Minotaur.
So, ruthless was the creature that the king had to assort a dozen people each year to be devoured by the beast. Aside from demanding annual human sacrifices to be given to the bull, Poseidon threatened to cause famine in the whole of Greece if the demands weren’t met.
In the Marine Corps we already have minotaurs, they’re called heavy machine gunners. The horned variety was feared in ancient Greece, imagine a modern one with automatic weapons and a Javelin missile system.
5. The Furies
Unlike the kind of furry my staff sergeant is… when Cronus castrated his father and tossed his genitalia into the sea, as is tradition, the blood droplets became the Furies. Being conceived of genitalia blood, there isn’t a doubt that the Furies were particularly full of rage.
The Furies were good at finding people who had done wrong and obliterated their bodies until they died out of excruciating pain. Many stories depict the Furies as having dogs’ heads, snakes for hair, and black bodies, making them more goddesses than monsters. I bet they could find people to show up to duty on time or put to use at NCIS.
6. The Hydra
Perhaps the most ferocious monster Hercules fought with, The Hydra was a sea creature with nine heads who grew two heads every time one was chopped off. The heads looked similar, but it was impossible to identify which one was immortal. At the same time, its blood and breath were incredibly poisonous, and stepping on its tracks or swimming within its territory could instantly kill you. Hercules killed the dragon as part of his tests and put a colossal rock on top of the immortal head before new heads could grow back.
An immortal, amphibious poison dragon would be just the unit to deploy to the south china sea to incentivize the Chinese to play nicer with their neighbors.
From the outside, the U.S. military is the finest fighting force on earth. For those who have served in its ranks, the reality behind the scenes is a bit different. In fact, most units have tons of gear that is either too old or too dangerous to use these days. But, you can’t throw them out because they’re still sensitive items in someone’s property book. Here are some of the most common.
1. Reagan-era vehicles and their associated items
Maybe it’s the keys to a CUCV that was turned in decades ago but never signed over. Or perhaps it’s a maintenance manual for the M880 Dodge that’s now being driven by a local who works as a contractor on post (still don’t know how he ended up with the keys). Better yet, a starter motor for a deuce and a half that keeps getting signed over from NCO to NCO because no one wants to get rid of something so valuable. This kind of stuff seems to be hanging around in every motor pool across the military. Just hope you don’t have one of the actual vehicles still hanging around. If you do, make sure your SGLI is up to date before getting in it.
Technically, this stuff is still used by the Navy. Even so, it’s mainly the old K-pot that’s officially in use aboard ships. Yet, somehow, these old vests and helmets in M81 U.S. Woodland camo still hang around supply rooms like an annoying party guest that you just can’t get rid of. Naturally, they’re still on the property book and can’t be DX’d either. Introduced in 1983, the Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops was a huge step forward in protective gear from the old M1 steel helmet and flak jacket. However, armor has come a long way since then. The only folks in uniform who should be wearing this stuff is ROTC cadets and that’s only so they can build character.
3. KOI-18 Tape Reader
If you’ve had to account for one of these and didn’t know what it was, you’re in good company. If you’ve ever actually used one, you’re a unicorn. The KOI-18 is a hand-held paper tape reader developed by the NSA. It’s a fill device for loading cryptographic keys into security devices like encryption systems. These days, NCOs just instruct on the history and operation of the KOI-18, but never actually use it. If you did have to use it, and thus burn the tape, you have our sympathies. The tape is thin, prone to jamming, and surprisingly difficult to burn. Most units still have them because of MTOE requirements, so don’t you dare lose track of it.
4. Old laptops
Let’s be honest here. These things can barely run your annual cyber awareness training. The only reason they’re still signed to someone is that S6 can’t (or won’t) take them back. These things are sitting in a drawer somewhere and only come out for property inspections or when someone new arrives and you really want to mess with them. Yes, that is a floppy disk drive. No, you can’t get a new computer.
Nicknames and the military are a tradition as old as war itself. Many military legends have nicknames such as General “Mad Dog” Mattis because of his fearlessness. Others such as Lt. General Lewis “Chesty” Puller had his nickname because of his posture and large chest. Nicknames can be cool or they can be aggravating to the bestowed. Regardless, they’re a tradition that isn’t going anywhere. So, one may as well come up with good ones. Here are some tips for coming up with good nicknames for your fellow troops.
They can’t like it
Story time: When I was a junior Marine and hit the fleet, one of my seniors was sitting around waiting for our turn to shoot on the range. He said “We need to give you a nickname,” and in true Marine Corps fashion, everyone threw in their two cents. “Mexi-Cano” (I’m not Mexican) and some variations of the first part of my last name were tossed around. They didn’t quite fit.
Then he simply asked how to say “The Kid” in Spanish. I replied, “Niño” without thinking, and I could see it click on everyone’s face.
No, please, not that one.
“That’s the one. Niño.” I hated it at first and they could tell, which is why it stuck. I knew if they knew how much it really bothered me it would definitely be my name for my entire career. Everyone liked it but me, so, there was nothing I could do. I was the “Niño.”
Fast forward two deployments and a workup later, I was the Niño no more. New unit, new me. It was bittersweet because I knew I finally shook it off but the ones who called me that were no longer around. Some got out, some others passed away. Once in a blue moon, I’ll talk to my old platoon and I’ll hear my old moniker. In hindsight, I ended up liking it because it was like being called “Billy the Kid,” the most famous outlaw to have lived.
Some people have long last names. Although the pronunciation may be simple, some people just can’t deal. At some point when someone reaches E6, they just stop trying. The nickname ‘Alphabet’ is one that is thrown out there for those with a long last name. When dealing with a large list of people, let’s say the rifle range, you are bound to run into many people’s last names that will be hard to say. So, steer clear from this one because it will get confusing and no one is going to respond to it anyway.
We had a troop named Rzonca, pretty simple to say. However, for reasons unbeknownst to me, E6s and above couldn’t say it. He was nicknamed ‘Bazooka’ instead. Which turned out to be a cool name since he also had an M203 grenade launcher on his issued weapon. Anything is better than calling someone “alphabet.”
Shorten their name with a twist
Marzbanian, my former machine gunner on my first deployment, ended up with nickname “Mars.” The letter Z must be SNCO repellent because they would always pull some sort of nickname for people with one. Then there was Humphreys who had “Hump” or “J Hump.” Shortening a troop’s name is the quick get of jail card because everyone will know who you’re talking about. It’s not much but it’s a good place holder until you come up with something else.
They can be built upon
That’s not a free pass to start calling people NJP-able nicknames. Part of the joke with mine is that I am short and Latino, thus “el Niño.” It’s right on the line without crossing it. It’s racial without being racist, it’s fun to say, and most importantly, it pissed me off. To be on the safe side, avoid race-based names. Peacetime is a lot more politically correct than during the Surge. Once on post duty in Afghanistan, the Corporal of the Guard was looking for someone and asked for specifics on the radio. “Second tent on the left when you’re looking at the generators. His rack is five Niños up on the right hand side.” Apparently, I had also become a unit of measurement. It also became an inside joke for our platoon — until the lieutenant used it… and killed it.
Lieutenants are not in on the joke
Nicknames are for the guys, not the leadership. That is until that leader has earned everyone’s trust. It just sounds weird to have superiors and subordinates referring to each other by their nicknames when they’re not even on a first name basis yet. It’s a two way street, and no matter what direction the traffic is going, it’s going to sound unprofessional.
A year a half later, we had a new lieutenant who, as is usually the case for a butter bar, was disliked. He called me by my nickname once and everybody gave him a “Dude… no,” look. I didn’t know it at the moment, but it really touched a nerve with a lot people. When I asked why it bothered them more than it did me, my friends and seniors replied, “He’s not one of us. Only we f*** with us.” If you want to kill a nickname have your leadership use it. It’s a like a boomer saying “woke.” Gross.
Feature image: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class China M. Shock
Kilroy, the bald guy with the long nose hanging over a wall, may be the world’s first viral meme. While it didn’t originate with U.S. servicemen in World War II, it resonated with them. And Kilroy has had staying power all over the world well after WWII.
The graffiti originated with a British doodle called “Mr. Chad,” who commented on rationing and shortages during the war. Often accompanied by the phrase “Wot? No Sugar”, “Wot? No engines?”, or anything decrying the lack of supplies in Britain at the time. “Eventually,” etymologist Eric Shackle writes, “the spirit of Allied unity merged, with the British drawing appearing over the American phrase.”
The little graffiti doodle became a national joke. GIs and civilians alike would compete to draw “Kilroy was here” in the most remote, obscure places. “Kilroy was here” suddenly appeared on the torch of the Statue of Liberty, Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Marco Polo Bridge in China, a girder on the George Washington Bridge in New York, and even the bellies of pregnant women in hospitals.
Kilroy the name is widely considered to originate from J.J. Kilroy, a welding inspector at the Bethlehem Steel Shipyards in Quincy, Massachusetts. The New York Times told the story of how Kilroy, tired of co-workers claiming he didn’t inspect their work, began writing “Kilroy was here” with a crayon, instead of making the usual chalk mark. When these ships came in for repairs in worldwide ports, wartime workers would open sealed compartments to find the doodle. This random appearance would be an amazing feat from the repair crews’ perspective since no one would have been able to access these areas.
For years, rumors and theories abounded about the origin of the name. In 1946, the American Transit Association held a contest, offering a full-size street car to anyone who could prove they were the real Kilroy. J.J. Kilroy entered and corroborated his story with other shipyard workers. The ATA sent the trolley to Kilroy’s house in Halifax, Mass. where he attached the 12-ton car to his home and used it as living space for his nine children.
Feature image: Engraving of Kilroy on the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Wikimedia Commons)
Anime is a genre of animation enjoyed on a global scale. Programs like the “Dragon Ball Z” and “Pokemon” franchises have had a viral influence on American culture. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with watching cartoons as an adult, some fans take it too far. I’m not talking about those cosplayers — there is a time and place for that (conventions are such places and the appropriate time).
What I’m talking about is the darker side of fandom. The raging trolls with body pillows and unironically animated girlfriends. They are unofficial experts on Japanese culture yet they’re wrong about the majority of it and have never actually been there. In the military, there is a lot of hurry up and wait. Platoons are at risk of exploring too far into the anime genre out of boredom. If troops aren’t careful, weeaboos will reproduce at a staggering rate in tight quarters with no women. Anime fans are separate from weeaboos, because at least they’ve still retained their self-respect.
Subtle signs of a weeaboo
Weeaboo: A person who retains an unhealthy obsession with Japan and Japanese culture, typically ignoring or even shunning their own racial and cultural identity. Many weeaboos talk in butchered Japanese with the 8 or so words they know (i.e. kawaii, desu, ni chan). While weeaboos claim to love and support Japanese culture, counter intuitively, they tend to stereotype Japanese culture by how it appears in their favorite anime, which can be safely assumed to be offensive to the Japanese.
The weeaboo prefers cold dark places where it can troll online chat rooms in peace. They will only go out into the human world for sustenance or to bully children over the rules of Pokemon cards in a hobby store. While all of their living spaces have access to water, they use it to make ramen, not shower. An organized, clear room can prevent a weeaboo from becoming comfortable and spreading their mangas all over the floors. In extreme infestations, they will have hentai (don’t google that) posters taped to their wall lockers. If one day you knock on someone’s door to remind them they have duty and they open it wearing a Sailor Moon outfit, it is time to find that troop some treatment.
A weeaboo has started to take over the host body of a person when they start venturing into non-mainstream anime. Like their punk rock counterparts, they like things before they were cool. Gross. Regardless, you may find yourself slipping after watching several anime on Netflix and YouTube.
When they are not on Reddit saying derogatory things about women, they can be found grazing using chops sticks on inappropriate foods. They will be self-loathing about American culture, even though we’re the greatest country on the planet. Weeaboos will have katanas and other Japanese weapons not authorized on base. Ironically, they enjoy watching animated martial arts yet they’re also the first ones to lose in MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program) grappling matches.
Weeaboo multiply through asexual reproduction – not by choice. Their defense mechanism of avoiding showers causes them to repel all interaction with the opposite sex. A weeaboo can sense a potential victim to introduce their favorite niche anime series by sound. Weeaboos can tell what season and episode you’re on just by the audio alone. If you watch “Death Note” or “Full Metal Alchemist” in public, be aware you are putting yourself at risk of unintentionally welcoming weeaboos to converse with you.
If you accidentally bond with a weeaboo talking about “Attack on Titan,” or worse, “Evangelion,” you may be exposed to more anime. When a weeaboo has successfully imprinted on you like a werewolf from Twilight, you will have a Crunchyroll account. Suddenly you will find yourself wearing a kimono with imported ramen noodles, complete with a body pillow that will bring shame to your family.
In lieu of attracting a real mate, they will order life-sized pillows that cannot give consent. When a weeaboo has successfully replicated itself, they will try to get others to join them, with a higher rate of success.
Do not shun the weeaboo because it may be misinterpreted as hazing. Alternatively, shut down any attempts to watch non-mainstream anime. You may indulge in Japanese cuisine, but shut down any embarrassing anime-speak from the weeaboo. This is different than actually knowing Japanese and trying out some language.
For example, our resident weeaboo studied more Japanese when we heard we were going to deploy to Japan. He thought he was an expert on the culture and language. Yet, when our colonel announced to the battalion the Okinawans speak a different dialect than the mainland, you could practically see the anime crying on all the weeaboos faces.
The best prevention of weeaboos multiplying in your ranks is to make things unbearable for them by maintaining military discipline. Continue to keep living quarter standards in room inspections and enforce grooming standards. If you find yourself liking anime, for the love of General Mattis, don’t show up to formation out of regs dressed like a cartoon character.