3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn't know existed - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed

Hidden in the arcane halls of the command deck there are three billets few Marine infantrymen interact with. Every infantry battalion has specialists attached to them to ensure training is conducted as expected by high command. These gentlemen of warfare cut through bureaucracy. They ensure the lance corporal kicking down doors is as lethal as possible. Yet most enlisted in the line companies do not know they exist.

The Gunner

uncommon infantry job

The Marine Gunner is a Chief Warrant Officer specifically trained in the employment and training of infantry battalion organic weapons, gear and assigned personnel, and in the Combat Marksmanship continuum. Marine Gunners are special staff officers employed as the principal advisor to commanders at all levels. They assist in the development of training and employment plans designed to ensure Mission Essential Task compliance. They help design and vet the weaponeering and training policies of the commander and help to disseminate information to the unit’s personnel regarding such policies.

NAVMC 3500.44B Excerpt, Signed 30 Aug 2013, pages 10-2 to 10-3

The Gunner is responsible for reports and feedback from the Fleet Marine Force directly to Systems Command. They know everything about every single weapon system. The amount of knowledge they have is incredible. Therefore, this is why when the battalion commander goes to them when he has a question about weapons. Additionally, the Gunner is the only person a lance corporal can walk up to and give his opinion on equipment and request new or replacement gear for the battalion. If you think the rifles in the armory have lived past their use – this is the person to talk to. It sounds too good to be true but it happened in 2nd battalion 6th Marines. The Non commissioned officers in the line companies complained that the M16A4s they had were pieces of sh*t and the Gunner ordered brand new M4s.

Marines will put up with a lot but we draw the line with garbage weapons. When you receive new gear, this officer wants to hear the good, the bad, and ugly. They stood where you stood as prior enlisted, they won’t give you a hard time because gathering that information is literally why they exist.

The Adjutant

uncommon infantry job
Maj. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, adjutant general for Oregon, receives a briefing on the F-15 Eagles

The adjutant is responsible for: coordinating internal and external administrative requirements; tracking and monitoring critical administrative support requested by higher headquarters and/or subordinate commands; preparing and publishing duty roster assignments; publishing staff regulations, preparing, reviewing and staffing command correspondence to include congressional inquiries/special interest correspondence; managing the commands’ performance evaluations program; processing personal, unit, and special awards; maintaining command correspondence files.

Marines.mil

Essentially, the Adjutant is the subject matter expert of everything Admin. They are the colonel’s administrative right hand, normally holding the rank of captain or major at the battalion level. They’re also the officer in charge of the S-1 shop. An Adjutant isn’t as approachable as a Gunner but they’re still there to get the administrative mission done. As well as being an infinite source of knowledge, they can dispel myths about Marine Corps Orders (MCO) if you can catch one at the smoke pit.

CBRN Defense Officer

uncommon infantry job
CBRN training consisting of classroom instruction and an obstacle course to familiarize Marines with CBRN defense equipment and procedures. 

CBRN Defense Officers function as supervisors, coordinators, technical advisers, and Special Staff Officers to the Commanding Officer for operational and technical functions associated with CBRN and supporting Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (C-WMD) related issues within the command. CBRNDOs provide technical expertise pertaining to the management, procurement, and distribution of CBRN capabilities. They plan, coordinate, and supervise CBRN related training, and prepare plans, annexes, orders, and standard operating procedures relative to CBRN. CBRNDOs also advise commanders on the vulnerability of their own forces, and work with intelligence, plans and operations, and logistics communities in collecting, evaluating, and dissemination of information concerning enemy/ adversary CBRN capabilities, as well as other information relating to CBRN threats and hazards supporting C-WMD objectives.

Marines.mil

Also known as Chi-wo (CWO) on the command deck. Every infantry battalion has a CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) attachment. Most infantrymen only encounter this Military Occupational Specialty when they have to do their annual gas mask training. This MOS is attached to the S-3 Operations section as their own island. That is, they have their own office or building, and they are part of the shop in name only. They have their own chain of command, albeit much smaller. It will consist of a junior enlisted, a non commissioned officer, and the warrant officer. At the battalion level they are usually ranked at CWO 3.

The reason infantry do not know these guys exist in the battalion is because they skate so hard it is awe inspiring. A Chi-wo is the batman of the battalion — he will disappear mid-sentence if given the chance. I do not know what they do with the other 364 days of the year and I’ve worked with them for at least two years. Without a doubt fighting crime.

Military Life

Why the Veteran’s Day parade may be the big day for Pinks & Greens

The U.S. Army’s upcoming dress uniform switch that’ll put soldiers in updated Pinks and Greens is all but official. The date set for senior leadership to make the final call also coincides with another huge moment for the Army: the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. It’s also the date of the upcoming (semi-controversial) military parade in Washington D.C.


According to road maps outlined by the Army Times and Marlow White Uniforms, different phases of the uniform’s slow roll-out coincide with the Army’s important historic dates. Over this summer, 150 soldiers from the Northeast Recruiting Battalion will wear the uniform, testing to find any kinks in the prototypes. After that, fielding of the uniform will begin next summer, on June 6th, 2019 — the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
A fitting day for the finest dress uniform to make it’s comeback.
(National Archives)

But before that, on November 11th, 2018, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey will give the official verdict. If you look at their the schedule for that day, you’ll see they’ll be fairly busy with the military parade going on in Washington.

Dailey’s opinion on the Pinks and Greens are well known throughout the Army. He’s worn the uniform at high-profile events and has accompanied himself with soldiers wearing the uniform many times.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
(U.S. Army Photo)

Take all of this with a grain of salt, as nothing has been officially confirmed nor denied. However, given the Sergeant Major of the Army’s knack for showmanship and the military parade in Washington happening, it wouldn’t be hugely surprising if his official verdict was made clear by him showing up in the new dress uniform.

All of this may sound a little like pure fanboy speculation about a dress uniform, but, in my humble opinion, we shouldn’t be surprised if the Pinks and Greens make their debut at an event that has officially called for troops to wear period uniforms.

Humor

11 military memes that will wow you

Service members from all ranks experience some crazy things during their time in uniform. From taking on the bad guys in a firefight to surviving some crazy accidents that most civilians couldn’t stomach — it’s all just part of the job.

We embrace the suck and, in the process, develop a unique sense of humor that’s not for everyone. For us, laughing at the crazy events of our daily life in service makes us stronger and helps us to push through the next dangerous mission with smiles on our faces.

When we tell people the true stories of what we’ve seen and done, the average man or woman lets out an exasperated “wow.”

These memes have the same effect:


3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed

Via popsmoke

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
Military Life

4 reasons why troops need to be a little salty

Parents tend to teach their kids that kindness is one of the greatest traits a human can exhibit. When those kids eventually join the military, they’ll learn that they need to drop the niceties before too long.

Troops should show a general politeness toward their peers — after all, the military wouldn’t function if everyone was truly spiteful toward one another. We’d never recommend that you treat others like dirt, but every service member must obtain a certain level of saltiness in order to get through their career.


In a way, military life is the reversal of civilian norms. In the military, kindness is negatively received; being assertive and salty is the only way to get what you want. We’re not saying this is bad or good — it’s just the weird life that troops live.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help others out.

(Photo by Spc. L’Erin Wynn)

Your kindness will be perceived as weakness

Before any of this gets twisted, kindness isn’t a weakness and showing genuine empathy toward your fellow troop isn’t going to kill you. In fact, showing your brothers- and sisters-in-arms compassion will take you far and may save a life some day.

However, the harsh reality is that there are no brakes on the military train. Slowing down for others and offering a helping hand isn’t always smiled upon. When you pause to help someone who’s stalled, in the eyes of many, there are now two impediments.

It’s not an pleasant circumstance, but that’s how life in the military goes.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed

(Photo by Staff Sgt. R.J. Lannom)

Your kindness will get pushed to the limits

There’s another side to the compassion coin. Offer your help too readily and others will take advantage. One favor leads to three. “Hey, can you get me…” quickly turns into, “you don’t mind, do you?”

In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any toxic leadership in the military. Everyone would take unit morale into consideration, do their part, and ensure tasks are completed on schedule. Unfortunately, when people find it easier to get someone else to their job, they’ll take that road.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed

But they’re not mutually exclusive in combat situations.

(Photo by Cpl. Darien J. Bjorndal)

Your saltiness will get things done

Aggression and anger are not essential traits of great leaders. A first sergeant who never yells still commands the same respect as a first sergeant who barks at everyone. It is entirely possible to be assertive and state your intentions to others without shouting.

…but most people won’t see it that way. The moment you raise your voice, people listen. If you’re of a lower rank, people will assume you’re ready for a leadership position — in actuality, yelling and true leadership skills are apples and oranges.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed

Troops will rarely give an honest answer if their first sergeant asks them how are they doing, even if it’s meant sincerely.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

Your saltiness won’t ever get questioned

Being nice will cause everyone to question your motives. Other troops will think you’re up to something, trying to work them over. Conversely, there’re almost no repercussions for being a dick to everyone.

The higher your rank, the less people will wonder why you’re grouchy. Everyone just accepts it as normal, everyday life. Niceties at that rank set off alarms in the lower ranks or just confuse everyone.

Military Life

6 reasons why beach assaults actually suck

The very essence of being a Marine Infantryman is being amphibious — it’s the reason we exist as a Marine Corps. However, the last two wars have been fought on land, so it’s understandable that beach assaults have taken a back seat in terms of training goals.


But, with the Marine Corps moving into a peacetime and with sights being set on near-peer rivals, amphibious assault training has resurfaced as pivotal.

Plenty of Marines are excited by this — as they should be — but beach assaults are just one more thing to add to the long list of reasons why the infantry is affectionately called, “the suck.”

Related: Marines want to swarm enemy defenses with hundreds of small boats

1. Sitting in an amphibious assault vehicle for hours.

Have you ever wanted to just lock yourself in a dark, metal box that floats on the ocean for hours? If you answered, “yes,” then you’ll love beach assaults. You get locked inside an AAV while you’re taken from ship to shore. Not only is it really dark and hot, it’s also terribly boring.

 

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
These vehicles are extremely cramped. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Nathaniel Castillo, 1st Marine Division Combat Camera)

2. Diesel fumes.

Remember that thing about being locked in the metal box? Well, that metal box burns diesel and the fumes make their way into where you and your buddies are waiting. Essentially, you just sit there and inhale the fumes until you reach the shore.

3. Your gear gets soaked.

This isn’t true for absolutely everyone as some AAVs are pretty good about staying air-tight, but these are old vehicles and they’re prone to mechanical shortcomings. As many Marines will tell you, be sure to waterproof your gear because, between ship and shore, you’ll often end up in ankle-deep water.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
Good luck turning that gear back in after this. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kyle Carlstrom)

4. The blinding sunlight.

If your assault happens during the day, the moment the ramp drops and you run outside, your eyes are going to have to adjust from the dark, dank interior of the AAV to unrelenting sunlight. For a few seconds, as you run to your position in the attack, you’ll be nearly blind.

5. Your rifle gets extremely dirty.

Between the salt water, sand, and any oil leaks, your rifle is going to get crapped on. Hopefully, you either lubed it up prior to leaving the ship or you did so while sweating your ass off in a cloud of diesel smoke. There’s no way you’ll keep it clean, but this will at least ensure you can shoot your rifle.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
Once the attack is over, prepare your anus as the armory rejects your rifle like never before.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by MCIPAC Combat Camera Lance Cpl. Sergio Ramirez Romero)

Also read: 5 things service members hate on that are actually useful

6. Sand. Sand everywhere.

It’s rough, it’s coarse, and it gets everywhere. Sand will not only get in every small space on your rifle, it’s going to get into everything you have. Every crack in your gear, uniform, and body. You’re going to have sand in places that didn’t even touch the beach. Once you get back to ship, you’ll have to deep clean everything — including yourself.

MIGHTY MONEY

Gary Johnson speaks out on California Guard repayment scandal

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
Maj. Gen. William H. Wade, the adjutant general for the California National Guard administers the oath of enlistment to Soldiers of Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 143rd Field Artillery during a recent visit Victory Base Complex, Iraq in 2007.


Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson had strong words for the National Guard and the Pentagon after allegations emerged that the DoD is forcing California Guard troops to reimburse the government for enlistment bonuses it paid in error.

“It is beyond the bounds of decency to go after our veterans and their families a decade later,” he said in a statement obtained by We Are the Mighty. “These are rounding errors to the Pentagon, but these demands for repayment are ruining lives and causing severe hardships for service members whose sacrifices for the nation can frankly never be adequately be repaid.”

Johnson was referring to a Los Angeles Times story that alleges the National Guard is forcing nearly 10,000 guardsmen from California to repay reenlistment bonuses they were awarded 10 years ago.

According to the paper, more than 14,000 California Guardsmen were awarded the reenlistment bonuses as a result of the Army’s incentive program to retain soldiers during the height of the Iraq war.

The U.S. government investigated the California Guard reenlistment bonuses and found a majority of the requests had been approved despite the soldiers’ not qualifying for the bonus. There has been no suggestion that any of the Guardsmen who received the reenlistment bonuses were aware that they did not qualify for them.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Army Master Sgt. Toni Jaffe was the California Guard’s incentive manager at the time, and that after the Pentagon discovered the overpayments 6 years ago, Jaffe pleaded guilty to fraud. She was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Three other officers associated with the fraud also pled guilty, receiving probation after being forced to pay restitution.

Major Gen. Matthew Beevers, the deputy commander of the California Guard, accused the nearly 10,000 soldiers of owing a debt to the Army.

In his statement to The Los Angeles Times, Beevers claimed that the soldiers were at fault and that the Guard couldn’t forgive them. “We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law,” he said, not addressing whether the Guard was breaking the law by reneging on the contracts.

Several of the Guardsmen went on to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom sustained injuries as a result.

Military Times reports that the Pentagon is searching for ways to overcome the issue. “This has the attention of our leadership, and we are looking at this to see what we can do to assist,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said Monday.

A host of lawmakers have stepped forward to condemn the Pentagon for harassing the Guardsmen who received the reenlistment bonuses, calling for congressional investigations into the matter. Though as of publication, no presidential candidate other than Johnson had addressed it.

Calling on President Obama and Congress to act immediately on the impacted Guardsmen, Johnson said, “The Pentagon needs a good dose of common sense far more than it needs these dollars, and making our service members pay for the government’s incompetence is beyond the pale.”

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
In a statement obtained by We Are the Mighty, Governor Johnson called for immediate action to be taken to keep the faith with California National Guardsmen.

Military Life

This is how Coast Guardsmen mark victories over smugglers

Fighter pilots and naval crews paint crossed-out insignias of the enemies they’ve defeated on their vessels. Turns out, the Coast Guard does the same, but their enemies are often drug lords.


Coast Guard cutters typically mark their hulls with a crossed-out marijuana leaf for every marijuana bust and a crossed-out snowflake for each cocaine bust. We’ve also seen crossed-out droplets for heroin busts and crossed-out lab equipment for crystal meth, but they’re less common.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
There’s also a ceremony to commend Coast Guardsmen for a job well done. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sabrina Laberdesque)

Drug busts are extremely dangerous and are often met with enemy fire and high speed pursuits at all hours of the day. In Aug. 2017, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Stratton made 25 separate seizures. The combined 50,000 pounds of cocaine and heroin they confiscated was worth an estimated $679.3 million. Their largest bust, valued at over $1 billion, was made back in Aug. 2015 and, just as recent as last week, they seized more than $721 million worth of cocaine.

“The seizure of this cocaine means tens of thousands of pounds won’t make it to our communities and hundreds of millions of dollars won’t make it into cartel coffers,” acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson said in an official statement. “To drug traffickers who may think they are invisible in the middle of what seems to be a vast, empty ocean: You are not alone.”

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
In case you ever wondered what $1 billion of cocaine looked like. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Bryan Goff)

Each decal that’s placed on the hull of a USCG Cutter serves as a warning to every drug smuggler. But funnily enough, only one decal is awarded per bust. Whether the bust stops $1 billion or $20 billion from going into cartel hands, it still only counts as one decal.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
Keep up the good work, Coasties! Amazing stories like these are how you guys earned your spot in the U.S. Armed Forces. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell)

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of March 16th

Life in the military is unpredictable. There’s no way for service members to know what will happen on a day-to-day basis. Luckily, the ranks are filled with photographers who stand ready to capture everyday life, both in training and at war.


Here are the best photos from across the military this week:

Air Force:

Crew chiefs from the 317th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas wait for take-off Mar. 12, 2018 at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Team Little Rock hosted over 65 Airmen from six wings to train together and showcase tactical airlift. Partnerships and interoperability enhance operational effectiveness and mission readiness.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dana J. Cable)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christine M. Pepin, a crew chief with the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, performs a cursory inspection prior to hot pit refueling of an F-16C Fighting Falcon at the Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Georgia, March 13, 2018. The 177th FW participated in an air-to-air training exercise to sharpen air combat capabilities and accomplish multiple training upgrades.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Cristina J. Allen)

Army:

The U.S. Army Military Advisor Training Academy of the 316th Cavalry Brigade at Fort Benning conducts a field training exercise at Lee Field, March 14. The three-day exercise is the culmination of a four-week program designed to prepare Soldiers to conduct key leader engagements, exercise defense plans with local leadership and foreign forces, and grow the skills necessary to develop report with local populations. The U.S. Army MATA trains, educates, and develops professional Soldiers within the Security Forces Assistance Brigades.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
(Photo by Patrick A. Albright)

A combat engineer assigned to Regimental Engineer Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, pulls security as the Soldiers press forward to clear a trench during a live fire exercise at a range near the Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, March 13, 2018. These Soldiers are part of the unique, multinational battle group comprised of U.S., U.K., Croatian and Romanian soldiers who serve with the Polish 15th Mechanized Brigade as a deterrence force in northeast Poland in support of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andrew McNeil)

Navy:

An explosive ordnance disposal technician assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 2 prepares to rappel during helicopter rope suspension technique (HRST) training at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. EODGRU 2 is headquartered at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story and oversees Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 and all east coast based EOD mobile Units.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Oki)

An MH-60S Sea Hawk, assigned to the Indians of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6, readies for takeoff on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt and its carrier strike group are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alex Corona)

Marine Corps:

U.S. Marines with Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division fire an M777A2 155mm howitzer during the 10th Marines Top Gun Competition for Rolling Thunder at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Mar. 15, 2018. The Marines were evaluated on their timely and accurate fire support capabilities and overall combat effectiveness.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nghia Tran)

A Marine assigned to Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) fires his M4 carbine rifle during a routine deck shoot aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS New York (LPD 21) March 14, 2018. Marines conducted the training to maintain their combat skills and proficiency while deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations. U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juan A. Soto-Delgado)

Coast Guard:

A Coast Guard boat crewmember aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium, from Station St. Petersburg, Florida, assists two adults and three children Monday, March 12, 2018, from their disabled 18-foot pontoon boat 1 mile south of the Gandy Boat Ramp, Florida.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Aaron Massey)

Members of Astoria Emergency Medical Service surround an injured female hiker at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River in Warrenton, Ore., prior to transporting her to Columbia Memorial Hospital for further medical care, Mar. 11, 2018.The hiker was hoisted from Saddle Mountain by a sector MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, which consisted of Lt. Cmdr. James Gibson, Lt. Jason Weeks, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ali Dowell and Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Yelvington.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Jason Weeks.)

Military Life

6 things you need to know about being stationed at K-Bay

Being an infantry Marine stationed in Hawai’i is a blessing and a curse. If you get stationed out there, civilians will sarcastically tell you how hard your life is and fellow service members will glare at you with jealousy, but they don’t know the truth — not unless they read Terminal Lance, that is.

When you get orders to Hawai’i, you’ll probably feel excited right off the bat. If you grew up in the mainland United States and you’ve never visited, you’ve likely heard of it as a beautiful, tropical vacation spot. Once you get there, you’ll start to realize that, in some ways, it’s far from an island paradise.

So, to get you prepared, here are a few things you should know about being stationed out there:


3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed

Luckily, you’ll get compensated for the cost of living.

Everything is expensive

Mentally prepare yourself now for paying insane prices for things like milk or gasoline. If you’re a smoker, you might as well kick the habit now because you’ll be paying for every pack at the exchange on base. If you ever plan on leaving to explore the island, you’ll pay much more than that.

The facilities suck

Marine Corps Base Hawai’i is small and its size can likely be attributed to the fact that it was originally built to be a Marine Corps Air Station. Only after the fact was it then turned into a full-fledged base equipped to house with infantry battalions and artillery batteries. As you might imagine, there aren’t many options for shopping or entertainment on base.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed

You’ll become well acquainted with those humid jungles, don’t worry.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Aaron S. Patterson)

It’s always humid

Hawai’i is an island nation covered with a lush rain forest and surrounded by ocean. Not only is the heat intense, but the humidity is thick, making matters much worse. Not a day will go by where you won’t sweat — unless you spend the whole day in an air-conditioned building.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed

At least the sun will be gone for a bit of time.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Isabelo Tabanguil)

It’s always raining

Remember how it’s always humid? It’s because it constantly rains. If you’re infantry, you already know that rain is somehow magically, meteorologically attracted to where you are in the world so, don’t expect that to change at all in Hawai’i.

The locals hate you

A good amount of them, anyway. If they’re not a tattoo artist or business owner, they’ll probably have a disdain for you being a part of the United States military. Don’t take it personally and just ignore it because there’s no point in getting yourself into trouble when, at the end of the day, you’re not there by choice, anyway.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed

It won’t take long before you start to feel the claustrophobia.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Luke Kuennen)

You’re stuck on an island

Your ass belongs to the Corps, so you best believe you can’t leave that island chain without permission. You can’t really even leave O’ahu unless you do some paperwork, so get used to those islands feeling like a prison.

Enjoy!

Military Life

Why May 2nd, 2011, was one of the greatest days in the military

Shortly after 1 a.m. PKT on May 2nd, 2011, Operation Neptune Spear was a go and the founder of al-Qaeda and mastermind behind the September 11th attacks, Osama bin Laden, was killed by SEAL Team Six in a CIA-led and 160th Special Operations Airborne Regiment-assisted mission.


President Obama announced the success to the world at 11:35 p.m. EST on Sunday, May 1st. The world cheered and the expression “tears of joy” doesn’t even come close to conveying the magnitude of emotions felt by the entire military community. To post-9/11 troops, this was our equivalent of V-J Day.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
No tickertape parades. No randomly grabbing nurses and kissing them. But we did party a lot.
(Photo by Lt. Victor Jorgensen)

I was still in the Army at this point and this is my story.

It was 10:35 p.m. CST when we got the news at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. My unit had just returned from Afghanistan two months prior and I was still living off-post in an apartment I shared with my ex-wife. I get a text from my NCO that read, simply, “turn on the news.”

Out of context, you always assume the worst. I was wrong. I caught the last part of President Obama’s speech but the ticker that ran across the bottom of the screen read, “Osama bin Laden Killed” and I couldn’t focus on anything else.

My phone started blowing up saying everyone was basically throwing a party — despite the fact that it was a Sunday night before a 12-mile ruck march. Not a single soldier in that barracks was sober that night. Music was blasting, horns were being honked, everyone was screaming, and the MPs joined in instead of crashing the party.

A few hours later, at PT, the formation reeked of alcohol. Our normally salty first sergeant didn’t complain and broke the news to us (as if any of us hadn’t yet heard) with a big ol’ grin. He was one of the first conventional soldiers to step foot in Afghanistan back in 2001. Almost ten years later and he’s barely standing on his feet. Ruck march was cancelled and we were released until work call at 0900.

At the motor pool, no one was actually servicing their vehicles. This was the one day the E-4 Mafia got its way. Everyone just kicked the tires and checked off that it was good to go. No one cared enough to work… except the motor sergeant who, understandably, lost his sh*t (but took it in stride).

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
I was commo. It’s not like we did motor pool maintenance anyways.
(Weapons of Meme Destruction)

No one was training back in the company area. We just shared war stories to the new guys that didn’t deploy with us, stories we hadn’t heard on deployment, and stories we’ve all heard a million times.

Keeping in line with how we spent our day, joyfully sharing stories with one another, let us know in the comment section about what you were doing on May 2nd, 2011.

Military Life

Forget multitasking, this Navy squadron has only one mission — rescue people

The smell of crisp pine in the air and the peaceful quietness of nothing but the rushing of emerald green glacial rivers as they flow down the side of a mountain describes most of the state of Washington. However, this heart-stopping landscape has a potentially lethal side that can claim even the most experienced hikers. But, luckily for those in northern Washington, there’s a highly trained group of Sailors ready to answer the call.


Video produced by Jonathan Snyder, Defense Media Activity

From the frigid waters of the Puget Sound to the dense tree canopies of the Olympic forest to the towering rock facades of the Cascade Mountain Range, Sailors from the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Search and Rescue (NASWI SAR) team provide 24-hour SAR for the fixed winged assets in the area, as well as the civilian population. While most squadrons in the fleet have multi-mission platforms, Whidbey Island SAR’s one focus is rescue.

“Generally, helicopter squadrons around the fleet, whether they’re a Romeo or Sierra Squadron, they’re going to have a multi-mission platform. Those helicopters, pilots and flight crews need to be able to do a multitude set of missions, from the Romeo side, which is hunting subs and possible rescues, where the Sierra side could go from rescue, logistics and anti-mine warfare. Unfortunately, they don’t get to really ever focus on one,” said Lt. Chris Pitcher, NAWSI SAR operations officer. “Our job is to go out and save people, whether it’s pulling them out from the water or from the side of a mountain, and we train almost every day for those different scenarios. So when those scenarios do pop up, we’re not surprised, and we can get the job done and get that person to a higher level of care.”

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Francisco Toledo assigned to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Search and Rescue shuts the door to an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter prior to take off during a high altitude training evolution at NAS Whidbey Island, Sept., 26, 2017. NAS Whidbey Island Search and Rescue’s primary mission is to be the first responder for the aircraft and personnel stationed at NAS Whidbey Island. Secondary to that, they work closely with local agencies in order to be a responder to anyone in legitimate danger. ( U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Ignacio D. Perez)

Because of this, NAWSI SAR is the only squadron in the fleet that is outfitted with an advance life-support helicopter platform. It allows crews to not only save pilots in case of emergencies, but also work with local hospitals and emergency rooms to provide care for anyone in need of medical attention.

“We are a fully outfitted, advance life-support helicopter platform,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Wayne Papalski, NAWSI SAR’s flight paramedics lead chief petty officer. He explained that the team operates the same way as first responders who save lives after someone calls 911 for a family member. “We strive to mirror ourselves with the civilian community, so that way we can have that continuum of care that started in the civilian community and continue to a local hospital.”

With the millions of visitors the Pacific Northwest sees every year, NAWSI SAR has not only performed rescues in the Cascades and Olympic National Parks, but also in Idaho, Oregon and even Canada. This has made the Sailors learn to quickly adapt to changing environments.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
Chief Hospital Corpsman Wayne Papalski assigned to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island Search and Rescue gives the signal to Sailors to safely enter an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter during a high altitude training evolution in the North Cascades National Park. NAS Whidbey Island Search and Rescue’s primary mission is to be the first responder for the aircraft and personnel stationed at NAS Whidbey Island. Secondary to that, they work closely with local agencies in order to be a responder to anyone in legitimate danger. ( U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Ignacio D. Perez)

“The terrain here is pretty diverse. You have the ocean that can range from mid 50s to high 40s. You have mountain ranges that can have some of the densest forest with 200-foot firs to some the rockiest sheer rock cliff faces that you can imagine. And once you get past the other side of the Cascades, it turns from this nice coastal 60 degrees here in Whidbey Island into this dry desert that reaches 110 to 112 degrees,” said Pitcher. “It just depends on what the mission calls for, and to be ready to be able to respond to any kind of situation, because, obviously, if the jets go that far, we need to be able to respond.”

The unpredictable landscape has made Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Francisco Toledo learn to be uncomfortable, he said. But he also said that the only way to become comfortable is by constant training.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, we kind of check your ego at the door. We have our own training syllabus, so when you check in, you start from scratch using what you learned previously in the fleet to come up here to make yourself a better aviator or crewman,” said Papalski. “We have a pretty robust training syllabus that takes you throughout the entire state to all of our local working areas. Pretty much any situation that you will probably face as a qualified crewman or pilot, we try to put you in.”

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
LT Chris Pitcher and Lt. Cmdr. Dillon Jackson assigned to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Search and Rescue review mission operations in an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter during a high altitude training evolution in the North Cascades National Park, Sept., 26, 2017. NAS Whidbey Island Search and Rescue’s primary mission is to be the first responder for the aircraft and personnel stationed at NAS Whidbey Island. Secondary to that, they work closely with local agencies in order to be a responder to anyone in legitimate danger. ( U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Ignacio D. Perez)

Because of the level of difficulty and danger of the job, Sailors said it leaves a lasting memory. Most believe that when they look back at their careers someday, they will consider their time at Whidbey to be some of the best years they have had.

“Looking back at my four years here, I’ll tell you this is the best command I’ve been at. It’s just been an amazing and humbling experience, getting to do what I got to do up here, and what some of my brothers and sisters in the other room got to do to help people,” said Papalski. “When you look back at your career 20 or 30 years from now and know that you actually did something that was giving more than you were taking, it means a lot.”

Military Life

Why the ‘Good Cookie’ isn’t a guaranteed medal

The Good Conduct Medal is one of the easiest medals an enlisted troop can earn. It’s an award given to enlisted personnel for every three years of “honorable and faithful service.” During times of war, the GCM can given out at one year of good service and can be posthumously awarded to service members killed in the line of duty.

But the GCM isn’t the same as a service stripe, which is given to soldiers every three years, Marines, sailors, and Coast Guardsmen every four years, and is never given to airmen. To earn a GCM, you need to keep your nose clean (or don’t get caught doing something you shouldn’t) for three years. If you’re a solider, boom, that’s an instant 10 promotion points.


 

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
Hey, 10 points are 10 points. Promotion is hard for an MOS that requires as many as 798 in a given month. (Photo by Pvt. Paul R. Watts Jr.)

The intent behind the GCM is to award outstanding troops who’ve managed to go three years without ever failing to be at the right place, at the right time, in the right uniform. The disqualifying factor for this medal is if you ever receive an NJP.

Now, what is and isn’t considered eligible for a non-judicial punishment is loosely defined and is entirely at the discretion of the commander. Talking too severely to a subordinate could be considered an NJP-worthy offense by a commander that’s cracking down on hazing, while another unit’s commander may turn a blind eye to horrendous acts that discredit the military.

The moment a troop gets a “Ninja Punch,” their 3-year GCM timer restarts. Three years after a sergeant knifehands a private, that private is once again eligible for a Good Conduct Medal. A scumbag who has brown-nosed the commander or has a commander who “doesn’t want the unit to look bad” will receive this medal every third anniversary of their enlistment. Do you see the discrepancy?

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
(Photo by Cpl. Brady Wood)

Once again, one unit may make an elaborate ceremony to honor the troop for their three years of good conduct while another may just ask a troop to buy a Good Conduct Knot to add to their ribbon rack. Again, this is at a commander’s discretion.

There is a silver lining to all of this. Fresh young troops who are giving the military their best can feel like their world’s been shattered the first time they screw up. Stern talking-tos and regular bad conduct counseling statements don’t blemish one’s good conduct streak — take the lickings and move on. An offense typically only turns into an NJP when it’s one in a series of misconduct.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
Ask anyone who’s ever been in trouble in the military. They’d much rather be doing flutterkicks until their NCO gets tired than any form of paperwork. (Photo by Spc. Adeline Witherspoon)

The Good Conduct Medal should be awarded to those troops who exemplify the military values. It is a flawed system that sees undeserving scumbags awarded while good troops who make a genuine and innocent mistake aren’t — but the troops that do deserve it and earn it make the military proud.

Humor

5 reasons why troops hate going to sick call

The military is widely known for giving free medical and dental benefits to its service members and their families. Sometimes there can be a co-pay, but overall it’s a pretty sweet deal.


Although going to medical is also a smart way to skate your way through the day.

But many hate the idea and just want to conduct their business and get out. The fact is, unlike sick commandoes (you know who you are), you’ve got work to do and don’t want to spend your day fighting your way through the process of being seen.

So check out these reasons why troops hate going to sick call.

Related: 4 unusual tasks Corpsman do that their recruiters left out

1. Long waits

Depending on what command you report to every morning, you’re required to be there at a specific time. In most cases, medical is usually open before you need to get to work or it never closes. Since the majority of the military population (not all) are seeking to get an SIQ chit (Sick in Quarters) and stay home, they show up at the butt-crack of dawn like everyone else, causing long lines.

Unless you’re very high ranking or know the doctor well — you’re going to have to wait.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
Military members wait in a sick call line. (Photo: Senior Airman Josie Walck)

2. One chief complaint at a time

Military doctors treat dozens of patients per day then have to write up and complete the S.O.A.P. note. They’re typically face-to-face with the patient for just a few minutes, but behind the scenes, they can spend valuable time developing a treatment plan.

An unwritten guideline is a doctor only has time to treat one symptom or chief complaint per visit — that’s if the issues aren’t related. So in many cases, if you have a headache and a twisted ankle, pick one then wait in line to be seen for the other. So hopefully the medic or corpsman who’s helping out knows what he or she is doing and can treat you on the side.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
A Corpsman takes a look at his patient during sick call. (DOD photo)

3. Missing paperwork

Depending on your duty station, you may notice that the staff hand wrote the majority of your documented medical visits and probably never scanned them into the computer. That means there’s only one copy floating around.

When you plan on separating and you file for disability claiming you were seen in medical for that shoulder injury, if it isn’t in your medical record, it didn’t happen.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
HM3 Tristian Thomas reviews a patient’s medical record. (Photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Randall Damm)

Also Read: 5 key differences between Army medics and Navy corpsmen

4. The ole run around

When doctors order labs or x-rays in hospitals, staff members usually come to the patient to either extract the sample or transport them to the right area.

In a sick call setting, those services may not even be located in the same building. So good luck getting from A to B.

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed
Getting around on base in a hurry can feel like New York City traffic.

5. Not getting what you want

Patients frequently enter medical feeling sick as a dog and convince themselves they wouldn’t be efficient at work. So when your temperature reads normal and the doctor doesn’t see a reason to let you go home for the day, don’t hate on medical when you get…

3 billets in every infantry battalion you didn’t know existed

 

Can you think of any others? Comment below

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