4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

Serving in the military is often portrayed as a challenging task and with the right reasons. Nevertheless, there are undoubtedly many advantages — embracing mother nature while serving is the one we’ll focus on. A lifestyle (what I’ve become to understand what the service actually is!) that offers you the chance to travel worldwide is unique and rewarding. The military has created this long culture of moving around, which means more opportunities for soldiers to experience outdoors in different countries and continents. Acknowledging the hardship of continuous relocations for military families, I will emphasize my personally-identified outdoor benefits in serving in the military.

  1. Soldiering up while learning to live in the field

Whoever has been in the army still has vivid memories of their first Field Training Exercise. There’s always that guy or gal who forgot his one piece of equipment he shouldn’t have forgotten leading up to a long, cold, freezing night. I have great stories about the rookie mistakes my buddies and I made in our first days in the field. Yet, this was all part of the learning process, and as time went by, we all learned how to gear up and started to relish mother nature every time. 

If you’re a morning person (well, no one cares if you are or not, you’re still waking up early), you can see the morning mist slowly vanishing into nothing. At these times, we enjoyed sharing a cup of coffee and having small talk with our fellow soldiers. 

If you like sunsets, there’s nothing like watching them as you eat an MRE with your friends (the MRE is not a must). 

  1. Enjoying outdoors all over the world

Having served in the military in Europe, I was fortunate to train with many countries worldwide. I was attached to a Royal Commando Company from Great Britain. We trained together on the beautiful beaches of Albania. Having the sea breeze cool us off after strenuous exercises was something we all craved. The mixture of the Adriatic Sea combined with Commando Fighting Tactics was a combo made in heaven.

outdoors
NATO Snipers Practice High-Angle Shooting in Austria

On the other side of the world, in Wisconsin, I enjoyed one of the most beautiful spring weather ever. My unit was attached to a National Guard Unit from the Midwest and drove to this beautiful Army Base near the Canadian border. The trees, the air and the scenery were something I’ll never forget.

One of the best pieces of training I’ve ever completed was Winter Survival Training with Austrian, German and Swiss Alpine Infantrymen. My fellow cadets and I attended the two-week training in the Sharri Mountains near the trijunction between Kosovo, North Macedonia and Albania. If you wanted to see the power of nature, this was the place. We would start our morning hikes in beautiful sunny weather, wearing only shirts. As we approached the peak, an immense cloud with atrocious wind would cover us in no time. We would have to rush back to our shelter to survive — the beauty, unpredictability and mercilessness of nature-all within 30 minutes. No other profession offers this opportunity!

There have certainly been times of heavy rain and freezing cold, which I didn’t enjoy and that I’ll never forget. However, having had the opportunity to travel to more than 30 countries and four continents, I have enjoyed the outdoors everywhere I trained and traveled in the military capacity. These travels have made me appreciate nature so much more!

3. Hiking while completing mandatory ruck marches

If you serve in an infantry unit, you will probably have frequent ruck marches. Such activities can certainly be challenging and tedious, but if you’re into hiking and outdoors, they will feel less like work. The opportunity to patrol in mountains and hills with no signs of human construction feels more like a movie from WWII. 

The remote areas where this training takes place more often than not offer a fantastic escape from urban stress. This is undoubtedly a factor not to be ignored since today’s world is defined by a fast-paced life with a rapid decrease in outdoor activities. Going out in ruck marches and FTXes will allow you to enjoy nature and fulfill your professional duty while getting paid to do so. Having a few beers and barbeque would be excellent, but we all know that’s not going to happen!

4. Working out in the outdoors with passion and camaraderie

One of the leading military activities known to occur in the outdoors is physical training. Whether soldiers are training with their platoon or in large running formations with their Battalion Commander, they’re undoubtedly enjoying the camaraderie. 

As soldiers test their limits in developing their physical stamina, they learn how to cope with the weather and the environment. The all-weather training regimen gives the soldier a challenging task but also prepares them for any engagement. The CrossFit culture has dramatically shifted the culture from gyms to out-of-doors while achieving better results.

Serving in the outdoors and appreciating it

serving in the outdoors

The military profession is essentially defined by the outdoors. All soldiers seem to enjoy it since it gives them an excellent opportunity to develop personally and savor nature. At the same time, they can travel around the globe while experiencing sceneries from all over the world. While this may appear as an unorthodox way to defend your country’s freedoms, it comes with difficulty and risk to soldiers’ lives. 

Yet, true warriors overcome all obstacles and learn to appreciate the beauty of nature, wherever they may be.

Articles

The Army’s very own Sagen Maddalena is headed to Tokyo for the women’s 3×40 event

“It’s a sport of millimeters,” said Specialist Sagen Maddalena of her upcoming Olympic debut.

The seasoned shooter is slated to compete in the women’s 3×40 rifle event – three positions, 40 shots each. That’s standing, sitting, and prone – all at 50-meters away. She also made the Olympic team as an alternate in the air rifle event, pictured above. 

“The target isn’t moving, so we try to be as accurate as possible,” she said. Even the slightest change in how she stands, her sights, could throw the shot off by, well, millimeters. And in the 3×40, it’s a change that could make all the difference.

This month, she’ll be representing the U.S. and the Army’s Marksmanship Unit as she heads to Tokyo. Shooting a .22 caliber Bleiker, Maddalena comes prepped with three sights – one set for each position – three rests, and specialty-wear galore. Depending on the position, she also adds various weights and cheek pieces. Because of the length of time it takes to shoot all 120 shots, 3×40 athletes ready their entire bodies with a thick, leather-like suit, shoes with plywood bottoms so the soles are completely flat and visors to block glare.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
(U.S. Army)

It’s layers of gear, and a long-lasting event.

“One of the challenges for the sport is that you’re competing against yourself. The mind and the conditions can be huge for handling pressure,” she said.

Adding that keeping up a strict routine is key for her to remain in focus. By getting to the range early, she’s able to set up equipment, practice mindfulness and perform relaxation exercises, all while keeping her mind clear and heart rate down.

Maddalena’s routines aren’t just present on competition day. She trains that way most days of the week. Scheduling her shooting drills, looking at her shot data (yes she tracks where each round lands on target), physical training, carb-loading and icing her muscles — it’s all planned by the day. Much of her shooting, she said, is muscle memory. Maintaining those daily habits allows her body to do what it needs to when it matters most.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
(USA Shooting)

“It’s action, perform and do. You have to just do it. You can’t stop and think,” she said. “It’s almost like a dance; I’m in tune with the wind and how it affects the bullet. My mind is sharp and I can adjust. It just flows. To be able to sustain that kind of dance with the mind and the flow of the body, it’s kind of an addiction.”

Maddalena took second in the 2016 Olympic trials, when the U.S. only brought one female air rifle athlete to compete. This time around they’re taking two and she nabbed the top spot.

She began shooting at 13 in her hometown of Groveland, California and went on to compete collegiately with the University of Alaska- Fairbanks, where she also switched specialties. Formerly a service rifle shooter, she transferred to the Smallbore/three-position rifle.

“I got the realization that I could shoot internationally and go further in the sport,” she said. “I had coaches telling me that I had options, and I wanted to travel. I wanted to see new places and see how far I could go.”

A dream which she’s now made a reality. Maddalena has traveled to India, Korea and Europe many times over.  

“I think that’s my favorite part of going to these different countries; you’re not just a tourist and you get to become more involved,” she said.

Soon she’ll add one more country to her checklist, as she heads to Japan as an Olympic athlete.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
(USA Shooting)

After earning a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Management, she enlisted in the Army in 2019 and joined their Marksmanship Unit. She came with an impressive shooting background: an eight-time All-American with the Alaska-Fairbanks Rifle Team, a two-time World Championship team member, and breaking two national records in 2020, at the Blackhawk Championships and the ASSA National Championships.

On why she chose such a difficult practice, Maddalena said she enjoys the pressure, and improvements over time, even if they are slight.

“I like the progression of it. It slows down incredibly once we get to the top of our game, to see that improvement and progress. It keeps you going back for more,” she said. “When I first started shooting, the scores were not even close to what you needed to win. And now I’m here to test myself amongst the best in the world.”

Feature image: U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit

Military Life

Why death iconography is a beloved part of military culture

Take a look at the naming convention of any combat arms battalion. Chances are that alpha company is “Assassins,” bravo company is “Barbarians,” and, because there’s no clever, hardcore, historical fighter that starts with ‘C,’ charlie company will be “Reapers” or something.


Toss in the occasional Spartans, outlaws, rebels, anarchists, dragons, zombies, gladiators, and make sure to leave some clever pun for headquarters (something like “Troubleshooters” — get it? It’s an IT thing and it’s because they shoot trouble. Hey, don’t you roll your eyes at me, I didn’t make it up…).

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Let’s not forget everyone who uses The Punisher’s skull on everything…
(Courtesy Photo)

Recently, the Australian Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, issued a directive to ban any and all “death symbology and iconography” from the Australian Army, effective immediately. This includes all of the above-mentioned names and forbids the use of symbols like skulls and weapons in logos (which, technically, should include the most Australian special operations unit, the 1st Commando Regiment, whose logo pictures a Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife stabbing a boomerang. Just sayin’).

Lieutenant General Angus Campbell said,

“Such symbology… is always ill-considered and implicitly encourages the inculcation of an arrogant hubris and general disregard for the most serious responsibility of our profession — the legitimate and discriminate taking of life.”

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Because infantrymen from a country where everything can kill you shouldn’t be associated with things that can kill you.
(Photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob Skovo)

With the utmost respect towards the Australian Chief of Army, hardcore names and symbols don’t take away from the seriousness of combat. It never has and never will. It boosts the morale of our troops while demoralizing the enemy. If even a single life of any American, NATO, ANZAC, and any other allied troop is saved by the psychological impact of these symbols, then repeatedly telling troops they’re hardened killers is worth it.

Death iconography bands the troops together because it’s a fun symbol to be associated with. It’s powerful. It hypes them up for the ultimate reality — some of them will fight in combat and see real consequences. The symbols serve as warnings to the enemy that these people are not to be messed with.

Articles

6 nice perks of joining Special Forces while in the US Army

Everyone knows special operators are an elite warfighting team. Not to take anything away from conventional forces, we’re just saying that everyone has their place and special operations is a hard job. 

Sometimes sending 10,000 warfighters into a country with all their support units just isn’t feasible. They get the job done, sure, but when you’re conducting heart surgery, you want a doctor with a scalpel, not an axe. Also, a mission calling for a small force would require each member of the unit to have multiple specialties, so the Special Forces (SF) side of the Army gets a lot more training than the rest of big Army. 

When the United States has that much invested in you, you get a little bit more leeway when it comes to daily Army life, as former Green Beret Mark Giaconia noted on Quora in June of 2021. He admits he can only speak for the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, but you have to admit the everyday perks are pretty good.

1. No Formations

Special Forces soldiers don’t really have the same work or life schedules as the rest of the U.S. Army. They also likely have a whole host of pretty important things to do — some of them secret, others ordinary. 

This means they don’t have time for all the formations most military units often have. Some Army units have as many as three formations a day. Giaconia says his SF unit had one formation a day at most, and usually when something important needed to be discussed.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
A formation this big, odds are someone is going to lock their knees and pass out (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brian A. Barbour)

2. No Inspections

Ever see Special Forces guys out in the field or catch a photo of one of them at work? They don’t look like soldiers in the United States Army most of the time, and that’s a really important point. They aren’t necessarily supposed to look like soldiers while they’re deployed, so grooming standards are usually much more relaxed.

If this is the case, then it doesn’t really make much sense to have a uniform inspection. The same goes for their nonstandard equipment (which we’ll delve into later). 

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Special Forces have leveled up past this nonsense ( (U.S. Air Force photo by Adam Bond)

3. Better Training and Pay

Green Berets get a number of stipends, Giaconia writes. On top of those special stipends, they also get extra pay for any number of special trainings they received. This includes jump pay, HALO (high altitude, low opening) pay, scuba certification and literally anything else you can get trained to do and receive specialty pay for. These guys see it all and they get paid for knowing how to handle it. 

On top of the pay, they also receive better per diem rates, as they mostly live off the local economy while deployed. 

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Being this awesome is going to cost Uncle Sam a little more (U.S. Army)

4. Better Gear

What is probably best known about how Army Special Forces operates is that they have a lot of leeway in choosing what equipment and which weapons work best for any given mission. In his own experience, Giaconia says he had a different kit setup for carrying a SAW than when carrying an M4 or M21.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
And then… like teenagers watching their favorite pop star, gear-dos will copy your setup… to go quail hunting (U.S. Army)

5. Flying Commercial Air

Depending on the mission and which Special Forces Group they’re in, America’s Green Berets don’t always have to rely on military aircraft to hitch a ride to where they’re going. In some cases, a military aircraft won’t even be an option, as they may not want anyone to know they’re with the U.S. military anyway.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Though, if we’re comparing to Spirit Airlines, we might prefer the C-130 ride (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Patrick Dixon)

6. Drinking Is Part Of The Job

Special Forces are often exempt from the U.S. military’s no alcohol rules, where they’re applied, especially while working with foreign units whose culture centers around drinking. Giaconia says while in Bosnia and Kosovo, he and his fellow Green Berets were attached to a Russian liaison, and needed to drink vodka with them.

Giaconia says this is called “building rapport.”

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
“C’mon… you don’t want all the cool countries to think you’re a nerd, DO YOU?” (Image by lannyboy89 from Pixabay)

Feature image: U.S. Army

Lists

5 ways your service animal is trying to talk to you

Over the last several years, we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of veterans looking to service and therapy animals to aid them through daily life. These faithful companions help vets navigate through various environments, provide crucial emotional support, and retrieve beers from the fridge (we wish).

Now, before anything else, let’s answer the important question: Yes, you can still pet these animals as long as the owner gives you permission.

Since our little buddies have thoughts and emotions just like us, they need to find a way to relay information. After a while, humans pick up on the little personality quirks that our furry friends put out there, like tapping the water bowl with a paw when they’re thirty or standing next to the door when it’s time to pee.

These tiny messages are easy to pick up if you’re paying attention, but some other messages are so subtle that you need to be a dog whisperer to understand. So, to help you out, we’ve compiled a brief list of those important messages.

You’re welcome, doggos.


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A slow tail wag

We’ve all seen a happy puppy quickly wag their tail when excited to see their owner. On the contrary, when a pup’s tail slows down, it’s not because they’re tired — it’s because you confused the sh*t out of them. They don’t know what you want them to do. Slow down and be clear with your commands.

A tucked tail

While humans show emotion using their eyes, a dog shows it through their tail. If your service animal tucks their tail between their legs, it’s a sign that they’re nervous and afraid of feeling pain.

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“What the hell is this granular substance?”

Ears up or forward

Dogs carefully examine new environments. When they’re settling in and paying close attention, they’ll shift their ears up and forward.

Resting their head on you

Humans require attention from their peers every now and then — your service animal is no different. When your little best friend walks up to you and puts his or her head on you, it’s because they want to be noticed.

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Too cute for words.

One paw up

When your furry friend gets in front of you and raises one of their paws, they’re attempting to ask you something. It could mean they want to go outside and play or they’re simply asking for a treat.

Military Life

This is how the enemy camouflages its bombs

Being forward deployed to a combat zone means you’re most likely fighting an enemy with plenty of home field advantage and tons of thought-out hiding spots.


Ongoing bombings topple over buildings and collapse bridges, and new structures replace the destroyed ones all the time; therefore, the most current geographical satellite map you have could already be outdated.

Without a city permit office to register new construction, coalition forces fighting on the ground have to make due with intel they have on hand and do their absolute best to predict where and how the bad guys are going to strike next.

Related: How SAS commandos avoided ISIS capture in a vicious hand-to-hand fight

The fact is, knowing how and when the enemy plans on striking is a guessing game, but since history repeats itself, these are common places they have been known to plant their bombs — so keep an extra eye out.

IEDs in the ground

This is by far the most common way IEDs are utilized. These deadly explosives can be hidden quickly in the ground; some last for years before being fully detonated.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Pressure cookers, homemade pressure plates, and other conventional materials are used by enemy forces to make improvised explosive devices. (Source: Marines.mil)

Although finding them can be challenging, Allied forces use metal detectors to locate them and mine rollers that are designed to detonate the explosive on their terms.

IEDs in the ground are also commonly located by the “indicators” the enemy leaves behind so their people don’t accidentally step on one. These signs come in forms like stacked rocks and disturbed soil.

In moving or parked vehicles

Known as a “V-BIED” or vehicle-born improvised explosive device, these are some nasty suckers and can hold a lot of explosive materials based on the vehicle’s cargo area.

This method can do some significant damage.

Sometimes the vehicles just appear to be  broken down cars parked on the side of a road as a traveling Army or Marine foot patrol passes by. Other times, suicide bombers drive them right up to the front entrance of a military base.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Vehicle-born improvise explosive device rigged and ready to det.

In dead animals

This method works just like the V-BIED. The enemy has been known to hide a several few pounds of homemade explosives (HME) in the bellies of dead animals. The bigger the animal, the more explosive they can implant.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Looks innocent — but stay away.

In trees

Ground troops frequently look down when searching for explosives. These IEDs are typically placed high up in trees to combat the turret gunners in an elevated position while in their armor vehicles.

The turret gunner has no real defense; they rely on their eyesight and instinct when traveling down a road in between large trees.

The local kids

Troops often carry a dump pouch used to quickly store spent magazines and others items without having to spend precious time placing them back into their original locations.

The pouch is typically placed near a troop’s hip and is wide open for easy dumping access. Local kids have been known to innocently approach foot patrols and put live grenades into these pouches.

This doesn’t happen too often.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
The quick access dump pouch. (Source: Blue Force Gear)

Also Read: These Afghan moms are taking up arms to fight the Taliban and ISIS

Under potential souvenirs

Grunts love to pick up and pocket war memorabilia from time to time. But be careful because some items could be rigged to blow.

What are you picking up a stuffed bunny for anyway? It’s creepy. (Source: Warner Bros. /Giphy images)

Under dead humans

It’s gross, but it happens.

Just like the war memorabilia, once you turn over or pick up the dead body, you could be in for a deadly surprise.

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

Articles

Marines hold hilarious ‘memorial service’ for their porn stash

In 2009, the 2nd Battalion 9th Marines stationed at Forward Operating Base Eagle, Iraq said goodbye to their porn stash.


“Golf co. 2/9 was replaced by a bunch of reservists from Utah.” reads the video description by MrTriptrop.

Related: This military-friendly porn star is starting a project just for veterans

With their deployment coming to an end, they decided to properly send off the women that provided temporary release from their sexual repression, according to the video. The ceremony and obituary are pure comedy, check it out:

We gather here today to honor the eternal memory of the women that have sacrificed services for the good of those that have suffered sexual repression through geographic isolation, mainly: us.

These ladies of the periodical, queens of the center fold have inspired our imaginations and other parts that should not be mentioned at this time.

Though these many months have been long and hard, they provided us with a means for us to have a temporary release.

Your undying patriotism and service to those who serve has not been in vain and though our time together may have come to an end, you will forever live on in our hearts.

We salute you oh princess of the page, you will never be forgotten.

Now we will sound off a few of the names of those who have inspired us …

MrTriptrop, YouTube

Articles

This is one of the largest indoor oceans ever built

Holding over 12-million gallons of water, the “MASK” — which stands for “maneuvering and seakeeping” — is one of the largest man-made indoor oceans in the world. It is located at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Maryland.


The massive water containment measures 240-feet wide and 360-feet long and houses the ability to recreate real oceanic-like characteristics to help design future Naval vessels.

The facility can custom manufacture mini-ships for on-site testing. (Images via Giphy) 

Related: This is how Naval officers conduct a man overboard drill on a ‘killer tomato’

With the ability to create a variety of ocean waves, the researchers can conduct numerous tests on new ship designs at the facility before the larger version is eventually produced.

“We can do a lot of different types of testing here, everything ranging from energy efficient testing to operability,” Dr. Christopher Kent explains.
A depiction of testing video compared to operational. (Images via Giphy)
“As long as we’ve been building ships and boats, we really only started to understand how they work about the last 100 years,” naval engineer Jon Etxegoian states. “And we’re still not there yet.”

The center’s design experts work directly with Naval officials to produce the most advanced ships known to man before the blueprint is sent to the manufacturers.

Also Read: Aerial footage of the Abraham Lincoln super carrier drifting

Check out Department of Defense‘s video below to watch this man-made ocean test the Navy’s newest technologies.

Military Life

18 photos that show the intensity of keeping warships supplied at sea

“UNREP” (short for “underway replenishment”) is the term used to describe the transfer of fuel, food, ammunition, repair or replacement parts, people and mail from supply ships to combatants like frigates, destroyers, and aircraft carriers.


Simply put, UNREP keeps Navy ships at sea. It’s a dangerous and intense evolution.

UNREP begins by raising the Romeo flag. On the control ship, it means, “I am ready for your approach.” On the approaching ship, it means, “I am commencing.”

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

One of the most challenging aspects of UNREP is matching the speed of the control ship and steering into position.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

Once the ships are on a parallel course, a shotline is sent for the phone and distance (PD) line, which is marked by flags every 20 feet. Once the shotline is fired, sailors on the supply ship catch it like a wedding bouquet.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

After the shotline is received, line handlers must haul in the messenger line, which is much heavier.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

After the wires and hoses are connected, the teams on deck and in the pump room are ready to begin the transfer of cargo and fuel.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

Sailors in the pump room monitor fuel levels…

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

… while pallets of food, mail, and supplies are transferred topside.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

At the same time sailors man the .50 cals, ever-vigilant for threats.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

Thousands of pounds of fuel and cargo are transferred between the ships while maintaining the same speed and distance apart.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

The exchange can be dangerous for both sides…

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

Sailors have to watch out for rogue waves.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

Helicopters can also be used for resupply …

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

They call this process “VERTREP,” short for “vertical replenishment.”

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

Resupplying the ship is an all-hands task. In this photo, sailors and Marines on an amphibious ship form a human chain to transfer packages.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

Sometimes ships will tag-team a supply ship to save time. In this photo, two missile destroyers — an Arleigh Burke class and a Ticonderoga class — are attached to the USNS Lenthall (T-AO 189).

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

Sometimes an UNREP could go well into evening…

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

… and package distribution could go on for hours after the ships have disconnected.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

But, the long hours and hard work pay off when you receive a care package from home; it’s like Christmas.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Navy

Military Life

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

The Marine Corps ball is once again right around the corner. Marines and sailors of all ages will gather together at various locations to celebrate the Corps’ most important day of the year — the Marine Corps birthday.


In 1925, the first “formal” ball took place in Philadelphia where the Marine Corps originated.

The ball is a perfect time to get your drink on bond with the higher ups that have demanded so much from you over the past year.

In between the pregame drinks, the dinner, and the dancing — there are many traditions that are upheld at the exclusive event.

Related: 5 tips to have the best Marine Corps birthday ever

1. “Colors. Post!”

No formal military ceremony is complete without the Guard posting colors along with playing the National Anthem to start the night off right. In local VFW and Legions, those who’ve served the Corps’ proudly, often don in their beloved dress blues to continue at that ritual.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
These Marine Veteran Color Guardsmen post and retire the colors during Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s celebration of the Birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.

2. Escorting out birthday cake

Typically, the cake is escorted out to the center stage for all to see while the Marines’ hymn proudly played. The Marines of present and past commonly stand at attention during this prized and traditional moment.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
These Marine march forward as they present the well-decorated cake for public viewing.

3. The reading from the scroll

A Marine will stand front and center, open a scroll containing a brief history of how the Marine Corps was created — reading aloud for all to hear.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

4. Cutting the cake with a sword

It is customary at Marine Corps birthday celebrations worldwide to cut a traditional cake in celebration of the birth of our illustrious Corps.

There’s even a formatted script to maintain uniformity.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Col. Redifer cuts the birthday cake at the Marine Corps ball.

Also Read: 9 reasons you should have joined the Marines instead

5. The first three pieces go to:

After the cake cutting ceremony, the first three pieces are presented to the guest of honor, the oldest living Marine present, and the youngest Marine present — a perfect way to display brotherhood and connection.

This tradition is also part of the Marine Corp birthday celebration on the battlefield if possible.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Happy birthday, Marine!

MIGHTY TRENDING

7 of the best military movie battle speeches, ranked

The moments leading up to a bloody engagement are frightening. Troops, knowing the end may be near, stand and wonder what lies beyond the next bend.


Every so often, Hollywood recreates this moment on film. Invariably, we see our hero take to ramparts to deliver a rousing speech. It takes some well-written words of encouragement to lower troops’ stress levels and get them ready for the fight.

These are a few of the best battle speeches to ever hit the screen.

Related: 7 of the most overused lines in war movies

7. Zulu

Directed by Cy Endfield, this classic film follows a group of outnumbered Welsh infantrymen as they defend a hospital and supply dump for 12 long hours from a massive force of Zulu warriors.

In this case, the battle speech was more like a war song. Each man belts out lyrics to grant them the courage they need to take on the brutal, blade-wielding charge.

6. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Directed by Peter Jackson, the third installment of this juggernaut trilogy dominated the Hollywood box offices for weeks on end and, hopefully, taught a lesson to a few military leaders on how to deliver speeches to their troops. 

5. Braveheart

Directed and starring Mel Gibson, this Oscar-winning film centers around one poor Scotsman as he rallies a country to fight against English oppression — and it all started with this famous battle speech.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEOOZDbMrgE

4. Gladiator

It’s a good thing that, in modern war, we don’t to ride into battle on horseback or clash with enemy swords. However, if we did, we’d want to hear words of encouragement from a general who isn’t afraid to fight alongside his men.

3. Independence Day

If the earth is ever attacked by aliens, someone better revive this exceptional battle speech word-for-word to rally up the troops. The world might feel like it’s legitimately going to end, but it only takes a few minutes of a truly inspiring speech to get everyone on the same patriotic page.

2. Patton

Based on the life of the legendary Gen. George Patton, the opening speech to 1970’s Patton is one of the best pieces of motivational dialogue ever recorded on film.

Also Read: 6 of the most disappointing military movies of all time

1. 300

300 follows a small squad of elite Spartan warriors, led by King Leonidas, as they stand their ground against a massive Persian army. After the King’s death, a Spartan named Dilios delivers a speech that motivates the crap out of the rest of the men to take out the remaining Persian army.

Military Life

8 normal civilian things that make you weird in the military

The military is its own beast. Many of the things we do while enlisted would seem weird to civilians. Well, the door swings both ways.


The following things seem perfectly normal before you join up, but might net you a few odd looks when you join the service.

Related: 7 military things that somehow get you fired in the civilian world

8. Not embracing the silly

Deployments quickly turn into the movie Groundhog Day. You see the same people, do the same missions, and eat the same chow. You’ve got nowhere to go and nothing to do. As you might imagine, things get real weird real fast.

At about month six, you’ll see things like troops singing Disney songs to each other or guys starting fights with traffic cones as arms. If you don’t join in, you’d better be filming it.

Our deployment videos always kill on YouTube because people think we’re super serious all the time. 

7. Wanting personal space

One unexpected advantage of Big Military cramming as many troops into as small of a space as possible is that we get close to one another. There’s nowhere to go, especially on a deployment, so you might as well get to know everyone who shares your space.

Civilians might be surprised at the level of closeness between troops in a platoon, especially when it’s snowing outside and everyone is wearing summer PTs.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
“Here, we see a bunch of soldiers waiting for morning PT…” (Screengrab via BBC’s Planet Earth)

6. Mentioning it’s your birthday

For better or worse, hazing is highly frowned upon in the military. Any type of initiation or harassment directed toward fellow troops is a major offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. No commander would dare allow their troops to partake in any form of hazing — unless it’s someone’s birthday, of course!

If the unit finds out on their own, you’re in for a terrible surprise. If you’re the idiot who brings it up, don’t expect cake and ice cream from the guys.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

5. Being gentle

To the normal person, this would contradict the earlier rules of “embrace silliness” and “forget personal space,” but this is different in its own weird way.

We tell ourselves that we’re hardened, ass-kicking, life-taking, warfighting machines. The truth is, we just don’t have the time or desire for little things, like talking about our feelings or establishing emotional safe spaces. If you just really need a hug, you’ll have to either disguise it as a joke or go and see the chaplain — and even they probably won’t give you a hug, wimp.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

4. Asking questions

Normal people would try to figure out the little things, like “why are we doing this exact same, mundane task for the ninth time this month?” Troops, on the other hand, just give up hope after a while and do it.

This is so ingrained that when someone does ask a question, it’s treated like a joke.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
And don’t you dare ask a question in a group setting. You’ll get death glares. (Photo by Amanda Kim Stairrett)

3. Taking care of your body

Troops work out constantly. Once for morning PT and probably again when they go to the gym.

All that effort totally negates all of the coffee, energy drinks, beer, pounds of bacon, burgers, pizza, and cartons of cigarettes that an average troop goes through… right?

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
It’s the breakfast of champions! (Photo by Sgt. Anthony Ortiz)

2. Turning down a chance to do dumb things

If a troop gets a call and the person on the other end says, “we need you out here quick. Don’t let Sergeant Jones find out about it,” context doesn’t matter. They’re there and are probably three beers in before anyone can explain what’s happening.

Best case scenario: It’s an epic night. Worst case: It ends up being a “no sh*t, there I was…” story.

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Don’t worry if you don’t go. Everyone who was there will share the story at least three times that week. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Barbour)

1. Showering without flip-flops on

Only two types of people clean off in a community shower without “shower shoes:” Idiots and people trying to catch gangrene.

You have no idea what the person before you did in that shower nor how often that shower has been cleaned. Why on Earth would you dare put your feet on that same spot?

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
That and you don’t want to walk between the shower and your hut without them. (Photo by Sgt. Randall Clinton)

Military Life

6 important things recruits should do to prepare for basic training

So you want to join the U.S. military and become a flat-bellied, steely-eyed killer of men (or mover of supplies, or photo-taker of soldiers, whatever). That means some trips to the recruiter and boot camp might be in your future. Here are six things to help prepare you for basic training:


1. Work on your physical fitness

 

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(Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Mackenzie B. Carter)

Let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way first. You should exercise. A lot. Recruiters can tell you what exercises are most important for your branch and job school since they do differ. In general, future Marines and soldiers should concentrate on overall muscular strength and endurance. Soldiers can be lax about pull-ups but Marines should hit them hard.

Everyone, including sailors and airmen, should build up their endurance by running, biking, and strenuously hiking.

2. Read books from the professional reading list

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Don’t worry, there aren’t this many on the list. (Public Domain photo)

 

Every branch has a professional reading list for their service members. Some are extensive, like the Marine Corps’, which includes a list of required reading for all Marines as well as lists assigned to each pay grade.

Others are shorter with just a few books that focus on future fights, tradition, and military history such as the Coast Guard’s 2015 list, which contained just nine books selected by the commandant and one nominated by Guardians. The Army, Air Force and Navy lists are available as well. The Air Force one even includes must watch Ted Talks and other videos. Get the books from a library if you don’t want to buy them.

3. Actually read those books of information the recruiter gives you

 

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Micky M. Bazaldua

A little more on the topic of reading: Recruiters give new recruits pamphlets, booklets and little primers on military customs and courtesies, rank structure, the phonetic alphabet and other easy to learn and vital bits of knowledge.

Read these. Really read them. Some of them, like ranks and the phonetic alphabet, should be turned into flash cards for studying. The training cadre at basic training units will expect you to know these things. That’s why the recruiter gave you the pamphlets.

4. Study for entrance exams

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

If you haven’t been given those pamphlets yet, then you probably haven’t officially joined yet and may still be waiting to take the entrance exams. The most common is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, but some specific jobs have additional testing requirements.

Most of these tests have study guides that can help you prepare for the real experience. The best ones feature questions that were used in previous iterations of the actual test.

5. Practice hiking and navigating by map and compass

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class William Johnson

Every military branch has access to good, reliable GPS systems, but most units are training members to navigate by map and compass anyway. The seagoing services are even getting back into celestial navigation.

It’s part of a “back to basics” push to keep military operations moving forward if an enemy destroys America’s vulnerable GPS satellites. Luckily for new recruits, it’s a trainable skill that they can practice on their own while getting some of the fitness discussed in number 1 on this list.

But bring a friend, let someone know where you’re going and what time you expect to return, and/or bring GPS with you. After all, it doesn’t help anyone if you end up stranded in the woods.

6. Learn some discipline

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(Photo: US Marine Coprs Staff Sgt. J.L. Wright Jr.)

Seriously, more than anything else, practice taking direction and doing what you’re told without question or argument. The military is full of experienced and smart people who want to show you the ropes and let you develop critical thinking skills, but they need to know that you can take orders quickly so that they can trust you in a potential combat situation.

The first part of that trust is knowing that, if they tell you to spend two hours standing in the sun without moving, you will do it. Basic training cadre members will test this by having you stand for two hours in the sun with an order to not move. Learn to do annoying things without moving, complaining or asking for special treatment.

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