5 traditions you'll see at the Marine Corps ball - We Are The Mighty
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.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
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.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
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.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

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.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
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.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Happy birthday, Marine!

Articles

The military is cracking down on hazing

A U.S. Navy officer charged with hazing and maltreatment of sailors is facing a general court martial.


The Virginian-Pilot reported April 18 that the unnamed lieutenant commander is accused of verbal abuse and retaliating against a sailor who asked to stop being called Charlie Brown. Court documents say the officer told the sailor to carry a Charlie Brown cartoon figurine at all times.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Don’t laugh. (Official image of Charlie Brown, created by Charles M. Schultz)

The officer also allegedly punched a chair next to a sailor and yelled at someone for more than an hour. The officer is also accused of lying about his actions.

Also read: Lawmakers visit Parris Island after recruits death highlight’s hazing

The lieutenant commander is a reservist assigned to a cargo handling battalion in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

Military hazing has drawn extra scrutiny in recent years after a series of high-profile cases.

Military Life

6 misconceptions about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier sentinels

There are no soldiers in the United States Army that are as dedicated to their mission as the sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s a grueling position that demands an extreme attention to detail in order to honor not only the unknown soldiers but all who have fallen.

The sentinels follow a strict routine at all hours of the day, regardless of the weather or situation. Good days, bad days, hot days, snowy days, before crowds, on silent nights, in a pleasant breeze, or mid-hurricane — no matter the environment, these sentinels must perform.

Their level of dedication has not gone unnoticed by the American public. While the sentinels have rightly earned every bit of admiration, such widespread recognition doesn’t come without a handful of misconceptions.


5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

Usually, the “newmen” get night shifts when minor missteps aren’t noticed by a crowd.

(Elizabeth Fraser)

Guards get the Tomb Guard Identification Badge immediately

There is a difference between being a soldier who guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and being a sentinel. Soldiers in training may guard the tomb and perform their duties just as a sentinel, but only a sentinel may wear the badge.

To become a sentinel, you must go through rigorous training and an incredibly difficult series of tests. These sentinels are only allowed two minor uniform infractions — anything major and you’re out. They must memorize a 17-page pamphlet and rewrite it with proper punctuation and make fewer than 10 mistakes. They must then perform on the mat, facing a 200-point inspection — only two minor infractions are permitted.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

Even the sergeant of the guard is tested before stepping on the mat.

(Elizabeth Fraser)

Sentinels have reached perfection

Every step must be precise. Every turn must be precise. They must maintain a precise measure of time throughout. Everything they do must be as close to perfection as possible. If you think they’ve set the bar impossibly high, then you’re right.

The extreme standards required of the sentinels are put in place to prevent them from getting complacent. The expectations on these troops are so high that they can never be reached. This way, the guards and sentinels never feel like they’ve mastered their trade and they must always strive to improve — even if they’re at 99.99% perfection.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

Those other major incidents, however, are not for the following two reasons.

(Photo by Pfc. Gabriel Silva)

Sentinels can wear their badge forever

Once you’ve graduated from Airborne School, you can keep your wings forever. Once you’ve graduated Ranger School, you can wear your tab forever. Unlike many badges and identifiers in the Army, sentinels can have their badge revoked for improper personal conduct.

Even if a former sentinel has long since retired, if they commit a felony, receive a DUI, or are convicted of any other major crime, their name is stricken from the record and they lose their badge.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

Even when they’ve become sentinels, they still don’t have time to drink. Maybe when they retire.

(Photo by Pfc. Gabriel Silva)

Sentinels are never allowed to drink

Some time ago, a spam email made the rounds that was filled with a lot of truth but also some nonsense about the sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In that forwarded email, it stated that the sentinels must never have a drop of alcohol for the rest of their life. This rumor holds about as much weight as the Nigerian Prince asking for your mother’s maiden name.

As long as they are not a guard going through training (they don’t have time to drink anyway) and they are of age, they are free to enjoy alcohol — as long as they are off-duty and they have a designated driver or taxi ready.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

A third “can’t for life” myth from that email is watching TV. But I think you get the point…

(Walter Reeves)

Sentinels are not allowed to curse

This one’s similar to the “no alcohol” rumor. We’re sorry to dispel the illusion, but sentinels are absolutely allowed to use profanity in their everyday speech if they’re off-duty.

That being said, sentinels are not permitted to curse while on the mat. Then again, they can’t really do anything other than guard the tomb while they’re on the mat.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

They’re still your highly-trained, highly-precise soldier who can probably eyeball 1/64th of an inch.

(Elizabeth Fraser)

Sentinels live under the tomb

The silliest of all rumors states that the guards and sentinels live underneath the tomb so they can always remain on call. The truth is that they live in a regular barracks at Fort Myer, which is right next to Arlington, or off-post with their families.

There are living quarters under the steps of the amphitheater, but those are mostly used as a staging area for inbound and outbound guards/sentinels to prepare their uniforms.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

These are the military traditions for deployed troops celebrating Thanksgiving

While you’re deployed, weekends aren’t really a thing and neither are most holidays.


Thanksgiving, however, is one of the few moments throughout the year when the military slows down for the holidays.

It never comes to a stop. It is the military after all, and it’s been moving non-stop since 1775.

Many of the staff here at We Are The Mighty served. A good chunk of us also deployed. Regardless of the branch of service or duty, we can all relate on the little things that shaped the holidays away from home.

Good food

Oh man do the cooks go all out. All jokes about the quality of their food get tossed out when you smell that turkey for the first time. In 2015, the Defense Logistics Agency said they shipped out 34,760 pounds of turkey, 32,550 pounds of beef, 21,450 pounds of ham just for one holiday.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Eric Provost, Task Force Patriot PAO)

The higher-ups serve their subordinates

No matter what unit you’re a part of, or how well the command says they take care of its troops, or how well they actually take care of their troops, the command team should always put their own names on KP duty and do the serving for once.

It’s a sign of respect and has far more of a legacy than a president pardoning a turkey.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jeff VanWey, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. PAO)

Fun and games

Usually in the form of mandatory fun time, troops spend the rest of the day trying to enjoy themselves. What that means is up to command.

Some times, it’s the platoon getting together for games or a movie in the MWR. Sometimes, its a football game. Almost always, its a long-ass run.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys

“Turkey Shoot” Range Day

But the one things troops get really excited for is a Thanksgiving “Turkey Shoot” range day.

No worries about re-qualifying. No worries about ammo consumption. Just a good ol’ day at the range, playing with all the toys in the unit’s arsenal, and lighting some targets up.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins)

popular

Why the US military has shoulder pockets

In 2004, the U.S. Army unveiled its new combat uniform, complete with upgrades including wrinkle-free fabric and a digitized camouflage print. The Army Combat Uniform (ACU) had many changes (18, in fact), but one of the troop favorites was the shoulder pocket.


 

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

 

Obviously, pockets themselves weren’t new to military uniforms. The quintessential pant-leg cargo pocket was indispensable in the Korean War; as a result, cargo pockets have adorned military combat uniforms (and military-inspired fashion?) ever since. They were also used on blouses during the Vietnam War, and after 9/11, they got fancy even more utilitarian.

“This isn’t about a cosmetic redesign of the uniform,” said Col. John Norwood, the project manager for Clothing and Individual Equipment. “It’s a functionality change of the uniform that will improve the ability of Soldiers to execute their combat mission.”

One of the favored changes was the addition of the shoulder pocket, which replaced the bottom pockets on the jacket after troops realized they couldn’t access the front of their uniform while wearing body armor. The shoulder, however, was a handy location. These were tilted forward and buttons were replaced with zippers for function and comfort in combat.

Also read: 5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Prior to the uniform change, troops in the field had been modifying their gear to include the shoulder pocket for years, including Desert Storm and the early years of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

 

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
It’s the perfect size for your sanity. (Image via Mil-Spec Monkey)

Regulations around the pocket only dictate that “articles carried in pockets do not protrude from the pocket or present a bulky appearance,” so what’s actually carried in them is up to the individual, but it gets fascinating. Users on reddit list everything from pens and notebooks, U.S. flag patches to hand out to local children, to candy…which got me thinking…

…what did you carry in your shoulder pocket? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Military Life

5 reasons why your battle buddy is your ‘best friend for life’

In one of the many nonsensical attempts at micromanaging every aspect of a troop’s life, some higher-up established the “battle buddy” system. The idea is that one troop, if made accountable for their buddy’s actions, would watch over the other and, hopefully, stop dumb things from happening.


In theory, it must’ve sounded great. Troops would keep tabs on each other, quickly share information, and build stronger camaraderie. In practice, however, it often means the First Sergeant has to pick up two idiots from the MP station instead of just one. I’m convinced that they ironically keep the silly “battle buddy” name because of how irritating the cutesy moniker is to higher-ups when they watch their beautiful system go to sh*t.

1. They were there with you from the beginning

The moment a troop arrives at their first duty station, their NCO looks around the platoon for another new guy and says, “there. You two are battle buddies now. Exchange contact info.”

This off-handed selection turns into a lifelong commitment.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Your friendship will always stick, no matter where you go or what ranks you achieve. (Photo by Joseph Eddins)

2. They’ve saved your ass — literally and figuratively

When grunts are out doing grunt sh*t, the saying “all you’ve got is the man to your left and right” rings true. But it doesn’t take a life-or-death situation to solidify a friendship — that happened long ago.

Mistakes are never easily forgiven and accusations are convictions. But when sh*t gets tough, if your battle buddy backs you up, you’re in the clear.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
They’ll be there to save you, whether you want them to or not. (Photo by Sgt. Thomas Crough)

3. They want to kill Jody more than you

When you’ve gone your entire military career suppressing emotions, it’s nice to have an emotional mirror who does the expressing for you. Sure, your battle buddy might make some extreme suggestions now and again, but they’ve got the best of intentions.

For example, let’s say a troop’s spouse is being unfaithful. It’s not easy news to stomach and, chances are, the betrayed troop is going to spiral into a depression. It’s at times like these that nothing beats meeting your battle buddy in the smoke pit to imagine up some grandiose revenge plots.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
All those times you guys play-fought in the tent are about to pay off. (Photo by Lance Cpl. D. J. Wu)

4. If you want to do anything fun, you need them

Want to go off-post while you’re stationed outside the US? You need a battle buddy. Want to go to the gym after hours while deployed? You need a battle buddy. Need to use the latrine? Battle buddy.

The military’s reliance on the buddy system basically means if that a troop wants to make some trouble, they’re required to bring a friend.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
And they’re immediately down for whatever if it sounds funny enough. (Photo by Capt. Robert Taylor)

5. Their best stories involve you

Every story starts out the same way: “No sh*t, there I was… Me and my buddy over here were…” You guys have forged a bond and when you’re gone, they’ll miss you and talk about you all the time to their new friends. But these new guys aren’t their bro; you are.

Do your buddy right: Call them up, get together occasionally, and tag them in a meme every now and then.

MIGHTY TRENDING

That time the US and Iran teamed up to fight the Taliban

The days following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States were strange days for many of us. Not only here at home, where the American worldview changed literally overnight, but also in Afghanistan. For obvious reasons.


5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
We don’t scramble B-52s for just anyone.

What might not be so obvious are the many ways which the United States systematically struck back against al-Qaeda and the Taliban who protected its members in Afghanistan. By now, many have heard of the U.S. Army Special Forces who assisted the Northern Alliance on horseback. The new movie 12 Strong depicts their mission.

Related: The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback 

But three days after the Green Berets and Northern Alliance leader Abdul Rashid Dostum teamed up for the fall of Mazar-e-Sharif, another joint American-Northern Alliance team was fighting to capture – and keep – the Afghan city of Herat.

Army Rangers and Special Forces teamed up with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards special ops unit, the Pazdaran. The operation was reportedly planned in Tehran between General Tommy Franks and Iranian General and commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Yahya Safavi.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Yahya Safavi.

According to reports from the open-source U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, American air power had been conducting air strikes on the city since October 2001, destroying armored columns, tunnel complexes, and other support facilities. The city was ready by the time the joint assault took place.

The Revolutionary Guards moved in first, setting up a forward post for the assault on Herat. They were joined shortly after by U.S. Special Forces, with an army of 5,000 Northern Alliance fighters led by Ismail Khan. The Americans directed air support while the Shia militias led an insurrection in the city.

American Special Forces, Northern Alliance fighters, and Shia militias moved on the city as the populace took arms against the Taliban with anything they could find. Defeated Taliban fighters fled the city within the same day.

The whole operation was overseen in Tehran by agents of the CIA working with Iranian intelligence officers.  Shortly after the city fell, a Northern Alliance spokesperson said it was the first time Khan set foot in the city since it fell to the Taliban in 1995.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
The Afghan city of Herat in 2001.

“The people are celebrating on the rooftops of their houses. Car drivers are honking their horns,” according to the spokesperson.

In 2005, an Iranian Presidential candidate alluded to the story via an interview with USA Today’s Barbara Slavin, who was able to confirm some parts of the story, while some sources alluded to further collaboration and denied other parts.

Lists

10 gifts for the man in your life who’s operator AF


5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

My Marine husband is the worst to shop for.

The worst, I tell you.

The man sees something he wants and he hauls off and buys it. It makes Christmas shopping extremely difficult.

So in an effort to put together a good Christmas list I asked him to consult with me on an article for WATM’s “10 gifts for the man in your life who’s operator AF.”

This is what he sent me:

1. Operator Stocking

This stocking is definitely operator AF.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
High Speed Operator Stocking / Accessory Pouch

Specs:

  • Double Zipper Main Pocket
  • Santa Clause Approved & Compatible.
  • Modular Webbing for Pouch Attachment
  • 3x Polymer D-Rings
  • Integrated Drag / Carry Handle
  • 2x Hanging Hooks
  • External Small Pouch with Elastic Cord Closure
  • 3″x2″ Patch Panel
  • Made from High Durability Nylon Fabric

2. Hidden gun rack

No one will ever catch him by surprise as he’s flexing in this mirror.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
N.J. Concealment Furniture surface mounted wall mirror

Specs:

  • 16″x52″x3.75″ inside 12″ x48″ 2 3/4″
  • Construction:
  • Solid hardwood with hardwood plywood back.
  • Includes:
  • 2 1/4″ Kaizen foam
  • mounting hardware
  • Includes magnetic lock and one magnetic key.

3. Plate carrier

…Because every operator should wear this every time he leaves the house.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Plate Carrier With Cummerbund Molle Style

Specs:

  • tab “panes”
  • External cummerbund that offers a more stable MOLLE platform
  • Cummerbund is fully adjustable and removable
  • Small/Medium has three rows of MOLLE webbing
  • Large/ X-Large has four rows of MOLLE webbing
  • Carrier is not releasable
  • Armor not provided

4. SureFire weapons light

…For seeing under the couch and shit.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Surefire X300U-A 600 Lumen LED WeaponLight Rail Lock

Specs:

  • Virtually indestructible LED regulated to maximize output and runtime
  • Tactical-level output with TIR lens for close- to longer-range applications
  • Quick-detach rail clamp
  • Accepts optional pistol grip and long gun forend switches
  • Weatherproof—O-ring and gasket sealed
  • Construction—High-strength aerospace aluminum with Mil-Spec anodizing; impact-resistant polymer; coated tempered window
  • Includes high-energy 123A batteries with 10-year shelf life

5. A sweet 1911 handgun

Because every SureFire needs a firearm attached (..and because this is MARSOC AF!).

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
M45A1 Close Quarter Battle Pistol

Specs:

  • M1070CQBP SPECIFICATIONS
  • CALIBER .45 ACP
  • WEIGHT 2.8lbs (1.27 kg)
  • CAPACITY 7+1 Wilson Magazine
  • OVERALL LENGTH 8.5in (21.59cm)
  • BARREL LENGTH 5in (12.7cm)
  • FIRING ACTION Single Action
  • FIRING SYSTEM Series 80

6. JetBoil stove

Because even operators need their coffee.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Jetboil Flash Cooking System

Specs:

  • Best Use Backpacking
  • Fuel Type Canister
  • Fuel Isobutane-propane
  • Auto Ignition Yes
  • Integrated Pot Yes
  • Burn Time (Max Flame) 100g canister: 42 minutes
  • Average Boil Time 4 min. 30 sec.
  • Dimensions 7.1 x 4.5 x 4.1 inches
  • Liquid Capacity (L) 1 liter
  • Liquid Capacity (fl. oz.) 33.8 fluid ounces
  • Weight 15.25 ounces

7. Kevlar helmet

Holidays are coming. So are the in-laws. Enough said.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
3M Combat High Cut Helmet with Rails and NVG Shroud

Specs:

  • Meets or exceeds NIJ Level IIIA ballistic standard for penetration
  • Meets a minimum of 650 mps V-50 for 17 grain tested according to STANAG 2920
  • Shell sizes: S-XL
  • Variable thickness, 7 impact absorbing pads can be adjusted or removed for individual comfort
  • Pad thickness sizes: standard size 6 @ 3/4″ or optimal size 8 @ 1″
  • Weight: starting at 2.4 lbs (small)
  • Includes: Wilcox NVG mount and side accessory rails

8. Hammock

Sometimes an operator just needs to hang shit in the back yard and sleep there.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
OneLink Sleep System – JungleNest

Specs:

  • JungleNest Hammock
  • Your Choice of Atlas or Helios Straps
  • Your Choice of Rain Tarp
  • Set of Carabiners Included
  • Set of Stakes Included

9. Combat boots

For stomping on all those battery operated toys his mother-in-law is going to send the kids this year.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Nike Special Field Men’s Boot

Specs:

  • Quick-drying synthetic leather overlays for durability and support
  • Multiple ventilation zones that allow the boot to breathe and drain quickly
  • Genuine leather footbed for durability, flexibility and comfort
  • Nike Free-inspired outsole, designed for traction and natural range of motion
  • Sticky rubber forefoot lugs for exceptional traction on all terrain
  • Weight: 15.9 ounces (men’s size 9)

10. Backpacking stove

For when the holidays get to be too much and he takes his SureFire, JungleNest and JetBoil out to the woods for a few days. He’ll need to cook.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
MSR WhisperLite Universal Backpacking Stove

Specs:

  • Best Use Backpacking
  • Fuel Type Canister, Liquid
  • Fuel Auto, Isobutane-propane, White Gas, Kerosene
  • Burn Time (Max Flame) (20 oz.white gas) 1 hr. 50 min. / (8 oz. isobutane) 1 hr. 15 min.
  • Average Boil Time (White gas) 3 min. 30 sec. / (isobutane) 3 min. 45 sec.
  • Dimensions 6 x 6 x 4.75 inches
  • Weight (Stove, pump & canister mount) 13.7 ounces
Articles

This is why some sailors wear gold stripes, and some wear red

The short answer? Twelve years of good conduct.


In the Navy, there are many different ways to reward a sailor for their excellent work performance, like a promotion in rank or special liberty (time off). On the contrary, there are also several ways to discipline a sailor, for instance using non-judicial punished or Captain’s Mast.

A service member falling asleep on watch, destruction of government property or theft are just some the reasons why a sailor would get sent to stand in front of their commanding officer for disciplinary action.

If a sailor is found guilty of a violation, the 12-years of good service starts over. Punishments for violations can range from restriction to discharge, depending on the severity of the offense.

Related: These are weird Navy traditions and their meanings

 

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
The gold rank insignia of a Boatswain Mate Chief Petty Officer

Also Read: Yes, sergeant, actually that new academy cadet does outrank you

To rate the gold stripes, the sailor must complete 12-years straight of good service with no breaks starting on the first day they wake up in boot camp — not the day they entered basic training.

If the sailor does take a break from service, the period pauses until they return.

So if you notice a sailor wearing three or four service stripes on their sleeve (each stripe means four years of service) and they aren’t yellow, chances are they’ve been in trouble at least once

Military Life

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

Life in the barracks blows. You’re crammed into as tight of a space as possible so your superiors can keep an eye on you. There’s always something going on so you never get sleep. And you often have to share a tiny room with someone.


But never underestimate the power of a bored private. If you can think of it, it’s probably going down in the barracks at this moment. While most of the shenanigans aren’t against any rules, they definitely make the lack of BAH worth it.

 

TVs as big as the wall

There are plenty of terrible purchases made by boots when they get their first paycheck. And it’s no different when the boot comes back from deployment with plenty of spending money.

The average barracks room is barely large enough to have a massive 90-inch widescreen 3D TV but that won’t stop most troops who just got back stateside.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

Technically, some do allow you to have fish or lizards. All depends on the specific command.

(Photo by Tech Sgt. Michael Holzworth)

Pets

The barracks is usually a pretty disgusting place as it is. The moment the NCOs leave, it goes back to the same filthy condition that it was in the day before.

Pets are already unclean creatures that require constant maintenance…but troops don’t care!

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

If you’re cool with them, they’ll share.

(Photo by Cpl. Bobby J. Yarbrough)

Some barracks have nearly an entire kitchen

There’s always one person in every barracks that knows how to and will cook for everyone. Sometimes they’re not even an actual chef — doesn’t matter.

Being the barracks chef takes a lot more appliances than just a hot pad and coffee pot. These guys do it all in style.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

If they’re drinking in the barracks, it means they’re not driving back home. No DUIs! Everyone wins!

(Photo by Cpl. Jonah Lovy)

Enough alcohol to cause liver failure in a lesser man

There’s nothing wrong with someone over the age of 21 drinking alcohol on their time off, as long as they do it responsibly.

On average, a single barracks has more alcohol in it than any bar off-installation.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

And we all know how well that usually goes.

(U.S. Army Photo)

Firearms in the barracks? 

It’s your god-given right as an American to keep and bear arms. Only problem is that many units have a “no firearms in the barracks” policy.

That’s not to say that troops living in the barracks can’t own firearms. They just need to store them in the arms room.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

Good luck not getting caught during a “random” inspection.

(Photo by Senior Airman Christian Thomas)

Unauthorized guests…

The barracks room isn’t exactly prime real estate for a single person, let alone multiple troops living in a room similar to a studio sized apartment.

And yet, troops will occasionally keep a local they got a thing for in there with them.

Military Life

5 reasons you should have enlisted as a ‘Fister’

If you’re considering joining the Army or you’re sick of your current MOS and thinking of reclassing, there are so many options to chose from that it’s a headache to decide.


Maybe you’re picking your MOS based entirely off what you can get, maybe you’re picking it off what would be best suited for your eventual transition back to the civilian world, or maybe you’re following in the footsteps of someone you admire. For those that choose their MOS by counting “cool points,” there’s one MOS that towers them all: (13F) Fire Support Specialist, or ‘Fister.’

These are the 5 reasons why you should enlist as a Fister:

5. The name is perfectly acceptable for use in polite company.

Derived from “Fire Support Team” or FiST, this MOS’s name is the source of innumerable low-brow jokes in field artillery.

While everyone else watches their tongue, taking care not to offend, you get a free pass to say something that could be confused for a violent sex act every time you talk about work.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Finally! A hoodie for every occasion! (Image via CafePress)

4. It’s actually like Call of Duty, except you constantly get kill streak bonuses.

It happens at every recruitment station. There’s always that one kid who comes in thinking he’ll be living his favorite video game before he’s struck with the harsh reality that life isn’t a video game.

While other MOSs are less fun in real life — you can’t just to wait behind a rock to heal and stealing enemy weapons is generally frowned upon — fisters have it better. They don’t get told “sorry, you need to kill a few more bad guys before you can rain hell on your enemies.” They just do it. It’s their job.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Just like Call of Duty, kid. Don’t worry about the imminent stress of getting the exact coordinates right using a crappy laser finder that barely works. You’ll get a sixth sense for those things sooner or later. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

3. You get paid to watch things go boom from a good, safe distance.

Speaking of raining hell on your enemies, that’s what you’ll be doing.

You’ll be attached to whatever unit needs a guy to say, “that thing right there? I don’t like it. Let’s get rid of it with enough firepower to remove an entire grid-square off the map!” This means you’ll be working with damn near everyone from Armor to Aviation to Infantry to Cavalry, all while being left alone to do your badassery.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Safe is a relative term. (Image via Reddit)

2. All the benefits of being a grunt with less of the downsides.

There’s a constant rivalry within the Army between grunt MOSs and the soft ones. Grunts mock others for being weak and POGs mock grunts for being idiots with relatively low promotion point standards.

Some MOSs are just handed the title of “grunt” and no one will ever question it, like infantry. Some have to earn the respect of other grunts to get it, like a hard-ass commo or medic. Then there’s the fister. No one ever questions the balls it takes to be a fister.

They’re out there kicking it with the infantry, while also having the brains to do advanced math on the fly to get the birds blowing up the right spot. Oh — and their promotion points are a lot lower, so you’ll pick up rank faster than a POG.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Pro: You’re a badass. Con: You have to do math. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Joseph Robinson, Company Fire Support Officer)

1. SFC Jared C. Monti and SSG Ryan M. Pitts are some Bad. Mother. F*ckers.

In Afghanistan alone, two fisters have made their brothers proud by being awarded the Medal of Honor: Sergeant First Class Monti and Staff Sergeant Pitts.

Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti received his Medal of Honor posthumously on Sept. 17, 2009 after his patrol was ambushed by around 60 Taliban fighters. He radioed in for artillery and close air support on their position, but it would take time for the heat to arrive. In the ensuing firefight, several of his men were struck by enemy fire. He was successful in getting recovering one of his men, but was gravely wounded in the process. When the artillery finally arrived, it took out 22 insurgents and dispersed the rest.

Staff Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts received his Medal of Honor when well over 200 Taliban forces swarmed his base at the Battle of Wanat in July, 2008. Though critically wounded by shrapnel, he continued to lay down suppressive fire until a two-man reinforcement team arrived. This bought him the time he needed to crawl to a radio, with no regard for his own life, so he could describe the attack to Command and call for indirect fire.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Left: Paul and Janet Monti presented the Medal of Honor for their son’s, SFC Jared Monti, actions. Right: SSG Pitts is presented the Medal of Honor (Images via NPR and People)

Military Life

What it takes to be an Olympic-level Athlete and still serve in the Army

It happens every time the Olympics come on. Americans gather to cheer on our athletes in every event because they represent our country. Every now and then — especially when it comes watching Olympics shooting — you hear the same, misguided phrase: “That’s it? I can do that!” Sure, 50 meters with a .22 seems easy enough considering the amount of range time your average infantryman spends shooting at the 300-meter target, but there’s a lot more to it.


Luckily for those cocky soldiers, there’s a program through the MWR that’ll give you a chance to prove you can do it, too: the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program. In order to even be considered, a soldier must be in good standing, have completed Advanced Individual Training or the Basic Officer Leader Course, be applying for an Olympic sport, and must reach a high enough national ranking to justify their application. The WCAP is not a developmental program. You have to already be a world-class athlete to even be considered.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

Since the program was established in 1948, over 600 soldiers have represented our nation at the Olympics as athletes and coaches and have earned over 140 medals. Much of the training is done at Fort Carson, Colorado. Once there, soldiers can expect to train day-in and day-out for their given event. If you’re chosen, this doesn’t mean you neglect your soldierly duties. Though the training is rigorous, it’s still extracurricular.

For marksmen interested in shooting events, there’s also the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit out of Fort Benning. Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Eller has represented the United States of America in every Summer Olympics since 2000, earned the Gold Medal in 2008, and still holds the Olympic record for double trap. Even after his appearance at the 2012 London Olympics, Eller deployed to Afghanistan, where he taught marksmanship to both American troops and the Afghan National Army.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

To learn more about the qualifications for each individual event, check out the link here.

Articles

These are weird Navy traditions and their meanings

A recent Navy Times article notes that the crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) joined the “Order of the Blue Nose” — a distinction reserved for ships and crew that crossing the Arctic Circle.


Most people have not heard of such a mystical Navy order, and there are others that are equally shrouded in seafaring lore, according to a list maintained by the Naval History and Heritage Command.

That list includes both well-known orders and not-so-well known orders. They are for notable feats — and in some cases, dubious ones.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Command Master Chief of aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) Spike Call plays the role of King Neptune during a crossing the line ceremony aboard the ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Clemente A. Lynch/Released)

Perhaps the most well-known is the “Order of the Shellback,” given to those sailors who have crossed the equator. The “Crossing the Line” ceremony has been portrayed both in the PBS documentary series “Carrier,” as well as being the plot point for an episode of “JAG” in the 1990s.

But there is more than one kind of shellback.

If you cross the equator at the International Date Line (about 900 miles east of Nauru), you become a “Golden Shellback” (since those who cross the International Date Line are called Golden Dragons).

If you cross the equator at the Prime Meridian (a position about 460 miles to the west of Sao Tome and Principe), you become an “Emerald Shellback.”

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk (WMEC 913) line up on the flight deck and make sounds like a whale to call to the whales as part of their shellback ceremony. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by OS3 Vicente Arechiga)

Now, we can move to some lesser-known, and even dubious orders.

The “Order of the Caterpillar” is awarded to anyone who has to leave a plane on the spur of the moment due to the plane being unable to continue flying. You even get a golden caterpillar pin.

The eyes of the caterpillar will then explain the circumstances of said departure. The Naval History and Heritage Command, for instance, notes that ruby red eyes denote a midair collision.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

Then, there is the becoming a member of the “Goldfish Club.” That involves spending time in a life raft. If you’re in the raft for more than 24 hours, you become a “Sea Squatter.”

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

Using the Panama Canal makes you a member of the “Order of the Ditch.”

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

Oh, and in case you are wondering, crossing the Antarctic Circle makes you a “Red Nose.”

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