In the military, life is unpredictable. There’s no telling what’s in store service members during a given week. Thankfully, there are photographers among the ranks who have perfected the art of capturing the daily life of troops, both in training and at war.
These are the best military photos from this week:
Lt. Col. Alexander Heyman, Commander, 71st Student Squadron, and 2nd Lt. Mitchel Bie, Vance student pilot, walk out to a T-6A Texan II, March 8, 2018, Vance Air Force Base, Okla. The T-6A Texan II is a single-engine, two-seat primary trainer designed to train student pilots in basic flying skills common to U.S. Air Force pilots.
A U.S. Air Force pararescueman jump master, assigned to the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, stands to conduct a drop zone survey before a high altitude, high opening military free fall jump working with a C-130J Super Hercules flown by the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 4, 2018. Guardian Angel Team members conduct training on all aspects of combat, medical procedures and search and rescue tactics to hone their skills, providing the highest level of tactical capabilities to combatant commanders.
Artillerymen with Battery B, Field Artillery Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, transport and prepare artillery rounds as they await the arrival of their M777 howitzers by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter crew from Company B, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, inside of the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany, Mar. 8, 2018. Soldiers of both units came together to train and strengthen relationships during an artillery raid training exercise as part of Dynamic Front 18, an annual U.S. Army Europe exercise focused on enhancing interoperability of U.S. Army, joint service and allied nation artillery and fire support in a multinational environment.
U.S. Army paratroops, assigned to the 16th Sustainment Brigade, are preparing for convoy live fire route as part of the Vanguard 360 at Pocek Range in Slovenia, Mar. 06, 2018. Exercise Vanguard Proof is a combined exercise between the 16th Sustainment Brigade and the Slovene Armed Forces focused on enhancing interoperability NATO operational standards and developing individual technical skills.
The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) transits Manila Bay following a scheduled port visit. Bonhomme Richard is operating in the Indo-Pacific region as part of a regularly scheduled patrol and provides a rapid-response capability in the event of a regional contingency or natural disaster.
An Ice Camp Skate resident sets up communication equipment for Ice Camp Skate during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018. ICEX 2018 is a five-week exercise that allows the Navy to assess its operational readiness in the Arctic, increase experience in the region, advance understanding of the Arctic environment, and continue to develop relationships with other services, allies, and partner organizations.
Marines from Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, Calif., prepare to compete in the First Annual International Mountain Warfare Training Patrol Competition at the Chiemgau Arena in Ruhpolding, Germany. The competition is a challenging international competition that focuses on the mountain infantry’s capabilities.
U.S. Marines Corps with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, provide suppressive during a live-fire platoon attack at Range G-29 on Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 7, 2018. 2nd Marine Division provided funding and material for the creation of Range G-29 and tasked Marines with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion to finalize the production of the range.
Coast Guard Sector Boston Response Petty Officers look for damage to shoreside infrastructure March 5 in Swampscott, Massachusetts. A powerful nor’easter hit the area over the weekend causing damage along the shore.
Lt. Joe Brewan, the supply officer and the helicopter control tower operator aboard the U.S.S. Kidd, watches a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, from Air Station Port Angeles land on the flight deck of the ship, which was transiting the Strait of Juan de Fuca, in order to conduct a medevac of a sick Navy sailor, March 4, 2018. The 23-year-old Navy sailor was transported to Navy Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington in stable condition.
The American flag, also lovingly known as “the Stars and Stripes” and “Old Glory,” is one of the most famous patriotic symbols in the world. Over the years, it’s been modified to reflect our country’s growth and waves triumphantly across our great nation. We associate our nation’s emblem with the freedom and democracy the US champions.
The flag has been raised on various battlefields throughout the world and many Americans hoist it outside of their homes as a badge of loyalty. But nothing lasts forever and, eventually, flags need to be removed from operational service. When an American flag can no longer be used, the symbol must be removed from service in a dignified way.
So, how do you properly dispose of our nation’s flag?
(U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)
According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization, first, the flag should be folded up in the customary manner. This means holding the flag waist-high and folding the lower half of the stripe section lengthwise over the field of stars. Then, folded again, keeping the blue stars facing up.
Next, triangularly fold the striped corner of the already-folded edge to meet the open side of the flag. Continue making triangular folds until you’ve covered the entire length of the flag. Once the flag is prepared, it’s to be placed in a fire. Any individuals in attendance must stand at the position of attention, salute the flag, and state the Pledge of Allegiance, which is to be followed by a period of silence.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brandon Cyr)
Once the flag is consumed by the flames, its ashes are to be buried.
Note: Please check with local fire codes before choosing your fire and bury sites.
The family of a fallen soldier says his legacy will transcend his life.
Army Spc. John “Alex” Pelham was killed in Afghanistan in 2014. He was 22 years old. Despite the overwhelming grief and devastation that accompanied his loss, his family is committed to inspiring others through an ongoing initiative to live — and give — like John.
His father, Wendall, had a conversation with his son two days before his death, sharing that after he hung up the phone, he knew he’d never see John again.
“There are warriors that God put on the earth to take care of us,” he said. “At his funeral I said, ‘John would be bigger in death than he ever was in life,’ and he is … as we come up on seven years since his death, that statement was prophetic.”
Described as tall and strikingly handsome, John was a magnet to the people around him. That pull would only intensify after he died.
“He was the epitome of the Green Beret moto ‘De oppresso liber,’ of freeing the oppressed. John did that all the way through school, taking care of the bullies,” Wendall said with a smile.
John’s grandfather, a 30-year veteran of the Army, was his idol. Wendall said his son sought to emulate him. Though John was successfully playing college baseball after high school, he left it all behind for a deep conviction to serve.
In July 2011, John enlisted as an intelligence analyst, leading him to become a coveted soldier with Special Forces.
John was assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His skills as an analyst saved hundreds of lives, long after he was gone, his father said. After an ambush attack, he was killed alongside another soldier. On Feb. 12, 2014, at 4:34 p.m. in Oregon, Wendall’s wife called him at work to say two soldiers in dress blues were on their porch. He knew immediately John was gone.
But to his family, John’s still here. He’s in every facet of what they do and how they approach life. His legacy also lives on at Fort Bragg, with his name inscribed at multiple locations.
“I get to live a part of my son’s life through mine because of his example of what a true servant looks like,” Wendall said through tears. “My son, through his service, has taught me how to be beyonda great leader. My level of empathy and care and love for fellow man is 180 degrees different now.”
After months of healing following John’s death, his family organized a racquetball tournament in his honor. The sport was one of John’s favorite pastimes and something that brought him joy. Wendall realized they needed somewhere to put the money raised, so they formed a nonprofit organization. The name? Live Like John. The mission is to support military charities, veterans, and other Gold Star families.
This doesn’t mean follow John’s more than obvious path, which was headed toward completing the “Q” course and becoming a Green Beret. But rather efforts to service others, community, and humanity.
“I learned a long time ago that to be a great leader — you have to be a servant,” Wendall said.
He encourages everyone to engage in a mission of service, but above all else, teach children to do the same. John is described as a loving man, son, brother, nephew, and friend. He was also an American soldier whose life was lived with such honor and dedication that it has had ripple effects far beyond his death.
The foundation has brought immense healing, but there are still hard days for the Pelham family: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Veterans Day, the holiday season and then, the day John died.
“Your body already knows. It’s already telling me, the day, it’s coming,” Wendall said.
He adds that for those seeking to say “thank you for your service” to service members and veterans, it should be done with meaning.
“Those words said repetitiously lose their luster after a while. You can sip a Starbucks on a cold winter day or get a suntan on a beach in Maui while traveling the world with no restriction, because you are a citizen of the United States of America,” he said. “What’s that worth? Do you understand what it is worth to the families who have given their loved ones’ lives for this freedom?”
Spc. John Pelham will be among a group of service members honored this year through The Unquiet Professional’s 2021 Virtual Memorial Mile. Visit www.theunquietprofessional.org/tupmile for updates on how you can support efforts to honor the fallen.
Under the command of Capt. Adam Aycock, the USS Shiloh became known in the Pacific as the “USS Bread and Water.” It seems Aycock’s favorite non-judicial punishment for his junior enlisted was an old but legal punishment that confines the sailor to the brig with nothing but the world’s simplest combo meal.
According to the Department of the Navy Corrections Manual, “Confinement on Bread and Water (BW)… may be imposed as punishment upon personnel in pay grade E-3 or below, attached to or embarked in a vessel.”
• It may not be implemented for more than three consecutive days.
• Rations furnished a person undergoing such confinement shall consist solely of bread and water. The rations will be served three times daily at the normal time of meals, and the amount of bread and water shall not be restricted.
• The medical officer must pre-certify in writing that a deterioration of the prisoner’s health is not anticipated as a result of such action.
• Prisoners serving this punishment will be confined in a cell and will be bound by the procedures set forth for disciplinary segregation cells. They will not be removed for work or physical exercise.
While the Bread and Water punishment sucks and does seem rather archaic, it’s hardly the worst punishment that can be handed to a sailor at Captain’s Mast — especially for an E-3 or below.
Captains can send sailors to the brig for 30 days, forfeit their pay, take stripes, assign extra duties and restrictions, or any combination of these. As retired Navy Captain Kevin Eyer pointed out in a Naval Institute article on Bread and Water, the “arcane” punishment of Bread and Water only affects the sailor. This is especially important if the sailor is married because the other potential Article 15 punishments would affect the whole family.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our hearts go out to the lives lost and to everyone who were displaced and had their lives affected by Hurricane Harvey. I would like to dedicate this ‘Photos of the Week’ to all of the brave service members in Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast.
Of course, our troops are always training and are still fighting. This week, we will highlight how each branch is doing its part to aid in these troubling times.
Personnel from the 59th Medical Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, prepare their equipment to accept patients at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, in response to the devestation caused by Hurricane Harvey, August 30, 2017. The 59th MDW is part of a larger Department of Defense presence in an effort to aid eastern Texas following a record amount of rainfall and flooding.
Brian Archibald, a rescue specialist assigned to the South Carolina Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team Delta in McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., points to a someone who may need help August 31, 2017 in Port Arthur, Texas. The SC-HART are specialized in search and rescue and are capable of recovering people in distress.
Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Class Richard Call and members of New Jersey Task Force 1, assist evacuees into a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle (LMTV) to during water rescue operations in Wharton, Texas, Aug. 31, 2017, due to devastating effects caused by Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath. Harvey made landfall into the Texas coast last week as a category 4 hurricane.
U.S. Army Sgt. Daniel Carnahan (front) and Staff Sgt. Tym Larson, Detachment 2, Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 238th Regiment, crew members of a UH-60 “Blackhawk”, strap down cargo, Seguin Artillery Airfield, Tx., Aug. 30, 2017. This crew is taking Meals-Ready-to-Eat to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
An MH-53E Sea Dragon assigned to the HM-15, Naval Station Norfolk, Va, flies over Houston, Texas, Aug. 31, 2017. Hurricane Harvey formed in the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall in southeastern Texas, bringing record flooding and destruction to the region. U.S. military assets supported FEMA as well as state and local authorities in rescue and relief efforts.
U.S. Navy AWSC Phillip Freer, assigned to the HM-14, Naval Station Norfolk, Va, guides a forklift loading a pallet of water onto an MH-53E Sea Dragon for Hurricane Harvey relief support at Katy, Texas, Aug. 31, 2017. Hurricane Harvey formed in the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall in southeastern Texas, bringing record flooding and destruction to the region. U.S. military assets supported FEMA as well as state and local authorities in rescue and relief efforts.
A Marine with Charlie Company, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, along with a member of the Texas Highway Patrol and Texas State Guard, escort a man to higher ground, Houston, Texas, Aug. 31, 2017. Hurricane Harvey landed Aug. 25, 2017, flooding thousands of homes and displaced over 30,000 people.
Marines with Company C, 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion, 4th Marine Division, load Hurricane Harvey victims aboard Amphibious Assault Vehicles during rescue operations and immediate response missions in response to Hurricane Harvey at Galveston, Texas, Aug. 31, 2017. The Marines and Sailors with Marine Forces Reserve are posturing ground, air and logistical assets as part of the Department of Defense support to FEMA, state and local response efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Evan Gallant, a rescue swimmer from Air Station Miami, carries a boy away from an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter in Beaumont, Texas, Aug. 31, 2017. An aircraft crew working out of Air Station Houston transported a group of people from a shelter to Jack Brooks Regional Airport in Beaumont, Texas.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Evan Gallant, a rescue swimmer working out of Air Station Houston, prepares to deploy and rescue stranded people in Vidor, Texas, Aug. 31, 2017. Anderson Cooper, anchor with CNN, accompanied the aircraft crew on their rescue missions Thursday.
It’s no secret that both male and female troops tend to get married right before a long deployment to collect and save some extra cash. Although contract marriages are illegal in the military, that doesn’t stop many troops from heading down to City Hall or finding a justice of the peace to recite a few words and signing their names on a marriage license.
If you have the money and a potential spouse, you can plan a cheap wedding within an hour — depending on your location. Since most contract marriages end in divorce (go figure), it’s important to cover your own six when you’re out and about looking for that year-long husband or wife.
But, before you head out and find that special someone, read these tips — they just might save your ass later on.
Should I or shouldn’t I just marry a stripper?
Countless troops have gone out to their local boobie-bars to do exactly this. That fact is, strippers are humans, too, and they’re just trying to make ends meet like you, so that extra cash seems pretty good. However, never go after one that works near a military base, especially your military base.
Other service members are nosy and command “red flags” those types of relationship behaviors. So, if you’re going to marry a stripper, don’t go next door and do it a few months prior to deployment to give it some buffering time. It looks better on paper that way.
Use that dating app on your phone
Like they say, “there are plenty of fish in the sea.”
Now, we’re not saying you have the right to play games with peoples’ minds and hearts, but they, too, might be in a financial bind and you can bring the marriage idea up to them when the time is right.
Get in touch with an ex back in your home town
The best way to keep your fake marriage under wraps is to keep your new spouse far, far away from anything that resembles a military base. You’re still in contact with your family back home anyway, so you might as well drop a “hey” to your single ex that isn’t yet sure what they want out of life.
We all personally know someone who’s married their ex. There’s a history there behind the happy couple, which validates the union and lowers your chances of getting caught.
Over the past few days, you’ve been collecting exit signatures for your check-out sheet, and low and behold, you’re almost home. The process has been relatively straightforward up until this point.
The last item you need to get signed off is from the Central Issue Facility, or supply, where you need to check in all of your gear. Supply is one of the last stops a service member makes before obtaining their official DD-214.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Wrong. If one aspect of your gear is not check-in ready, integrating back into civilian population will be delayed.
So check out our list of what it typically takes to check in your gear and move on with your life.
(This is based on many true stories)
1. What it looks like when you’re on your way to the central issue on a Friday afternoon.
Oh, come on. (Images via Giphy)
2.When you walk inside and all you see are other troops waiting in a long a** line.
There’s too many to count. (Images via Giphy)
3. To add insult to injury, everyone who works there looks slow and grumpy.
Why do I hate life? (Images via Giphy)
4. After waiting what felt like an eternity, you finally haul your heavy gear over to the counter and begin the checkout process.
So heavy. (Images via Giphy)
5. You make it to the counter, and just as your morale has been boosted, you realized you’re at the slowest worker’s section.
Please, hurry the f*ck up! (Images via Giphy)
6. The clerk starts to review all your gear, pulling everything out piece-by-piece — most of which you never used.
And we mean most things. (Images via Giphy)
7. After completing the inventory, the clerk finds an issue with your almost squared away paperwork. All of your gear is clean enough to pass, but there’s a missing signature.
No way freakin’ way. (Images via Giphy)
8. Your superior officer’s signature is missing for an expensive piece of gear which got destroyed while you were deployed. The clerk informs you that you can either pay for it yourself or get the signature before you can get out of the military.
You can’t believe what you’re hearing.
I ain’t paying for sh*t. (Images via Giphy)
9. You speed back to your company HQ to find your CO.
Pedal to the metal. (Images via Giphy)
10. You dash into the HQ in search of the man or woman who can set you free.
Where are they? (Images via Giphy)
11. You find your superior, he or she signs the paperwork and then your emotions take over.
This may be wrong but it feels right. (Images via Giphy)
12. Now that you got your signature, it’s time to head back to central issue.
Almost to the finish line. (Images via Giphy)
13. You get back the central issue building and attempt to eyeball the person who helped you earlier to avoid waiting in line again.
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
Airmen from Los Angeles Air Force and March Air Reserve Base pilot battery-powered mini F-16 jets down the red carpet during the 86th annual Hollywood Christmas Parade in Los Angeles, Calif., Nov 26, 2017. The annual live parade is an American tradition, featuring 5,000 participants, attracting more than one million people on the streets of Hollywood and broadcasting to nationwide network televisions during the holiday season.
Smoke emanates from Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicolas Strickler’s M9 pistol during small-arms live-fire sustainment training at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Nov. 29, 2017. During the live-fire training exercise, the 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron Airmen honed their marksmanship skills, transitioning between firing the M9 pistol and M4 carbine. Strickler is a tactical air control party specialist assigned to the 3rd ASOS.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña)
Paratroopers with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division wait to board a C-17 Globemaster III from the 437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., on Green Ramp here during a Battalion Mass Tactical Exercise Nov. 28. Airmen in the 43d Air Mobility Operations Group at Pope Field are supporting air and ground crews from several Air Mobility Command units during the exercise, providing operations, maintenance, Aerial Port, fuels, ground equipment and other support. Airlift here is provided through the Joint Airborne/Air Transportability Training program — or JA/ATT — giving Airmen opportunities to train for real-world airlift operations with other services.
An M1A2 Abrams tank from 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division fires its main weapon, a 120mm canon, during Gunnery Qualification Table VI on November 28, 2017. Gunnery Qualification Table VI evaluates the tank crew on engaging stationary and moving targets in defensive and offensive postures. 1-8 Cav. has been training at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex since early November and will continue into December before returning to Camp Humphreys.
Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Derrick Elliott from Bunnlevel, North Carolina, shoots a 9 mm pistol as his line coach, Lt. Andrew Spilling from St. Louis, watches during a small arms gun shoot on the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21). New York, components of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are conducting a Combined Composite Training Unit Exercise that is the culmination of training for the Navy-Marine Corps team and will certify them for deployment.
U.S. Navy Sailors man the rails aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and prepare to render honors to the USS Arizona Memorial as the ship departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Nov. 29, 2017, in the Pacific Ocean. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is on a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific region routinely for more than 70 years promoting peace and security.
Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force conduct a low-light deck shoot to maintain marksmanship proficiency while underway aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), Nov. 26, 2017. Marines maintain accuracy with the M16A4 assault rifle and M9 pistol. The 15th MEU and America Amphibious Ready Group are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners, and to preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.
Lance Cpl. David Gaytan, an aircraft ordinance technician with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 214, checks an AV-8B Harrier before the removal of ordnance during Exercise Winter Fury 18 at Marine Corp Air Station Miramar, Calif., Nov. 29. Marines prepared several Harriers to support Winter Fury 18, which spans several locations including Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, MCAS Miramar and MCAS Yuma, Ariz.
Coast Guard Station Islamorada boatcrew members observe a vessel fire in Tarpon Basin near Key Largo, Florida after arriving on scene with Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission marine units, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. The boatcrew assisted in putting the fire out by utilizing the wash from their propeller.
Heavy snowflakes fall around a pair of Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters in Kodiak, Alaska, Nov. 29, 2017. Alaska-based Coast Guard aircrews train to respond even in snowy conditions.
Here was my experience at Marine Corps Boot Camp in San Diego, California.
As has been said there is no way to describe boot camp or even the Marine Corps accurately enough to really make them feel what it is like. But, I will give it a shot. I began writing this and realized it was turning into a short story, so I will shorten it to the first 36 hours of boot camp, and it will give you some idea of how it is in boot camp.
Boot camp is the time when a teen, or young adult, is taken and slapped in one of the worst places to be. That kid is broken down to that of a whimpering boy, then rebuilt into what the Marine Corps wants in its warriors.
The first time I asked myself “what am I doing here?” was basically my first run in with a drill instructor. This was at the USO in San Diego’s Airport, yep that’s right an airport. All recruits are flown to the airport and staged in the USO, effectively out of ear shot, or sight from the flying passengers. Everyone there is basically thinking the same thing, holy crap what is about to happen! There will be people there who pretend to act calm and collected, that’s fake. Everyone is terrified, and waiting for that minute to get there. They told you the time, I assume to mess with your head! 7:25 p.m. I will never forget it.
So, there I was, 17 years old, one month out of high school, sitting on the couch watching T.V. I have no idea what was on because that wasn’t what I was worried about. There were other soon to be recruits playing pool, drinking soda, eating the free food that was given. All of the workers at the USO had a look of “oh honey, you are about to have a bad three months.”
7:25 p.m. on the dot I heard, “Everyone going to MCRD get on your feet and get outside!” Not a scream, but just enough fire to make your heart race. I jumped up, and saw the drill instructor, about 6 feet tall, service charlie uniform perfect to every thread, that iconic campaign cover aka. smokey bear, and wouldn’t you know it, an eye patch! This dude was scary.
I ran outside as the Drill Instructor (DI) signed the paper work for the USO. We were all just standing around with no direction, or any idea of where or what to do. Then there was that voice again, “Get in a single file line at the side of the bus, have your SRB (service record book) ready to give me when you get on, do you understand?!” There were a lot of reserved “yes sir’s,” some said nothing, other’s snickered. “THE CORRECT RESPONSE IS YES SIR, DO YOU UNDERSTAND!” This time we all said it!
As I stood in line something caught my attention to my right (at this point any Marine reading this is probably saying don’t do it man, don’t do it), but I looked over to see what it was, and quickly looked forward. “HEAD AND EYE BALLS TO THE FRONT!” I said nothing, because I didn’t know he was talking to me.
Side note: Every single person who goes through boot camp is, at some point, a blubbering idiot. All common sense leaves!
“YOU, OPEN YOUR MOUTH!” Still I said nothing, and now he was approaching. This was about to be my first, to put it into Marine jargon, ass chewing of my new career.
The DI was directly in front of me, slightly at a 45 degree angle, seeing as there was another recruit in front of me. “I GUESS I DON’T RATE A RESPONSE, IS THAT RIGHT RECRUIT!” Then I looked at him, you are taught to look at anyone who is speaking to you, in boot camp this is suicide. As I looked I answered with a “nyes sir” Yep, a no and a yes combined so elegantly into recruit words. “I GUESS I SAID LOOK AT ME RIGHT, KEEP YOUR HEAD AND EYE BALLS FRONT, AYE AYE SIR!” DI’s would sometimes give you the correct response at the end of their belittlements. So I shouted “Aye aye sir.”
Finally on the bus were we could take a simple breath, still too petrified to look anywhere but forward, my eyes burning from fear of closing them. “PUT YOUR HEAD IN YOUR LAPS!” We did without saying a word. “THAT RATES A RESPONSE, AYE AYE SIR!” We all shouted “aye aye sir” as we kept our heads in our laps.
“You will keep your heads in your laps until you are told otherwise, do you understand?” “Yes sir” we all shouted. The bus started driving to our new home, MCRD San Diego, California. The drive was probably only about 5 minutes, seeing as the airport is literally attached to MCRD. Not one person dared raise their head in defiance, even though the DI wasn’t on the bus with us, we wouldn’t even chance it.
The bus stops, and the air being released from the brakes was almost deafening. My senses were all in over drive, my body telling me to get the hell out of there. There was a squeak from the door and footsteps up the ramp. “EYEBALLS!” This was the command given to recruits that instructed them to look at the DI. We all somehow figured that out without any prior knowledge because we all looked. This started the phase known as receiving.
“You will stand up and quickly exit the bus, you will find yellow footprints on the pavement outside, you will fall in on those footprints from front to back, you will do this as fast as humanly possible, DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME!”
“GET OFF MY BUS!”
The iconic yellow footprints, you hear about these things in tales of the past, this is the same spot where every Marine has stood. You never knew if you were standing on the same prints as any of the hero’s of old. Perhaps these belonged to a Medal of Honor recipient. You are told so much about these footprints that you expect you will be on them for three months. NOPE!
As soon as every recruit was on the foot prints we were taught the position of attention. Once that was accomplished we were gone. After being taught Article 86 of the UCMJ, dealing with hazing, we were off into the building. We had numbers written on our arms, our head was shaved, any and all personal belongings were taken, excluding money, credit cards, IDs, etc., we were issued our gear, and our identities were effectively removed. From this point on I was recruit Evans, the lowest of the low. There wasn’t one thing on the planet that I was above. Trash was more important than me, or so this is what they make you believe. We were turned over to our receiving DI’s, these would not be our permanent ones of course, that is later.
The first 36 hours are the worst, well the worst part of receiving, because you don’t sleep, and are herded around so quickly you don’t have time to even think. From line to line, desk to desk, room to room, the DI’s had us processed in every system, on every piece of paper, and in every way attached to the United States Marine Corps. By hour 30 I was closing my eyes just to wish I could sleep, but I was standing most of the time. You dare not fall asleep. I guess the recruit next to me didn’t get that memo because he fell asleep, while standing, fell over, and didn’t wake up until he hit the ground. I didn’t even know that was possible.
Finally, FINALLY a bed. In the deep recesses of MCRD, in squad bays that looked, and probably were, condemned. This was the time when you go to sleep and think, tomorrow will be better. It can’t be this bad the whole time.
The next morning, Wednesday, we were awaken in a very peaceful way, by our drill instructor throwing metal trashcans, shaking the beds, screaming things I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy, and banging anything that made noise. It was 3 a.m. or at least that is what I assume because we didn’t have watches, and I felt as though I had slept for about an hour. We got dressed as quickly as possible in the very noticeable attire of a Marine Corp recruit.
Basically it is hell, and anyone who says it isn’t or wasn’t is lying. Or just had a really easy time in boot camp. Also, anyone who says that they couldn’t do boot camp because they would just laugh at the DI’s yelling at them is ignorant in every way. These are US Marines who are trained to destroy your soul. We had a couple of those people in my platoon, they didn’t last long with their laughing. Only a drill instructor can make holding a pen the worst experience of your life.
To give some examples of life in boot camp I will list a few of my experiences.
– My shortest shower was 4 seconds long. Impossible? DI’s made it work.
– House turnover . . . I just cried a little. Imagine someone coming into your house with the soul intention of destroying it completely. This means taking clothes and putting them in the shower, moving 100 pound bunk beds from one side of the room to the other (the room being big enough to hold 130 recruits), pouring anything and everything they want on any clothing or gear, throwing everything in every drawer or cabinet anywhere they wish, pouring soap, detergent, or anything else they could get their hands on all over the place. Just imagine walking into that mess. Now, imagine someone forcing you to do it all the while screaming at you, then imagine having to clean that up.
I lost things I never got back, I had someone else’s shoes for the remainder of boot camp. It was a mess. Thankfully this only happened only 3 times.
– Pushing the Nile:
My DI came up with this one. There were two rooms: The squad bay, and the head (bathroom). No door separated the two rooms, just a 6 foot wide opening. The tiles on the bathroom floor were different from the cement on the squad bay floor. In the bathroom there were two nozzles on which hoses could be attached. Why? I HAVE NO IDEA! The DI would turn the nozzles on and pour buckets of dirt on the floor. The recruits job? Never allow the water or dirt to touch the squad bay floor.
– My shortest meal was on graduation day; I sat in my chair, and got back up immediately. That was the meal.
– How many people do you think can fit in one standard Porta-John, now imagine how many can fit wearing a flak-jacket, and a kevlar helmet? Got your number? Our DI accomplished 9. He once made a platoon of 89 recruits disappear in 10 porta-johns.
Now, this may all sound harsh and unnecessary, but I wouldn’t have had it a different way. It teaches you more than you can imagine. Including showing you that your limits are in your mind. There are tons of experiences any Marine can offer, but as I said it is impossible to know what it is like unless you live it.
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
An Air Commando from the 7th Special Operations Squadron, 352d Special Operations Wing fires a .50 caliber machine gun aboard a CV-22 Osprey during a flight around southern England, Sept. 11, 2017. The Osprey flew out to a range where the crew sighted, loaded and ran through technical and tactical procedures to re-qualify on the .50 Caliber weapons system.
Aircrew from the 179th Airlift Wing depart from here to pick up and deliver much needed supplies to relief workers in the Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma, September 14, 2017. The 179th Airlift Wing is always on mission to be the first choice to respond to community, state and federal missions with a trusted team of highly qualified Airmen.
The crew of a Nebraska Army National Guard UH-72 Lakota helicopter from Company A, 1-367th Aviation (Security Support) Regiment prep for a new mission in northern Florida, Sept. 14, to evaluate river levels and flood damage, while ensuring flooded areas are free of stranded civilians. The crew of the UH-72 Lakota helicopter included four or approximately 100 Nebraska Amy National Guard Soldiers currently serving on State Active Duty out of Jacksonville, Florida, in support of Hurricane Irma relief and recovery operations.
A tank commander assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division looks for positive identification of the “enemy” from his battle position at the field training site for Exercise Bright Star 2017 in Mohamed Naguib Military Base, Egypt, Sept. 12. Bright Star builds on the strategic security relationship between Egypt and the United States, a historic partnership which plays a leading role in counterterrorism, regional security, and efforts to combat the spread of violent extremism.
Sailors refuel an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the “Grandmasters” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46, Det. 1 on the flight deck of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) Sept. 11, 2017. Oscar Austin is on a routine deployment supporting U.S. national security interests in Europe, and increasing theater security cooperation and forward naval presence in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.
The USS Constitution’s Executive Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Anderson, leads a Salt Lake City Navy Week Presentation at the Murray Boys Girls Club. Navy Weeks focus a variety of assets, equipment and personnel on a single city for a week long series of engagements designed to bring America’s Navy closer to the people it protects, in cities that don’t have a large naval presence.
Corporal Nelson Rivera, from Brooklyn, NY., assigned to Battalion Landing Team 1/5, stands guard in defense of the amphibious task force during a straight transit aboard USS San Diego (LPD 22). During the DATF, USS San Diego’s small caliber action team (SCAT) and Sailors assigned to the ship worked together to provide 360-degree security coverage of the ship. The 15th MEU and America Amphibious Ready Group are operating in the 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.
September is Suicide Prevention Month. The involvement of family, friends and fellow Marines is the best method to deter suicide. Aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California, the Behavioral Health Section provides counselors and a 24-hour help line for those reaching out during times of crisis.
Coast Guard Air Station Borinqun, Puerto Rico MH-65 Dolphin helcopter crew transfers a 60-year-old man with a reported head injury to awaiting emergency medical services at the air station, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. The man reportedly sustained a severe head injury Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 from a downed power line following Hurricane Irma.
An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter flys over the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton to receive fuel to continue relief operations in Key West, Florida, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. The Hamilton crew deployed to Florida in support of Hurricane Irma relief operations.
Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Arianna Gunn is relentless. Yes, that’s a rating in the Coast Guard. And it’s no joke to the men and women who work that job. The Coast Guard, like any force in history, runs on its stomach.
Gunn’s drive to serve fresh, delicious, inventive, bar-raising gourmet meals to the crew members of her Coast Guard Cutter, Cochito, powers that vessel as surely as the twin diesels in its engine room. As it conducts long patrols of U.S. coastal waters, searching, rescuing and advancing the mission of the Department of Homeland Security, Gunn’s role in maintaining operational morale cannot be overstated.
Like Meals Ready to Eat host August Dannehl learned when he joined the Cochito on patrol, as far as ship’s cooks go, FS2 Gunn is in a class of her own.
She’s not a recipe follower so much as a recipe pioneer. She gathers her ingredients at local markets and farm stands. She joyfully invents dishes working in a galley the size of a closet. She defines the rhythm of the Cochito’s days at sea by the anticipation and delivery of each of her remarkable meals.
“There are times during this job, during a search and rescue case off shore, we don’t sleep, it’s too rough to eat, it’s almost unbearable. And coming back into calmer waters, looking forward to that amazing home cooked meal, that just brings everybody together,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Stephen Atchley, Coast Guard Cutter Cochito.
We could wax on about the culinary virtuosity of FS2 Gunn, but instead, we’ll hit you with some optics as an appetizer.
Uncle Jesse would say “Have mercy.” (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)