This video starts with Marines engaged in a firefight against the Taliban in the Afghan countryside in 2012. All of a sudden, around the 0:50 mark, shots are fired and the helmet camera scans to the left as a Marine goes down. The next thing you hear is him yelling, “aghhh, aghhh, I’m f–king hit!”
The Marine settles into a state of temporary frantic but is quickly calmed when his battle buddy comes to assist. Trained for this type of scenario, the assisting Marine methodically removes his buddy’s gear to get to the wound while yelling for a corpsman.
The corpsman arrives, treats the wounded soldier, and by the end of the video the he walks himself to the helicopter on his own for evacuation.
In this day and age, allowing a minor to enlist in the military and be sent off to war is practically impossible — especially with our modern tracking systems.
But at the start of the 20th century, an accurate method of recording individual troop movement hadn’t been invented; thousands of soldiers would eventually go missing through the course of the war, many of whom were actually children.
After WWI reared its ugly head, military recruiters were paid bonuses for every man they enlisted. Countless young men, many of them orphans or just seeking adventure, would simply lie about their ages to join up.
The recruiters saw dollars signs and looked past any age issues as they wrote the coercible young boy’s names down, signing them up on the spot. Many feared the thought of going off to war but thought they would look weak if they didn’t take part with their friends — the ultimate peer pressure.
These young boys swear in to join the fight. (Source: The Great War/ YouTube/ Screenshot)
The idea was extremely controversial at the time, but it didn’t stop the boys from volunteering as they showed up to the local recruiting offices in droves. It’s estimated that 250,000 boys under the age of 18 served in the British Army alone.
Once they signed up, they were sent through some basic infantry training then whisked off the front lines.
Most famously was John Condon, an Irishman who is believed to have been the youngest combatant killed; at the age of 14, he died during a mustard gas attack in Belgium while serving in the third battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment.
“I, Private Schmuckatelli, take you, whatever your name is, to be my lawfully wedded wife.”
Many service members (not mentioning any names) spoke these words right before a deployment to move out of the small studio-sized barracks most likely for the extra money every month.
This money comes from the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). Implemented in January 1998 BAH pays housing expenses for service members to move off-base if the barracks are overcrowded or if a change in the member’s lifestyle warrants it (i.e., having a baby or getting married. After a certain pay grade, everyone receives BAH, but it is restricted in the lower ranks. That’s why some take the risk of a contract marriage.
Although contract marriages are frowned upon by the chain of command, it’s a well-known practice utilized by all ranks today. Capitalizing on this financial loophole could benefit your future (depending on the person with whom you join in court-approved matrimony).
Here are a few added bonuses to your contract marriage that you may have never noticed before.
1. Renter’s History
Signing a lease with a rental company starts your “Renter’s History.” As long as you pay your rent on time, this keeps you in good standing with the rental bureaus. Young service members may not have the best credit, but having good rental history is a step in the right direction.
Your contract marriage could help prevent you from being homeless in the future.
“I am serious and don’t call me, Shirley.” (Paramount Pictures)
2. Learn to Budget
Although the medical benefits are valuable, they could throw a curveball and require more money every month than you planned. Checking to see how much a service member earns is simple: you can Google it. Waiting to get paid on the 1st and 15th of every month could feel like a freaking eternity without a budget.
A contract marriage probably didn’t make you a millionaire even if it made you feel that way after that first check. So learn to…
3. It Follows
Unfortunately, one crappy aspect of being in the military is how your command intervenes in your personal life. They like to know about everything and if you don’t tell them upfront, somehow they manage to find out.
If you plan on making the military a career, I advise against a contract marriage, especially when word gets out about your legally-binding “spouse” while you’re out hitting on every single person at the bar. Remember: it’s technically fraud, so good luck getting promoted.
People can often suck.
4. Emotional Maturity
The average marrying age range in the civilian world is 25 to 27. However, in the military, the median falls at 22 – above legal drinking age, but not yet a mature adult. No one is condoning getting married for the benefits, but if you do and it doesn’t work out, you shouldn’t be surprised.
You were young, dumb and full of one bad idea after another. Your temporary spouse may not have been the perfect soulmate, but at least you narrowed it down.
5. The Silver Lining
Looking back on it, would you do it again? Overall experiences will vary depending on if everything went to plan. The memories you have are what separates you as an individual and makes you unique. If it made you into a grumpy old man, then that sucks.
Take it for what it is. It’s always better to look toward the future than dwell in the past.
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.
It happens almost every single year and it’s always a giant fuss. A new recruit who is barely out of boot camp will wear their branch’s dress uniform as they walk down the aisle at their high school graduation. The school will invariably be annoyed that someone isn’t wearing the same thing as everyone else, they’ll cause a fuss, and, suddenly, everyone is up in arms against that school.
Now, we’re not going to throw any individual under the bus — so we won’t name names — but trust me when I say that stunts like this are definitely boot moves.
This time, the near-annual graduation controversy started with two Marines in Michigan. They informed their school of their plans month before entering boot camp and the school, of course, rejected their proposal. The students graduated recruit training on a Friday and come back to Michigan to graduate high school the following Sunday.
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Angelica I. Annastas)
First, it’s important to realize that schools don’t lack in compassion for the military and its troops, but the ceremony requires uniformity. The school made many concessions, including offering specially-made tassels, just like those worn by honor students, woven in red, white, and blue. They also offered to announce their military rank as they received their diploma and annotate their service in the rosters and the programs.
Even still, the students walked in their dress uniforms instead of the standard caps and gowns. The school’s superintendent allowed them to walk to keep their families happy. Afterward, an unnamed school board member discretely expressed to the students they were not happy with the rule violation, but that they also respected their service. This gentle aside then hit the internet, was blown out of proportion, and now the school board members are being made to look like as*holes.
The fact is that the uniform of the day was a cap and gown. These recruits disobeyed that order. When moments like this happen in the military because someone is trying to be an individual, the offenders swiftly disciplined. When this happens in the civilian world with recruits fresh out of boot camp (in this case, literally two days out of boot camp), the civilians who put out a simple rule (and offered many compromises) are made out to be the bad guys.
(Photo by Chris Moncus)
Each school has a policy on wearing uniforms to graduations. Some allow it, some don’t. The entire state of New Jersey, for instance, allows all troops to wear their uniform to their high school graduation. If the school allows troops who’ve completed their initial entry training to wear a uniform, outstanding! Go for it! If not, the school shouldn’t be vilified for asking a young troop (and student) to follow a guideline.
If you still feel compelled to wear your dress uniform in an unofficial manner, wear it under your cap and gown. It’s as simple as that.
We all know we ought to save, but the idea of saving when we don’t feel like we have anything left in our bank account at the end of the month can seem overwhelming. Here are some tips to get your savings on track when you’re living paycheck to paycheck.
Start with an emergency fund.
Confused about where to start your savings journey? Sometimes it’s hard to know what to prioritize. What should we save for first – our retirement, our kids’ education or should we pay down debt?
Why not start with an emergency fund? It can be a lifesaver – literally. A rainy-day fund can stand between you and financial ruin.
An emergency fund should be at least $500-1,000 that is set aside in a separate savings account, one that you can access if necessary, but is not the same account you pay bills from.
Save automatically each pay period.
This is the quickest – and most painless – way to save. By setting aside an amount to be deducted from either your paycheck or transferred from your bank account each pay period, you can steadily build up your savings. You won’t miss it because you won’t ever “see” it or be able to spend it. Even saving $20 each pay period will get you to a $500 emergency fund in less than a year. Once you’ve built up your emergency fund, move on to other goals and not worry about living paycheck to paycheck.
Cut back whenever and wherever you can and REALLY transfer that money to your savings account.
There are dozens of ways to cut back on your spending: you can start by ordering out less often and doing away with unnecessary subscription services and memberships. But the key is once you have reduced that expense, transfer those savings to your savings account. Otherwise, the extra money is way too tempting to spend!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Finances are super personal, and for some reason are seen as a taboo subject. We have all struggled with saving, and we all need help sometimes. The good thing is that military families have lots of resources available to them. Every military installation has a financial counselor and there’s free, confidential financial counseling available through Military OneSource and when you take the Military Saves Pledge, the start of a simple savings plan.
Parents tend to teach their kids that kindness is one of the greatest traits a human can exhibit. When those kids eventually join the military, they’ll learn that they need to drop the niceties before too long.
Troops should show a general politeness toward their peers — after all, the military wouldn’t function if everyone was truly spiteful toward one another. We’d never recommend that you treat others like dirt, but every service member must obtain a certain level of saltiness in order to get through their career.
In a way, military life is the reversal of civilian norms. In the military, kindness is negatively received; being assertive and salty is the only way to get what you want. We’re not saying this is bad or good — it’s just the weird life that troops live.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help others out.
(Photo by Spc. L’Erin Wynn)
Your kindness will be perceived as weakness
Before any of this gets twisted, kindness isn’t a weakness and showing genuine empathy toward your fellow troop isn’t going to kill you. In fact, showing your brothers- and sisters-in-arms compassion will take you far and may save a life some day.
However, the harsh reality is that there are no brakes on the military train. Slowing down for others and offering a helping hand isn’t always smiled upon. When you pause to help someone who’s stalled, in the eyes of many, there are now two impediments.
It’s not an pleasant circumstance, but that’s how life in the military goes.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. R.J. Lannom)
Your kindness will get pushed to the limits
There’s another side to the compassion coin. Offer your help too readily and others will take advantage. One favor leads to three. “Hey, can you get me…” quickly turns into, “you don’t mind, do you?”
In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any toxic leadership in the military. Everyone would take unit morale into consideration, do their part, and ensure tasks are completed on schedule. Unfortunately, when people find it easier to get someone else to their job, they’ll take that road.
But they’re not mutually exclusive in combat situations.
(Photo by Cpl. Darien J. Bjorndal)
Your saltiness will get things done
Aggression and anger are not essential traits of great leaders. A first sergeant who never yells still commands the same respect as a first sergeant who barks at everyone. It is entirely possible to be assertive and state your intentions to others without shouting.
…but most people won’t see it that way. The moment you raise your voice, people listen. If you’re of a lower rank, people will assume you’re ready for a leadership position — in actuality, yelling and true leadership skills are apples and oranges.
Troops will rarely give an honest answer if their first sergeant asks them how are they doing, even if it’s meant sincerely.
(U.S. Marine Corps)
Your saltiness won’t ever get questioned
Being nice will cause everyone to question your motives. Other troops will think you’re up to something, trying to work them over. Conversely, there’re almost no repercussions for being a dick to everyone.
The higher your rank, the less people will wonder why you’re grouchy. Everyone just accepts it as normal, everyday life. Niceties at that rank set off alarms in the lower ranks or just confuse everyone.
We’ve all seen them before. The cans, small shots, and uniquely packaged energy drinks that promise to give you an energy boost during the most important parts of your day. At first glance, it seems like a great idea: chug it down and get reinvigorated for the day. But, if you go beyond wanting to simply stay alert and begin to overindulge, you could wind up doing some serious harm to your body.
Energy drinks became the beverage of choice for many service members during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research analyzed data collected during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010 and found nearly 45 percent of deployed service members consumed at least one energy drink daily. Nearly 14 percent reported drinking three or more per day.
Many of the most popular energy drinks are heavily marketed to young people, including military members. The marketing is sexy, the packaging is slick, the flavors are sweet like fruit drinks children crave, and the beverages are readily available on military bases and down range.
But, there are real reasons to avoid overusing energy drinks.
Energy drinks can cause drastic side effects
Energy drinks are loaded with caffeine, and too much of it isn’t good for you. Dr. Patricia Deuster, professor and director of the Consortium for Health and Military Performance at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, warns service members to avoid consuming more than 200 mg of caffeine every four hours. That means service members should add up the caffeine in their energy drinks, plus any other caffeinated beverages they may drink, like coffee and soft drinks.
“If it’s got more than 200 mg of caffeine, don’t use it,” cautions Deuster.
Deuster also warns female service members to be cautious about using energy drinks, noting the amount of caffeine you ingest relative to body weight is an issue for women. “Women get a higher concentration [of caffeine] since they tend to be smaller,” she said.
“Doctors don’t know what the effects of [energy drink] ingredients are in larger doses,” Deuster noted. “I don’t think anybody has an answer to the long term effects question.”
High amounts of caffeine can lead to increased blood pressure, panic attacks, heart palpitations, anxiety, dehydration, insomnia, and even bowel irritability when energy drinks are mixed with alcohol.
What is clear is consumers need to be more aware about what they’re putting in their bodies when it comes to energy drinks.
Energy drinks can activate your sweet tooth
Energy drinks are loaded with sugar. Some cans pack a punch of 27 grams of sugar — two thirds of the recommended daily maximum for men, and 2 grams more than the maximum doctors recommend for women. Some service members can double or even triple that if they drink more than one energy drink per day.
All of that extra sugar can cause your blood sugar to increase. Even the sugar-free versions of energy drinks can lead to weight gain, as research suggests artificial sweeteners may raise blood sugar, too.
Your body can also begin storing fat, especially if you’re unable to increase physical activity.
Energy drinks + alcohol = a dangerous cocktail
Energy drinks have become popular mixers for alcohol, raising concerns for health experts.
“A lot of the young people mix energy drinks with alcoholic beverages, then you’ve got a wide awake drunk,” says Deuster.
The CDC warns that when alcoholic beverages are mixed with energy drinks, the caffeine stimulant can mask the effects of the alcohol, which is a depressant. Often, the person drinking doesn’t even realize that they’re actually drunk. According to the CDC, that means people who mix alcohol with energy drinks are three times more likely to binge drink than those who don’t mix alcohol with energy drinks. Experts warn motor skills can be affected and some people engage in riskier behaviors while under the influence of alcohol and energy drinks. Additionally, both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, which can cause dehydration if you’re not careful.
Some companies sell pre-mixed alcoholic energy drinks which have the same sweet or tart flavors as standard energy drinks. As the Army notes, the alcohol content in these beverages can be significantly higher than what’s found in beer.
These energy drinks with alcohol may appeal to underage drinkers because they’re cheaper than hard liquor and they’re marketed with a message that the drinker can last all day or all night long. The sugary nature of the beverages also makes drinkers feel they can imbibe longer than if they were having harder alcohol.
Energy drinks can ruin your good night’s sleep
Deuster raises concerns about a problem in the military with energy drinks and sleep. And, the data back up those concerns. While service members may initially use energy drinks to make up for a lack of sleep, overuse can lead to a harmful cycle. Excess consumption of energy drinks can cause sleep problems and hamper performance.
Dr. Nancy J. Wesensten, from the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neurosciences Research, tells Army Medicine that research on caffeine shows that it can be effective if used properly. However, Wesensten notes “because caffeine impairs sleep, individuals should stop all caffeine consumption at least 6 hours prior to scheduled sleep. Otherwise, sleep could be impaired without the person even being aware of it.”
As caffeine is the major ingredient in energy drinks, the CDC reports service members who drink three or more of the drinks per day were significantly more likely to report sleeping fewer than four hours per night. They were also more likely to report disrupted sleep and other illnesses. Lack of sleep can impact memory and a service member’s ability to pay attention when it matters most. Research indicates service members who drank three or more energy drinks each day also had difficulty staying awake during briefings or on guard duty.
The Army’s Performance Triad offer tips on how to get a better night’s sleep, including controlling light and temperature, as well as leaders ensuring service members have time for quality sleep.
You really don’t know what’s in them
These drinks are not regulated as dietary supplements. While the cans have nutrition labels, many do not list supplement information.
One area that’s concerning to Deuster is the ingredient taurine. The chemical compound is an amino acid found in animal tissue. Many manufacturers purport the ingredient will enhance mental and physical performance. Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center report little is actually is known about taurine’s neuroendocrine effects.
So, what should service members use instead of energy drinks?
Deuster keeps it simple: “Good old water.” Appealing to service members’ frugality, she adds,
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New findings in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic reveal millions of women are leaving the workforce after struggling to maintain jobs with increased responsibilities at home.
One in four women are contemplating downshifting or leaving their careers altogether, according to the Women in the Workplace study, with 2.2 million less women in the workplace compared to 2019 data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Top challenges cited in the study include burnout, childcare and/or homeschooling responsibilities, mental health, and financial insecurity. Advocates recommend companies focus on key areas to make work more sustainable — an attribute the first female deputy director of the Air National Guard sought when she left active duty.
Maj. Gen. Dawne Deskins, says she transitioned from the Air Force after 10 years of active-duty service to find the stability needed to support a growing family.
“I had been in the Air Force for about 10 years, loved it. I loved the amount of responsibility I had; loved the people who worked with me, served with me, but at that point I also had a family — I had gotten married and had two children, and I really needed something that would allow me more stability because I was having trouble with the work-family balance,” she said.
The ANG was the solution. Deskins says she was able to join a Guard unit, stay in one place, and keep her children close to extended family members “in a very stable environment.”
“It filled the need that I had and it allowed me to continue to serve,” she added.
Deskins initially joined the Air Force to pay for college. She was commissioned through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Cornell University in Ithica, New York. Her plan was to serve four years and then move onto her next goal, but her 18-year-old self didn’t account for the possibility that she would find everything she was looking for within the military culture.
“I go back to the people and the professionalism of the people, and that having an organization that is focused on something that is bigger than the individual. Guard members specifically are very focused on being part of a team and being part of something greater and that real sense of service to the community, as well as to the entire country,” Deskins explained.
Deskins made history when she was named the first woman to serve as the deputy director for the ANG and the first non-pilot for the position. In her role, she assists Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, ANG Director, in formulating, developing, and coordinating all policies, plans, and programs affecting more than 107,700 ANG members and civilians in more than 1,800 units, according to her official biography.
After being sworn in in 2020, she outlined the ANG’s main priorities:
1) Maximizing warfighter access to limited ANG resource while minimizing manpower costs
2) Collaborating and working on change as part of the total force with the Air Force
3) Empowering airmen to make the right choices by getting at the layers that get between our airmen and senior leaders
4) Developing future leaders
And she expanded the list to include a personal priority surrounding diversity and inclusion.
“I think certainly we are focused on this priority as a Department of Defense right now. I also think it is an area that the Guard has always been on the leading edge of, in how we recruit and retain a diverse workforce, but at the end of the day we work better, we perform better, when we have people who think differently in our force,” Deskins said.
She has been on the receiving end of that leading edge too. Thirty-six years after she first entered the military, Deskins reflects on the mentors who helped her work to this point in her career today — those she describes as “great, strong male leaders” who she credits with wanting to build a force that would one day provide opportunity to other women, like their own.
The New York native encourages others to seek out ways to build formal and informal mentor relationships, starting with being receptive to input from others.
“I’ll tell you, I try to learn from everything that I do. You can learn more from your failures than your successes, and so I would always sit down with my supervisors and be open to getting feedback. That is the number one thing I would recommend,” Deskins said.
Everyone’s job plays a role in the grand scheme of things. Everyone is just one piece in the puzzle few of us get to look at.
5. Learn how to wear your gear properly
This is one that will undoubtedly gain some respect from grunts. One common complaint among the grunts is that POGs have no idea how to wear the gear. Magazine pouches don’t go on the back of your plate carrier, and get that first aid kit in a place where you can reach it.
4. Learn basic infantry tactics
This one almost goes without saying — learn the basics of a grunt’s job and they’ll have no room to talk sh*t.
3. Set yourself to grunt standards
Infantrymen have to be physically fit in order to handle carrying all their gear, and someone else if the need arises. If you can keep up with a grunt or even outperform a few, they’ll treat you like one of their own — especially if you take the advice from point #4.
2. Don’t act like your rank gives you experience
The infantry, especially the Marine Corps infantry, is full of E-3s with TONS of experience. One thing that will piss a grunt off more than anything is if an E-4 who only has 6 months to a year of time in tries to act superior to an E-3 with 2 or 3 years of experience (demotions exempt) and deployments under their belt.
Grunts talk trash all day, every day, and there is not a single day that goes by in the infantry where they don’t. If you can sh*t talk with a grunt (and if you can do it better) they’ll undoubtedly accept you as one of their own. But make sure you have more in your arsenal than, “Well, you’re just a dumb grunt.”
That one’s been used so many times that people with ASVAB scores of 80 and higher are joining the infantry.
*Bonus* Take pride in being a POG
Grunts feel that POGs often just have an inferiority complex, which results in treating grunts like low-life scum (which isn’t totally wrong). Take pride in the fact that you help grunts bring the fight to the enemy! Grunts actually love cooks and motor-T because otherwise they’re stuck with MREs and long walks.
Fighter pilots and naval crews paint crossed-out insignias of the enemies they’ve defeated on their vessels. Turns out, the Coast Guard does the same, but their enemies are often drug lords.
Coast Guard cutters typically mark their hulls with a crossed-out marijuana leaf for every marijuana bust and a crossed-out snowflake for each cocaine bust. We’ve also seen crossed-out droplets for heroin busts and crossed-out lab equipment for crystal meth, but they’re less common.
Drug busts are extremely dangerous and are often met with enemy fire and high speed pursuits at all hours of the day. In Aug. 2017, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Stratton made 25 separate seizures. The combined 50,000 pounds of cocaine and heroin they confiscated was worth an estimated $679.3 million. Their largest bust, valued at over $1 billion, was made back in Aug. 2015 and, just as recent as last week, they seized more than $721 million worth of cocaine.
“The seizure of this cocaine means tens of thousands of pounds won’t make it to our communities and hundreds of millions of dollars won’t make it into cartel coffers,” acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson said in an official statement. “To drug traffickers who may think they are invisible in the middle of what seems to be a vast, empty ocean: You are not alone.”
Each decal that’s placed on the hull of a USCG Cutter serves as a warning to every drug smuggler. But funnily enough, only one decal is awarded per bust. Whether the bust stops $1 billion or $20 billion from going into cartel hands, it still only counts as one decal.
In America, when you go without wearing any underwear, we jokingly call it “going commando.” If you’ve ever deployed to a joint military base and you’ve worked alongside Royal Marines, then you understand the term better than most — you’ve probably received an uncalled-for eyeful when these troops wake up for the work day. That’s because they tend to sleep in just their birthday suits.
But it’s not for comfort’s sake — it’s hygienically sound.
It’s no secret that, when the mission calls for it, military personnel sometimes have to live in tight berthing areas. Because of this close-quarter living, illnesses and bacteria can quickly spread from person to person.
Most service members are taught to shower before they go to bed. After all, you want to remain as clean as possible throughout the night. But when we sleep, we naturally sweat from our pores. Meanwhile, our microscopic skin cells die and flake off. You might not know it, but you leave behind an imprint of skin and sweat wherever you lay — it’s actually pretty nasty.
Royal Marines tend to sleep naked so they don’t hold all the juices and skin flakes emitted from their bodies in the clothes they’ll later wear.
U.S. troops are taught to sleep in a t-shirt and undies or some type of pajamas. Sure, this might contribute to the ever-growing pile of dirty laundry, but at least it’s easier to go to the restroom at 0300 — which is located on the other side of the FOB.
If you’re like me, your answer to the inevitable question, “So, where are you from?” has to be answered in list form. Of course, the next question is always, “Oh, so you’re an Army brat?”
To which I answer, “Marine brat, actually.”
While this question used to fill me with dread, as I’ve gotten older I have come to embrace my time as a Marine brat. So, as a celebration of my childhood, I present to you the top 10 best things about being the daughter of a Marine.
1. Government officials are nicer to you
When I was in college, I went on a ski trip to Canada and forgot to bring my passport. When we tried to cross back into the U.S., the border agent gave me the side eye and started lecturing me about increased security.
Then we had this conversation:
Border Agent: Where were you born?
Me: Camp Pendleton, California.
Border Agent: (visibly becomes friendlier) Oh! Do you have a parent in the Marines?
Me: Yep! My dad’s a Marine.
Border Agent: Ah, that’s great. Well, just don’t forget your passport next time.
Boom. Thanks dad for keeping me from getting trapped in Canada forever.
2. You have a sword in your house
Sure lots of people have baseball bats or knives or guns in their houses, but not many have a sword. In high school, my dad’s dress blues sword hung on the wall in the den where it could strike fear into the hearts of boys while lending our house a sense of medieval charm.
3. Your dad scares your boyfriends
Which leads me to number 3. Now, I pride myself as being an independent, strong woman who doesn’t buy into that puritanical, patriarchal protection nonsense.
That being said, I can’t say it isn’t fun when my dad puts guys just the tiniest bit on edge. My high school boyfriend once told me that my dad was funny, friendly, and just a little bit terrifying. Heck, my best friend from college is still nervous around him.
4. You’ve seen “Full Metal Jacket” 627 times
Not the whole movie, just the first 20 minutes or so while your dad tells you about how realistic it is, how hard boot camp was, and how he broke his all of his leg bones during the first 5 minutes of boot camp but still made it to the end, damnit***
*I don’t know if this qualifies as a “best” thing or just “a” thing.
**He has clarified that he only had a stress fracture in his foot and it was the last week of boot camp. But still.
5. You are always on time
To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is out of the question.
Military time isn’t just converting 1500 hours to 3:00 PM. It also means knowing you should really be there at 2:45.
6. You get really good at meeting people
Awkward small talk and continuously having the answer the same questions over and over again? Bring it on!
I’ve met at least 76 new people every year since I was born. Ok, I don’t actually have an exact figure, but from the time I was a wee one, I’ve been comfortable with being suddenly dropped into a completely unfamiliar group of people. When my friends fretted about going away to a college where they wouldn’t know anyone, I was happily filling out applications for colleges all over the country.
Moving has also made me great at 1) joining clubs 2) first dates 3) teaching college students.
7 . You don’t get overly attached to houses or places
In my family, we got into the habit of making “pros” lists when we moved somewhere new so we didn’t just focus on what we missed about the old place. This habit has forced me to look at the bright side of any location in which I find myself. I’m also great at packing and unpacking, and I won’t ever have to go through the existential crisis of my parents selling my childhood home, because I don’t have one!
The downside of not having a childhood home to return to is that I get overly attached to my stuff. “How can you expect me to throw away any of the birthday cards I’ve ever received. THIS IS ALL I HAVE”
8. But you get to live in awesome places
By the time I was 5, I’d already lived in Southern California, Japan, and Maryland.
Maybe you wouldn’t call Maryland awesome (but, crabcakes!), but every new place changes you for the better and becomes a part of you.
My family left Japan with a love of sushi, an amazing chopstick holder collection, and a life-long family friendship. My parents kept in such good touch with a Japanese family we met while we lived overseas that their son came to live with us when he was in high school, and this summer my parents are going to his wedding in Turkey.
As an added bonus, you eventually know people in so many cities, that you can go on vacation virtually anywhere in the United States without having to pay for a hotel.
9. You become very close to your family
Throughout my life, I’ve had several friends refer to my family as “The Waltons.” When my mom was 25, she was living on a military base in Japan with a toddler, a baby, and a husband who was gone for months at a time. We quickly came to rely on each other for support and companionship.
10. And even though you have to loan him to the Corps for long stretches of time, you know that your dad is, first and foremost, there for you