Tag Archives: USMC

Firewatch

36 years ago I started my journey to earn the title of US Marine. No doubt the yellow footprints come to mind but today, I remember a time through all the the chaos of Marine bootcamp that I found even more surreal than the days that started at 0530 with reville blasting and two minutes to be dressed and on the road to chow. It was Firewatch.

For civilian types, firewatch is basically patrolling the squadbay for an hour while the rest of the platoon sleeps. This was a time of self reflection as in “what the hell did I get myself into?” Walking the squadbay, you could hear the sound of your steps on the the always pristine floors blend in with multiple breathing/snores of your platoon brothers. Approaching the lone mirror at the front of the squadbay aka “the classroom”, you didn’t recognize your own reflection as your physical transformation didn’t take place standing in front of a mirror. Your body felt stronger everyday and at this late hour, it longed for sleep.

Five minutes before your watch was up, you woke up your relief. The last five minutes of duty always felt like an hour.


Whether consciously designed as a time for a Marine recruit to be self aware or not, it was an hour in time that I did just that.

Firewatch: Sleep well America, Marines have been on Firewatch since 1775.

#SemperFi

Jody:100 Word Challenge

For those that aren’t military or around the military, Jody is the name given to the person that a spouse back home cheats with/leaves the deployed spouse for.

                            Jody

Glowing Taxi tail lights fade into the night. The hybrid vehicle’s virtually silent on freshly Long Island fallen snow. This is a long way from Afghanistan. 24 hours earlier I have been in the sweltering desert heat. Who’s car is that in the driveway. I know I have the right address. Fumbling with the keys, I hear the dog barking through the door. A light comes on. An unfamiliar male voice is muffled. As I reach for the door handle, I hear the door unlocked from the inside. The door is chained. Then I see her eyes. I guess I should have called. 

Word count:100

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly photo-prompted 100 word writing challenge. Based on a photo prompt, the challenge is to pen a work of 100 words or less. If you’re interested in joining, or would like to read Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog; Here

U.S.M.C. (Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children)


Training Day 1 (T-1) of Marine Corps bootcamp many years ago, we were told. “Look at each other and let’s make something clear!” “There is no black, white, yellow, brown, or red!” “There is only green!”Some may be dark green or light green but you are all green and equally worthless!” It was the removal of looking at each other as a different color in “stressful” circumstances that empowered us to succeed as one. Brothers forever. Amen #semperfi #alwaysfaithful 

El Centro or Bust (A Steve G. Adventure)

El Centro or Bust (A Steve G. Adventure)

“Hey Roy, lets go to El Centro real quick!”

Steve G. Popped his head in my Barracks room door, circa 1984 Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, AZ. It was Friday and adventure called. “Sounds good Steve. I’ll be I’ll be over in about an hour.” Long before cell phones we communicated the old fashioned way. We had a general idea where the other people would be, and would go look for them. 

Exiting the dark cool barracks I was momentarily blinded by the desert sun as I made my way across the dusty parking lot toward Steve G’s barracks. Entering through the side door, the floors of the long freshly buffed hallway reflected fine buffer swirls and smelled of a fresh coat of wax, reminding me of the weekly field day that takes place in every Marine barracks as far back as when Jesus was a Corporal. I opened Steve’s room door it was dark, and I heard some mumbling coming from one of the corners of his room. Suddenly Steve came out of his bathroom and turned the light on. “Hey Roy, I’ll be Ready in a minute.” Looking down in the corner, I saw Steve’s Roommate Louis, hunkered down continuing to mumble. Steve was wearing a dress sock like a headband which many might question why, I knew it was what Steve G. Called “the sock treatment”, apparently it helped flatten down his stubborn curls. I have to say, “the sock treatment” was just one example of the unique guy he was. I guess that’s why I liked hanging with him, unique and non judgemental. “See you later Louie”, Steve shouted to his roommate, as we shut off the light Leaving Louis to his task at hand. (Turns out Louis had recently joined “The Door” a high pressure evangelical cult which reportedly took most of his income, engaged in unsavory practices including telling Louis he should spend his Friday’s kneeling in the dark by himself and attempt to speak in tongues).

We climbed into Steve’s 1970 Monte Carlo. We headed to El Centro which was about an hour away. Steve heard about a small local dance joint which was a nice break from the usual overcrowded bars in Yuma. The sun was getting low in the sky and the long luminescent strings reached out to us from the window across the dance floor as we entered the bar. We we the only Marines in this local bar, it was easy to discern as the big hair 80’s Made our Marine regulation haircuts stand out like a sore thumb. We actual seen a few girls we knew casually from Yuma. We had code names for women when we couldn’t remember their names. Never anything disrespectful, it was just that we were terrible at remembering names. At one of the tables was a girl we called “1920’s along with a few girls we didn’t know. We asked if we could join them, they agreed and we all sat down. I mainly danced with “1920s” by Steve’s encouragement as he coupled with the girl we will call “Amazon woman”. Amazon Woman was well over 6ft tall and could have given Steve a run for his money in an arm wrestling contest. Our evening was cordial enough and nothing to serious. As I often did, I stopped and took in the moment when I was out with my buddy. There we were in some hole in the wall, me slow dancing with “1920s” and him looking up at and Amazon woman. Closing time came. We said goodbye to 1920’s and as it was getting late, Amazon woman said she lived nearby and offered for us to crash at her house. One look at Steve G and off we went. It was hard to see much as we made our way into the house. She showed us to a bedroom down the hallway as she went to her room and we crashed.

Never a cloudy day in the Imperial Valley, the sun came blasting through the thread bare curtains. Still fully dressed with on boots on, Steve G and I woke up hearing muffled voices through the narrow bedroom door. “Hey Roy, I smell breakfast man.” (I once saw Steve G. down 10 pcs of chicken in one sitting). We made our way to the kitchen. There in the kitchen was Amazon woman’s mum slinging up some biscuits and gravy. At the table was her dad and little brother. We introduced ourselves and Amazon Mom asked us to sit down. As we found our way to the table we noticed her Dad had a peg leg(yes, just like a pirate) looking over at her little brother he watched us curiously through about 1/2″ thick eyeglass lenses. We all made small talk, as US Marines, we minded our manners. Amazon mom served up the chow and Steve G was ready. When the biscuits hit the plates they sounded like hockey pucks and I was surprised the dishes didn’t break. Next came the brown sausage gravy. Let’s just say the gravy didn’t flow to well and looked like a piece of greasy jello sitting on the biscuit. We choked down the breakfast and took a look out the front door. The lot was overgrown and thinking of the physical challenges our host faced, we offers to mow the lawn. Let’s just say we probably cut more dirt clods and hidden beer bottles than grass. I had my shirt off, my button-flied Levi’s on and my tan cowboy boots. As that mower created a mini sandstorm, through the dust, I could see Steve G cracking up and egging me on. We finished up, bid our hosts a debt of gratitude and headed back to Yuma. As we drove down the flat desert highway, foothills in the distance, we both sat grinning, musing about our recent surreal experience. We didn’t need to say a word, as brothers, nothing needed to be said.

Rest In Peace Brother.Amen

SJR 28july1960-28feb1998

Btw- no offense meant by the term Amazon Woman, think of her as a radiant Goddess 🙂 

Karaoke Guard-shack

While in the U.S. Marines, I’d been stationed in Iwakuni , Japan for about 9 months primarily working on Sidewinder Missile launchers. I had the opportunity to deploy to Korea on a team exercise with the South Korean Marines. (ROK Marines)
Unfortunately part of being an E-3 Lance Corporal meant $hit details. In this case it was pulling guard duty. I found myself in a guard shack with a few ROK Marines rotating. I spoke no Korean and they spoke no English.
Being early October there was a bit of a chill in the air. As the sun went down the stadium type lights lit the nearby flight line elongating the shadows of the praying mantis which covered the Tarmac by the thousands.
Keeping an eye on our Vietnam era F-4 fighter jets and their smaller, F-5’s, we settled in for our duty as many of our brothers in arms headed out for the night. Respectively they gave each of us crap as they rubbed it they were on liberty.
We were well equipped each with a 12 gauge shotgun with one difference. I had no shells. This was in thanks to a fellow Marine the night before who saw a ghost and started shooting across the flight line. I guess a good rifle butt stroke would have to do that night.
As the cold night wore I exchanged a few friendly head nods with my ally. Each of our respective NCOs, had stopped in for a report.
We got off duty around Midnight when. the ROK Marine told me to follow him. We headed to their unheated guard hit where their was a ROK sergeant and another peon non rate like me. The Sergeant, shouted a few orders at one of the peons who then rushed out the door.
The Sergeant then offered me a seat and there we sat. He said something to the remaining non rate who proceeded to belt out a Korean song like no other. When he finished ole Sarge took a crack at it whole heartedly.
Not knowing allot of Korean customs, I just clapped when they were finished and smiled.
The door opened and in stepped the other peon with his hands full. He had a couple of bottles Soju, (Korean type Sake) and a big dish covered with foil. Ole sarge updated Peon #2 on the festivities at hand who sang like a canary.
Sarge cracked open the soju and passed the Bottle around. He then removed the foil on the dish. When the steam cleared, there was a pile of roast pork … After chowing and chugging abit, my new buddies each whipped out a few tunes each. I got the sense that I was up. Other than choir I wasn’t sure if I knew all the lyrics to a full song. Then it came to me ..finally listening to all those Beatles albums would pay off… There in a cold guard-shack in South Korea, I was doing my best to honor Paul McCartney with a rendition of “Michelle”.. I’m sure I butchered the French lyrics but I was in good company. Belly and heart warm, I made my way back to tent city with a great memory I still cherish today.
Peace.

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