Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pump Fake

In my travels around the world, I have seen and probably eaten some pretty wild stuff. Somehow, when I tell a story, there seems to be a recurrent theme threaded throughout each adventure. A person might even suspect I have an obsession with the fury little rats with tails, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not true. They just seem to always be there.

It all started as a kid in Virginia Beach, on a school trip to the zoo there. My buddies all headed over to see “George”, the five hundred pound Gorilla. He sat there, munching on some celery, staring out beyond his bars as these little nine year olds jumped up and down to get his attention. Ole George just chewed away, his eyes had a sort of glazed over look to them, ignoring all attempts to get a reaction out of him. One of my friends decided he knew how to make friends with this large black beast, so he pulled out some pennies and fired off one through the bars. It bounced off of George’s head, who just sat there, not even phased as these pennies hit his chest and head. We laughed at this, wondering if this was a real Gorilla or what. Finally we got a reaction from George as his head turned to look at the offending penny thrower. His right arm slowly moved behind his back. Faster then you could blink your eyes, George’s arm whipped around from behind his back in an arching motion, slinging a hand full of Gorilla crap through the bars squarely hitting my friend on the chest. The force and sudden speed of this counter attack from George knocked my buddy onto his butt causing him to break out in a wail of tears as we all laughed pointing at his soiled, stinky tee-shirt.

The teacher hauled him off to the bathroom after we claimed no knowledge as to why peaceful George would attack Billy. Leaving the three of us staring at George with a new found respect. We decided to all flick pennies at George and when he counter attacked, we, being smarter, would jump out of the way, thus avoiding a trip to the bathroom and a stinky tee-shirt. Again, George took the pennies with indifference and finally he slowly reached behind his back for the second time. Being prepared, we all tensed for his attack. George’s arm jerked and we all jumped to the left, only he didn’t toss anything, he paused for a mere second before unleashing both arms resulting in victim/harasser number two hitting the deck, covered in Gorilla poop. Can you believe we were “Pump faked” by a Gorilla?

Once again, we claimed our innocence to the teacher as to why George would attack us as she hauled dash two off for cleanup. With just the two of us left, we figured we needed to move on down road and visit Zebra’s.

Fast forward to 1992, we were flying out of the Subic Bay in the Philippines. Hot, muggy and still a ton of ash from the volcano that erupted the year prior. Walking out of the billeting office to our van, the Gunny, who was smoking a cigarette at the back of the van, asked me “Sir, did you ever play baseball as a kid?”

“Of course I did. Outfield why?” He pointed a big fat monkey sitting on the closed half of a split top dumpster. “I’ll bet you a beer that you can’t hit that monkey with a rock from here.” I looked at the distance, a mere twenty five yards or so and thought I could win this bet. Reaching down, I selected the best round medium size white painted stone I could find. Taking aim, I let that sucker fly at the peaceful monkey who was sitting there, a nice target. The rock hit just left of him, skimming his leg and making all sorts of noise as it ricocheted off the blue metal lid. What I didn’t notice was the Gunny sneaking off and climbing back into the van, followed by all the doors being locked.

I was amazed at how many monkey’s were actually inside of the dumpster as they all came climbing out, teeth bared, a horrible screeching ensued followed by the counter attack. At least ten monkeys came running towards me throwing rocks at the cyclic rate. They were accurate and it hurt!! I turned to the backdoor of the van to let myself in, but found the door locked. The van started to move down the road with me screaming for him to stop and open the door with a squad of “Stone Monkeys” in hot pursuit. I soon found out lesson number one in the P.I., never throw stones at the monkeys, because they will throw back in a team effort. Once again, the fury, funny monkeys became my nemeses. Ahhhh, the mysteries of the Pacific region unfold to newbie’s gullible enough to listen to his Gunny engineer.

All I can say is that they taste like chicken when grilled with some teriyaki sauce. I’ll send some updates from our great Asian tour this month and I hope all of you that are attending the MilBlog conference have a blast!!
Semper Fi,
PS, I'll be in hawaii this sat, Oki by Wed With Gunny John from the Firing line and out of pocket for the next three weeks in Transit. Take care and stand by for my next post.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Go West young man

Hey Guys,
I just picked up a trip to Japan and then on down to Thailand to drop off some junk there for Cobra Gold. Last time I was there in May of 1994, we arrived right before these giant thunderstorms hit the airfield. The little Thai guys parked our KC 130 on the ramp next to base ops and motioned for us to all go into the shack before the rain hit. We had the APU running and nice cold air blasted our faces as the crew begin to pack up their stuff. I looked at the outside air temperature gauge and it read 120*F and saw the solid wall of water approaching us. The Mech came back inside and buttoned up the door to keep the rain out. We all agreed that waiting out the rain would be a good thing and give it a chance to cool off the air. Well that doesn’t happen there, as we all found out. The rain just turned into steam and we enjoyed a nice sauna bath for the rest of the trip.
Because I will be gone for a month, I won’t be able attend the National Milblogging Conference in DC. My folks will be there and will get to hang out with for the party with all the Usual Suspects! On the other hand, I will catch up with Gunny John as we eat some Sushi outside of Gate Two Street by Kadena Air Force Base. That will be a blast!! I will have time to write though as we chug across the Pacific, so stand by to stand by…
Well, before I sign off, I just want to say “God Bless” to the family of Lt Cmdr. Davis who has Gone West doing what he loved to do…Flying.

Until we talk again.
Semper Fi,

Monday, April 16, 2007

"Virtual Leadership 101"

“Virtual Leadership 101”
Dear Gang,
This letter comes from the bowls of my old computer emails, filed under “DumbSh**.” I was on recruiting duty with the Officer in question and have about six months worth of material just on this guy alone. Normally I change the names to protect the guilty, but in this case, the offender will remain so named but the Lt’s involved have been altered. For all of you young Officers out there, remember that emails have the half life of an atom, so be careful of what you write…it may come back to bite you one day. In this case, Barrett, is on his own sheet of music, hence his "virtual embarrassment." Here is the flow of the long chain letter that was sent around the world about seven years ago. Since the original letter was so long, you will see references to start at the bottom. I cleaned it up and put it in order so that you can read the true flow of events. The first two comments from some senior Marines kind of say it all, after that I will post this young Lt’s email in the order that it happened and the reply from Captain (now a Major) Barrett. Then you will see the reactions of MANY Marines to this chain of email based off a simple question. Anything I add will be in parentheses.

{This is one of two original comments that was on the forwards, which reached me.}


I'm sort of at a loss on this one. Some of you (youngsters) know Capt Barrett, the CO in this chain of emails. Many of you have been CO's at this point. I won't impune Capt Barrett here, but I have to ask why this sort of thing is going on via email. Does anyone LEAD in person anymore or is it down to this? Next, do people understand that emails can easily get forwarded around the whole Corps and outside? This is embarrassing to me a Marine, as an officer, and as an Infantryman. Capt Barrett ought to use a little more discretion in his leadership of his Lieutenants as well as some patience and tact. Mutual respect goes a long way with subordinates, officer or enlisted. Mark, I think you and I once joked about "Virtual Leadership", this is the first solid evidence I seen of it in action. The request for "Poll" responses is particular degrading, I mean, how insecure can you be to need reinforcement from the entire internet? Strange and pathetic. How long before this gets into the Marine Mail?

(Another Officer puts his two cents worth in}

I thought you two would enjoy this... read the bottom e-mails first and then work back... If you weren't in Charlie Co, you'll only appreciate this for it's stereo-typical grunt attitude - Damn the man, ask questions!! - what happened to the only stupid question is the one not asked? On the other hand for all you non-infantry types. In six and a half years as a grunt, I truly only met a handful of Hard-cases like this! The common sense in question belongs to whatever brain-child let this e-mail out to the general public. It also questions "what, if any, lesson is young Mr. Herr learning by being degraded throughout the inter-net.

-----Original Message----- From: Herr 1stLt D Sent:Friday, October 13, 2000 11:57 AM To: House Maj Chris

Subject: Suggestion Sir, A topic that has come up while here in Fuji is field orders. Our question is why is our pay checked when we go on deployment. We are charged for every meal whether or not we eat it or not. This year alone, I personally have been to Fuji three times, JWTC two times, and Korea once. This totals between six and seven months of deployment time. My pay was checked for each one of these deployments for chow that I ate or did not eat. This takes a large chunk of money out of each paycheck. Per deployment, my pay has been checked twice as much for chow myself than I would normally spend a month for both myself and my wife plus I still need to feed my wife while I am gone. The question is: Why do we get our pay checked on deployment for chow and other such items while other services are given pay for their meals and other such items? Lt Herr sends.....

Original Message----- From: House Maj Chris Sent: Friday, October 13, 2000 1:29 PM To: Herr 1stLt ; Barrett Capt Craig A;

Subject: RE: Suggestion The stock answer is that you receive BAS or ComRats while in garrison IOT pay for meals outside the chow hall. This is to compensate an individual for costs he would not incur if he subsisted at the dining facility or otherwise at the cost of the govt. BAS/ComRats is not, and never was, intended to pay for your spouse to eat. Basic pay covers that, much as your father's salary paid for you, your siblings, and mother to eat. I agree that it is galling to be checked for meals that you don't eat, but then again, there are only a couple of options. One method is to have a Marine pay for each meal as it is issued to him. This creates a huge headache IOT comply with funds accountability and auditing requirements along with being very impractical. Of course, we could have all the Marines "pay as they go". Certainly no Marine will have trouble coming up with the exact change for his meals prior to the field op, just as they never lose a canteen, always have all their uniform items ready (remember the clothing allowance), and certainly save enough cash to have plenty on-hand to set-up a household and buy cars when they first reach Oki. I do not know of any service that pays their service members for eating in the field. Of course, you can point to the Air Force who has their personnel purchase MREs in the commissary for field ops. This is more a function of poor leadership and punting the responsibility of ensuring their personnel are adequately fed than it is one of "taking care" of them. Of course, when they actually deploy to a no-kidding remote part of the world, the very few who are not billeted in 4 star hotels have their pay checked for 3 meals a day. Which then, in many cases becomes a haphazard affair. What for you is inconvenient and seemingly unjust in many other cases is the only way to ensure that Marines; 1)Actually have chow to eat, 2)Have chow to eat that has some semblance of nutritional value, 3)Provides an efficient method to affect items 1 and 2 above for large numbers of personnel (imagine collections done throughout a Division in Somalia). The PersO and SuppO can give you chapter and verse on the MCOs. There are other methods than those I have mentioned. I haven't even begun to cover the convoluted procedures for when you are embarked upon a naval vessel, when your mess bill will routinely exceed your BAS. Your Company Commander and XO can likely give you some insight as well. XO

(Sounds pretty simple right? Well now here comes Leadership 101 from our fearless leader Barrett)

-----Original Message----- From: Barrett Capt Craig A To: Howie 2ndLt G; Herr 1stLt ; Sprad 2nd Lt. ; Hohoa 1st Lt ; Greenly 1stLt Sent: 10/16/00 7:02 AM

Subject: FW: Suggestion Lieutenants, Everyone counsel Lt Herr that by asking the Bn XO directly a question about ComRats and/or BAS it has solidified the following in Major House's mind:
1-one, that Lt Herr has no faith/loyalty to his own chain of command
2-two, that after Lt Herr deployed twice to Fuji, twice to JWTC, and once to Korea (over a period of twelve months) he must be severely lacking moral courage if it took him so long to have enough ball sack to finally ask the question
3-three, that he's a dumbass I don't know if his actions are funny or sad but it clearly proves my theory that today's Marines may be more intelligent but they don't have any common sense. Its like being a tech shop manager at the Motorola Corporation and then going outside your shop, outside your department to the Vice President of Operations and asking "Sir, why is there static on radios". Hey, you don't have to use your Co XO, if you want to be regarded as a tool by your peers, laughed at during Bn social events, and have stories told about you long after you leave the unit for the stupid shit you did, e-mail the Bn XO directly, hell try the Commandants e-mail address. Capt Barrett sends...

From: Herr 1stLt Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2000 10:27 AM To: Barrett Capt Craig A; How 2ndLt; Sprad 2nd Lt.; Hohah 1st Lt; Greenly 1stLt

Subject: RE: Suggestion Sir, To readdress the question that I asked the BN XO, I would like to first say that I did not go outside of my chain of command and I do not consider myself to be a dumbass. An e-mail was sent out by the BN XO asking Marines to suggest questions that the BN CO could take to the Commanders' Program back in Quantico and address in the per group questions. The question that I asked was a topic of conversation here in Fuji and it was suggested to me by the 1stSgt to ask the question. So I did. Have I been places and done things since I have been on island? Yes. Have I asked the question before? Yes. Do I believe that it was a stupid question? No, considering no one here could give me a solid answer. If my loyalty/faith is in question, than so be it, but when given the opportunity to ask the question, I did. If it is assumed that I have no faith or loyalty, than let people talk about me. I have worked at the Commanders' Program so when the BN XO asked for suggestions from the Marines in the BN, I took a suggestion of a Marine here in Fuji and asked the question. R/S
1stLT Herr

-----Original Message----- From: Barrett Capt Craig A Sent: Thursday, October 19, 2000 7:58 AM To: Herr 1stLt and a list of about 20 Lt’s

Subject: RE: Suggestion Dear dumbass, No where in your original e-mail does it state you are providing information for the Cmdrs Conference. This is probably why the Bn XO wondered aloud why you would come directly to him to ask this question. Additionally, thank the XO for his time, say Respectfully submitted, something... I mean he's only a Major with 15 years in the Marine Corps in zone for LtCol for Christ sake. Why not utilize your chain of command to forward your question? From you to your Composite Co CO or from you to your actual CO. Do you lack loyalty or faith? My point remains that if you cannot utilize your chain of command than you are demonstrating a lack of loyalty or lack of faith in them. Major Burke and I are unaware of any previous Comrat/BAS questions to date. Now in my first e-mail these were suggestions, guidance if you will. Let me make it plain to you, since you don't understand, if you correspond directly with the Bn XO again, I'll kill you. I'll poll all those in the Cc block to see to determine if Was his e-mail inappropriate: Yes or No Does his actions categorize him as a tool: Yes or No Does his actions categorize him as a dumb ass: Yes or No Will you use him as an example for years to come: Yes or No Please send your response directly to Lt Herr and Cc me. Capt Barrett sends...

(these are comments from the many forwards of this email)

Subject: Faith in the chain of command and the US/Them mentality...

Check out this motivator! I think the CO makes it clear why his Lt wouldn't want to use the chain of command. Ouch! I love how the COs CC list grows with each reply. Feel free to fill out the poll and forward it to Capt Barrett. They are keeping a tally until the end of the month. Start at the bottom and work your way up. Chris
Gents- This is a copy of e-mail correspondence between an engineer and his Co XO. These guys are on the island with us (Lt Greenly is in the Cc: block). This message is coming to me from Jen, so obviously this message is making it's rounds in the Marine Corps. Unbelievable....

CHARLIE COMPANY OCS GRADS: Guys, you have to read this e-mail. Remember Captain Barrett and how he was at OCS? Well apparently he is no different in the fleet. This one is awesome.
***********BE SURE TO READ FROM THE BOTTOM UP!!!!!!************
One can only hope that this is some sort of twisted joke.
S/F, Capt Schmidt : FW: FW: for all us one bars...

This is a little bit long but if you start at the bottom it is a real interesting read. I think there must be a big difference in leadership philosophy between the Ground Guys and us. Mike

Monday, April 09, 2007

Chesty Puller

This great story about Chesty Puller came from the Net and it arrives every blue moon. Hope you enjoy it.

The Korean War, in which the Marine Corps fought and won some of its most brutal battles, was not without its gallows humor.

During one such conflict a ROK (Republic of Korea) commander, whose unit was fighting with the Marines, called legendary Marine (then Colonel) Chesty Puller to report a major Chinese attack in his sector.

"How many Chinese are attacking you?" asked Puller.

"Many, many Chinese!" replied the excited Korean officer.

Puller asked for another count and got the same answer: "Many, many Chinese!"

"#*#&*!#%!" swore Puller, "Put my Marine liaison officer on the radio."

In a minute, an American voice came over the air: "Yes, sir?"
"Lieutenant," growled Chesty, "exactly how many Chinese you got up there?"

"Colonel, we got a whole shitload of Chinese up here!"

"Thank God!" exclaimed Puller, "At least there's someone up there who knows how to count!"

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Where the hell are we??

***Hey the interview with Layla was a blast, check it out on her blog page below. Also email any questions you want to ask me for a future post to .***

Dear Gang,
While I was channel surfing the other day, I stopped on a news clip about two battle groups in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Iran in the midst of “War Games” but it was proclaimed that it wasn’t suppose to be a threat to Iran. Funny how this came about after the Brits were kidnapped. What makes this news segment noteworthy is the fact that it was on the “700 Club” and this was on Monday, days before the mainstream or even cable news brought this up. I think the Iranians need to go review past history and a place called the Falklands. All that needs to happen right now is some suicide bomber to attack that group and all hell would break loose in Iran.

It brings back a story about my old Squadron, VMGR 252 during the first Gulf War in 1991. Every unit, ship, or squadron has a couple of real bone heads attached to them and we were no different. We happened to have a few extra that made life very interesting. One in particular named Major Dilbert, was as we say…a total tool. It was a policy in the Squadron that no one would say his full name. It was like invoking the name of Satan or something, so we just called him “Major D.” He was a one man show and in all of my years of flying, the only person who ever came close to killing me and the whole crew in a KC 130.

Now that you know how I feel about him, picture endless hours, droning along the border of Iraq and Iran, passing gas to any jet vectored up to our flying “Texaco” in the Sky. This was a week into the air war and we owned the skies over Iraq. The crew was heading North/South along the border of Iran, in a twenty mile race track pattern. To keep radio chatter down, we tanked “M-Con” which means no communication at all. A jet would pull up to the right side of the KC 130, extending his probe and if everything worked out, a hose would supply him with gas.

Major D was in the left seat looking out the window, lost in thought as he always seems to be. The Navigator, a young Sergeant named Alders, was getting pretty frustrated. There was a strong wind from the West that was constantly blowing them off their track. Each time he pimped Major D. to turn to a certain heading, the pilot would snap off some smart ass comment, basically questioning if Sgt. Alders was providing good headings. After the fourth course correction, Major D. turned to the Navigator and pointing at his name tag, he said “Hey knucklehead, do you see these gold wings on my chest? I’m a God Damn Naval Aviator and I know how to fly a plane and make the proper corrections for drift.”

Well, that comment went over like a pregnant pole-vaulter with the Navigator who was just trying to do his job. He rolled his eyes when the Major turned back around and reaching for the brightness knob, turned his little black box down that told him where he was according to the internal navigation systems. This was the perfect time to get back to his book since the pilot just announced to the whole crew, the Nav wasn’t needed. The rest of the crew went back to looking out the windows or reading a book, waiting for the next customer to fly up.

An hour later, the cry of “Jet Tally-Ho Starboard side” brought the crew out of their trance. The Engineer released the hose on the right side and checked the pressure of the line. “O.K., hose is good, flash him a green light.” Lance Corporal Holister sitting on the small square seat attached to the paratroop door flashed the F-14 out of his window a green light. The jet crew pulled up closer and then extended their gas probe, beginning a series of poorly aimed jabs at the twenty seven inch diameter basket attached to the hose. Holister, shook his head as he watched, this pilot was horrible and after ten minutes, was still not plugged in. He then pulled out his little country flag identifier and started to take a closer look at the F-14. This wasn’t a US Navy plane and he didn’t recognize the flag on the side of the tail. Holister deselected everyone on the Intercom except for the Engineer and keyed his mike. “Hey Gunny, if you have a second, could you come back here?”

Gunny Lewis deselected his communications panel so that his conversation was between just the two of them. “What’s up back there?” Holister, repeated his request but in a very tense voice. Gunny Lewis leaned in between the two pilots and told them that he had to step in the back to check something out. Climbing off the flight deck he had to turn sideways to fit between the large gas tank in the cargo bay of the plane and the walls of the plane. Making his way to the rear of the plane he approached Holister who was holding the country flag page out to the Gunny and pointing to the plane, his brows all bunched up in deep concentration. Gunny lifted up his headset and Holister yelled “Hey Gunns, where is this plane from, I don’t recognize the flag at all.”

The Gunny looked at the F-14 who had finally plugged into the hose, looked at the flag on the tail and down at the book in hand and back up at the jet. Holister couldn’t hear what the Gunny said, but figured it was pretty important when his headset was unplugged and replaced by the Gunny’s who selected the Navigators position. “Hey Alders, where the hell are we?” Sgt. Alders put his book down and keyed his mike. “Why don’t you ask the Pilot? He’s a God damn Naval Aviator and knows his location at all times.” This wasn’t the time to piss the Gunny off and with the next bark of his voice had Alders reaching over and turning his magic box back up. Consulting his charts and looking at the position of the plane according to the INS, he keyed his mike with his right hand “Shit Gunny, we’re about fifteen miles over the border into Iran.”

The Engineer ran back up to the front of the plane and plugged into his ICS, “Sir” tapping Major D. on the right shoulder, “That is an Iranian F-14 back there taking gas from us. I STRONLY suggest that we turn left and slowly drag this guy back over the border. The Hercules, slowly made a gentle left hand turn West bound towards the border with the crew wondering if they would get shot down for this. They figured that since the Iranians hated the Iraqi’s, this guy probably wouldn’t waste a missile on the KC 130, but who knows.

As the invisible border sled underneath the plane, the F-14 backed out of the hose and pulled up next to the right wing, he rocked his wings and gave an “O.K.” sign before rolling over and departing to the East. He seemed pretty happy that he was able to get his refueling qualification back for free from the Americans. I don’t think the Herk crew listed that buno number from the side of the fighter that day when the final tallies were recorded for the number of jets fueled. Lesson learned, much like when your wife is navigating in the car, if the Nav says turn left… turn left, they are always right, mostly.
Semper Fi,