Okinawa Prison (Part 4)

Now last time I wrote about Okinawa, there were a lot of rules and implementations that had to be followed. The protocol here was a lot more strict since we were in another country and the threat condition was always in high alert. The garrison here to say the least was in full throttle and Marines would constantly get harassed for not cutting their hair on Sunday, having chipped chevrons, having Irish pennants, having a five o’clock shadow at 0500 before a PT run. Marines would even get charged if they had white socks in their boots. Marine Corps life on Okinawa was all about looks and detail and physical fitness.

 

There was also one thing in Okinawa that wasn’t really mentioned, enforced or corrected. There was a high case of RHIP (Rank Has it’s Privilege). On Okinawa if you were E-3 and below you were the equivalent of a slave that made the pyramids of Giza. If you were an NCO you were like a politician. SNCO’s were like kings and queens. And Officers were like the god’s that were worshiped. One thing that I don’t mind when following rules is when the one’s enforcing them set the example. What I do have a problem with is the one’s that are supposed to set the example do the total opposite and break the rules right in front of you, but they expect it to be okay due to the fact that they had the rank and the privilege. Don’t Marines lead by example? Does not the term “steel sharpens steel” take effect when telling Marines not to underage drink, have females in the barracks, be out past curfew?

 

In my company, the kings (NCO’s) were a handful, but a handful that knew how to use it’s power to the fullest. I’ll introduce you to them, our platoon Sergeant, lets call him Sgt. Burn, was a Marine that spent his whole career in division and knew how to fuck with Marines and punish them. The other Sergeant was Sgt. Nazi, this Sergeant was not stupid, he was quite intelligent. But like a lot of Marines wanting to show off their power, he was a burn happy Sergeant that would use his intellect to catch you doing something illegal and burn you to the stake for it (kind of like he was hoping to catch you). We had Cpl. Asshole, this Marine was a big rule breaker and he just got busted down from Sergeant for cheating on his wife and he was on a mission to burn Marines. The other three Corporals were Cpl. Lovehandles, this Corporal was a piece of work as he was a fat body that could not PT for shit, but yet he was trying to make up for his lack of fitness with being extremely anal retentive and looking for dirt in your room. And  you had Cpl. Briggs, this Marine was a true hater, a southern redneck, and a true to heart racist. And not to forget we had Cpl. DirtySanchez, this Marine was an underage NCO that would constantly underage drink and be off base past midnight constantly.

 

Rule breaking was very common in Okinawa. For example Sgt. Burn would have his Japanese girlfriend spend the nights in his barracks room constantly (that was against the rules). Sgt. Nazi would constantly be hazing his Marines and making them do stupid shit like IP their uniforms on the weekends, work through chow, he would fuck his female Marine girlfriend in the barracks (illegal) and would constantly have liquor in his room (illegal). Cpl. Asshole would put his hands on Marines when they were drunk, and he would go to other barracks of nearby companies to fuck their female Pfc’s and Lcpl’s (also illegal, something about fraternization or some shit) and he would constantly barge in junior Marine’s rooms without permission and start shit. Cpl. Lovehandles was a piece of work. This guy was fat as fuck and he would always be in trouble with the company higher ups because he would not lose weight and he looked like crap in his uniforms (not trying to sound motard, but he looked shitty) and he would fall out of every single PT run (again not leading by example). Cpl. Dirtysanchez was a 20 year old Marine that would always hang out with his best friend who was a Lclp. (again fraternization) and they would always go out in town and underage drink, stay past midnight and bring their girls back to the barracks with liquor bottles. And finally, my favorite was Cpl. Briggs, we knew to stay away from this guy, especially if you were not white (I am of Latin descent ) as he was always plotting a way to get you in trouble to burn you, not to correct you, but simply to hurt you. Especially if you were a minority.

 

One thing I noticed as I got to this shady unit was how all of the NCO’s had their preference when dealing with junior Marines. They had their little buddies. They had their little pets. If you were a woman, then automatically you were on their good side as they viewed you as someone that can give them something (sex). I noticed that all the rules of not underage drinking were being broken all the time. I would constantly see these pets (preferred juniors) drunk, and underage. I would constantly see these people partying in the pavilion and drinking with each other. I would constantly see Marines (junior and senior) jump the fence after midnight with their Japanese girlfriend’s.

 

As a little background about myself, I am of Latin descent. In my culture we like to drink from time to time. I grew up like that. When I joined the MarineCorps my alcoholism increased due to the stress and always watching people around you drinking and having fun. When I got to Okinawa I was 19 and strictly ordered not to drink. But it is hard to do especially when you see people stumbling down the hallway with a bottle of Jim Beam in one hand. It was hard to do when you would walk down the hallway and you would see Marines holding another Marine upside down while he’s drinking from a keg and everyone is shouting “chug, chug, chug!” I couldn’t take it anymore and thought to myself, “well, if he can do it, then I can do it.”

 

I was bored on one of the few days off that we had and I decided to go visit another Marine in another barracks. This Marine was of age and he pulled out a bottle of liquor and offered me a drink so that we could have a conversation heart to heart. After the bottle was finished I was tired enough to go back to my barracks room and go to sleep at around 2130. I made it up to the fourth deck, into my room, into my rack and I went to sleep.

 

Cpl. Asshole had a problem that day. I think Cpl. Asshole’s ex wife (Mrs. Asshole) gave him a wrong phone call or a wrong letter and he was hurt. Cpl. Asshole was drunk as a skunk as well and he was on a mission to destroy Marines with his wrath. Cpl. Asshole started going down the hallways drop kicking doors open to start shit with junior Marines, he would “Spartan kick” the doors wide open and make Marines that were watching T.V., playing video games, reading etc. To stop what they were doing, stand at parade rest and recite the general orders. If Marines failed to recite all of the orders they were ordered to fielday, get in their Charlies, do push ups etc.

 

My room was the last one on the deck and my room was going to eventually get kicked open and we were going to get fucked with. Now I don’t know how you guy’s react to being rudely awakened after a couple of shots of hard liquor but it is not fun. You are distorted and cannot think very well. Kind of like a bad dream. My other roommates were not in the room at the time and I was sound asleep in my bed. “BOOM!” Was the sound that I heard in my half awake, half asleep state of mind. “GET THE FUCK UP PFC!” Is what I remember hearing. I thought I was in a bad dream and could not properly respond to a stranger in the dark. “STAND AT FUCKING PARADE REST!” Is what I heard in the concoction of words with a southern accent. “YOU’RE COMING WITH ME!” Is the last thing I understood.

 

So what happened was Cpl. Asshole kicked my door open and he saw that I did not wake up immediately. He proceeded to keep screaming at me and kicked me in the back and I still did not wake up. When I finally woke up he saw that I was drunk and then he decided to play “Marine” this time. He told me to get dressed. He didn’t walk me to the Sergeant. He didn’t walk me to the duty NCO at the bottom of the barracks. No, he told me to get dressed, he took me outside of the barracks and walked me straight the whole two miles to Battalion with the Staff Duty SNCO to get me documented for underage drinking and get me NJP’d. He took me to where the “birdman” worked. He took me to a Staff Sergeant that just got off the drill field and was wearing a crisp, clean high and tight. Cpl. Asshole wanted to make sure that I got burned to the stake.

 

Stay tuned for part 5 of my Okinawa Prison when I saw Col. Maximus and got the ultimate punishment. The deared and feared  NinJaPunch on Okinawa.

Broken Down, But Never Built Back Up

I know my grammar might not be great but I’m not really worried about that right now. I spent 8 months in Boot Camp, watched my original platoon graduate without me, and it feels that I haven’t really moved on from boot camp.

I joined in 2006 and the first week of boot camp I don’t remember taking a shit, the first time I ever pissed in my bed while sleeping, and just felt terrorized. I got through the first say 3 weeks and I got sick with pneumonia and didn’t wake up with the rest of the platoon on time. The DI shoved me off the top rack and I hit the floor, went to the hospital, and got dropped and put into MRP. From then on I got sick multiple time with bronchitis and pneumonia back and forth because I was around it all the time. The 3rd month I was called to clean on the other side of the parade deck, and that’s where I got to watch my platoon and the company while cleaning the windows.

Shortly after I was placed in a company just before going Phase 2. I had gotten pneumonia again a couple weeks after being with that company. Dropped again, got better, and joined another. During our physical training I had touched my face and 4 DI’s came over and started screaming in my face, I couldn’t understand what they were saying at all, was being spit in my face by all of them, burning my eyes and dangling from my chin with pain in my inner ear from the volume. I remember after doing a run with our gear on I slipped and fell on the stairs, a DI grabbed me pulled me up to our barracks, and I was forced to drink water from a disgusting canteen over and over again. I couldn’t drink anymore and threw it up all over the place in the middle of the DI highway where I was. I had to clean it up and by that time the day was over, needless to say I had 3 night watches that night. I woke up and started getting dressed and a DI came over and slammed my head into the metal rack. I was punched in the gut I would say 3 or 4 times in my time there, I’m talking full punches with their arm swung back all the way.

Anyways I got through Phase 2 and got dropped again for bronchitis. I just didn’t have any will left, I was depressed and I just felt like I couldn’t got on anymore. Then I got a infected ingrown toenail and before lights out when the DI’s inspect you he saw it and put his heel on my toe and pushed down. He asked if that hurt and I said no with tears coming out of my eyes, I later was taken to the hospital where they put 3 shots in my toe to numb it before taking it out. The guy took some scissors and started cutting down the middle and I screamed with pain cuz I could still feel, after 3 more shots it was removed. I got back with another company and finished phase 3 without my blue’s because something was going on I don’t know I was never told. During the ceremony I never felt better, I never felt like I accomplished anything. I have never said Oorah because I just never wanted to, even when people say it to me nowadays. I regret ever going and I wish it never happened. My toe nail grows with a space in between the nail and it just reminds me of the pain everyday. I’m not saying that I got it worse or better, this is just what happened to me.

After boot camp the hazing never stopped and eventually I did a tour in Iraq. We returned to Iowa, and I never went back, I quit. I was given an Other than Honorable Discharge. I wrote this because someone got in my face yesterday and I just had a breakdown, so I had to get this out somehow. Thanks for reading and excusing my writing skills…

 

Submitted by “Michael Power”

My worst experience in the MC was training.

I have to say by far my worst experience was in the Marine Corps was the training. All the way from basic to my job school, after that it was pretty chill once I hit the fleet but still had to deal with some stupid bullshit. I still have nightmares about my horrible experience at boot camp at the hands of other recruits, all because I got dropped for an injury and had to pick up with another platoon halfway through. From the first day I was bullied and later got jumped in the shower room after they wanted to “talk” because I didn’t get tasks done fast enough, after that me and others who had picked up with me (they experienced the same things I did) and did everything in our power to get the platoon fucked up on purpose until the drill instructors caught on to what we were doing and left us alone. At the end I personally told the ones I hated most that I hoped that if I ever saw them again they would pay.

At MCT I got my chance, while there one of the assholes that was in my basic platoon was in the same unit I was. I mostly avoided him the whole time but on the last hump he found me and started the same bullshit trying to bully me, I was too busy helping my friends to grind on to pay any attention to him. However on the cool down march the way back to the barracks he started making fun of the fact I was tired (who wasn’t after so many miles?). Finally I had had enough and unslung my rifle from my shoulder and slammed my rifle butt into his face knocking his ass to the ground, not caring who saw it. I was just happy with the fact I got my revenge but the best part was my sergeant saw and heard the whole thing. He separated us and told the other guy to pick himself up and that was the end of it. No NJP, no repercussions and I never saw that prick again but man it felt good!

Submitted by: TP

Questions To Ask Your Recruiter

Here on iHateTheUSMC.com we’ve quite often potential recruits come to this site saying something to the effect of “I’m thinking about joining the marines, is it really worth it?”. We’ve also had a few “motivated” marines come here saying “If you want to hear what the marine corps is really like, don’t come to a site called “iHateTheUSMC”! Go get a balanced opinion!” While I think our site does a pretty good job of being balanced and truthful, I agree that you shouldn’t have to just take our word for it.

To that end, I’ve compiled this list of questions that any potential recruit for any branch of the military should ask their recruiter before joining. I’ve organized the questions by category; however, be advised that there are some questions that overlap and could fit into multiple categories. Also, with many of the questions (especially #4) the actual answer your recruiter gives you is less important than the way your recruiter behaves while answering. If he’s visibly struggling to answer some questions (i.e. #13 and it’s Follow-up Questions) the odds are pretty good that he knows that the corps messed up, so he was going to paint a one-sided picture and get you to enlist based on propaganda instead of fact. The moral of the story, pay close attention both to what your recruiter says, and how he says it.

That  being said, here’s a list of some questions you can ask your recruiter (from any branch) to help you make your decision:

Questions About The Quality of People In The Marine Corps:

1. “There are two predominant images of marines in popular culture: They’re either swashbuckling womanizers that drink a lot or they are disciplined and elite shock troops that hone their craft of war-fighting all the time. They can’t be both of these, so which is it?”
2. “I’ve heard  that more marines die each year from vehicle accidents than from gunfire. Why is that?”
3. “Is it true that most people join the marine corps for patriotic service, but remain in for financial security?”
4. “Are female marines girlfriend/wife material?”
[Note: This is one the cases where the literal answer to your question doesn’t matter. The point of this question is to see if your recruiter turns into a sexist POS when asked about female marines. If so, I think you’ve learned all you need to know about the type of people in the marine corps.]
5. “Why is the divorce rate in the marine corps so much higher than that of other branches?”
6. “What is a motard?”
7. “Is it true that marines don’t steal? Then why are marines required to keep their doors locked, and the wall lockers inside their rooms padlocked? Who are they trying to keep out if it’s not other marines?”
8. “When I get out of boot camp, how many times a day will I hear my superiors complaining about the good old days in the “Old Corps” when they didn’t need to try to be a good leader because they could just beat the shit out of anyone who didn’t perform to their standards?”
9. “Is it true that it’s harder to be kicked out of boot camp than it is to graduate?”
Follow-up Questions: “Is it true that you have three chances to pass any boot camp graduation requirement before you’ll even be dropped back a week in training?” “Is it true that – if you injure yourself – you can be kept in a medical rehabilitation platoon (MRP) for a year until you recover enough to be put back into training?” “Is it true that you don’t actually have to complete any of the obstacles in the Crucible in order to graduate? Is it really the case that, if you don’t get severely injured, you’ll automatically pass?” “Is it true that your D.I.’s will do anything in their power to prevent you from being kicked out, even if you clearly don’t want to be there, clearly aren’t a good fit for the marine corps, and are consistently failing graduation requirements?” “What does it say about the quality of people in the marine corps, that many marines are being forced to continue even though they lost interest back in boot camp? Is that really a recipe for an elite force? Or is it more a recipe for a mediocre force of people who are trying to make the best of it, but would rather be anywhere else than in the marine corps?”

Questions About Life In The Marine Corps:

10. “How will I be treated as a new-join after boot camp? I’ll be treated with dignity and respect right? The normal rules of decency and adult behavior will still apply, right? I ask this because I’d like to be sure that I’ll be treated like a first-class citizen.”
11. “Once I get to the fleet it’s a normal 8-4 job right? I won’t ever have to work weekends, right? I won’t ever have to wake up at 5:00 in the morning just to go running would I? How often would I have to  wake up early and/or work on a weekend?”
12. “I understand that as the new guy I’ll usually be tasked to some of the less glamorous jobs in the corps, but they’ll at least be meaningful jobs right? I won’t be called up to the Battalion office because the Sgt Maj is too lazy to take out his own trash right?”
13. “What is a Weekend Safety Brief?”
Follow-up Questions: “Will I really be expected to stand there every Friday afternoon as my Commanding Officer tells me ‘wear you seatbelt, don’t drink and drive, don’t rape people… etc’?” “Will I really be expected to fill out an ‘ORM worksheet’ where I tell my command what  I plan to do this weekend, what the potential hazards are, and how I plan to mitigate those risks?” “Will I really have to have a superior inspect my car every Friday before I’m allowed to leave?” “Will some units actually expect me to sign a piece of paper stating that I won’t kill myself over the weekend before I’m allowed to be released from work?” “Why is it necessary to have such a paperwork circus performed every Friday afternoon? Is it that marines are conditioned to forgo their common sense to such an extent that they need to be reminded on a regular basis not to do anything stupid over the weekend?”
14. “What is a Safety Stand Down? Will I really have to sit through a PowerPoint presentation every year where my superiors explain that raping people is bad?”
15. “I’ve heard that they will take the money for meals at the Mess Hall directly out of my paycheck each month. So I am assuming that I’ll be guaranteed the opportunity to go eat those meals, since I already paid for them, right?”
16. “I like to put my hands in my pockets from time to time. Will that be a problem in the Marine Corps? What if I’m just standing there, not walking around?”
17. “If I get sick overnight and ask my supervisor to go to medical the next morning, is he going to ridicule me merely because I require medical attention?”
18. “If I wanted to bring a guest to visit me in the barracks, will there be restrictions? Am I allowed to bring people of the opposite sex into my room?”
19. “Will I get my own room in the barracks? How many roommates might I have? Roughly how big are the rooms? A rough estimate is fine.”
20. “I understand that the marine corps has a strict underage drinking policy, but once I’m 21, is the amount of alcohol I keep in my room going to be limited or restricted in any way?”
21. “I understand that I will be held accountable for my inevitable mistakes, and I agree with that, but is everyone around me going to be held accountable for my inevitable mistakes as well? Conversely, will I be held accountable for mistakes that others make, even though I couldn’t possibly have prevented them?”

Questions About The Marine Corps As An Institution:

22. “Aside from boot camp and the cool uniforms, why is the Marine Corps better than the other branches? Be specific. I stopped playing with my GI Joes over 10 years ago have no desire to fulfill any boyhood fantasies or play soldier. Are they smarter? Is their technology better? Is there greater retainment on account of more variety in their career options? What is it, EXACTLY?”
23. “How is “Hazing” defined by the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice)? Will my supervisors in the fleet find ways to bend the rules prohibiting hazing?”
24. “I’ve heard that it’s illegal for marines to take reprisals against a marine for Requesting Mast (reporting problems to the Commanding Officer and asking that they be fixed). Is that enforced, or will my superiors use intimidation and the threat of retaliation to prevent me from (or punish me for) reporting wrongdoings to my Commanding Officer?”
25. “Since the marine corps is a military institution, am I correct in assuming that all necessary deployment-related gear will be issued to me free of cost? I won’t be required to purchase a bunch of gear like ear-plugs, parachute chord, a rape whistle, an assortment of batteries, or a giant safety pin, right? If I need it, it’ll be given to me and that’s it, right?”
26. “What is the quality of healthcare provided by the USMC? Is it true that a Navy Corpsman’s (medic’s) job doesn’t translate to any civilian medical career?”
27. “Do we get hazard pay for working around hazardous material?”
28. “Drilling and marching formations were a crucial component of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, but now they’re completely obsolete. When I get to the fleet, am I going to hear some SNCO screaming at the top of his lungs about cover and alignment in a PT formation?”
29. “Reveille, Taps, and Mess Call used to be very important in signaling that it is time to wake up, time to eat, and time for lights out respectively; but in this age of alarm clocks and wristwatches, they’re also completely obsolete. When I get to the fleet will I really have to hear Reveille and Taps play every single day at 5:30 am and 10:00 pm respectively, and Mess Call played every single day at 6:00 am, 11:00 am, and 5:00 pm to the point where hearing those bugle calls becomes absolutely ear-shattering?”

Questions About Promotion:

30. “I’ve heard that Proficiency and Conduct Markings play a large role in being promoted to the ranks of Corporal and Sergeant. How familiar are SNCO’s and Officers with the guidelines for assigning these markings? Are the guidelines rigidly adhered to, or is the system that determines pro/con marks more based on whether I suck up to my superiors?”
31. “I’ve heard that my Rifle score and Physical/Combat Fitness scores also play a pretty big role in being promoted to Corporal and Sergeant. Does the marine corps have a system in place to make sure that they’re putting bright, intelligent, leaders into high ranking positions, or can any idiot become a Sgt Maj as long as he can do enough pull-ups?”
32. “I’ve heard that you have to take several Marine Corps Institute (MCI) courses (such as Leading Marines, Warfighting Tactics, Basic Grammar, etc) with proctored exams, prior to being promoted to Corporal and Sergeant  to try to prevent complete idiots from becoming NCOs. Is it true that everyone cheats on the tests by taking them in their rooms, with the book in front of them? Is it true that you couldn’t  even get a proctor if you asked your unit for one, because the unit is so used to turning a blind eye to cheating that they don’t even have an MCI proctor?”
33. “The promotion system is exactly the same for every Marine, right? How does the promotion system change?”

Questions About Your Superiors:

34. “Since the marine corps puts so much emphasis on leadership, am I correct in assuming that senior marines are very capable, competent, and efficient leaders who are able to easily adapt to any situation?”
Follow-up Questions: “My superiors wouldn’t prevent me from wearing cold weather gear during winter on the grounds that it was colder in winters of the Korean war right?” “My superiors wouldn’t order me to move entire pallets of gear by hand when there are a dozen forklifts sitting right in the heavy equipment lot on the grounds that ‘We didn’t use forklifts to move gear when I was a PFC!’ right?” “Since leaders in marine corps are so efficient, I won’t usually be sitting there with nothing to do all morning, and then have so much work levied on me in the afternoon that I will be stuck at work well into the evening, right?”
35. “Since I’m always being told how I’ll be serving my country, and protecting freedom, I should go to bed each night with a sense that I’ve really accomplished something right? I won’t feel like my biggest transferable job skill is adeptness at being a janitor, right? I won’t have days – or in fact whole weeks – where I don’t accomplish anything except mindless busy work, right?
36. “Since I’m younger, and less experienced, my seniors will handle most of the more hazardous jobs initially, right? I can be certain that I won’t be placed in harm’s way, such as the pointman of a fireteam as soon as I enter the fleet, right? They’ll at least make sure that I’ve had the chance to learn by observing more experienced marines first, right?”

Questions About Cleaning:

37. “How long does Field Day (weekly barracks cleaning) usually last in the fleet? 1 hour? 3 hours? 6+ hours?
Follow-up Question: “What’s the longest you’ve ever spent cleaning?”
38. “Will I really have NCO’s telling me that cleaning my window sill with a Q-tip will make me better prepared for combat?”
39. “Can I really be denied my weekend if someone decides that my room isn’t clean enough for their standards (fails inspection)?”
Follow-up Questions: “Can my room really fail inspection if I have water in my sink? If there’s water in my shower? If there’s trash in my trash can? If the edges of my rug aren’t duct taped to the floor?
40. “I don’t smoke. Since the marine corps is all about being responsible for yourself, I won’t be ordered to walk around the barracks and pick up all of the smokers’ cigarette butts right?”
41. “A marine on Barracks Duty won’t wake me up on a Saturday morning to pick up cigarette butts, or mop the floor, right?”
42. “How long does cleaning the shop take at the end of the day? Just an estimate will be fine. A half of an hour, maybe? Or are we talking about 4 or 5 hours of cleaning and re-cleaning the same spot over and over again until the 1st Sgt releases us to barely make it to the Mess Hall in time for dinner? That’s a direct question, and I’m asking you to give me a straight answer because I don’t like wasting my time.”

Questions About Your Recruiter’s Experience:

43. “Are you a happy individual?”
44. “Would you please describe your worst day in the Corps? You can’t possibly be this optimistic all the time. It makes me think you’re not being completely honest.”
45. “Do you have a quota of marines you need to enlist? How many people do you have to enlist? What happens if you don’t make your quota?”

Bonus Questions Just To Troll Your Recruiter:

46.”So . . . when did you slay your first dragon? Do you get another dragon every time you get promoted or is that a one-time deal?”
47. “On some days, when you wake up, are you ever reminded of your slave status by seeing that ridiculous haircut in the mirror?”
48. “Why do I get the feeling that you’re completely full of shit and that if I’m not careful I could make a serious error by believing you?”
49. “Why is it that most times when I see a Marine, he’s very excited about something but has no idea what’s going on or why he’s there? He reminds me of a puppy – a very excited but clueless puppy. Am I going to be trained to behave that way?”

Bonus Question – The Integrity Test:

50. Sit down to the table with your recruiter, take out a voice recorder, set it on the table in plain view, and turn it on.  Ask your recruiter any questions you like (They don’t have to be from this list, they can be any questions you want). At the end of your interview, turn to your recruiter and say “Since the marine corps is all about honor and integrity, my last question is as follows: If I join the marine corps based on what you tell me here today, and it turns out that you’ve lied to me, and the marine corps doesn’t live up to its reputation, can I be separated in 72 hours, and will you put this in writing?” As far as the marine corps is concerned, if you don’t get it in writing, it didn’t happen. So if your recruiter won’t get it put in writing, the he has no reason to be honest with you.

Think about it, if there are absolutely no repercussions if either the recruiter or the marine corps, lie to you, or fail to live up to its image, then what incentive does the recruiter have to be honest? If he won’t put it in writing then why would you think he was being honest? If the marine corps doesn’t allow such repercussions for failing to live up to its image, what is there preventing it from abusing you and deliberately putting you in unnecessary danger?

If you ask your recruiter some or all of the questions listed here, you will likely go in to the marine corps (or stay out of the marine corps) having a much better knowledge of what will be waiting for you in the fleet.  There will probably always be marines offering their experience on iHateTheUSMC.com, but as I said above, don’t take our word for it, go ask your recruiter.

Safety and Peace

The Sand Castle Blues, Part 5- Yut-Yut Midshipman


[People I know are in this picture. I am not in this, that or I can’t pick myself apart from all the knobs. Pretty common problem actually.]

And now we get to the article you have all been waiting for,  where I break down the Citadel’s NROTC program! Going for a commission via NROTC is considered the wiser, safer, less horseshit way of becoming a US Marine, versus just enlisting. Other than going to OCS or PLC, it’s the most popular route to a commission. Now, units and lifestyle vary. Someone who went to Partyville State Bro college is not gonna have exactly the same type of midshipman experience I did, for obvious reasons. But the doctrine and scope of training is the same, so here’s my perspective on things.

As stated before, I went to the Citadel with an NROTC, Marine option scholarship. I was therefore a midshipman in the naval reserve, paid a lovely 250 dollar stipend each month along with a book allowance and tuition paid for. I was one of 8 freshmen to get in with this, and we were given a ribbon to wear on our uniforms with an EGA on it. Your feeling of accomplishment and distinction goes away when you recall what I’ve said in previous articles about standing out at a school like the Citadel. Having that ribbon makes you a target, makes it easier for upperclassmen to pick you out and pick on you, whether out of jealousy for your scholarship or because they are service snobs and don’t like Marines. Even though I earned that ribbon, cadre would punish me for uniform imperfection by ordering me to take it off. Upperclass who were midshipmen heard about this and told me to disregard such orders, as well as not bracing while in Marine Corps issued uniforms. It was an unresolved back and forth between Marine uppers and non marine contracts, wasn’t much I could do about it.

All cadets with a scholarship(often referred to as a contract) are in ROTC, but not all cadets in ROTC are contracting. If you aren’t going for a contract, it is just a one credit hour class, and a fairly easy one. Death by powerpoint, and the tests are easy as hell. We spent a month worth of classes watching some british mini series about the royal navy, and even though they turned the lights off, the navy LT who taught my class would get on you for trying to get some needed sleep during the movie.

If you have to commission, and it has to be the Citadel, do it as an enlisted MECEP. From what I understood, they didn’t have to be knobs, or live on campus as part of the Corps of Cadets.  All they had to deal with was classes, and typical Marine Corps bs.

If you are a MECEP,contract or wanting one, you have to be involved in the NROTC’s so called “Marine Contingent”.  It’s organized as a company with five platoons, each from a different SCCC battallion. Its chain of command muddies the water with the Corps of Cadets. A guy who has no position in the Corps might be a platoon leader in the marine unit, for instance. Our contingent 1st Sergeant was also my cadre CO.

Being in the contingent required your participation in 3 PT sessions a week at 0500, which  earned you minor scorn back at battalion from knobs who were still sweeping galleries while you took a shower after PT. Every thursday from 4 till before dinner mess(if lucky) you had a “lab”, where the unit formed up on the parade field and usually did something physical or had a class on land nav and formations, Physical activities ranged from fun stuff, like obstacle/endurance courses, to hum drum like CFT’s. We also went on conditioning hikes with packs, I forget how much weight it was but it was heavy as hell. Upperclassmen had priority when getting issued the more ergonomical and newer gear, I had some old BDU color pack thing from the 80’s. The army rucked more than us, but their gear was either a lot better designed or they didn’t carry as much on their backs. When hiking they also seemed a lot less supervised and like they were going on a nice little stroll, objectively speaking we humped harder than they did.

The closest we recieved to tactical training was low budget to say the least. We learned how to give covering fire and advance in groups of two(I’m up-they see-me I’m down- type shit), while wielding imaginary rifles and making gun noises with our mouths.  We once did squad formations, also with imaginary weapons, and very rarely we pulled out rubber duck m16’s. I would see the army guys training at the same time as us, they always had really cool looking rubber guns, they even had eastern bloc replica weapons and RPG’s and would set up make shift bunkers with camo netting. It always looked like they had the money to do stuff we wanted to do but had to play pretend with. We once learned room clearing, where the walls  and boundaries of rooms were denoted by ropes on the grass laid out in squares. Real exciting stuff.

Occasionally we would have a classroom instruction period during lab before we put skills into practice. These usually consisted of some motivator sergeant or corporal, MECEPs most likely, giving us a powerpoint about squad and fireteam formations or about land nav.  These marines had the impression that we were probably not very smart or able to focus on something for more than a few minutes at a time. They would make deprecating jokes about how this was all boring and hard but we had to bear with it, as if it was calculus or something. They would have us stand up and stretch every 15-20 minutes. I was, you know, a college student, and didn’t have a problem sitting still and taking notes. I don’t get why everyone else would, but sure enough even college officer candidates live up to the stereotype of the dumb, muscular marine who isn’t book smart.

The land nav classes in particular were a huge let down for me, because they were EXACTLY the same as the ones I had done for four years in JROTC. Exactly the same outdated map of fort benning with the same locations to find, exact same powerpoint we used in high school.  At least I could say I knew what I was doing, unlike a lot of the clueless fellow officer candidates who were scratching their ape brains about azimuths and such.

One to three FTX exercises are held during semester. They take up one to three days. Mine was 2 days and a night bivouac in Charleston Naval Weapons Station in september. Pictures of FTX on the contingent’s website sold me the most on going to the Citadel over other schools, so I was surprised to find out I hated every second of it. We built fighting holes, rucked like 9 miles, did a landnav exercise. It rained and was miserable, I had at least an inch deep puddle of sweat in my boots at one point, how humid it was.

The culture of the ROTC unit is a lot less hostile than in the SCCC. 4th class system isn’t in effect during training, so its the only time upperclassmen don’t make you act like a retard and treat you like a person. The Marine officer instructors(MOI and AMOI, latter is an SNCO, gunnies usually) were professional and polite. But being in a Marine Corps environment, I did witness some of the stupidity described by others on this site. Our unit platoon sergeant got racked out by some motivator NCO, and so he came to us and in his most exasperated sarcasm, apologized for being such a horrible leader. That he would fail to set the example by having missed a notch on his belt or some such, he had lapsed in his integrity, he hoped we would all forgive him for being such a poor example and shaming the Marine Corps and the Citadel.

A few stories for you of douchebaggery. I always figured it was the Citadel’s culture contaminating the unit, but knowing what I do now, the Marine Corps is certainly capable of negative experiences such as these:
During a timed 3 mile run, I did what I was wont to do in cross country in high school. As people started catching up to me or passing me, this would motivate me to push it and speed back up to beat them. One particular motard saw this and racked me out for doing it, something like ” Oh hey bitch you’re not gonna put out all the way when people aren’t around huh”. Another time we were running on a track. We had a motto in cross country, “finish strong”. I would pour out whatever was left in me for the last leg of the journey. My unit squad leader yelled at me for doing this, saying I should have been running that hard the entire time. Well, shoot, maybe next time I will just not bother to put in all my effort, so no one can accuse me of holding out by being totally unexceptional . What the fuck.

The biggest blow to my opinion of fellow midshipman came at the end of FTX. As we waited for hours for the bus to come pick us up and take us back to school, we were given lunch  in the outer part of Naval Weapons station,and it was pretty chill. I decided I would do something nice, and take my trash and that of others to the dumpster on the fence, across the way. When I came back, all the upperclass midshipman jumped on me for walking a hundred feet away by myself without a battle buddy, even though I was in plain view the entire time. In an instant my fellow midshipmen reverted to being Citadel upperclass, and I was a stupid knob.  Back and forth, I heard “who the fuck is that?”,” is that knob gaudy”? ” doesn’t that knob have a contract”” ” I cant believe they give nasties like him scholarships, what bullshit”. The culmination of all my frustration was in this moment, it was rock bottom for me in terms of morale.

To change gears slightly, my experience being at the Citadel and in the marine unit was a constant realization that everything I had planned my life around, everything I thought about who I was and my mission in life, was completely wrong. It was a destruction of my self image and my imagined dreams. The first week I stood up and was made to swear the oath. Every word felt like a lie, and I didn’t understand what the hell was wrong with me.

When in training or in academic buildings, fellow midshipmen were still full motard. They proudly joked about being yut yuts, oorah marine corps this and that.  In high school I was much the same. I realized then that I had been trying to be something I saw on TV, something divorced from reality, and here I was surrounded by people who were still in fantasyland. They looked so absurd to me, and I couldn’t get myself back into their mentality. They took pride in being meatheaded neanderthals, and it offended me to be associated with them. It felt offensive for others to judge my intelligence based on my uniform.

The bloodthirsty cadences, I couldn’t sing along anymore because I was comprehending what we were saying. On the Marine Corps birthday we had 0500 spirit run, a staff sergeant had us sing “napalm sticks to kids”.  Corpsmen would give us lessons on tourniquets and field questions about injuries, and I found myself unwilling to listen to any of it.

When I was in high school I would look at myself in the mirror with my high and tight cut and say  “I am a United States Marine.” I would imagine myself in MCU’s or dress blues, older, stronger, perfect.It felt good, I was so sure it fit. But before labs at the Citadel, I would look at myself in the mirror, above a sink where I brushed my teeth and was made to urinate. Here I was, wearing MCU’s, or boots and utes,  just like I had always wanted. I no longer saw a marine in the mirror. I saw a skinny, tired 19 year old kid, wearing a hand me down uniform that was too big for me. I was wearing a costume, pretending to be something I wasn’t and doing a horrible job at it.  I had zilch in common with anyone, even less without a desire to commission. People resented that I had a full ride and a path to commission, yet wasn’t motivated or boss at anything. There was no longer any doubt. I didn’t want this, and I was getting out.

They try to really make it a pain in the ass for you to leave. You get counseled by multiple MOI’s, they try to guilt you into staying in, making you feel like if you leave, you will never accomplish anything else.  I felt like someone who actually was motivated deserved my scholarship, someone who didn’t have any qualms about it all. What good would I be to marines under my command if I didn’t believe in the mission, the organization, the culture, the war? No good,and thats the part no one counseling me seemed to understand.

If you get a 4 year scholarship out of high school, you don’t incur any financial obligation to the Department of the Navy until the start of sophomore year. I didn’t want to waste anymore taxpayer money or time, mine or the Marine Corps’s. I left after finals in the fall, and transferred to a school in the state where I was from. I dropped my scholarship, my career, an entire life I had been setting myself up for. I have turned a new corner in my life, but the experiences I have been through are still very much a part of me, they brought me to where I am now. It is for that reason that I sing the Sand Castle Blues, and I still have  a few stories left to tell, for my benefit, and for that of anyone who can be saved from making a big mistake with their lives.

[More stories from me and others about El Cid at http://brokengrayline.tumblr.com/ If you went there or know someone who did, and you didn’t fit in, you aren’t alone. You are among friends. Drop us a line]

The Sand Castle Blues, Part 4- One of the Boys


[Summerall Guards, named after General Charles P Summerall, Citadel President and West Point alum. Noticing a pattern? It is every toolbag’s wet dream to become a summerall guard. They get mentioned at mess announcements and people bang the tables, tradition.]

Before going to El Cid,my frame of reference for what my fellow cadets would be like came as a result of my interests, and experience meeting other prospective cadets at programs for other schools. See, I was a military nerd, in the sense that I would read Clausewitz’s “On War” and Grossman’s “On Killing” out of sheer interest, and I devoured anything about the campaigns of Napoleon, Marine Corps in the Pacific, etc. I believed in the military and war as a profession, which demanded all my attention and sobriety. At the same time, I had the impression that freshman training would be shenanigans all in good fun.

At West Point’s summer leadership camp between junior and senior year, I met students who were tops of their class, tons of extracurriculars and leadership activity, the kind of people who could get into an ivy league school on big scholarships just as easily as they could get accepted to a federal academy. I was top ten percent of my class, had risen to head of JROTC at my high school, and had a host of other trivial honors on my resume. I expected Citadel cadets to be of similiar quality. That they would also be serious, dedicated, ethical people who preferred to spend a saturday night in the library working for a 4.0, or doing practical training, rather than going out to get shitfaced and contract STD’s. I expected some diversity too I suppose.

At the beginning of Knob Year, we are all in the same boat, recieving the same culture shock and homesickness pangs. Consensus among my company classmates the first few weeks was that we had all made a huge mistake in coming here, and wished we could take it back. The progessive infringements made by upperclassmen, and their mentalities towards us and our training bothered many of us at first. But with time, most of them got over it, drank the kool aid, and got with the program. I never did, and as I began to get to know the people around me, I began to see what differentiated us.

I got to the Citadel as part of the honors program, and the people in it were like me as far as priorities. There were only 20-30 of us out of the freshmen class of over 700. I was astonished by how underwhelming the majority of cadets were. The school was ranked as being kind of exclusive about admissions, but I sure didn’t see it.

You truly can typecast the typical cadet. White, southern, good ol’ boy who partied a bit too much in high school, average or below average student. More than a few probably couldn’t hack more than a  semester at a typical college because they’d be getting drunk all the time and skipping class. A good minority of cadets are legacies, and thus were expected to go to El Cid and make daddy proud.

Asides the whole military thing, its basically a small liberal arts college, and so most are in shit easy majors like criminal justice, education, and business. Just the kind of person who can pour their time into putting out as a knob because they weren’t going to be doing school work anyway. Just the kind of person who would, as an upperclassmen, deal with boredom by tormenting the knobs as was done to them.

Cadets come to take a lot of pride in the Corps and in upholding the image they believe it has. They believe it great because of its dominant white male masculine image and the hazing that they endure. Obviously, this means it is not good to stand out, either in opinion or in deviation from this image. Being in South Carolina, there are still plenty of alums alive from the time of Jim Crow, and a few of my classmates were openly racist anytime there weren’t black people around. Black cadets know there are still whispers that they don’t belong there, lumped in with the stigma that many black cadets are there as athletes.

You are taught by upperclassmen to hate the shit out of Corps Squad Athletes. Why? Because athletes to them aren’t real cadets. Most of their time is spent in class or at practice, or in locker rooms. They are almost never in battalion, and are usually exempt from saturday morning inspections, parades, and miss most of the shenanigans. At the mess hall, they eat upstairs, separate from everyone else. They get as much to eat as they need and eat at the table like people, whereas we had to to abide by all these weird table manner rules and be tormented by mess carvers, getting little food. Having done sports in high school I know that college athletics is probably even more demanding, but at the Citadel athletes are treated like shitouts and outcasts, mainly out of jealousy. If I had to go there again and could resist the urge to hit someone this time around, I would go in as an athlete.

The people who have it the worst though are probably the female cadets. They make up less than 5 percent of the population, and have only been admitted since the late 1990’s. The first couple to try didn’t last long, had their uniforms lit on fire by their band of brothers in the corps. Toolbags from time ever after bitch and moan about how women have ruined the school and lowered all the standards and don’t belong there. When I was at the Citadel, we had the highest rate of reported sexual assault incidents out of all the military colleges. I remember being offended when our cadre noticed that my company class was entirely male that year, and they remarked on how great that was and how we should be damn proud of it. Misogyny towards women in general was in style. Another stupid tradition involved making seniors hats for thanksgiving out of whatever materials we had.Yeah, just as stupid as it sounds. And a few asked us to put pictures of naked women on their hats, and so the company got bitched out. Our Tac officer had to comment the obvious, that he shouldn’t have to tell us that doing that was offensive and wrong.

I should probably say a word or two about TAC officers. These guys are retired military who are technically in charge of the Corps at company to regimental level, and the cadets that run them. All military colleges have some equivalent, and they keep the cadet officers on varying degrees of leash as far as how much power and supervision they get. At the Citadel, cadets basically have free reign to run the corps. My company’s TAC was an Army Colonel, West Point alum, and had come to the same conclusion as me, that bad leadership was the norm and the aspiration. As a result, uppers hated him and taught us to hate him too, for trying to fix it, for not allowing them to really “toughen us up and mold us”. The amount of freedom cadets have to “lead” is both the school’s greatest selling point and curse.Power corrupts.

It comes as no surprise that cadets and cadet culture are morally lacking. Some of the most religiously, racially, politically, and sexually offensive sentiments I have ever heard are common speech. We have to follow an honor code, enforced entirely by a cadet honor court, that says we will not lie cheat steal or tolerate those who do. Omission is considered lying, and in general I would think that the lying clause violates your 5th amendment rights. You can be found guilty of hazing, intoxication, disorderly conduct, or be a fatass upperclassman who can’t PT, but only by being found guilty of violating honor code will you definitely be kicked out of the Citadel. Those other things will only get you anywhere from cons and tours to a semester’s expulsion, at worst. Way to produce leaders and maintain good behavior.

Speaking of intoxication, the long running joke is that the Citadel is a drinking school with a military problem. My upperclassmen were some of the highest functioning alcoholics I have ever seen.  Going on leave in  Charleston they did some combination of getting shitfaced and hitting on College of Charleston girls. Knobs on leave had the pathetic habit of hanging around Berry Dorm, in the hopes that the girls staying there might invite them up to rub genitals.Underage drinking amongst my classmates was prevalent, but when caught coming back from leave drunk, they wouldn’t get punished officially. Uppers would bitch them out, have us help them sober up by forcing them to hydrate. You can look at it two ways. One, they look out for us and teach us to look out for each other by not throwing the book at us. Or, cadets tolerate behavior that isn’t supposed to be acceptable, and in doing so, dilute the honor and integrity they supposedly have. It is preferable to go against reg and punish someone by hazing them, in their eyes, than it is to get them in trouble officially. Make of it what you will.

A month or more in to knob year and your cadre and upperclassmen have to varying degrees instilled in their charges a drive to conform, put out, and be liked by their peers and their upperclassmen, in the way an abused dog yearns for his masters approval. Motardedness( the term was toolbag, only upperclassmen used it though) of varying degrees is the standard. Biggest motards become roaches, guys who will get vouched for leadership positions next year. They get hazed extra, mainly by the sophomores.

The pantheon of toolbaggydom is the Summerall Guards, a senior drill team. If you want, look them up on youtube to see their faggy routine. Juniors who want to become summerall guards get to relive knob year, getting shaved heads again and being hazed by the seniors. There is NO SUPERVISION from TACS or anyone in the school admin for the sumerallguards. They have a rep in the Corps for being the most badass, obviously.

Being a shitbag and a shitout is more often an accusation, rarely is someone brave or irreverent enough to admit that they aren’t down with knob year and their company, declare themselves outcast.Snitches who rat on people for hazing get lumped in as well. In lieu of being fucked with on a physical level, when snitches mess up on something, their classmates get hazed or PT’d for them.The more motarded knobs will be instructed by cadre to fix their classmates, or take the initiative to do so themselves. I once heard one of my cadre tell the squad of knobs under him ” I don’t give a fuck how you fix classmate X, just don’t get caught”.
Another time on the weekend I sat next to knobs from 3rd battalion(3rd Reich as its popularly known), discussing how they needed to do something to fix their classmate, but just be careful it didn’t kill him.

To sum up,some like me were ignorant of the realities of life in the SCCC, and expected what was on the brochures about leadership and integrity and brotherhood. Others knew, but went anyway because of the prestige. Still others, wanted to be hazed, wanted to be fucked with and to fuck with people in turn. Most stay because they get it in their heads that quitting is the worst possible thing you could ever do. They can’t fathom the concept of changing your mind, changing course. They think quitting is the easy way out, yet I dropped a guaranteed job and college paid for to be free. Really,It is easier to just conform, and buy into a southern masochistic lifestyle where the only relief is to soak your sorrows in drinks and treat others like shit. To just bend over and let everyone tell you how to live, how to dress, how to think, who to haze. That’s how you become one of the boys. A Citadel Man, worthy of his ring.

The Sand Castle Blues Part 3-Nonmilitary Miseducation


[This is General Mark Clark, a president of the Citadel during the 60’s. Among motards there is a delusional fantasy that when he was in charge of the school the 4th class sytem’s hazing served some sort of POW/SERE purpose. It’s pure hogwash. Also, he graduated from WEST POINT, not El Cid.]

In the past two articles I touched on the dubious highlights of being a Knob at the Citadel, and how they haze and indoctrinate you to be a defender of the 4th class system and the Corps’ values.  But even granted that I would eventually make peace  with the culture,I went to the Citadel expecting it to live up to the promise on the brochures; of being a focused military and academic program to build leaders.

This is after all, what the academies and senior military colleges offer and how they sell it to prospective students. These schools sell themselves on not just a unique experience, but on giving you discipline that will help you in school and in service more than going to Podunk State. The busy, spartan rituals of cadet life are supposed to be more valuable than being  free to manage your life as you see fit,  and it’s supposed to allow you to learn and practice good leadership.  The  small class size academics are touted as being highly ranked, and the first priority of student life above all cadet activities. The big question is, is a military college a better investment of 4 years, from an education and or military leadership standpoint? The answer, from my personal experience and various facts, is no. In fact, I would argue that by combining a military garrison/frat culture with a serious college education, you dilute the quality of both by tearing individual students between two opposing worlds, at the Citadel for sure, and at military schools more broadly.  Let’s talk about the military aspect first.

Considering it being a “military college”, you would think the Citadel would offer training that augments and reinforces what you would receive in the armed forces. After all, they have 24-7 uniforms, loud yelling and marching, PT,friday parades, Saturday Morning Inspections(SMI, field daying basically),strictly controlled schedules and OCD standards of perfection in the barracks/dorms, a very conducive environment for ROTC activity. And EVERYONE at a “military college” is going there to join the real military anyway right? All the tough physical hazing serves to help you in combat, so say upperclassmen.

Let’s break that apart from the bottom. The Citadel, and military schools outside the federal academies, don’t have any military obligation whatsoever to attend. No obligation, period. In fact, the Citadel only commissions about  a third of the graduating class, and that rate is comparable to the other military colleges. Citadel cadets did have to be enrolled in ROTC classes all four years, but they did not have to participate in training activities or labs outside of the one hour, 1 credit- hour class that only met maybe twice a week. The exception to this is obviously people who were actively pursuing a commission or were already there on contract to commission, like myself at the time.

So since military service isn’t obligated for two thirds of the students, the training involved in being a member of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets cannot ever be truly military in nature, as it is not an armed militia. Besides the aforementioned barracks lifestyle spoken of previously, you do not engage in any combat training. You are issued an M-14 rifle with no firing pin for use on the parade field. You receive no weapons training, no tactical or strategic education, no hand to hand combatives, no field training of any kind. When you graduate from the Citadel, you will be useful in any emergency situation that involves shining shoes and belt brass, ironing creases into shirts, sweeping floors,  yelling loudly,and being an arbitrary abusive prick. If that sounds like a combat ready defender of the homeland, excuse me while I pack my shit somewhere run by half sane people.

Surely, the Citadel has to have the college part working, otherwise how could it be an accredited institution? Yes, fortunately it has very good tenured faculty and low class sizes, and one of the best tutoring programs in the nation. If you are getting a degree in the liberal arts, hopefully on someone else’s generous dime, it will be an academically satisfying experience, and likewise with the electrical and civil engineering program. The barracks has mandatory study hall periods for like 2 or 3 hours in the evenings, and upperclass mostly abide by the rules of not fucking with knobs and actually doing something productive. So what’s the problem?

In case you couldn’t guess, it has to do with time management.  See, at regular colleges, you have complete freedom to be wherever you want and spend your time however you see fit. You can study as much as you want, or be as lazy as you want, be involved in extra curriculars, or shut yourself in and flip off the outside world.  Its up to you to find the balance. That’s the beauty of the regular college experience.

A military college looks at the time management scenario described above, and says Hell No, these 18-19 year old kids can’t manage time! They need someone else to tell them what to do, when to do it and for how long. They need structure and discipline, so we will make them go to meal time formations, give them curfews,  and march in parades that take up most of friday afternoon. If they have discipline problems or do stupid shit on leave, the school will  either give them room confinements(cons) or tours. A con is self explanatory. Each tour is 50 minutes spent marching around the quad with m14 in hand, like a sentry. Some trouble cadets join the century club, racking up hundreds of tours, losing literally 100’s of hours they could have spent studying, which a confinement at least enables them to do. Tours are fucking pointless wastes of time, and a shitty form of punishment that cripples your main mission as a college student, but its a traditional form of punishment and isn’t going away.

If cadets are in ROTC to get commissioned, they will wake up early in the morning 3 days a week for PT, and attend a military training lab that takes up almost the entire day once a week. This training is mandatory and you will be punished for missing it. All of this is so that cadets can learn to  make smart decisions with what little time they have left. As you can see, these various things all comprise a form of babying, but it  is the respectable reason people come to these schools.

Citadel upperclassmen look at this in relation to the freshmen and say “FUCK NO! These worthless knobs need to earn their place here and since we have almost total power over their lives, we will give them NO TIME. We will interrupt anything they are doing to harrass them on the stairs and in their rooms. Instead of letting them study or get things done, we will make them run errands for us and spend all night shining brass rather than cramming for exams. On fridays, in addition to parades, we will make them spend 3 hours on a “douche detail” where they will pour buckets of hot water and soap on the galleries and sweep floor by floor with shitty brooms. It doesn’t get anything clean, but thats not the point. And if they try to avoid any of these activities by not being in battalion as much as possible and going to bed before 1 am, we will punish their classmates so that they turn on each other and ensure everyone is playing the game. We will barely let them eat at the mess hall and abuse them in any way possible if we can get away with it.They will fall asleep in class and have borderline GPAs. Some of them might fail and have to take summer classes. Some will end up in the infirmary because of what is done to them.They will spend their time doing arbitrary shit rather than anything productive. But by God,they will have a hard knob year, earn their class rings, and they will thank us for putting them through this.”

To sum up, the Citadel offers a barracks environment but no real military training. This makes it no better at preparing you for your training in service than any other school in the nation.  And yet cadets will laud how tough they are because they’re at a military college and learning soldierly things like marching and shining shoes and standing around for hours, just don’t ask them about what kind of combat training they get.

It’s a good school, but your entire first year is spent trying to please the whims of sadists who don’t give a fuck about your classloads, or their own academics for that matter.  They don’t want you putting in the time and effort to be a successful student, because its considered shitting out.  It’s really hard to do well in school when assholes are forcing you to get less than 4 hours of sleep and you’re losing weight from not eating enough and being smoked all the time. Then they will have the nerve to piss on you because they catch you falling asleep in the middle of classes. And if you don’t fit the mold and stand out like I did, everyone is out to get you, and you essentially are alone, because no one likes you or will be associated with you. And yet you are expected to spend every possible second around these people regardless, or its shitting out.

In my next article we will delve into what kind of people are to your left and right at this school, and what to expect from the social groups you can associate with.

[For more from me and other members of the Broken Gray Line, check out our blog:http://brokengrayline.tumblr.com/]

Okinawa Prison (Part 3)

To sum up the Marine Corps in Okinawa in a few words would be like this: Marine Corps life on Okinawa was a perfect mixture of MCRD, OCS, CCU, and brig put together, with a sprite of insane asylum.

The salty Marines that were on the island for a while were not like your average Marine that you would find on Camp Pendleton, Camp Lejeune, Marine Barracks Washington DC, or Kaneohe Bay HI. These Marines had a little bit of freedom. These Marines at the end of the day could get in their cars, drive off base and see what it was like to be a normal person, even if it was only on the weekends Marines stateside can have that release from the eagle globe and anchor and at least drive away to a far away happy land, even if it took 6 hours. Marines on Okinawa were stuck on base and stuck to their barracks. Marines on Okinawa were in “fuck fuck” mode 24/7. If there was a typhoon, Marines would be locked down in the barracks and not allowed to leave period. If a Marine had to go to the chow hall he would have to wear a flak, kevlar and H harness. Even to go out and smoke or else you would be written up by the Camp Guard rolling around in their humvees.

We were pretty much stuck with each other and there was no escape. If you did not like a Marine, too bad so sad, you literally had to put up with him 24/7. The women to men ratio was about 28 men to 1 woman, so you know how bad it got and how low standards would drop. You ever remember a nasty female Marine that got hit on after a while when there are no other women around? Okinawa was ten times worse. If a woman looked like R Lee Ermey, that woman would have constantly around her about eight Marines that would do whatever she wanted. There was no pussy on Okinawa to make matters short. I remember my standards dropping so low that I tried to get with women I would never, ever in a million years get with stateside.

The barracks was much like a prison. It was not like the barracks you see on Camp Pendleton or Lejeune that looks like a cheap Motel-6 with the doors on the out side. The barracks on Okinawa had the doors on the inside, kind of like the projects in a big inner city with one way in and one way out. Right in the front was a motivated Marine with a green military notebook always checking Marines on their way out. Marines had to sign out and in on that green military notebook and if a Marine was not signed back in after midnight (he he) the Sgt would start drop kicking all the doors, wake everyone up, get us in the common lounge and chew our asses for not “looking out for our own.” As if it was really our fault that a motherfucker decided not to come back. We would stay up all night looking for this motherfucker and the Sgt would not let us sleep until that dumb ass was found. If it got really bad the CO and 1st Sgt would come to the barracks and chew our asses even more.

The barracks was much like a prison. Every deck had a fire watch of two people. One on the desk and the other one walking up and down the hallway. Of course, both of these idiots had to wear full battle gear (flak, kevlar, H-harness with two full canteens etc.). Every time a higher up would come we had to stand up and say “good evening sir/mam Lcpl. Idiot reports barracks whatever all secure at this time etc. etc. there are no unusual activities to report at this time sir/mam!” This had to go on forever and if a motivated Ssgt that just got off the drill field and came in as the SNCO of the day (you know the rest, I’ll leave it up to your imagination) there was hell to pay.

There was no escape from this prison, and yet Marines STILL managed to get caught underage drinking, fighting, stealing, or fucking in their rooms and would get burned to the stake. The higher ups would always put Nazi style rules on us and really breathe down our necks and Marines would find a way to fuck up and get the whole company in trouble. Some got in trouble cause they were stupid. Some got in trouble because they were alcoholics. Many got in trouble because they just flat out stopped giving a damn. Somewhere deep inside their hearts they just gave up playing the game, picked up a bottle of booze and got in trouble. This was the reason why so many of us had to pay the piper. It was not strange for us to do a field day for someone else’s mistakes. It was not rare for us to play that boot camp game (2 sheets 1 blanket) when a Lcpl said “fuck you” to the Cpl.

One day I remember a Marine came in after midnight one night. Me and a couple of other Marines got pretty drunk that night. The CO came the next day at 0500 and took us on an OCS style run for like eight miles or so. Now you can imagine how I felt running at 0500 for that distance with no sleep and a lot of alcohol in my system. It was hard not to puke but when the motherfucker in front of you, left of you, and right of you are puking their guts out and you smell it. You have no choice but to join it. Okinawa sucked bad, but it sucked even worse if you got in trouble.

Stay tuned for part 4 of my Okinawa prison experience when I saw the bird man and got my ass NJP’d in Okinawa, you will not believe the shit I put up with. Stay tuned.

The Sand Castle Blues, Part 2-4th Class Citizens

[Pictured: Knobs becoming leaders by bracing, aka looking like fat deformed children, and  injuring their backs for 8 months. Part of a real knob year.]

A key part of joining any manly organization, whether its the armed forces, a gang,  a cult, or a frat is the initiation, and this is no different with the South Carolina Corps of Cadets (SCCC), which is a hybrid of all 4 of the aforementioned groups. Our initiation and training as cadets and college students is known officially as the 4th Class System,  purpose described like so in the  4th Class Manual, aka the Red Book:

“… to lay the foundation, early in a cadet’s career, for the development of those qualities of character and discipline implied in the mission of The Citadel as a military college – to produce The Citadel Whole Person with an alert mind and a sound body who has been taught high ideals such as honor, integrity, loyalty, and patriotism; who accepts the responsibilities which accompany leadership; and who has sufficient professional knowledge to take a place in our competitive world.”

To everyone else the 4th class system is knob year, and a knob is what you are for that first year. You are a knob because of that skinned doorknob head you pay to get shaved twice a week, and because traditionally that’s what they always called the freshman. Tradition is important here, whether its roots are long or imagined.

You matriculate in August a week before class, the “Hell Week”, where you check in at your dorm, the Battalion. You are assigned to a company, where you will be for four years, and meet your cadet Cadre who will be in charge of you and the whole company for the year. Before anyone can expect to lead, they must learn to be good followers, and that’s EXACTLY what you will become. Interestingly, one of the first things you do when you matriculate is you sign a document defining hazing, and sign it where it says it is your legal and moral duty  to report any instances of it.

After that, knob year will progress much like you would expect from boot camp. You sir sandwich, yell a lot, and are expected to be motivated at all times. Ass chewings are frequent and deafening. You will refer to yourself and others in the 3rd person. There is some official PT that ends after hell week, unless you end up needing remedial PT, but you still get up at 0600 everyday to sweep the floors and the quad. 7  to 9pm is an extended study period where your ass is expected to be sitting in your room or academic buildings doing something productive, and upper class mostly leave you alone for it. When it came to these types of things, I expected no less, and this wasn’t the reason I left and felt the need to criticize the school to the  world. Now, here’s where things get more problematic.

You are expected to brace at all times inside battalion, as seen in the photo. You can’t tell at this angle, but in addition to your chin looking like Jabba the Hutt you have to arch your back, such that you are in an exaggerated position of attention.It’s highly uncomfortable even when done correctly, and you rack up many hours of your life in this position. Asshole upperclassmen might order you to table top, where you arch your back to the point that you’re leaning back parallel with the ground, like a retarded form of the matrix dodge. This is very bad for your back, obviously.

Other stupid rules include always walking in gutters, and walking everywhere at 120 steps a minute, but uppers telling you to step it out makes it more like 180-240 steps. You will be the fastest power walker when you go visit home my friend. You also have to ask permission to go up stairs, and if you do it wrong or they hate you, uppers will order you  back to front sally port or up and down 4 floors of stairs. Got something to do and limited time to do it? Say, isn’t this type of shit against the regs? Too bad asshole, up to 4th division you go, regs and your time wasted means nothing to them.

You are not expected to get much sleep considering how much you need to do every day, but sleep deprivation becomes an intentional goal here. You will catch shit from uppers and motarded classmates if you do something reasonable, like going to bed before midnight. You can’t take naps in battalion, and since I left, the only safe place where you could nap during the day, the Chapel, apparently no longer allows cadets to poke at their sleep deficits there. El Cid won’t even let God ease your burden as a knob, it seems.If you choose to stay up late getting school work done instead of being obsessive about your brass, shoes, and creases till 1 am, you will be in trouble come morning when you form up. Being a knob is more important than being a student, period.

Officially, knobs are expected to follow legal orders, be good students, and always have uniforms, shoes, and brass to perfect standards. To relieve your stress there are religious activities as well as  a whole department of student activities that sets up movie nights for knobs, and has a room with food where you can chill. But unofficially you are expected to put out, not shit out, because you want to have a real knob year.

How do you have a real knob year? Simple. You keep your mouth shut. You ignore and embrace the breaking of Red Book regs, and embrace the motto “Hazing is  Amazing”, in the belief that it makes you tough and earns you your class ring. You covet the posession of said ring as though you were Smeagol. You let uppers smoke the shit out of you, hit you, and play fuck fuck games constantly. After all, its why you came here instead of College of Charleston with its 80 percent hot female population. You get no sleep and barely any food, and don’t complain that they want you to piss in the room sink where you brush your teeth at night. You persecute people who aren’t having or stopping you from having a real knob year. Snitches, shitbags, Corps Squad athletes, women, they are all fair game. Oh and those activities for knobs and room for you to hang out? Don’t ever go there, pussy. Always take the most unnecessary, hardest route at doing anything.

This is your knob year in a nutshell, not even factoring ROTC training commitments, being in Honors Program, extra curriculars etc. This might all be some sob story sure, you might tell me, but surely the results speak for themselves, and it is an effective form of military training and education, otherwise who are these people dumb enough to keep going there and give it good word of mouth? I will address these topics next week, in our next verse of the Sand Castle Blues.

[ for more ventings, musings, and criticism of El Cid from me and other shitouts, please check out http://brokengrayline.tumblr.com/]

 

Sergeant King. The pride of my unit. The man who murdered his own son.

We’re coming up on the anniversary of the day that my first NCO in the fleet was arrested for killing his two month old son by crushing his skull. It was obviously the kid’s fault, he wouldn’t stop crying when the guy was playing video games.

The funny thing is that this motivator was the pride of my unit. He embodied everything I hate about the Marine Corps. He didn’t know the most basic fundamentals of his job, only maintained a fist class PFT because his best friend was the company clerk, and he loved to get drunk and beat on his wife, or one of us if we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But the higher ups of my unit held him up as an example of a truly great Marine because he sucked miles of dicks, and loved to stab anyone and everyone in the back in front of whoever was of higher rank. He was meritoriously promoted, and had the highest pros and cons in the platoon.

Fuck you Sergeant King, burn in hell you piece of shit.

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