As the most elite fighting force in the United States’ massive military arsenal, the Marine Corps must uphold an image of professionalism at all times. Marines are held to a higher standard because we proudly claim that we are the “tip of the spear.” These higher standards ensure Marines always perform well in combat, their everyday jobs, and behave in a manner which is honorable, courteous, and respectful. It takes hard work, but that is what it takes to be considered “professional.”
Any truly professional organization these days needs diversity. People from significantly different backgrounds working together can produce amazing results and accomplish nearly anything imaginable. One thing the Corps is good at is assembling groups of people from very dissimilar walks of life. She is also very accepting of all people regardless of sex, religion, race, sexual preference, or nationality.
Many Marines are not so…accepting of other cultures/religions/preferences. I say “many” instead of “some” because during my enlistment, I noticed that the discrimination was not limited to a few…”good” men (sorry). Bigotry comes in the form of every rank and for varying reasons. Sometimes it is a racist SNCO. Other times it may be the elitist Captain that thinks all enlisted men are dirt poor mud farmers who should be treated as if they were serfs in medieval times. Finding a religious zealot, however, is a very common occurrence.
One of the worst parts of being bullied or discriminated against is not the douche bag attempting to ruin your day, but the fact that other human beings that stood by and watched without so much as saying a word out of fear that they, too, will be engaged by this monster. For United States Marines, men that have been bred to fight injustices, this should not be difficult.
This is the part where I tell you two stories. The first tale deals with one way the Marine Corps did an amazing job at ridding herself of an ignorant piece of garbage that was detrimental to the health and safety of her Marines. The second, a much less than inspiring anecdote.
I call this guy “Pfc Hank Hill” mostly because he looked, in fact, like a much younger Hank Hill. He was from East Texas, wore glasses, and had zero ass. I’m willing to bet that if you checked his medical record you would indeed find at least one entry regarding a narrow urethra. He was also one of those boots that buys a cowboy hat, boots, and gigantic motard belt buckle the first time they see Oceanside, magically transforming them into a cowboy (even though they grew up nowhere within 50 miles of an actual horse.) Hill liked to drink while he told racist stories about “bustin’ n***** heads” back home. He also enjoyed harassing the shit out of anyone he didn’t think was white or manly enough. Months of this went by while we constantly complained to our NCO’s, who did nothing but giggle and tell us that the Corps would work it out. One of them told me something that may be a cliche but has always stuck with me: “Give him enough rope, he’ll hang himself.”
He did. Figuratively, of course. We had a pretty diverse class. We had a black guy, two Latinos, a middle eastern dude, and only four southerners (none of whom shared Hill’s views on race). Hill decided one night to have a few too many. Being shitface and feeling entitled to the lounge, he stalked around mumbling random slurs at whoever looked towards him. After a few minutes of this, Chuck, our bearded black angel stepped in and had a seat. Hill did not like him for two reasons; a) he was black and b) he had a no shave chit. Hill lost his damned mind, which prompted Chuck to calmly tell him that if he did not calm down and stop making everyone uncomfortable, he would tell the duty. Firewatch broke up the would-be fight that ensued and directed stumbly-ass into the squad bay to quiet him down. This didn’t help. As soon as he got into the squad bay, Hill stumbled towards Gomez’s rack and started up again with his white power bullshit. Gomie did not like this one bit and informed us all that if we did not restrain Hill, he was going to end up at medical with a broken everything. Firewatch and a couple other guys pulled Hill back towards his rack and tucked him in, so to speak. Just about the time everyone was sighing with relief, dumbshit gets back up and starts telling Ram (our Indian devil) how much fun its going to be gunning down his “hojee fambly” (yes, I assume everything out of his mouth is misspelled). Apparently, that last remark was enough to send Gomie over the edge, because before any of us realized what was going on, he had jumped up from his rack, walked up behind Hill, turned him around by his shoulder, and knocked him out cold with a right cross that fired and hit so fast most of us didn’t even see it happen. Our initial relief and several seconds of cheering were fleeting.
The same NCO that told me about letting him hang himself was on Duty that night. No one saw him walk in. No one saw him walk out. He didn’t say one word to us or anyone else, he simply watched Gomie deal with it then stepped back outside until Hill was tucked back into his rack.
Firewatch reports “all secure” to the Duty a few minutes later when he walks back in the dark squad bay.
Duty: “Get me your squad leaders real fast.”
Firewatch complies, fetching them.
Duty: “You want to tell me what that was all about?”
Squad leaders: “Pfc don’t know, Corporal.”
Duty: “If you make statements, we can get him an adsep. If you don’t, that’s up to you. Come talk to me when you figure it out.”
The squad leaders grabbed a few of us and we all talked it out. To us, there was no place in the Corps for anyone that has proven themselves to be a racist. They reported to the duty and dropped their statements, then we all stood by.
It only took a few days for him to be dropped from the course. Our SNCO’s really stepped up and handled his shit like professionals. He got some of the most glorious ass-chewings I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. When it comes to obvious racism, they tend to take that shit seriously and act quickly. Not so fast are they to react however, when other types of bigotry are exposed.
I accidentally found a religion that clicked with the way I think and I fully embraced it. I knew from the start that it would not be a popular subject to bring up, so I hid it for months. My friends knew and didn’t care, they themselves being fucking weirdos that were very accepting of, well, weird shit. We were also all very into tattoos.
One of the NCO’s I attended the advanced course for my MOS with was also shared an interest in tattoos, and he invited me to a hotel party where his artist friend was going to be. I went, had a few beers, then said “fuck it” and got a tattoo on my chest. I looked at it as a way to show pride for my religion and celebrate my success (IMC is for NCO’s, SNCO’s, and Officers, I was the first Lcpl to attend and graduate.)
The following Monday, we were in the smoke pit between classes when one of the Sgts asked to see my new tat, which he liked. Word got around and the SSgts liked it too, as well as a Gunny (after he heard the explanation). We were shooting the shit for a while when one of the Gunnies from Bn came down, asked to see it, then snatched me up for a counseling session. He tried to chew my ass until one of my instructors swooped in and knife-handed him for fucking with one of his students. My instructor then asked me for an explanation and had me stand by for a few.
When he returned he had a concerned look on his face that worried me. He was holding paperwork, and that made me more nervous, as I had no idea what I might have done wrong, as is the case with most awkward encounters with SNCO’s.
The staff had all just been through the updated tattoo policy, something that my command in Okinawa had already made us sit through. He handed me the paperwork, which turned out to be a photocopy of the Order and told me to read it. After reading it, he asked me if I had any banned tattoos, piercings, or brands and I informed him that I did not. He nodded then asked me to show him my newest tattoo, so I complied. When asked about its meaning, I truthfully gave a full description of what it means, why I have it, and what my next two pieces were going to be, as they are of a similar nature. Without questioning my integrity, he thanked me for my honesty and told me to get back to work and tell him if anyone bothered me about it again.
Unfortunately, the next time I got shit for it I was several thousand miles away. Returning to my unit was pretty sweet. I got back during a 96 and had a few days to catch up with all the friends I missed and assholes I didn’t. Something odd had occurred, though. Everyone kept asking to see my new ink, but I hadn’t told anyone about getting it since returning. I asked my buddy about it finally and he told me that our Gunny had received an email from one of the Gunnies at School (yeah, it was the one that tried to chew me out) saying that I had gotten a banned tattoo and that I should be charged the second I report in. We had a good laugh about that shit, because it was funny.
We get to work and I’m working on an engine, waiting on an NCO to drive me around to check in, when the office bitch tells me to go see the CWO. I had not personally been introduced yet, so I figured he was one of those commanders that likes to actually meet the Marines he is commanding. Nope.
I get into the maintenance office and he bursts out of his door, sweaty and pissed. Without one molecule of tact, he instructs me to strip my upper half so he can get a good look at this awful tattoo. I instantly knew how fucked up the situation was so I tossed off the blouse and green skivvy and stood at a nice, proud, proper parade rest while he yelled things like “MOTHERFUCKIN’ WHITE BOY” “NJP” “Page 11” and my personal favorite, “YOU DON’T LOVE JESUS, BOY?” All of this happened as the office bitch and his bitches, a couple of NCO’s, and every SNCO in my platoon and our sister platoon stood silently by, looking completely shocked throughout this performance in its entirety.
He finished his tirade by ordering me to speak with the Company 1st Sgt, a salty old bastard that gave zero fucks about petty bullshit. First Sgt pulls up the order, has me show him the ink, laughs, then asks me about it. I explain again, he laughs more, then tells me to stand by and get ready to report to the CO.
The Major was one hell of an awesome guy. It always felt like he wanted to tell the Staff and NCO’s to stop fucking with us and let us do our jobs. He was also very understanding and was the CO for the old reserve station that used to be in my home town (small Corps, small world.) I didn’t even have to explain it to him, he was a well-educated man and said he realized that a man’s religion doesn’t make him good or evil, it is what is inside of him. He was also the only one in the company that knew what the symbols on my calf mean, and allowed me to affirm instead of swear when he promoted me to Cpl (he made sure his Marines took the oath of enlistment again and recited the NCO’s Creed when promoted to Cpl.) After speaking with him, no one in the company ever fucked with me about my religion or tattoos again.
Is what I wished would have happened. For a while, I was left alone to do my job and exist. Until we got a new CO. He was a mustang that loved enlisted guys, but he was one of those extremely busy guys that are never in the office. That CWO called me out every single time we had a formation, class, or lecture that had anything to do with tattoos, religion, respect, racism, or uniform standards. Chaplain’s coming to talk to us about the MWR programs? Ha, shit no devil, he walked up behind me right before the chaplain entered the room and loudly ordered me out of the room because I “obviously couldn’t care less what a man of god has to say (his words, not mine).” He also tried to fail my room for field day before a CG Inspection for “eccentric decoration” because I had a picture of a religious leader on my wall and claimed it was “prejudicial to good order and discipline” and that my choice was “unauthorized.” It didn’t work, as far as I know there is no such thing as “eccentric decoration” and Marines are totally allowed to worship however they need, and there is no “authorized religion” list.
One of my NCO’s felt very similar to the CWO, but enlisted men are MUCH easier to deal with, as they have bosses that will actually do their job. Corporal…let’s call him…Corporal Susan, because he was a bitch-ass. Corporal Susan brings back a box of freshly minted dog tags and instructs a Lance to distribute them. Mine come back correct for once (custom job by the Underground and I still have them, thanks boys!), but he of course wants to make sure his Marines are squared away, so he double checks us all after we have them.
“What the fuck is this shit, devil dog?”
“My identification tags, Corporal.”
“No, what the fuck is this shit? You can’t have that! That shit is illegal, its unauthorized! That’s it, I’m sick of your shit, stand the fuck by!”
Yeah, a United States Marine tried to tell me that my religion was unauthorized and illegal…then attempted to charge me with an article 134, where he was stuck forever trying to figure out how to properly word “I don’t like his religion” without sounding like a moron.
Lots of words, I know, but there is a point to them. That point being, if you are in any way different from the crowd, you will be “put on blast” so to speak, and it will be by the very men put in charge of your well-being. In an institution that is supposed to be open to all races, sexual preferences, and beliefs, there are some extremely bigoted people. Diversity is something that the Marine Corps has boasted about for quite a while now, but as diverse as it may be, there are still plenty of petty pieces of shit that believe they are superior simply due to their beliefs. Part of being a good leader is evolving, adapting, and changing not only your methods but also the way you think. Leaders need to accept their subordinates for who they are, not despise them for having unfamiliar beliefs.
Race and religion represent only a fraction of the things people discriminate against. Is there sexual discrimination in the Marine Corps? This…this is a touchy subject. But the answer is yes, and it is everywhere.
Understand that discrimination towards females in the Marine Corps is a double-edged sword. Females are routinely disrespected (rarely to their faces or within earshot) but are often treated with much more respect if that makes sense to you (it does if you have a sister or if your mom is a total bitch). This, as always, depends on the unit they are attached to.
My unit in Okinawa was integrated. We had a female SSgt and a couple of Lcpls usually, and there were more throughout the battalion. Back in those days they were known as “WM’s”, “Women Marines” or “Walking Mattresses.” Sexist much? Yeah, just wait. Males were constantly reminded that those Marines were female and that we should never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, rape them. Like, ever. NCO’s inspecting for field day always talked about having to be careful not to fuck with them and to let a female NCO play games with them, never a male. Yes, they weren’t allowed to haze females, only males. But a female sergeant sure as fuck could come into your room and keep your penis-having devil dog ass up till 0300 without anyone batting an eye. Female Marines have different PFT standards due to the fact that men and women are built differently, and this fact is often used by male Marines to disparage their efforts during PT. Females in my unit were not treated as harshly as males were for falling out of runs, rarely getting a page 11 while males would receive this paperwork and be put on remedial PT (and for the record, if I had a period, I would have exploited that shit as well.)
Now for the part that fucks with me to this day, and probably will until this shit stops happening. We had two females, a Lcpl and a Pfc (the latter had just been busted down for having a relationship with a Sgt in her last unit…also on Okinawa but on a different camp). They were drunk when two NCO’s showed up, a Sgt and a Cpl, and decided that they wanted to party too. The Sgt was married, so his NJP was a bit harsher. He was soon a Lance, as was the Cpl. The really shitty part was they used the Pfc’s bad reputation to keep the rape charges from sticking to either one, and both females got charged and busted down for fraternization. Yes, they were raped and then punished for reporting it.
This happens more than Marines will admit, and they often pull the “she was drinking with some Marines, what did she expect to happen?” Know what she expected? She expected her Marines to protect her. She expected her NCO’s to look out for her. She expected her brothers to act like professionals, not drunken frat boys looking to get a piece of free pussy.
Both of these Marines were treated like absolute shit after this. They were known as sluts and whores, the bitches that fucked up poor Sgt Daterapist’s illustrious five-year career. “Man, all he wanted was a little strange…bitch could have just put out she didn’t have to cry rape like that…” When you actually hear another human being say something like that out loud after knowing what happened, it is very difficult to resist the urge to punch their fucking teeth down their throat. They were standing extra duty, put on every working party imaginable, forced to field day throughout their restriction (60 days) and PT’d constantly. Their lives were hell because they opened their mouths and told the truth about being sexually assaulted by their superiors, both of whom ended their enlistment as Corporals.
Women are definitely discriminated against in the Marines. Not by the Corps, but by the Marines themselves. Policies cannot be enforced if commanders are willing to throw females under the bus to protect the image of their unit and the victims are afraid to step forward and speak up. They are often too scared to report these crimes because they have seen what happens to other females that don’t comply with the rape culture bullshit.
No matter how awful the treatment of personnel can get, I would have to say that I truly feel for any openly gay male enlisted Marines right now. The few times I encountered the true homophobia of United States Marines, I was appalled. For bloodthirsty, hardened war machines, these men acted as if they were children. Mean, stupid children.
On an average day, a Marine might use the word “gay” sixty times, mostly describing arbitrary NCO orders. They will call each other “fag” and “faggot” a lot, like most young men these days. This seems normal at first, until you leave base and end up in Palm Springs outside a bar with a few of them. I have seen many a devil dog grow instantly, aggressively angry the second they see an effeminate guy walking around in jean shorts and high heels. Here are some words that I have actually heard out of Marines’ mouths around/about members of the LGBT community:
“Git ‘way frum me faggit or Ima bust yer shit!”
“If that tranny fuck sez sumthin’ ta me Im gunna fuck its worl up.”
“I think Lcpl Quietguy is a queer, keep and eye on him for me, I don’t want no faggots in my Corps.”
“I heard Lcpl Notabrute was talking to some guy in a club. Think its enough to get him charged?”
“Don’t do that faggot shit around me. I hate that faggot shit!”
To me, that is some seriously fucked up shit. I would almost have to assume that openly gay males have similar problems to females: a slight break on the hazing and bullshit punishment in exchange for no one taking them seriously and constant allegations that they only got where they are because they throated a few gallons of Commissioned Cocksauce, but knowing Marines as well as I do, they will probably be hazed much harder in addition to said allegations.
No one is safe from discrimination, though. Like I said, the Marine Corps is a diverse organization with many differing ideologies, philosophies, and beliefs, many of which contradict each other. You will meet good ole boys that believe White is Right. You will meet black guys that hate all white people, and you will meet brown guys that hate all white people. You might meet an Asian guy that hates everybody. You will definitely meet men that hate homosexuals, and you will meet men that you won’t find out are gay until years after your enlistment ends. There are christians that hate muslims that hate jews that hate wiccans that hate vegans that hate lesbians that hate men that hate satanists. Most of the Marines I worked with couldn’t care less as long as you did your job and didn’t cause trouble, but there are some really awful pieces of shit out there that need to be flushed, as they are leaving a nasty brown stain on the beautiful porcelain toilet bowl that is the United States Marine Corps.