I was an AAV mechanic from 02-06. Two years on Okinawa and one in the Stumps. When I left the island they sent me stateside a month early because my next unit was supposed to be gearing up to deploy, but when I got there plans had been changed and they were getting ready to go to the Rock for “6” months and decided it would be better for me to stay in the Marine Corps’s sandy asshole to attend Corporal’s Course, which I understood seeing as how I was promoted to Cpl the day before I left Japan.
I never got to attend Corporal’s Course even after numerous attempts to get the rear-party CO (LT) to permit it. My CWO, SNCOs, and Sgts all seemed to think it was the perfect time but according to the LT we wouldn’t have enough Marines to stand Duty at the barracks, so it would be better to wait until we got a couple more Corporals. We didn’t. We got five new guys from School Bn, one of whom was a Private with a severe alcohol problem and was basically waiting to get separated out. Three Corporals meant barracks duty twice a week in addition to moto PT (MWF) and our actual jobs all while babysitting the dozen or so guys that were getting kicked out for various reasons and getting multiple ass chewings every day about our inability to micromanage the lives of these grown men.
The breaking point in my mind came a while after one of the guys awaiting his separation got caught doing something when it was drunk out and that LT lost his damned mind. I am not exaggerating when I say he put us into full lock-down mode. No civilian attire, field day every day for a week (until the Staff on Oki put an end to it when they found out he wasn’t even showing up to the inspections), uniform inspections, classes on alcohol and drug abuse, those goddamned formations at 2200 just to make sure everyone is there, and making us, no shit, recording in the green Duty Log when Marines entered and exited the lounge, duty hut, laundry room, and when they left and returned to their rooms. There really is an official green duty log somewhere on file in the Stumps full of shit like, “2357 – Cpl XXXXXXX left the lounge, returned to his room to prepare for sleep,” “0423 – DNCO leaves Duty Hut to uirnate,” “0425 – DNCO returns to Duty Hut from urinating.” This kind of ridiculous mass-punishment did no one any good at all. Morale dropped noticeably by the day.
A few months later the LT seemed to be trying to make up for it by having a forced fun day at Six Flags, where absolutely no one wanted to waste their Saturday. Some would think that your unit cannot “force” you to spend your cash on a ticket to an amusement park, but you would be wrong (try telling those fuckers you have no desire to attend the ball and watch them eye-fuck your soul before they lose their mind all over your face). Going was almost better than the alternative, as that was going into work and completing the Financial Management MCI (yes, of course even if you’ve turned it in years ago)…because if you don’t want to go to Six Flags or don’t have the money to go, you obviously need to reevaluate your life, Devil Dog. None of the Staff seemed to be able to do anything. They obviously gave a shit because they were in constant communication with the guys on deployment, but they often said there was nothing they could do other than put up with it until the company made its glorious return. We didn’t count on the separating guys to accidentally save us.
My Duty Hut smelled bad, like someone over-nuked a pile of frozen garlic bread. It made me a little hungry so I asked the Duty Pfc to post for a few so I could drop a deuce and microwave us some burritos. When I returned there was another DNCO grilling my DPfc about the stink, so we get to shooting the shit about how goddamned awful Twentynine is and fucking Comm School boots blah blah fuck Duty blah and he stops out of nowhere and laughs a little then says, “This is stupid, but one of my Marines says he smelled some weed.” We both laughed a hearty “no fucking way” laugh and decided that from our combined pre-Marine Corps experience, that there was no way what we were smelling was good ole cannabis, shot a few more minutes worth of shit and he went away.
A short amount of moments passed and I was standing in the doorway of the lounge passively watching Wonder Showzen when the OOD popped in to do what OOD’s do when they are bored; check on the DNCO’s. Reported all secure and all that happy horseshit and he, too, goes away, so I focus my attention back to my thoughts of freedom. Within minutes he returns with the Duty from upstairs, whom looks completely horrified. He interrupts the Magic Duty Dance immediately after he cuts his return salute and I’m mid sentence with, “Do you smell that?”
Completely confused for that excruciatingly long half-second, I respond with, “The burritos, sir?”
“No. Pot,” he fires back.
“I believe it smelled like burnt garlic bread earlier, sir. I don’t think we smelled any pot, though.”
The upstairs Duty’s next statement cloned my own, as did my DPfc’s, which of course, led to a round of questioning mostly pertaining to how we would have any idea what marijuana smelled like if we were active duty Marines. Professionalism died a little that day as a silver bar, two Corporals, and a PFC laughing like drunk hyenas. All of us casually agreed that whatever it was, it was definitely not marijuana. However, he believed that we should post our DPfc’s and tour with him for Integrity’s sake.
If you have been up at 0anything on a Saturday when the OOD shows up, you know that if you are caught existing you will probably be snatched up for a quick police call or some other dumb shit. Of course, almost no one would answer their door. They must have either been passed out or off base, sir (chuckles). The few that do answer are either boots that don’t know any better or smart terminals that crack their door with an open beer and a shit eating grin.
Unfortunately, one of our separating Marines temporarily blacked out that portion of the brain that tells you not to do something obviously stupid and he was outside of his room smoking a cigarette. No big deal, “hey Devil, smoke pit.” “Aye, Corporal.” Thus was not the case this time around. Had he shut his door, he would have never been caught and we would have been fucked for many more weeks until our company returned.
As he is walking away towards the smoke pit, the OOD catches a whiff of that burnt garlic bread stink and realizes where it was coming from: This smoking Marine’s room. He calls ole boy back over to us and asks him what he’s cooking. Poor guy looked so confused it was almost a confession. I tried to butt in with, “Is that garlic bread?” while the other Duty does the same as we both realize where this could go and how badly it could go for all of us if it turned out this dude had actually been stupid enough to burn weed in the barracks. He told the OOD that he had been nuking some leftovers from the night before, and even pulled out some smelly ass, garlic-heavy shit from How-How’s (I think that was the name of the place) from the trash. Waves of “holyfuckingshitthatwasclose” washed over us as the OOD laughed it off and allowed us to keep Dutying it up on our own. For a while.
An hour later PMO rolls up with a fucking K9. I don’t know the details because I’ve been told everything from the OOD causally joking about it and someone overreacting to some random visiting girlfriend calling PMO from her cell in one of the rooms, but somehow they got involved and shit got real. Fast.
Unwritten SOP was that if PMO ever pulls into the barracks, you get that SDO on the phone and to the barracks NOW. DPfc knew this and was frantically punching numbers and screaming at the SDO’s Dpfc to “get him the fuck down here PMO! PMO! K9’s! Shits going down, son!” as I was greeting the OOD (of course, without the ‘all secure,’ shit was obviously not secure) and Sgt. 5-0 and his buddy Cpl. K9. Shit was halted on the spot until SDO pulled in ready to rip souls from bodies. Doors were assaulted with fists and voices, then more intelligently, the correct keys, until every Marine in the building was made aware of the search. Door to door they sniffed, starting on the bottom deck. They only made it through a few rooms before that puppy signaled Cpl K9 that he smelled some of that sweet, sweet plant material. Wall lockers were opened, cabinets were thrown open and emptied, drawers pulled out, and general chaos was unleashed upon this poor guy’s room. And the didn’t find shit. PMO take off, OOD tours by himself for a few minutes, and the SDO and I are talking to the Marine who’s room was destroyed.
I can’t say that I was close to this guy or even that I was a good friend of his. I can say that even if his heart wasn’t in the Marine Corps anymore, he was still one hell of a great guy to be around. He was that ultra-laid back dude in your unit that never lost his shit because he didn’t seem to have one to give in the first place. He knew that the civilian world could be just as bad, if not worse, than life in the Corps because he had been there, so he never really complained much no matter how bad shit got. That day, though, proved to be too much.
Once the OOD and PMO were out of earshot, he looked the SDO in the eye and told him that he had just smoked a little joint in the bathroom right before they rolled in. His deadpan expression made this at first seem like a joke, but he didn’t laugh. No one laughed. We followed him to the head where he pulled out a small metal ashtray with the tiniest joint roach I have ever seen perched on one of the corners. This guy was already getting separated and didn’t have to tell on himself, but he did. I don’t know if he wanted to help facilitate his early release, to get out of going to the field that next week, add time on from the new paperwork that would have to be filled out, if he internally lost it for a few moments, or if he had a very interesting take on integrity.
If he would have told me, I don’t know if I would have turned him in, and I think he knew that. He knew I had a bit of disdain for the guys that were getting kicked out, as well as a good amount of apathy. I think that is why he told the SDO, so that he would be forced to follow through with procedure. The SDO wasn’t really all that mad, though. He seemed to be amused by the fact that the K9 couldn’t find a roach and impressed by the guy’s honesty, albeit maybe a bit misplaced given his situation. As it would turn out, that situation saved us a lot of hassle over the next few weeks.
We couldn’t be locked down any harder than we already were, so there really wasn’t anything further the LT could do to us as punishment for allowing one of his Marines to momentarily exercise free will. It didn’t matter, though. Enlisted men sometimes speak in hushed tones of a mystical act of nature referred to as “relieved of command.” It is not known to me if this is truly what happened to our temporary commander, or if he let the CWO and staff take over while he disappeared into his hobbit hole (or whatever officers live in.) Life quickly got exponentially better for a while.
This of course led to company-wide piss tests. I don’t know if it is true but I was told even the Marines ACROSS THE FUCKING OCEAN had to drop trou and push a few drops out as well. Yes, there were more NJP’s.
The extreme knee-jerk reactions are what killed the last of my will to reenlist. Okinawa was bad enough with their Liberty Cards, ORM worksheets every weekend regardless of if we left base, libo buddies and games, I was not going to be treated like a prisoner while on the very soil I was supposed to be giving my youth for. I no longer wanted to be part of an organization that refuses to train Marines that want to be leaders by making excuses about not having enough fucking Duty NCO’s. I no longer wanted to be part of an organization that allowed “leaders” to turn their subordinates into micromanaged slaves with absolutely no freedom simply because one of them fucked up all by himself. I wanted no part in an organization that is so cripplingly bureaucratic that they put their most educated Marines in jobs that have nothing to do with their training because “we need an NCO to fill that slot.”(like putting your Duty Expert mechanic as the Haz-Mat guy, Safety NCO, SACO, etc.) I couldn’t stand the thought of staying in an organization that doesn’t allow individuals that are detrimental to morale and safety to get the fuck out and allow our units to train, evolve, and function properly without having to allot hours for full-time adult baby-sitting personnel. When the reenlistment man came a-knockin’ on my door, he already knew better than to hand me a package and had a beer with me instead.
Submitted by: AAVPOG