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  • September 8, 2009
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Awards write ups take their toll…

As we prepare for our return, award write ups become a focus of effort for the company. When it is time to do awards, a number of things happen:

1. When the OICs are asked who they intend to submit for an award they immediately turn in a copy of their personnel roster. “Oh really? So because he managed to show up on time for work he rates a medal, sir? That must have been really difficult considering out in the desert Marines have nowhere else to go.”

2. Suddenly the awards process is a popularity contest. “Sir, just because you like the Marine doesn’t mean he deserves a medal.”
“But he does a good job.”
“Yes, as do all Marines.”

3. We discover that a college education does not necessarily guarantee a mastery of the English language. As a matter of fact, I have discovered officers are the worst writers I have ever come across. Here are some examples:

“… has displayed exceptional leadership thought this deployment.” I didn’t realize the deployment was thinking about anything.

“For heroic achievement…” Really? How much heroic achievement could have occurred in a deployment where there was no combat action?

I have Lieutenants who write whole sentences a paragraph long, misspelling their Marine’s name every time it appears in the citation.

It makes me wonder what in the world they are teaching in our universities these days. I know they teach colloquialisms: “…go to guy…thinking outside the box…fire and forget weapon…unparalleled (fill in the blank)…”

My favorites are awards that read like a job description: “Sir, so he came to work every day and stacked boxes?” WOW!

4. No one knows what their Marines actually accomplished. “Sir, how many patrols did he go on? How many vehicles did he conduct maintenance on? How many thousands of dollars of equipment did he embark? What effect did this have on the Battalion’s mission?

5. Eventually, I must restrain my Company Commander from committing acts of violence against his fellow officers. Some of the submissions are so inane that I have to take his ammunition away. My CO finally got so fed up between awards foolishness and other radioactive stupidity I have mentioned previously, he began writing his own award citation:

PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT IN THE SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTIES WHILE SERVING AS Commanding Officer, Headquarters and Service Company,
3D Battalion, 3D Marines, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) from

1 April 2009 to 4 October 2009.

Captain P displayed extreme restraint from not emptying his M9 service pistol into the monitor of his computer after almost daily data connectivity and storage issues.

He was able to TRANSLATE the undecipherable ramblings of six commissioned officers in their twenty-five award Citations submissions. This showed a true testament to his devotion to his Marines, by preventing these awards from an almost certain rejection by the awards board.

Captain P’s devotion to his Marines was present in his near tyrannical rantings of the foolishness of Marriage for first term Marines. Even though this sound advice was not taken, Captain P again assisted Marines in the labyrinth of legal requirements for these same Marines to negotiate a divorce; most within
six months of marriage.


CAPTAIN P’S INITIATIVE, PERSEVERANCE, AND DEVOTION TO DUTY REFLECTED CREDIT UPON HIM AND WERE IN KEEPING WITH THE HIGHEST TRADITIONS OF THE MARINE CORPS AND THE UNITED STATES NAVAL SERVICE.

This proves I am not the only one losing his mind.

Semper Fi,

America’s 1stSgt
/ / / /

17 comments

  1. You and the CO and whoever else deals with this mind-numbingness should receive an award just for keeping your sanity. Although, that might be questionable. Keep counting down the days…pretty soon you’ll be able to look forward to 3 am phone calls from your drunk marines at the police station needing a ride home after the bar fight when they assaulted their ex-wife’s new boyfriend. Who would’ve thought a marriage based on knowing each other a month wouldn’t have worked? Oh wait, that wasn’t a marine….that was one of my husband’s idiot friends. I remember Jer saying to him…”You sure it’s a good idea to get married right before you leave? You just MET her.” and the reply..”She’s the one dude, she’s going to wait for me.” UH HUH.

  2. Katherine, the heat? How about staring at a computer screen non-stop until your retinas have burned down to the nub because college educated men can’t grasp the concept that sentences have subjects and predicates.

    Red, the award is an asbestos noose.

    Becky, all I want is a steak and some Ben & Jerry’s. Maybe some brownies, choc chip cookies?

  3. Sadly, 1Sgt, the state of your officers’ writing is normal. I tutored college freshmen for two years, and most of them couldn’t put a paragraph together to save their lives. Some senior thesis papers I’ve read weren’t much better. 😛

  4. I have a question I hope you could answer……Do all single Marines live in barracks? Is there an age or rank where you can have a more private residence?

    I’m pretty sure one of my friend’s sons got married just so he didn’t have to live in barracks….and yes, they are divorcing.

  5. I think the award nightmare mentality all started in Little League…

    It used to be that a kid had to actually play the game well to earn a trophy…
    Now tropies and awards are given if they show up with matching socks.

    Just focus on the brownies and cookies.
    it’ll all be a radioactive blurr soon…

  6. Saker, I often wonder if they even read what they have written. Can’t they tell it doesn’t flow? At least someone who writes like they speak has some kind of cadence.

    Songbird, “Oo-rah”? I hate that silly noise with a passion. Hmmm, soundslike something I could comment about on another post.

    Wrexie, you just hit the nail on the head. “But he does a good job”means “I like him a whole lot.” Our affection for our Marines does not mean they all rate awards. It does mean we get them done and written well when they do though.

    Trudy, yes that is another sad fact of military living. I am convinced that many young Marines get married just to get out of the barracks.That is one reason that quality of life in the barracks has been such ahot topic in the Corps in the recent past. 80% of first term marriages end in divorce. It makes me sick. Most of them have no idea what they are getting into. Sigh, I am inspired to post on this subject later aswell.

    Southern, that write up was the whole reason for this post. I wish Icould take credit for it but my Company Commander wrote it in a fit ofrage and disgust. It does look like something I would write though so Iwent for it.

  7. Oh, don’t get me going on awards….I’ll puke my guts out.
    We had soldiers in Iraq jump out of humvees and rescue shot up Iraqi cops…under fire…saving a life…and got nothing.
    We had a “camp commando” who never left the safety of the camp in Baghdad…and got a Bronze Star!
    The Bronze Star award was because she was able to only loose a few items and find her office most of the time…and never missing a meal.

  8. FYI,
    At the UCLA Writers’ Program, they have a course for lawyers who have already graduated from their programs, have found employment but don’t know how to write. Proving once again, that sometime sheer verbal huffery, puffery and bluffery will get you through some circumstances, but not all.

  9. CI Roller, keep your lunch down brother, we’re still fighting the goodfight! One of the things I’ve been saying constantly is “We didn’t doanything this deployment!” This hits people like a hammer between theeyes during arguments about awards. My favorite has been telling someoneto delete the line: “For heroic achievement…” Really? For heroicallymanaging not to let cigarette butts overrun the butt cans? Or how aboutfor heroically ensuring paper jams were kept to a minimum?

  10. Dang lstSgt, the officers I served with 40 years ago still appear to be on active duty. Nothing changes. Whether is was writing up awards, or promulgating an operations order, the writing was atrocious then. The only spell check we had was in our brain housing group. Particularly fun was making up those tables for comm: trying to ensure everything was right so nobody called fire on somebody else. Alas, after studying 100 years of Marine Corps history, we still learn that in spite of what happens, the young Marine at the sharp end of the spear learns to improvise and neutralize.

    Some people see the glass as half full. Some people see the glass as half empty. The Marine sees it as an opportunity to assault the enemy, kill them, and take their water. Semper fi.

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