Concerning young lieutenants…Part 1

 We are pretty hard on new Lieutenants. They get treated roughly sometimes, particularly by other officers.  More often than not they deserve it too. I’ve had Captains e-mail me and say when they were Lts, I made their lives a living hell. That tastes an awful lot like a compliment to me. I wouldn’t say I treat them like a jerk.  I do have a low tolerance for stoopid and your average new Lt is swimming in a lake of idiocy with guys like me standing on the shore waiting for blood on the water.

Case in point, Kharmah, Iraq 2007:

    “Lieutenant! What the %#[email protected]* is wrong with your face?”

    “Oh, uh, I had a little accident last night 1stSgt…” said Lt X sheepishly as he tried to hide his scuffed up nose and forehead behind some communications gear in the COC one morning.

    More often than not I announced my presence in the COC each morning with a comment about why the coffee resembled toilet water. I would immediately blame the nearest watch officer for his utter failure in what is arguably his most vital function while standing watch: the production of hot, dark, liquid perfection.  Generally if the coffee met at least two out of three of those standards I would go relatively light on him.  This particular morning something else caught my attention.

    Lt X had a massive scab on his nose and forehead. Actually, one on his forehead and another on the end of his nose. It wasn’t there the day before. The scabs forming were fresh and hideous, indicators of recent idiotic behavior.  Being the Company 1stSgt, it was kind of my thing to find out why and how Marines got hurt.

    “Sir, what kind of asininity were you up to last night?”

     My young motivated Lieutenant (we don’t call them “El Tee” in the Corps. If you do, they get to kick you in the groin. It’s a rule) had visited the porta john during the night. He instructed the Marine on radio watch to come get him if there was a counter fire mission while he was gone.  Naturally, because he was using the head, a counter fire mission came blaring over the radio. 

    “Sir! Counterfire!”, yelped the Lance Corporal as he banged on the side of the porta john.

     Lt Brain Surgeon, in his desire not to miss anything he is supposed to be in charge of, decided running in the pitch blackness outside the CP was a good idea.  At a full sprint he missed a hard right turn and got a quick period of instruction on the laws of physics. He plowed face first into the concrete wall just outside the door. This no doubt hurt, a lot even. 
    This information prompted me to declare Lt X would carry a flashlight on him 24 hours a day. He also was no longer allowed to run, particularly with scissors. Someone ended up drawing a chalk outline of a body on the vertical surface of the wall in question.

   Oh, and the entertainment doesn’t stop there. More next time.

Semper Fidelis!
America’s SgtMaj

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  1. As a recovering young lieutenant, all I can say in retrospect is that TBS is the only place I know where the platoon commanders have no SNCO counterparts. The only SNCO a young officer is likely to even speak with after OCS is the beleaguered company gunny for his company, who’s overworked trying to be a one man S-4 without needing to talk to a horde of young lieutenants about the SNCO-officer team, deprogram them after OCS, etc.

    If you have good captains at TBS, it’s not a problem. But it’s like anywhere else in the Marine Corps. Manpower is just putting names with BICs more or less randomly and going home early. Unless you have really strong officers who specifically want to go back because they think TBS is jacked up, your only safety check against producing screwed up lieutenants is prior-enlisted officers who will wait until the captain leaves and say “is he gone?…don’t any of you ever do that crap in the Fleet.”

    If you don’t have some strong priors in a TBS platoon, the dice are loaded to produce a batch of really screwed up young officers.

  2. Eric, chalk is fun where ever you are.

    Well Seasoned, most young Marines, whether officer or enlisted, are a bit lost when hitting the fleet. While generally expected on the enlisted side, officers tend to attract more attention to themselves simply because they are officers.

    Christian, in this case the Lt was actually pretty good to go. He just did something I consider typical of an enthusiastic young Marine. I generally lean on platoon sgts to train their Lts in the way they should go.

  3. I’m pretty sure I know who this is about. LOL! Good stuff. I’ll soon be commissioning, at which time I will suddenly be oblivious to the world around me. I’ve already been practicing by ignoring all of my e-mails and pretending I have no idea what’s going on. I can hardly wait.

  4. Back in the day, we had a saying.
    “The greatest secret weapon in the Soviet arsenal is a USMC 2nd Lt with a map and compass.”

    And, there was a gunny overheard once saying…”2nd Lieutenants are living proof that platoons don’t need an officer”.

    And, my own view on the topic. A 2nd Lt is the only guy in the fleet that a boot PFC can look at and say “well, at least I ain’t him!”.


  5. 1. LT’s keep you young -or something.
    2. A tired, thirty year old Captain being interrogated by his First Sergeant: “Sir, Can’t you keep those #@** Lieutenants on a shorter leash?”
    3. “What’d they do now?”
    4. Different answers.
    5. The best one was when three of them got into it with some gang bangers at Balboa Park.
    6. One gets shot, one gets stabbed.
    7. They drive to Balboa Naval Hospital, conveniently close. The one who has been shot falls on his face as soon as he gets in the door.
    8. Shot in the abdomen, they do a intestinal by-pass and colestomy.
    9. His pickup line: “Want to see my shit bag?”
    10. When the colestomy is reversed, he can’t eat or drink until he has passed gas. The LT’s institute a round the clock Fart Watch -followed by an appropriate celebration, once the blessed event occurs.
    11. I think I was always too old to have fun like that.
    V/R JWest

  6. Fox, let me know how that works out for you. Ha!

    Grimmy, my generation’s remark was: “The difference between a LCpl and a 2dLt is the LCpl has been promoted twice.”

    JWest, poop humor is still on point. My wife is very disappointed in me for it.

    Book, having difficulty with the laws of science is one thing. Sprinting around a Combat Out Post in pitch darkness is another.

  7. I grew up the son of an UASF E-8, who regaled us kids at dinner with stories of stupid JO’s. Now I might have made the same stupid mistake as an Ensign, but at least I knew what the chiefs were snickering about.


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