Extracurricular Marine Activities

   In August of 2008, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines was conducting training exercises in the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) on the big island of Hawaii. We weathered the many hazards of a training evolution dubbed Lava Viper.  After having conducted Exercise Mojave Viper the year before we had gotten into the habit of snarkily naming every training event as Something-Viper. Here wild, man-eating geese, demon driven typhoons, crazed environmentalists, and bad coffee all conspired to thwart our efforts at a successful training evolution. 

   Now PTA isn’t exactly what you think it is when hearing the words “training in Hawaii”.  Palm trees, not so much.  Sandy beaches, sorry we were at an elevation of about 6,800 feet.  Truly, hearts are broken when people hear they are training in Hawaii then arrive at PTA wondering how in the world it got so cold in the middle of summer.  The landscape is dominated by over 100,000 acres of lava flows on the lower slopes of Mauna Kea. Traversing it is like stumbling across a field of broken concrete  sprinkled with razor blades and broken glass.  Just the type of place guaranteed to toughen you up. Those who have ever trained at PTA will tend to agree it may be some of the worst terrain in the world. Inside of five or six weeks you will destroy at least one pair of boots.

   In between iterations of shooting cool guns and blowing things up, someone picked up newspaper and saw an interesting article about the Bayfest event that had taken place the month prior.  The article featured the contestants of the All American Pie Competition and included a photo of one of our very own platoon sergeants taking first prize! Flanking him in the photo were two dejected ladies, the second and third place losers.

   Marine infantrymen participate in a host of rugged and manly hobbies including hunting, spear fishing, martial arts, motocross, surfing, alligator wrestling, hiking, etc.  But pie baking? Indeed it was decided only the most hardened combat veteran had the fortitude to bake pies and be successful at it.  Nothing bellowed HARDCORE like out baking housewives in the kitchen.  Such an achievement could not go unacknowledged.  We presented the young SSgt a Certificate of Commendation with a citation that read as follows:

 For exceptional performance of his culinary abilities while competing in the 2008 Bayfest Viper All American Pie Competition while serving an apple pie, lemon meringue pie, and mango custard pie, 4 July2008. During this challenging, stressful, and demanding pie making extravaganza, Staff Sergeant Cardinell performed his baking in an exemplary and highly delicious manner. His demonstrated superior pie appearance, original flavors, top quality ingredients, and extraordinary attention to crust texture served as an example worthy of merit. His efforts, coupled with a keen sense of mission tastiness, were instrumental in his earning the distinction and honor of overall winner of the All American Pie Competition and were a decisive factor in the sound defeat and utter degradation of all the female competitors including his own spouse. Staff Sergeant Cardinell’s exceptionally yummy ability, initiative, and loyal devotion to creamy pie goodness reflected credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and housewives across the nation.

   Just another little known chapter in the glorious annals of Marine Corps history.

Semper Fidelis,
America’s 1stSgt

/ / / /


  1. Top,
    the lava flows sounds like where my old Engineer company “camped” several years ago….MREs for a week, no showers….
    that’s what I think of when I hear “Hawaiiiiiiii”

  2. Do you mind if I pass on cutting my feet to ribbons? They have been toughened by many a forgotten Lego or Hot Wheels car, but I have concern about their ability to navigate the sharpened strata on which you train. You guys are tough! And to follow that with winning a pie baking contest? That’s one badass Marine!

  3. WOW! That is too funny! And I have to say that your comments about Pohakuloa brought a tear to my eye… I have been there many, many times when I lived on the Big Island. People don’t believe me when I try to explain what Hawai’i is really like

  4. Magoo, no he didn’t! That was the cruelest cut of all!

    CI Roller, when I think of PTA it makes me shiver. I grew up in Hawaii and never knew it got so cold.

    Jenny, feet and feelings, with one careless step both are cut to ribbons in our company.

    Red, Pohakuloa brings a tear to my eye every time I go there.

  5. So my first skim-through read I thought “pie-eating” – manly pursuit indeed… re-read and I was all “oooh he can protect AND cook”

    Where do I get one? 😀


  6. Pax, a pie or a jarhead?

    T, triathletes, sissies!

    Kanani, see, you are going to start something here and I will have to produce a Viper Pie recipe. I can see the ingredients list now: flour, milk, vinegar, shortening, fresh viper heads cleanly bitten off.

    Meadowlark, sure it was since they could fly back to K-Bay every night if they wanted to. Wingers, feh!

  7. >A1S… you’re asking me to choose between a Jarhead and.. well.. anything?

    That’s a Trick question isn’t!

    [not silly enough to think that anything is better than a Marine]

  8. Hmm… a pie or a marine. We shouldn’t make generalizations. Not all pies are created equal. That being said, a marine in a kitchen should be able to make anything, eh?

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