Facilities Management? Not so much

Climate control has been an issue in Marine Corps facilities since November 1775. Despite the technological advance of the 21st Century, I fear we will never get it right.

In the late 90’s I lived in a barracks on Camp Lejeune. For some reason the facilities ninjas refused to allow room temperatures to ever reach levels one would associate with the word comfortable. In the winter, if Marines complained it was cold in the barracks, indignant facilities trolls would crank up the heat all the way to volcanic, refusing to maintain temperatures more optimal for human life. Likewise, in the summer, our barracks rooms resembled so many meat lockers as the conditions inside were best described as arctic.

I recall the Company 1stSgt and Company Gunny chewing us out because we left the doors open to our rooms all the time. Of course we did! In the winter it was so hot inside we left to door open for some relief. In the summer, the rate of hypothermia shot through the roof so we left our doors open to let a little heat in.  Our doors were open nearly year round! There’s nothing quite as bracing as slogging back to the barracks from your appointed place of duty in the North Carolina humidity only to enter room using a snow shovel. The sudden cold snap had been known to send Marines into cardiac arrest.

This morning at Cleveland-Hopkins airport it was 38 degrees. In keeping with Marine Corps tradition the air conditioning is on full blast in my building. At this stage of my career I have given up complaining and have embraced the madness. I now take perverse joy in listening to Marines snivel in discomfort.

Our battalion Gunner spent the morning weeping about the plunging temperature. His tears crystallized into ice before shattering on the floor. Attempting to console him, I said I would handle the issue immediately.

“But how are you going to do that SgtMaj?” Snot bubbles blossomed from his nostrils.

“I’m the SgtMaj sir! I fix problems!” Coffee mug in hand, I immediately stormed into the S-4 office. In the end the Gunner was nonplussed by my solution.

A Supply Sgt, a fleece, and an Equipment Custody Receipt.

 Solve problems, it’s what I do.

Semper Fidelis!
America’s SgtMaj


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  1. I realize it is not the Marine Corp way but some bright young NCO could set the thermostats on 70 and have some snuffies stand watch to make sure it doesn’t get changed.

  2. Lin, one would think it’s that simple but in our world one does not simply set a thermostat. Besides, these types of issues are far more complicated than a simple thermostat setting.

  3. A.S.M.
    I thought the Army just did things like that. In basic at Fort Ord, CA it was cold in the winter–they cranked the heat up to where the paint would peal off the walls AND left every other window open in the barracks so we wouldn’t catch germs from the other Joes.
    That didn’t work at all…we all got sick the first few weeks and as we slept, half our body was frozen and the other half had boiling blood in our veins.
    Which just proved to me that the US Army “200 years of history and tradition unchanged by common sense”.
    I just got used to it and only made little dents in the system as I could.

  4. 1. Had what the Roller Dude describes, years before that.
    2. A meningitis epidemic killed several soldiers at Fort Knox and Fort Leonard wood.
    3. Living in open squad bays, we strung ponchos between the racks.
    4. All windows were center masted -one foot at top and bottom of each were open.
    5. Lived like that through a Kentucky winter.
    6. Nobody complained too much.
    7. The Army was demanding we do a lot more unreasonable things than that.
    8. In Germany, we were issued more cold weather gear than we could carry. One small problem: you had to be trained to use the stuff if you wanted to stay warm. We were not.
    9. You could put most of the stuff on and still freeze.
    10. We would go on training exercises and literally stay cold for weeks.
    11. If you complained, your non-issue gear wearing leaders would ask if you wanted to go back to Vietnam.
    12. None of us did. Different time, people and organization, eh?
    13. One of the factors that led me to choose the USMC for my second go-round.
    V/R JWest

  5. Marines now have “climate control”?

    Back in my day!!! our climate control was limited to whether or not we opened a window!

    Okinawa summer, tropical hot and wet, as I’m sure you’re familiar. Pillows and mattresses sodden with sweat every morning at reveille. Everything smelling of mildew and mold.

    Swamp Lagoon summer… not a whole lot different. Winter though… sleeping at night with feet in the issued Willy Pete bag for some insulation so your toesies dont freeze.

    *Ok. I’m fibbing a bit about North Kakalaky winter conditions in the barracks. We were in the hotel/motels by then and there was probably some air conditioning. But Sea Stories ain’t always about being completely accurate are they. Traditions must be maintained.


  6. CI Roller, sometimes those little dents make all the difference.

    Sonia, I know of what you speak.

    JWest, and to think you were better supplied than other armies of the same era. If they had only known.

    Grimmy, so what I’m hearing from you is not much has changed at all really.

  7. I am constantly amazed at your ability to convince other Marines to ham it up in photos for your blog 🙂

    Which reminds me, it’s coming up to Christmas so you’ll need another t-shirt post, better start scouting for a Marine with cheekbones and impeccable posture.

    Our building has one thermostat to cover 3 floors of open-plan office. Needless to say, temperatures are never consistent throughout the building. Sauna Corner where i sit, and Antarctic Winter less than 3 metres away.

  8. Magoo- It’s amazing what a SGM can “convince” people to do. Mine can put the fear of God into pretty much everyone in the brigade, including the brigade commander.

  9. It is posts like this that make me realize how much I miss the Corps.

    Public health can run a close second at times, but I have yet to meet an RN who can match a senior SNCO for pithiness.

    (that’s “th”).

  10. “Grimmy, so what I’m hearing from you is not much has changed at all really.”
    – America’s SgtMaj

    LOL. Yeah. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    – Grimmy

  11. Hmmm…I work in an office, the bastion of commercialism and there is a constant thermostat war going on at all times. Of course, you have those with an electric frigging blanket (I kid not) and others running around with a t shirt….add my hot flashes and you have quite the party. Only the rules of society have prevented lord of the flies here

  12. Something tells me that right after the sweet smile and the fluttery eyelashes, there will be a battle axe between the eyes following shortly….that sounds convincing enough to me.

  13. I still have the short sleeve wool long underwear shirts from OCS In Q-town early April. As I recall the Platoon Sgt had determined it was officially summer and therefor field jackets were no longer authorized and utility sleeves were to be rolled up in regulation manner… Never mind the sleet candidates.

  14. I still have the short sleeve wool long underwear shirts from OCS In Q-town early April. As I recall the Platoon Sgt had determined it was officially summer and therefor field jackets were no longer authorized and utility sleeves were to be rolled up in regulation manner… Never mind the sleet candidates.

  15. Not a Marine. Just a Marine Corps civilian. This is pretty hilarious to me. I left 29 Palms mid-summer. Two years there and we went through excruciatingly long stretches in our unit without air conditioning. I got to NC and in my squadron at Cherry Point this fall, the air conditioning was running very low(inducing the wearing of my coat and scarf at my desk) with temps in the 50’s. We had not yet had 6 consecutive days (or whatever the heck it is) of temps below 65. So…it’s 50, 55, 57, 48, 55, and then BAM…we get a 67 on a Saturday. So the count to get us to 6 days of temps below 65 started over. This happened well into December. And then it happened…some blessed day in December, I got to work and the steam was pouring out of the grates and we had HEAT. And now…I need a fan next to my desk because it’s so frickin’ hot. 🙂

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