Notes from the front. Summer 2008.

Writing web site updates for parents and families was always a challenge. There are days you want to say things like: “Well today sucked! I had to write up three Marines for DUI and it seems another popped on the urinalysis for what looks like snorting a wheelbarrow full of cocaine.” We all joined the Corps to lead a life of swashbuckling adventure. Many days our lives just didn’t happen that way. Somehow I always managed to deliver something of substance to family members by hitting a few highlights. Marines who were there will note some of the references with a wink or a groan. They know what really went on behind the scenes.

From the desk of America’s First Sergeant:

Well true believers, another month of high adventure has been logged into the history books as your Marines weathered the many hazards of a training evolution dubbed Lava Viper at  Pohakuloa Training Area here in lovely Hawaii.  Wild, man-eating geese, demon driven typhoons, crazed environmentalists, and bad coffee all conspired to thwart our efforts at a successful training evolution.

Ok, so the geese didn’t actually eat anyone, sorry.  The typhoons in fact went wide of us or blew out entirely, sigh.  And quite frankly the environmentalists we worked with were very accommodating and professional.  But the coffee was awful and as the H&S 1stSgt boy did I get an earful about it!

Now PTA isn’t exactly what you think it is when I say the words “training in Hawaii”.  Palm trees, not so much.  Sandy beaches, sorry we were actually at an elevation of about 6,200 feet.  Yes, a lot of hearts get broken when people hear they are going to train in Hawaii and they land at PTA wondering how in the world it got so cold in the middle of summer.  The landscape is dominated by old lava flows and traversing it is kind of like walking across a field of broken concrete and shards of glass.  Just the type of terrain guaranteed to toughen you up.

Other highlights included the group of Korean and Vietnam vets who came to see some of the training and share breakfast with the Marines.  Despite the generational differences, it was interesting to see  Marines of every age have so much in common with one another.  I’ve found when Marine veterans get a chance to meet and talk with their younger counterparts the atmosphere is akin to a family reunion.  If it were up to them, our honored guests would have stayed in the chow hall all day swapping stories.  I don’t think our boys would have minded either.  It may also be of interest to note  all the vets said the coffee was much better than it was in their day.  I guess military science has made some advances after all.

In the end we wrapped up a successful month of what we do best, shooting lots of cool guns and blowing things up.  Well, except for that terrible incident on the flamethrower assault range.  In August we get to do all our training on the beach!  Sort of.  [Fine, my handlers want to me to remind you we actually don’t have any flamethrowers and there is in fact no flamethrower assault range at PTA.  But it would be cooler if there was!]

Invictus Maneo!

1stSgt Burke
Headhunting & Skullduggery Company

Just another ho-hum day in paradise!
Semper Fidelis,
America’s SgtMaj

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  1. Oh, man…talk about flashbacks. Two tours at Schofield Barracks with the 25th Infantry Division Artillery and too many trips to PTA to count. I did love the huge impact area and numerous firing points, though. And it was always good to get all our 13Bs away from the numerous training distractors on Oahu. Good time. Mostly.

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