Safely Handling Radioactive Stupid…

It’s funny how young Marines feel they deal with a lot of stupid stuff. They think getting up in the morning is a pain in the neck. Having to shave is an inconvenience. Keeping their area squared away is imposing on their right to self expression. The list goes on.Often I ask a group of Marines who among them thinks they put up with stupidity. Inevitably a forest of hands goes up until I bark, “Well try putting some rockers on and see how stupid it gets!”

Things 1stSgt’s deal with include…

Other people’s marriages:

Everyone just HAS to get married right before deployment. These individuals are always lined up outside my office with their marriage packages in hand; oblivious too everyone who is getting divorced right before deployment who are waiting in another line to see me. There is a mysterious phenomenon occurring here where these two groups of people are utterly blind to the existence of the other and will heed no one’s advice about waiting until after deployment or at least until he gets to know her better.
Then of course there is everyone who is getting married during post deployment leave (at least they waited for the deployment to be over). This is followed closely by all those getting a divorce immediately following the deployment. The classic example is the Marine who returns home to an empty house having had no idea his spouse had left him. His chain of command and all his buddies no doubt told him it wasn’t a good idea to marry a stripper he had only known for four weeks but did he listen?

Once I had a Marine get a divorce right before we deployed. When we came back seven months later, one the guys from his platoon ended up marrying the girl on post deployment leave. I think I broke at least three of my own teeth during this episode.

There have been cases where Marines have deployed while neglecting to make sure their spouse had any money to live on while deployed. No ATM card, no checks, no direct deposit. Hey stud, do you think she might need to buy food and pay your rent?

My favorite is forgetting to mention to your spouse that you are going to be gone for seven months in Iraq at all. This is more common than you might think. I’ve even had Marines forget to tell their mothers that they were deploying. Awesome!

Now with the advent of 21st Century technology you can fight with your loved ones a dozen times a day and still be 8,000 miles from where they are. We’ve got clowns that call multiple times a day and then get belligerent if the wife hasn’t answered the phone on the first ring. Brain surgeon, she has to go to the crapper some time. If you don’t trust her then maybe you shouldn’t have married a woman that was sleeping around with you behind her previous husband’s back when he was on deployment. Sometimes people just get what they deserve.

Other people’s parents:

Then there is the odd Marine who writes home to his mother that he doesn’t get to eat. She naturally writes her congressman in concern which starts a whole chain of e-mails with a subject line containing the letters W, T, and F. Now of course there is plenty of food for this Marine and his delicate palate to consume he just doesn’t like it. Here’s a news flash: NONE OF US LIKE IT!

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that military food is just plain rancid. MREs, Tray Rations, and UGRs are only slightly less foul than what passed for chow back in the Old Corps. But guess what? There is plenty of it so there is no reason to complain about hunger. I remember once the little heathens ate everything in sight and my Company Commander and I were left eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made out of shelf bread. So Mom, check it out: your son is being fed plenty; he is just being a sissy because you are not cooking for him anymore. Tell him to man up. I already did, that is why he sent you that whiny e-mail.

Most mothers want their sons home from combat. I don’t blame them. I want their sons to come home from combat too; right now in fact. Here’s the problem, we all signed up to do a job. It’s called a contract. When you don’t live up to it then you are called a dirt bag. So Mom, please stop sending the command emergency Red Cross Messages requesting the presence of your son because you are having a bunion removed. No one in the entire theatre of operations is going to approve that emergency leave request. There’s like a war on.

Self inflicted wounds:

In the Marine Corps we have standards; standards of conduct; standards of dress; even height and weight standards. The weight standard is particularly amusing especially when the fat Marine in question is completely mystified by the fact that you want to break a park bench over his back. Of course it is never his fault; no one told him he looked like a beach ball with lips. Maybe when that gigantic orb of flesh called your gut began to affect the tides it should have given you a clue. Listen, when Japanese fishermen start licking their lips when you walk by it’s time to cover your blow hole and run.

Alcohol is the perennial villain in many a tale of liberty gone awry and is usually prominently featured in any and all of the above scenarios. Its uncanny ability to cripple what is already questionable judgment is legendary. Lessons like it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle under the influence are usually learned the hard way vice simply listening to your 1stSgt tell you it is EVERY WEEKEND. That fact that stumbling around Waikiki blind drunk at 0300 in the morning will make you a victim is another good one.
Even as you read this I am probably standing in front of a group of Marines getting ready to fly home from Iraq. I am more than likely trying to convince them that all the alcohol in America will still be there the day after they get back and that there is no need to attempt to drink it all in one night. Will they listen? That remains to be seen this trip.

Semper Fi,
America’s 1stSgt

/ / / /


  1. You don’t get paid enough to deal w/stupidity….so you must enjoy it a little bit to keep putting up w/it (or is it that pesky contract?). 🙂

    Several guys in my husband’s unit went into panic mode when the word mobilization appeared, and their wives are now pregnant. I’m genuinely happy for all of them, but here’s my fave: “We didn’t want to get married because we weren’t sure if we’d still be together when the deployment ends -14 months is a long time, ya know, but we wanted to try to have a baby anyways.” She’s due in December – Merry Christmas!

  2. Top,
    This is great. I had a few troops on my deployments who would spend hours on the Phone talking to the girl back home…except the lads would become very upset and depressed after that call…they did this every night. I told them to tell the old lady that they were only allowed one 15 “Free” call a week and they became very happy.

    You’re so lucky to have such a good editor on your blog.

  3. Becky, that has to top some of the dumbest things I have ever heard. Iwould have lost-my-mind on those idiots. Talk about questionable judgement.

    CI Roller, I had a guy who would get his 15mins on the phone and thenget back in line and do that all night long. What a jackass. And yes, wedon’t allow the actual language used out here to appear on the blog.

    Kanani, people ask me why I am not married and I always respond: What doyou mean? I’m married to every spouse in my company!

  4. I know what you mean. I am married, and yet I feel like I have a zillion in-laws….namely the military. I try my best to keep my head down, do what I like, and hopefully they won’t notice me.

  5. 1. You nailed it on teeth grinding stupidity.
    2. Old Corps was no different. Stupid is forever.
    3. Reminds me of one of my troops, turning himself in from UA status.
    4. 1st and I are listening in. From announcements, is clear Marine is calling from Oceanside bus station.
    5. Wants girl friend to ride with him back to company.
    6. 1st and I debate sending our hit squad in to kidnap his sorry butt. Decide to go along with it.
    7. Everything goes OK.
    8. Driving girl friend back, she is musing over whether she IS going to marry this kid.
    9. Will be her fourth or fifth marriage.
    10. She is not certain she is divorced from all of the previous.
    11. Talks about how she is looking forward to hanging out with her friends back in Oceanside.
    12. Pete Wilson, then Mayor of San Diego, had just kicked all the whores out of his city. A fair number had moved into Oceanside.
    13. This female vision was 21 by her driver’s license. Checked because of age issues.
    14. Wasn’t too worried about this one: by the time he got out of the brig, she’d be long gone.
    15. Regret to say that wall-to- wall counseling was not workable.
    16. Several bad experiences caused me to take strict measures to prevent such.
    17. On the other hand, verbal counseling certainly didn’t work. 18. Result: got to watch a bunch of young men screw up their lives by engaging in stupid behaviors.
    19. In a war zone, they’d listen to you -after they saw someone get hurt and realized this was serious business.
    20. Really enjoy your postings.
    21. Thanks, also, to Beth for getting your stuff out there.
    22. You’ve got a gift, Top.
    V/R JWest

  6. I’ve been volunteering over at the local Marine base. There’s a retired MGySgt who works alongside us. I have to say that he also did his fair amount of “stupid” when he was younger. Many ex-wives, including one now. Seems like he pays a lot of alimony and child support, which takes up a fair portion of his retirement pay. He’s also had to pay lawyers and all sorts of nasty fines. Drives around with a bumper sticker that says something about all his ex-wives.

    If only these kids could look 35 years down the line, maybe they’d wise up.
    But they won’t.

  7. Akelamalu,  all in a day’s work!

    Kanani, I used to try and keep my head down but I’ve got that wholementoring thing going on. And it is not unusual for senior Marines tohave been married one or more times. I am an aberration. People just can’t believe that I do not have children or any number of ex-wives like everyone else.Another sad fact is that 80% of first term (first enlistment) marriages end in divorce. None of these young guys want to hear that though.

    Jwest, that story, sadly, is typical. I still contend that if the Marine Corps allowed me the judicious use of a bamboo rod that the number of incidents would decrease dramatically.

    Southern, all my psychology was learned the hard way. The best job description for what I do is: walking human resource manager. Myfavorite thing is when the Navy psych doctors tell me that I’m notqualified to diagnose whether or not a Marine has PTSD or is faking the funk. Really sir? I have been leading Marines for 18 years maybe I have some insight to the Marine mind that you will never have. I can’t diagnose a common cold either but I know when someone is sick or not

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