Marines who are with their buddies generally fare better when a fight breaks out. They also don’t commit suicide in the company of another Marine. In my experience it seems DUIs tend to happen more to Marines who are by themselves as well too.
I always used to encourage Marines to hang out with each other on the weekends in Hawaii by asking if any of them ever deployed to combat by themselves. They answered no of course. I’d then ask why in the world would they let themselves go out in bars and clubs populated by local thugs who wanted nothing but to mount a Marine’s head on his wall.
As a 1stSgt with FAST in Bahrain I tried to combat the impact of Marines being by themselves. I always told them we were not strangers to each other and to act accordingly. We were the only company of Marines on the entire island so if I saw a Marine eating by himself I’d ask where his buddies were. Once I saw two lance corporals sitting by themselves at two separate tables. I asked one why he wasn’t at the other table. He replied that he didn’t know that Marine as they were in different platoons. I introduced them then made them sit together and finish chow.
The CO, XO, Company Gunny and I had a habit of going to breakfast together. Occasionally, I’d see a young Marine eating by himself and we’d all sit down with him. Being under so much scrutiny certainly spices up the average mealtime. Pretty soon the word was out.
My weekend routine in Bahrain was to hit up the breakfast buffet put on by MWR. For a couple of hours I’d read a book while gorging on omelets made to order, coffee, and a bonanza of fat pills. I was always satisfied to see groups of Marines sit down and eat together.
One morning a young lance corporal plopped his tray down on my table.
“Good morning 1stSgt, is it alright if I sit here? Marines don’t eat alone right?”
I put down my book and said he was absolutely right. We talked while we ate and the next thing I know I was host to a table full of Marines laughing and joking as they shared a meal. Not a bad way to spend the morning in the Persian Gulf I’d say.
Louis L’Amour said nothing binds men like sweat and gun smoke, but breaking bread together will do in a pinch.