Wall Lockers and JOBs. BLEEEECH!!!

You recall I mentioned last time how I hate being inspected with the heat of a nova. Why, you ask? What kind of horrifying childhood trauma could make my molars grind to powder at the thought of an inspection?

Let’s take a little glimpse at Marine Corps history as seen through the eyes of America’s 1stSgt.

Way back in 1775, inspections were held to ensure each of the Colonial Marines had a functioning musket, dry powder, and was wearing his tri-corn hat at the proper jaunty Marine Corps angle. After this they immediately conducted their first amphibious landing at New Providence Island during the Battle of Nassau. This began a long and illustrious history of stomping the snot out of America’s enemies. Simple formula right?

Fast forward to the early 1990’s in the heady days of MCRES and MCREE or whatever the heck they were calling it that week. Whatever the name, it is a Commanding General’s Readiness Inspection (CGRI) and was the cause of many sleepless nights spent ironing boot socks and mastering the fine art of the Wall Locker/JOB (junk on the bunk) Inspection.

Preparation for the Wall Locker/JOB included putting a hot iron to every stitch of clothing you were issued including underwear. Yes, Marines all over the globe spent their off time dutifully ironing their BVDs, t-shirts, and socks to ensure they were crisp and folded in neat aligned stacks. Hours and hours were spent hunting for IPs (Irish pennants), little loose strings which are still anathema to Marines.

The liberal use of spray starch was an integral part of the inspection process. One has not had a full Marine Corps experience until in a brief moment of clarity one realizes he spent the entire weekend starching his drawers. We hung our uniforms up in the wall locker bracing all the sleeves with a folded wire hanger. Then we spray starched the crap out of them. This was to ensure the seams on the sleeves would be flat and all facing in the same direction. It was a terrible crime to not have all the hangers pointed the same way. Having any buttons unbuttoned was liable to get you “not recommended” for promotion.

Dress shoes and black boots were given special attention with q-tips and the sole was given a coating of edge dressing. Not only the sides but on the bottom too. After all, one couldn’t give the impression one actually walked around in them.

Every piece of gear issued was cleaned, polished, painted, and suitably worshiped in the proper Marine Corps manner. In the infantry, weapons were cleaned so vigorously the bluing was scrubbed off turning the rifles silver. E-tools, eyelets on belts, and anything metal was painted black. The idea was to make everything look brand new and heaven forbid items such as your undergarments had the appearance of looking used. To this day you can probably still find flat black spray painted outlines of e-tools and tent stakes on the sidewalks near any Marine barracks.

We would go so far as to purchase an entire extra set of t-shirts, socks, and underwear for exclusive use in the Wall Locker/JOB. To counteract this practice it was ordered that all gear displayed would be gear the Marine actually wore. Being adaptable creatures we simply bought the extra set of t-shirts and underwear and put each item on one at a time. As we removed each article we ironed them into a permanent flat square. Come inspection time we could honestly say that we had worn the items on display.

After pouring our heart and soul into creating immaculate shrines out of our wall lockers containing highly polished boots and shoes, decorated with uniforms creased as sharp as a scalpels, the true malicious intent of the Marine Corps inspection preparation process revealed itself. We had to box up all our well manicured uniform items for storage while we deployed to Japan for six months. By the time we got back from deployment all our stored gear was disheveled and somehow all the IPs had grown back. Never fear though, because we got to do it all over again the following year.

An entire book could probably be written about the glorious days of Wall Locker/JOBs and how Marines considered braining each other with e-tools rather than endure another inspection.

Fortunately now days this kind of thing doesn’t take up all our time. The 21st Century Marine Corps has turned a corner and is interested in other pursuits, like war. Gone are the hours of labor put into into a single well ironed and painstakingly folded t-shirt that was never actually worn for a full work day. Instead of spending entire pay checks on brand new t-shirts, underwear, utilities, boots, polish, starch, hangars, flat black paint, etc, Marines joyfully spend entire paychecks on cases of Monster energy drinks, Guitar Hero, and on car payments with obscene interest rates. Ah, progress!

Semper Fi!
America’s 1stSgt

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14 comments

  1. But Shirley all that made you the man you are today? Sharp creases, rock-hard underwear, the heart of a fearsome fighting force!
    And at least you have the pleasure of not having to do it anymore.

    I think my mum may have been a Marine at some point, she still insists on ironing socks. Did you guys ever recruit from Glaswegian libraries?

  2. Wow, sounds like the Vogons were responsible for writing the rules for inspections in the early 1990’s!!! 😛
    At least your ironed and starched underwear was use-full for your shuriken-throwing-ninja-training. XD

  3. Gallons of starch, quarts of Brasso, Q-tips by the thousands, and enough black Kiwi shoe polish to cover the Astrodome – and that was just my platoon.

    The low point was a night ambush exercise where in the machine gunners (and half the other troops) didn’t fire their weapons ’cause blanks got them dirty and there was an inspection coming up. Sheesh. So we stood in formation while the new Lt (that would be me) and the Plt Sgt stood in front of each man while he emptied a magazine or three…

  4. Gallons of starch, quarts of Brasso, Q-tips by the thousands, and enough black Kiwi shoe polish to cover the Astrodome – and that was just my platoon.

    The low point was a night ambush exercise where in the machine gunners (and half the other troops) didn’t fire their weapons ’cause blanks got them dirty and there was an inspection coming up. Sheesh. So we stood in formation while the new Lt (that would be me) and the Plt Sgt stood in front of each man while he emptied a magazine or three…

  5. This sounds like a weekend at my dad’s house 😉 Bless his heart he still believes in having field days. BUT I do know how to iron my clothes and spit-shine my shoes thanks to him

  6. I really don’t feel bad that military inspections aren’t what they used to be. 😀
    I’ve spent hours and hours cleaning weapons for inspection though. I think that’s why the Army gives us those nasty brown towels. For gun rags.

  7. You forgot the quarter check on your boot heels.

    For the uninitiated…

    If a quarter, laid flat on the ground, could fit its edge between your boot heel and the ground, the boots were no longer “serviceable” due to excessive wear according to inspection standards.

    Of course, such “excessive wear” took about a week of normal use for an infantryman.

    So, new boots had to be on hand for the inspections.

    BUT! the boots had to be worn and show they’d been worn. The proper creases to the proper wear pattern had to be visible. You got those by putting on your new boots then dropping down to do pushups (for the toe bendy lines) and/or a few dozen sets of deep lunges.

    But what you didn’t do was walk anywhere in those damn Acme boots.

  8. Oh, forgot…

    IPs are the devil. Seriously. The only way to limit the growth of IPs was to singe, melt entire seams in trousers and blouses (yes, Marines were blouses, get over it already).

    It is said or at least used to be said, that one of the magic powers common to the rings of “ring knockers” was the ability to cause IPs to grow in massive numbers and to gianormous lengths simply by reaching the beringed hand down a trouser leg or blouse sleeve.

  9. Though I will admit that seeing a Marine in uniform is a thing of beauty, it seems a bit much to waste that much effort on inspecting your briefs instead of the business of field preparedness. I’m glad you have more time to spend on more practical considerations now.

  10. I bet 1st Sgt was present at that first inspection, too :ducking:

    Field days still bring nightmares, and Wednesday’s are still set aside for them at home. I found a box of 25 year-old inspection skivvies, all still folded and starched.

    My wife appreciates my experiences as she has me get her gear ready for inspections and AT. You would have thought the Army would have taught her how to assemble suspenders…

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