Monday, March 5, 2012

I Wanted The Pink Mist...

"A story. A man fires a rifle for many years. and he goes to war. And afterwards he comes home, and he sees that whatever else he may do with his life - build a house, love a woman, change his son's diaper - he will always remain a jarhead. And all the jarheads killing... and dying... they will always be me. We are STILL... in the desert."   - Anthony Swafford (Jarhead)

 So it's been a long time coming that I write an article about the Marine Corps. I seem to have no problem writing about nearly every other f'ing thing under the sun, but have yet to take the time to recognize a period that not only lasted nearly a quarter of my life, but also made me what I am today-- a cocky, confident, accomplished, strong, angry, and badass prick. But rather than ranting on and on about what I personally have to say about the subject, I am going to periodically throw in some quotes that I find to be worth citing. Because frankly, there are many more influential voices out there besides mine, who have plenty of valid opinions of the United States Marines.

I'll start this off by pointing out that last night me and my fiance were in bed, watching tv- The one that gets all eleven channels of basic cable (Exactly. What do you know about hard times?). For some odd reason there is no comcast wired into the bedrooms in our apartment. No big deal, can't complain, my 52" in the living room gets everything. Anyway... one of the channels we do get in the bedroom is that 'Ion Television' channel. You may know it for always playing 'Criminal Minds' (a favorite of ours), a bunch of other crappy shows, and (actually) some pretty decent movies. Well, 'Jarhead' happened to be playing when I turned on the tv, so with limited options and wanting something to fall asleep to I kept it on, and watched it for... shit, probably the fifteen thousandth time. If you are NOT a Marine, are curious about the Marine Corps, are maybe thinking about possibly joining the Marine Corps, or are in any other way associated with the Marine Corps, I urge you to watch this movie. Any Marine will tell you, straight forward, it is probably the most accurate movie portrayal of the Marines ever made (except maybe the boot camp part, which in reality is a million times worse).                                                                                                     

Now I"m not talking about the war aspect of it. Shit, every war is different, and every war is different for every individual, so I do not mean the combat part (or lack thereof). What I am talking about is nearly every other depiction. I am talking about the attitude/personality of the Marines, the regulations and routine instilled upon them by their unit, the bull shit punishments and mind-fuck games when they screwed up, the pride, the raunchiness of their behavior- all of it. It is a damn-near spitting image of the real thing. If that does not appeal to you.... take a f!&*ing number, it sure as shit isn't for everybody.

"Suggested techniques for the marine to use in the avoidance of boredom and loneliness: Masturbation. Rereading of letters from unfaithful wives and girlfriends. Cleaning your rifle. Further masturbation. Rewiring Walkman. Arguing about religion and meaning of life. Discussing in detail, every woman the marine has ever fucked. Debating differences, such as Cuban vs. Mexican, Harleys vs. Hondas, left- vs. right-handed masturbation. Further cleaning of rifle. Studying of phillipino mail order bride catalogue. Further masturbation. Planning of marine's first meal on return home. Imagining what a marine's girlfriend and her man Jody are doing in the hay, or in the alley, or in a hotel bed." 
- Anthony Swafford (Jarhead)

I have to say that I was not an active duty Marine. I was in the Marine Reserves for six years. What does that mean? It means that I did not live on a base, I did not do my job every day, my entire life did not revolve around being a Marine. At least, not exactly. What I did do was go through the same exact boot camp as every other Marine (thirteen weeks, Parris Island), the same exact job school as every other Marine in my occupational specialty, maintain the same exact standards and qualifications as any other Marine (i.e. swim qual, rifle range, PFT, written tests, MCMAP, etc) yearly, and serve in the same war as every other Marine (for me it was Operation Iraqi Freedom, version 8-2, 2008-2009).
But outside of war time, I went to drill only one weekend a month, and to training for two-weeks every summer. Some Marines look down upon that. I say whatever, blow me, I had a life besides.

What I experienced (even in the Reserves) I would qualify as a legitimate Marine Corps experience. The feel (although maybe slightly more relaxed), was very similar to that of active duty. I can say this seeing that I did spend a year on active duty when I deployed. It is a feeling that no part of me misses.

(except for that one huge part of me)

Ironic? Hahaha you have no idea, and you will most likely never, fully understand.

You see, serving in the Marines has this unique way of being one of the best experiences that a patriotic, border-line-insane human being can ever have, and then make you regret ever being born in the same day. When I deployed to Iraq in '08 I kept a journal. Over two years after my return I re-read it, and then added a final entry upon my retirement from the Corps:


   The one thing I can say, looking back, even though I never killed any ‘bad guys’ is that I was and always will be, a Marine. I served. I did my part. I lived through the bull shit, the mind-fuck, the physical stress, and the admiration of others (both friend and enemy) that you receive from serving in the Marine Corps. Looking back on both my 6 years in the Corps, and my 2008-2009 deployment to Iraq, I realize how much more I could share in terms of experiences, that would just about make you piss your pants laughing, or shit your pants in shock or fear. I loved my friends/BROTHERS. I hated my deployment. I HATED boot camp. I hated the Marine Corps…… And the funny thing is… although I probably wouldn’t do it all again, I sure as shit wouldn’t change a thing.

I fucking hated the Marine Corps…… And for that, I thank it- For the memories, and for who I am today- a Marine, a Veteran… a BAD ASS MOTHER F*ER!" - (personal journal)


               "SSgt. Siek: Now to the rest of you, do you have what it takes to be the meanest, the            cruelest, the most sadistic unforgiving mother fuckers in God's cruel kingdom?
All Marines: Yes, Staff Sergeant!
SSgt. Siek: Will you be able to one day say, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for I am the BADDEST mother fucker in the God damn valley?"
All Marines: Yes, Staff Sergeant!
SSgt. Siek: We shall fucking see." - (Jarhead)

I ran a sub-nineteen minute three-mile when I was in my prime. I did nearly twenty-five pull-ups, and easily did one-hundred (plus) crunches in two minutes, and was easily in the best shape of my life, and more fit than nearly anyone else I knew. My job was Motor-T (or motor transportation). What that means is that I was a convoy driver (or) convoy turret gunner. I was licensed to operate three different trucks, and what we did was drive in various re-supply/combat patrol missions. We would be on the road for stretches of several hours, to several days at a time, depending on our destination. I spent time on more bases than I can even remember. I made trips to bases that didn't even have running water at times, and bases (usually Army or Air Force) that had malls, video games, and Internet. I saw every side of Iraq imaginable-- desolate, arid, dead, and violent. As well as green, aquatic and relatively nice. I saw poor, I saw wealthy. I witnessed suicide bombers blow themselves up in their cars, and children beat the living shit out of each other for a bottle of Gatorade.

In my job our biggest threat was the IED (Improvised Explosive Device), or road-side bomb to most of you- although it wasn't too bad while we were there. I won't get into too much detail about this, because this really isn't as much about the war as it is about the Marine Corps in general. The war, well shit that could be it's own article all in itself. 
                                                     SSgt Siek: [to the Marines]
         "The Bible says "Thou shalt not kill." But hear this: FUCK THAT SHIT!"    -(Jarhead)

Anyway, the one thing I wanted more than anything while I was there was to kill someone (as sick as that may sound to you). If you don't like it than you have to keep something in mind, something very particular to the Marine Corps. We are here to win wars. Plain and simple. The one, sole purpose of the Marine Corps in to kill whatever enemy steps onto our lawn and threatens our lives or freedom. We are here to do this, for you. Marines are bred to love the idea of killing bad guys, but it is fair to say that Marines, in a way, are Marines before they even step on the yellow footprints at boot camp. You generally do not join the Marine Corps unless you want to kill bad guys. There is three other branches of the U.S. military that would love to make your acquaintance regardless of your disposition on killing.

"The safest place in Korea was right behind a platoon of Marines. Lord, how they could fight!"
                                --MGen. Frank E. Lowe, USA; Korea, 26 January 1952

          "I come in peace, I didn't bring artillery. But I am pleading with you with tears in   my eyes: If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all."
                  --Marine General James Mattis, to Iraqi tribal leaders                    

I regret to inform you however, that I never actually killed a bad guy. Wasn't meant to be I guess. I did however learn  some extremely important facts/lessons throughout the course of that year. In short, I learned that:

 #1) The Marine Corps will bend you over in ways you would have never thought possible, and slide the green weenie right up between your cheeks. And it will do it time, and time again. If you have ever thought you have lived through discomfort in your life you better have been homeless at one point or another before you complain to a Marine. I'm talking about being left standing in formations for hours at a time in the sun because your superior officers think it's more important to take their time and do what they want to do. I'm talking about living with no running water, because the Marine Corps gets the shit end of the stick for all technology or luxuries given to the U.S. military. I'm talking about deploying with your unit, only to find out days before you leave the country that you (alone) will be separated and tossed out to some other unit somewhere else once you get there (where you're going no one knows... when you'll be back? No one knows that either). I'm talking about filling sandbags in 130 degree heat as a punishment, or cleaning up trash (IN IRAQ) because your gunnery sergeant doesn't like the look of it near his compound. I'm talking about strict uniform regulations while you're at war, just like you would back in the states. Why? Because your commanding officer wants everyone looking professional (this isn't "Platoon." No bandannas, sleeveless shirts, grown out hair, beards... nothing like that. Just disregard ANY war movie you've ever seen).

Oh, shit I could go on and on with all day with this crap... But for your sake, I won't.

#2) You are a number. This stems from what I just said above, but expands upon it. The Marine Corps itself does not give a rat's ass about you as a human being. Only that you do the job it tells you to. Your unit might care about you... your brothers care about you.... the Marine Corps, not so much.

#3) You will never have so much fun being miserable (see below).

#4) You will never form tighter bonds with any other human beings. Your brother Marines will become friends that you will never experience anywhere else. The reason for this? For one, you experience and live through all of the same shit- shit that no one else would ever fully understand. But even more importantly, Marines are all the same in one way or another, and you cannot in any way match our personalities, or our completely obscene and inappropriate behavior. Not only that... we find ways to make misery fun. Or fun(ny). Because we are sick and twisted individuals. Some of the best times I have ever had in my entire life have been in the company of Marines. And many of those times were also while simultaneously cursing the gods and hating life.     

"The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!" 

                   --Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, 1945 

"There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion."

--Gen. William Thornson, U.S. Army 

"They told (us) to open up the Embassy, or "we'll blow you away." And then they looked up and saw the Marines on the roof with these really big guns, and they said in Somali, "Igaralli ahow," which means "Excuse me, I didn't mean it, my mistake".
--Karen Aquilar, in the U.S. Embassy; Mogadishu, Somalia, 1991

I guess what I could say, ultimately, is that when you become a Marine it stays with you your entire life. The things you see and experience, the guys you meet and become friends with, are unlike anything else on the planet. The pain you suffer, as well as the pain you hope to inflict upon others, merge together into one big ball of "ouch," and sometimes you can't distinguish between the two. But you really don't care anyway. You start off patriotic, wanting to fight for your country. You end, patriotic, having fought for your country, and ultimately for your brothers. You find that in the end, you do it more for them than anything else. That is what I got out of the Marines (aside from a massive fucking headache).

I'll say it again...  I hated the Marine Corps…… And the funny thing is… although I probably wouldn’t do it all again, I sure as shit wouldn’t change a thing.

I fucking hated the Marine Corps…… And for that, I thank it- For the memories, and for who I am today- a Marine, a Veteran… a BAD ASS MOTHER F*ER!"

"Welcome to the Suck..."



  1. Great read brother.

    Semper Fi!

  2. As a Vietnam Marine 0331 I really appreciated this read. I was passing thru Canadian customs the other day wearing my USMC cap, the agent thanked me for my service and gave me a wrist band that reads "Pink Mist Brothers". Not sure what it means but when I googled it I came upon this page.Thank You Mr. Customs Agent!!!!!


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