Go-arounders and Overcomers | Finally Somehow Home - Chapter 5

Updated: Nov 1

After Dive School, the real training started: Constant, continuous, and intensive patrolling. I learn the hands-on way. And that’s how they taught us patrolling. It is a craft and it was taught as such. There’s a lot that goes into all that is required of living for days and weeks, surrounded and undetected, in the wilderness, all the while reporting and surveilling, and where possible, ambushing the shit out of bad guys. It was like playing at war again, and I loved it. I paid close attention. We were learning lessons the Vietnam guys had left behind for us. It was like the lessons that the old Samurai had passed along to their following generations. At the end of the day, it was the same thing. The craft’s most elite pass along the most essential knowledge, and patrolling was something we took very seriously at Recon. Amen and Amen.

Marching and close order drill and spit-shining your boots and not walking on the grass, and all the other stupid bullshit…not so much. I think in the special operations community in general, and definitely in Recon, it seems like the right people just drift into it. It is definitely not the hard-core rule guy or the bean counter, although there were afew of those. But most of the guys I was in Recon with were the dudes that basically said, “I’ll do whatever crazy dumb shit you ask of me in combat, if you will just leave me alone and stop with all the marching and yelling and shit.” In fact, if anyone ever showed signs of a weak spirit, or of not being able to make it, I hoped for their demise. We all did. In Recon, we never helped each other out by pushing each other along. I didn’t want to be dragging someone along who couldn’t hang. And I think the rest of us were like that too. If I need to help and encourage you to not give up, then fuck you, limp dick, get the fuck off of my team. You need to motivate yourself to succeed before you ever look to others for it. That’s how we helped each other out. By doing whatever we could to not drain the guy next to you. Don’t be a life-suck. When everyone was contributing to the team, not taking from it, that’s when really good shit would happen and we would challenge each other to excel instead of helping each other to not quit. I’m not necessarily endorsing that as a principal of life. I’m just saying that’s how we did it.

The training was incessant and intense. It wasn’t just about proficiency, it was about making it second nature, and the only way to get it down like that was to do it right and do it often and do it underwater and do it at night and do it in the snow and do it again and do it again and do it again. Perfect practice that makes perfect. Training is the process of removing excess time and human error from tactical algorithms. I think it becomes a craft when those responses become second nature. It takes thousands of repetitions to make that happen. And what’s funny is that I only ever saw it all come together as one, in combat. Where time slows down when the first shots are fired or when something explodes, you have a choice right then. You can panic or you can think. Its exactly the same decision you had to make when they were punching you in the solar plexus under 12 feet of water and every fiber in your body and soul just wanted to breathe. Panic = die. Think = live. Once in combat, I had already been introduced to that decision under duress and I had handled it, I was in familiar territory. This is what I mean about knowing yourself. Damn. Writing this shit out is bringing back a lot. Part of me doesn’t really want to write about it because it’s a scary time. I’ve been in afew of them. Those snaps in time where you could live or die. And you walk the fucking tightrope and live. Whew! Makes me want to do a little dance.

I went to good ole Airborne School too. I hated jumping out of airplanes, man. Jumping HAHO (High Altitude High Opening) or HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) is one thing, but dope on a rope - Static Line: filing out of the back of a C-17 in a Mass Attack then smashing into the ground like a bag of smashed assholes? Brother, you’re a better man than I. Fuck That. But you had to learn both because there was a lot of merit to the capabilities of each insert capability. So, off I went to Army Airborne School and practiced pounding into the ground from all different heights and objects, then pound into the ground out of a low flying airplane five times, and you’re done. But it takes 3 weeks. It’s Hell. And not at all because it is difficult. It’s not. At all. The Marines and SEAL students were always in trouble with the Army Cadre. We had the wrong color of t-shirts, we made people cry, any little thing. We, of course, linked up and joined forces immediately, against our shared enemy: the Army. One Marine got in trouble for ripping a soldier’s earring out of his ear. The Marine didn’t know the Army regulations on that one. Because that might have been OK in the Army, but the Marine was not aware. Just a little misunderstanding about the regs on that one. No harm, no foul.

But they always put Marines in charge of the classes. A couple classes before mine, the class leader had been a lowly Marine E-3 Lance Corporal. But a senior Lance Corporal with a whip to crack is no slouch, so he did a great job.

I was lucky as hell to go to jump school back then too because quotas usually went to more senior guys, but no one was around the Company area when the quota had come in, and my Platoon Sergeant had snatched it up and given it to me. Good man. So, when I got back, I was one of the only dual cool Lance Coconuts (Lance Corporals) in the Company. It was cool, but some dudes were pissed. I got lucky.

That’s about when I met Troy. He was from Texas. He was shorter than me but stockier and stronger, and one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He was also of wrestling and football fame in Texas during his high school years. He had placed second in State in wrestling because he had a broken ankle when he entered the match. He was a tough motherfucker. He is still my best friend. Troy was older than me but he had joined the Marine Corps after a brief stint in college playing football, so he was junior to me and I was to teach him. The first time I took him out to teach him land navigation, we promptly got lost. It was the same day I picked up Corporal. Dumbass. Me and Troy have been on some wild and crazies since. We have fought each other with our fists more than once. We used to go down to Tijuana because I was under 21 and the drinking age in Mexico was 18, if there was one. We’d go down to get steroids and get shitfaced and talk to under-21 SDSU and UCSD chicks.

Our buddy, Oz, was a big Mexican. He was an LA gangbanger before he joined the Corps, so he knew his way around. Oz used to go with us to keep us out of trouble. On one of these occasions, we were on our way back to the border when I had to take a piss. So, I went into a phone booth and pretended to be talking on the phone and pointing up in the sky with my hands to distract people from the fact that I was actually pissing. Try it, it works. Troy then decided that he had to piss as well, and commenced to pissing on my leg. I would have retaliated at that moment, but I could not help but notice the Federales coming up behind Troy to arrest him, so I did not. Fair is fair. As they were cuffing Troy I was having a good laugh. Oz stepped in to save the day and began to barter for Troy‘s life in Spanish. I, however, lost interest and stumbled off to look over some trinkets that one of the street vendors had for sale. I chose a nice looking grey poncho and donned and purchased it. After the course of my monetary transaction for the poncho, I turned to find that Oz had talked Troy free from the Federales and that we were headed through the border to the American side once more. Fair is not fair, I guess, Troy. Yes Troy had not gone to jail and must thereby reap the just deserts of his pissing on my leg. During extreme cold weather, or in RIP it was considered a favor for someone to piss on your leg if you were standing in the surf zone, because it’s so damn warm. But I didn’t need the warmth here. We found the car and I let Troy get in first on the right hand rear side. He was a tough son of a bitch so I knew I had to sucker punch him to get him good. I blasted him a good one across the jaw. It took him a second but he got out of the car and started beating on me hard - he pulled that poncho up over my head and was kneeing me in the face over and over again. I eventually fell down. I was bloody and laughing. I put my left hand out so that he could grab a hold and help me up to my feet. He acquiesced. And as he pulled me up toward him, I brought my right hand back and blasted him really good right in the chin. His head snapped back. It was a great shot. But for the grace of God go I. The American police showed up just as he was beginning to retaliate.

About three years after that Oz broke his back in three places in a motorcycle accident. They said he’d never walk again. He now walks fine with a cane, and incidentally, holds a shit load of Olympic gold medals in hand cycling. He is also a well-known public speaker.

It seems like in life we all want to be go-arounder’s instead of over-comers. You’ll just wear yourself out trying to go around. Sooner or later you realize that the only way through it is to start climbing. You will then start to feel like you are not strong enough to reach the top. And you’ll be right. You aren’t. But you only have to be strong enough to take the next step. And you will learn that the only way to get strong enough to climb the mountain is by climbing the mountain. By the time you reach the top you will be strong enough to get there. Oz showed that to all of us.

NOTE: Finally Somehow Home is a separate book from The Perfect Fucking Life, and is not yet in publication at the time of this post.

All this shit is written and created by Jason Lee Morrison © 2022

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