Updated: Nov 4
In the movies all the Spec Ops dudes are always yoked out and jacked, but in real life the only guys with the beach bods were in Headquarters and never went to the field. I’ll also say that I noticed that I only got really good at my job only after I quit caring how cool everyone thought that I was. That’s when I really became a professional. Anyway, when we were not starving ourselves out on patrol or otherwise brutalizing our bodies and burning up all of our calories in training, we were trying as best we could to stay jacked and fit. We would usually go for a run every morning around 5:30, then hit the pool at lunchtime for a thousand meters or two, then hit the weights in the afternoon, then start drinking. Life at Recon was always busy with some kind of training, so we had to just make due and squeeze in as much drinking as we could around the periphery. Most of us were single and lived in the barracks. It was a shit-show. There was a significant rivalry in the company between the platoons. This would manifest itself in spontaneous combat betwixt platoons, called Kumate’. Sometimes the whole company, or all the platoons that weren’t out training or deployed would get sucked into it…minus Headquarters, of course. There was no real objective. It was just a massive brawl that usually left the Company area in utter ruin. Usually, the rest of the world left us pretty much to ourselves but sometimes the Officer Of the Day from Headquarters Battalion would come poking around. I remember he was particularly upset once to find the Duty NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) of our barracks tied to a tree in the front lawn, blindfolded, with Riggers tape (duct tape) over his mouth. That’s just the kind of shit that would upset certain kinds of people, so as we never liked to offend, we tried to keep pretty much to ourselves.
Air travel has been kind of a new idea for the Marines. Don’t get me wrong, the Marines have been in love with the idea of strafing and bombing people since the miracle of powered flight was first conceived. I think the officers in the higher echelons of the Marine Corps have been caught in a conundrum of sorts for years over the issue of powered flight. Although exhilarated at its applications in the tidy destruction of everything from enemy troops to small villages, as well as the benefits of air power in support of troops on the ground, there has always been one application of flight which has haunted Marine officers: the transportation of troops by air.
The reason is actually quite simple. To see the rhyme behind it, however, you must go back to the beginning of the Marine Corps. Philadelphia, November 10th, 1775. The word was passed on the streets that Tun Tavern would be serving free drinks that evening, but only to those who showed up armed. Despite the fact that to some, this may have seemed to be a bad idea, plenty of people showed up armed to the teeth, and proceeded to do what Marines have done since then in such environments: drink until utter failure. The next morning the drunken “volunteers” awoke on the swaying deck of a ship far out at sea and someone yelling at them about something or other. Marines have been in misery ever since.
By the time they arrived at their first landfall in the Bahamas they were so angry that they destroyed an entire garrison of troops, fortunately the US was then at war with those people. Thus, the Marine Corps doctrine was born, the secret of its success, and it has been viciously adhered to since then. Being on ship is the only proven way to keep Marines pissed off enough to be combat effective. The shit works. At any given time in this world there are at least three Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs) consisting of airplanes, helicopters, tanks, grunts, and afew other cats and dogs, all loaded on ships and floating around out at sea somewhere waiting for something bad to happen, or on their way to make something bad happen. Back then, we weren’t at war with anyone, so we pretty much just sat on the ship for six months and didn’t even hurt anyone’s feelings. We did training and shit in a lot of different countries and we did manage to make it into some cool ports. We stopped in Waikiki, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, The Seychelles, were on our way to Kenya when the Embassy there blew up, Bahrain and hung out in the shit ass desert in Kuwait and got to see what the bottom of a beer glass looks like in all of those places except Kuwait. Fuckin Boo, I say. Actually, in Bahrain it was piss warm in cans, not glasses. But back to the Seychelles for a minute. There were some fucking shenanigans in the Seychelles. Damn. Some of it I can’t go into, but I’ll tell what I can.
So, Troy had hooked up with this gorgeous blonde chick with a British accent whose parents owned an island. And a big yacht. The time was drawing near for Troy and his two buddies from the grunts to get back to the ship because the ship was going to leave the next morning and everyone had to be back on board by midnight. Troy decided that he was not going to return. He chose then and there to live there forever in the Seychelles in the sweet embrace of this hot ass blonde bitch. The two guys from the grunts weren’t having it though. They finally talked him out of it but they were still on her parents’ private island, and a long way from the ship. So all of them and some other random bitches got into her yacht and put the hammer down because it was getting nigh unto midnight. The ship we were on was an Amphib. An Amphib can drop its rear gate and even flood its well deck with water in order to launch boats and AMTRACS and hovercraft and shit like that out into the ocean. On this particular night that ramp was down and the gang plank from the pier lead down to the ramp. On the ramp was the duty desk where everyone had to sign in and out of liberty. And, again, everyone had to sign back in by midnight. Just a smidgen before midnight, there are assembled on the ramp the ship’s Captain, the Commander of the Battalion Landing Team, and all the other brass that was on board the ship at that time as well as the Command Master Chief and the Sergeant Major, etcetera. Troy made visual of the ship long before anyone on the ramp saw Troy. The USS Cole had not as of yet been attacked and blown up, so fortunately for Troy and the yacht and all the hot bitches and the two grunts, the 20mm blaster didn’t open up on them, and they made it all the way up to the ship and beached the yacht on the steel ramp. The bow of the yacht was grinding on the metal as Troy fell off of it onto the ramp and stumbled falling down twice before reaching the duty desk and signing in just seconds before the stroke of midnight. The yacht revved its engine to get its bow off of the steel ramp and blew smoke throughout the well deck. It pulled back and away from the ship and left into the darkness. There was a moment of stunned silence. The Command Master Chief finally spoke. “I’ve been in the Navy for 29 years and I ain’t never seen no shit like that before.”
Many years later, Troy, now an Intelligence Officer, was sitting around with abunch of guys from 1st Recon during a lull in the second Battle of Fallujah. One of them started regaling his fellow Marines with a legend involving a yacht pulling up onto the stern gate of the ship full of naked chicks committing leud acts with eachother and a Recon Marine humping one of them across the yacht’s bow. According to legend, the Marine jumped off the yacht, signed in, then cock blocked the Sergeant Major in front of the Sirens before strolled casually away. Troy just laughed along and didn’t say anything. He told me he didn’t want to ruin it, because: “Their version was much better.” Troy had accomplished what for which Achilles had so striven. He had become a legend in his own lifetime. Brings a tear to the eye.
Coming back from deployment is always anti-climatic. There was never anyone waiting or any shit like that. You want to get back to civilization so badly and the process of getting off the ship is such a pain in the ass that by the end of it you’re just tired as fuck and glad to be home, such as it was. It was always weird to see that the whole world had just gone on without me and now I was back and it just kept on rolling. I figured I might as well just roll along with it.
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