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Surfing for Dolphins

I feel like I’m an awful writer. All day, everyday, I think of stuff I want to write about, but then when I sit down to type I draw a blank.

Shortly before EASing, I had this idea that I wanted to make a comic strip about my and similar experiences in the corps.

Turns out I can’t draw for shit.

Needless to say I was/am very jealous when the Terminal Lance comic strip came out. It was interesting watching the phases it went though. From being careful when Max was worried about getting in trouble from it. Then when he was free of the corps he could show his bitterness and disgruntledness. Then money started coming in and he became motto and pro-corps.

I don’t even have the wit and humor of the marincrops comic.

I was going to post an except from their site, but instead I just spend half an hour reading it all.

Why not? Comics like these express the spirit of the corps just oh so well.

Let me be clear, my price is 2 million after taxes and I’ll say what every pro-usmc thing you want and act as motto 4as you want. I’ll even get a reverse horseshoe and wear my reflector belt with with more pride than the gays have in their rainbow flags. I’ll dismiss everything else I’ve said as mere jokes.

But until a check clears, I’m going to be honest.


I was going to write so much more. . . but I’m drawing a blank.


Future subjects. Drunks, Fight Clubs, hazing, food, interesting characters. Etc.

Surfing for Dolphins

If I could make a fist, I’d punch you.

sgt. loudmouth

When the unit I was in got a new batch of marines, one of these marines was a friendly, smiley, outgoing guy we shall call sgt. loudmouth. Now it would seem that this would be good, but it turns out that loudmouth is a topper. What ever the current discussion, loudmouth had a story to top it.

I’m sure if I ever really paid attention to him, I have all manner of ricockulous stories to share that he claimed were true. But between him not appearing to be competent, and him being a real loudmouth, I quickly stopped paying at attention to what he said.


One time some event was going on and a corporal, my self, and a couple other warm bodies were tasked to be the labor for it. A sergeant was tasked with setting up the event, and he was to communicate his needs to sgt. loudmouth who would command the cpl. and assorted warm bodies self to get the job done.

The working party gets there on time. Per the course, loudmouth was running late. I’m certain he had some suitably epic excuse why. Well the working party and the sergeant NCOIC, got to B.S.ing. This sergeant appeared nervous. I got the impression he was a newly minted sergeant and didn’t really seem to be comfortable leading yet. I might be wrong, but that is the vibe I picked up.

As loudmouth was late, and the NCOIC nervously asked what he was like. Our corporal chimed in that he was a topper. That no matter the story, sgt. loudmouth had to top it. Our NCOIC didn’t believe us. So we challenged him. When loudmouth shows up, tell a ridiculous story and watch loudmouth top it.

Well, moments after that suggestion, loudmouth shows up. Loudly, he asks what’s going on. With out missing a beat, the cpl says something along the lines as that they are talking about combat stories, and he was talking about when his platoon sergeant got shot. The new sergeant, playing along, tentatively adds that he was talking about when he was deployed that his company gunny got shot.

Pssh. That is nothing. When I was deployed my First Sergeant was shot by a .50. . .

sgt. loudmouth.

Our sgtl. loudmouth immediately starts into a long winded story. He immediately revealed his character. And helpfully enough, the NCOIC immediately appeared to relax and had no problem running things.


For all the bad times, the miserable tasks, and stupid jobs, one thing always cheered me up while I was in. The pain and suffering of fellow marines is probably the only thing that kept me happy enough to not kill my self.


There was a training op we did. I could write a book on just how fucked up this op went. But most of it would just come across as me being whiny, so I won’t.

But to give you an idea, our unit was split and one part would act as defenders while the other would attack. We were told that the attackers would land Zodiac boats on the beach, advance up a mild hill with tall grass for concealment, then assault through the defenders position.

Our Zodiac boats came to a cliff face. Upon scaling the cliff, we had about a 60 degree incline with thick brush taller than I am. Downed trees rest horizontally, at about waist and chest level that had to be climbed over to navigate. The defenders were able to fire blanks, downwards at us the entire time. Had they had live ammo we would have all died tired and miserable.

Finally, it was our turn to defend. I had a M249 SAW and a few hundred blanks. Maybe 600, I’m don’t recall. I fired all my blanks, decided there was nothing else for me to do, and since the attackers were suppose to win, I sat down against a wall, took off my cover, and was notionally dead.

After a while, the attackers finally managed to get to my position. With a belt of blanks draped over his neck like a movie action hero, sgt. loudmouth comes over to me and asked to take my SAW. Before I can answer, he reached over and grabed the barrel.

Mind you, you are NEVER suppose to grab the barrel of an automatic weapon. Not that we don’t occasionally, but you are never suppose to grab one for the following reason.

Immediately, there is the sound of burning flesh, that sound of bacon sizzling on the griddle.

Let me remind you that I had just recently fired several hundred blanks at the cyclic rate. I was holding my SAW vertically, by the receiver and stock as the barrel was still smoking.

He removed his hand from the barrel. Not all of his hand, a fair bit of it was left on the barrel.

I looked at the fleshed burned into my SAW barrel and my first though was how very hard it would be to clean that off. It took some time with a wire brush that night at the Armory trying to removing sgt. loudmouth’s fingerprints off that barrel. You could see a discoloration matching his hand for some months on that gun.

I don’t remember how sgt. loudmouth reacted to this injury, as I was too busy howling with laughter.

He was upset, I think more at me than at his burned hand.

If I could make a fist, I’d punch you.

sgt. loudmouth

I looked at his hands outstretched in front of him. One was burned. The other had a splint on a finger that he injured playing football earlier that week.

BUT YOU CAN’T!

My response, as I continued to laugh like a hyena.

For a long time afterwards, when I saw sgt. loudmouth, I would acknowledge him with, “Sssssssss”. He would get mad, and once his hands healed up, he would make a fist in response.

Surfing for Dolphins

I’m Bond, James Bond.

While I was in Iraq, there was a period of time when there was a concern that the locals were making false accusations about the Marines. Since we all wore nametapes, it would be easy for a local to read our name, then make a report like, “Howard raped my goat and killed my daughter.” Then we (as a country) would offer reparations of $20 USD. Etc.

Anyways, we were ordered to tape over our name tapes and give a fake name when asked.

I’m Bond, James Bond.

LCpl. Idiot

“Hey Idiot, the Iraqis know who James Bond is.” -Me.

One of the other guys in my squad told people he was Solid Snake. At least that is a little more obscure.

My team leader, when a kid would ask his name, would punch them and tell them the name of our battalion commander.

We had a Motor-T guy attached to our platoon to work as a driver, so we use him as a rifleman. We shall call him Tyler Slapnuts from this point forwards. One time I’m BSing with him and I ask him where he it from. Wisconson. I ask him about Wisconson, he gives this half assed response about cheese curds and duck boats.

Hi, I’m Tyler Slapnuts! I’m from Wisconson, and I like cheese curds and duck boats.

What I told ever kid that asked me my name from that point on.

It was not uncommon for Tyler to be behind me in the patrol formation, so he would hear me cheerly recite that line to kids.

Hi, I’m Howard, I’m from Florida and I’m an ASSHOLE!

Slapnuts telling same kid his name after I told them my name.

Surfing for Dolphins

How can they expect us to be all EO when they treat us like we are Black, work us like we’re Mexican, and pay us like we’re women?

Comment posed during an equal opportunity brief.

marines are color blind. ALL marines are green.

Well they might be tan now, but they used to ALL be green.

So. . . some of the marines started to refer to them selves a “dark green marines”.

It became the safe term to use.

MP: “Describe the guy who robbed the PX.

Witness “Well he was . . . 5″8″ish, slim build, and a dark green marine.

Weirdly enough, camp guard drills was often based off the idea of someone robbing the PX, but I never heard of it actually happening.


There was a marine in one of my units that would display a noose in his room. He wouldn’t get in trouble because he was a dark green marine. If one of us whities were to do it, we would have gotten in trouble. Here is a photo of him carefully slipping it on a marine that feel asleep on his couch.


We had a marine that would sometimes, late at night, hop on a table in a common area and start on a rant on they need to “hang all them niggers up from trees” and similar spiels. When a barracks duty, or staff NCO on duty would hear this racket, they would rush up ready to arrest said marine, until they open the door and found he was black as night. You would see the marine on duty stop, be unsure what to do, then decide to just walk away.

I think this sergeant did this to see their reactions. He had a whole lot of fun doing this.


On one temporary duty assignment I was on, for a couple of P.T. sessions, we went to the pool. I found it funny when our best swimmer (a dark green marine) was coaching a marine, that couldn’t swim and was afraid of water (another dark green marine), said loudly, “You’re giving us a bad name.”


I’m half Asian.

During our E.O. classes, there would be the PPT slide showing the breakdown of the corps. Something like 30+% Hispanic and Latino. 18% Black of African descent. There would be something pointing at the line between them and the label <1% Asian or Pacific Islander.

I’d say, “I’m a minority.”

They would say, “No you are not.

Me, “There are 18 of you for ever 1 of me, how am I not a minority?

Them, “You don’t count.


I was in an equal opportunity brief, and during the class someone (name withheld to protect the guilty party) said the comment at the top of this post.

Said someone might have said it too loudly.

This marine didn’t know that the various commanding officers were sitting right behind him.

He also didn’t realize that he said it so loud that the marine giving the presentation heard him.

The presenter failed to maintain their military tact and bearing. They struggled to continue the class.

The sergeant that chewed my ass over this couldn’t keep a straight face either.

Surfing for Dolphins

A radio story. I hate radios, but this moment will always be remembered fondly.

I think I’ve shared this story before, but I’ll share it again.


The other Marine in this story is LCpl. Lance Clark. He died on his second deployment in 2007.

As the platoon radio operator, I had a number of various responsibilities including changing out all the radio batteries, cleaning the terminal contacts, updating the clocks and crypto. This would take a little while.

One day, when I was doing in garrison, this I pulled all the radios and set them next to my cot. Laying on my back, effectively laying in bed, I pulled the first radio up onto my chest, changed the battery, cleaned the contacts, updated everything, and called battalion for a radio check. Once I knew that radio was good, I switched it to the platoon channel and would check the other radios against it.

Right after I got the first radio ready, Clark walked past the room I was in(the room my whole squad bunked in) and asked if I needed help. Now let me express how awesome and special LCpl. Clark was as helping other marines is not a common virtue in my corps. I told him what I was doing and he suggested that he help and we turn it into a training exercise. Clark was a tube stroker mortarman, and because he was being forced to degrade him self and function as a rifleman that was not letting him improve in his designated career field. (My words, not his) He wanted to practice the mortar teams side of the radio communication. So, he took the known good radio over to the next room where he bunked (with his squad). I would clean and prep a radio, then call his radio with a practice indirect fire mission. I could practice my nine-line missions, immediate suppression missions, and other radio calls and he would get to practice being the person on the other end. He would help me do my job, and help us both become better.

As I have been trying to imply, Clark was a hell of a guy.

So as I am working my way though this stack of radios, I get one ready, and I call in an -faux- indirect fire mission. Practice shifting fire, responding with a battle damage assessment, etc. About three-quarters of the way though the stack of radios I call in a -faux- immediate suppression mission.

Charley Mortars, THIS IS Charley Four Alpha REQUSTING IMMEDIATE SUPPRESSION on grid WON TOO TREE FOOR FIF SEX. How copy?

~Me

As I was saying this, my platoon commander, platoon sergeant, and the squad leaders walked by the door to my room. Almost panicking, they shout, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING‽”. In my most innocent voice I reply, “Calling for immediate suppression on grid 123456.” One of them immediately shouts back, “YOU CAN’T DO THAT!”. In my innocent, child like voice, I softly respond, “But I just did.

Copy, IMMEDIATE SUPPRESSION on grid WON TOO TREE FOOR FIF SEX.

SPLASH OVER

the radio cackled in response

“SPLASH OUT” I responded to the radio.

Oddly enough, the gaggle of superiors there just sorta disappeared.

I don’t know if they realized what was going on, or if they just decided it would be better for them to not be there.

Either way, Clark and I finished our training and all the radios were cleaned, updated, and tested. I got up, got the first radio back from Clark, and put them all back in their respective vehicles or fireteams.


A little more information about Lance Clark is available here:
https://www.iraqwarheroes.org/clarkl.htm


Clark fooling around with an A2

Let me end this story with a photo someone else took of Clark taking a shit. I do regret that I only took a few photos when I was in Iraq. Most of the photos I have were taken by other people. I really wish we had something like the modern GoPro camera back then.

If I were him I’d be worried about getting shit on my drop leg.