Since June 12, I have been activated in the Marine Corps Reserves. Since then I have been keeping a journal and felt it would interest Bernard’s readers if I submitted an excerpt from time to time. Currently, our unit is at 29 Palms, CA going through the training phases before we deploy in September. *Sensitve material changed.
July 15, 2005 0734 PCT
We’re in the theatre now waiting (as we always do) for the EMP class to begin. Of course the class was to have started at 07, but this is the Marine Corps, where we hurry up to wait.
Two nights ago, during our secured time, Gunny D* walked into the NCO squad bay and saw the rug I had bought and the blanket I brought from home. Well apparently, owning a rug and a blanket is some kind of crime, and he blew up in my face accusing me of trying to decorate my area and not keeping uniform with everyone else. Of course, he wouldn’t let me explain that I never left neither item out during the day and I used the rug to dry my feet after taking a shower than for silly decorations, but what can you expect from a man who works at Sgt Grit and has a modeled in the catalogue wearing an Oo-rah Kilt. If a man’s aspirations after leaving the Marine Corps is to work at an online/catalogue warehouse, peddling Marine Corps paraphernalia, but won’t even stay in the active duty side to retire, he’s just a man who holds the Marine Corps spirit with fear, not with pride. If he’s so gung ho, why get out? Why is he in the reserve, where we are considered second-class Marines? His entire identity is shaped by being a Marine, and without it, he feels like he has no purpose, yet he only does it once a month. Seems like he just wants to be called Gunny, but not be a Gunny.
It’s amazing the logic and the way the military operates sometimes. Keeping a combat mindset is completely understandable. However, I don’t understand how placing my bare feet on a plush surface, and combating the air conditioning vents that run full blast on my rack by using a blanket somehow prevents me from preparing my emotions and mindset for war.
Then yesterday, the Gunny and I had a heart to heart where he accused me of trying to make him look like a fool. Apparently my old NCOs gave him the story of how I led a “Lance Corporal Insurrection” against the Sergeants, which actually made me laugh. Suddenly, looking out for my other Non-NCOs, and trying to make things more efficient so the NCOs wouldn’t need to work so hard, was now an “insurrection”. Hilarious.
So I explained to him that with my blood pressure, and a possible ulcer, I was literally fighting all the medical personnel to let me stay here and train with the men. I convinced them to give me about a month under their observation, but still train as much as the doctors would clear me, so that if I was cleared for deployment, I wouldn’t be behind in training, and I would be able to leave with the unit, and be with my boys. The Gunny told me he wasn’t sure if he could believe me, being that I had such a “shady past”. After much reassurance to the Gunny, he relented and gave me a “second chance”. Wow, thanks Gunny.
I often feel so disrespected here because we’re treated like little children. Many of the men are in their mid twenties to thirties, have children, and jobs with numerous responsibilities, but here, we’re all 18 year old kids, fresh out of high school with the stigma that if we were allowed to make decisions, we would make the wrong one. Thus, we’re told when to eat, sleep, use the bathroom, how to make beds… you get the idea.
Yet I really can’t blame the leadership because the reserve system is based off the active one, where a restrictive rule may be the best way to administrate. But one cannot ask why the reservists cannot modify its techniques to better fit a unit made up individuals with completely different motivations and mindsets than active duty Marines, and in turn, receive a better return on productivity and efficiency.
0754 and the class still hasn’t started.
The men have become quite used to expecting things not to work or be on time. Actually, it’s more of a surprise when things actually do work and or on schedule. For instance, for the last two or three weeks, the men have had no schedule for month, week, or even day. They literally awake each morning having no idea what is in store for them. The reason being, Chaggit (a Warrant Officer that’s a shit bag-first name Chad and he’s a faggot) completely botched the training schedule, by making reservations to ranges that could not be modified, assigning training classes that were not proportionally divided, and other wonderful fiascos; he’s been relieved of his duty and has been relegated to a box of an office where he makes contact with only one other Marine daily.
So the schedule is constantly being redone, with complete rescheduling occurring almost daily, and it has become pointless notifying the men of what would be next for them, because the schedule would change in a matter of hours. The logistical disaster here is at times, awe inspiring, and has done considerable damage to the moral of the men. Without a set date of liberty, and no clear goal, asking the men to stay motivated and function at a 100% is has been difficult.
Running with no finish line and no fuel is not an effective way to keep an emotional machine running for a long time.
It’s 0815. Class is starting. Exactly on time.