Military life can be a lot of things: rewarding, empowering, life-changing. It can also be shitty, exhausting, wet, dry, hot, cold, sticky, slimy, extremely dangerous, exhausting, filled with small paychecks, huge debt, brutal training, and a whole bunch of other crap — which is where phrases like “embrace the suck” get their true meaning. There’s a certain kind of pride that comes with always being able to win the “who has it worst” contest, which is what embracing the suck is all about.

In mid-March, the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment took part in Forest Light March as part of a bilateral training exercise meant to strengthen their partnership with the Japanese military. That’s just a nice way of saying that they went through a brutal ass-kicking hump in the snow in Sekiyama, Japan.

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Based on the photos, some of these guys embodied the time honored military tradition of “sucking it the fuck up,” while others still have a ways to go.

U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Brett Tate changes out of his wet clothes to keep warm at Sekiyama, Japan, during exercise Forest Light on March 15, 2017. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Isaac Ibarra
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Brett Tate changes out of his wet clothes to keep warm at Sekiyama, Japan, during exercise Forest Light on March 15, 2017.

U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Brett Tate gives exactly zero fucks, shit, just look at the field ‘stash. Utterly unphased by the cold, as if he’s just enjoying a day on the beach, he has fully embraced all that sucks — stripping down in frigid weather and bearing his “Mom” and moto tattoos for all the world to see. It’s a practiced art form, and takes a while to master. Clearly.

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Kedjejian , a Los Angeles, California native, tries to warm up his hands after a hike at Sekiyama, Japan, during exercise Forest Light om March 14, 2017.U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Isaac Ibarra
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Kedjejian , a Los Angeles, California native, tries to warm up his hands after a hike at Sekiyama, Japan, during exercise Forest Light om March 14, 2017.

Meanwhile, Lance Cpl. Christopher Kedjejian is having a miserable time, almost like he just realized his recruiter lied to him. Or he just spent the last 20 miles trekking through four feet of snow in zero-degree weather asking himself why he didn’t listen when his father told him to go to college instead of joining the Marines. He might just have an easier time if he remembered to put his gloves on.

In any case, these two are still having a better day than the lieutenant, who looks like he’s lost again.

A U.S. Marine posts security at Sekiyama, Japan, during exercise Forest Light on March 15, 2017. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Isaac Ibarra
A U.S. Marine posts security at Sekiyama, Japan, during exercise Forest Light on March 15, 2017.