6 Military Stereotypes That Are Actually True

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U.S. Army Pfc. Christopher Williams, from Winter Park, Co., sleeps in a hasty fighhting position on a cold morning in the mountains near Sar Howza, Paktika province, Afghanistan, Sept. 4.
Army photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith

From movies, literature, and all other manners of pop culture, we know the tropes of the angry drill sergeant calling his recruits “maggots,” the soldier who loves his guns, or the grunt who’s always working out. The media often portrays service members as rigid, mindless cronies following the orders of their superiors — none of which is accurate. While there are a number of unrealistic military stereotypes, some of them happen to be true.


Here are six military stereotypes that are actually true.

1. They can sleep wherever, whenever.

Service members can sleep anywhere, and I mean anywhere. Dunes, bunks, snow — you name it, soldiers can sleep in it. They can also wake up at a moment’s notice and be combat-ready.

2. One short phrase is worth a thousand words.

Service members learn to do more with less, language included. “Yes sir” can mean anything from “I agree,” to “Yeah, I'll get on that,” to “Screw off.” In fact, soldier-invented slang has been used to shorten words for centuries, and some have even found their way into the general public’s vernacular.

Related: Read how war words have changed the English language.

3. They like things to be clean and organized.

Order is important in the military. Service members will likely bring that level of minimalism and tidiness home with them. That usually translates into a well-kept, organized household. Think folded socks all perfectly arranged in their drawer.

4. Even if they separate or retire, jargon remains.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. The use of military-only phrases and acronyms are a hard thing to shake. Even veterans who have been retired for years still use military rhetoric in their everyday lives. Whether they use the word “Roger” to confirm they’ll be at your family barbecue or “Negative” if they won’t, jargon will always give them away as service members or veterans.

5. They swear … a lot.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Swears like a sailor”? Except, it doesn’t just happen in the Navy. Service members love their curse words. Each branch has its own favorites, and they’ve even created curse word acronyms like FUBAR.

6. Branch competition is a very real thing.

Within the military, the rivalries extend well past the West PointNaval Academy football game. Every person thinks members of the other services are fat, dumb, and lazy … except the Air Force. Everyone else thinks the Air Force is made up of entitled flyboys.

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(U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith)

Three U.S. service members received non-life-threatening injuries after being fired on Monday by an Afghan police officer, a U.S. official confirmed.

The troops were part of a convoy in Kandahar province that came under attack by a member of the Afghan Civil Order Police, a spokesperson for Operation Resolute Support said on Monday.

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Marine Maj. Jose J. Anzaldua Jr. spent more than three years during the height of the Vietnam War. Now, more than 45 years after his release, Sig Sauer is paying tribute to his service with a special gift.

Sig Sauer on Friday unveiled a unique 1911 pistol engraved with Anzaldua's name, the details of his imprisonment in Vietnam, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" accompanied by the POW-MIA flag on the grip to commemorate POW-MIA Recognition Day.

The gunmaker also released a short documentary entitled "Once A Marine, Always A Marine" — a fitting title given Anzaldua's courageous actions in the line of duty

Marine Maj. Jose Anzaldua's commemorative 1911 pistol

(Sig Sauer)

Born in Texas in 1950, Anzaldua enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1968 and deployed to Vietnam as an intelligence scout assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

On Jan. 23, 1970, he was captured during a foot patrol and spent 1,160 days in captivity in various locations across North Vietnam — including he infamous Hỏa Lò Prison known among American POWs as the "Hanoi Hilton" — before he was freed during Operation Homecoming on March 27, 1973.

Anzaldua may have been a prisoner, but he never stopped fighting. After his release, he received two Bronze Stars with combat "V" valor devices and a Prisoner of War Medal for displaying "extraordinary leadership and devotion to his companions" during his time in captivity. From one of his Bronze Star citations:

Using his knowledge of the Vietnamese language, he was diligent, resourceful, and invaluable as a collector of intelligence information for the senior officer interned in the prison camp.

In addition, while performing as interpreter for other United States prisoners making known their needs to their captors, [Anzaldua] regularly, at the grave risk of sever retaliation to himself, delivered and received messages for the senior officer.

On one occasion, when detected, he refused to implicate any of his fellow prisoners, even though severe punitive action was expected.

Anzaldua also received a Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroism in December 1969, when he entered the flaming wreckage of a U.S. helicopter that crashed nearr his battalion command post in the country's Quang Nam Province and rescued the crew chief and a Vietnamese civilian "although painfully burned himself," according to his citation.

After a brief stay at Camp Pendleton following his 1973 release, Anzaldua attended Officer Candidate School at MCB Quantico, Virginia, earning his commission in 1974. He retired from the Corps in 1992 after 24 years of service.

Sig Sauer presented the commemorative 1911 pistol to Anzaldua in a private ceremony at the gunmaker's headquarters in Newington, New Hampshire. The pistol's unique features include:

  • 1911 Pistol: the 1911 pistol was carried by U.S. forces throughout the Vietnam War, and by Major Anzaldua throughout his service. The commemorative 1911 POW pistol features a high-polish DLC finish on both the frame and slide, and is chambered in.45 AUTO with an SAO trigger. All pistol engravings are done in 24k gold;
  • Right Slide Engraving: the Prisoner of War ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor and "Major Jose Anzaldua" engravings;
  • Top Slide Engraving: engraved oak leaf insignia representing the Major's rank at the time of retirement and a pair of dog tags inscribed with the date, latitude and longitude of the location where Major Anzaldua was taken as a prisoner, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" taken from the POW-MIA flag;
  • Left Side Engraving: the Vietnam War service ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor engraving;
  • Pistol Grips: anodized aluminum grips with POW-MIA flag.

The top leaders of a Japan-based Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornet squadron were fired after an investigation into a deadly mid-air collision last December found that poor training and an "unprofessional command climate" contributed to the crash that left six Marines dead, officials announced on Monday.

Five Marines aboard a KC-130J Super Hercules and one Marine onboard an F/A-18D Hornet were killed in the Dec. 6, 2018 collision that took place about 200 miles off the Japanese coast. Another Marine aviator who was in the Hornet survived.

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A former Army soldier was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Thursday for stealing weapons from Fort Bliss, along with other charges.

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(U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Corey Hook)

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Department of Veterans Affairs released an alarming report Friday showing that at least 60,000 veterans died by suicide between 2008 and 2017, with little sign that the crisis is abating despite suicide prevention being the VA's top priority.

Although the total population of veterans declined by 18% during that span of years, more than 6,000 veterans died by suicide annually, according to the VA's 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.

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