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Many moons ago, I dispensed some key pieces of advice on how to survive a zombie apocalypse. Most of them were aimed at my fellow veterans, but all were definitely sound suggestions to anyone who still serves, has served, or any zombie-wary and well-prepared civilians.
This addendum, however, is directed more toward service members as advice on the military protocol to avoid when the dead rise up to feast upon the living like so many overcooked shrimp at a Las Vegas buffet.
We learn a lot of useful skills for survival while in the military, but there are a few habits we pick up that will undoubtedly get you a first-class ticket to being gorily chewed up faster than a sympathetic character on “The Walking Dead.” But fear not, for each of these snags I have a simple and elegant alternative to get you past the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo and on your merry way to fighting the undead multitudes.
1. Forget about the paperwork.
No matter how overrun with zombies a base, town, state, country, or planet may be, there will always be at least one eternally grumpy senior noncommissioned officer or overly cheerful field grade officer demanding that you need to have a full Letter of Instruction written up and properly approved before you can assemble a team to start fighting the undead. Plus you'll have to be prepared to do FitReps on all of those team members who require them. Oh, and have you made a comprehensive PowerPoint slideshow on zombie fighting safety yet? Because that's a requirement before you can even leave battalion headquarters.
Solution: Don’t waste time trying to fire up that 15-year-old government computer. Sometimes it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission, particularly if there’s a good chance that the people you’ll need to ask forgiveness from will be eaten shortly. Skip the paperwork and do what you gotta do.
2. Leave your shirt stays at home.
I'm not sure how it works in the other services, but if the zombies start attacking a Marine base or the area around it on a reverse Casual Friday, you'll see a lot of people in khaki and green running around with some really weird, inefficient gaits. And occasionally you'll hear the bloodcurdling scream of someone whose sock clip slipped and caught an elastic band to the old downstairs beanbag, if you catch my drift.
Solution: Just tuck your shirt in the old fashioned way. You don’t want to have shirt tails flapping willy-nilly so a zombie can grab them, of course. But you should probably leave the elastic at home.
3. Learn how to walk and talk.
"Hang on everybody, I gotta take this. Hello? Yeah, we're running from the giant mass of ravenous ghouls that overran most of California already. Almost to the motor pool, and then we can OH NO, THEY'RE EATING ME! WHY DID I STOP RUNNING? AHHHH!" And the real horror will be that the zombie eating you used to be the first sergeant who always yelled at everyone not to walk while talking on the phone.
Solution: There are bigger things at stake than a possible knifehanding later. Keep moving, phone or no phone. Also, who actually makes phone calls anymore?
4. Disregard “Colors.”
How are you supposed to make a daring dash for safety in the early morning or at dusk if the moment you step outside somebody will start screaming "Colors!" Without thinking you'll snap to attention, and even if you don't, there's always that one guy who takes it super seriously and will berate the hell out of you. And nothing draws a mass of zombies quite like the sound of a blaring bugle played through a crappy sound system to bunch of people standing stock still; their delicious brains ripe for picking like apples in an orchard.
Solution: Wait inside until the bugling is over. Then you can make a break for it while the zombies are chowing down on any unfortunates who couldn’t help themselves and got caught outside.
5. Skip haircuts.
So you've been on the run for a full week now, cutting a victorious swath through the zombies on your way to one of the rumored "safe zones." Your food, fuel, and ammunition are running low and the only way to ensure you and your group survive is to keep moving with all possible speed. Now, who brought the clippers? Okay, great. Medium reg, just a little off the top. Everybody else get in line. No, Charlie, you can't not get a haircut "just this week." Even if you are a pilot.
Solution: I would probably never say this in any other context, but you should listen to the pilots. Skip the trim this week.
6. Send someone else to the armory.
Ask any veteran what the worst part of going to the rifle range is and the answer will alway be “the armory.” You could be scheduled to snap in at noon and you’d still have to be at the armory at 0430 in order to account for the almost inexplicably long time it takes to get your weapon shoved at you through a tiny slot in that mysterious concrete shed. And I doubt it would be any different during the zombie outbreak. "Hey I need my rifle right now, the horde of the undead is right behind me. What? Whaddaya mean you don't open until 0500? It's 0500 now! Fine, 0459. Wait, wait, okay, NOW it's 0500. My weapons card and ID? Of course. Look, you can hear the zombies, right? You probably can't see them through that tiny window, but the unearthly moans of the countless damned are pretty loud. Come on, come on. What's going on back there? I can't see you through this aforementioned tiny window any more, but everything back there is all numbered and organized, right? How hard is it to OH GOD NO, THEY'VE GOT ME! AHHHHHH!"
Solution: Send somebody else to the armory. Preferably somebody who can run faster than you, but you wouldn’t be too heartbroken to see zombified. You just keep the engine running.
These are certainly the biggest hurdles that military procedure can lay out in your path to surviving the zombie apocalypse, but there are plenty of little things we're taught to do that could get you eaten lickety-split. But keep my advice in mind and you should be able to avoid enough pitfalls to make it through alive.
So don't wait to get your MarineNet driver safety certification or whatever from the dot-matrix printer at the base library, just get your buddies in a vehicle, have your ID ready before you get to the armory, and leave the clippers at home. Don't worry, I'll catch up.
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