7 Guys You Meet In Every Infantry Platoon

Humor
Task & Purpose illustration by Matt Battaglia

Most civilians picture the infantry as a bunch of dog-faced meatheads who love breaking shit and shooting guns. But does every college kid in America listen to Tame Impala and play ultimate frisbee? Of course not. So it’s just as silly to assume that everyone who serves on the line is cut from the same cloth. From the left-leaning idealist who dreams of writing the next great war novel to the patriotic computer nerd, here’s an illustrated guide to the modern infantry platoon.


1. Stinky

If this guy had a coat of arms, it would be an image of piss bottles and filthy socks. His barracks room is a hellish labyrinth of soiled clothing, moldy ramen bowls, and empty cans of Mountain Dew, which he calls “gamer fuel.” His breath smells like a rodent crawled down his throat and died there. The only thing worse than the stench that trails Stinky wherever he goes is his PT score — the lowest in the platoon.

2. G.I. Joe

This guy usually grew up in either Ohio or Michigan. He learned how to shoot a rifle before he learned how to wipe his own ass, and he knows how to do things like skin squirrels and tie butterfly knots. His father fought in Vietnam; his grandfather stormed the beaches of Normandy; and his great grandfather practically defeated the Ottoman Empire single-handedly in World War I with a cutlass. At night, when everyone is asleep, he sneaks off to the latrine to stare at pictures of his F-250, which has a name. It’s Mary Beth.

3. Hemingway

Neither a patriot nor a fighter, this guy joined the infantry because he read “A Farewell to Arms.” As the only liberal in the platoon, he can often be found smoking his pipe and talking about podcasts to no one who cares. The peace sign on his helmet is not intended as an anti-war symbol, but rather a signal to the world that, yes, he’s seen and appreciates Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” (“but the book is better”).

4. 5 Deployments

Fallujah, Sadr City, the Korengal — this guy’s been to them all. He’s like the Anthony Bourdain of war zones. No matter how shitty your current deployment is, you better fucking believe 5 Deployments has been through worse. He’s got kids in Clarksville, Leesville, Baumholder, and Alaska, and his profile picture on Facebook is of him in BDUs. When he’s not telling war stories, he’s reminiscing about the good old days when noncommissioned officers were allowed to do fun things like waterboard privates, back “before the Army got soft.”

5. Old Man

Don’t be fooled by his gregarious demeanor, or by the fact that he has six kids, or by his mustache. Old Man is only 25. But here, in the platoon, he’s the father figure we never had; the guy we turn to for guidance when our girlfriends cheat on us or we come down with a case of the clap. At unit functions, his entire family shows up and eats all of the food. His wife is exhausted from raising so many children so young, but she’ll always pick you up from the bar when you get too drunk, and some of the younger guys even call her “Mom.”

6. Li’l 1st Sergeant

Remember how on the first day of basic training or boot camp (or “holiday” if you’re in the Air Force), there was that one guy who somehow already knew all of the rules? That’s Li’l 1st Sergeant. As the most squared away private in the barracks, Li’l 1st Sergeant’s primary self-appointed function is to serve as the acting noncommissioned officer when actual NCOs aren’t around. The only thing tighter than his high-and-tight is his grasp of military regulation, which he wields like a battleaxe, making life hell for all of his fellow Joes.

7. Gunz

This guy joined the military for one reason and one reason only: to “get swole.” While everyone else hates waking up at the crack of dawn for PT, Gunz lives for it. The PFT isn’t just a measure of physical fitness; it’s a measure of success, which is why he despises weaklings and fat people. During the week, his diet consists of hard-boiled eggs, protein shakes, and NO Xplode. On the weekends, it’s jaeger bombs and poon.

Original Task & Purpose illustrations by Matt Battaglia

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Marine Maj. Jose J. Anzaldua Jr. spent more than three years as a prisoner of war 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.

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