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7 Guys You Meet In Every Infantry Platoon
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.
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.
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.
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.
Americans' eroding trust in all forms of government has made it impossible to solve the most serious problems facing the United States today, former Defense Secretary James Mattis wrote in a recent article for The Atlantic.
The retired Marine Corps general laid out why the world's oldest democracy no longer seems to be able to reach a consensus on any issue, arguing that the underlying problem is politicians no longer debate: They just launch personal attacks against each other.
"We scorch our opponents with language that precludes compromise," Mattis wrote. "We brush aside the possibility that a person with whom we disagree might be right. We talk about what divides us and seldom acknowledge what unites us. Meanwhile, the docket of urgent national issues continues to grow—unaddressed and, under present circumstances, impossible to address."
My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
She's photographed every major war of the last 20 years. Marine Corps boot camp was something else entirely
Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario's seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.
Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.
The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.
Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
An Army staff sergeant who "represents the very best of the 101st Airborne Division" has finally received a Silver Star for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge after a 75-year delay.
On Sunday, Staff Sgt. Edmund "Eddie" Sternot was posthumously awarded with a Silver Star for his heroics while leading a machine gun team in the Ardennes Forest. The award, along with Sternot's Bronze Star and Purple Heart, was presented to his only living relative, Sternot's first cousin, 80-year-old Delores Sternot.