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We’re Launching A Confessions Column. To Get It Started, Here’s Our Dirty Laundry
Welcome to Confessions Of, a weekly series where Task & Purpose’s James Clark solicits hilarious, embarrassing, and revealing stories from troops and vets about their job, deployments, and time in service.
What’s one of the dumbest things you did as a boot? What’s the worst ass chewing you ever received? Did you pull any pranks, or were you pranked? What’s something only your MOS can do, or get away with doing? And, do you have any embarrassing or funny stories from your time in?
To kick off the return of our Confessions Of format — where service members and veterans offer up revealing tales from their time in the armed forces — it only seemed fair that that the Task & Purpose team put a little skin the game. So after a few stiff drinks, my colleagues and I subjected ourselves to some of the same probing questions that I’d normally save for those brave or foolish enough to agree to an interview for this column. And the results were, well, what you'd expect from a bunch of vets (and one nasty civilian) who spent a few years in and around the military: There's an anecdote about an a-hole commanding officer; at least one guy whose war story begins with "no shit, there I was shitting"; there's an ill-advised dick drawing; misuse of medical supplies; and oh so much more.
Here’s a laundry list of stupid stuff Task & Purpose staffers witnessed, and a number of embarrassing things we did as boots, and continued to do long after we should have known better.
Who: James Clark, T&P; veterans reporter
Branch, job, and years in: Marine Corps; Combat Correspondent; 2008-2012
What’s one of the dumbest things you did as a boot?
There were a lot, to be honest. I went to MOS school at a joint service base and once called an Army command sergeant major “sarge” because I thought that’s just how they did it over there. I was wrong.
When I got to the fleet, I spent an afternoon taking down phone messages for Capt. America, Capt. P. Lannette, and didn't catch on until Capt. Kang R. Ooh called twice demanding to talk to Col. Sanders.
Then there was this other time at Twentynine Palms, California, during pre-deployment training when I recited the “duality of man” scene from Full Metal Jacket in its entirety to a sergeant major who told me to take off the peace pin I wore on my camera strap. I thought he was quoting the movie. He was not.
Like every enlisted Marine, I’ve saluted an enlisted sailor in a service uniform.
Any other funny or embarrassing stories?
In 2011, during a multi-day movement in Afghanistan, I gave myself food poisoning for four days. By the end of it, I’d become so adept at dropping trou and a deuce, that I even wrote about it in another story.
Who: Adam Linehan, T&P; senior staff writer
Branch, job, and years in: Army; Medic; 2006-2012
Did you pull any pranks, or were you pranked?
For a while I was a medic attached to an infantry platoon and so, naturally, I got a lot of shit for being a POG. One day while on refit at the FOB I saw an opportunity to get my revenge. I took a sharpie to the Porta-John outside our tent and drew a picture of a guy with a really really small penis. Then I wrote “11B’s have macaroni weiners” and drew an arrow to the micropenis. This wasn’t really a prank, but it certainly ruffled feathers.
What’s something only those in your MOS could do, or get away with doing? Think funny unit traditions.
On Saturdays and Sundays when we were hungover we’d all hook each other up with IVs in the barracks. An hour or so later we’d be good to go and ready to start drinking again!
Who: Brad, T&P;’s Swiss Army Knife
Branch, job, and years in: Air Force; Airborne Battle Manager; 2006-2010
Any embarrassing or funny stories from your time in?
When I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, I made the mistake of eating some questionable food, and developed some sort of shit disease, where for about three weeks I couldn't shit solid. As you can imagine this makes life rather terrible, especially when you are flying eight hours a day every other day. I devised a system to hide my pooping shame. I would not hydrate and literally shit my brains out in the Porta-Johns before a flight. Empty the ol' gas tank so to speak. Then fly the mission.
It was so bad I couldn't risk a fart. You ever support a troops in contact while holding in a high altitude fart? It's like both external and internal pressure all at the same time. Well this one time, after dealing with that, the plane landed and I made a run for the one Porta-John on our side of the flight-line. When I opened the door, it looked like a shit demon exploded. There was poo on the walls, on the ceiling, everywhere. The smell will stay with me forever, burned in my memories like a shit scented candle.'
Brad, finish the story. Did you still use it?
Who: Matt Ufford, contributing editor
Branch, job, and years in: Marine Corps; Tank Officer; 2000-2004
Did you pull any pranks, or were you pranked?
When we were waiting to invade Iraq in ‘03, all of the battalion’s company-grade line officers were in a single circus tent. On any given day, there was maybe 90 minutes of work to fill 12 hours of daylight, so most of us tried to sleep in a little to be bored for a shorter amount of time during the day.
Alpha Company, though, had a tightass C.O. — let’s call him Capt. James — who thought he was god of the light switch, and flipped the lights on every morning at 0600. That lasted a couple of days until we started fucking with him: Wrapping the light switch in duct tape, removing all of the light bulbs, etc. It was so much more satisfying to wake up to the sounds of him swearing.
The best part, though, was on the night before the invasion, when a Cobra pilot fired a Hellfire at James’ tank. CLASSIC WINGER PRANK. Luckily, the missile hit the engine of the tank, and no one was hurt. James was a lot cooler after that. We joked that it took a Hellfire missile to knock the stick out of his ass.
Who: Jared Keller, T&P; senior editor
Branch, job, and years in: Nasty civilian who did multiple tours to DC and New York City during the Content Wars
What’s one of the dumbest things you did as a boot?
Well, I never served, but during my first two weeks here at Task & Purpose I mistakenly referred to Maverick from Top Gun as an Air Force pilot. I still have bruises from the soap.
Know what it’s like to be duct-taped to the cannon of an Abrams, or to yell so loud you crap your pants? Do your war stories start with: No shit, there I was shitting? Have a unique unit tradition your CO would have a conniption fit over if they saw it in print? We want you to send those stories to James@taskandpurpose.com.
A sprawling new survey says a ‘culture of resilience’ helped US military families weather housing woes for years
A new survey of thousands of military families released on Wednesday paints a negative picture of privatized military housing, to say the least.
The Military Family Advisory Network surveyed 15,901 adults at 160 locations around the country who are either currently living in privatized military housing, or had lived in privatized housing within the last three years. One of the report's primary takeaways can be summarized in two lines: "Most responses, 93 percent, came from residents living in housing managed by six companies. None of them had average satisfaction rates at or above neutral."
Those six companies are Lincoln Military Housing, Balfour Beatty, Hunt, Lendlease/Winn, Corvias, and Michaels.
What's behind these responses? MFAN points to the "culture of resilience" found in the military community for why military families may be downplaying the severity of their situations, or putting up with subpar conditions.
"[Military] families will try to manage grim living conditions without complaint," MFAN says in its report. "The norm of managing through challenges, no matter their severity, is deeply established in military family life."
Judge approves negligence lawsuit against Air Force and Pentagon by victims of 2017 Sutherland Springs church massacre
The suit meets the criteria to fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which allows people to seek damages in certain cases if they can prove the U.S. Government was negligent, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Under most circumstances the doctrine of sovereign immunity protects the government from lawsuits, but in this case U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez held that failure of the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense to log shooter Devin Kelley's history of mental health problems and violent behavior in an FBI database made them potentially liable.
ABOARD THE USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT -- Loose lips sink ships, but do they reveal too much about the hugely anticipated "Top Gun" sequel, "Top Gun: Maverick," filmed onboard in February?
Not on this carrier, they don't. Although sailors here dropped a few hints about spotting movie stars around the ship as it was docked in San Diego for the film shoot, no cats — or Tomcats — were let out of the bag.
"I can't talk about that," said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, who commands the Roosevelt.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department unveiled 17 new criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday, saying he unlawfully published the names of classified sources and conspired with and assisted ex-Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in obtaining access to classified information.
The superseding indictment comes a little more than a month after the Justice Department unsealed a narrower criminal case against Assange.