The barracks contain multitudes. Or, in this case, water fowl?

On May 23, there was a negligent discharge of a weapon at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California. The installation was locked down for several hours and all personnel were required to shelter in place. 

The Marine Corps confirmed that there were no injuries, and that the incident is under investigation, although there were no further details on where or how the negligent discharge occurred, or what kind of weapon was involved. 

But while personnel from the Provost Marshal’s Office were clearing a barracks, they made an interesting discovery: A flock of ducks being kept in one Marine’s room. 

Ducks. Honking, quacking, crapping everywhere ducks. 

Questions abound.

What was this Marine doing with the ducks? How many ducks were there, exactly? How long had they been in the barracks? What were their names?

The video, which surfaced on social media on Monday, shows at least four ducks inside a Marine’s barracks room closet, which seems to have been turned into an adhoc enclosure. According to the Communications and Strategy Director at Twentynine Palms, “The ducks were appropriately relocated and are in good health. No other animals were discovered during this incident.”

Marines being Marines, keeping ducks is somehow not without precedent. 

Marine Corps photo

In 1943, Corporal Francis Fagan won a duck during a poker game at a tavern in New Zealand. Again, Marines being Marines. Named Sgt. Siwash, the duck became an unofficial mascot of sorts for the 2nd Marine Division. And, as Fagan told the United Press, Siwash was quite fond of drinking beer.

No Natty Ice for this duck, though. 

“It’s got to be warm beer, the way it was in New Zealand,” said Fagan. 

Siwash would accompany Fagan and 18,000 other Marines at the Battle of Tarawa, and, in a sign of the times, was even cited in Life Magazine for engaging in some avian combat with a Japanese rooster. 

In 1944, the duck returned stateside on a war bond tour, attending luncheons, making radio appearances and drinking as much beer as she pleased. 

Siwash later retired to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, passing away in 1954. Her funeral was held in a taxidermist shop, and her body was presented to the National Museum of the Marine Corps. 

No such luck for these ducks, though. They will simply have to live out their lives as more average devil duck veterans, telling everyone at the pond about their days back at Twentynine Palms. 

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