I am starting this blog because I am tired of the bullshit on Facebook and my inability to express myself sometimes in 280 characters or less. I will be sharing experiences (or perhaps more accurately swapping lies) as well as expressing my views on lots of things. I will be starting out kind of slow as I learn how to actually do this, but should be up to speed before too long. Of course I am interested in other people’s opinions, especially those that echo my own.
I am 65 years old and recently retired from 18 years in wireless communications. Before I got into wireless, I was a radio technician servicing commercial two way radio equipment. I received my radio technician training in the Marine Corps beginning in 1971. I served during the Vietnam war but by the grace of God and the will of the Marine Corps I did not go. I would NEVER try to tell anyone that I am a combat veteran. I served for almost 12 year and actually was a Gunnery Sergeant when I got out.
More About Me
I would like to clarify a few things regarding myself and the character of my Marine Corps service. I do not wish to portray myself as some sort of super patriotic gung ho fighting machine dedicated to preserving democracy and freedom. That wasn’t who I was.
Who I was was a young insecure boy who was only 17 when he joined the Marine Corps during the Vietnam war. I did not join to fight commies for Christ or anything like that. I joined because I was living in a small blue collar city west of Detroit and didn’t see much of a future putting tail lights in Novas or bumpers on Broncos like my friends and neighbors did.
I served honorably and faithfully for almost 12 years active, and was discharged finally with a general under honorable conditions discharge for failing a “random” drug screen, for cannabis. I say “random” because my company commander straight up told me that for this particular test, they focused on the SNCOs because they were after a Ssgt that worked for me. (They got him too). He also told me that if I would have told him I was dirty, he would have excused me from the test. Of course I was flattered that he would have done that for me, but in fact failing that drug test was the best thing that ever happened to me. At the time the only enlisted man in the entire company that was senior to me was the Company 1st Sgt. I still had a year left on my current enlistment and actually had no intentions of re-enlisting a third time. This was very awkward, because the Company Commander was constantly trying to get me to re-enlist in order to make his “numbers” look good. I had brushed off a few attempts, and was actually submitting a package to HQMC for the warrant officer program at that time in order to stop the re-enlistment requests from the C.O. Once it became clear to him that I was not going to re-enlist, I would have been turned on as a “traitor” and my last remaining time on active duty could have been quite uncomfortable. I ended up being sent home for about 30 days and then quietly discharged so as to avoid and “embarrassment” for them. HQMC does not like it when a supposed “career man” opts out. It is a direct reflection on the command that the disgruntled individual was assigned to when he/she decided to end their career mid term.
I was by no means the “perfect” marine and my tenure was not too remarkable other than the fact that I went from E-1 to E-7 in 11 years and 3 months of active duty with no meritorious promotions. I had achieved one of the most prestigious ranks in the Marine Corps at the age of 29. Most of my “peers” were 5 or more years older than I was, and some where bitter because I made rank so quickly, but I had to pass the exact same promotion boards that they did. In fact, there was a fellow Ssgt at our group HQ with the same MOS as me, and his date of rank was actually 2 years before I even joined the Marine Corps, and he did not get selected when I did. Of course he made a comment about my being a “boot gunny”, to which I responded being “boot gunny” beats the hell out of “senior Ssgt”. My rapid ascension was due to several factors, mostly just being in the right place at the right time, and not having any real disciplinary issues. I was not very good at spit and polish, but I was excellent at fixing radios and running a maintenance shop. And I spent a great deal of time cleaning up other people’s messes, which I was also excelled at. I will say that 29 years old is too young to be a gunny in the marines. I took the job and cashed the paychecks anyway.
As I mentioned, I spent a great deal of time cleaning up other people’s messes. I rarely stayed in the same unit for over a year, sometimes battalion hopping in the same regiment. In Hawaii I started out in 3rd Mar regiment Hq Company, then went to 1/3 to run the tech shop in the Comm platoon. While there, I participated in Operation Jack Frost, where we went from Honolulu to Fairbanks Alaska for cold weather training. This was January of 1977, we worked with reservists from Buffalo NY, and the weather in Buffalo at the time was actually far worse that Fairbanks. It was a total and complete clusterfuck.
I was transferred to 2/3 right before they deployed to Australia, but the Comm officer didn’t like me so he sent me back. This was the 2nd time I almost went to Australia and got screwed at the last minute. I actually got sent to 2/3 again when they returned, and went on to be a major player in the first Hawaii WestPac tour in September of 1977. The Comm O still didn’t want me at first, but when he saw what I could do in the shop, he warmed up to me considerably. I brought us back from a 7 month deployment with a combat readiness percentage that was actually higher than when we left, which is extremely rare. Usually units return from deployments like this with mount out boxes full of broken equipment.
Anyway, I want to be clear that I am no Chris Kyle or any other such hero type. I am just a guy that is proud of my service, and everything that I am today I owe to the Marine Corps and a select few people that mentored and guided me. I have lots of stories to tell and opinions to present.