Pop Quiz, Hotshot! What Would You Do?

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 * Picture credit: found on and copied from www.defensemedianetwork.com


“My momma told me there’d be days like this”, sang Van Morrison. Just before I got out of the car, my father told me “where you’re going, there will people who are not as knowledgeable as you. A lot of them will even be stupid. You have to understand that and be patient with them.” There were many days like that, so I understood and was patient.



Actually, I did my best to teach the men and women by whose side I served everything I knew, and for my efforts they elected me “study member” ie. the company’s after hours tutor for all military matters. I didn’t want it. In an organization which was and still is strongly anti-intellectual, with dual citizenship and an accent along with all the attention I was getting, the last thing I needed was more attention. Still, I took on the job and did it until my best friend died in my arms. In that time, I found out the black guy who slept next to me had never heard of Jimi Hendrix, that one of the women in my platoon was allergic to meat and lacked the strength to carry me in a fireman’s lift, and a lot more besides. I was patient and informative in a non-judgmental way, my aim always being to teach, not to berate or abuse the ignorant.



I don’t know if that guy ever listened to Jimi Hendrix afterwards, though I’m pretty sure the woman was discharged from the army because as I later heard it, she was HIV-positive. Besides her allergy to meat, chances are some of her weakness was due to the effects the virus had on her system. She had no interest in being an infantry soldier. Her idea was to work in accounting. I understood that, but had to tell her even non-combat personnel get caught in combat situations, that her life and the lives of those around her depended on her ability to do what had to be done, and if she couldn’t do that, the army was not the place for her because the basic function of every service member is that of rifleman, and riflemen kill. I didn’t look down on that woman for being true to herself. Only a fool would do such a thing.



If it came down to it, I would’ve fought, killed and if necessary, died to protect her without resentment or rancor. The reason is simple- while there is peace, society is best served by those who are peaceful, and if a war starts, these people must be protected so that they can raise the world from the ashes of conflict after trained killers are done killing. If you know where to look, you’ll find killers and they’ll seem to be a dime a dozen. A lot of them are outside society because it doesn’t know what to do with them and they don’t know what to do in society. Some find a place in armed forces, but sometimes armed forces have no place for men who can go from smiling to full-blown war in a split second. Yet societies need them when the time comes. They need men and women who know how and are able to kill. They need them to kill, but also to teach others how to do it, because peaceful people have almost no idea.



The problem is how to turn peaceful people into killers, and hopefully give them the skills to turn that instinct off when they return to their homes and families. Short of teaching them from childhood that killing is a necessary fact of life, about the execution of which deed people ought not to feel guilty if it’s done for the right reasons (ranging from self-defense and that of innocents under attack, as well as national defense), the only way left for most military organizations is through months of brutal and aggressive training which tries to break through 17 to 22 years of these recruits being told every day “killing is bad, thou shalt not kill”. Such training often inflicts physical and psychological harm on the peaceful, and is one of the many reasons why I oppose military conscription.



However, if military service is voluntary, then those who join have to accept beforehand everything that choice brings. By the looks of it, a consequence of joining the United States Marines is that at some point in basic training somebody will come with official-looking orders to tell everybody there’s been an attack and all troops are going to war, irrespective of their military occupation specialty and phase of training they’re in. They are then given a choice of whether to go to war as infantrymen (regardless of their MOS) without telling their families they’re leaving and where they’re going- or stay behind. The idea of this scenario is to present the incompletely trained recruits with a hard choice, as well as for the unit leadership to see who will choose what. Strange and cruel as this sounds, it’s apparently what happened to Marines at the outbreak of the Korean War, and they went, untrained though many of them were. However, because this is a learning experience, nobody is supposed to benefit or be victimized as a consequence of their choice.



Apparently, in one case last year, at least two former Marine recruits allege they chose not to go to war and afterwards their superior officers victimized them with physical and psychological torments. War is not for everybody. Hell, it’s not for around 99% of the population, and that’s as it should be if we want a peaceful society. Nevertheless, war isn’t just about soldiers firing their weapons at enemies. It’s also about logistics, intelligence, communications, making food and repairing weapon systems, and so on. Thus you’ll get people who won’t be able to put a bullet into a paper target’s center mass from five paces, but they can feed 400 people in an hour or shut down NORAD with a laptop- and they are just as vital to any war effort as those who can kill a man by smashing a laptop on his head. Here are the questions:


  • If you joined the military to program computers, would you go as an infantryman if that’s what your country needed?
  • If you would not, would you accept as correct being punished by your superiors with physical and psychological measures as a consequence of opting not to?
  • Do you think such a punishment is right or wrong?

I look forward to your responses.    


Stone-Eater Added Jun 4, 2017 - 6:12am
No, no, wrong ;)
Sitting in a bus.....;)
Stone-Eater Added Jun 4, 2017 - 6:14am
BTW: I'd never fight in a war. Only would defend people when attacked directly.
Mircea Negres Added Jun 4, 2017 - 6:19am
Thanks for your answers, Stone-Eater. I've tried to avoid giving mine so as to give people the space to say what they think. I'll give mine after enough readers have answered. Say, is your bus seat properly cooled, seeing how it's summer in Europe? ;-) 
Bill Kamps Added Jun 4, 2017 - 6:24am
Mircea, people who join the military, for whatever reason, need to realize it is the military.  They wont necessarily  get a choice of where they are sent, and what they are asked to do, this is part of the choice they  made.
When I graduated from college as an engineer, the Army came around and offered the engineers a commission in the Army Corps of Engineers.  Financially, and from a future point of view, this was a great offer.  The Corps does a lot of interesting work, that helps a lot of people in peace time. For those who dont know, they maintain and operate many of the dams in the US, dredge ports, and rivers, etc.
However, it was the Army, and as such we would not have had a choice of the missions, and we might at some point get shot at.  I passed, and never regretted it.
Mircea Negres Added Jun 4, 2017 - 6:48am
Thanks for your input, Bill. I think it answers the questions I posed, and like I told Stone-Eater, will give my perspective after there are enough replies. 
Leroy Added Jun 4, 2017 - 9:00am
Thanks for the interesting article, Mircea.
I would have to answer, No, No, No.  Being shot at doing the job I signed up for would be understandable.  Defending myself and others as necessary would be understandable.  But, being an infantryman when I signed up for something else would not be.
My father volunteered as an underaged teenager during WWII.  He lied to get in.  It was not as noble and patriotic as it might sound.  He didn't want to be drafted into the Army.  He was just being proactive.  He wound up in the Army anyway.  He wanted to join the Navy.  He pretty much refused to cooperate.  But, I guess the army recognized that he had talent.  They tried to break him by giving him the crappy jobs such as driving the garbage truck, which he liked just fine.  My father is one that always gets his way.  He annoyed the army enough that they let him go to the Navy.  He wanted to go into communications.  The Navy sent him to college where he lasted two weeks.  They tried to teach him the use of semaphores.  That wasn't communications to him, so he refused.  But, the Navy realized he had talent, and he eventually held the unofficial position of a commissioned officer aboard a ship.  It is possible to rebuke the system and get away with it.
Stone-Eater Added Jun 4, 2017 - 9:37am
17°  degrees now here. Not really like summer..
Mircea Negres Added Jun 4, 2017 - 10:16am
Leroy, thanks for taking the time to reply. Your father's story is an interesting one. I just finished watching Hacksaw Ridge (again) and marveled at how Desmond Doss managed to save 75 soldiers without carrying a rifle or firing a shot. Yes, it seems sometimes guys bucked the system and got their way... I'll tell you my answers to the questions later, after enough people have commented, but once again, thanks for answering.
Stone-Eater, I thought it would be warmer than that by now, but I guess it's too early. Summer is definitely over in South Africa, but it's not that cold. Actually it's sunny and mild. Mother Nature must be on a go-slow, I guess. That story of yours about the passenger complaining the bus seat wasn't warm stuck in my mind though, and it makes me smile still, so I couldn't resist making a reference to it...
Billy Roper Added Jun 4, 2017 - 10:38am
Yes, to me, if you join the military, whether as a career advancement to be an accountant or a computer programmer, or anything else, you must be willing to fight, even if that means on the front lines. Those who cannot or will not should not serve in the military.
Here in the U.S., members of the armed forces are becoming less willing to blindly serve, as well. This has both good and bad results:
Michael B. Added Jun 4, 2017 - 11:15am
Mircea, I can respond to this in numerous ways! From my experience, there were often two main types of soldiers; field soldiers and garrison soldiers. Field soldiers, as the title implies, kicked ass in the field and when on operations, but often stayed in various amounts and degrees of hot water when in garrison. Garrison soldiers were just that; they detested dirt and mud and maintained a starched, pressed, and spit-shined appearance at all times and were usually pretty worthless and useless in the field. To me, the field soldiers were by far the most valuable, as the field is where everything ultimately counts. One of the best examples I can think of is the story of Sergeant Maynard "Snuffy" Smith, who won the Medal of Honor for action in a B-17 over France during WW2, but when he was going to be awarded the medal, he was found to be on KP duty peeling potatoes for getting into some sort of trouble. He was the epitome of the field (or in his case, aerial) soldier I'm referring to.
One time at Fort Bliss, Texas, my unit had various duties that week, like furnishing guards, providing work details, and running an M16 qualification range; every soldier has to qualify with their primary weapon every six months, regardless of their MOS. I was a range safety NCO on the left side of the firing line, but as the vast majority of the soldiers knew the drill, my job was easy and a matter of routine; that is, until a personnel services company showed up. Females were slightly in the majority, and they immediately started doing stupid-ass things like pointing their weapons everywhere except "up and down range" and spreading out ponchos on the (dry) ground so they wouldn't get dirty. Several of them got pretty lippy with me, and I started kicking them off the range. Everything was eventually settled, but only after a lot of unnecessary acrimony. It ate up a lot of time and caused our day to be that much longer. It is truly remarkable how some people joined the ARMED FORCES, but it never seemed to occur to them that they just might have to use ARMED FORCE one day.
I can go on and on, but to answer your questions:
1. Although in theory, every soldier is supposed to be a rifleman regardless of their MOS, in practice, that often doesn't work out so well, as what happened to the maintenance company at Nasiriyah during the early stages of the invasion of Iraq; they got smoked pretty bad, whereas a unit of combat soldiers would have probably fared much better.
2. Regardless of their MOS, every soldier is compelled to obey the (lawful) orders of a superior officer or NCO. Failure to obey an order, especially in a combat situation has always carried some pretty heavy penalties, up to and including death. At one point, I was licensed to drive about 15 different vehicles ranging from a 26 ton M109 155mm SP howitzer to an M151 jeep, and numerous large and small trucks and vehicles in between. I learned to drive many of them the same way: Sergeant: "Drive that vehicle!" Me: "I don't know how, I've never driven one before." Sergeant: "OJT!!! DRIVE THAT FUCKING VEHICLE, NOW!!!" Me: "OK."
3. Funny, coercion and various degrees of physical and psychological abuse are part and parcel to every military organization on the planet, as far as I'm concerned, especially to trainees and new people in permanent-party units. Regarding coercion, one of my favorite examples was when we got hit up for the annual Combined Federal Campaign, of CFC, which was a charity drive, and everybody was expected to cough up a few bucks from their already meager pay. The First Sergeant said that he was not applying any coercion or pressure, but then told us that if we didn't make our goal, we would have Class "A" uniform and barracks and motor pool inspections every weekend; he then repeated that he wasn't pressuring or coercing us, lol.
Mircea Negres Added Jun 4, 2017 - 11:31am
Billy, I'm gonna look at that article shortly.
Michael, good stories.
I'll respond to everyone's comments later, probably in a couple of hours. Waiting and hoping for more comments. What can I say, I'm trying to help out Autumn here. Okay, I also care about what people have to say... Meanwhile, thanks for sharing your thoughts with me today.
Michael B. Added Jun 4, 2017 - 11:51am
Regarding punishment in a military context, the systems I knew were very complex from both an official and unofficial perspective, and in many cases, at least for relatively minor things, it really depended on the persons involved. Soldiers who were constant fuckups usually didn't get any slack, while others who were usually good soldiers got a break. Some officers and NCOs were strict and draconian, while others were more laid-back and lenient. If the offense was highly visible, like a DUI or other crime that involved civilians and/or civilian authorities, the letter of the regs and the law were in full effect. For non-judicial punishments (an "Article 15" in the Army), the commander had some leeway in selecting the "sentence", which usually entailed reduction of rank, fines, extra duty, barracks restrictions, and even correctional custody, but courts-martial were much more serious and usually involved time behind bars, turning big rocks into small ones. For the most part though, unofficial punishments were strongly discouraged and even illegal, depending on their nature. I had a few of those in my time; digging a 6X6X6 foxhole for getting smart-mouthed with my section chief, and having to sweep the entire battalion motor pool for being caught smoking in said motor pool by a bird colonel were some of the more notable ones. In many ways, they're actually doing you a favor, as none of that goes on your record. However, deliberate physical and psychological abuse is a different story altogether.
Mircea Negres Added Jun 4, 2017 - 12:03pm
Michael, one morning we were woken up by our enraged sergeant at 0530, when we were supposed to have been up by 0500 and formed up outside by 0530. It turned out none of the guys had set alarm clocks and the entire platoon overslept. We ran from the moment we formed up outside until sundown, when they made us run around our fingers on the ground, then stand up straight. As you can imagine, we fell down like drunks. We could've been charged with "being absent from place of parade" and found ourselves with criminal records, but while we suffered that day, nobody who had an alarm clock (I didn't have one) ever forgot to set it again. As you said, sometimes informal punishments impart lifelong lessons without permanent marks in the personnel record, but there is indeed a big difference between that and physical or psychological abuse.  
Mircea Negres Added Jun 4, 2017 - 12:05pm
I think the other charge could've been "gross dereliction of duty". Neither of them do nice things for promotions, to say nothing of continued employment... The sergeants did us a favor, that's for sure.
Mircea Negres Added Jun 4, 2017 - 12:19pm
Thank you for the answers, EXPAT. I will reply later, promise.
Michael B. Added Jun 4, 2017 - 2:30pm
Regarding one's physical and/or psychological unsuitability for military life, pre-screening and basic training filters out many, but many others often pass through and graduate from basic and other training, only to falter down the line. Bowe Bergdahl leaps to mind. Wartime conditions only worsen this, as the military becomes more hard-up for personnel and standards across the board are relaxed, and people are accepted that would otherwise be barred from enlisting under normal peacetime circumstances. Up until the draft ended in the U.S. in 1973, people convicted of various criminal offenses were given the option of serving in the military instead of going to jail. Many of them served honorably, but many did not. Even after the draft ended, many recruits were accepted that had lengthy criminal records. The entire U.S. military was pretty much wrecked for about ten years after Vietnam, and was plagued by alcohol, drug, and various disciplinary problems, but starting in the early 80's they finally took steps toward improving the quality of recruits and personnel in general. PCness contains its own special set of problems; the idea of a female SEAL or Delta Force Operator is laughable to me, but I guess I'm just old fashioned in that way. I was in the turret of an M109 howitzer and watched a female lieutenant drop a 155mm M107 HE projectile with a VT fuze right on its nose, but obviously it didn't go off. Sorry PC folks, but women do NOT have the same physical strength that men do.
Mircea Negres Added Jun 4, 2017 - 2:32pm
Stone-Eater, Bill K., Leroy, Billy R., Michael B., EXPAT, thank you all for taking the time to comment. My answers are:
1. Yes, if I joined as a computer programmer but circumstances required me to serve as infantryman, I would go. I'd probably be angry, but would go because the basic function of every soldier is that of rifleman. It would be the same if I joined as an infantryman and the Corps wanted to send me out as a cook's assistant- I'd bitch about it, but would still go.
2. Given that the scenario I presented was an unannounced test given to every recruit class by the USMC, my answer is NO with regard to being punished for making such a choice in a class environment. However, the answer would be YES if it was a real, no shit situation, because then school's out and it's time to earn that paycheck.
3. Apparently the orders to officers and NCOs regarding this test are not to reward or punish anybody. However, as I remember from the article, at least one of the former Marine recruits said they were verbally abused then forced to do punishment physical exercises daily over a period of at least two weeks afterwards, in what they believed amounted to hazing.
The incident appears to have been a mistake made by the officers and NCOs, but I think they were very concerned about those who opted out and tried to set them straight in the only way they knew how.
Navy SEAL instructors do something similar- if they see a weak candidate, they pounce on him until the guy meets standards or quits. It's harsh, but it saves a lot of problems later on- although SEAL candidates have been given "time out" periods since the Clinton administration, something I read instructors see as a bad idea because there's no pause button in combat.
For what it's worth, I agree with those SEAL instructors. Still, swearing at and physically punishing recruits for two weeks sounds like abuse to me and should not have happened, so my answer is "the punishment is wrong".
The aim of my article was not to trumpet my ideas as right, then slam those who disagreed with me or praise those who agreed. It was to give people something to think about and generate a discussion in order to see what everyone thinks of this situation. Once again, thank you all for the answers and stories.  
Michael B. Added Jun 4, 2017 - 2:58pm
I have somewhat mixed feelings on the topic of hazing. While being a "hazee" usually isn't much fun, from the standpoint of the "hazer", it oftens gives one valuable insight with respect to the character of the "victim". Much of it is relatively harmless and belongs more in the realm of practical jokes, but other forms of hazing obviously go way too far. In many ways, hazing is part of growing up; for example, one time when I was about 11 or 12, I was given the choice by some of the older thuggish kids in the neighborhood of either guzzling a large glass of wine or being punched by all of them. I guzzled the wine, but all of them still punched me, lol. At my first Army unit, in addition to the usual low-level harassment and abuse that all new guys face, some tried to send me on quests for various imaginary items, such as the keys to the firing lock, an in-flight projectile wrench, lanyard grease, illuminated grid squares, and a bucket of mils, but the only one I fell for was the train ticket to Grafenwoehr (Graf). I was told the Battery Commander (BC) had them, and when I hit him up for the ticket, the BC just laughed and said that I had been had, at last. Speaking of Graf, it was a tradition to get body-slammed in the mud on your first Graf and your last Graf. As if that fucking place wasn't muddy enough, lol.
Dino Manalis Added Jun 4, 2017 - 4:25pm
If you're not ready to die, better to stay out of the military at all times!
Mircea Negres Added Jun 4, 2017 - 5:57pm
Michael, I'm a pretty serious guy and when it comes to military matters, I take that more seriously than most things. I never pulled any practical jokes on fellow soldiers and always tried to explain everything honestly in a reasonable tone, believing this is the right way to do things, especially in an environment where there are weapons. I read about the welcome some SEALs got from their new unit after they finished training- they were ambushed as they turned a corner and had the crap beaten out of them. Hard to have a sense of humor about that, I'd say. We didn't have that kind of thing when I was in the SA army (except if you upset a sergeant, in which case it was off to fetch the "right leaf" from a tree hundreds of meters away), but maybe it depended on the unit one was assigned to and I don't know what the special forces do. I guess one purpose of hazing and "welcome aboard" jokes is to bring down to earth the new nugget who thinks he's hot stuff because of his brand new badge, and it makes sense. Still, the line between hard ass and dumb ass is pretty thin... 
Michael B. Added Jun 4, 2017 - 6:10pm
Yeah, personally I was never into the whole hazing thing, but the occasional practical joke was a different story. One of my favorites was one time someone in my unit was seeing the wife of a soldier in another unit; adultery is a crime in the U.S. military, so he was playing with fire. While I was on CQ (Charge of Quarters) duty one day, one of his buddies told me to tell Specialist Adultery that the First Sergeant of A Company, 2/32 Armor wanted to have a talk with him. That was the unit the cuckolded soldier belonged to, so I went along with the joke and duly informed the victim. He looked very ashen on being informed of this and was on his way when we all yelled out of the window that it was a joke. He was relieved, but I still almost got my ass kicked for it, lol.
Mircea Negres Added Jun 4, 2017 - 6:14pm
Dino, that's also part of my philosophy because I believe the profession of arms should only be for those who are willing to face death on a professional basis. Movies make it look easy and romantic, yet the reality of military service is seldom like that, especially when someone dies in front of you- there's no soft classical music and it happens too damned fast. Thank God for Youtube (saw some stuff about the legendary Marine drill sergeants there) and a lot of pretty good documentaries on TV (usually on Discovery Channel) about what some units do, because they explain more of military life than most movies and uncles' anecdotes ever did. At least people have better opportunities to look at what they'll go through before signing on the dotted line, unlike the previous generations who fought at Belleau Wood or Monte Cassino. But man, did those guys fight and not many of them were professional soldiers...
Mircea Negres Added Jun 4, 2017 - 6:24pm
Michael, in my opinion you guys did it right because the guy deserved it. Adultery is an offense in the SA army too. I know it sounds silly to civilians, but these things can wreck units, something even the Mafia understand. Okay, so the Mob shoot you in the guts with a Lupara loaded with rusty nails, but if they get caught and court-martialed by the SA army, then they are cashiered. I may have told you once, that's when they make you stand in front of the entire unit and two guys with swords cut off your uniform piece by piece until you're left in your underwear. They march you to the gate just like that, and when you get there, give you a kick in the ass out of the gate. After that, your file is destroyed and as far as the army is concerned, you never existed. They did it to a Military Intelligence captain who was caught having an affair with a married corporal while on deployment to the DRC. They marched her out of the gate in her bra and panties after the trial, as far as I know.
Michael B. Added Jun 4, 2017 - 6:45pm
That's something that all ranks have occasional and not-so-occasional problems with. Whether you're a buck private or a four-star general, unauthorized nookie can and will be your undoing. I actually had one accidentally; one night while night clubbing, some chick picked up on me, and we had our fun. Several weeks later, while on gate guard, the same woman drove in with her husband, who was a major, no less. I don't think she recognized me because I was all geared up, but I was reminded that there were plenty of other unmarried (at least to other soldiers) tuna fish in the sea.
I think my favorite adultery story was when I was at Fort Bliss, Texas. The howitzer battery (How Battery) of the 2nd Squadron was known to be a problem unit, which was amplified by their battery commander making his XO work late into the night while the commander was fucking the XO's wife. Now that I think about it, I could probably write at least a novella on the various sexcapades of my fellow soldiers, not to mention my own, lol.
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Jun 4, 2017 - 8:22pm
My answers are No, No, and yes I believe it's wrong. That all said, along with the fact that I basically program computers in my actual job, all hypotheticals aside, I as a warrior type of individual, would not join the military, the warrior forces, to program computers. If I wasn't prepared to fight I would not join. That's just me. 
Mark Hunter Added Jun 5, 2017 - 3:08am
Join the military and you might get shot at, or have to shoot at someone, regardless of your position. That seems to be the bottom line.
The Cold War was very cold when I graduated high school, so I never thought about joining up. Instead I became a volunteer firefighter, and while I did get shot at once or twice, I never had to go into battle ... which made it a way easier job.
Mircea Negres Added Jun 5, 2017 - 4:30am
Michael, such a scenario played out in a series called The Unit, where the commander was diddling one of his operators' wife. He was eventually found out and the guys got together to take him someplace and kill him. They didn't take him out, but he did leave. Granted, that's fiction, but apparently this type of thing is an informal death penalty case in some special forces units, or so I read.
Jenifer, thanks for your answers and candor. The Way of the Warrior is not for everybody and unlike some people I've met over the years, I do not look down upon those who wouldn't want to join the military. As you've just seen, it does have some interesting ethical dilemmas. Apparently this happened to at least one Marine unit at the outbreak of the Korean War, and they went to war without completing their boot camp. The inspiration for this test came from that real-life situation and I understand why the USMC would do something like this to recruits today.
MJ, I agree with you. The USMC are light years ahead of the SANDF in almost every category, except bush warfare. I agree, one would probably be better off joining the Mafia, assuming they'll overlook not being Italian... Actually, they don't overlook it. To get "made", one has to be Italian, but they do have "associates" of various nationalities. While these guys don't get "made", some have been quite respected by the Mafia.
Mark, thank you for your input. No, shooting or getting shot at is not everyone's idea of fun, let alone choice of profession. I've also had bullets fired at me (missed by 50 feet) and even been held at gunpoint in my own house, but somehow managed to get out alive. Yeah, being a fireman is dangerous enough as it is, and in my book those men and women are pretty amazing. Much like the Coast Guard, they see often what happens when an angry Mother Nature meets human stupidity and when you add directed violence to the mix...  
Mark Hunter Added Jun 5, 2017 - 4:45am
Coast Guard -- another group up for the challenge!
Michael B. Added Jun 5, 2017 - 12:03pm
Some years ago, some guy at work quit to join the Coast Guard. I didn't think he was suitable for military service for several reasons, mostly because of his extreme prickness and his attitude toward others; not a team player by any stretch. One day several weeks after that dude left, while outside on a lunch break with a few others, he unexpectedly showed up. Someone who knew him fairly well asked him what he was doing there, and he said he was going to try to get his old job back, as he was just discharged from the Coast Guard, after only about five weeks. I wasn't surprised at all. His "buddy" asked him why, and he was told very forcefully to mind his own fucking business. Amazingly enough, he got his old job back, but was fired after a few weeks for threatening to beat up a supervisor. Apparently his Coast Guard experience made him more aggressive and psychotic than he already was, which was pretty bad to start with. The reason for his washout from the Coast Guard was eventually revealed; he refused to give blood for a blood drive, and then complained he was being persecuted for it. I thought that there was much more to it, given the speed of his discharge; they simply decided he was unfit to serve, which is among the things that are determined at the basic training level. The Coast Guard actually sees a lot more action than many people think, and their standards are usually more on the higher side of things.
Mark Hunter Added Jun 5, 2017 - 2:50pm
Yes, some people are definitely not cut out to be team players, especially in life or death jobs.
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Jun 5, 2017 - 7:36pm
The Coast Guard I would think sees a lot of action patrolling for drug dealers and now possible terrorists. It's always a war zone for them in a way. 
Michael B. Added Jun 5, 2017 - 8:45pm
Yes indeed; the USCG is also unique among the U.S. armed forces in that it also performs a law enforcement function.
Mircea Negres Added Jun 6, 2017 - 2:48am
MJ, I'm in the Port of Elizabeth (as I like to call it) these days. Many thanks for thinking of me, though. Last week, I sent my CV to a company which does online English tutoring for Chinese and Taiwanese Those people must've worked in the Presidency, 'cause I haven't heard a peep. Oh, well. If they want their students to keep speaking English in short, choppy sentences, it's their problem.
Jenifer, As far as I know the Coast Guard does see quite a lot of action against dope smugglers. They even have snipers aboard their choppers... They try to save lives, but the lure of quick money has turned so many people into monsters that they've got to pack heat too. Damned sad.
Michael, didn't the Coast Guard also send guys to pilot river patrol boats during the Vietnam War? Very versatile outfit, must say.
Michael B. Added Jun 6, 2017 - 2:02pm
Mircea, as far as I know, it was regular USN personnel that manned the swift boats and PBRs in Vietnam's inland waters, but the USCG assisted in the overall effort, known throughout its duration as Operation Market Time, which of course was the interdiction of VC movements of personnel and/or weapons and supplies by boat and ship. USCG personnel also provided the majority of crews for landing craft during WW2 and Korea, which was also pretty hazardous duty.
wsucram15 Added Jun 6, 2017 - 10:26pm
If it was an order yes you would have to do what you are told.
No I would not accept punishment any more severe than allowed by law, but being in the military you have your orders.
Punishment to the extreme is wrong..but I understand why this has to happen with people in the military.
Mircea Negres Added Jun 7, 2017 - 2:48am
MJ, I've put on some weight, probably because I don't walk as much as I used to... The wind's been blowing for 3 days or so because of a cold front which finally hit Cape Town. It will hit us too, eventually, tonight or maybe tomorrow depending on who you talk to.
Michael, thanks for that. I know quite a bit about the Vietnam War, but I've got some gaps. The books I've read deal with land forces, as if there was no navy or air force.
Jeanne, thanks for the answers. Punishment is an old military fact of life required sometimes because some mistakes or misdeeds can have dangerous consequences- like pointing a rifle at someone or falling asleep on guard duty. Sergeants and officers know it's better to learn some hard lessons in training so that you don't make mistakes in war, but sadly, it can go overboard and do serious damage. 
Michael B. Added Jun 7, 2017 - 9:46am
Mircea, the USN was quite active during the Vietnam War, starting with the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which kicked off the whole thing (LBJ himself said, "Those damned stupid sailors were shooting at flying fish."). In addition to the aircraft carriers on Yankee Station and the Brown Water Navy, ships ranging from frigates to battleships were used for offshore gunfire support of land forces. The USN also wasn't free of the general racial strife and morale problems that affected the armed forces in the later stages of the war. In the early 70's, there were numerous race riots and even acts of sabotage aboard vessels including several aircraft carriers. Although the Navy was eager to avoid the word "mutiny", it's hard not to describe some of the behavior as anything else. One of the more amusing incidents was the case of Marcus Aurelius Arnheiter, who was relieved of command of a frigate or destroyer escort (I can't remember which) for being a real-life Captain Queeg; although an Annapolis graduate, he was a grossly-incompetent officer that drove his crew to the point of mutiny, and was relieved of command after only three months. Among other things, he would force the crew to attend religious services and routinely ordered sailors to falsify logs.
One time when starting a new job, I was introduced to the manager of the production department; he was a mean-looking older man who apparently took an instant dislike to me. Unfortunately, I had to deal with him regularly as part of my job, and he was an unrelenting prick for several months. One day while outside his office, I overheard him saying something about a time when the ship he was on in Vietnam was on a particularly lengthy shore bombardment mission; I thought I'd take a different tack and asked which ship it was. He said it was the USS Newport News; I actually knew something about that ship, telling him it was among the very last of the classic cannon-armed heavy cruisers, with automatic 8-inch guns and air conditioning throughout the ship's interior spaces. Talk about a transformation! He instantly turned into a friend from that moment on. Sometimes knowledge of trivia does pay off, lol. It turned out that he did a tour of Vietnam as a Marine, and after he was discharged, he joined the Navy and did another tour of Vietnam as a sailor.
Mark Hunter Added Jun 7, 2017 - 11:58pm
Knowledge of trivia really does come in handy sometimes!
I suppose old sailors go on about their ships the way older firefighters like me talk about our favorite fire trucks.
Mircea Negres Added Jun 10, 2017 - 10:09pm
We search for points of commonality. Sometimes we find them in the fact that we served, or what we know about that service. One thing's for sure, it makes for interesting discussions and occasionally, helps friendships to develop, which is always a good thing in a world where people are so eager to fight one another because they know nothing or misunderstood something about each other.

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