The Marine Corps’ seven Marine Expeditionary Units are designed to deploy at a moment’s notice for combat or emergency response, but it seems two of the MEUs have been waging a war a little closer to home.
The 15th MEU, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., has had an official account on Twitter for over a year, tweeting a regular stream of Marine Corps news and photos. But when its neighboring 13th MEU joined Twitter in July, things started heating up.
On Aug. 23, the 13th MEU account issued a friendly shout-out to all the MEUs on Twitter.
Then it got personal.
There were memes.
Chesty Puller, the patron saint of Marines, was invoked.
So was Condescending Wonka.
Yeah, it was on.
Typically, the Marine Corps presence on social media is formal to a fault, so I inquired with the MEUs to see what was behind this highly entertaining Twitter feud.
“It’s an opportunity to show people that the Marine Corps is not just your [drill instructor] and new recruits,” said Capt. Brian Block, a spokesman for the 15th MEU. “There’s people behind the public face and those people like to have fun. We’ve got a personality too.”
I asked him if there was a standing rivalry between the 13th and 15th MEUs, Red Sox-Yankees style.
“Any opportunity to dig the cousin to show them that you’re better,” Block said.
But, he said, rivalry was all relative.
“If the [East Coast-based] 22nd MEU tries to dig the 13th, we’ll come to their aid,” he said. “And then we’ll all join up against the Army.”
Adam Driver has done quite well for himself in his second career.
Driver was disappointed to find himself a civilian again just three years after he became a Marine after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He was forced out of the Corps as a lance corporal following injuries he sustained during a mountain biking accident.
But Driver’s post-Corps career has been anything but unsuccessful. He’s now a professional actor, with roles in “Girls” and the new “Star Wars” movie. He’s also appearing on the cover of the September edition of GQ magazine.
In the cover story Driver, who was a mortarman with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, talks about how the Corps put his later struggles as an aspiring actor into perspective, and gave him a lust for working through pain in the way to success. From the issue:
Driver applies the discipline acquired in the military to everything he does, from the quotidian details of existence to his work.
“I think it’s good to live an artful life,” he says, sipping a pink smoothie in the Brooklyn cafe we’ve safely landed in after our helicopter ride. ”I like everything I do to have some kind of meaning.”
To attain something worthwhile, one must experience a certain amount of suffering: “The more masochistic the part, the more appealing.”
Driver has a role in the next “Star Wars” movie, and he reportedly plays a villain (those involved with the movie are secretive about who Driver plays in the film). My colleague Jon R. Anderson profiled Driver in June. He pressed the actor on his thoughts on evil roles and got this great back-and-forth exchange about how to make a bad guy on the screen seem real.
Ask Driver who his favorite villain is, and he suddenly gets cagey.
“The guy at the coffee shop who screws up my order,” he says after a long pause. “It’s an actual guy.”
Ask him to describe any villain that he’s played to date and he takes even longer.
“That’s hard because I don’t think anyone is really a villain,” he said. “I don’t think of any character as a villain because then you judge them and distance yourself from them.”
Driver’s story in GQ came with a cover shoot. The Klieg lights might be bleaching out the salty habits ingrained into Driver from his Marine Corps days — he’s actually smiling in a few of the photos, a departure from the SOP of official military portraits.
Also worth noting: There’s a report about male sexual assault in the military in the same edition.
It’s on now.
If you’re on Facebook and don’t live underneath a rock, you’ve probably heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge fad sweeping the nation. It reportedly started in Boston with former Boston College baseball star Peter Frates, who was diagnosed with the degenerative disease ALS in 2012. The concept is simple: if you’re challenged, you have 24 hours to film yourself dumping ice water on your head for ALS awareness, or donate $100 to ALS research. Or, preferably, both. Then you get to challenge another handful of people.
Well, this morning Maximilian Uriarte, creator of the wildly popular web comic Terminal Lance, turned up the volume. He took the challenge — sporting a pair of classic Silkies — and turned up the heat on Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and Duffel Blog founder Paul Szoldra to do the same.
Watch the ice-cold action below:
Uriarte also donated $100 to the ALS Association under the Terminal Lance name to prove it’s not just about the showmanship.
The challenge was posted on the Terminal Lance site early this morning, and so far, the Amos and Szoldra camps have yet to post a video. Will they bite the bullet and take the drenching? We’ll have to wait and see.
It’s undeniable that Marines built the Church of the Silkie.
Even though the super-short shorty-short that doesn’t do much to cover up the body’s lower half isn’t technically a part of the uniform, the garment holds a cult-like status within the Corps. Like many religions, there are sacred texts. The Church of the Silkie, I recently learned, is no exception.
While researching this week’s cover story, I found a solemn devotion to the shorts written in an Amazon.com review by a Marine stationed in Cairo. I kind of felt like Indiana Jones finding the Ark or the Holy Grail when I stumbled upon this missive. It says, in part:
“These shorts are the best thing to happen to me since the creation of democracy. Nothing screams freedom like … these justice inducing booty shorts. …I especially love to duo these buttocks displaying power pants with a skin tight American flag tank-top. If you love bald eagles, freedom, and flexing your quads at strangers for the simple pleasure of gauging their reaction, then I highly encourage you to hop on the freedom train and purchase these shorts. They do not disappoint.”
Church of the Silkie doctrine requires believers recite this prayer before every workout. The faithful will be rewarded with the comfort only silkies can provide and a perfect score on the PFT.
You can read that homage to silkies in full, along with many other entertaining reviews on the short shorts, here.
Today marks two years since former Marine Austin Tice disappeared while working as a freelance journalist in Syria.
Debra and Marc Tice have written a letter to their son published by McClatchy in the hopes that somehow their words can reach him, wherever he is.
“From hard tips about your possible whereabouts to simple prayers for your well-being, we have received an overwhelming show of support from every continent on the planet,” they wrote. “We are eternally grateful to every person who has reached out – and we fully expect even more people to come forward in the coming weeks and months. The piece of information that will bring you home safely is out there, somewhere. Rest assured that we will find it.”
Tice left the Marine Corps as a captain in January 2012, according to his Linkedin profile. During his seven years in the Corps, Tice deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, served as a joint terminal attack controller, and an infantry platoon and company commander.
He arrived in Syria in May 2012 and was last heard from on Aug. 13 of that year. That October, he was seen in a 47-second YouTube video, in which he was seen blindfolded and surrounded by armed men. It was unclear whether his captives were rebels or forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
After reciting a prayer in Arabic, Tice said: “Oh Jesus, oh Jesus.”
Six years ago on Sunday, Sgt. Michael Ferschke Jr. was killed in Iraq. And since then, Mikey, the son he never had the chance to meet, pays tribute to his father.
With a couple of markers and the blocky handwriting of a youngster learning to write, Mikey scrawls a love note to dad on a bunch of balloons before releasing them into the sky, completing an annual memorial to keep his father in mind.
Gunnery Sgt. Jimmy Stare captured this personal tribute in a quick video.
Ferschke was a radio operator and was fatally shot while storming a building in Salah a Din province that was holding several insurgents. Just a month before he was killed he married Hotaru Nakama, his girlfriend back in Okinawa, Japan. A month later she gave birth to Mikey.
Ferschke’s widow’s struggle to move to the U.S. after his death required an act of Congress and presidential approval to get resolved. The couple married by phone while he was deployed and Nakama received death benefits from the Defense Department after he was killed. But the Department of Homeland Security, the enforcers of immigration law, didn’t recognize their marriage and didn’t extend benefits, including ones that would have allowed Nakama to come to the U.S.
Eventually Congress passed the Marine Sergeant Michael H. Ferschke Jr. Memorial Act, and on Dec, 10, 2010 President Obama signed it into law, resolving the immigration snafu. The legislation only applies to this case.
Those who assumed only a “terminal lance” would have the gall to list his barracks room on Craigslist might be surprised to learn who was really behind the stunt.
A staff sergeant hoping to carry out a career in the Corps was behind the entertaining Craigslist advertisement. He said he has a “penchant for shaking things up when it comes to having to conform to the Marine Corps way.”
The Battle Rattle post about his ad was viewed nearly 380,000 times. He described a 225 square-foot barracks room as a lovely space in a gated community with wake-up calls and “motivation specialists.” The staff sergeant said he has since received a lot of fan mail.
“I have received hundreds of encouragement and congratulatory emails in response to the ad, and most of them wished me luck with dealing with my first sergeant, sergeant major, or insinuating I may well be on my way to private,” he told Marine Corps Times.
For those reasons, it’s probably no surprise that he asked that his identity not be revealed.
The staff NCO said he posted the ad as a challenge of sorts. He wants to ensure Marines aren’t afraid of questioning the status quo — but only if they do it in a professional way that doesn’t cost them their careers.
“Our Corps is built on the concept that we are innovators who look for new ways to operate (e.g., amphibious landings) and that we will formulate ways to do them well,” he said. “Innovation involves forcing oneself to operate outside the box, a thing the Marine Corps as an institution typically frowns upon.”
Instead, the staff sergeant said he would like to encourage Marines who enjoyed his post to think about their limitations and push past them.
“[That will] help make our Corps into the next generation of military professionals,” he said. “This is how we grow and improve.”
He said he wanted to be clear: That doesn’t mean he’s out to slander the way the Corps functions. But wants to challenge it in a positive way.
“If you are an infantryman, a supply clerk, an intelligence officer, or a [military policeman], ask yourself often, ‘Why do we do things this way? Is there a way the process can be improved?’ ” he said. “If you have an idea, it doesn’t matter if you are a private or a general, you could be the one to help revolutionize our Corps.”
The staff sergeant said too often Marines are concerned they’re going to get in trouble if they question anything. But they should not be afraid to remain silent about everything going on around them out of fear of their superiors, he said.
“In today’s Marine Corps, I find there is a lack of moxie where it has historically abound,” he said. “This new garrison Marine Corps keeps Marines on pins and needles for fear of having their careers ruined by some adverse paperwork.”
A Russian farmer caught on video commanding a bunch of ducks to get in line and follow him into a barn might make the most effective Marine drill instructor ever.
The video shows a man emerging from his barn, shirtless. He then crouches down, screams, and gets an entire flock of ducks into line in seconds before leading them into a barn.
Total time: 30 seconds.
If he can lead waterfowl like that, imagine what he could do with recruits. Compare the king of the ducks to new recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
It takes three Marines more than five minutes to get a couple busloads of recruits into a building.
Granted, the ducks might be a bit more manageable than recruits.
Marines who are preparing for a permanent change of station to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, might be trolling Craigslist for housing.
Well, this listing might have everything you’re looking for — or perhaps everything you’re hoping to escape.
On July 20, a Craigslist user posted a one-bedroom rental that would be available in two weeks. The “lovely” 225 square foot space is located in a “gated community with 24-hour private security,” the advertisement states. Rent is $1,000 per month, and can be conveniently paid “on the 1st or split between the 1st and 15th with automatic withdrawal.”
There are not only free laundry facilities and gym memberships, but also running trails with “motivation specialists” to “encourage” runners.
There’s a courtesy wake-up service “at or around 0530″ and lawn care is provided biweekly. And while there is no kitchen in the living space, an additional $250 per month will provide the new renter with a “reasonable amount of food” at nearby facilities.
Despite the amenities, the housing does come with a number of restrictions, the poster warns.
“No resident may affix anything to the walls with the use of nails, screws, tape, or (apparently) railroad spikes,” the ad states. Although it’s not immediately clear how it was determined that railroad spikes should not be used to affix items to the walls.
Alcohol is also limited to one six-pack. There can be no overnight visitors and arguing with the “security service or wake up service” is not advised.
You can check out the complete ad here.
With his new movie “Hercules” coming out today, Dwayne Johnson, better known as the Rock, has been on a media blitz. One of his stops was at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he met a few Marines and snapped a couple of selfies with fans. Marine Corps public affairs officers said that thousands of people showed up to see the actor/ professional wrestler/ football player, and some showed up as early as 3 a.m.
Here’s what the scene looked like.