Don’t RUST On My Parade*

“Petty Officer Marcom! Your Fifty Cals are Rusty!”

50 Cal NavyA

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Third Class Daniel J. Mark. Cleared for release by ALBG PAO, LCDR Jeff Bender.

Lance Sailor

Marco The Sailorman

I had to  admit. Yes they were. I had tried so hard to keep ahead of the rust, but here I found myself on the leeward side of the second half of a six-month, ‘round-the-whurl-West Pacific Deployment’, and somewhere just off the coast of Somalia.

Yes, rust was my enemy, certainly never my friend—the machine guns were always mounted while we (The USS Callaghan DDG 994, full cast and crew) were Haze-Gray and Underway.

Yes, always mounted and underway:

Haze-Graying, even then

And rusty

My Guns were always supposed to be… somewhere upon the sea… this is what they were purchased for…

And subject to rust. Rust Relentless. Relentless She Be: That Sea. That Salt of the Fucking Sea

Rust.

My Moby Dick-lessness! How could I not keep Rust off my guns?

Freud certainly would have had fun with me

(Sadly, now I know why)

************

My professional life was to be found somewhere rusting in those machine guns.

And that rust you see, that rust occupied a great deal of my daily routine.

The Navy had a solution though. She had provided canvas covers to cover those guns and make them safe from rust. Alas, those canvas covers had seen better days, probably back when Pearl Harbor was just an ordinary Naval Base that no one had ever heard of.

But rust is relentless and timeless.

While scrubbing the Indian Ocean rust off’n my fifty-cals one morning I hatched a plan. Knowing full well we were soon to pull into Mombasa Kenya, after so many month at sea, I conspired to save my money:

Once in Mombasa, I would smuggle one of the moth infected, salt- digested, jig saw’d, Swiss Cheese, ‘holy’ canvas shards off the ship. I would rent a taxi, find me a young child, show him my smuggled ‘prize’, ask him to direct me somewhere, where I could find and nickel and dime (I did not have much money then, not un-life-like now) find a leather shop in Mombasa, present to the leather-maker my Holy Canvas, My Shroud,  My Naval Career, and demand, (for US Dollars), that he make me four such more yet new and brand new.

And functional.

And This is exactly what I did, and to the amazement and astonishment of my Master Chief Petty Officer and my Department Head (almost a Navy Commander… he kind of looked like JFK, now that I think on it. I  did not like particularly like him, but I respected him. Hell, he reminded me of all the things I could have been if I had joined the Nav when I was twelve instead of twenty-eight (Different story. Sorry)

The next time they inspected my Fifty Cals, they were pristine! (They did not take notice nor time to notice that the canvas covers were not exactly Haze-Gray-Naval Gray. No, more like Third-World-Rustic, with just a tiny bit of water buffalo…left over…but Goddamn sure water and sea salt proof.   

And I was so desirous that they did NOT notice, but my Master Chief did notice, yet, never ever noticing nor voicing his ‘inner thoughts’ in front of what he referred to as “Shit Birds” — ‘Officers’ — Never let on.

Master Chief never, ever let out his truth thoughts in front of Shit – Birds. This was his genius. 

And I should have been cognizant of this, yet I was so somewhat giddy after my .50 Cals had finally passed inspection, that I did not stop to think on that anymore. “Not even Master Chief had seen through my ruse” Yeah, Rite!

 I was drunk with my own cleverness and lying back on my back in my rack, curtain drawn,  congratulating me.

(Now, you must realize how the Military Mind works. I was my Ship’s Armor All–Armorer– IN Charge of All The Ship’s Small Arms! .225 Cal to .50 Cal. If it took two men to lift, wasn’t mine. But one-man-band? Yep!  I was the shit!  I was a Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class! Freshly rocked out of SEAL Training (twice now, but who counts these sorts of thing? I suppose I do) and trying to retain what little was left of my  pride and my so-fifty-caliber-called-life.)

And I loved and Respected My Master Chief. Did not ever want to become an embarrassment to him, nor to my Fellow Gunner’s Mates who worked on the “Big Guns”. (Those ones what ‘bullets’ took two and a half-men to lift)

And even more important, (anyone who has ever ‘Served’ will know this), the Military is Run On Fear:

“Oh God, Please Don’t Let Me Fuck UP!”

That kind of fear.

Well, as I was lying on my back in my middle rack right before Taps with my little blue ‘privacy’ curtain drawn back when someone jerked that sucker back.

Along with my reverie.

Yep.

Master Chief Anderson!

MY MASTER CHIEF

“Son, tell me where you found those brand new gun covers.”

Trying to lie on my side and find an elbow to lean to, I half-coughed out, feigning sleepy-eyed ignorance,

“Master Chief, I had them made while we were in Mombasa.”

(There are people one may lie to in life, but, A Master Chief Petty Officer in the US Navy is not one found amongst those people. Not if one wishes life beyond that moment of sweet deception)

“I see”, was all he said, as he yanked my curtain back shut, thus leaving me alone with my various and sundry.

I did not sleep that night. For you see, I knew I had broken Naval Regs by doing something not-in-the Naval-Seaman’s-Bible–The Blue Book–The book, inches thick as a brick,  “The Book” I had been made to almost memorize while at Recruit Training Command, i.e. boot camp.

41XgCzuhSdL._AC_UL320_SR214,320_

I had broken the rule.

In the Nav, there is a sea sailor preamble, most requisite when one wants to recount a story of ‘when ships were made of wood and men were made of iron’… “When Moses was a pup” This validates and is a ritual never broken. In other words, one never breaks the rule.

Sometime mid-morning the next day, I was summoned to the berth/office of  The Department Head of my Division, Lt. Commander ‘Kennedy’.

Shitting bricks is too trite.

I was nervous.

I gave a hearty rap on the bulkhead door as I was trained to do in boot camp…

“Enter!”

“Petty Officer 3rd Class Marcom Sir!”

“I know who you are Lance; sit down.”

(What??? Lance??? Sit Down???)

Mouth agape I sat down, speechless

“Son, Master Chief Anderson tells me you went out on your own, designed, commissioned, smuggled off a prototype, and paid for, with your own money, those .50 Cal Gun Covers. Is this true?”

“Yes, uh, yessir,” I stammered.

“Well, that shows some fine initiative. How much did you pay Son?”

“Un Sir. Doesn’t matter…. I just, well, the .50 Cals, you know SIR,  cost ten-thousand dollars each, and I thought…rust….an…”

“How much did you pay?!”

“250 Dollars Sir.”

Without saying a word he opened a little three-lock-box (OK; I made that up. It was only a one-lock-box) that he had in a drawer, carefully opened it, and proceeded to hand me two-hundred and fifty bucks.

American

I sat there, dumb founded,  a moment too long, still in shock, looking at the bills in my hand…

“Petty Officer Marcom! “

“Huh…Uh, Huh… Sir?”

“You’re dismissed!”

Jumping up, knocking my chair over,  some tears welling in my eyes,

“Yessir!”

As I saluted him and abruptly left his quarters, quite in haste.

And thus I had survived yet another day in MY  Beloved Navy.

And Just As a Reminder Kids:

Don’t Rain on my Parade: I have enuff Rain for All

 

*And this just once more a rough draft, full of error, so be kind. Trust me: there is no harsher critic of me than me. I sweat commas. 

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Sea (Somewhat of a Stream of Almost Consciousness)

The scariest thing to me…

Was at sea.

In the Indian Ocean, late one night

(That “IO” That Ho!)

Late at Night.

And the ship was tight.

And the waves were big.

Real big.

IO, She was angry.

And I was scared.

(No! HE Was scared).

I was never scared!

I was drinking coffee… And in between, walking on the bulkheads—all you sailors out there—can relate, and compare…

Never scared, but aside from my ‘coffee mates,” I knew, did, had done… the same drill… Too many times. (Fuckin’ Black-Shoe Navy!)

And if any of y’all find any of my  ‘Sea Stories” unbelievable…The preamble to any good sea story is “This is a no-shitter…”

And then there was Melville…I’ve been around the world and  once saw two white whales fuck.. I did. And there were dolphins… standing by… giggling.

 I have been to Australia.

Twice

And it follows, I have been to sea before:

And here, (for you purists) is the original, stolen from “Hejira”:

My Thanks to

“I’m just a simple soldier Son.

“With one more Year to Go.””

Running in Soft Sand: Part Two

The Below is Somewhat of a Rant Interlude (before I get to the rest of my story): Read at Your Own Annoyance.

*****

But before you do that, perhaps you may want to visit here, and watch the video while there, and maybe even read here.

***

I have a lot to say.

About Navy SEALs.

I have a lot of opinions.

About Navy SEALs.

And I am bona fide.

About Navy SEALs

****

I have a lot of regret over my experience with Navy SEALs.

I have a lot of love for Navy SEALs. Hell! I love the Nav!

(I scored ’99’ on my ASVAB–Unheard of!–The Army Tried to Recruit me! The Greenie Beanies! The Rangers! What a fucking joke!

(Now, do not mistake me: I think the Green Berets are just Jim Dandy, but they have parameters: i.e., there are things they just will not attempt. The Navy (SEALs) have no parameters: they will ‘attempt’ anything–more than once)

 

Video Credit:  Goldenman39z

I recall, while at BUD/s, how we used to taunt the USMC, there for their ‘little taste of amphib training.’

“Hey! Marine Corps! Bullet Sponge Marine Corps! (The few; the proud; the dead on the beach!”)**

Yeah, we got into trouble over that one…

And I did, one day, overhear a TDY Greenie Beanie instructor ask MY BUD/s instructor:

“Hey! How do you guys do it? I mean… how do you do it? You do all the same training! How do you do IT??”

My BUD/s instructor simply said, 

“We do it because this is how we do it.”

Would not trade my time spent at BUD/s for any other of my life’s experiences that I have experienced. (And that includes my time spent at SFM and in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even in Oklahoma and other war zones.)

I ‘earned’ it—my experience with SEALs.

All of it.

Every fuckin’ second.

They, (The SEAL Instructors) tried to kill me, but in a good way…They did kill one, in a manner of speaking, on ‘my watch’, but that is yet another story which time and virtual ink will not permit me to recount here–maybe later)

There are a lot of ‘frauds’ out there now. People who will tell you:

“I was a Navy SEAL.”

Idiots most! If you want to know if someone is / was a SEAL, you simply need to ask one simple question, “Which BUD/s class were you in?”

If that answer comes back as nonsense, then you will know…

(But, how will you know, being a non-com? If it was, indeed, nonsense.) I will tell you. There is only one place on Earth where BUD/s is taking place. That there, for starters, is a good clue. If some asshole tells you he went to BUD/s in Norfolk, VA, (As once happened to me in Basra, Iraq and once in Mombasa, Kenya) he is lying. If some asshole tells you he cannot remember: he is lying. If some asshole tells you it is ‘Classified,’ he is lying.

Walk away and find an interesting chick to speak with. You may get lucky. Buy her a gin and tonic or a wine cooler and tell her you were a Navy SEAL. She may buy into your bullshit. It usually never works in Southern California, but always works like a charm in Toledo.

And the crowd went wild
And The Crowd Went Wild!

Ever since Navy SEALs ‘took out’ OBL… well, and even before… The Navy has had a great PR Program, and a great recruiting machine. The Navy does recruiting better than any other service, (USMC is a very close second, though) But when I was about to enlist and told my recruiter I was ‘going in’ to be a SEAL, he did his due diligence and tried to talk me out of it!

Hahahah!

When I put in my chit (Navy vernacular) for SEALs, no one, and I mean no one, had ever heard of such an outfit, save for a few Nam Vets. I mean to say, data-based, ninety-nine of one hundred Americans could not even define a Navy SEAL.

“SEALs? Never heard of ‘em. Green Berets? Sure. Saw the fucking movie… John Wayne, right?”

Thinking to myself: “Yeah… The Duke, In Fucking Georgia: About as far removed from Viet Nam as is possible, you schmuck!”

Now today, I tune into CNN, FOX: even Aljazeera America, (You damn betcha! I read / watch ALL news), and I see so many ‘Former Navy SEALs’ paraded in front of me, talking to Megyn Kelly, or Bill O’Reilly, or Brook Baldwin, or Kim Kardashian. Jesus on a cracker! Is this what I missed by not becoming a Navy SEAL? I coulda been a ‘coin-tender!’ I coulda been somebody! I could have written a fucking book. Instead of being a bum.

Do a ‘search’ on Amazon dot com for Navy SEAL books. The SEALs I knew, did not ‘talk.’ Now everyone who ever even attempted ‘Hell Week’, is fucking Ernest Hemingway. Makes me nauseous.

Sheeit!

Don’t worry: I will get back to ‘My First Day at BUD/s’ soon enuff, but I am venting now. So please bear with me.

I am going to tell you what it really means to be a young, dumb, full of cum, Texas kid going through SEAL Training. Not the hoopla. Not the machismo. Not the ‘end game’ killing OBL.

No.

Just the story of four or five score scared shitless young kids, who had no idea what they had signed up for… And I was the oldest amongst them, but even, truth be told, the more scared. Because I knew better… Should have known better.

End of Rant.

Please stay tuned… HERE (Part Three)

** And yeah! My own Father was a Korean-Era USMC: ‘Spit an’ Shine, Nickel and a Dime, United States Marine Corps!”

So what?

He weren’t no SEAL (Then again, neither was I)

Running In Soft Sand: Intro

This is Post One of a New old Series (and one I promise to be faithful to)

I will regale y’all with all my Navy SEAL BUD/s training reckless, feckless experiences. Reliving it for me, is better than it actually was. (Trust me on this one) 

However, before we dive in, you may want to watch the below. For if you do, you will get so much more ‘value’ out of my words (also found below)

I was in Class One Forty and Class One Fifty Eight, but some things (in SEALs) are always constantly constant)

So, here we go….

***

Zero Four. Alarm going off! I knock it off the nightstand. It whimpers for an instant and then grows silent. “Now Run Tell That!” as Peanut would say.

Four o’clock!? Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

Where am I? Who am I? Do I need to ‘be’ someplace at four-oh-fucking-clock? Of course I do. I start to remember, shaking some dust from my addled mind. I need to be in Coronado. At BUD/s. And I need to be there by zero-five. Fuck! Fuck!

Karen stirs beside me.

“What’s up?” she asks with morning breath and sleepy eyes.

“Go back to sleep,” I say. “I’ll see you later.” (Much later)

Dragging my hung over self out of our bed in La Mesa California, I get dressed and stumble down the stairs, trying ever so careful to not awake the house in my doing so at such an un-Godly-hour. Four o’clock!

Fuck!

Seated in my Toronado, I crank her up, back out of the drive and head west. To BUD/s. God help me.

Of course I had been through this before: back in ’86. I was what some could call a ‘Two-Time Loser.’ Yeah, this weren’t my first attempt at SEAL training. And certainly not my first rodeo. I continued west.

Presently I arrived at the BUD/s compound (For the uninitiated: Basic Underwater/Demolition slash SEAL Training—Yeah—My Navy is fond of acronyms)

Went into my ‘hooch’ and threw on the lights.

“Goddamn it! Marcom!” was the chorus I was greeted with. “I hate you!”

“Drop yer cocks and grab yer socks!” I yelled. (I have lived my life every day, waiting for an opportunity to say this)

“Huh?”

“It’s time to daince gen’telmens. Let’s git to it!”

“Ah fuck!”

“Yep! Fuck!”

I took a dip of snuff as I watched my roommates get dressed. We were due to meet up with the rest of our class, One Fifty-Eight, in about ten mikes.

“Hurry the fuck up!” I yelled at my sleepy ‘roommates’.

“And you… you shut the fuck up, Petty Officer Mar—cone.”

“I’m doin’ ya’ll a favor, getting you up early so you can get all yer constitutionals done in time,” I said.

“What-ever!”

“Let’s go,” I said.

We proceeded down to our class muster point, mustered up with about seventy other disgruntled ‘grunts’—poly-wogs—and ran into the ‘grinder.’

We sang in unison as we did so:

“TO MY LEFT!

“TO MY LEFT!

“HOOYAH

“HOOYAH

“HOO–YAH!!!”

Class One Five Eight had arrived at BUD/s. God save and send us.

On the grinder (asphalt parking lot) there were little paintings of fin-feet, designating where the pollywogs were to assemble for PT (Physical… Uh… training. Read: torture)

Thusly assembled, we waited for the SEAL Instructor to show. During our wait, we knew we were supposed to sing. You see? The singing arouses the instructor and God knows we wanted him aroused:

So we sang:

“Drank Drank Drank

“Drunk Drunk Drunk

“Drunk last night

“Drunk the night before

“Gonna get drunk like I never got before

“’Cause when I’m drunk I’m happy as can be

“’Cause I’m a member of the Frog Fam’ily…

“Oh the Frog Fam’ily is the best family

“That ever sailed a’cross the sea….”

 And on an’ on. You get the idea.

The instructor arrived in full regalia: UDT shorts, T-Shirt, and attitude. There was a platform of sorts in front of us (Just for His Holiness, the PT SEAL instructor to ‘preach’ from)

We stood erect at attention… waiting to hear his first pronouncement. We did not have to wait long.

“What a fucking sorry lot! This is the worst class I have ever seen! Get wet! AND SANDY!!!”

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

“Gonna be a long day,” I thought as we all ran to the Pacific to get wet and then sandy on the beach…

And the day had not even yet begun…

 

 

 

Russia won our war (Well, everybody’s war actually)

Or, If you desire:

“I’m the reason God Made Oklahoma.” (See? I can say that. Why? Because my second was an Okie and, by parley, that makes me bonafide—so there!)

Feel better?

Vid Credit? S. West (Who Else??)

This I took to Navy SEAL training…

Part Two Here

Subic Bay

You may discover Part One here.

Part Two here.

The Thunder Bolt:

“You can’t hide the thunderbolt. When it hits you, everybody can see it. Christ Man! Don’t be ashamed of it, some men pray for the thunderbolt. You’re a very lucky fellow.”

 – Calo (‘The Godfather’)

****************

So… Matt, Rogers, and I settled into the bar (After I had paid my respects to Mama-San).

Since it was still relatively early and the joint pretty much dead, Rog and I decided to shoot some pool. Now I must tell you, gentle readers, I am a pool hustler, and Rog was a gambler. Good for me. Bad for him. After about an hour of pool, Rog owned me all the beer in Olongapo and his First Born. Wasn’t really interested in the First Born (I had seen the baby pictures and the baby dipped snuff just like his daddy), So I told him to keep the First Born, but get busy with the beers. We sat back down at the bar next to Matt who was in some kind of serious philosophical discussion with a young bar girl who appeared to have a glass eye. Matt is a gentleman and this girl seemed to have warmed up to him. Rog and I were not gentlemen so we interrupted their conversation.

“Hey Matt! Rog here is buyin’ the beer for the next ten years. Name your poison.”

“I’d like a glass of wine,” Matt said softly.

“What?!” Rog and I both exclaimed in unison.

(Matt was an artist. So I suppose this was to be expected: This Un-Naval-Like Bullshit Talk he could come up with out the side of his neck from time to time)

“Mama-San!” I yelled over my shoulder. “Ya got any Pinto Greegee-oh?”

“Goddamn chew!” she yelled back. “Go to fuck you!”
I turned to Matt, “Sorry Buddy. Fresh out. How ‘bout a beer? On Rogers here. He buyin’”.

“Sure,” he said, not even looking at us.

“Oh shit Rog,” I said. “Matt here done gone off into ‘That Place’ again.”

“Doan worry none,” Rog replied. “He’ll snap outta it.”

I glanced over at Matt, now busily drawing on a cocktail napkin what appeared to be a rather flattering portrait of the bar girl.

“Yeah, Rog. I suppose yer right.”

Rogers and I traded wolf tickets for an hour or so, and then aimed our affections at some Marines who had recently shown up. Things were about to grow unpleasant when the regular shift of girls came strolling in. This stopped the war between the Navy and the Marine Corps as the music got loud and the girls took to the runway.

I knew all the girls on the shift. They were all my friends. But I spotted a girl I did not know. ‘Spotted’ is probably not the right word. ‘Witnessed’ (Think ‘Baptist Revival’ here) might be more appropriate. She was the image of my high school sweetheart. (No, I wasn’t really that drunk).

OK, not exactly the spitting image but let us say the Ornamental Version of a spitting image.

Thunderbolt. Bam!

I just had to have some chat with her.

And By God, I would.

Or die.

I would become useless for the rest of the evening.

I spent far too much time in the Far East.

This will be continued…

“Yeah! I’m flyin’ down to Houston…”

I love Willie.

“Win your medals: fuck your strangers”

Read This: is this me? (Or why not me? Who Else?)

Still Thursday, eh?

and yeah: I edit as I go…

****

Picking up from the last half-chapter…

Matt, Rogers, and I were in Viva Young. I had been smitten.

But the smite –her was elusive, so Matt and I retired to the pool tables. Me hoping to fleece him outta some beer money. He hoping for good conversation and Lance Good Wolf-Ticket talk.

We both got what we wanted, until…

Until Pain walked in.

Pain (his real name) was my roommate back when I was in BUD/s Class 140. Pain was a pain in the ass. He was a tow-head boy, weighing in at about 150. All attitude. Bad attitude. He reminded me of Peanut, without the good to outweigh the bad. I did not like his style.

One of My Girls, (yes they were ‘mine’—this was My Bar, wasn’t it?) brought me a beer and said,

“Hey! Dat guy just walk in, he Na-bee Seal.”

“Yes Honey. I know him.”

“He yor frien?”

“Nope. He is trouble, and thanks for the beer.”

Still holding my pool cue, I walked over to Pain.

“Hey Pain!” I said. “How’s it hangin’?”

“Hey Ya.  Uh… don’t I know you from somewhere? Oh yeah; Buds. Back in ’86.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Class one forty. You were my roommate for a spell, until you got kicked out for smacking my other roommate upside the head.”

“Yeah he was an idiot.”

“Don’t think so. He was my Friend.”

“What was yer name? Mark… something or other… Mark..um…?”

“Yeah, that’s right: Marcom.”

“You rocked out didn’t ya?”

“Yeah, I rocked out. Got hurt. Apparently you made it. In SEALs.”

“Yeah, I didn’t rock out.”

“Good for you.”

“Wanna beer?”

“No Pain, I do not. What I want is for you to take your ass outta here. You see, this bar is for ‘Black Shoe Sailors’—Fleet Sailors. This is MY bar, and we don’t really want all you prima-donnas hangin’ out here. This is a private bar—my bar—So… mosey on on.”

“I go where I please. Fuck you!”

“Excuse me, but this ain’t your kind of place. This place is not big enuff to house your Navy SEAL ego; I suggest you amble on down to The California Club on Magsaysay. They have high ceilings and lots of bar girls. You will be welcomed there.”

“You’re pissing me off.”

By this point, I had reversed my grip on the pool cue, and turned it into a baseball bat. Matt came up to my shoulder and whispered,

“Lance, don’t do it.”

I had forty pounds on Pain. I could take him without the pool stick.

Mama-San, ever astute, came up to me and said,

“Sailor Man, you may need to sit down.”

I said, “Mama-San, Not until this asshole leaves.”

She said, “Okay, but you gonna fix the furniture.”

Standing two heads high over him, I turned back to Pain, “You need to leave Son.”

“Maybe I will check out that California Club after all.” He said. And left.

The Jar Heads on the other side of the bar applauded. One said,

“Great job! Squiddy! That guy is an asshole. Seen him around town.”

“Thanks!” I said. Then yelled, “Hey! Mama-San! Bring me a beer! I just saw my life flash in front of me!” (Not really. I fear no man, but it makes for good prose, eh?)

Pain was actually a good guy. But an asshole. Certainly I can relate, being same.