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I want to serve in the 397th

July 14th, 2007 by skippy

From the comments section of Cephalopod Surprise

“Someone send me this and stated that it was a must read, therapy “it kept me rolling”. Guess what, troche personally I saw nothing funny about this. Waht I saw was what appeared to be a lazy PFC (E3) that somehow joined or was drafted, pharmacy if he is that old, and fought the system the whole time he was there. He forgot that some of those “unemployable wives of military officers”, and by the way they also had the NCO and Enlisted wives clubs, served a very good purpose, and it seem that understood the “spirit of corps” that these functions whould bring, plus funds to help those in need.
Yes, I was a Private but did make a career of it and retired as an Officer, but through the struggles that military life always seem to bring, with the long separations plus two tours in Vietnam, I am gratefull that those wives did take the time to do thigs like this, as it help relaxed and at times help financialy. I know, we were one of those families that sought and were help.
As the old saying goes, the military is what you make of it, and takes special families to adopt. I am proud that I was able to served my country without complaining.”

I normally let comments like this go, but I am feeling crotchety today.

Tony, I pity any soldier that had the misfortune of serving under you. Your comment paints a picture of the very worst sort of Army leader.

To your credit, I re-read my post. And it does look like I am speaking about ALL family support groups, as opposed to the ones I have served with. I cannot accurately comment on every FSG in the service as I was only ever around PSYOP from 1996-2002. But I never once saw an enlisted family member involved. And it was a rare day that I even saw one treat enlisted as human beings. Most of the wives seemed to think that they possessed the same rank as their spouse, and that enlisted were there to serve them. As far as service to the families of soldiers, I never saw that as well. I always suspected that FSG was like the Army Emergency Relief. In theory it was an organization designed to take care of all the Army personnel. In reality it was just there for the officers.

In my post, I described mandatory fun activities, and mandatory volunteering. Since you mainly described me as the culprit I can only assume you endorse these practices.

Mandatory fun is an insult to the men and women who volunteer to protect this country. In this country children do not enlist. Adults do. As an adult I am quite capable of determining how I want to enjoy my free time without being led around to planned activities like an infant with a play date. I’m not saying that group activities don’t serve a purpose. I’m not even saying that all group activities need to be training related. I’m saying that if you have to order people to show up to it, at least have the decency to not pretend that it is for their enjoyment.

Next issue: the whole mandatory volunteering. Let’s just call it what it is: blackmailing soldiers into following orders that their chain of command cannot legally give. You talk about me bucking the system, yet how should this act be interpreted?

If my NCOIC was legally allowed to order me to purchase a pie why didn’t he just order me to acquire one? Because I wasn’t issued any damn pie, because we weren’t assigned to the 235th Combat Pastry Division.

This is, in my opinion, bullying of the worst sort: taking deliberate advantage of those that you have a solemn duty to protect.

And it doesn’t say much about you as a human being or a military leader that you find such behavior acceptable.

Next the issue of “Lazy PFC … fought the system the whole time he was there.”

You’re reading an awful lot into this one army story. And you know what assuming does right? Just because I made my own fun on occasion, in no way means I didn’t do my job, to a high degree of professionalism. I’m proud of the fact that I served, what I did when I was there, and the people that I served with. I received no punishment more severe than a counseling statement the whole time I was in, and have been commended many times on taking care of the soldiers I worked with.

That’s not to say that I never fought the system. Sometimes the system is wrong and needs to be fought. Sometimes questionable leaders do questionable things to the troops, and thus they need to be questioned. But this isn’t even really about one of those times.

In this instant I was issued a questionable order, and I followed it. I just followed it in a way that brought me and my fellow soldiers more joy than the chain of command intended.

Most soldiers have a sense of humor. Hell, remember the LTC who took a squid to the face? He laughed his ass off once he got over the shock. Little pranks such as this, are part of what made the occasional insanity of military service tolerable. There is most assuredly a time and a place for such things, and in my opinion, they do more for the mental health and welfare of the troops than any number of “scheduled pre-planned enjoyment sessions” that the leadership can think up.

And lastly, as far as the claim that you were proud to serve without complaining. I’m going to have to call bull on that. You expect me to believe that you went through twenty years of service, during a war, and never had a reason to complain once? I’m sorry anyone who says that is either a very bad liar, dangerously insane, or was a trooper in the elite 397th Ice Cream Social & Hooker Regiment.

In summery, I’m glad I served. And I’m grateful that you served. But I think you might not have as much cause to be overbearingly proud as you seem to be.

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31 Responses to “I want to serve in the 397th”

  1. KDS Says:

    To the person who made the comment, Many things have changed since the vietnam era, especially people. And I agree with Skippy, I would have hated to serve under your command. You sound like the type of leader who believes that if his personnel don’t absolutely hate him then he must be doing something wrong.


  2. alisa Says:

    There are times that you have to do a bit of the insane to stay sane. Thanks for creating this website and sharing some of the humor that comes along with being in (and out of) uniform.


  3. Alycia Says:

    Just wanted to let you know that things in the FRG (as FSGs are now called) have improved significantly since 2001. My husband was a specialist when he deployed shortly after 9/11, and the FRG was everything you described. However, people have gotten their shit together and in the FRGs I’ve seen since (he’s on his third deployment currently), enlisted wives are treated far better and the groups are truly helpful for those who choose to take advantage of the assistance available. He’s an officer now, but I can’t say things are any better for me than they were the last time he deployed as a sergeant. As for your other stuff – rock on, dude. Your observations on mandatory fun and your feelings on being ordered to acquire a pie had me rolling – my husband and I used to get so bitter about that crap. He does everything in his power to buffer his soldiers from that outrageous nonsense, thank god. That means we end up paying for a lot of that junk out of our own pockets, but oh well.


  4. Ghost Says:

    I remember the fellow who lived across the road from myself when I was a child, He was practically a second father. When He’d heard I’d enlisted, he flew out from America when I’d finished basic, had a few days leave, (He was a Colonel at this point) And Hung out for a few days. At this point, just before he flew back, both of us in uniform at the airport, I saluted him, he Saluted me, And he quietly gave me the best bit of CO related advice I’ve ever heard, and has served me well every day of my enlistment –
    “There are officers that walk into the room, Salute, and say “How you cunts doing?” and there are officers that Walk into the room and salute you by full name and rank. The best officers are those who not only can be both, but know when to be either.”


  5. Jon Says:

    Skippy, it was guys like you that made serving a tolerable, and sometimes even enjoyable experience for those of us with less creativity and probably more fear of our chain. (*chuckle*) This page is worth every bit of time you put into it. You’re showing the general populace that average Joes aren’t just a bunch of mindless drones, and that we absolutely recognize a jacked-up leadership environment when we see it. Keep going dude.

    Tony, where do I begin? I absolutely tip my hat to your Vietnam service, but the 1970s weren’t exactly a bright moment in Army history, and if you served through that period, I’m amazed that you can’t see how the Army has changed, and yet, still remains the same. I understand how you may feel that a lot of the programs that we younger guys bitch and moan about were trying to combat the poor post-Vietnam leadership and support environment, but the military, my friend, is about breaking shit, blowing things up, and generally causing the maximum amount of collective mayhem necessary to accomplish the mission. It is NOT about freaking tea parties with the COs wife to inflate the collective ego of the chain of command. I am NOT buddies with my Battalion CO, and therefore have no business giving him “pies in the face” (Skippy, I almost wet myself laughing at that one. squid. OMFG. Also, running is generaly NOT fun, and leads to joint problems later in life…especially the type of formation-style fast-walks common on these “fun runs” where they put the slowest fat soldier on the absolute front left of the formation so everyone else (who can actually *pass* a PT test) can feel their knee cartilage grind into oblivion).

    Yeah I’ve got baggage… sorry.

    Dude, My commander’s job is to see that I have the resources to conduct the best training, get the best equipment, and obtain the maximum amount of space I need to accomplish my mission. My job as an NCO is to see that the training and mission happens. If he gives me that, and the space for me and my guys to blow off steam in whatever demented way I prefer during my downtime, then THERE is his unit morale…and he can rest easy. He’s not my granddad, and the CSM is not my grandma…I was already issued appropriate sets of those.

    Tony, unlike your generation, every single one of us were and are volunteers. We knew what we were getting into when we signed up, and don’t need our hands held, thank you very much. Just give me the resources to do the damn job the way it needs done (for death and destruction are damnable jobs, and should never be thought of otherwise), and to take care of my soldiers at the end of the day the way they NEED taken care of, not what the BN CO’s wife *thinks* they need.

    Skippy, sorry for the rant, but jokers like that were the reason I was a one-hitch-wonder.

    Keep going bro.


  6. Speck Says:

    I, like many others, agree with Skippy here. I’ve been in positions with a crappy chain, to the point where when I was finally leaving my post, the CPT and 1SG both ended up calling me into their respective offices. My CPT glared at me and said he never wanted to see me at Ft. Meade again, while my 1SG couldn’t even look me in the eye in an attempt to keep her bearing as she said I would be missed and she hoped to see me at Ft. Meade soon. If it weren’t for the support of my NCOs, I have no idea how many … “harmless”… pranks I would have pulled on the CPT to pay him back for being such a.. well, likeness of Dubya. The amusing thing? I’ll be back in Ft. Meade before the year is out, but luckily there’s a different CPT there this time.


  7. Analee Says:

    I’d like to state for the record that not all Vietnam vets have their heads wedged up their nether regions like this one seems to have. My father, God rest his soul, was a Green Beret veteran of Vietnam, a Sargeant, and responsible for setting his CO’s ass on fire while he was in the latrine, among other things.

    If Tony’s this upset about REAL pranks, then I’d hate to see what would happen if he was sat down in front of a TV playing an episode of M*A*S*H…


  8. DerekP Says:

    My fiancee and I both laughed ourselves out of our respective chairs on reading this – we met up at Fort Drum, two SPCs. For someone who has never been in the military, this writeup catches the Fun-Run (which really is neither) experience exactly how it is. I could just imagine myself back in the ol’ post-run formation watching our own Battalion CO taking a tentacled pie to the face. Being the Admin clerk that would get yanked out of everything and anything to do one of his “snapshots” of unit readiness, that brought a smile to my face.

    I would reply to Tony as follows:

    You tell me how else you can raise $500 for the FRG with one squid. I would say Skippy did them quite a service that day.

    I think Tony has conflated having fun with dereliction of duty. A smile is not against uniform regulations (despite what one of my 1SGs would try to tell me).

    Pie doesn’t have tentacles… roflmao


  9. OzzyC Says:

    …Most of the wives seemed to think that they possessed the same rank as their spouse, and that enlisted were there to serve them…

    Fuckin’ A Skippy.


  10. itsbobmd Says:

    …Most of the wives seemed to think that they possessed the same rank as their spouse, and that enlisted were there to serve them…

    I’ve lived this in Germany, where when we went to the field the wives would don the ranks of their husbands on their purses or collars, and “pull rank” where ever they saw fit. Front of the line at the PX or comissary etc. We even had one SGM’s wife run the gate in Schweinfurt where her car got totalled when the PVT on duty raised the barrier on her. She was pissed off because being the SGM’s wife she was above having to show her ID, and every soldier on base should recognize her (they probably could, but her being clothed probably threw the poor private off).

    Anyways, this ‘forum’ brings back a lot of great memories, as I too wasn’t a good private, but in the end I did make it a career and took advantage of the benefits when I retired, at 20 years and a day, still enlisted, still working for a living.


  11. Daniel Says:

    In response to comment #2. Nah you just have to be a little crazy to keep from snapping and going outright insane and killing everyone in sight… or something along those lines. Thats my theory.

    I appreciate those of you with either enough guts, honor, patriotism, even those that got conned by the recruiter for college money, or what have you, have done for aiding in keeping this country safe.

    And many of the screwy stories you guys have to share from “over there”.

    One of which: a friend of mine thats A tanker. He went to iraq as a foot grunt near the northern area. Their group of 4 jeeps was returning from a mission through a muddy area. One baffoon got his hummer burried to the windows in it. The remaining 3 tried to use a 3 way pulley array of sorts to pry this idiot out. Failure. One of the 3 reaming tried to leave for help and got himself stuck. they tried to get him out couldn’t. Both of these guys where from the city. My friend and the other hummers driver are from the east side of Oregon where there is more offroading and such. They had to call in one of those large, I forget the name of the veh. One of those huge things that are capable of dragging a tank, to get the one guy unstuck. In all it took an extra 8+ hours to return to base.


  12. Boris Jimski Says:

    Now you really gotta read chapter 7 of Fussell’s “Wartime – Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War”. I’ll give you a hint: it’s title is “Chickenshit – An Anatomy”.


  13. ChibiHoshi Says:

    Tony: I’??m sorry but… In the 60′??s women who were married didn’?t work NOT because they didn’??t want to but because jobs were limited and pay was not on par with the hours you put in. The wife’??s back then were probably decent people who channeled their energies constructively. 70′??s was a transitional period with many older women still stuck with the lack of education or have already started families.
    In the 80′??s to now – military wives who didn’t work did so because they didn’??t want to. At least with the current deployments the women do need the groups a little more to help coop like they did in the 60’s but their lack of working is still indicative of laziness.
    And as a Parris Island 4th Battalion Grad in the 90′??s I find the squid story utterly hilarious.


  14. ChibiHoshi Says:

    Tony: I’m sorry but… In the 60’s, women who were married didn’t work NOT because they didn’t want to but because jobs were limited and pay was not on par with the hours you put in. The wife’s back then were probably decent people who channeled their energies constructively. 70’s was a transitional period with many older women still stuck with the lack of education or have already started families.
    In the 80’s to now – military wives who didn’t work did so because they didn’t want to. At least with the current deployments the women do need the groups a little more to help coop like they did in the 60’s but their lack of working is still indicative of laziness.
    And as a Parris Island 4th Battalion Grad in the 90’s I find the squid story utterly hilarious.


  15. RenegadeRedHead Says:

    I would love to tell you sometime about my NCOIC that decided to join AMWAY. and subsiquently attempt to force all of us to join under him. Oh,, did I mention that top and our CO. were friends of his and they had already joined?? I remained PFC. a long time over this……….


  16. Big Swede Says:

    Anyone who claims to have gone from private to officer during decades of service, and not having behaved like an intoxicated monkey (metaphor that) at least once to relive stress, either has a bad memory, is lying or should have been out on section 8 long ago.

    Heck even basic training is stressfull enough to call for some clowning around for most people, and being in an actual war… i can only imagine, and still probably be of by 500 klicks.


  17. GenJeFT Says:

    I fully support Skippy. There are many people in the army like Skippy and it highlights a simple fact, we are not robots. We cannot be ordered to have fun. Too many people in the army think that people are unfeeling robots. They think they can just keep pushing and pushing, that we have not limit to the amount of work we can take. They think that we never have problem, and that we can go on forever.

    Well guess what, we have problems. We have bills to pay, we have family’s to worry about, we have friends in trouble to help out. We are not always all nice, happy, and stress free. Many of us come from broken homes, broken family’s. Some come from abusive backgrounds, others never fit in at home and are just trying to find someplace to belong. Many are just lost in their way, trying to figure out what to do with their lives.

    Its people like Tony who refuse to realize that the people under him are people, not robots. It is because of leaders like Tony, who refuse to realize we have our own problems in our lifes to deal with, in addition to the unusual stress of army life. As a result, while we have the best care of battle wounds and other injurys that we have ever had, we still do not have enough medical help when it comes to mental problems. So we get people coming home with cases of Post Truamatic Stress Disorders, depression, paranoia, etc. People winding up in the homeless in the streets, locked up in mental hospitals, in prison, or in some extreem cases they kill themselves. All because some leaders never realize that they are leading real people.

    As for you Tony, you should be ashamed for judging a person based on a few stories they wrote about. To say Skippy was a lazy PFC based on one writing is wrong to me. Don’t judge others less you be judged yourself.

    As for what you think of me, all I can say is. I swear, on the Holy Bible, my family name, and the Constitution of These United States of America which I have sworn to protect and uphold, that I will do my job to the utmost of my ability, in any situation, and that I will aid the others around me in the doing of their job and the completion of the mission, until my enlistment is up, the day I retire, or the day I die. Whichever comes first.


  18. Carni Says:

    Dude,learn how to spell what..w-h-a-t. not w-a-h-t.


  19. JoAnn in VA Says:

    My pet peeve when enlisted was being pressured to “voluntarily” give part of my paycheck every month to the CFC so that some commander would reach his quota of money raised and soliders intimidated. One 1SGT took me out for a equally voluntary run to discuss why I wasn’t signed up for any of the charities yet (I loathed running, still do). I proceeded to gasp and pant my way for a mile or two while listing to him the various charities I had contributed privately to in the past year, the walkathons and other fund raisers I had participated in, my work as a school volunteer when off duty, and why I didn’t choose to give my money because someone else said I should. I think I finally gave in though- sorry!
    Of course, this was the same 1SGT who had to tell me not to embroider while on duty, or to make chainmail from commo wire when I was supposed to be at work. He didn’t like my trying to nurse a wounded pidgeon back to health in my barracks room either, or keeping a parakeet there(the last 1SGT was cool with it though). I suppose painting his office pink with hot pink trim when ordered to paint it one weekend wasn’t the best idea either- but he did say “just get some of whatever they have in housing” after all.


  20. steelcobra Says:

    “I suppose painting his office pink with hot pink trim when ordered to paint it one weekend wasn’t the best idea either- but he did say “just get some of whatever they have in housing” after all.”

    And that’s why you never tell a soldier to just do whatever. Hilarious.

    I’d have a cat in my barracks room if I thought I could get away with it…


  21. chila r Says:

    My boyfriend is in the MArine Corps and I have NEVER EVER treated any other service member cruelly. My guy is the PFC/Lcpl not me. Its disgusting that wives wear the hubbys rank


  22. BombTech Says:

    When I was deployed with the 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq, my 1SG (who, to this day, lives on as a pile of excrement) and Commander put out a policy letter basicaly stating that any soldier caught with pornography of any kind would be subjected to UCMJ action at the highest authority possible. One evening, 1SG Douchebag asked me to get his laptop from his quarters and bring it to him. I had nothing better going on at the moment, so I thought I’d be the nice guy. What do I find on his computer as not only his desktop, but as a screensaver? You guessed it…some of the highest quality porn on the market. Being the astute NCO that I was (more to follow), I quickly pulled out a flash drive and started copying everything I could readily find.
    After delivering the laptop to 1SG Hypocritical Douchebag, I hightailed it right to BN HQ and told CSM Entirely Too Awesome For Words what I had just found and where I found it. Just another example of the higher ups thinking they are somehow better than those they have charge of. A reminder to all who think that way…you got where you are by the sweat, blood, and tears of men like me. As for me, I remain a SPC until my new unit in my new MOS see fit to promote me. I couldn’t even comprehend being an NCO in my old field again for fear that I might “grow up” to be like 1SG @$$licker. Given the choice of serving under him again, or going through a breech-birth to an adult porcupine that just happened to be on fire at the time…I would have to seriously weigh my options.


  23. JoAnn in VA Says:

    Go for the porcupine. At least he won;t mean anything person by being there, and is probably having as rotten a time of it as you are.


  24. SrA Says:

    you are wonderful!!! I spent my kids first two years of life with half my free time at ” manditory family fuinctions” to help promote teamwork and help us get to know each other, but if the 22 hour shifts in a tent with my co-workers wasn’t sufficent for pesonal knowledge and team building how was a bar-b-q where we had to eat veggi burgers to ” keep us in fighting condition” and listen to our shirt tell us why we counldn’t be trusted with a keg supposed to work out? i love hippocracy, keeps the mind sharp and the hostility high!!


  25. bward Says:

    thats why alot of enlisted people hate officers they are major pains in the ass


  26. Chris Nordberg Says:

    I spent 25 years in the AF and have a great officer’s wife story, or at least an outrageous one. I was in the commisary and had picked up the last package of frozen steak, of some sort. I had decided I didn’t want it, but it was still in my hands, when this woman swoops in and snatches it from my dam’ hands! Amazing! Of course, then I decided I wanted it after all and proceeded to take it out of her cart and put it in mine, at which point she procedded to the manager’s office and started a big ruckus over it, while loudly proclaiming she was Colonel so-and-so’s wife and making various “enlisted swine” type coments. This was at Ramstein AB Germany in 1978. I was detained first by the manager, then by the SPs and eventually her HUSBAND showed up. I ended up getting called into the old man’s office & lectured – i’m sure it would have been worse had I actually done anything remoterly wrong LOL


  27. parky Says:

    see chris makes a valad point, as a female ex-troop and a spouse i not only had to put up with “enlisted scum” comments but apparently i was going to seduce their husbands (becouse let me tell you, sweating so much you have salt stains on your clothes is sexy!). THEN to top it off when i separated i was treated like i was using my husbands rank when i was really using MINE!!!! women like that are why i never got involved with our “spouse fun nights”.


  28. Tim Says:

    “Fun Run” Summer 1985, San Antonio, TX. There was a local “Fun Run” to raise money and awareness for something. I was a student at the Combat Medical Specialist School at Ft. Sam Houston. Someone, I don’t know who, but someone with rank decided that all the students should participate in the “Fun Run”. We were to run in formation at the end of the runners. This was the first mistake. The second mistake, was to have the Special Forces Medic Students call cadence as we ran. I don’t remember the whole cadence, it was a new one to me, but what sticks in my mind is the sentence, “Napalm sticks to kids.” Imagine 500+ Soldiers, in formation, belting that out as we ran the course.

    Go ARMY!!!!


  29. PFC Tubbs Says:

    Good cadence. ‘Bout as “interesting” as the cadence with the phrase going something like:
    In the navy you could do whatever you please
    In the navy you wear your pants around your knees…

    Go Army!

    Refering to the original thread, for me, the Army is what you make of it. Be a douch, be a hero, hell, I joined for 3 meals and a bed. I’ve seen good officers (oxymoron, I know) and bad ones, but I learned that all in all, people are people. I met some of the greatest people during training (only got out of AIT last year) and some of the worst.

    Reguardless of all that, I agree with Skippy.


  30. Bryght Says:

    “…Because I wasn’t issued any damn pie, because we weren’t assigned to the 235th Combat Pastry Division.”

    Ahem, that would be the 259th Field Service Company, which used to maintain one of only two combat field bakeries in the Army. ;-)


  31. Signalist Says:

    Tony, you did not like skippy’s stunts that were relatively harmless, let me introduce you to a story of a man who had balls, rank and nature to ‘fight the system’ in ways that would cause you a heart attack since you find skippy so horrible: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Thorne
    let me assure you, this article is just a tip of the iceberg, had you heard the stories about him that circulate(d) among the people that served with him, he was a soldier before many of the Vietnam veterans had not even born yet, and was already a commissioned officer of the Green Berets when the Vietnam war started.

    Skippy expressed his rather interesting sence of humor when he did not like something, Thorne would had skinned (or at least seriously beaten up) the person who caused the matter that he didn’t like.


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