Saturday, February 25, 2017

Lava Dog Days

A memory milestone passed without mention a couple of weeks ago; not mentioned, but reflected upon with great fondness and profound nostalgia.

The Colonel, admittedly arriving at the conclusion solely through self-analysis, has led an amazing life, replete with opportunities and adventures of which most can only dream.  

He's travelled the globe, setting foot on every continent save Antarctica and visiting far more nation states than he has states in the republic of which he is a lucky citizen.

He's sailed "the seven seas," crossing lines to become both a shellback (Equator) and a bluenose (Arctic Circle).  

The Colonel graduated from the best high school in the world -- Balboa High in the Panama Canal Zone.

He graduated from the Harvard of the South -- Ole Miss.

The Colonel commanded the best rifle company in the Marine Corps -- Company C, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines; the best recruiting battalion in the Marine Corps -- Recruiting Station Macon/Atlanta; and the best recruiting regiment in the Marine Corps -- the Sixth Marine Corps District.   

And, along the happy and lucky way, the Colonel commanded the best infantry battalion in the Marine Corps -- 1st Battalion, 3d Marines -- of which he took command twenty years ago on Saint Valentine's Day.

The 1st Battalion of the Marine Corps' Third Marine Regiment was then, and is now, homeported in Hawaii aboard a tiny base on the windward side of Oahu.  Home for 1/3 (in the Corps' shorthand for its infantry battalions) may have been a constricted stretch of coral and sand between Kaneohe Bay and the extinct Ulupa'u volcanic crater, but the operating range for 1/3 was half the globe.

In the scant eighteen months (14 February 1997 to 14 August 1998) during which the Colonel had the high honor and privilege to command 1/3, the Marines and sailors (nicknamed "Lava Dogs") of the best battalion in the Marine Corps deployed across the Hawaiian islands and then across the Western Pacific.  

In January of 1998, 1/3 deployed to Okinawa, Japan for a seven-month rotation, "chopping" (operational slang for change of operational control) from the 3d Marine Regiment on Hawaii to the 4th Marine Regiment on Okinawa; going, in self-identification, from the 1st Battalion, Third Marines to the "Best Battalion, 4th Marines."

During those seven months on Okinawa, Marines and sailors from 1/3 further deployed (in battalion or company strength) to Australia, Hokkaido, South Korea, Fujiyama, and Indonesia.  One reinforced platoon went aboard the USS Independence (as a security force) for its final operational deployment to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Southern Watch.

Throughout the Colonel's tenure as commanding officer, the professionalism and can-do spirit of the officers and men of the 1st Battalion never ceased to amaze.  The Colonel takes no credit for their amazing performance except that he was at least cognizant enough to recognize the enormous pool of talent and initiative upon which he was afloat, and that he was at least bright enough to give them free rein.

Many of the young officers and men of 1/3 during the peace-time of the late '90's have gone on to distinguished service in combat over the last decade and a half -- a half dozen in battalion-level or higher command.

The Colonel has many appellations by which he is proud to be referred -- among the best is "Lava Dog."               

Monday, February 06, 2017

Diaper Bowl

The Colonel heard a story this morning about a man named Brady, whose bunch pulled off the most improbable of comebacks to win a football game that occasionally interrupted the debuts of specially designed commercials.

The Colonel wouldn't know.  He didn't watch.

The most important football game in his year occurred the day before:  The Annual First Baptist Church of Abbeville Youth Versus Adult Flag Football Classic

Ordinarily, the Colonel makes an appearance, plugs in for a few plays, and then provides moral support from the sidelines for the balance of the game. In case you missed it, the Colonel is now officially "old," having recently marked the completion of his 61st air-breathing lap around the sun.  So, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda has not-so gently placed restrictions on the Colonel's gridiron glory-seeking.

The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda had a near-catastrophic lapse in her supervisory effort Saturday morning, however.  Well, actually, her mistake was trusting the Colonel to go to the game by himself with his assurances to her that he would not play but a couple of series of downs at the most.

See, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda knows that if the Colonel completely gives up playing football due to his physical age, he'll shortly thereafter start using his advanced age as an excuse and completely give up just about every other physical activity (to include putting on trousers in the morning).

Believe him when he tells you, "the Colonel's legs ain't for show."

The Colonel fully intended to keep his promise of minimal participation.  He did.  Honest.

The problem was, not enough youth showed up and the "Diaper Rule" was invoked.

The "Diaper Rule," stipulates that in the event one team or another is short players, either as a result of no-shows or mid-game emergency room trips, the teams' numbers will be balanced enough to continue play by shifting to the under-loaded team the player(s) on the over-loaded team closest to diaper-wearing age.

The Colonel played on the Youth Team.    

Every play of the game.  

Both ways.

The Colonel made several mental notes for future reference during the course of the game.

1.  Pursuit angles require age adjustment.

2.  Finding the fourth gear is a lot harder when you can't find the third gear to begin with.

3.  Climate Change seems to have reduced the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere.

4.  Spirals are overrated.

The main reason the Colonel didn't watch the Super Bowl on Sunday evening was the severe lactic acid build-up in his quadriceps made even reaching for the remote painful beyond description.  The Colonel's leg muscles were on strike and every other muscle in his body refused to cross the picket line.

The Colonel needs to brush up on his Morse Code.  The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda was having a hard time deciphering the Colonel's blinks and we watched her shows instead of the football game.   



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Rebel's Rules

The Colonel celebrates another birthday this week.  

Well..., "celebrates" probably isn't the best descriptor.  "Observes" is a better word.

Birthdays for the Colonel are about as fun as a root canal.  Everybody means well, wishing him happy, but, now that the Colonel has crossed the border into the terrifying territory inappropriately known as his "golden years," birthdays have become nothing more than reminders of impending terrors.

What could possibly terrify the Colonel, you ask?  You thought he wasn't scared of "nuthin' or nobody, 'ceptin' the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda."  

Let's just say that there is indeed a list of things that terrify him, topped with "1. Loss of memory," but the Colonel can't remember where he left it.

The Colonel would rather take the occasion of his completion of another air-breathing ride around the sun to reflect on some very important life lessons.  He has been collecting these lessons -- mostly as a result of near-catastrophic events -- for over six decades now.  He began codifying them under the title "Rebel's Rules" many years ago. 

Why "Rebel's Rules?"

That's not important right now.   

And, now, in no particular order of importance or inspirational catastrophic event; and with no claim of originality nor exclusivity:

1.  Tractors don't swim. (Don't ask.)

2.  Loving a woman is like paddling a canoe in a stiff breeze -- both require constant attention, a little bit at a time.  

3.  First reports are nearly always false, but perfect intelligence is unattainable.

4.  That which does not kill you, may make you a cripple.

5.  E-mail kills.  The spoken word is thin as air, the written word is always there. 

6.  The speed and accuracy of an electron is inversely related to the urgency of the task involving the electron.

7.  Power tools don't discriminate.

8.  Low-information voting is not an exclusive province of either end of the political spectrum.

9.  "Please" and "Thank you" are power words.

10.  Trees and trucks are mortal enemies.

11.  Give a man a 4WD truck, a length of chain, and a chainsaw and he will play, not-so quietly, by himself for hours.

12.  Any store that doesn't sell duck calls and stink bait is a waste of bricks and mortar.

13.  Eating during hours of daylight is a sign of weakness.

14.  A mug of strong, hot coffee fuels inspiration.  

15.  Never trust a man who wears a hat indoors.

16.  Never trust a man who wears his hat backwards -- fashion statements are for women.

17.  Never trust a man who doesn't carry a pocket knife.

18.  The bigger the knife the smaller the man.

19.  Never underestimate the destructive potential of a squad of Marines, a three-year old grandson, or a six-month old labrador retriever.

20.  Empires that build walls aren't empires for much longer.

21.  The larger the known universe becomes, the greater God is.

22.  Gardens cause weeds and trailer parks cause tornadoes.

23.  Perception becomes reality.

24.  The best ideas in any organization usually come from the ranks.

25.  An organization is as great as the leader says.

26.  Hope is not an acceptable course of action.

27.  Training is everything and everything is training.

28.  Meetings that last longer than 15 minutes usually devolve into pole vaulting over mouse turds.

29.  Executive actions are indicative of legislative paralysis.

30.  No such thing as an "over-built" bridge.

31.  Change is a dragon; fight it and be eaten; ride it and live.

32.  The line beyond which a word or idea is considered "politically incorrect" incessantly encroaches on common sense and freedom of expression, and is destructive to society-binding customs, courtesies and traditions.

33.  Political correctness is antithetical to diversity.

34.  Pity the man who has everything to live for and nothing worth dying for.

35.  February is twenty-eight days of being pecked to death by a duck.

36.  Never pass up the opportunity to allow someone else the opportunity.

37.  Republics either continue to expand, or contract into irrelevance.

38.  Chewing gum is the devil.

39.  The highest responsibility of the government of a free people is to stay out of the way of the people it serves. 

40.  Limited war limits the possibility of a satisfactory outcome.

41.  Covering wood grain with a coat of paint is a crime against nature.

42.  Nothing calms the soul like a bird at your feeder.

43.  Men and women are different for a reason and equal by reason.

44.  No such thing as a fair fight.

45.  Nothing good happens after midnight, unless you're at home.

46.  Sleep is the reward of the righteous.

47.  One man's music is another man's noise; share accordingly.

48.  There's no such thing as a free lunch, a deep discount, or a pet rattlesnake.

49.  Wherever you go, that's where you are.

50.  The smartest man in any room is the man looking for the smartest man in the room. 

51.  The Pepsi Rule: Drinking more alcoholic drinks in one sitting than you would drink non-alcoholic drinks is alcohol abuse.

52.  A long walk alone is therapy for a frantic mind.

53.  Righteous indignation is a dish best served rarely.

54.  A license to drive should not be issued to anyone without a full-time job.

55.  Never pass up the opportunity to catch the buck.

56.  The "perfect" leader would have perfect subordinates.

57.  Boredom is God's call to prayer.

58.  Understand the present by knowing history; understand history by knowing geography.

59.  Climate and culture are not static.

60.  A man who makes long lists of sophomoric sentences has far too much time on his hands.