Welcome to another installment of Finish the Sentence Friday where someone creates a writing prompt for a bunch of fabulous bloggers to finish. Check for a link at the bottom to read more posts…
My proudest moment was not something I can say at job interviews, though I did tell the story at one interview, so you are about to see why I didn’t get that job.
I was in the Chair Force (Air Force, haha, get it?), and my tech school was for engineering (surveying, drafting, AUTOCAD) at Fort Lost in the Woods, Missouri (Fort Leonardwood). What made my tech school unique to most in the Air Force was my school was ITRO. No idea what that stands for, but it means that all 4 branches train together (Coast Guard is NOT a branch). Army usually slept on their own barracks a mile down the road from us since we were on an Army base. The rest of us stayed in dormitories nestled out of the way, a 5 minute walk away from the Commissary and Base Exchange. Air Force probably had 2 dormitory buildings. Navy probably had one. And the Marine Corps had about 5. There was a Chow Hall in the middle for all of us to share, but for the most part, people stayed within their own branch. Air Force with Air Force. Marines with Marines… Until I got there.
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Yes, this moment makes me prouder than graduating basic training. It’s a big deal to me because my father was a Marine. I say “WAS” not because he’s out of the Corps (once a Marine, always a Marine), but he is now serving proudly in God’s Corps. He was one of the biggest reasons why I joined the military to begin with. I lacked discipline and focus. I craved character building activities. And I kind of wanted to go kill some bad guys while wearing camouflage crawling under barbed wire like Goldie Hawn in that one movie, but with a Chuck Norris twist.
I had quit smoking cigarettes for basic training. In tech school, the rule was you get there, and you start out at Phase 1. After 2 weeks, you pass a PT test with good behavior, you phase up to Phase 2. When you get to Phase 3, you can smoke again. Watching people smoke at the smoke pit, I started craving that cigarette again. I could hardly stand smelling it when I walked by. It was as if the smoke lingered into my nostrils like the scent of a baking cake in a Disney Cartoon, and I floated in the air wanting a piece of that cigarette until Minnie Mouse was like, “No, go rake the leaves first.” I started sneaking cigarettes every time I hopped in a car with a guy, any car, any willing guy, to take me away from instructors so I could sneak a smoke or two.
Dreaming about Phase 3 just so I could smoke a cigarette without worrying about it, I worked hard to make sure I could pass PT tests to get me there. It helped that when I first got there, I met a sexy hottie named Gatica (no idea what his first name was), and we worked out together for 2 weeks swimming 20 lengths every day while making out at the end of the pool afterwards. I really liked that guy. So one day in the car trip to sneak cigarettes, he joined us. We drove out to a cave, in the dark, and entered the cave, in the dark, at risk of meeting some of night’s fiercest beasts: bears and, don’t say it… Bats. Nothing was in the cave, though it was too dark to see. We really didn’t bring flashlights. But there was a beautiful view of the moon. Gatica wanted to fuck. Badly. He begged for like 20 minutes, and I stood my ground. “Dude, I can already see it, we are going to get naked, and the moment we pull my panties off, a huge honker bear is going to come out of that dark abyss and all the whole world is going to know we were going to do the nasty because it either kills us naked, or worse, we run out naked and get dishonorable discharges.”
He was pissed. He wouldn’t give me the time of day after that. He definitely took, “Put out or get out” way too seriously. Then to spite me, he started dating my roommate and “fell in love.” He was a paratrooper retraining, so he killed his PT tests with high scores, and I wanted to beat him. My all time best, I could run the mile and a half at 11 to 12 minutes, and I could do 73 pushups in a minute and 58 situps (no cheating or taking short cuts). I don’t know if I beat his score, but I definitely passed his ass running every time.
The glorious day where I hit phase 3 rapidly became the day of suckage. The Air Force changed regulations, that day, to no smoking at all in training facilities. Damned Dirty Bastards.
So I did what any educated American Woman would do in a situation like that. I impersonated a Marine. I never SAID I was a Marine. I just wore my Camo like Marines did and hung out where they did. They were allowed to smoke, and just a flip of the wrist, and the Air Force regulated rolled-up sleeves were Marine Corp regulated rolled-up sleeves, and nobody paid attention to anything else really. I hung out with Marines. I got in trouble with Marines as a Marine. Even their own Gunnery Sergeant didn’t notice I wasn’t one of them.
After training, I was glued to the Marine Corps until bed time. The best part was, unlike Airmen, they didn’t act like horndogs who just got out of prison. They were gentlemen. I remember the gossip spreading to an Air Force Captain I never met prior to the situation, and he pulled me aside in a large crowd to ask how the Marines were treating me. I don’t think anybody really approved of it. I don’t know how they knew I was hanging out with Marines but didn’t know I was smoking cigarettes back to back the entire time. That’s the Air Force for you.
I mainly hung out with Motor T (aka Motor Transport). I ended up dating a Motor T, and I would have married him if he weren’t already married to the Corps. I was in love.
Meanwhile, there were also MPs training (aka military police). They had some friendly competition between each other, mainly MP’s acting like an elite force superior to everyone else in the Corps, and Motor T acting like the street thugs in the grind laughing at the superiority complex of the MPs.
So I was sitting at a picnic table next to some MP’s because I couldn’t find too many of my friends and wanted a cigarette. I had gotten to know this crew a little from previous similar experiences, and they seemed to like me. Maybe they didn’t, but the important part was they didn’t snitch. Marines don’t snitch. Well I was sitting really close to this one guy. He was black. Five foot ten. Fresh out of boot camp with raging muscles.
Well, one thing led to another, and we were wrestling, half serious, half joking. As we wrestled, things got a little more serious. Marines started gathering around us, yelling profanities, placing bets. He grabbed my hand and twisted it like cops love to do (I dated cops prior to this, so I was very familiar with this hold). I don’t think I could ever do this again. I have no idea what came over me, but the nerve twitching sensation triggered too much adrenaline, and the next thing I knew, without thought, without any conspiracy… He had my hand and I couldn’t move my hand, so I flipped up on the table where I moved my arm to straighten out my hand. The Jet Li Flip shocked the guy enough for me to free my hand, and I flipped off the table behind him, grabbed him by the back of his head, yanked it down to the ground, and then caught him before he cracked his head on the pavement. Nobody taught me that. I have no idea where it came from.
Afterwards, the Marines chanting abruptly died to shock-silence with mouths agape. The Marine I beat up spoke for all to hear. “I am so embarrassed.” I asked, “Because you lost to a girl?” He chuckled, “No, because I lost to Air Force.” One Motor T marine from the crowd screamed, “That’s not Air Force. That’s Devil Dog.” The Marines started chanting, “Devil Dog. Devil Dog. Devil Dog.” At me. AT ME!
One Marine Female screamed, “You’re one of us now!”
Marines don’t do that. I’m willing to bet that has NEVER happened in the history of the Marine Corps (birthday without looking, November 10, 1775, oorah motherfuckers), and I’m willing to bet, it will never happen again.
Proudest moment of my life was the day the Marines called me Devil Dog. Semper Fi. Ride or Die.