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Old 11-09-2009, 11:59 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Gumby View Post
Oh, and if you want the country club life, definitely join the Air Force.
I should point out that overall the services have about a 15% retirement rate. Of all the people who entered the service in a particular year, by the end of their service years only 15% of them have achieved retirement status.

By service, however, the Air Force's retirement rate is about 30%-- followed by the Navy and the Army, with the Marines down in the single digits.

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Don't think he'd be particularly skilled at maneuvering large vehicles on land, sea or air...he's having trouble passing his standard driver's license...among the list of troubles...
Oh, please, he just hasn't found the right motivation.

Three-quarters, perhaps nine-tenths, of the issues you're describing somehow resolve themselves when he starts trying to pick up hot chicks, drive them somewhere in his hot car, and take them home to his hot bachelor pad. Doesn't work too well when he's working shifts at Taco Bell and has to call ahead to Mom&Dad for a ride.

But speaking as an OOD having trained dozens of OODs, no driving skills required. He doesn't even have to know port from starboard!
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:28 AM   #22
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I love it when you flyboys talk all that stuff.

I got to eat in an air force mess hall once - it was like the Whoville Feast on Christmas Morning - there was Who Pudding and Roast Beast! It was an amazing spread, a pasta station, a carving station, cookies and cake! There was even coffee that required no knife, you just stirred it with a spoon!

As I was leaving I asked a lad in blue what holiday they were celebrating with the sumptuous feast. Certainly it was Curtis Lemay's Birthday, the anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight, or the base CG was celebrating the removal of a worrisome mole on his buttocks. I figured that decent manners required at least some attempt at extending felicitations to my hosts on their high holy day.
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"No, there's no holiday", he replied, "that was just regular lunch. It's okay, but my favorite is breakfast, there's Belgian waffles and omelets made to order!"
Seriously, whenever our eyes were privileged to gaze upon the wondrous creature comforts of an army or navy base, we would "ooh" and "ahhh" like kids seeing fireworks for the first time. But the conversation always ended with the same phrase: "Man, if the doggies/squids these guys have it this good, imagine what the Air Force has!"

Bright_Eyed, I will reiterate what you have already been told - this has to be your step son's decision. It is, after all, his life, and he has to be responsible for his decisions, failures and successes. I know how tough it is for a parent to kick the little birds out of the nest, but most of them make it when they're given a chance.

There are a lot of kids in society in similar situations. Late teens to early twenties, meandered through high school and since then they seem to be lost. They live a part-time kind of life, part-time jobs, going to community college part-time (and usually failing), part-time partying, part-time girlfriend, etc. There's no commitment to anything and no responsibility for anything. Until they get some motivation and self-discipline, they're heading for a mediocre future at best.

Military training does offer a crash course in responsibility, commitment and discipline. But it's not for everybody. Like many other worthwhile endeavors, one tends to receive good things from it in direct proportion to what they are willing to put in to it. If the kid feels like he's being pushed in to the military by one or more of his 'rents, there will be no ownership and no commitment on his part.

You can put him in touch with people who have the information he wants, but other than that, stay out of it. Well, other than to let him know he's loved and you wish him the best. It's not quite that old-time Spartan religion where mothers and wives told their sons and husbands: Spartan, return with your shield, or on it". Not quite the same, but close.

Finally, with regard to the prior recommendation about the Marine Corps. The Marines are different from the sister services, particularly in how we view ourselves, our beloved Corps, and society. We don't see ourselves as a cult, but an accurate description would be a monastic warrior brotherhood. We're not just a branch of the military, we are a culture.

If your stepson just wants a little direction in life, a good environment to mature in while getting adult supervision, a steady paycheck while he learns a marketable trade, and learn how to work as part of a team, then any of the branches can do that equally well. But if he is looking for the opportunity to expand his capabilities, to discover his limits for accepting responsibility and meeting challenges, then the Marine Corps is the best choice.

I'm not trying to belittle the other services, but the Marines just have a different philosophy on things, like leadership and responsibility. which are pushed to the lowest rank. It results in the fewest officers to enlisted of any of the services by far. The Marines strive to develop 18-19 year-old recruits into 21-22 year-old Corporals who can lead combat patrols, conduct humanitarian missions, and then do peacekeeping duties without embarrassing his country. All in the same day, within blocks of each mission.

I love quoting WSJ reporter Thomas Ricks on Marines:
Quote:
[while in patrol with Marines in Mogadishu, Somalia] As we walked single file, with red and green tracer fire arcing across the black sky over the city, I realized I had placed my life in the hands of the young corporal leading the patrol, a twenty-two-year-old Marine. In my office back in Washington, we wouldn't let a twenty-two-year-old run the copying machine without adult supervision. Here, after just two days on the ground in Africa, the corporal was leading his squad into unknown territory, with a confidence that was contagious.
In my experience, the other branches of the military don't train, or allow, their most junior NCOs to take that much responsibility. I'm sure my fellow vets from the other services will correct me if I am wrong, but it looked to me like a soldier didn't have much responsibility until he made sergeant, all sailors below the rank of Chief were just higher paid specialists, and I've met many an Air Force guy whose uniform displayed enough stripes to make me think he was the Command Sergeant Major for the Milky Way only to be told he wasn't really an NCO.

Thomas Ricks again:
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Because of their culture, the Marines tend to be an enjoyable service for a reporter to cover...the average Marine lance corporal speaks with more self-confidence to a reporter than does the average Army captain...The average Marine is far livelier to interview than is the average Navy sailor, who tends to be less informed about the mission, and less interested in the world. And the Marine infantryman lacks the know-it-allness I've encountered in many Navy and Air Force pilots, who watch a few minutes of CNN and then hold forth on world politics.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:47 AM   #23
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And, the Marines have that modesty thing going for them, too.

Each of the services is surely different. They've developed these differences for good reasons. Each of them is, without doubt, the best in the world. That's not a brag, it's a function of support received from the nation they serve. And none of the services is a standalone entity--nor would we want to be.

And we enjoy ribbing each other.

You've heard of the Department of the Army, and the Department of the Navy. There is no "Department of the Marine Corps." If your stepson does join the Marines, he'll really be joining a small subset of the Department of the Navy. It's kinda the Navy's little police force. Nice uniforms and stuff.
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Old 11-10-2009, 01:39 AM   #24
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Now, gee. I honestly was trying hard to be modest but accurate. If I wanted to be mean I would channel my inner Lt. Kendrick:
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No, I like all you Navy and Air Force boys. Every time we've gotta go someplace and fight, you fellas always give us a ride.
I guess the most impartial way to say it is that the Marine Corps pushes leadership and responsibility down much farther than the other services because of its historic role in the defense structure of the United States. The Marines have always been the service that was sent off to never-never land to fight "small wars". Often corporals and sergeants became officers leading company and larger size units of foreign soldiers and police in the jungles of places like Haiti and Nicaragua. The corporal became the first critical level of junior leadership.

The concept of small wars is part and parcel with the Marine Corps primary role as an expeditionary force ready to respond to a sudden and immediate call to project a credible force anywhere in the world. That's the bread and butter of a Marine Expeditionary Unit, which also is another example of the Marine Corps pushing greater responsibilities to ranks much lower than in the other branches.
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The MEU is unique in that its air and ground combat elements are combined with a logistics combat element under one commander; other services do not unite the command of air and ground forces until much higher command levels.

When the U.S. Army integrates with Air Force assets, it typically is at the theater or corps level, with a general commanding, while at the division level it will integrate with Army aviation.

The MEU's ground combat element also combines artillery, light armor and tanks at a much lower level than was common in the Army until the development of the Brigade Combat Team early in the War on Terror.
It's just a cultural thing born out of necessity brought on by the mission and its environment. It shows up in how far the Marine Corps is willing to place responsibility. An easier comparison might be the size and leadership of a infantry rifle squad. 9 men squads with two fire teams in the Army, lead by a sergeant with a corporal as the leader of the second fire team. It's 13 man squads with three fire teams in the Marine Corps, supposed to be lead by Sergeants and Corporals, but often the squad leader is a Corporal and at least one of the fire teams in led by a non-NCO Lance Corporal.

You don't get away with pushing leadership and responsibility that far down in the rank structure without instilling responsibility and attention to detail very early in training. For the Marines leadership training starts in recruit training.
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Old 11-10-2009, 07:38 AM   #25
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Leonidas,
I agree with much of what you say, however, it is a cult! Recruits are broken in basic, with hard exercise, limited sleep, and often limited time to eat. The are fed a steady diet of 'The Corp' and it last a lifetime, i.e. there are no ex-marines, there are Former Marines, once a Marine always a Marine.

Now that is not necessarily a bad thing, and for a military organization I believe it might even be a good thing. Interesting thing about the Air Force, is, it is the only service that predominately sends it's officers out to fight. While the other services have officers near the tip of the spear, in the Air Force they are the tip of the spear. That is not to say that there are not enlisted in harms way, but certainly not as many as the other services.

I also concur that the Marines is a good place to grow up, but I also agree with Nords, that it has to be his decision. It has to be a lot easier to get through basic if you really want to be a Marine.

By the way, when I was an instructor in OV-10's the Marine Corp decided to send it's pilots to the Air Force for initial air craft training. We had two Marine pilots assigned to the squadron at all times. I don't think a single one went back to the corp. They all got out after seeing how the other half lived.
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Old 11-10-2009, 07:51 AM   #26
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Leonidas,
I agree with much of what you say, however, it is a cult! Recruits are broken in basic, with hard exercise, limited sleep, and often limited time to eat. The are fed a steady diet of 'The Corp' and it last a lifetime...
Careful there Rustic. You'll wake up some night to find your lakeside home surrounded by a bunch of guys with white sidewall haircuts, dressed in cammo wearing dark greasepaint on their faces - and it won't be a rehearsal for an off-Broadway play!
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Old 11-10-2009, 09:09 AM   #27
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Brighteyes, I don't know how recruiters and those who would be training your stepson in the service deal with young men who don't really want to be there these days. I do know two young men who went into the Navy and one who went into the Army in the last ten years (none of the three went to college first).

One was committed when he went in as his father had served in the Navy and he had heard about it his whole life, and he is still in the Navy, married to a gal he met in San Diego, two kids, very happy, so good ending.

One was completely directionless and was "forced" into the Navy after high school when his father drove him to a recruiting office and kicked him out of the car. He served his four years, learned something about radar, and then used the benefits to get a degree and has a good job today. So good ending.

The third went into the Army as a last ditch effort--I'm not sure he had any commitment at all but it seemed like it was his idea after very troubled teenage years (arrests, drugs, bipolar diagnosis--I imagine there were substantial lies told to the recruiter). He had shin splints and stress fractures from basic training (I should say he said he had these problems) and then although he claimed he received a medical discharge, his mother received a phone call after he had been home for two months asking where the hell he was. He had gone AWOL and once again snowed his parents. He was subsequently awarded a "general discharge," I believe they called it. This outcome added yet another strike on his record.

The other people on this board are a wealth of knowledge about the services, but I thought you'd like to hear these three instances I'm familiar with. I wish your stepson the best.
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:28 AM   #28
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Rustic--Just because the Marine corp and cults may employ similar techniques for training new members - that does not make the Marines a cult any more than all cult members are Marines. The other services use similar techniques (yes less extreme), but there is NO home basic training - the online course. Recruits are isolated from friends and families and for the most part only come in contact with similarly isolated/confused individuals, and those with the training and experience to train and motivate them... Sleep is limited, physical exercise required, and someone is almost always watching them to see if remedial training is required. They are tested and evaluate and eliminated as necessary. NO it's not a cult indoctrination, but it will get most folks attention. I have a healthy respect for the other services and have done my time in Joint duty. I never doubted the air force was the best choice for my family and me. If I were single the Navy might look awfully tempting, although I suspect the experience would be much different from the cruise ships I've come to enjoy. IT really depends on the individual and their personal talents.
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:56 AM   #29
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My Army basic training in 1985 was no picknic either. Limited sleep, non stop exercise, little food. I think they have softenend it up a bit now tho. I don't think they softened up Marine boot camp tho.

I spent 22 years doing Artillery stuff. No direct civilian job. But the leadership and other responsibilities come in handy.
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Old 11-10-2009, 11:14 AM   #30
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I stand by my statement. There are more similarities to a cult than training i.e. a marine for life, and almost worship of the corp., to include today, the Marine corp birthday. Just because it walks like a duck does not make it a duck, and just because it is a cult, does not make it bad. While they may not be classified a cult, as a cult generally has some religious content to it, some marines I have met sure seems to think the Commandant is a God, and if he is not their gunny is.
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Old 11-10-2009, 01:19 PM   #31
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Rusty; I suppose if one can get past the negative connotations of the term, 'cult', then perhaps you have a point about the marines in a very general sense of the definition. NO not to sense of worship you mention, (seems somewhat atypical and exaggerated from my experience with marines). Of course, similar points(minus worship) could be made about the other military services, the academies, a number of fraternities/sororities, several universities, etc. The marines have some intense training to do(or be ready to do) some pretty intense things. NOT something I'd volunteer for and I'm glad others do, (so I never have to). That's probably how a lot of civilians view all military members...

I was stationed at Lackland for awhile. Looking into the eyes of a new trainee in the first week or two was a little spooky... I can't imagine what the eyes of a marine trainee must look like in those early weeks. In a couple cases when I came up (in uniform) behind a trainee and surprised them, I thought there was going to be involuntary discharge of bodily fluids by them. I know training isn't as tough as it was 10-20-30-40-50 yrs ago, but neither are the recruits. What they do do has been honed over the decades and centuries. They're still pretty good at it and while you may forget many things about your service. I believe very few forget their initial training.
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Old 11-10-2009, 01:55 PM   #32
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But speaking as an OOD having trained dozens of OODs, no driving skills required. He doesn't even have to know port from starboard!
Thank goodness for the Chief of the Watch!
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Old 11-10-2009, 02:58 PM   #33
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In Vietnam, it was said that an Air Force enlisted was just about the safest job you could get. Major dangers were downtown bars.
I would have to generally agree, but it is still the military. My father was thrown out of his dorms in Vietnam when it was hit with an RPG (I think). My step-father-in-law's dad was blown up in Korea once and Vietnam twice. The poor guy had more metal in him than bone and parts didn't work correctly, because of his close encounters with the explosive types.
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Old 11-10-2009, 03:42 PM   #34
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It's all relative. Subs are most likely the safest place in our current conflicts, but one should be aware there are no absolutely safe places in a knife fight. In the end the mission of all the services is to go into harms way.
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:07 PM   #35
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Contrary to popular opinion it isn't all that easy to get into the military. As Sam said all of the services have meet their recruiting goals and are starting to tighten up on things like requiring real High School degrees not GEDs, waivers for drug etc.

I read recently (sorry no link) that less than 25% of young adults between 17 and 24 would qualify, because the aren't smart enough, poor physical fitness, drug or legal troubles, and medical issues including dental problems.

Your Stepson may need to get his act together to even get accepted.
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Old 11-11-2009, 12:23 AM   #36
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It's all relative. Subs are most likely the safest place in our current conflicts, but one should be aware there are no absolutely safe places in a knife fight. In the end the mission of all the services is to go into harms way.
There I was bravely protecting the extreme Northern Flank during the first Gulf War. Fearlessly guarding my hoard of Chips and Cookies from the wife and kiddies (who were all suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms after the commissaries shelves all went bare). All of our supply planes diverted to the Sand, left us to scrounge whatever we could find on the local Icelandic economy or the back of our shelves. There's nothing more dangerous than a momma and her cubs in search of any sweet or salty snack they can possibly find. Bravely going where NO man has gone before, I found the most obscure and difficult to find hiding places for this essential booty. Maintaining rations with minimal losses throughout the entire build-up, execution, and mop-up survival was barely achieved. YES, I had some pretty close calls in my career.

Btw: I can assure you not a single Iraqie got by us up in Iceland. We were alert.
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Old 11-11-2009, 10:16 AM   #37
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I remember eating at an Air Force chow hall and we were all amazed that they had staff that would clear our trays for us.

That was back in the days of 25 cent beers in the Coke machine... in the pilots lounge!
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Old 11-11-2009, 01:22 PM   #38
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I remember eating at an Air Force chow hall and we were all amazed that they had staff that would clear our trays for us.

That was back in the days of 25 cent beers in the Coke machine... in the pilots lounge!
On my son's trip to Afghanistan this Spring with the marines, he spent a few days at a U.S. Airforce Base in Kyrgyzstan. He wrote us by email from the Base and mentioned that the Base was like a country club, with outstanding athletic facilities and other recreational amenities, against the splendid background of a mountainous area. And the Airforce air-women, he remarked, were a great sight for sore and worrisome male marine eyes.

I'm sure life at that Airforce Base beats his sleeping in cornfields or cemeteries in sweltering heat or blustery cold weather, patrolling in villages that look like areas described in the Old Testament, or taking contact or engaging in firefights with the Enemy. And I'm sure that he would be very appreciative to the Airforce if he spends a week or so at this Base on his way back to the States when his tour ends in Afghanistan.
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Old 11-11-2009, 01:37 PM   #39
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My middle son was in a similar state. Decent highschool grades but certainly not interested in college. We talked over the summer about options and he decided maybe the Navy would be okay. So one monday I drove him into the induction center where I watched him sworn in, then had to walk away and go home. That was the worst feeling I ever had. I felt like I had abandoned him. He served his four years in the Pacific on the USS Rainier as a cook and did well. His home base was Bremerton Naval Yard so I got to see him a couple times a year. He decided not to reinlist and put himself through Junior College then came to work for me in Surveying. He had previously worked for me in the summers. His experience as a cook was a definite plus. He can really cook well and enjoys it but surveying pays the bills. As said before, each child is different. I would have liked to see him stay in but he wanted out. He has taken advantage of the veterans benefits so for him I think it was a positive experience. As for recruiters, most are not too candid to say the least. Be very careful and keep your expectations low when promises are made.
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Old 11-23-2009, 10:29 PM   #40
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Man I love reading these posts.
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