In my conversations with the boys, particularly the enlisted Marines, I remember the importance of humor. My instincts, when I was being pummeled by the big green weenie, told me to bitch my to peers, my dad (a former Marine) or, at the time, my ex-wife.
I’ve been asking the guys to describe the biggest source of frustration during their time in the Bastard Battalion or the Corps in general. It’s an enlightening experience and critical for me to be reminded that the enlisted leaders had and have a different mindset than the officers. That is, they accept the reality–that things suck sometimes or, maybe, most of the time. It’s similar to the serenity prayer.
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
As a young platoon commander, I can’t begin to describe the frequency at which I’d get wrapped around the axle. Fighting battles that didn’t matter with people who didn’t care. Jumping up and down on the Battalion Gunner’s table about why we still need the SAW in the infantry. Cursing off the Logistics Officer because his Motor-T drivers were 2 hours late…again! As it turns out, my biggest source of frustration was ME!
The Marines get annoyed at the same stuff, but they don’t get lost in it. They know that Motor-T will always show up late. They embrace the suck, because they’ve accepted that we’re fairly powerless to change any of it. Then the officers come in and blow things up. We host a meeting about the meeting about the new procedure that’s going to the slightly tweak the old procedure and make everything run smoothly. Officer Whats-His-Nuts says some stuff and Gunny rogers up…”Yessir!”
Then he tells the platoon sergeants that from now on the boys need to wear Kevlars and flak jackets at the chow hall because the lunch lady has dementia and throws unripe fruit at Marines when she’s agitated. The Marines know it’s dumb. They don’t want to do it. But then they crack a joke and life goes on.
They don’t crack jokes because they’re resilient. They’re resilient because they crack jokes. Just laugh, asshole.