Why I Stayed a POG In The Marines

POG Knife
   Reading time 8

Why I Stayed a POG In The Marines

I was a POG and proud of it, I enlisted as a draftsman because it was something that I liked and in school in Tech Ed, I was always good at it, so I decided to make a living at it. In boot camp, I was a squad leader for a whopping day, but there were 80 recruits and about 60 of them never had that opportunity. I had the GT score to pretty much do anything I wanted, I always had a first-class PFT, but I hated running and I still do today.

I get way too bored running and when I get bored my mind wanders and before I know it, I’m trying to solve four different problems in my mind and I find that I’m not performing my best at running, actually found myself seriously slowing down. I always had a first-class PFT during my 10 years, so I was able to get it done, just never liked it.

In boot camp, I had a first-class swim qualification, I pretty much rocked everything in the pool. My rifle score sucked, but we discovered that I needed new glasses, as my BCG (Birth Control Glasses) which are military-issued eyeglasses, were not ready yet, which I understand is not normal and my civilian glasses were not as strong as they should have been. I was rocking the KD (Known Distance) rifle course until we got to the 500-yard line and I was hitting to the left or right of center mass most of the time getting 3s and 4s (instead of 5s), which killed my score. It happened every damn day on the rank and my PMI and myself could not figure it out. When my BCGs were delivered, I finally could see things clearly again.

After boot camp, I went to Pensacola, Florida for “A” school training. Once in the school house, we all started with learning Morse Code, and God, I hated copying code, I could get to 18 groups and that wasn’t enough to get the MOS of 2621 (Manual Morse Operator), which is copying Morse code all the time (I’m so thankful that I sucked at it because that was a soul-sucking MOS). If you were not fast enough at code copying, you went for additional testing and I was sent to school to earn the MOS of 2631 (Non-Manual Morse Operator/SIGINT) – today that is (Electronic Intelligence/Electronic Warfare Analysts).

At my first duty station, I was a natural at my job and I was moving up the ranks. I was selected to go to the National Security Agency (NSA), which is home to all things Signals Intelligence for a two-week orientation. I liked my job and I loved SIGINT, it just clicked with me, so going to the Meca of SIGINT was so cool. I was also sent to Texas for an ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) course, I preferred SIGINT over ELINT, but the Corps was counting on ELINT as the game changer.

After Texas and after my first Duty station, I was sent back to Pensacola for my “C” school, where I learned more about Electronic Warfare along with more SIGINT and ELINT. It was off to my second duty station, MCAS Cherry Point, and I was assigned to Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2 (VMAQ-2). I worked on an ELINT processing system known as the Tactical Electronic Reconnaissance Processing and Evaluation System (TERPES). I mastered the system and with my IT background, I was on the job trained (OJTd) to be a Unix system administrator for this system. After my first deployment, I was sent to Pt Mugu for official training on TERPES.

Midway through the course, the instructor, who was my best friend at the time (we met at VMAQ-2), got sick and the school didn’t have a backup. They asked me if I could teach the course as everyone else was new the it and I had OJT, so I said that I could, so I completed the course as the instructor. A few months later, I came back for the Unix systems administration course.

After my second deployment to Japan with VMAQ-2, I was told that I was being asked by name to come to Damneck Virginia, and be the official TERPES instructor and help set up the new school house for TERPES. Damneck became my third duty station and I was sent to instructors school. I excelled at being an instructor and I enjoyed it, and I was the first enlisted Marine at the Intelligence school to earn the Navy Master Instructor certification, which meant that I taught a set number of hours, to include my normal students, but also officers and enlisted “A” school student. As the first certified Master Instructor, I had to mentor other instructors and help them along the certification path, and I had to spend so many hours a month observing other Navy and Marine instructors and critic them on their periods of instruction.

Because I was asked by name to be the instructor for the TERPES course, I pretty much had my career path selected for me, and I didn’t have much time and interest to try something else.

After my third duty station, the monitor and career planner (we referred to them as the career jammer) both told me that as an SSgt (E-6), I needed to go to Radio Battalion and go for Radio Recon (Radio Reconnaissance Platoon). I was looking in the opposite direction at the time because I was deployed half the time when I was in VMAQ-2, and when I was back home, I was either away in school or away TAD (Temporary Additional Duty) to an exercise.

My wife and I had a young child and I missed many of his firsts as I was in Japan. As an Instructor, I worked 10-12 hour days 6-7 days a week. My duties didn’t just include teaching my students, I had mentoring duties and had to stand watch at the quarterdeck and at the SCIF, plus the “A” school student barracks.

Something that I never really broadcasted was I was starting to have problems with some of the physical fitness events and I was forgetting things. I was only 29 years old and I should not have memory issues. With all that weighing on me, I chose to leave the Corps and start my civilian life.

So, why did I stay a POG, I felt that I was needed where I was at and I could always go Radio Recon later if I wanted a little more excitement.

I loved my time in the Corps, and I would not change it for anything.

Average Jow Weekly Logo
Average Joe

Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

Avatar photo

By Average Joe

Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.