Why Marines Are Getting Out
Let me first qualify myself or maybe disqualify myself. I spent 10 years in the Corps and left as an SSgt. However, that was in the ’80s and ’90s, so my information might be dated. However, I work daily around Marines, so much of this is stuff that I picked up on.
- Growing Up
- Do my own thing (eat, haircuts, sleep, go to work…)
- Money – Salary
- Hurry up and wait
- Living Conditions / Quality of Life
- Work/Life ratio
- Toxic Leadership / Bad Leaders
- Mass Punishment
- Promote Blue Falcons and ass kissers
Funding – When I was in the Corps, that was an issue and it is still today an issue. Funding in the Corps is bad, but not to the point that you are being sent into combat without proper gear. What most civilians don’t understand is that the Marine Corps gets less than 1/4 of the Navy’s overall budget. And the Marine Corps is usually the first boots on the ground. This means that the Corps has learned how to do the most with the least.
It becomes a problem with younger Marines when they are training alongside other services and they see what the other services have. I recalled in “A” school, that the Air Force students got brand new furniture for their barracks rooms. This furniture was like something you would see in a nice hotel. They gave their old furniture to the Navy, who in turn gave the Army their hand-me-downs, making the Marines get someone else’s 20-year-old junk.
I’m talking old junk, rusty bed frames, lumpy, stained mattresses, and dressers with no bottoms on the drawers. This crap was just plain old and nasty. But for us, it was a huge upgrade from the 30-year-old junk we had.
Now being a young Marine and seeing these types of things, makes you stop and re-evaluate your life choices.
Growing up – This is a big one, especially for first enlistment Marines. They are young (most are 18 or younger), and they have no idea how the real world works. They have their first taste of freedom outside of living under the roof of their parent’s home.
They don’t want someone to tell them to get a haircut, or when and where to be. I guess they must plan on owning their own company so they can do what they want when they want. Hell if they flipped burgers and McDonald’s they have a dress coat and grooming standards.
The Marine Corps separates NCOs from non-NCOs which means all these kids are living together in the barracks with little to no adult supervision. Sure there are NCOs around, but they aren’t living with these kids, they are a 12 or 24-hour watch and that is all. This means that these young Marines get into some serious trouble and do so really stupid shit.
Do My Own Thing – This one goes along with the one above, they think that they are now adults and there are zero rules to be an adult. I love it when the light comes on and they realize that being an adult is so much harder than being a kid.
Money – You don’t join the military to make money, I was an E-2 in Pensacola, Florida making around $600 every two weeks. That money had to go to rent, food, insurance, car payment…. Plus, the care and feeding of all the issued Marine Corps equipment and maintaining serviceable uniforms. The minimum wage at that time (1988) was $3.35.
The sad part is that the Corps would rather not retain Marines, it is easier to recruit new Marines and train them to the new standard that you want.
Hurry up and wait – So many young Marines leave because of shitty leadership. Hurry up and wait is because you have shitty leadership. The CO tells the Sgt Major that the Company needs to be formed at 1600. The SgtMaj usually doesn’t change the time, he will tell the SNCOs and tell them at 1600. The SNCOs know that they have some shitty junior Marines, so they, trying to be a kiss-ass, tell the Platoon leaders that they need to be formed up at 1545. The NCOs in charge of the platoon know that they have some fuckups, so they make it 1530 and now you have Marines standing by to stand by for 30 or more minutes. A good Marine is taught to be there 15 minutes early because being on time is being late. Instead of fixing the problem, everyone has to play stupid games.
Living Conditions – Basically, the barracks are crap the gear is usually crap. Now, let me preface this, with, I got married while I was in “A” school to my high-school sweetheart (Mrs. Average). So my experience with barracks living is limited, to the first 3-4 months in “A” school, my “C” schools, and TADs (about 18-20 months in all). But I can honestly state that they had four walls, a floor, and a roof.
The worst accommodation was in NCO school at MCRD Parris Island. I was in the very last class to go through NCO school (Today it is called Cpl and Sgt course). The barracks were open squad bay style and in really shitty conditions. They used wall lockers to divide the space between racks, to make it a little more private since everyone was NCOs. The showers were so gross and nasty, I wish I could find my photos of that school. I was so afraid that I was going to get some type of nasty ass fungus from the nasty rusty ass showers. The gear they have today is far superior to what we had in the 80s and 90s, which was old, unserviceable, and nasty. The old-ass heavy and cluggy ALICE packs, the old web gear, and the crappy-ass plastic canteens that made everything taste like ass.
I do what to point out that I have seen some modern Marine Corps chow halls and they are much nicer, but there are many shitholes still out there.
I have had some good chow while in the Corps, but that was usually at Air Force chow halls. The Marine Corps tries but just does not have the funding to make it a nice environment. It isn’t just food, it is the entire dining experience. Air Force chow halls are set up like a nice restaurant, whereas a Marine Corps chow hall is set up with school-style cafeteria tables with broken and missing seats here and there.
Work / Life ratio – I have been at some commands where they feel that they have you 24 hours a day so we are going to play stupid games all day and night. I have been up at midnight, stripping a deck, because some kiss ass is trying to please the Gunny. The “Kiss Ass” and the “Blue Falcon” (Buddy Fucker) are everywhere. I was on barracks duty as a Sgt and I was making my rounds and by the duty desk was this really slutty dressed female Marine. I asked her why was she dressed like that, I’m talking super short skirt and a very low-cut top with 4-5″ heels. She said that she and her husband (also a Marine, both were PFCs) were heading out to a hotel room. Okay, I will let that slide, Then he comes up (husband) and drops a big bag on the floor next to her, The bag starts to vibrate and she opens it, and inside were dozens of sex toys. That is when another Marine came up and was getting directions to the hotel from the husband. Come to find out that they were swingers and she would be getting tag-teamed by half the barracks that night.
Okay to each their own. But I drew the line that they were taking the bus to the hotel. I could not allow her to dress like that while on the base and on a public bus. I made her change, which she did and she and her husband were chill about changing. But I have been in barracks where the duty would have called someone and got them in trouble. I firmly believe that the Corps has you for the next 4 years or so, but you do have a life outside of the Corps.
If you are a spouse of a Marine, I know that many of you have put your lives on hold so you can support your Marine. It is difficult to set up a life and move every three years. It is difficult to raise a family when one parent is always on travel.
My son was conceived when I returned from a 190-day TAD over in Japan. I was back for one week and I was sent out to a 3 months school in California, I got back from that TAD, and a week later it was out to Nellis for Red Flag, Back from Red Flag and it was time to head back to California for another school. My son was conceived during the first week I was home after my TAD to Japan. Military life for a spouse sucks, but for a Marine spouse, it is even worse.
Toxic Leadership – There are so many young Lieutenants without a clue, They get out of OCS and they want to “lead” and they don’t talk with the Sgts or the SNCOs, nope, they know everything and that is a huge problem. I think that before they can lead in a real Marine Corps environment, they should have to shadow the SNCOs and the Sgts. That means all the fun that comes with those ranks. This would allow them to see how things work and who is who and who knows their shit.
Often a Blue Falcon becomes buddy-buddy with the butter bars and shit just rolls downhill. Toxic leadership was rampant in the Corps when I was in. So many Gunnys that didn’t care, so many hard ass SgtMajs and so many officers without a real job to do.
I don’t think that I ever told the swim qual story here before. I was a Sgt at Cherry Point, and it was swim-qual time. I have always been a class one or WSQL. There are about 10 of us working towards our quals (I think it was WSQL) and we are at the last stage of it. We had been in the water for hours, as we worked our way up from 3 to here.
The last part was to swim the distance of the pool, grab your buddy and tow them back to the other side, and then swim back and grab their pack and bring that to the other side (it might have been the pack first, it was so long ago, it is cloudy). Our Captain is my buddy for this part and he goes first and takes me and my pack to the other side, thus completing his last part of the swim qualification.
When you are being towed, you are supposed to be conscious and you can help to keep yourself afloat. I’m bringing the Captain back, I have like 4-5 yards left and he grabs the ladder and that instantly disqualifies me. I was so freaking pissed and he never argued with the instructor or talked with me about any of it, he just got out and dried off and left like everything was good. That was the first time after boot camp that I wasn’t WSQL. He was the type of Captain who didn’t get his hands dirty and had no clue how to lead from the front.
Mass punishment – This is a huge reason why some young Marines decide that the Corps isn’t the life for them. The Corps has always had the mentality that if one screws up, you all pay the price. The concept is an Autocratic leadership style and that is what the Corps wants. They want you to do it without asking. Yes, It does actually make sense in a combat situation. If you are under fire, they don’t want you to question the orders to take a bunker or something like that. But so many Marines in leadership positions take it too far. So one Marine failed the barracks inspection, so liberty was canceled for the weekend and a re-inspection will be Monday morning. The idea here is that all the Marines who passed will “help” the Marine(s) that failed. Help isn’t what usually happens, instead, they will get a stern talking to by the senior Marines in the barracks, and the junior Marines will get the “idea” (the idea is usually put in their head by their Sgt) to screw with the Marine(s) that failed. The end result is a clean room and a weekend of unnecessary fun and games. The next inspection comes around and that same Marine(s) fails and the cycle repeats. No one stopped to take that young PFC under their wings and help them out and teach them, you know mentoring.
Blue Falcon (Buddy Fucker) – There are so many Blue Falcons in the Corps and they get promoted faster than the good Marines, because the good Marine is too busy doing his/her job and the job of the Blue Falcon, plus they were too busy being a good Marine, mentoring the troops, while the Blue Falcon is spending that time kissing ass. Since most of the leadership consisted of ass-kissers, then the good Marines don’t get promoted as quickly.
And an honorable mention:
Mass Punishment – This leads Marines to commit crimes because they are going to get punished anyway, so why not just do it? I’m not talking about major crimes.
Let’s look at drinking in the barracks. You can guarantee that you are going to have to play games on Monday because someone was drinking in the barracks. So why not just drink in the barracks since you are going to get punished regardless?
Demetrius is an active-duty Marine (SSgt) who is currently a recruiter. He talks about why Marines get out of the Corps.
Trell the Great
SgtMaj of the Marine Corps Black
SgtMaj Black talks about retaining Marines