Category Archives: Military Humor

The Evangelical Staff Officer

As a Staff Officer during a deployment, it’s easy to find oneself chained to a desk, and bored. Such was the case during a recent deployment to Afghanistan. After working in close quarters with my boss, Matt, I began to pick up his sophomoric sense of humor. As a matter of fact, I embraced it. Matt had known for awhile that he was going to be leaving our unit and moving up to work at our higher headquarters. He was qualified for the newer job and we really weren’t too busy doing what we were doing. This meant that I would take over for Matt and a replacement take over my position.

About two weeks out from when Matt was to leave, he received a message from an eager young Lieutenant named Dan. Dan was just finishing his Officer Basic Course and was naturally excited to deploy to the fight and become a member of the team. Naturally, we were just as excited to have someone new to play pranks on. Dan’s email read something like this:

Sir,

My name is Lieutenant Dan and I found out that I will be coming to work with you in theater. I am very excited and I was looking for some advice as to what I should be doing to prepare for the deployment…

Very Respectfully,

Lieutenant Dan

All things considered, not a bad first introduction, right? Matt’s response was as follows:

LT Dan,

I am moving to our higher headquarters, CPT Horseshoe will be taking over for me. He is a good guy, but he is extremely religious, so be sure to watch your language around him. (Let’s just say I’ve had a few Inspector General Inspections because of it).

Good luck to you,

-CPT Matt

Matt “bcc’d” me on this email and I waited.  LT Dan emailed me shortly thereafter.

CPT Horseshoe,

CPT Matt has informed me that he is moving so I will be working for you. I look forward to it. I just finished my officer basic course and I have in-processed at our home station, so I should be deploying to you in a few weeks. Is there anything I should do in the meantime to prepare for deploying?

V/R

LT Dan

Because Matt trained me, I had to follow on with the joke. Not to mention, it was pretty funny.

LT Dan,

It is truly a blessing to have you joining our team. Don’t worry too much about getting ready for the deployment, just enjoy your time at home and take care of any last second personal business. Just to let you know, our religious services on our FOB are a bit lacking, but we do the best we can. We don’t have church services on Sundays, but Fridays because of schedule. I know it isn’t the Sabbath, but we make due.  Once again, we’ll be praying for your safe arrival.

God Bless,

-CPT Horseshoe

I later found out LT Dan was slightly concerned about his future boss, but he was okay with it since I seemed like a nice guy. One of my new Soldiers that met LT Dan back at home station also told me that Dan went to a small, religious college and had a Christian radio station license plate holder on his car. Shit. I’m going to get fired for pretending to be religious with a guy who actually is.

A few weeks later, LT Dan arrived in my office. He was going to be assigned to a subordinate unit and would only be on the FOB for the next day. During our conversation, I did the right thing with my prank. I pretended it never happened. Using my profanity laced Army vocabulary to describe our situation, Dan became even more puzzled. We parted ways.

Later, after the deployment ended, LT Dan and I were working in the same office; we compared notes on my supposed evangelism and had a good laugh about it. In the end, the prank was a success. We had confused a Lieutenant.

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It’s Kind of Funny

Infantry School Graduation Rehearsal, Fort Benning, Georgia.

After several long and trying months, the time had finally come for the Army’s newest class of Infantry 2nd Lieutenants to saunter across a stage, shake a few hands, and wander off into the big Army. We spent at least two entire days rehearsing. The more we tried to get it right, the more things went wrong. It was supposed to be a simple process; we were to march up through a door to the back stage area and wait for our name to be called. Halfway across the stage, each of us would shake the hands of our instructors, and various senior ranking officers and enlisted personnel who had no idea who we were, but were proud of our successes or something like that.

Our Company Commander, MAJ “M” was an extremely intense character. Between giving surreal safety briefs and screaming often at us, no one really knew how to take him. As the day wore on, MAJ M said that, “If anyone else laughs during this rehearsal, they won’t participate in the graduation ceremony”.  This was a bridge too far.

Soon enough, the rehearsal process was messed up again. I recall that people were out of order or the timing of the ceremony was wrong. At this point, most of the cadre were head hunting for a Lieutenant to crack a smile. Surely enough, someone did.

John, a fit and intelligent West Pointer who would later serve with distinction in the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan, was the victim of the day. MAJ M saw John chuckle slightly and all hell broke loose.

“Do you think this is fucking funny?!” bellowed a veiny and red-faced Major. “Do you think we like rehearsing for this over and over again and you lieutentants can’t even keep focused?! This isn’t funny!”

“It’s kind of funny.” replied John, somewhat quietly.

That was the last straw. All forty lieutenants from my platoon were taken outside and yelled at for about 15 minutes by our platoon advisor, a man we endearingly referred to as Captain Insane-o. John was pulled, at least initially, from the graduation ceremony which his parents drove over a thousand miles to see. After a last second change of heart, John was hastily thrown back into the ceremony, but there was one issue. No one added his name to the roster to be called.

So, as John walked across the stage, the name of the person directly after him was called instead. If this continued, it would have caused a cascade of wrong names and no one’s name would have been called at the correct time. The cadre pulled the officer after John out of the line, and the ceremony continued on as planned. The average spectator would never have noticed anything went wrong, except of course for the family of the officer who was pulled from the line. He never walked across the stage.

It’s kind of funny.

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The Horseshoe Formation

Ah, I can almost feel the freedom of a four-day weekend beckoning to me. The end of the duty day is here, the floors are mopped and still wet, the police call has come to an end, and the First Sergeants and the Command Sergeant Major seem to be pleased that their little empire is presentable enough to be evacuated by its citizenry.  Of course, anyone who has spent at least a month in the Army knows there is one more task yet to be completed; the safety brief.

The safety brief, the final chance for leaders to espouse last minute advice, wisdom, threats and orders to Soldiers before they venture off into a perilous world.  Well, it really isn’t that dangerous, and come to think of it, it’s the exact same world they were in before but with ninety six hours of freedom from adult supervision. Historically, four day weekend are disastrous ventures for the Army. If one believes the safety briefs, it is entirely probable, likely even, you will die. Moreover, you will die on a motorcycle, intoxicated and committing adultery while assaulting your spouse. The only thin red line that holds these Final Destination type deaths from us is the safety brief.

Contrary to the movies, it’s damned near impossible to address a large group of people standing in a rectangle. Command Sergeants Major believe that no matter how big the formation, the secret powers of a Sergeants Major Academy Ring will allow their voice to overcome the laws of physics and project their voice even into the farthest reaches of the Milky Way.  The Romans figured out how sound waves travel a couple thousand years ago and in turn built the circular amphitheater. Army Officers learned this same lesson and invented the horseshoe formation.

“On the Command of Fall Out, fall out and form a horseshoe formation around me”.  That’s how it begins. The commander, depending on his personal style and aptitude, either gives a recollection of the events that have been accomplished recently, a philosophical treatise on safety, and a reminder that we deserve to have some fun, but to have it safely.  The horseshoe formation is a chance for a commander to impart wisdom and guidance to his masses, whether they want to hear it or not.

That’s why I have decided to name my blog the Horseshoe Formation. I don’t really know what it will become, or where it will go. However, the main point of it is for me to put my thoughts out there, maybe put a smile on your face, and perhaps even impart a shred of wisdom.  Welcome, and thank you for visiting.

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