Diatribes of a Knucklehead 151214
During 1884 I was on my first deployment; a West-Pac Float. I was a rifleman assigned to 3rd Platoon, India Company, 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines. We were floating around the Western Pacific stopping in scheduled countries for training and liberty. Back then we got paid CASH on ship. Although I did not make very much money as a PFC I received my combat arms bonus; $3,500 for volunteering for a combat arms MOS (Military Occupation Specialty). Perfect, I wanted infantry anyway. I am not a gambler, but on this payday I purchased a $5 lottery ticket for a Kenyan Safari in Tsavo East/West. It was a four-day three-night tour worth more than $800.
Sound great right? Yes it was great, until I got in the tour van with a group of Navy Officers; very senior navy officers. They were obviously offended by my presence and they made it obvious. Lucky for me the artillery Battery Commander, a Marine Captain, was also in the van. He immediately realized there was major tension in the van. When we stopped and took a break for lunch he pulled me to the side and said, “we are both Marines, to hell with them. You just hang out with me.” He meant it, he watched out for me and ensured I enjoyed the safari also. That arty Capt. left a lasting impression on me. He treated me like I was one of his own Marines, because in his mind I was.
Here was a Marine Officer, a Captain, in van full of officers and he overtly chose to hang with a PFC rather than them. That Captain taught me that you should treat all Marines as part of your own family. I carried this lesson with me for the rest of me career.
The safari was amazing.