A voice from my past - and my response

Every now and then we all come across someone in our lives that is in a position to inflict misery on us. It’s usually a person with some degree of legitimate authority that uses that leverage to make life a living hell.

I had a person in my life like that once: it was a Lieutenant I worked for in the Marines who, for whatever reason, decided that I would be his special target of angst and revilement. Oh to be sure, I saw him make others miserable as well, but I was his preferred target.

When I transferred into his shop in the Fall of 1984, I was coming from a place where I had excelled and earned the respect of my fellows. Both the people that worked for me, and the people I worked for, had treated me like a good Marine and with the professionalism generally accorded a sergeant whose worth is clearly recognized. So to suddenly be under the cognizance of someone who decided that I was not worthy of even common courtesy was a bitter pill to swallow.

To make matters worse, I had been sent to this place to replace a person who was highly competent in a field in which I had not the slightest familiarity. The Corps in its infinite wisdom made the call, and I had but to follow orders.

Now this Lieutenant I’m talking about was a man who had worked his way up to Gunnery Sergeant (I believe) before being commissioned as an officer. For those who don’t have the benefit of a military background let me make clear that the gulf that exists between officer and enlisted is extremely wide; and no service makes more distinction based on that gulf than do the Marines. Generally when an enlisted man (on the rare occasion) becomes an officer, the result is someone with an affinity for the enlisted ranks which leads to a higher overall quality of leadership. They tend to remember what it was like to be an enlisted man.

Lt. Mac was the antithesis of this generality! For all intents and purposes, as far as he was concerned, enlisted men and women were now the scum of the earth, and their only purpose in life was to “step and fetch” as officers saw fit. Like dealing with The Borg, resistance was futile. To have even spoken an utterance of disagreement was to risk demotion, imprisonment, or dishonorable discharge. One simply had to “take it”.

My time under this man, though relatively short (about nine months), was without a doubt THE most terrible time in my service. To say that he caused me stress and anxiety would be the understatement of the century! During my tenure in that place, my marriage, my sleeping habits, my stomach, my blood pressure, and even my sex life was all in a state of total disarray thanks to him. I offer as incontrovertible evidence the fact that, even though I was within only a few months of an honorable discharge after seven years of service, I seriously contemplated going UA (AWOL).

Here is a man about whom I can honestly say I would not piss on him to put him out …if he were on fire!

Time has passed and life has gone on. Rarely do I contemplate those dark days now, and thankfully so. There are a couple of songs that when I hear them on the radio will cause me to hearken back to that wretched time in my life.

With the exception of those months working for Lt Mac, I remember my Marine service with great fondness and pride. In recent years the internet has made it possible to track down old friends and service buddies to an extent never before possible. Toward that end I keep a detailed profile on a particular database for that very purpose. On the page relating to my time under Mac’s command I have a simple comment posted to the effect that “my worst moment was the day I met the Lieutenant”.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I got an email from him after 24 years asking “What was it about meeting me was your worst moment?”

Now dear reader, consider the opportunity this presents to yours truly. Here is the chance of a lifetime to tell the former bane of one’s existence exactly what feelings and memories they inspire. You may be certain that I positively shook with anticipation at the prospect of a long overdue balancing of the books – if only via email. God is indeed good in that there is a season for everything!

Here in its entirety is my response to the Lieutenant From Hell:

Actually …meeting you was the worst moment in my entire seven years as a Marine. You treated me like crap from the moment I checked aboard that command. I went from a place where I was respected and treated like an NCO, to a place where I was treated like a recruit. The time you ran along beside me and screamed at me like I was one of your recruits comes to mind very clearly; done in the plain sight of a bunch of lower ranking Marines. Brilliant bit of leadership there!

I loved (and still love) the Marine Corps with all my heart. But under your auspices I seriously considered going UA for the only time in my service. I loathed your authoritarian manner and the haughty hateful way you looked down on all us enlisted pukes; even though I believe you once wore Gunny stripes yourself. Never did I meet any former enlisted man who so completely forgot what it was like to BE enlisted.

You probably don’t remember the particulars…having abused so many for so long. But I remember them well! The travel clerk I was replacing had been to school for that field. I had not. If he had been transferred to Kansas City to replace me, instead of the other way around, I’m sure he would have done poorly too. But that was of no matter to you, at least as far as I could tell. Having the lips of sycophantic pukes (like your admin NCOIC) firmly placed on your ass was of much more importance to you.

I see from your profile that you work in corrections. That is not a surprise to me at all. There is surely a place where you can fully indulge your dictatorial and sadistic tendencies.

In my seven years as a Marine I met men of high caliber of EVERY rank; men who had the leadership capacity to inspire courage and intrepidity regardless of the adversity. I also met men who couldn’t have led a starving dog to a meat wagon. In my opinion you will forever number among the latter.


T. Paine said...

Good scathing post! Quite tactful I might add..

GunRights4US said...

After all, I try to run a "G" rated blog here.

idahobob said...


In the 10 years that I was in the Army, I only met a few bad eggs, and none as bad as yours.

Considering that this is a "G" rated blog, I feel that you showed great restraint in the manner that you told the SOB what you thought.

Personally, if it was me, I might like to look the SOB up and give him some personal wall-to-wall counseling.

God, wouldn't that feel great??


Anonymous said...

I for one appreciate the "G" rating of your blog. Some sources (blog, book, etc.) are not rated so and it's difficult for me to pass recommendations along to family, especially my wife and children, since I don't use profanity myself or condone it in my family.

That's not to say I believe in censorship. I'm all about free speech. But I appreciate a person who can express themselves professionally and courteously and all the more so since I've become a husband and then a father.

Thanks again,