Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

‘Terminal Lance’ tells it like it is

I’ve been telling my friends about a hilarious comic strip I discovered some time back that shows that not much has changed in 30 years in the Marine Corps.

The strip is called “Terminal Lance,” and it’s written and drawn by a former Marine lance corporal. He recently got out of the Corps, and his take on the Marines is so true, it hurts. Especially when I laugh.

A terminal lance is someone who gets into the Marines and can’t climb in rank above E-3, lance corporal. You can tell when I was in that the standards had really gone to pieces because I actually made the cutting score for corporal, E-4, and that was the highest rank I ever achieved. I knew guys who re-enlisted for six years back then, and if the Corps wanted to keep them they were offered inducements such as cash bonuses and the next higher rank. Like the terminal lance, I wanted out.

His take in the most recent strip is on the interest rates charged to service members. I have written on and on about the schemes and scams visited upon the military back when I was in, including car dealers and jewelry sales, but there were so many other “causes” that sought attention.

One thing everyone hated back in the late 1970s and early 1980s was the never-ending push for charitable donations to Navy Relief and the Combined Federal Campaign. I recall one all-hands muster where a high-ranking Navy officer (of course, to us slick-sleeves an ensign would be high-ranking) got us all together for a big announcement. Then he said two words: “Navy Relief.” It was like the air was let out of a balloon. He made his pitch and was gone.

There was also the Combined Federal Campaign, which I got to experience in the military and the post office. I made sure that none of my hard-earned money went to the latter, especially after the CFC person at the postal facility in West Palm Beach called me a “fucking cheapskate” after I heard her pitch and refused to give. There was always a suspicion that those who were the pitchers for the charities were evaluated based on their pitchees’ participation, though that was often denied.

It did seem in the military that not giving to Navy Relief and the CFC might affect your career, if you were planning to go the 20 or the full 30. But I wasn’t going to hang around and find out.

Anyway, check out “Terminal Lance.”

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May 29, 2010 - Posted by | Living in the modern age | , , , ,

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