From 1978-1980 I was stationed at Camp Lejeune North Carolina with the Marines. My primary billet was with the Fleet Service Support Unit that supported a Marine Recon Battalion. I had already spent 7 years in the Navy and was very well acquainted with Naval Traditions and etiquette. Most of the time at Lejeune I spent supporting the Internal Medicine Department at the Naval Hospital, but I did accompany the Recon units on several local and one overseas deployment.
There was a very different relationship between the officers and enlisted in the Marines when compared to the Navy. They ate and slept in proximity to each other and in fact almost always ate out of the same mess not in separate Wardrooms for the officers and messes for the crew and chiefs. There organizations were also different. The Marines had smaller operational units like squads, platoons and companies commanded by sergeants Lieutenants, and Captains respectfully. Each squad had 9 men, each platoon had 3 squads and a company had 3 platoons. Everybody within each company knew the name and history of everybody up and down the chain of command in the company.
Encampments were always designed so that the commanders of each unit slept with their men—not segregated by rank—very different from on a Navy Ship. No other group of people had a higher respect for the chain of command than Marines, but in spite of or may because of that—I don’t know which, there was always an informality that allowed for rapid and transparent communication. If the guy at the top made an order and it came down to the lowest “grunt” everybody knew exactly what that order meant and who it was for.
This informality amongst the ranks with a respect for authority allowed for deep friendships to be made amongst people that came from very different backgrounds and cultures. But this respect was manifested in some very special traditions that showed how those at the top and bottom cared for each other.
When making Camp the most comfortable places within the Camp were given to the lowest ranking Marines. To my surprise as a Navy man I watched as the lowest ranking Marines were always given front of the line privileges and the highest ranking officers ate last. If there was a Colonel or a General in Camp they were last in line and the last to eat.
Same privilege if there was hot water—very seldom the case. Same privilege for mail call. Same privilege if we came into port and there was only one pay phone to call home. I remember standing in a phone line with 50 people in Guantanamo Bay Cuba and the highest ranking officers including a General were at the back of the line—It was also a way of keeping the calls short I think.
It could be argued that this was an “egalitarian ethic” but it really was a sign of respect and a symbol of meritocracy. Those at the front of the lines certainly worked and earned those positions and were being respected by their superiors. The work came first. I find it very interesting that many of the elites in our society—media stars, the press politicians, billionaires and those in the financial community all who profess to be egalitarians and are voices for equality diversity and stand against discrimination—or so they say, always seem to put themselves at the front of the line.
When John Kerry talks about global warming and flies around the country in a G-4 jet is he putting himself at the front of the line?
What about when Nancy Pelosi gets her hair done without wearing a mask and two weeks later the shop closes down because of Covid restrictions on businesses?
When Barbra Streisand builds a Beach front home and tells us the seas will rise 80 feet because of global warming and 20 years later she adds onto to her almost billion dollar estate on that same beach and tells us the same thing does she really believe what she is telling us?
What about all the special people who courted favor with admission councilors at elite Ivy League Colleges and Stanford so their children can step to the front of the admissions line without having to compete and earn their positions? Talk about special privilege!
What about mayors and governors who tell us to wear masks and stay in place and then don’t wear masks while dining out or close down businesses in their communities and states while they FACETIME new edicts from Hawaii or Texas?
Bill and Melinda Gates have been great humanitarians and philanthropists. How many waterfront homes do they own? Their carbon footprint has to be bigger than all of Garden Cities.
And what about the retirement and health care benefits and entrees to other opportunities like lobbyist funded hunting trips that our elected officials in Washington D. C. give themselves. Only large unions—that provide campaign contributions to those same politicians—have similar “Cadillac” benefits.
And what about in our own city where the very problem of command and control asset allocation has hit us square in the face. With the government sitting in position of “distribution agent” have the people that needed Covid-19 vaccinations the most been put to the front of the line? I am thinking of those over 80, those with preexisting conditions like my daughter-in-law who recently underwent chemotherapy and a splenectomy for diffuse histiocytic lymphoma and was told she was a tier 3 patient—March at the earliest for her vaccination, or health care workers over 55 involved with patients. Because those over 80 make up less than 4% of our population and they account for 51% of the deaths in Idaho, they all should have been vaccinated already.
Instead large hospitals are providing vaccinations for young back office workers and even those employees working at home who are under 50. It has been reported that vaccines have been made available to Hospital Board Members and administrators who don’t fit the criteria of being high risk. I know of one Board member who refused the vaccine because he understood the “favor that was being courted toward him”—his words. He too had served with the Marines and he recognized butt kissing when he saw it.
So even in Boise Idaho we have a class of people who look upon themselves as being special or maybe even privileged. When those in power and authority feel that way very bad things happen. Little corruptions lead to big corruptions