The Marine Corps will always make sure its personnel have things like weapons, ammunition, and water, but that’s about it. The rest of the time, individual Marines beg, plead, and borrow for everything they have. One of my favorite parts of my Marine Corps existence was the living arrangements. I’m not talking about Iraq, the field (in training), or ship life; I’m referring to the barracks. Our battalion’s barracks were a couple of ancient shit heaps that would put the Marcy Projects to shame; stains and holes everywhere, rats, rattlesnakes, coyotes (Yes, coyotes!), clogged plumbing, habitually broken washers and dryers, high concentration of lead in the water, cigarette burns, blood stains, piss stains, alcohol stained carpets, hate on every level, and completely shoddy furniture. It was a mess of insolvent ignorance from whoever budgets our Marine’s petty finances. It was home, and we loved it.
Something great happened to our battalion in 2004. We got new furniture.
The furniture in our barracks rooms were prehistoric and throwback wooden table stands, wall-lockers, bunk beds, and accompanying mattresses prior to the switch that took place that year. We were extremely happy that our beloved Corps was now willing to upgrade our current condition.
We were happy to get rid of the old bunk-beds. Marines who were roommates were going through a constant pissing contest on who got the top bunk. It wasn’t because we had some childish notion of the top bunk being the “bestest,” instead we were so scared of the rickety beds collapsing on top of one and other that we vied for the top in an attempt to harbor our own safety.
We made the big furniture switch by hauling all of our current pieces of equipment to the side of the barracks as a contracted moving company brought an abundance of brand new steel bunk-beds, wall-lockers, and table stands. We had to stack the old stuff on the side of the barracks, including the mattresses.
We made the big switch on a Friday, and the leftover mattresses were left on the side of our barracks establishment that had catwalks for three levels, all hovering over the stacked up cushions on the side. Our superiors left on Friday evening, and it wasn’t long before we started contemplating how we could have some fun.
We woke up Saturday morning and were ready to do some Hollywood stunt action. The first thing a Marine does when he wakes up on the weekend is assess the damage from the night before, then he starts over in his alcohol abuse. After we had gathered some liquid courage, we started jumping.
It started with the 2nd story deck. Ski, Booger, me, Mickey, Dirty, Glenn Beck, Gutz, Big Sal, and V all made the jump onto the comfy piss-stained mattresses at 15 feet below. It was fun and exhilarating, but it wasn’t anything special really. We moved one deck higher.
We were at the 3rd deck now, 30 feet high. Ski, Glenn Beck, and Booger made the jump and landed safely with a little bit of an impact and a big laugh on our old, recyclable, sleeping mattresses. They could feel their chests get a bit knocked out with the impact, but it was fun nonetheless. Still not fun enough for some.
Most of us where satisfied with jumping at this point, but not all of us wanted to stop. The next step was the roof, 60 feet above the mattresses below. We all had backed out at this point, even Ski, but Glenn Beck was still in.
Glenn stood on the roof of our barracks extremely hesitant to jump this far down. I can’t blame him; it was extremely high and unnatural to fall that long with no formal safety procedures.
I wanted to see it. It would be an epic fall. I made my investment, “I’ll give you twenty bucks!”
That seemed to be the longest free-fall I’ve ever seen in my life. He floated through the air with Greg Louganis skill, until he landed on the cushions below.
He landed head first into the mattresses below and ceased movement thereafter. We rushed down to evaluate the situation; he was as limp as an 80 year old man and looked like a bag of smashed assholes.
Me (Chewy), the one who pushed him to the bet, went screaming back up stairs to the third deck.
“Doc! Doc! Glenn Beck got fucked! Get down here!”
The Navy Corpsman is the most important individual in a platoon of Marines, and he’s not even a Marine, he’s a Sailor. He is the sole individual responsible for keeping the physical safety of Marines in combat and in theatre. Corpsmen are legendary in Marine Corps history for their heroics on the battlefield, and their protection of Marines medically. They are everything that’s good about combat medicine. While these Sailor-Warriors have become legendary for their combat heroics, most people don’t realize that Corpsmen statistically spend more of their time fixing Marines for their brainless tomfoolery than on the battlefield.
Our Doc was in his room playing some Madden when our screams came. He rushed down to the side of the barracks and got to Glenn Beck.
Doc quickly assessed the situation. Then he utilized his superior medical skills.
Doc smacked Glenn right in the face.
The amazing thing is Glenn came to. He was still disheveled, but he had his eyes open. We were all relieved, but scared for Glenn’s mental state. We didn’t want to have to explain this to our superiors. Glenn was fucked. Doc used his Hippocratic-Oath to suggest we get him to chow.
This was an NFL level cover-up of brain damage. We were more concerned with the repercussions of our idiotic games, than the potential life threatening injuries of Glenn. We just wanted him to come to and be sane by Monday. We lifted him up; Ski took his left side, while Booger took the right, and carried him down to the chow hall like it was a scene from Weekend at Bernies.
We got to chow and sat Glenn down. He was wobbling around and mumbling for a while until he snapped to, “What the fuck?!” He didn’t even remember getting down there, he didn’t remember jumping, and he didn’t remember hitting his head.
He was conscious and talking, so I assumed I could rectify the situation.
I felt terrible, like I made him do it by offering him money and doing the whole “I bet you won’t do it” bit. I threw him a 20 dollar bill in order to satisfy my regret. He looked at it, looked at his eggs, and “BLAAAAAAAAH!” puked right on my money.
Glenn got his money’s worth, we got a scary situation, and everyone was locked and loaded for Monday. Nobody higher up heard about it and the mattresses thankfully got picked up from our barracks before we had the opportunity to do it again.