Mail Call II

In the comments for the “South Park” patch below, Mike Rentner writes,

As a Marine Officer currently in Iraq, I can say I’ve not seen this, but then I’m not in an Air Force base.

I appreciate the South Park humor, but I despise the sentiment that the words on the patch convey. It is arrogant, elitist and does nothing to further civil-military relations.

Rest assured that not all of us over here feel like we have a right to say such things.

Thanks for the note, Mike. Speaking as the owner and operator of one of the asses that’s being saved, I think you do have every right to say such things. At the very least, the patch slogan is an accurate description of what you and your collegues do for a living, and I’m certainly not offended by it.

Then again, I’m somewhat unusual in that while I’ve never served, I’ve been around military folks all my life. My dad is a USAF veteran, his father was an Army drill sergeant, I grew up in an Army town, my brother-in-law just started his third tour of SWA (Army), and I’ve spent my entire professional life working on Army and Air Force bases. Maybe I’m too close to the subject matter to be entirely objective.

What do the rest of y’all think?


88 Responses to “Mail Call II”

  1. Russell Wardlow Says:

    Eh, I think the sentiments of Mike above are just a little silly, in the same vein as the harangues and gasps of horror that accompanied the Marine officer who stated a while back that it was “fun” to shoot the Taliban.

    I think the two situations are similar because they both showcase genteel society’s ridiculous standards placed on behavior in the military. We expect them not only to constantly be in a state of moral doubt and turmoil while they kill those worthy of killing, but we now also want them to not show any chauvinism for their line of work either.

    That kind of fashion-parlor harping doesn’t coexist too well with a robust fighting force.

  2. Brandon Says:

    “I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” -Voltaire, I believe.

    Well, since they’re the ones doing the defending, I’d say they have every right to say what they want about their job. If they don’t want to, because they think it hurts something – I applaud your principles. But I’m not complaining, and think it’s a pretty funny and accurate patch.

  3. Russell Wardlow Says:

    Ahem, “carping.”

  4. CSM Teel Says:

    Mike Rentner is absolutely right. From the perspective of a “man on the ground” he conveys both the truth and the american sentiment of being able to express yourself without fear of reprisal. From my perspective I appreciate the way he articulates the vantage of looking at the problem from the civil-military point of view. Its always a problem, but you have to win the hearts and minds before you get the ass to follow. I have almost always found the viewpoint of a United States Marine Corps officer “dead on azimuth”, and relish his comments, as they bring an educated and wise expression of the truth from ground level to all that goes on around them. As usual he cut “right to the chase”, said what was needed, and moved on. CSM Teel USA (Retired)

  5. CSM Teel Says:

    Ever been in the military Russell? You don’t sound like you have. Robust fighting force….Nice catchy phrase….Please don’t post about the military unless you paid your dues….However, the U.S. Army just lowered their enlistment age to 39 so there is time to join up before the fun is all over….get a real life.

  6. Geez Says:

    Two things, CSM:

    1). Chickenhawk arguments didn’t work they came from those sh*theels in the antiwar movement: they aren’t going to work for you, either. Civilian control of the military, dude: the former can comment and criticize anything about the latter that they damn well feel like, because that’s their job. Don’t like it? Move.

    2). For that matter, Russell’s working for JAG this summer. Try to do a little research next time.

  7. jim rhoads Says:

    As a VN vet, I appreciate the patch, but agree with Mike’s and CSM Teel’s sentiments. Here’s why:

    With the new world of blogs, inside jokes don’t stay inside the way they did until this century dawned. Unfortunately, now the whole world is watching.

    For example, irreverant and bawdy songs like “Bless ’em All” (not the original title) did not get world wide attention until the war during which it was composed was over.

    Now, the lyrics in the original (not the cleaned up version) would be all over the web and seized upon by political types to make “points”.

    Too bad, in a way, because the inside joke stuff keeps the troops’ morale up. And it’s fun sometimes, too!!!

    Jim Rhoads (vnjagvet)

  8. SMSgt Mac Says:

    Vodkapundit: Your original post and patch are completely acceptable.
    Rentner sounds a bit of a prig, and CSMs are by definition as political as military. Accusations of elitism and arrogance from a Marine? Too funny.
    As to civil-military relations: that patch won’t irritate our friends and criticizing it surely won’t convert our enemies so who, other than the PC among us, cares?
    This is ‘caviling’ in the finest tradition–Rentner should report to the Grog Bowl and take the CSM with him!

    The patch (you can be certain it’s not “official”) expresses a genuine sentiment by people who are now serving. I like it. The fact that it’s existence will now be exposed to the more prissy among us, will probably send it underground. On the upside, and speaking from experience, it will make it that much more desireable. Hey! How about a politically incorrect patch thread with stories behind them? I’ll contribute!
    I think this is really all about a little inter-service rivalry: USMC: OoRah!
    USA: Hooah!
    USAF: Whatthe?!

    Check Six!

  9. Karl Gallagher Says:

    Having the minimal service time to meet CSM Teel’s requirements (ie, ex-AF REMF), I’ll chime in.

    It’s a joke. It’s obviously a joke. It’s a funny joke. And the subject is the basic military mission, risking death to protect civilians. So I don’t see any problem with it at any level, other than IP issues with the copyrighted characters.

  10. Julie Says:

    I think that the people who would be offended (as opposed to simply thinking it’s not all that funny… I’m probably the only person in the world for whom South Park isn’t a guilty pleasure) would be offended in any case. Pro-military civilians are going to chuckle or at least understand why other people like it. Anti-military civilians will probably blow a gasket.

    What would it take not to offend, say, those people who defaced the recruiting station in the picture on Smash’s blog?

  11. Julie Says:

    The grog bowl is sorta harsh punishment, don’t you think? 😉

  12. SMSgt Mac Says:

    Julie: I am known as fair but tough! To the (Gasp) non-alcoholic grog bowl with them!

  13. Bedrock Guy Says:

    The patch was pretty funny, and since I just retired after 25 years in the Army, I think I’ve met the ol CSM’s service requirements. I grow weary of military personnel who feel that for some reason, we should never, ever say or do anything which strikes one as having a personality. For goodness sakes, get a sense of humor, quit being some self righteous, and don’t let me EVER catch you saying negative things about politicians, because, well, you know, that might negatively influence civil-military relations. r/ Bedrock Guy

  14. Russell Wardlow Says:

    CSM Teel,

    As the commenter after you wrote, no, I’ve never been in the military, tho I’m going to be working for them in the JAG program this summer and plan to join as a JAG officer after I graduate. I don’t know if you would consider that counting, tho.

    But regardless, I have to echo the sentiments of the person who replied to you in the comments section: automatically disqualifying someone to comment on the military who has never served is a curious position to take, as our entire system is based on a regime of civilian control.

    On top of that, I would also note that regardless of whether you acknowledge the ability of civilians to comment on the military or not is itself is fairly irrelevant to the issue the patch raises, because that is a question of how the military interacts with the society at large. Being a member of said society, I think I would be competent to say something.

  15. BenJCarter Says:

    “Busting my ass to save yours.”

    I see nothing arrogant or elitist in that statement.

    And yes I’m a vet.

  16. Cindermutha Says:

    I think the patch makes a rather accurate statement. Anyone who would get upset about that has no sense of humor

  17. jmaster Says:

    As an engineer, I worked on a couple military systems a few years back. That’s the extent of my service. I don

  18. hey Says:

    it upsets the people that it should upset, as well as some prigs.

    maybe the military people who are complaining are the next versions of (s)Kerry…

    love the patch

  19. RobertJ Says:

    This civie isn’t offended. Then again, I love South Park. The patch is sweeeeet.

    Dictating who may or may not comment on the military is arrogant.

  20. Andy Freeman Says:

    > It is arrogant, elitist

    Huh? It isn’t arrogance to do what you’ll say you’ll do and there’s nothing elitist about the US military.

    > and does nothing to further civil-military relations.

    The US military went to Iraq because the Iraqis failed to deal with certain problems. The US miltary is still there because the Iraqis are currently unable to deal with certain problems.

    How does denying those facts improve civil-military relations?

  21. William Oliver Says:

    I think the objection was not really to the words themselves, but to a trend that is being increasingly reported — that the volunteer military is becoming a caste. Like most folk who served in the military, I have a long tradition of military service in my family, come from a middle-class background, and am a conservative.

    There is evidence that the volunteer army is selecting from an increasingly narrow demographic segment — the very poor cannot meet entrance requirements, and the very rich have lost the tradition of service. The values expressed by the military do not reflect that of much of the rest of society. There is a reason that some call the US Army the “Grand Army of the Republicans.”

    The professional military is becoming less and less a citizen military, and less and less a reflection of the attitudes and demographics of society as whole. In the long run this can have negative implications for the military’s role in the support of the Constitution. Not now, not 10 years from now, but on down the line — if and when the military starts viewing the rest of US society in truly “Us vs Them” terms.

    The very fact that some in commenters seem to feel that one must be an “Us” in order to have the right to voice an opinion is a symptom of this. Any “Us vs Them” expression that reinforces this separation is a reminder of this trend, and this perceived danger — realistic or not.


  22. leelu Says:

    100% civilian.

    Help build C-17s for a living.

    Not a fan of South Park.

    Think the patch is great.

  23. joe shropshire Says:

    Another ex-Air Force REMF likes the patch. Happy Easter y’all.

  24. jmaster Says:


    Your comments sound like one of the best arguments for re-instating the draft that I have ever heard.

  25. Scott Chaffin Says:

    It’s possible for a civilian to appreciate the admirable professionalism of Mike Rentner, and the insider joke-y nature of the patch. I know I do.

    Off-hand, I think it’s a good thing to have both attitudes represented by the ones standing guard. I’ll take a little ribbing along with the excellence.

  26. KurtP Says:

    SeaBee for 9 years, and in municipal Public Works since I got out.
    Not offened at all, it’s the truth.

  27. workerbeemich Says:

    “…we are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war, as well as their organized armies. I know that this recent movement of mine through Georgia has had a wonderful effect in this respect. Thousands who had been deceived by their lying newspapers to believe that we were being whipped all the time now realize the truth, and have no appetite for a repetition of the same experience…”

    William T Sherman Dec 1884

  28. -Ed. Says:

    Patches are a dime a dozen. Many, many patches are made by private outfits and sold as decoration, even in military base exchanges. They are for fun, not uniforms. Unless you see that patch on a US military member’s authorized uniform, take it for what it is: fun.

  29. Julie Says:

    Ack! Don’t even say that about the draft.

    Although I do see how it may present a problem, I’d take some convincing that having an elite service is actually a problem. The concept of a military made up of interchangable citizens has to give way, at some point, to the level of training necessary to effectively fight a modern war. How do you encourage professionalism and a feeling of purpose and sacrifice without elitism? It would be nice, but I don’t think you can combat the elitism without damaging professionalism and purpose.

    Yes, people with relatives in the service are more likely to think of that as an option (same with police or firefighters or doctors) but it is available to anyone none-the-less. My brother and I, with no relatives or military in the family, enlisted. It happens.

  30. morigu Says:

    as a former tanker for 8 years down the end of academy in the vodkapund’s town , i find it quite humerous. usually those offended as the officer and CSM are evidently, are ones who have too close a touch on the political aspect of their positions and not the morale and welfare of those serving on the frontlines, who for lack of better things, appreciate humor in all its forms.

  31. Instapilot Says:

    From another AF REMF (who lives in Vodkapundit’s town, too):

    Have 26 years experience in Hogs (A-10s). Commanded at squadron and group level. Been to Grenada, Bosnia, Kosovo (on the ground in the last one, no less) and other places. Our patch for Operation DENY FLIGHT was, “Patience my ass, I wanna kill something.” Totally non-PC.

    Trying to stop soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines bitching or making light of being in a war zone is a losing proposition.

    The sentiment of the patch in question is understandable and I think most Iraqis would agree with it, frankly…God knows the Albanians do (or at least their US ambassador does)…and many of the Iraqi blogs reflect that–they consciously acknowledge and appreciate us busting our asses. Isn’t that sort of the point anyway?

    Lighten up, guys. If someone gets a case of the vapors over it, let ’em. OK, maybe the South Park reference would curl some Muslim hairs (not to mention Jimmy Dobson’s right down the strett from where I live), but I seriously doubt it’ll turn the Iraqis against us.

    In fact, if they haven’t already started, I give the locals another month before they start manufacturing these things in-country…many a Korean has retired comfortably after sewing smart-ass patches for fighter pilot party suits (don’t ask) for a living.

    THIS IS NOT a big deal.

  32. richard mcenroe Says:

    Straight leg and mech 11B for 9 years, E-3 to 0-3 before I was RIF’d. The patch is fine. It’s not like they’re making the Iraqi civilians buy them.

  33. Mike Says:

    If there is a problem it is civilian. The divide between the military and the population is far too broad. I suspect that the dude who posted the blue is joking, in fact I guranT it. guranT is cajun for suck it New York.

  34. Jude Says:

    I think someone got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning.

  35. Banana Oil! Says:

    Quote of the day

    Speaking as the owner and operator of one of the asses that’s being saved, I think you do have every right to say such things.
    Will Collier, VodkaPundit, 27 March 2005…

  36. SFC Ski Says:

    Well, the rule of thumb is, “When the troops stop bitchin’ and jokin’, that’s the time to worry about morale”.

    My buddy and I are in the 1st Armored Division, and we got extended almost a year ago just as we were completely packed and ready to leave IRaq. When he got back to Germany, he got a tatto that read “OIF 1.5, the Extended Version”!
    YOu gotta laughly, ‘cuz cryin’s unsoldierly.

  37. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: Will Collier
    RE: Humor [Arh! Arh!] In Uniform

    I’ll chalk Mike’s complaint up to (1) inter-service rivalry compounded by (2) a bad day at ‘work’.

    As for the patch….

    ….we had a fellow officer assigned to the Multi-National Force in the Sinai, holding the Egyptians and Israelis apart in the 80s; terra cotta berets and lots of suntan lotion.

    We concocted a nice patch for him based on the Ghostbuster’s logo.

    Take your ghostbusters ghost. Put it in a terra cotta beret. Instead of the international NO symbol, use a sniper’s sight reticle. In Hebrew and Arabic, surround the image with the words…




  38. Mike Rentner Says:

    Well, no wonder I suddenly started getting comments on my blog. Sorry for the delay in replying, even as the battalion comm officer, my internet access is very limited.

    No, I didn’t get out of the wrong side of bed. I don’t think it’s a terribly big issue. But, I don’t like the attitude that people should be told to be grateful for our saving their asses. It just seems rude.

    If people wish to be appreciative, that’s nice, but I don’t think it’s proper to demand to be appreciated. That’s an attitude that causes debacles like the Dreyfus Affair. Let’s hope we never get as bad as the French back then.

  39. DanO Says:

    “Rest assured that not all of us over here feel like we have a right to say such things.”

    I disagree. The majority (if not all) of them have the right to say such things, but never will.

  40. Easycure Says:

    Funny patch. Now if it just had nicotine on it I’d pass it around to some of my still smoking friends.

  41. denise Says:

    I agree with Scott Chaffin. Not even a little bit offended by the patch, and think Rentner’s professionalism and sense of decorum should be applauded.

  42. Andy Freeman Says:

    > But, I don’t like the attitude that people should be told to be grateful for our saving their asses.

    Is anyone telling others to wear the patch? If not, there’s no “should be told” attitude; there’s just some folks with a patch.

    Moreover, the patch doesn’t say that Iraqis should be grateful. It merely states what others are doing on their behalf.

    Yes, they should be grateful, but as Mark Twain pointed out, there are differences between many men and dogs.

    I’ll repeat my question – how does protecting any mention of their condition actually help them or our relations?

  43. Bob Dedmon Says:

    As retired AF, I feel I “MAY” have qualifications to comment to the CMS and Marine officer. I don’t know which service CMS belongs/ed to AF or Army, the patch in question is what I/we used to call a party patch. As such it is highly unofficial and is not to be worn on the uniform. After that all bets are off! During my career I saw some classic patches One of my favorite was from the 4th TFW during Desert Shield/Storm. It had a camel with a gunsight reticle superimposed over it with the caption “8000 miles to smoke a camel”. There was also a version that had a map of Iraq instead of the camel. The 18th TFW had some classic party patches as well, though my favorite belonged to the 44th TFS “Vampires”, their patch replaced the head of the vampire bat with Disney’s classic character which has been used to describe some organizations. Party patches are not exclusive to the AF but I think we tend to take a more irreverend look at our situation and go from there. The only legitimate arguement the Marine officer might have is if he’s taking umbrage and thinking the AF is talking about the ground pounders in theatre. If his complaint is “political correctness” then I recommend he get a life and quit taking the “little shit” so seriously.

  44. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: dano
    RE: Huh???!?!

    “…even as the battalion comm officer, my internet access is very limited.” — DanO

    I would have thought we’d have straightened all that out by NOW! I remember working a DIVTAC in the 80s, as the Deputy Director and how the commo pukes were always dashing about fixing things.

    Is this an example of hi-tech making things worse to manage?


    [Anecdote Warning….

    When I was about to PCS out off the station and out of the slot, my turtle

  45. Rod Stanton Says:

    Tell Mike that his attitude would have been considered “sissy” or worse in the Old Corps.
    I wonder how much of his note is Corps PR in light of what the Gen said a few months ago and the Lt. the MSM wants burned for murder?

    an old exJarhead

  46. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: Mike
    RE: A Bad Day? Not!

    “No, I didn’t get out of the wrong side of bed. I don’t think it’s a terribly big issue. But, I don’t like the attitude that people should be told to be grateful for our saving their asses.” — Mike

    I’m EXTREMELY GRATEFUL. So grateful that when I accosted a young SSG waring a 4ID combat patch in a store, I congradulated the young man and commented, I wish I could take his place. Not unsurprisingly, he wished I could too.

    [Note: Sometimes I hate retirement…and the march of times tread on my body. I’d give up my commission to be a squad leader.]

    Keep up the good work, compadre. Jarhead though you are….


    [Good hunting and good luck.]

  47. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: Mike & DanO

    My apologies. I mis-cited the comment about commo and such, thinking DanO said it was hard to find time to get on the internet as a batt commo officer. It was Mike.

    Please re-direct communications accordingly….


    P.S. I need another drink. Coming down off a ‘rush’ driving I-25 along the Denver-C Springs corridor; the land of idiot drivers.

    Cops are out in force today. I think i saw 10. A group of them clustered around a very nasty letsdrivesofastwelosecontrolandrolloverandoverandover accident.

  48. Chuck Pelto Says:

    P.P.S. An afterthought….

    I hear tell that the Marines get the Army’s hand-me-down equipment. If that is correct, I can understand your lack of time to get on the internet…nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

  49. DRD Says:

    Can someone tell me the details of life in the Air Force? I’m in the Delayed Entry Program. I ask because their are many AF officials here.

  50. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: DRD
    RE: What Do You Want?

    “Can someone tell me the details of life in the Air Force?” — DRD

    Lies? Talk to a recruiter.

    Reality? The ‘babes’ are in the Air Force…but they’re only ‘babes’.

    You want ‘Life’? Go airborne-ranger, or Marine.



  51. Chuck Pelto Says:

    P.S. In order to achieve a ‘woman’, you have to be a ‘man’.

  52. Chuck Pelto Says:

    [Every man despises himself for not being a soldier, or a sailor with hard duty at sea.]

  53. Chuck Pelto Says:

    P.P.S. Please forgive my ‘machismo’….

    …I am informed, today, that my eldest daughter intends to marry. And the young man reminds me of myself, at their age.

    It’s strangely ‘interesting’ and I’m somewhat ‘bemused’.

    Freud MIGHT have a ‘field day’ with this, as I think she is drop-dead gorgeous. And he’s a ‘lucky guy’, if he can hold her.

    I dunno….it’s too funny and too hurtful and I think I could use another ‘beverage’….life catches up with you when you aren’t looking for it, to.

  54. Robert Says:

    Congratulations to your daughter and her beau, Chuck.

  55. David Says:

    Under the circumstances I’d probably wear it. It’s funny although there is a hint of “candy ass” instead of “ass”.

  56. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: Robert
    RE: Thanks….

    ….but still. It’s a serious whop up side the head. Reminded me of just how ‘old’ I’m getting.



  57. Alan Kellogg Says:

    Expecting common sense out of a bunch of pre-adults is like expecting a cat to come when called.

    Then again, sometimes you have to be rude to get your point across.

  58. Mistercalm Says:

    I’m not a vet, but I agree with the patch completely. Who do you think defends freedom? A college professor? A journalist? (STOP! STOP! My sides are hurting!) A military that reflects the country’s citizens does the job! It think it’s great… and I’m glad to be exposed to this “inside joke”!

  59. Billy Beck Says:

    I thought the patch was lame.

    Of course, I recall patches from the past (“Five Thousand Miles To Smoke A Camel” — Desert Storm, and “Warsaw Pact Central Heating” — 80’s F-111 crews) that would have set a lot of peoples’ hair on fire, and that we’ll never see again, so I know it’s a matter of perspective.

  60. Billy Beck Says:

    (Ah. Bob Dedmon got the 4th TFW patch right where I’d goofed the “Five Thousand Miles” bit.)

  61. timekeeper Says:

    My favorite of the patches I’ve seen (other than the camel smoking one Billy Beck mentioned above) was the one that was proposed for the USS Nimitz in 1998: “97,000 tons of whoop-ass”. The CO decided that was a little too far out, so we ended up with “97,000 tons of Diplomacy”, which is still a little pointed (especially if you’re on the other end of the stick).

    As far as the sentiments on the patch that inspired this thread, I see it as directed at the morons in the US who deride the military, rather than the Iraqi people.

  62. William I'm not a vet, but I agree with the patch completely. Who do you think defends freedom? A co Says:

    “I’m not a vet, but I agree with the patch completely. Who do you think defends freedom? A college professor? A journalist?”

    Well, actually, yes and yes. And playwrights (remember Vaclav Havel?). And shipyard electricians (have you forgotten Lech Walensa?). And clerics. And farmers. And physicians. And even bloggers. The defense of liberty involves more than a standing army, and the tendency to forget it is part of the problem.

  63. Julie Says:

    DRD, the wait stinks, huh? I’d have had a long wait to get my career choice so I told the recruiter to put me in “general” so that I could GO already! LOL. Then I lived in fear of getting medical for the next three months… I’m scared to death of needles.

    Air Force life? Same as any service… moves every few years are hard on the family if you’ve got one. There’s the feeling of belonging to something bigger than yourself, which is great.

    Oh… get a good pair of boots, even if you have to buy your own on E-1 pay. Some things are more important than food or rent. 😉

  64. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: Julie
    RE: Yeah… Right….

    “Air Force life? Same as any service…” — Julie




  65. BD Says:

    Civilian through & through here, so I think I can comment from the “receiving end” of the so-called elitism.

    ZERO offense taken here.

    First, I want our armed forces to take pride in what they do for all of us.

    Second, the sentiments related by the patch happen to be the truth.

    Third, there are those of my countrymen who’d like to deny the truth of those sentiments (while claiming, of course, to “support the troops”) – the patch is a rebuke to their carping.

    Fourth, there ought to be a government program to buy the type of people who take offense at such things a friggin’ life.

    Fifth, that it’s done with humor suggests our troops haven’t lost their perspective.

    Big “thumbs up” here – go get ’em, boys & girls!!!!

  66. Julie Says:

    The *life* Chuck. 😉 The particulars and parts of the culture are unique to each service but compared to civilian? Yeah, pretty similar. Of course, once in we live for the rivalries and differences, no?

    I remember waiting to go to basic and it’s far worse than, oh, waiting to get married. Waiting to go into labor the first time was closer but waiting for basic training was still worse.

  67. Ben Says:

    I agree with you Will. The statement is accurate, that is what they, Air Force and Marines do. Bust their ass to save ours.

    The fact that the Marine Officer feels the sentiment is misplaced, is admirable. He may not feel right to say it, but that does not make it any less true, or his efforts any less appreciated.

  68. Mistercalm Says:

    In response to William’s umbrage at my statement that freedom is defended by the military not college professors or journalists… I admit I was imprecise in my assertion: I wasn’t belittling the average citizen (of which I’m one), but bringing the constrast of most college professors and most journalists, especially in their abhorrance of all things “black & white” or military, into sharp relief. I agree with you that it’s the totality of all citizen’s desire to be free that drives the whole ball of wax, but professors and journalists of late have had larger voices in the argument. I stand with the military, which is accomplishing things, as opposed to complaining about things.

  69. RhinoKeeper Says:

    I work with an active duty Marine LtC, he has one of the patches and he loves it!

  70. buffpilot Says:

    Wish I had gotten in on this earlier. The Patch is great! As an ex-B52 pilot I wore dons of authorized and illegal patches. My favorites was the old, “Now it’s Miller Time,” patch. Had a big mushroom cloud in the background with a B-52 flying away in the foreground. Definitely not-PC.

    My crew patch got banned by written order from CinC SAC in 1990 as too’risque’.(and definitely not-PC). These patches are good for morale, many times very lewd, and are almost always very sarcastic. You can see many of these old & new patches on display in the military museums (the one at Barksdale AFB had many)> And there are lots of ex-service members with large collections.

  71. JSAllison Says:

    Gee, I guess “Have Gun – Will Travel” on the side of my turret surrounding a knight over a shield (think chess) was a bit over the top for certain sensibilities?

    Yeah, I know, rather tame, but being a junior noncom at the time one had to contend with certain humorless yobs that you could ignore with impunity given sufficient seniority.

    I guess you had to be there to appreciate our Saudi gate guard being taught by person or persons unknown that “@$#% You, @#$Hole was a routine Ameriky greeting, the english equivalent of asalaam aleikum. I don’t believe Stormin Norman’s straphangers quite understood what he said, not expecting it, and all.

  72. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: JSAllison
    RE: Old and Beloved Logos

    “I guess “Have Gun – Will Travel” on the side of my turret surrounding a knight over a shield (think chess) was a bit over the top for certain sensibilities?’ — JSAllison

    I think I’ll do a business card…

    Paladin’s knight looking down at a tiBook.

    The text will read…

    Have Mac – Will Travel

    E-mail Chuck(le), Pueblo, Colorado

  73. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: Julie
    RE: En Gard

  74. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO Julie & Others
    RE: Comparisons

    “Waiting to go into labor the first time was closer but waiting for basic training was still worse.” — Julie

    I think I ‘might’ be able to empathize with that. Even being of the masculine persuasion.

    Ever been ‘prop blasted’?

    You can do it at home, if you wish.

    [1] Memorize a bunch of arcane information.
    [2] Have some friends over to your place.
    [3] Treat them to a feast

  75. Julie Says:

    Gosh, Chuck. It never occured to me that the Army didn’t have golf courses. 😉

    The biggest difference with the AF, really, is that we (for the most part) wage war from the air and the rest of everything is set up to support that mission. With the exception of SP’s and the PJ’s and probably someone else I’m not thinking of, enlisted doesn’t normally train with any sort of weapons at all. Enlisted flight jobs… oh, that’s probably what I forgot… I think that gunships have enlisted gunners, but flight jobs for enlisted are things like cargo load masters, air refuelers, and medical transport and evacuation.

    So, yes. This is very different from the Army or Marines where there are tanks and infantry and where enlisted wage war and jump out of perfectly good airplanes.

  76. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: Julie
    RE: Golf Courses & Swimming Pools

    “Gosh, Chuck. It never occured to me that the Army didn’t have golf courses. ;-)” — Julie

    Oh. They’ve got such. But they don’t compare, let alone get all the attention that the impact and manuever areas get…on an Army installation vs. and AF one.


    P.S. Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, in flight, is the second best ‘rush’ in the world….nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

  77. opine6 Says:

    These souveniers are sold in PX’s, as well as by local vendors in- country. They are not worn on uniforms, and hopefully not flashed to the locals. They are simply macho souveniers to be carried home by people who served in the theatre.

    I have a T-Shirt, purchased in Bosnia, that says “I survived a tour in Bosnia”. Not a shot was fired while I was there, but no one knows that back home. It was my badge of pride that I served there.

    Don’t get too tangled in your shorts over the significance of these souveniers.

  78. CASA Says:

    Find an old salty NCO and have him explain the humor involved in said patch.

    Now can you remember the 91 Tailhook scandal? Do you remember the Bart Simpson patch that came out later? The sold the damn things in the PX.

    Then there were the name patches on our flight suits. Talk to the right flight equipment bubba and you could get one that said anything. I remember Sgt Jack MaHogOff, Sgt Jack MeOff, and SSGT Richard Craninum.

    If you haven’t notice Marine are a disturbed set of individuals, who can find the sickest humor in the darkest situations, For example, do you remember what Gen. Chesty Puller said at the Chosin Resorvior? At finding out that they were surrounded by Chinese he said “We’re surrounded. That simplifies the problem!”

    So, Semper Fi Marine, quit worrying about if a silly patch is going to offend some slimy civilian and use that energy in getting you and your troops home in one piece.

  79. redleg Says:

    18 years in and as a OEF vet, I guess I can comment

    I can see how some people like CSMs and other political types might take offense.

    My advice is get a sense of humor or it will get you.

    CSMs usually hate anything that is A) funny but they don’t get B) comfortable and that the troops like to wear.

    But what do I know? I’m just a field grade and a paratrooper.

  80. JSAllison Says:

    Always refer to your local Staff Sergeant Major as Spec/9, although these days, some of them may not pick up on the significance. Wear running shoes while doing so just in case they do.

    And if you happen to see a USAF Chief Master Sergeant in those cute new blue BDUs refer to him/her as Papa/Mama Smurf. Running shoes would be a good idea here, as well.

    And in the golf course competition in the local area here Sheppard AFB’s course loses out to either (or both) of Ft Sill’s courses. The south course is somewhat better and a links-type course without the coast line. The north course winds through woods and up and down hills. The Sheppard course smells of kerosene, not that that’s a bad thing…

  81. Julie Says:

    I thought that the Navy was getting blue BDU’s. The AF got them too?

    I’m surprised. We got the woodland BDU’s so we could all pretend that we ran around in the woods with guns. Blue sort of defeats the purpose of encouraging airman to feel soldierly. It makes sense for the Navy though. As was pointed out on the Navy web site I saw, blue digital camo doesn’t show grease spots.

  82. observer Says:

    I have never served in any of the armed services, although a lot of my family have (and currently do). So I have no direct personal military experience.

    I can’t speak for CSM Teel or Mike Rentner, but I suspect they found the patch offensive because they interpreted the patch the same way I did.

    That is, I interpret the patch as being aimed at the Iraqi people, and not at various state-side (U.S.) civlians, etc. It seems to me to be saying “We Americans are risking our necks to save yours (Iraqi people)”. And the implication, either that the Iraqi people cannot or will not do the work themselves, does not exactly soften this message.

    The only analogy I can think of (and a crappy one at that, so bear with me — it’s late and has been a long day) is this:

    While everyone in your house is asleep, the house catches on fire. The fire spreads significantly before alarms go off and wake people up. Upon opening your bedroom door, you find that the fire has cut you and your wife/husband off from being able to reach the kids, pets, and anyone else in the house. You and your spouse exit out the bedroom window and call the fire department from a neighbor’s house. The fire department rescues the rest of your family and puts out the fire.

    The next day/week/month/whatever, you find out the unit who responded to your call has a joke patch made up for that rescue, saying “risking our lives to save YOUR family’s lives”.

    How would you feel about that? Would it matter that it wasn’t “official fire department issue”, that it couldn’t be worn on their uniforms, etc.?

    I would bet most people would be upset because a) their plight, a serious one (very critical/important to them), was being joked about, and b) they wouldn’t like having their face rubbed in to the fact that they were helpless to save their family at that crucial time.

    These angry people would rightly point out that the fire unit had access to equipment — such as fire-proof suits, oxygen masks, high-pressure water hoses, ladder trucks, etc. — as well as all the training necessary to effectively use them. Not many people have such resources parked outside their home in case of fire…

    I see the Iraqi people in the same situation. The vast majority of them (if not all) did not have access to full body armor, HMMVs, Bradleys, M-1 Abrams tanks, etc., with which to fight Saddam with. Let alone the training to use them effectively.

    I’m not in the least bit against soldiers expressing their viewpoints. Barring classified information, etc., they have the same rights to freedom of speech as any civlian.

    And I don’t even care if they DO make such jokes among themselves. I know that such creativity and expression can have morale boosting effects, among other positive effects.

    But I WOULD expect them to show some discretion regarding knowing when and whom NOT to express such opinions in front of. Like it or not, in all military conflicts there is always an element of politics — “winning the hearts and minds”, “civil-military affairs”, etc.

    And as another commenter pointed out earlier on, this “inside” joke has now been exposed to a MUCH wider audience. It would be naive to expect to be able to publish this information on a high-readership blog, and then NOT expect ANY English-speaking/reading Iraqi civilian to run across it. (As in, not expecting even one such person to run across this information.)

    Imagine what must be running through their heads as they read this, and then interpret it for their non-English reading/speaking fellows. If they interpret this patch the same way I did, then it would be unreasonable to expect that there would be no damage to the U.S./Iraqi citizen relationship, unreasonable to expect no change in how they view the U.S. soldiers around them, etc.

    Anything that undermines the Iraqi population’s trust in our soldiers, or view of our soldiers, undermines the soldiers’ mission(s) — not to mention their ability to accomplish or succeed at these mission(s).

    My two cents, anyway. Take it (or leave it) for what it’s worth.

  83. JSAllison Says:

    Hmmm, on the one hand, we have a group of folk that feel that others should watch what they say, in order, I suppose to not offend.

    On the other hand, I have to place myself in the group that feels this group needs to not be so easily offended. And don’t even start trying to explain why taking offense on behalf of some unknown third party is even worth the time to consider.

    We are the unrecognized, doing the unnecessary, for the ungrateful. And quite well, I might add. 😉

  84. monckywrench Says:

    I must say as an Air Force NCO (1981-present)I find all this maudlin sensitivity nauseating and scornworthy.
    Back in the day we had classics like the unofficial SAC patch with the Robot Hand holding a severed scrotum. It was captioned: To Err Is Human, To Forgive Is Not SAC Policy. It’s a shame the Cold War ever ended…

    BTW, observer, the odds of any of our Hadji (note insensitivity) acquaintances being offended by a patch like that are microscopic. It would require them to choose to connect the caricatures with themselves, and then draw the sequence of far-fetched conclusions in your post after which they would have to choose to be offended. Many Iraqis have been appreciative of US sacrifice, many not, but some things are trivial even in a desperately PC world where people hornily crave reasons to cry and snivel.
    There are plenty of USAF aircrew still wearing “Yankee Air Pirate” patches, so I have hope for the future. 🙂

  85. observer Says:


    Maybe things have changed in the past couple decades, but I was brought up under what I was taught was “military ethics”. One of the critical foundation points being: You pull your own weight or you ain’t sh*t.

    So if someone told me that they were busting their ass to save mine, I’d take direct personal offence at that. Just as I would/do if someone told me at work that I wasn’t working hard enough at my job, or wasn’t doing enough, or wasn’t doing well, etc. I was brought up to bust ass and always provide a positive contribution to the effort (whatever that effort might be), and that’s what I do every day.

    I dunno. Maybe things have changed. Or maybe others (the Iraqi people too?) see things differently, and don’t see things that way.

    (But the vast majority of military and ex-military personnel I have run across to-date share these same ethics and sore points with me. After all, can you honestly say that you wouldn’t take offence if someone said they were busting their ass to save yours, or told you you weren’t doing a good job, etc.?)

    It doesn’t offend *me* in the *least* if you choose to call the Iraqi’s “Hadji”, or “sand niggers”, or “dune coons”, or whatever. Insert whatever epithets you choose.

    But in the end, it really doesn’t matter in the least what *I* think. I’m not the person who has heard about the ambush being setup around the corner for the American forces coming through town tomorrow, or about the car bombing planned for the town square the day after that for when the American medical people are having a clinic in the center of town.

    Honestly, I really don’t care if you take a translator through the towns and personally insult every single Iraqi citizen you run across. It’s not *me*, sitting state-side, that’s going to bear the brunt of their wrath (or more likely, their apathy and decision to not report information they run across, and just let the terrorists have their way).

    I hope you’re right that any locals who run across that patch won’t take the same interpretation as I (and apparently a few others) did. I don’t *want* the mission in Iraq to fail, or a bunch of our soldiers to die needlessly.

    I just believe (and fear) that my take on this is not nearly as “far fetched” as you think it is.

  86. monckywrench Says:

    Someone pointing out that they are busting their ass to save mine is welcome to do so when they are in fact doing it. A bit of old-fashioned in-yer-face military spirit isn’t going to bother any G.I. (most of them) that comes equipped with a sense of humor.
    Most Muslims will never see US troops as “busting their asses” to save anyone but Big Oil, but that is a function of the inherent enimity between Islam and concepts such as personal freedom and secular democracy, not to mention rage at US support for Israel.

  87. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: Julie
    RE: Reality Bites…HARD!

    “Blue sort of defeats the purpose of encouraging airman to feel soldierly.” — Julie

    And people wonder why I tend to think poorly of the AF.

    Maybe they’re thinking of dodging Surface-to-Air Missiles?



  88. Marked Up Says:

    But they are!

    Will Collier over at VodkaPundit posted this patch:
    this patch:
    <img src="http://v

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