HOW TO BE MARRIED TO A MARINE FIGHTER PILOT--A Marine Corps pilot's wife: F-4s, F/A-18s and aviators from my perspective.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Aviation Brief XVIII: Marine Corps Formal Traditions #2

A pre-cruise dinner at NAS Lemoore evolved into a night to remember in a different way. Two Navy squadrons hosted two Marine squadrons and the other Navy squadrons that were part of CAG-11--Carrier Air Group 11. Meant to be a bonding time for the squadrons who would be sharing the confines of a ship for six months, it was put together as a Navy version of a Mess Night.
 
All had progressed as it should up to the meat course. Then, as someone at the head table spoke at the microphone, a lone roll arced high overhead, followed by a return barrage of rolls, some buttered lavishly. Before long, heavy artillery in the form of fully loaded potatoes launched. By the end of the evening, the rolls and potatoes were the least of it.
 
The El Toro based Marine squadrons saddled up and departed in the squadron jets by ten hundred hours the next morning--aviators breaking the ‘twelve hours from bottle to throttle’ rule.
The Lemoore base CO did not see the damage until early afternoon. He pulled in the CAG-11 CO, who dragged in the A-7 COs, who burned up the phone lines pulling in all their squadron officers. 

The Marines from El Toro did not fly back in to help clean up. Their absence was duly noted.
Shortly afterward an official message arrived at MCAS El Toro addressed to the two Marine squadrons:

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
* U N C L A S S I F I E D*
** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
PT 02 00                        085   1517 06

RT TU ZY UW R HH GG O4 18 0851 M -U UU U- -R UW JG FA 1S
ZNR UU UU U
FM ATKRON TWO SEVEN
TO RUW JG FA/VMFA THREE TWO THREE
RUW JG FA/VMFA FIVE THREE ONE
ZEN/COMLAT WING PAC LE MOORE CA
RUWJGFA/MAG ELEVEN
INFO RUWDVAA/COM CA RA IR WING FOURTEEN
RUWJOHA/ATKRON ONE NINE SIX
RUWOAA/CA RA EW RON ONE ONE THREE
BT
UNCLAS  //NO 17 10//

RETURN DINING ENGAGEMENT
1.    THE OFFICERS OF VA-27 AND VA-97 ACCEPT WITH PLEASURE THE UNSTATED INVITATION FROM SNAKE ONE AND GHOST ONE TO A RETURN DINNER ENGAGEMENT AT THE MCAS EL TORO OFFICERS CLUB.
2.    REQUEST DINNER MENU AS FOLLOWS:
        12 DOZEN LIGHTLY BAKED POTATOES WITH SOUR CREAM
        48 BASKETS OF SOFT ROLLS
        48 ONE LITER CARAFES WINE (CHEAP, RED ONLY)
         4 FIRE EXTINGUISHERS
3. REQUEST FRANGIBLE RESTROOM FIXTURES
4.ANTICIPATE THE REQUIREMENTS OF 8 STEAMOVAC DO-IT-YOURSELF RUG CLEANING UNITS TO BE EMPLOYED AT DISCRETION OF SNAKE ONE/GHOST ONE FOLLOWING FESTIVITIES.
5. VA-27 AND VA-97 SEND

 
The Marine squadrons got the message. The COs of VMFA-531 and VMFA-323 held closed-door sessions with their officers. Significant “voluntary contributions” in the thousands of dollars were extracted and forwarded to NAS Lemoore.

Food fights are a male bonding activity. It’s obvious the guys need the civilizing influence of women who would not have  wanted butter on their evening gown or sour cream in their hair.

We all want to have fun. As a wife the really fun part of being an aviator--flying--wasn’t an option. Darn it. But this party activity would not have been funny to me. The aviator who told me this story thought it hilarious. And it is--the return message by the Lemoore squadrons was a clever and not whiney method of getting the message across. You played--now you pay, or--

Making a mess and not cleaning it up--that is a whole other kind of flight into irresponsibility. I know VMFA-531 jet jockeys thought they had “gotten away with it” by flying off in the morning. But spouses know that “somebody” has to clean up the mess. And too often it is not the one who made the mess who has to scrub the floor and repair what’s broken.

My grown-up self wants to make sure I clean up my own messes. It wants to be the “somebody” who is responsible. Inside of me is my child self that says, “Somebody else will do that, take care of that, comfort them, step up to the plate.”

Which are you? How do we build children who take on the responsibility of being the somebody others need? How do we learn to be our best selves?

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