When I was still at CLR-3, I had a Lance Corporal who was my Chaplain’s Assistant. Lance Corporals make up the majority of the Marine Corps, and while the name sounds like it comes with a certain amount of authority, nothing could be farther from the truth. They outrank Privates and PFCs. That is it. But what I learned from Eremeev (my CA) is that they’ve got a little underground network.
If you really want to know when a mission or exercise is kicking off, don’t bother asking the Commanding Officer. If you get in with the LCpls, you will not only know exactly what time the mission is kicking off, but all the objectives, all the flaws in planning, and any other juicy gossip that might have occurred in or around the planning.
Incidentally, this network can also point you to the LCpl who owns the hard-drive with every major movie and TV show produced in the last 4 years.
Junior guys must pull together. There is something about being the people who actually have to do the work that forces these workers to effectively unionize. The Lance Corporal Mafia gets work done, not through orders but through “drug deals”. They’d better not be selling drugs -- but if you need something done, they will get it done. Just don’t ask how.
All Marines have to read a book called “Letter to Garcia”. If you have 12 minutes, I suggest you pick it up. It will explain the Marine Corps (and also make you queasy). Basically, during the Spanish American War, an officer sends a Marine to courier a message to a Cuban leader named “Garcia”. He gives the Marine no other information, but the Marine will get the job done. And that’s why we won the Spanish American War.
We all know that what really happened is the Marine found a Cuban to give it to his general, and then spent the next 3 days smoking cigars and chasing girls in Havana. BUT the core concept of the book is that the Junior Marines (Lance Corporals) will figure out how to get it done.
In the officer community, there is much the same thing. At 9th ESB, it is called the LPA (Lieutenant Protection Agency); I’ve also heard it called the One Bar Society (this is a little bit more inclusive of the Chief Warrant Officers who could use a little protection). To respond to my father’s thoughts: Yes, officers do work.
The LPA meets every Friday at the Palms for “Catfish Friday”. While I clearly do not eat Catfish, the funny thing is that none of them seem to like Catfish either. I have not seen a single other officer eat the stuff. Nevertheless, the Mac and Cheese is of the highest quality, and the desserts are pretty good.
We talk about all sorts of things. We talk about funny things that we saw Marines do recently and really truly absurdly stupid things that we saw Marines do recently. We talk about the CO and XO, and discuss Lessons Learned in dealing with said higher-ups. We make fun of those know-it-alls with two bars (Captains/me-in-two months).
Everybody needs a place where they don’t have to salute, where they can forget the words “sir” or “ma’am”, where they can call people by their first names. In these societies, the camouflage fades and people become people.