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31 January 2000


The Unflappable Staff Non-Commissioned Officer


Maj. Philip Gold, USMCR(HRet)



This is the absolute truth, exactly as I think I remember it.


3/11, Spring 1973, Camp Pendleton.


    I was the commO -- asst. commO actually, but the real guy was double

hatted as HQ Battery Commander, so I did the work. We had the IG coming

out, a bad situation since 1st MarDiv was still trying to get

reorganized after coming home from Nam and gear accountability was not

up to IG standards; i.e., we could all go to jail. I had an additional

small problem -- a couple hundred classified messages I couldn't account

for. Actually, I knew exactly what had happened to them. I'd shredded

them in preparation for the inspection, but the crypto vault was drafty

and the destruct roster had blown onto the pile and ended up shreddo.

Not the kind of thing likely to impress the inspecting team.


   Fortunately, I had one asset -- Master Sergeant Ted Raskin, an

absolutely unflappable fellow ever since participating in those 1950s

atomic bomb tests. Or maybe it was fighting in Korea, screwing

everything in the far east, and then getting clap from a blonde he met

in an ice cream parlor in Brooklyn upon return. Nor had he been all that

upset when, on a shoot at 29 Palms, his whole platoon had fucked a

cactus. ("We sliced it open first," one of the ringleaders explained).


   Anyway, the day before the IG's arrival, Top Raskin came in smiling

beatifically. "No problem," he assured me. He knew all the inspectors

and exactly what they'd be looking forward -- before he took them out

for an alcoholic lunch at the club. The requirement of interest of the

team was impossible to meet, but not to worry, everything would be fine.


   "What will they be looking for?" asked I.


   But Top just smiled and continued supervising the loading of all our

unauthorized gear onto the six-by that our scuzziest pfc would drive

around the base until the team left.


   Next day, with visions of Leavenworth dancing in my head, the IG team

arrived. Gear inventory? Nah. Crypto check? Nope. OK, guys, what would

you like to see?


     If you recall, the mouthpiece of the old PRC-25 radio handset had a

couple connectors that, upon excessive bouncing about, could come loose,

touch, and short out. There was a TI (Technical Instruction) out,

ordering that the plastic mountings of the connectors be epoxied into

place. But there was no glue in the supply system, and use of private

funds was officially verboten.


     So the inspectors went around, unscrewing mouthpieces. If you

hadn't epoxied the connector mounts, they wanted to know why you'd

violated the order. If you had epoxied them, they wanted to know where

you got the glue.


   Top Raskin said he'd explain it all at the club. I imagine he did.


               As Always, Semper,


                     P.G.