31 January 2012


It had been over a year since I last visited the virtual Mess Hall and was not sure if The Butter-Cutter had been replaced by a civilian or some new mechanical wonder. As I approached the Chow Line, my doubts were eliminated.

“Hey, where the f*** ya been? I was beginnin’ ta think them Spear Chuckers had sent ya ta the Sand Box,” The Butter-Cutter shouted out in recognition.

“No such luck,” I answered. “Either my age or retired status is an effective deterrent to that happening.”

“I wouldn’t bet on it. Anyhow, didja see the Marine Corps Times article? They finely figgered out why everybody in the Sand Pile’s been coughin’ so much,” The Butter-Cutter said.

“Yes, I saw the article. It says that researchers ‘have determined that a soldier who deployed to Iraq is now carrying particles of titanium, iron, and copper in his lungs’.”

“Man, that sounds like bad shit . . . havin’ all that metal stuff in the lungs,” he said. “But, where’d it come from?”

“It comes from the dust that covers the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the rest of that part of the world. At least, that is what Captain Mark Lyles found back in 2003 when he was researching the issue,” I said.

“Who’s this captain? Does he know his shit?”

“Well, he is a U.S. Navy captain and scientist at the Naval War College.”

“Ya mean ta tell me them Pentagon Spear Chuckers have known about this shit fer NINE YEARS ‘n’ they ain’t done squat ta protect the troops from it?”

“Well according to a USA Today article of last year, a Pentagon official said that the samples Capt. Lyles collected were not noticeably different from samples collected in the Sahara Desert …”

“What the f*** . . .  if it's ALL f***in' up our lungs, what's the difference?” The Butter-Cutter asked.

“If I may, that same USA Today article quoted Catherine Cahill, associate professor at the  Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska, who began collecting airborne dust for the military with the Army Research Lab in Baghdad in 2008. She said, 'I've done sampling since 1986, and I've never seen anything that bad — not even in China.' Your right about the difference--it's ALL bad!"

“Man, if this shit’s all over the place, how come the Rag Heads ain’t been coughin’?”

“Well it appears they know how to cope with it. First, they use trails and roads rather then going cross-country as the Americans are wont to do--going cross-country tends to stir up the dust. Also, they cover their mouths and noses with a cloth to filter it out. Curiously, during a discussion on this topic at a Roundtable I attend, an attendee by the name of Chuck Myers mentioned that Germans soldiers also experienced this coughing problem in North Africa during WWII,” I explained.

Are ya shittin’ me? This stuff’s been around ferever, the natives got a fix fer it, ‘n’ we the big tech world can’t protect the troops from it?” the Butter-Cutter bemoaned.

“Well, according to Captain Lyles, the first thing DoD could do is issue masks covering the nose and mouth to filter out the dust.”

“That’s all? The fix is a mask!?! Does this mask cost big bucks?”

“He believes there are inexpensive masks on the market that would keep the dust out of our Americans’ lungs.”

“Ya know? This is startin’ ta stink real bad! Vietnam had that Agent Orange, Camp Lejeune got bad water, ‘n’ now we got poison DUST ‘n’ NOBODY'S done, did, doin’ shit 'bout any of it. I think it’s ‘bout time ta grab them Pentagon Spear Chuckers by their pussy faces ‘n’ jam fistfuls o' this dust shit down their mother f***in' throats; force ‘em ta wash it down with a gallon of Camp Lejeune water; spray their miserable naked asses with Agent Orange; 'n' then, dump 'em in TALLEYBANNER country. Maybe that'll get their Pentagon attention 'n' they'll put down them spears ‘n’ do what they're supposed ta do—TAKE CARE OF OUR WELFARE!”

I left the virtual Mess Hall thinking how the poor Butter-Cutter continues to see solutions in the simplest, the crudest, and the silliest of terms. However, if implemented in this case, it would prompt a lot of Marines to cheer.

Semper The Butter-Cutter,

Anthony F. Milavic

Major USMC (Ret.) 


TEN (10) Thinks:
The Butter-Cutter is right on with this one. Problem is I don't see 
how a Politician is going to get much in the way of kick-backs on cheap dust 
masks from K-Marts and Home Depot!
Robin Rebhan
----------------ANOTHER THINK-----
Just between you and me Major...f***en A.

Semper fi,

---------------ANOTHER THINK------

Still the old "If it ain't made in the USA it 
can't be good" The dust masks the Krauts used worked fine for them, so did the 
Brits masks.  Why not use what they had??? Better than nuttin, Right?
 MGySgt Gerard (Gerry) HODUM, USMC (Ret.)

--------------------ANOTHER THINK-----

Major Milavic:

In reading the two articles to which you provide links, I am disheartened that something as simple as a face mask to cover the mouth and nose has not yet been provided to our Service men and women. This is particularly disheartening in view of the billions of dollars we have spent to rebuild Iraq, afghanistan, and to subsidize most other countries in that part of the world. Is this issue being white washed: "Despite the research by Lyles and others, and the documented spikes in respiratory illnesses, Defense Department officials contend there are no health issues associated with the dust." I believe the government said similar things about your examples of Agent Orange and the water at Camp Lejeune. 

Although the Butter Cutter is a figment of your creativity, I saw and heard many Marines I know and knew as I read his comments.

Major, thank you for your loyalty to that which is our Corps--its Marines,

A Disheartened Marine

-----------------ANOTHER THINK------

Met a man about seven or eight years ago who was a full contact karate nut and had recently been to Iraq working for a private security company.
He claimed that a good part of that "dust" was dried and powdered human feces.
Said they all came home with parasites.
H. W. (Bill) Buss
GySgt USMC(Ret)

------------------ANOTHER THINK----

Sadly, the Butter Cutter embraces a faulty assumption; i.e. that most of the Flags and O-5/O-6 Coffee Makers in the Puzzle Palace are as committed as a Marine Company Grade Officer to the fundamental responsilblity for and obligation to the "welfare of the troops". Where in H$ll did he get that idea? After 2+ years in the DC HQMC/Pentagon Circus Arena, I learned the following priorities prevailed:

Rule #1-How do I get Promoted?

Rule #2-How do I get a great job after and because of my military service? and

Rule #3-Who is that cute 2nd Lt. in Procurement?

Note-Welfare of the troops did not appear on the list. Anywhere. Ever.

M. McKeever, MSgt USMC (Ret)

-----------ANOTHER  THINK------

I sent this to my brother who is a contract firefighter in Afghanistan. This is his response:
A good read thanks. Besides the nasty sand and dust I have to contend with the damn burn pit that the Army moved inside the wire because the Afghan village right outside complained of the smoke condition. Our FD and the safety dept plus the site manager have been trying to get it shut down to no avail. It's the Army's and they have final say. Wouldn't be so bad if they put it down wind. On days the smoke banks down and pisses off the Mayor or the Sgt Maj they request us to go put it out. They dug the damn hole right next to the AHA and the firing range. Here's some pics of me on top of one of our tankers putting it out with a 2 1/2 after an explosion last week everyone thought was incoming and everyone went to the bunkers for about 10 min until the soldiers who caused it came clean and they gave the all clear then we were dispatched. Seems some soldiers from the 10th Mountain that's here threw away some ordinance or something that touched off after it started burning. When I arrived a Sgt met me stating that a bunch of NBC suites were thrown away and that's what the explosion was? NBC suites? I don't think so. Notice I'm not wearing any SCBA. All us FF's have a brand new masks and we have brand new Scott bottles but the Army has not bought us any harness's. Life safety will be a big issue if they expect us to make entry into a working tent fire or other structure. SOP is outside operations only. By the way. We call our dept Phoenix, that's what are call signs are, I'm phoenix 426. Apparently our FD compound is built on the old AHA. Story has it a dust off blackhawk was landing to medivac some wounded when the base first opened when it was half the size it is now and the LZ was at the AHA when the dustoff crew dropped some chaff and it lit off the AHA. Needless to say everything burned to the ground. So the mythical Phoenix arose from the ashes to create the FD here. I'm trying to design a FD tee shirt maybe with that on the back with some flames? Still working on it. We were digging some trenches to run internet cables and we kept digging up charred wood so must be some truth to the story. Meanwhile I wear a bandana or a surgical mask when the smoke is hanging around when I'm walking to the defac or gym.
Semper Fi,
Jim Casey
------------------------ANOTHER RESPONSE--------

>>He claimed that a good part of that "dust" was dried and powdered human feces.

In Afghanistan, many of the locals burned animal dung since all the wood had long since been cut down or stripped from the streets and anything else. That's pretty common is many rural areas around the world. Probably not the best for health, though.

- Michael Gatto

-----------------------ANOTHER RESPONSE----------

My thoughts are similar to those of MSgt. McKeever ... in all my experience if the NCO's and Jr. Officers don't raise a stink about it nothing will happen. That also goes for low to mid-level engineers and other technical types. Above those levels no one cares much and even less is done for the benefit of the rank-and-file. Now, I have, in isolated incidents, witnessed GOOD, very squared away Lt. Cols and even a Col or two express concerns for the people under their command but it's not been par for the course. It's always great to see that, BTW.

It's just as well if the people in theater are made aware of the danger and then get out of the way and allow them to take some steps to protect themselves until the people who are supposed to be in charge relocate their craniums and take some appropriate action themselves.
Bruce L. Jones
The Mojave Desert - The Geographic Center of Nowhere

-----------ANOTHER THINK------------


The butter cutter on the dust was shocking. The butter cutter on DoD Spear Chuckers was hilarious.


Bob Moyen

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