Posted by: classyjacksonville | February 23, 2009

Return to Classy Jacksonville

Traveling can always be a fun adventure, whether you are traveling to New Bern for a picnic in a park or returning from the other side of the world. And the greater the distance, the more potential for fun there is. And in true Classy Jacksonville fashion, our favorite organization, the United States Marine Corps, has not failed us with its pleasant charms during my recent return from my middle east book tour. My voyage was nothing less than the supreme pinnacle of relaxation, comfort and fine cuisine.

My journey began in Iraq, where 8 hours prior to our flight we arranged all of our personnel belongings outside the temporary living quarters we had been occupying for the previous week. All our gear was lined up in a neat orderly fashion and a roll call was sent down the line to ensure all members of our merry band of travelers were present. All were and a Gunnery Sergeant of marines went through our formerly occupied quarters to make sure they had not been left in a state of disarray. A few members (we shall call them SEAL Team 6 for their never ending professionalism and undying devotion to duty and perfection) had left their rooms in an unsatisfactory state, and time that had been set aside for us to eat dinner was to be spent helping SEAL team 6 cleaning their room (a task they had been given the entire day to complete).

Whilst we were helping SEAL team 6 cleaning, our beloved Gunnery Sergeant of Marines grew bored or perhaps was looking for a tasty treat (it is not known), and started perusing the dumpster that was adjacent to our quarters. Inside he found, much to his dismay and consternation, a pair of camouflage trousers that had been cut up and a pair of old boots that had been rendered unwearable. After SEAL team 6’s room had been declared clean, our attention was directed to the dumpster by our Gunnery Sergeant of Marines (America’s finest fighting force, oorah) where he proceeded to instruct us. Since the words which proceeded from his mouth are far too priceless not to print here, I shall indulge in reproducing them:

-Daggone devildogs git over to my daggone dippity dumpster. Lookee what we got here daggone devildogs throwing away their daggone cammies in my daggone dippity dumpsters. These daggone uniforms needs to be turned into supply and not thrown away into my daggone dippity dumpsters. Now I want you devildogs to take all the trash out of my daggone dippity dumpster to make sure none of you other devildogs is throwing away uniforms in my daggone dippity dumpsters. Now git in there and get all that daggone trash out of that dippity dumpster.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would be blessed with the opportunity to dumpster dive while still being employed and having a full bank account and completely sober in constitution and not under the influence of 4 bottles of Maneschevitz. However, I was given this once in a lifetime chance that only the more down and out members of our society ever get. Imagine my joy and pleasant surprise dear friends. After this episode was over, we were taken to the airfield, still not being given any food and spent the next several hours waiting for our departure via plane to the desert kingdom of Kuwait.

Our flight to Kuwait was uneventful, our plane’s accommodations was what one would expect on board a military transport, tight, cramped, unsettling. However, I did enjoy the sensation of not only my rear going to sleep during this flight from the seat I was strapped into by race car harness but also of both lower extremities going numb as well. This was quite interesting and I recommend you seeking out a similar experience if given the chance.

Arriving in the middle of the night in Kuwait prevented us from getting any food until the early hours of the morning but we saw things had improved at the base there, a Taco Bell and a Starbucks had both recently opened and the americano I enjoyed at Starbucks was on par with what one would expect at anyone of their United States franchises.

After spending a day in Kuwait, we then went through customs, which although is necessary to prevent the importation of ear necklaces and undocumented firearms and assault rifles, is quite the ordeal. A navy official inspects all of your belongings after you dump them out in front of them, from your issued gear to your dirty underwear. You then must hurriedly repack all the gear and belongings and are escorted to an area called the “Freedom Zone” which is surrounded by a fence topped with barbed wire which you are not permitted to leave until buses arrive to take you to the airfield with your flight.

The flight from Kuwait to the United States was long and interrupted with 3 stops, one in Nuremberg, Germany (where we were not permitted to deplane), Shannon, Ireland where we were allowed to deplane and were each permitted to consume 2 beers and a mix drink, and Bangor, Maine. I am still unsure as to the reason for our stop in Maine and I hope the congressmen who wrote this required stopover into the bill paying for military transport to and from theater got a very nice dinner and money from the Bangor Airport owners.

And then we landed in beautiful eastern North Carolina, and as I disembarked the plane, a biting rush of cold air hit my face, it felt good to be back in the land of freedom and democracy. We loaded onto buses and drove down to Jacksonville and Camp Lejeune, passing the strip malls and small towns, slender pines and murky marshes, to the gate of the base where we found festooned on the fence homemade banners celebrating our triumphant return. We pulled up to our barracks and new home and found a group of excited families, girlfriends, friends and wives, no ticker tape parade like I was expecting, but it felt good to be free again and to step on American soil.

I was assigned a room, but since there was only one room key, I was not given one. I opened the door to my new room and found it in state of confusion and uncleanness. Empty condom wrappers were to be found on the floor, a bag of trash sitting on the floor, black mold in the shower and fast food wrappers in the drawers of the secretary. It felt good to be on Camp Lejeune, good indeed.



  1. Glad you made it home safely- can’t wait to hear more about your take on this wonderful city we live in.

  2. Ahh, I miss the good old days. You describe everything so well too! Brings back such pleasant memories. Oorah! Donny boy, oohrah!

  3. Well said, as usual. Nothing less than expected from such a celebrated writer as yourself. I will get the photos to you for uploadation as soon as possible. Thank you for your recollecting of these experiences for the posterity of those involved. I know I won’t ever forget.

  4. Another awesome one Iron Man. Keep em’ coming devil. And don’t forget to write your local congressman to celebrate the almost unbelievable strive for perfection that can only be found in our beloved Corps.

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