So there it is. On the front page of the Marine Corps Times, there laid an article indicating that the Marine Corps was seeking to end the feud between Grunts and POGs. Specifically, there was the discussion that Grunts should quit referring to non-infantry Marines as POGs. Now, for all you non-military types reading the blog, of which there are many and you are very welcome here at Unprecedented Mediocrity, POG basically stands for Persons other than Grunts. If I’m being completely honest, the P in POG is more often than not used to represent another P word that is a little bit dirty and more insulting. I’ll opt not to type it here since this is a clean-ish type blog. But I’ll let your imagination fill in the gaps. Well, as a Marine Grunt myself, let me go ahead and weigh in on this debate with the following post.
Full disclosure about me if you don’t know already, I am indeed an 0311 infantryman, aka Grunt. I served in Iraq in 2003 with the 3rd Battalion 23rd Marines. Double full-disclosure, I was also a Reservist. That’s right. So in the world of the Marine Corps, us reservists are not immune to jokes, harassment, and general witty banter that is characteristic of the Marine Corps. In fact, my older brother was actually an active duty grunt in the pre 9-11 era. So of course, being the younger brother/reservist of the two, I heard plenty of jokes about my weekend warrior status. Look, some of it is fair. The Reserves are a legit part of the Marine Corps, but it is just not plausible that Marines who then train on weekends and summers would be as proficient or disciplined as those who do it on active duty year round. It makes perfect sense. However, when called upon, my unit was there and when the enemy fired at us, we fired back. That was our policy.
Consequently, regarding the jokes or insults I got as a reservist, I never cared. The first reason I never cared was that there was some honesty behind the idea that fellow grunts who practiced proficiency all year round were bound to be a little bit more skilled than my college bound self. Second, I never cared because I am a grown man. That’s right. I am a grown man and I don’t need people to take up for my poor reservist hurt feelings. See where I am going with this POGs? Lastly, I never cared because in the end, I still got to go to War. I am thankful for my War experience. My older active duty grunt brother never got the chance to go to war. He hates it, I love it, and Thanksgiving has been more fun ever since.
Look, the truth is, the Marine Corps needs POGs and I do have respect for that. In Iraq in 2003, myself and another Marine were driving around the air field in Al Kut when we had to stop and get some fuel. So we swing by the fuel depot that was this big swimming pool looking bladder manned by two POGs. They looked miserable. They were covered in black soot with just a small tent to cover them. That was their war. No cool battle stories. Just gas. Somewhat depressing, but It’s necessary. I get it, I really do and I respect it.
In fact, back in 2003, getting the chance to step out on patrol with the infantry was a currency of sorts. I can remember my platoon leadership working out deals with POGs to get some absurdly limited supplies. What does the Infantry have to offer POGs? A little time outside the wire. So on a couple of occasions, we patrolled with some POGs and made their day. But I didn’t see them complaining when they got to go back to the airfield and sleep on a cot when me and my platoon were heading back to our concrete floor in the slums of the city. But truth be told, we all play our roles. Grunts are Grunts and POGs are POGs.
However, here is the truth that all those who scream that the Grunt versus POG beef should end are missing. The Marine Corps should glorify the Infantry. It’s who we are and always will be. Why shouldn’t we glorify the infantry? The Air Force glorifies it’s pilots, the Navy glorifies it’s Ship Captains, and the Coast Guard glorifies, well to be honest, I’m not sure what the Coast Guard glorifies. There is now and should always be a certain amount of reverence for the Grunts that comprise the Marine Corps. Do you think future Marines are going to want to embrace the suck that is grunt life because the benefits are good? May it never be. Marines become Grunts because they want to be Grunts and all the misery that comes with it while hoping one day to go to combat. And if one of the few joys they get is the opportunity to call non-infantry POGs, then so be it. Let’s face this truth. If your are an admin Marine somewhere, the only reason your title of Marine has any bad assery associated with it is because of the Grunts.
POGs should be cool with this and to be honest, I think most are as they knew what they were signing up for. Because let’s be honest. Nothing makes you sound more like a POG than complaining about being called a POG. The Military is a grown man’s world, yes ladies too. However, a military so sensitive about being called a name, sounds like a military that’s going to get it’s butt kicked in combat. So may we all maintain the toughness and fortitude that makes us who we are, whether that be Grunt or POG.
There is currently an Army commercial going around right now where a Drill Sergeant is yelling at his Army recruits and asks a particular recruit why he joined the Army. The recruit responds with, “To be a graphic designer.” The Drill Sergeant then repeats what the recruit said and yells, “Outstanding.” The recruit smiles. To which I say to all of that, no, just no. Look, sleeping for 2 hours a day, kicking in explosive laden doors, and going room to room gifting violence to the enemy is outstanding. Graphically designing the newsletter that reported all that is, well, acceptable. And that’s the way it should be. Every Marine is a Marine and earned the title. Marines will stick up for other Marines regardless of MOS. But we will still make fun of each other because that’s how Marines do it. If you can’t take that, then sign up to be a Grunt and try your hand at that because a POG by any other name, is still a POG.
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