The Warming Wax of Icarus.

“I’m in the waste management business. Everybody immediately assumes you’re mobbed up. It’s a stereotype. And it’s offensive.” –Tony Soprano.

We all of us had each, vastly different yet eerily identical experiences in the military. Each era is immeasurably complex, exotic, alarmingly familiar, and unrelenting, should be clear, yet the fog is where we’re needed, and accidentally or intentionally, we go. Veterans get the random “Thank you for your service” on occasion. I know one guy, who will not be named, nor will any names be ever mentioned in any of my writings if ever an account can ever potentially be perceived as “derogatory” because that’s how we roll.

In the Spring of 2012, I was out with my bro, he was wearing a hoodie with some Veteran type thing on it, it was not an in your face I SERVED type piece of apparel. We were at an event in DC, sometime during or near police week, this day drunk randomly obese middle aged gentleman stumbles up to us talking, cuts right past me, stares at him and pauses. Guy dead pan squints and says “Hey, you serve man?”, my dude (who was going through a hell of a time, at the time) says “Yes Sir”, inebriated fat man replies forcefully: “Thank you for your service BROTHER!!” and sticks out his hand, the other holding a beer, my bro replies “Fuck you” and walks away.

My biggest take away from that was really, man this guy must have diabetes look at that arm, it looked like a sweaty nerf bat. I kid…I kid, but I did think that. I was really more upset that my Bro was upset, he’s right, fuck this guy, bro let’s take a walk and talk together…oh Brother, what happened to you?

How dreadful right!? How obscene! Man tells another man to ‘Fuck off’ on the street, that’s never happened before in America right!? Someone needs to take my bro with his potty mouth back behind the woodshed right?! That is certainly no way for a Gentleman let alone a highly decorated Army Officer to speak to another citizen! Sometimes it is. See what makes it upsetting is we have build expectations into certain people to NOT behave in a certain manner and when they fail us we avalanche judgement so it’s better to enter the ring from that corner without a stool, save nothing to sit down on, save nothing for that swim back.

If ten people witnessed that “incident” in 2012, how many would have passed judgement, instantly, transferring full value instead to the fat man who was disrespected, and how many would ask FAR more critical the question…why… did he say that? Blind hero worship is bullshit, come on, we all know Veterans that are total pieces of shit. Speaking of bullshit, so is interrupting a conversation between two strangers, in public, yet does that deserve so severe a rebuke? No, yet you must understand that the more time one spends at the edge of the realm, the paler he may be. My heart ACHES for Vietnam War Veterans who were treated so poorly upon their return, yet no “Support the Troops” yellow magnet ever did anything for us, at all. We all have roles to play yet a guy working for a year straight, do not call him on his one day off. What you also require is context. Here’s a bit from FX’s Rescue Me:

Tommy Gavin: Shut up! You speak when spoken to. [to the entire upper class]
Tommy Gavin: You pussies better pray you don’t get assigned to my firehouse. Because I have seen it all. I knew sixty men who gave their lives at Ground Zero. Sixty. Four of them from my house. Vito Castella… found him almost whole. Ricky Davis… found him almost whole, hugging a civilian woman. Bobby Vincent… found his head. And my cousin, Jimmy Keefe, my best friend. You know what they found of him? What I was able to bring back and give to his parents? A finger. That’s all. A finger. These four men were better human beings and better firefighters than any of you will ever be.

Firefighting Class Instructor: Say “thank you,” firefighting upper class!
Firefighting Upper Class: Thank you, Firefighter Gavin, Sir!

While I’ve never ever been that brutal unnecessarily in person, personally, to another person, who was most likely genuine and simply being personable. Further, while yes I do not agree with what my bro said, this hulking warrior who I had known then for well over a decade, whom I had spent time in Iraq. While yes we talked about the “incident” many months later, while yes he laments regret for his words and action now, while yes I do not agree with what he did man, I also, totally understand.

You can hate and judge me too. It’s totally ok, free country and all, at least it used to be. What also nearly induces a fucking stroke is the industrial grade hypocrisy and praise artificially administered by the histronic throat diving crowd FAR below the depths of any gag reflex in EXISTENCE & see, DAILY, from many on the social media poser platoon set to select celebrity Veteran personalities until that very person being fake praised calls the fake praising persons the FUCK OUT. He, then becomes by them, himself a Satan before his sunshine friend congregation turned writhing mob of outraged idiots fallen fleshly out of favor by their Celebrity Veteran God of choice.

Somehow, average citizen USA, can do whatever they want to, they can be slovenly butt dumplings yet a Man who spent 20 plus years lets say as a…Delta Operator cannot put on a few pounds after retirement without getting bullshit from fucking idiots on the Internet. True story, and I wont mention the name yet a retired Delta guy made a YouTube video explaining why he ‘got fat’ after retirement because he took heat rounds from total shitheads on the internet. A retired, LEGENDARY FORMER DELTA OPERATOR, TOOK SHIT from AIRSOFT “Enthusiasts” about getting a bit heavy after he retired… ON THE INTERNET. Its like sly rabbits mocking Grizzly bears regarding building blubber for hibernation, either STFU walking talking snack, or get transformed into a flesh woobie. Fuck.

See in open social settings, in person, it’s not ok to act like this. It is NOT ok, most often than not, to be a overt prick to people, let alone random drunk people especially if their most severe offense is relating repetitious gratitude via and arbitrary “Thank you” for serving / your service. My belief stems from a conviction as a Veteran, versus being active duty, the only difference is I’m not being paid to be a Marine Officer anymore. I’m still a Marine Officer, yet I do it for free now, also, I may call the Secretary of the Navy a “fuckhead” now without consequence, well I will not get a Afternoon Tea invitation anytime soon yet who fucking wants to anymore really? Before there would be consequences. This is why I loathe and formidably detest this whole “Dysfunctional Veteran” thing and will echo my bros sentiments to you each of you DV’s, Thank you for your service, but come on guys, Fuck You. Be good stewards, do no harm. Dalton from Roadhouse had rules and they were GREAT RULES. Be nice, be nice…until it’s time to not be nice, do not skip out on instructions one and two. Be nice. There are rules.

I have been recipient of the random “Thanks for your service” thing too. I used to say a quick “Thank you” and tried to bolt as quick as possible when I was a younger buck and had no reason to be thanked for anything, treat 2ndLt’s like shit, always, do not thank them for anything, ever, I’m joking yet your greatest asset and friend in that role is pure humility in full time learning mode. It later evolved to “No sweat” during the deployment era, at one point it devolved into “Yeah sure” in the drenched in the bitterness of existential threat projected undertones, and now because smiling is the best, it’s like my favorite thing now, as I’m ‘all past that’, I say something along the lines of “Oh it was great, yet I thank YOU! It was one long camping trip with my best friends and we got paid to work out and fire guns and stuff, Thank you for paying for it all!” that usually gets a laugh, not a good one, yet a laugh nonetheless and it’s better than that HORRIBLE awkward “super serious” type of rare random “Thank you for your service” thing when they hold your hand a little…too long

The worst, by far, it’s only happened a handful of times, is the unnecessarily long stare / shake/ or hug with tears combo thing. The “Thanker” will begin to display some emotion like this one guy last summer at a Butterfly Garden here in Missouri. I had a Marine Eagle Globe and Anchor sticker on my last 4Runner with the IRQ (Little font: I served) and AFG (Little font: I served) stickers that Operation Homefront used to give out for free, mostly because they’d help getting you out of speeding tickets yet now they stopped offering them for free, so on my new truck I only have an EGA sticker, that’s it. Anyway, this chap walks up as I’m getting my toddler out of her car seat after parking and he goes “Hey Marine! Semper Fi!! Thank you!!” and then holds my hand like a vice grip and starts tearing up. I was touched, genuinely, it struck a chord yet at the same time the internal monologue was rolling quickly on…’Hey man, I’m just trying to get my kid into this fucking Butterfly Garden…she’s like really into Butterflies and if I do not get her into that Butterfly Garden I will have an irritable two-year-old on my hands and we like…NEED IN this fucking Butterfly Garden PARTY right now, thank you for thanking me, thank you, we are thankful, and stuff yet… BUTTERFLY’S motherfucker, she’s already starting to get pissed off that she can see it yet is NOT already behind that screen thing in there WITH those damn Butterfly’s.”

Toddlers act like drunken assholes. I sometimes do too, that’s why we get along I guess. I hope you know I write with heavy swaths of sarcasm I’m really a linebacker sized teddy bear in real life, honest. Everything, is and has mostly always been via life observations that right mix of ‘slightly odd and man that’s offensively funny’ to me. Oh, Butterfly Garden excursion delayer guy, he did not serve, I need to add that point, because I asked him in return after the whole enthusiastic “SEMPER FI” thing who he was with and he just looked at me like I had a dick growing out of my face. It was weird hearing an enthusiastic Semper Fi! Coming from a non-Marine, it was not a big deal, AT ALL, it’s just like, don’t walk into Yankee Stadium wearing Boston colors and not expect to take some shit.

I did not even give him shit, it was just like come on man, I got my kid here, for both our sake, need IN that fucking Butterfly Garden, OK MAN?! I GOT A TODDLER HERE AND SHES DOING THAT KICK THING AND IT FUCKING HURTS I DO NOT EVEN WANT TO BE REMINDED OF THE FUCKING CORPS RIGHT NOW, ENJOY YOUR SATURDAY GUY! HA, hard to explain. Moms and Dads get it. There’s no point being a leader and not using the authority that comes with that. Some decisions are unpleasant, but they are also necessary, and they can only be made by the chief executive so I ripped away from teary eye vice grip guy and my Daughter and I saw those fucking Butterfly’s. The kiddo was deliriously happy, I was watching her play and stare up at the flamboyant flying insects in that tent garden thing full of beautiful Butterfly’s, warm wonder painted on her beautiful face, it was awesome, let’s leave the Corps out of it, and the Cops too, because if you delay me any longer we might be on TV at 5.

On one occasion however that “Awkward Thanker” was me. I met Medal of Honor Recipient Al Lynch, in Chicago in November last year and he was wearing the medal, I actually saluted him indoors ON SITE. (Marines do not salute indoors unless we are under arms) and I got a bit star struck, he probably thought I was a blubbering idiot yet was nice enough to invite me and a bud to lunch with him after my talk at the Museum. Got all stupid on him, he forgave it, thank goodness, grand Gentleman.

Let’s get back to my bro, Mr. Fuck You. Mr. FU had JUST gotten back from a combat deployment to Afghanistan, it was his 8th tour, his 5th Combat Deployment and homie was strung out, not like on heroin or anything, ha, he was simply categorically eradicated of surplus energy. He had lost weight, he was gaunt, fucking stings remembering, it does, “Look at us, look at what they make you give” –Bourne Identity. That type of shit. Mr. FU, well he did not count the Horn of Africa deployments, nor his training deployments to OIF or OEF either as “Combat Deployments”. This is a direct quote “Unless I own my own AOR (Area of Operations) it’s not a combat deployment.”

Cool, he’s wrong, he’ll never admit it, yet there it is, that’s where pride comes in, pride fucking with you, fuck pride, your ass goes down in the fifth. My bro being a Special Forces Officer, he’s been through some proverbial “shit.” Very intense, shorter yet very intense deployment experiences. Bad times in Baghdad, pinned in Paktika, all sorts of nasty stuff. Minor legitimate combat wound, he made it, bell run a few times in both wars, hard landing in training, he’s all sorts of hurt physically and for a year there was in and out of physical therapy for a torn ligament and a laundry list of other things, these guys are like NFL players with their injuries. He had HS football injuries as well and gutted through SFAS/Q course, whole bunch of stuff, hard man! Alright!

My bro had lost two marriages, one ex-wife should probably be in prison for the shit she pulled, he had lost several close friends, he successfully had kicked a covert yet fully prescribed drug problem for pain management, and like me, he was about to leave active duty as he had philosophically divorced himself with our strategic mission or TOTAL LACK OF IT in the entire CENTCOM AOR. “Dude none of it apparently provided an iota of tangible returns.” That’s a shitty feeling, I’ve felt it. He had almost lost custody of his son after an incident in which the child was screaming at such a level my bro in his words “just snapped” because the tone of the child screaming was actually hurting him. Injuries often complicate or inflame other…injuries and the tonal pierce of his sons’ playful screaming caused him to grab him and shake the kid to stop, which only made it worse, and so did the judge when ex-wife sent her lawyer after him during the divorce. Because Mom was a total criminal, not even joking, he still has custody. I’m not excusing what he did, not at all, I have hearing loss too, yet it only means I can hear less bullshit. The good news is his son was not injured, yet he could have been, as my dude is the size of fucking Megatron, yet he credits his own self-realization at that moment to stop drinking, to slowly get off the pills, and to stop sneaking bumps of coke where he was offered. Coke is the drug of choice for many elite communities. Active Duty and Veterans alike, believe it. Not like that though, personally I have never done Cocaine, true story.

Mr. Fuck You was a straight edge, no drugs, no booze, straight A student. He was an Eagle Scout (incredible accomplishment), he was the Captain of his HS Football Team and Debate team, Mr. America, he was like Steve Stifler’s ultra-benevolent twin brother. We both graduated HS in different states in 2000 and we both received 4year ROTC Scholarships to College. When I first met him he was just like the rest of us, nothing, a kid, enthralled by the romanticized view before us all. Mr. FU was that heart of gold, rarely profane, honest, genuine, and honorable, normal, local boy grew up did good American kid. Never had a bad word to say about anyone, church goer matter of fact, on campus most Sunday, no one ever had a bad word to say about him. White Knight incarnate, no and not the weak minded sad sack idiots who blindly stick up for promiscuous women who take cleavage selfies attached to fake Marilyn Monroe quotes on Facebook type of ‘White Knight’, he was simply that one dude you root to win the prized joust, courteous to even the most despicable rapscallions!

12 years later he’s telling a stranger to fuck off for thanking him for his service, divorced, 2nd marriage going down the tubes, he’s lost many friends, he’s in mental and emotional agony and trying to kick a habit to prescription pain killers to boot.

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So what exactly happened? He became hyperactive in self-critical analysis shortly thereafter the actual incident. He beat himself up HUGE for how far he had self admittedly “fallen”, and for being so brutish to drunken fat man because that was wholly out of character, we were having drinks, it happened, and then we drank more, more bros showed up, nice afternoon. We ended the night in Old Town Alexandria, unsure how we did not get locked up that night, nothing happened, no fighting with anyone, yet no one wants to hear two guys singing ‘Karma Chameleon’ at 3AM. So what the hell, fucking happened?

Single source explanations are lazy, at best, like when people say bullshit like “Bush did 9/11” or the older far more obnoxious “No Blood for Oil”, blood IS oil, well it’s a concentrated mix of hydrocarbons yet a lot of what used to be blood, of living creatures is in there like vegetation and dinosaurs, yet I digress. Sort of like when I occasionally read these JAMA periodicals or Psychiatric publications or newspaper / internet articles of ‘Respected Psychiatrist Doctor Cube Dwellerstudyson of ‘That whole Yale Thing’s School of Binary Fuck Logic doing smug psychological profiles of controversial long dead historical figures. I’ve always been like, well who profiled you, motherfucker? You dig? Read this GREAT psychoanalytical piece on Ernest Hemingway recently and Dr. Cube Dwellerstudyson reduced him to “narcissistic drunk with a TBI”, thanks, dick.

All great writers are narcissistic drunks with brain injuries, everyone knows that, really knocked that one out of the park chief, time for a promotion I guess. Took this guy months and months reading every word ever written by and about Hemingway, and an entire life gets distilled into an elaborate PDF ending with “Narcissistic – borderline personality disorder, alcohol dependence disorder & traumatic brain injury”. It’s not that I disagree with him it’s simply, well you could have texted me for that answer. I would not have demanded a six-month delay …. WITH PAY too, and who fucking asked you anyway?

Let’s get back down to brass tacks. The problem with my bro is not his problem, I mean it IS his problem and he owned it. He is simply a noble chess piece passive change agent and there is nothing wrong with that, it’s not often the chess piece’s fault, yet from the perspective of the piece, it’s a better day when you are not beneath a player who isn’t dripping blood from his nose on the board. The problem was, what I was witnessing, and my bro is no different from others, at all, is the interruption of HIS personal strategic vision molested by forces far too severe in mass to even identify let alone combat. The quick sand theory, that tiny vine defeats your strength and skill to get yourself up and out, some see a vine and tug on it, others grab by mistake a snake, choose wisely. Icarus, Son destroyed by the Sun.

I talk about this often as it’s critical I communicate this as much as fucking possible before my black little heart stops beating one day: Gross ineptitude, within critical nodes of national civil, commercial and military leadership in most nations, is a deeply ENTRENCHED, alarmingly aggressive, insatiably ravenous, virtually incurable epidemic, and I believe, sadly, it’s always been this way. In future posts I’m going to talk about the 24 months flanking the date of 11 September, 2001 as that story REMAINS UNFINISHED. We will discuss and autopsy it all. At least now we are spared dealings with duplicitous drink swilling jargon-laden inbred feudal executives. I take that all back, I’ve been to some places that are hot and sandy and you look at cousins, looking at each other, and you are like, this would be Appalachia if it were not for the multiple Lamborghinis parked outside… man this guy is an ugly idiot billionaire first cousin fucker who has more jets than the Germans started wars and I still need to pay my monthly AMEX bill when I get back to the hotel we’re staying at, which he probably owns.

“I and the public know what all schoolchildren learn, those to whom evil is done, do evil in return.”
– W.H. Auden.

American Hero saying “Fuck You” to John Q. Public on the street thanking him, that was a watershed. We need far less of that, not the men, yet that mechanism of metastasis. You keep up with those you give a shit about, I give a shit about Mr. Fuck You, I’m not mad at him, quite the opposite. I simply want less Mr. Fuck You’s and more opportunities to not have to thank people for honorably attending far too many deployments in wars without fucking end. We kept up with each other via email and phone calls, text, finally now on social media in between times we can actually see each other, because we care about each other. Like mostly everyone else and everyone else I know who is from similar backgrounds, we give a shit about each other, huge, unless you get it, you don’t get it.

Mr. Fuck you should have perhaps, like many others, including me, stopped when he was way ahead and blatantly told that tug of whatever it was that kept us going back year after year a nice fat “Fuck You” rather than keep feeding whatever it was with whatever we fed it with. Yet where do you gauge when you are ‘ahead’, there are folks with over ten deployments now who still feel like they did not give enough, that is fucking OBSCENE. Either way, in the end, I’m not sure what is worse, the lack of legitimate target to point a quivering angry little finger at, or being in a situation where you have to point a quivering angry little finger at anything else other than that man in the fucking mirror. Higher the flight, far harder the fall, minds guide a players’ hands and lead pawns to pieces, yet it is the Queen who kills first & lastly with regards to our American sons named Icarus and the warming of wax;

“Never regret thy fall,
O Icarus of the fearless flight
For the greatest tragedy of them all
Is never to feel the burning light.”
-Oscar Wilde.

-EGK

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eric

eric

Eric graduated with honors in 2004 from the The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA. He was then commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps the same year, completed multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Counterintelligence / Human Source Intelligence Officer and later as a Case Officer and Active Duty Special Agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Eric honorably discharged as a Captain after 8 years’ service in 2012.

3 comments

  1. I think many people have a sense of guilt. Guilt because of the way Vietnam vets were treated upon returning from a place many didn’t want to be in the first place. Now these people, are in a way apologizing to those vets, by thanking the current vets. Personally, I feel uncomfortable when somebody thanks me for my service. SF Bro.

  2. I learned a lesson about beaurocracies a long time ago. The easiest way to get rid of an asshole is to make him look good and get him promoted. As long as it is difficult to remove the incompetent the incompetent will rise to the top.

    It is highly curable. Make every single person responsible for their personal value or get out, like the civilian world does, and the problem cures itself. Results are results. Intentions are not results.

  3. I totally understand the feeling some of us get about those that say “Thank You for Your Service” after just getting out and being in the Army and entering a competitive job market almost all interviews are “Thank You for Your Service” I got it but just once I want to say then give m the damn job just being sarcastic nothing is for free. I am one who doesn’t expect and find it unworthy for me there are always others who did more and who are not here to thank. So I can relate.

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