Updated: May 24, 2020
After finishing TBS and MotorT school, in September, 1980, I reported for duty at Camp Schwab, Okinawa, home to The Magnificent Bastards, 2nd Bn, 4th Marines. My Bn CO, LtCol ME ”Doc” Smith (who I still keep in touch with today), advised me that he had relieved my predecessor for cause. He also advised me that I would likely need to do whatever was necessary to correct the situation.
Appreciate the time period. Serving in a Post-Vietnam military was not a really great place to be. Drug and alcohol problems ran rampant. Our gear/equipment was old, tired and worn out. Leadership challenges were endless, especially considering we were also in a place that was 11,000 miles from anything that made a bit of difference… oh, and on my 4th day on Oki, we braced for a hellacious typhoon that blew through, as well.
About 10 days after taking charge of the 2/4 Motor Pool, I had a good handle on who my Marines were. I had inherited a SSgt Motor T Chief that was as useless as tits on a bull. Another Sergeant was destined to rise to unparalleled levels of mediocrity. I did, however, recognize that a stronger Corporal, who was serving as the Maintenance Chief, was a hard-nosed Marine, and knew the inside skinny on the non-rates. I trusted his judgment and agreed with his assessments as to who the problem children were.
At about this same point, I also experienced my first mid-month “payday drunk-fest," where most of the troops would regularly get blistered at the Henoko bars in the several days immediately following the 15th and 30th. One of my less-than-stellar achievers, LCpl “Belligerent,” was particularly hung-over on the 16 Sept post-payday morning, was confrontational beyond belief, and a 9.5 on the “DISREPECTFUL SCALE.”
I “invited” him outside of the maintenance bays, and around the corner, for a much more private and intimate counseling session, knowing full well that this was not going to be a Dr. Joyce Brothers Touchy -Feely- Kum -Bay- Ah- moment.
I then found myself having collegiate football flashbacks. I performed a 15 yard penalty-worthy “horse-collar grab & drag” on the incredibly less belligerent LCpl that would have made Hall of Famer Bob Lilly proud. I then followed this move, in a moment of semi-controlled rage, with something that could only be described as “a human catapult.” After leaving part of his body imprint in the CMU block wall, I greeted the re-bounding LCpl with the old linebacker “Shed- The- Blocker” drill, with numerous stiff-arm/forearm blows, delivered at the cyclic rate of fire.
It became apparent to me that LCpl Belligerent was reaching a saturation point with this type of intense counseling, so I allowed him to compose himself while in the horizontal fetal position on the already scorching hot blacktop. I went back into the maintenance shop and suggested to a few mechanics they might want to help out the LCpl.
As I reflect back, I take comfort in the fact that I provided a valuable and realistic 1st Aid training scenario for some select members of the MotorT platoon that day. I also took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of good housekeeping in the Motor Pool area, so that “tripping hazards,” like that which befell the misguided LCpl, would be mitigated.
As far as a formal proclamation that there was a new sheriff in town, none was really required. More often than not, actions speak louder than words. My very lame SSgt MotorT Chief disappeared with a “bad back” for the next 3 weeks until he PCS’d back home. Good riddance.
It was especially rewarding for me to have this platoon turn around and perform admirably in a major exercise in the Philippines about 10 weeks later. As for LCpl Belligerent, he survived the next 5 months without further ‘’tripping’’ incidents. He was amazed that I allowed him to make the deployment to the PI. He was able to chase beauties in Subic Bay instead of sitting at Camp Schwab as a liberty-risk-leave-behind. Fact is, I needed every swinging Richard we had, as we were severely under-manned. He also knew I would choke him within an inch of his life if he even came close to screwing up.
No great surprise in all of this, was that after this incident, the rank-and-file attitudes changed immediately… and for the better. I’ve always believed that the young Marines that we led responded positively to something that closely resembled the image of what THEY envisioned their platoon leaders to be. Apparently I did just that.
Hell, I was just trying to keep from getting my own butt torn up. I am proud that my hard-nosed Corporal made meritorious Sergeant less than five months later… and there are more stories for another day.
Mark Frampton is a Retired Reserve Colonel of 30+ years with multiple deployments to the Middle East. Served as Base Commander at Camp "TQ" (Al Taqaddum, IZ) during 1st "General Election" in Iraq in over 25 years.
Graduate Civil Engineer; Owned/Operated Frampton Construction in upstate NY contracting multi-million dollar bridge, road, and utility projects for 22 years. Mark currently works as an independent consultant in the Heavy Highway industry, with concentrations in municipal catastrophe relief.
Mark invented, patented, designed, and developed for production a softball pitching training aid called "The Pitchers' Plank" with his collegiate All-Star pitcher daughter. Also, nationally certified instructor with Mike Epstein Hitting and produced 4 collegiate All-Americans.
Printed with Mark’s permission.