You enter a dark hallway that reeks of discount smokes, burnt shrimp flavored Ramen, and broken dreams. In your hand you grasp a crumpled piece of paper inscribed with 'Johnny. 187.' You were told this guy was the absolute best- knowledgeable, gifted, some even referring to him as 'The Oracle'. Stepping over a rogue crusty green sock on the floor, you begin to make your way into the haze, your future hanging in the wings, desperate for a way out. As you walk down the dingy hall a naked guy on a skateboard clutching a fifth suddenly rounds the corner behind you. Startled, you move up against the wall as he zips past. 'Watch it, Bergdahl' he mumbles as he takes a pull off the bottle and disappears into the hazy darkness ahead. This place is shady. You'd been warned as much, but you had to be inside to truly understand what they meant. The light in the candy machine by the leaky drinking fountain flickers, a closer look revealing someone has carved 'Beware the Weenie' in the glass. Somebody screams. You walk past 162 and notice the heavy smell of Febreeze and corner of a towel sticking out from beneath the door. 174 is blaring someone's war-inspired demo tape, and whatever is going on in 178 may, or may not, involve a Parakeet. This place has health and welfare written all over it. Finally, you arrive at room 187 and raise your hand to knock, but before you can the door seems to open on its own. 'I've been expecting you' a deep gravelly voice says from the darkness, 'come in'.
Inside, the small room is lit only by a tiny beam of sunlight penetrating from between the drawn fire-retardant curtains. 'Have a seat' the mysterious figure says as he motions to the lumpy green duffel bag laying in front of his desk. 'My name's Johnny, Johnny Cochran. How can I be of service today?' Seeing no other option, you take an uncomfortable seat on what feels like a pro mask that has been stuffed inside the bag. 'Johnny...Cochran?' you ask, 'seriously?'. 'You want to see my enlistment papers?' he replies. Glancing up at the uniform hanging from the open door of the disheveled wall locker next to you, you notice his nametape reads 'Cochran', and further below it you can make out the edge of some mosquito wings protruding from the folds. 'Nah, that won't be necessary' you tell him, suddenly regretting you came.
'What brings you in today?' he asks as you struggle to get the filter canister out from beneath your crack. 'I messed up' you reply. Smiling, he says 'Take a look around you, we all 'messed up', Son. What exactly did you do?'. 'I reenlisted' you tell him as the smile quickly dissolves from his face. 'Retention got me an hour after my girl called to say she was leaving me for man-bun down at 'Whole Latte Love' back home. I was weak. I wasn't thinking straight! You gotta help me'. Leaning back in his chair, Johnny clasps his hands behind his head, exhales, looks up at the ceiling and asks 'how many'd he get you for?'. 'Three' you reply. Taking a dramatic pause, he lets the situation marinate in his head, finally stating: ‘It’s worse than I thought, but I think I can help you out'. Intrigued, you lean forward on your pro-mask.
'There's a little-known stipulation in Army Regulation 601-280 covering retention regarding the validity of signatures made under duress should the signee be able to prove such conditions were present at the time of his or her signing'. 'I'm listening' you say. Continuing, he states: 'you are in a race against the clock here, that paperwork is already on its way up to personnel for processing, so time is of the essence. What you need to do is call your First Sergeant at home as soon as you leave here and tell him that you made a mistake and would like to cancel your contract'. 'On a Saturday?' you ask. 'Heck yeah on a Saturday! Do you want to do 3 more years? You know they're short personnel down at Polk, right? Have you ever been to Polk? Mosquito is the state bird down there!'. Sitting back on the bag and ignoring the popping sound you hear from whatever just gave way inside you ponder what The Oracle has just told you. 'I hate mosquitos.' you say. Rising to his feet, Johnny reaches out and puts his hand on your shoulder, looks into your eyes with the type of concern reserved for sitcom dads and says gently 'Call Top, he'll understand'. 'You're right!' you exclaim as you jump to your feet, reenergized with the power of a thousand Ripits, 'First Sergeant IS cool! You're a freakin' genius Cochran! How do you know all this stuff anyways? You in legal or something??'. 'Nah, I'm supply' he replies with a toothy grin as he leads you to the door, 'but I am also a graduate the Barracks School of Law, and you are going to be alllllright'.
Somewhere beyond the rolling hills you hear the rumble of thunder as a storm approaches the training area. 'If it ain't rainin', we ain't trainin! Hoooooaaaah?!' McNeil yells from his turret. ‘Shut the f up, Donnie!' someone echoes back. You look up at SPC McNeil, his Ranger Beads, and his cheesy little in-regs 'stache and think to yourself 'this jabrone has SMA written all over him'.Shaking your head in amazement you return your focus to the task at hand, chow. Using your blade, you carefully slice open your MRE and eagerly thrust your hand deep inside. Using nothing more than your sense of touch, your fingers navigate their way around the crackers, past the refried beans, and down to the Holy Grail of all MRE goodness.Clutching the small tube of squishy processed gold in your hand, your rip your arm out of the bag and thrust your fist to the air like an Ancient Greek presenting his infant son to the Heavens. 'Yaaaaaassssssssss' you bellow proudly as the now-falling rain begins to ricochet off of your raised pouch of Jalapeño Cheese Spread. In the distance a bolt of lightning snaps to the ground, the thunderous boom surely a nod of approval from the Gods. All around you the eyes of the less-fortunate and their sad, sad pouches of plain cheese spread glass over as they seethe with envy, knowing they are not the chosen ones. As you lower your arm and begin to map out your plans for the gourmet feast that will surely follow, the first of many desperate souls approaches, trade offering in hand.Hamrick from 2nd platoon kneels at your feet, eyes down, and raises his offering: Chocolate Peanut Butter. 'Do push-ups my Son' you reply, flicking your wrist to motion the next man forward. Jones from HQ approaches, kneels, and raises 2 Rip-Its, a Ranger Bar, and $38 in AAFES POGs. 'Time for a 100%...cause you're obviously on the rock, Jones' you reply as he scurries back to the commo truck. Next, Anderson from first approaches, looks you dead in the eyes and says 'I'll su-' 'Silence!' you raise your hand to his face, turning to address the rest of the crowd assembling: 'there will be NO trades for my Jalapeño Cheese Spread, not today, not tomorrow, not ever! For Jalapeño Cheese Spread is not something to be cast aside, sold down the river for promises of finer goods or special favors....no, my friends.....Jalapeño Cheese Spread is Life.
When I came down on orders to PCS to Schweinfurt, Germany I was pretty stoked. I had never been to Europe before, and all of the guys in my unit that had spent time overseas were quick to tell me how awesome it was. The food. The travel. 'You will love it' they said, and they were right. But there was one thing that they forgot to mention, AFN Europe.
Ah, the Armed Forces Network, the only cable television service available for those unfortunate souls stuck in the barracks overseas. On the one hand it's free, but nothing in life is really ever 'free', so it does come with a cost: AFN commercials.
If you've never seen an AFN produced commercial I would best describe them as a cross between 70's porn (don't lie, you know you've seen it) and a middle school play. None of them are actually selling any products, they are mostly PSA's for things you should and should not do while stationed overseas, for example:
Do: make sure the dishwasher is full before running it. Do not: leave your spit bottles laying around at a party for someone to accidentally drink (yes, this is an actual AFN spot, they spent real money on it).
So without wasting anymore time passing judgement on the production quality (or lack thereof) of the fine folks at the Armed Forces Network I'll let you be the judge. Whether you are a first timer or about to go on a nostalgic walk down memory lane I hope you enjoy this selection of my top-5 best AFN commercials....
5. Hercules Power of Attorney
4. Chicken Knows Best
3. Bird Flu
2. Baaaaam, I'm a styrofoam cup, yo!
1. Squeakers the OPSEC Hamster
You rip at the warm pouch of Chili Mac with your teeth like the King of the Jungle tearing into an out-of-shape, fat-body gazelle. Blood streams from the corner of your mouth as the industrial grade packaging finally gives way to the goodness inside. You plop down on the ground and lean up against a tire to enjoy your kill, wishing you were anywhere but here. But hey it could be worse, MRE scars fade, you have half a pack of Pines in your pocket, and you didn't end up with the Veggie Omelette like Steinhaus. Nope, this deployment is coming to an end, and in a few short weeks you will be back home, rocking your new criminally-soft, made in the USA 'Rock or Something' tee from Inkfidel while enjoying an ice-cold soda pop. Things could be a whole lot worse.
You open the door and a fly immediately lands on your left cheek. You don't even bother swatting, it's been 9 months now and you could care less. You inhale one last gulp of clean air and step into the 105 degree box.
You set your baby wipes and magazine on the tiny shelf and look down at the muddy sandal prints framing either side of the seat. Squatters. You do your best to sanitize the area, clear the cliffhangers, and settle in for your morning glory. Beads of sweat roll down your face as you thumb through the tattered and abused pages of the platoon Maxim. 'No, no, maybe, no, hellllooooo beautiful' you mumble as you start to make your move.
You are barely 20 seconds into 'reading' when somewhere off in the distance you hear a muffled boom. Perking up, you conduct a short halt, listening carefully, and then it happens. The round impacts just outside the motor pool, not 80 meters from your pleasure palace. Your first instinct is make a dash for the bunker, but you don't. This is your chance. The coveted Combat Jack, it's what separates the men from the boys, and by God, you are getting yours today.
As the shells rain down it's hard to tell what's beating faster, your heart or your fist. Even the flies take cover as you race towards the finish, you've never felt so alive. As quickly as it began, the barrage comes to an end as both you and the insurgents are mission complete.
Proudly, you step out of into the bright sun, puffing your chest as you strut back to the B-Hut, Maxim tucked neatly under your arm. Yes, you are now a card carrying member of Combat Jack's Gentleman's Club. We meet on Tuesdays for punch and pie....
You wipe a spot of mustard from your chin as you choke down another bite of your soggy FRG hot dog. A few feet away a gaggle of Privates are engaged in an epic battle of cornhole, and just like at the range, none of them can hit the broad side of an MRAP. 'Jesus, they're wearing their issued boots.'To your left the wives are smiling and making sure the Joe's know that everybody gets one of Becky's chocolate chip cookies, but only one. As you look at your watch for the 7th time, you notice the ketchup that has soiled the front of your impossibly-soft Inkfidel MandoFun tee. You conduct a quick check of your five's and twenty-fives, use your finger to lift the offending condiment from your shirt and lick the tomatoey goodness off.Publicly, 1SG scolded you for wearing this shirt. Privately, he asked where he could buy one. You and he both know the same thing: Funishment happens in and out of the military, but as long as you have your trusty Mandatory Fun Shirt from Inkfidel, you will be alright.
Inkfidel, which offers military lifestyle apparel, was recently selected to join the Google Trusted Stores program. To help shoppers identify online merchants that offer a great shopping experience, the Google Trusted Store badge is awarded to e-commerce sites that demonstrate a track record of on-time shipping and excellent customer service. When visiting the Inkfidel.com website, shoppers will see a Google Trusted Store badge and can click on it for more information.
As an added benefit, when a shopper makes a purchase at a Google Trusted Store, they have the option to select free purchase protection from Google. Then in the unlikely event of an issue with their purchase, they can request Google’s help, and Google will work with Inkfidel and the customer to address the issue. As part of this, Google offers up to $1,000 lifetime purchase protection for eligible purchases.
Google Trusted Stores is entirely free, both for shoppers and for online stores. The program helps online stores like Inkfidel attract new customers, increase sales and differentiate themselves by showing off their excellent service via the badge on their websites.
"Mr. E" (mystery), "Meals Rejected by Everyone", "Meals, Rarely Edible", "Meals Rejected by the Enemy", and of course, the world-famous 'Four Fingers of Death"
No matter what you called MREs, we all had our favorites (Chili-Mac) and the ones we wouldn't feed to a mangy Iraqi dog (Veggie Omelette). I decided that it was high-time I dove into the history of the chow we all loved to hate to find out a little more about these fine delicacies.
I hope you enjoy this collection of useless information while waiting for final formation or during an extended trip to the head (that's a 'bathroom' for all of you that have been out a long time....like me)
MREs are designed to withstand parachute drops from 1,250 feet and non-parachute drops of 100 feet. (Especially the least popular ones)
The FRH will heat the entree of an MRE by raising the temperature of the 8-ounce entree by 100 F in 12 minutes.
Your Tabasco sauce may be used as a gargle for sore throats.
Use a pinch of instant tea from your MRE and apply it to your gums to help eliminate canker sores. (Note: instant tea is ineffective against whatever you caught from Misty at the club last Friday)
During Operation Desert Storm many U.S. Forces ate MREs for 60+ days straight. (That sucks.)
(via Survival Gear Source)
Pot Luck Pie
1 pouch Beef Stew
½ packet Cheese Spread
4 dashes Hot Sauce (optional)
½ pack Crackers (crumbled)
Heat Beef Stew and Cheese Spread in heater
Combine Stew, Cheese Spread, Hot Sauce and top with crumpled crackers to taste.
1 pouch heated Beef Enchiladas
1 packet Cheese Spread (heated)
4 ounces heated water (1/6 canteen cup)
Hot Sauce to taste
Slice Beef Enchiladas into small pieces
Add cheese spread, water and hot sauce. Mix well while humming the Hat Dance.
MRE Pound Cake
1 Package of MRE Crackers
1 Pack of dairy creamer
1 Pack of cocoa mix
1 Pack of MRE Sugar
1 Water and a canteen cup with a spoon to mix
1 Book of matches
In the canteen cup mix cocoa powder, dairy creamer, pack of sugar, and some water. Adjust thickness of the icing by adding more or less of the cocoa mix. Mix them all together.
Add icing to the top of the poundcake and enjoy the hell out of it.
You will need to cut some deals to acquire all of the ingredients needed:
With the package unopened, pulverize the crackers. Peel open the package of crackers about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from edge and tear straight across; this will become the top of the preparation. Pull open the sides of the crackers package such that with the opening on top you have a makeshift cup. Now add the peanut butter then a little water. Stir the crackers in to give it a crunchy pudding consistency. Add the sugar, hot cocoa, and coffee to give it the taste. Add more water if needed, my personal preference was to fill it about 3/4 of the way up with water after adding the entire peanut butter package.
For more delicious MRE recipes please visit: http://www.survivalgearsource.com/mre_recipes.html