(The lighter side)
By Lloyd Reynolds © 2005


     Well we’ve all stood them everything from the standard Personnel Inspection to Major Inspector General types. Most of them are a pain in the ass, some are necessary, some serve a purpose and some are just for busy work. Usually the higher the rank of the Inspecting Officer the easier the Inspection. It’s all the pre-inspections that are a pain in the ass. But looking back over the years there were some funny incidents that took place during Inspections. Some of the ones I remember are listed below, not in any order but as I remember them.

     Most of the following took place while I was a Grunt with “Charlie” Co., 1st Bn., 4th Mar., 1st Mar Brig stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, from 1960 to 1962.

LaRose’s M-1:
     Platoon Leader’s Rifle Inspection. Pvt. LaRose is in the 2nd Fire Team of the 2nd Squad. The Platoon Leader has inspected the 1st Squad and is 1/2 way through the 2nd. He comes in front of LaRose. LaRose comes to a sharp port arms and as he is supposed to, with his thumb pushes the operating rod to the rear. Twang!! The follower flies out of his M-1. The Platoon Leader and Platoon Sergeant jump back, everyone to the right of LaRose does an eyes right following the follower as it hit’s the 1st Squad’s 1st Fire Team Leader in head. The Platoon Sergeant 1st to recover say’s “What the fuck LaRose! How in the hell did you do that? It’s impossible!” (In theory you can not assemble an M-1 improperly. It just won’t go together.) LaRose, (to his credit and quick thinking) say’s. “It’s sabotage there a Communist spy in the platoon.” The Platoon Leader now looses it and is laughing so hard he cancels the rest of the inspection. Turns the Platoon over to the Platoon Sergeant and leaves. For the next hour or so LaRose tries to get his M-1 to do it again and can’t.

My BAR Inspection:
     I had worked my way up from Rifleman to Assistant BAR man to BAR man and was about to stand my first Inspection as a BAR man by the Company Commander. Now inspection with a BAR is different than with a rifle. There are not a lot of precise movements. It is all done at sling arms on the right shoulder. First you release the magazine. Stick it in your waist, bring the but of the BAR forward then using the operating handle, open the bolt.

Me on the left as an Assistant BAR man with the "Bastard" Belt 1/2 M1 and 1/2 BAR magazines.

On the right I'm practicing the BAR Inspection with my Fire Team Leader.

BAR Inspection and layout from the Landing Party Manual.

     Comes the Inspection. I’m ready. We’re in formation waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Then it’s our turn. Open Ranks and all that stuff. Finally the C.O.’s in front of me and I do my thing with the BAR. When I push the operating handle to the rear, he looks down and gets a funny look on his face. Looks at me and say’s “When did you last clean this weapon?” I say “This morning sir.” He looks over my shoulder, says nothing and moves on. Never even looked at my weapon. I can’t figure it out. When he is behind me inspecting the 3rd Squad he is really tearing someone a new ass about a dirty weapon. Well I found out later that while in formation earlier. The guy behind me in the 3rd Squad was putting anything that would fit in the flash hider of my BAR. During inspection, when I opened the bolt it fell out, some grass and a few pebbles. Good for me the C.O. wasn’t stupid. Well like we used to say “You can trust a Marine with your life, but not your lunch.”

Hoagie’s Junk on the Bunk:
     Do they still do “Junk on the Bunk’s” and “Things on the Spring’s?” These Inspections were always a real pain. The supposed purpose for them was to make sure you had all the required clothing/equipment, that it was serviceable and marked properly. They usually turned into a real “How Pretty” affair. In the “Open” Squad Bays, depending on how the wall lockers were arranged, sometimes string was used to make sure that everything was lined up. All the boots, sox, trousers, canteens and so on. A real pain. Skivvies and sox were ironed every one’s to the same size. Some of these Inspections turned into two day/night affairs. With the troops sleeping on air mattress while the clothing was on the rack.

Illustrations from the Landing Party Manual.

     Well for this Inspection (either my 1st or 2nd) the wall lockers were arranged to form cubicles. PFC Hoagaboom (Hoagie) was one of the guys in the cubical across the Squad Bay from me. The night before the Inspection most of us are laying out our “stuff” ironing and polishing things, and are generally up almost all night. Hoagie goes on liberty.

     A few minutes after Reveille, in staggers Hoagie. He takes a shower and then starts laying out his gear. An extra set of pre-ironed skivvies and sox comes out of his footlocker, as do some pre-folded uniforms. Laundry/Dry Cleaning chits appear for missing clothing. In less than an hour his rack is looking as good as the one’s we’ve been working on all night. After morning chow we get into our “Green’s” for the Inspection. As we are standing by I noticed Hoagie taking a few drinks from his “Rubbing Alcohol” bottle (we used it for spit shining our shoes and boots, his was Vodka) followed by some “Aqua Velva”. Finally we get “Attention on Deck!” We all snap to except for Hoagie, who keeps leaning on his wall locker. Then comes “Stand at ease until the Inspecting Officer comes in front of you”. Hoagie winks at me. He gets an outstanding on his Inspection and even a comment about his after-shave from the Battalion C.O. I start buying extra “Inspection Only” clothing and keep it in my footlocker. Never quite looked at Junk on the Bunk Inspections the same again.


MG (1919A4) Inspection:
     During Inspection for the Machine Gun Model 1919A4 it was laid out in a prescribed manner out on the drill field. Then a guard was put on it while the crew got their personal gear on and fell out.

Left the Machine Gun Model 1919A4. Right Laid out for inspection with a Guard.

     Prior to one of our inspections one of the guns was left unattended. Then during the C.O.’s Inspection he asked the Squad Leader “Where is the barrel for this gun?” It seems the spare barrels were laid out but no one noticed that the barrel had been taken out of the gun. (This can be done fairly fast by two 0331’s, removing the front barrel bushing, pull the bolt back a little and unscrew the barrel.) There was some severe ass chewing over this, but also some laughing and ribbing. Except for the Squad Leader that failed to have his gun guarded. . Well like we used to say “You can trust a Marine with your life, but not your lunch.”

Field Transport Pack Inspection:
     These used to be done in two ways. One was to have everyone fall out with full Field Transport Packs made up and on. Two to four were picked out of each squad and told to lay out their gear. The other way was to have everyone lay out all the gear.

Illustrations from the Landing Party Manual.

     Well this Inspection was for the FMF Pacific Commander (I think Krulak, but I’m not sure.). I was the assistant gunner on a M1919A4 Machine Gun in Charlie One/ Four. We had gone through all the pre-inspections from Platoon leader all the way up to Regimental Commander. Everything was fine. Between the final pre-inspection and the big one, my gunner Wes (a Louisiana Cajun) had gotten an electric razor (a rarity for those days) that also ran on batteries (an even bigger rarity). Comes the day of the big inspection and Wes decides to display his new razor with his gear. Now normally the bigger the inspection the easier they are, and by the time you get to three stars all they do is walk the line. Well that’s what was happening until the General got to Wes. He stopped, did a left face, reached down and picked up the razor. (Sharp eyes.) Say’s to Wes “What’s this Marine?” Wes proudly “An electric razor sir.” General “And if you were going to mount out where would you expect to plug it in?” Wes “It runs on batteries sir.” General “Were you planning on stealing Marine Corps batteries?” Wes, retrieving razor from the General and putting it back on his display, say’s “Sir if we were to mount out to any where I wasn’t even planning on shaving.” General’s head snaps left to the Regimental C.O. (you could hear the necks snapping as this went all the way down to our Platoon Leader). Net result we laid out our gear four times that night for inspection by flashlight. But each time we were laughing and admiring the balls of one of our gunners.

My version of a "Field Transport Pack" and a real "Field Inspection".

5th Tanks JOB:
     In 1968 after returning from Vietnam I was a sergeant with 5th Tank Battalion. All the sergeants in H&S Company were in one squad bay. Well we got the word that we were going to have a Battalion JOB.
     All the (other) sergeants go into semi panic mode getting ready for the inspection. Most if not all the sergeants were “Boot” with less than four years in. I recalled that when I was 1st Tank Battalion 62-63, the Battalion SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) was that sergeants did not lay out a JOB, but stood a Wall Locker Inspection. I went up to the Battalion HQ to the S3 shop and asked to see the Battalion SOP. Looking up Inspections I found it, Chapter umpty ump, Section umpty ump, Paragraph umpty ump. Clearly stating that sergeants will not lay out a JOB but will stand a wall locker inspection. Making notes of chapter and verse I went on my way. I never said a word to the other sergeants. Now we all know about pre-inspection inspections, but this was H&S Company and the sergeants were all from different sections. Hell I was the Carrier Advisor and also worked in Training Aids. So our first pre-inspection was by the Company Commander. Come the big day. Some of the sergeants had been up all night laying out gear. Most had skipped morning chow to lay out gear. I did neither, even slept in a little. A few even asked me if I was going to stand the inspection. I said I was and would be ready on time. Comes the Inspection. I comes the Company Commander, we all snap to, standing tall at the foot of our racks. I’m about midway down the squad bay. The C.O. finally gets to me and asks, “Where’s your gear?” I reply “In my wall locker, sir.” “Well why isn’t it laid out?” I recite Chapter and verse of the Battalion SOP. He asks the 1st Sergeant if this is correct. 1st Sergeant allows that it is (I think with his fingers crossed). We are told to stand by and not to secure yet. The C.O. and team leave. All the other sergeants converge on me, some with blood (mine) in their eyes. Why didn’t you tell us they screamed? Quick thinker and silver tongued as I am, I told them that if we all did it, it might be considered a mutiny, but if I did it alone and it went south I would be the only one busted. They bought it but I was really only being an asshole. About a half an hour goes by before we get the word to put the clothing away. During the Battalion Commanders Inspection we all stood wall locker inspections. The sergeants learned something and I had fond memories of a PFC Hoagaboom.