“What’s going on with you, DevilDog? Staff Sergeant Fuckface is saying you’re his problem child?”
I didn’t know what to say when, as a young Corporal in the Marine Corps, my mentor, a well-liked Gunnery Sergeant in my unit, told me that my Staff NCOIC was spreading the word that I was a fuckup. I’d just recently gotten my NCO stripes and was working my ass off to learn to be a good leader of Marines and set a good example for the younger Marines in the unit. Yet more and more, it became apparent that nothing I did was going to be good enough for the Staff Sergeant. I couldn’t figure out why the guy just didn’t like me.
A few months later, that Staff Sergeant was led away in handcuffs for stealing thousands of dollars from a retired Marine. As I understand it, once he learned the gig was up and he’d been caught, the unit Sergeant Major asked him what the hell he was thinking and Staff Sergeant Fuckface simply responded, “I thought Ford would get blamed.” After 17 years of service, he ended up walking away from the Marine Corps with a reduction in rank to Private, no benefits, and a Bad Conduct Discharge…after spending 6 months in the brig.
I won’t bore you with the details of his scheme, how he planned to let the blame fall on me, or how I oh-so-narrowly escaped being caught up in his bullshit. But I often reflect on how, if I hadn’t gotten extremely lucky, my life would look completely different than it does today. I likely would have gotten even a harsher sentence than he had. Probably a year or two in Leavenworth. I’d be a convicted felon through no fault of my own. I was lucky to escape that fate.
But I never quite recovered from the damage that he’d done to my reputation while setting me up to take the fall. It became clear, in hind-sight, that he had been spreading the word that I was a shit-bag so that once the hammer fell, he could just sit back and say, “See, I told you he was a shit-bag.” In the minds of other NCOs and Staff NCOs of my unit, sure Staff Sergeant Fuckface was a turd…but maybe some of the things he said about Ford was true. I always had a question mark hanging over my head and I never got promoted, again.
I often think back and replay the entire thing in my mind, each time coming to the same conclusion: Fuck that guy.