Marine Corps Stories: The Smaj
A sergeant major must show his Marines how to best conduct themselves.
He slammed the fellow Marine on the mat.
“Good, that’s good. You keep that going,” Sergeant Major Dallas Hector said.
“But what you want to do is,” he gestured in the direction he wanted the Marine corporal to go.
“Use bone not muscle, and you should be able to take him down with more efficiency.”
“Thank you, Sergeant Major.”
Sergeant Major Hector was a black belt in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). He also had large hands and a face no one mistook for a Marine who’d been in the Corps for twenty eight years. When a Marine fresh from Marine Occupational Specialty (MOS) school stood before him, he cracked a smile.
“How are you adjusting to this Yuma climate, Devil’?”
“I’m getting there, Sergeant Major.”
“Well you look squared away.” He eyed PFC Sandy Bierce’s Service Alpha uniform.
“Expert on the rifle range, huh?”
“Yes, Sergeant Major.”
“That’s what I’m talking about. You seem like a real hardcharger.”
Bierce smirked, pointed his head down, and then rolled his shoulders back with his face forward again.
“That’s alright. You keep your head level, disregard some of these knuckleheads out here, and you’ll be fine.”
“Aye, Sergeant Major.”
Bierce snapped to attention, completed an about face, and exited the Smaj’s office.
No sooner had Bierce left the confines of the office decorated with missions, axes and swords, than he got into a fight. The confrontation involved Bierce and a private name Colin Middleton. Hearing the commotion, the Smaj came in and snatched them both up into the air with his bulging biceps.
He looked at Bierce as if to say “what the hell?”
Then he looked at Middleton as if to say “not again!”
The Smaj knew this wasn’t Middleton’s first offense. He’d been busted down to private from lance corporal for a verbal sexual harassment charge that almost landed him in the brig. The Smaj had worked out a deal for him to stay with the unit, but wearing no rank insignia.
“I’m not two minutes off you, Middleton. Now both of you, in my office!”
The two junior Marines filed back into the Smaj’s office.
“I just met you, man. What happened between you two?”
The two young Marines stood at parade rest. Private Middleton started.
“He started talking sh—stuff about my family,” he said.
“That’s a goddamn lie,” Bierce said.
“Whoa, whoa, one at a time,” The Smaj said. “Now, Middleton, you’re already this close to me kicking you out of my squadron. It would take nothing for me to get the CO to sign off on you getting booted.” He turned to Bierce.
“And you...it hasn’t been five minutes since I saw your two eyeballs. I’m going to give you a warning this time, and tell the both of you that you’re headed towards disaster if you keep up this kind of behavior. Now, you’re both dismissed, and I don’t want to hear a negative peep about either of you. Is that understood?”
In unison, “Yes, Sergeant Major.”
Later, amongst a large group of Marines gathered around him, Smaj Hector gave his take on the day’s earlier events, only without calling out the two Marines by name.
“As Marines, we show each other respect. We don’t pick fights and destroy the common bonds that unite us. We must remain positive and optimistic about our roles as professionals in this beloved Corps. Our mission is to win battles, whenever and wherever. We are not to fight anyone but the enemy. Our fight is one of victory against those who oppose us, not against each other. Is that clear?”
“Yes, Sergeant Major!” The Marines screamed.