Ask An Infantryman

The Milwaukie Bomber

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Art Lacey & his crew of filling station attendants at the Bomber Gas Station; Milwaukie, Oregon

Art Lacey was a crazy sumbitch. You have to understand that from the beginning or this story will make no sense, not that it will anyway. Still, it's something you should know.

Art was celebrating his birthday in 1947, had knocked back a few, and, from out of nowhere, proclaimed he was going to slap a B-17 bomber on top of his gas station. A friend of his told him he was crazy, which, of course, was true but made no never mind and was all the provocation Art needed to prove him wrong.

Continue reading "The Milwaukie Bomber" »

Book Review - Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson

The following book review is a special provided by Elise Cooper for BlackFive readers. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the far right side bar.

9781594205118_p0_v3_s260x420Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson gets inside the mind of one of the greatest sports coaches of all time. He won more championships than any coach in professional sports and made sure players fit into his style, not the other way around. Tagged as the “Zen Master” by sportswriters he used this philosophy to inspire not goad, awaken not challenge, and talked to the players desire to win, not their egos.

There are a few points in the book that were extremely interesting. He opens the book by comparing a winning sports team to a tight-knit military unit, talking about, “the strong brotherhood the soldiers formed, they were more concerned about what happened to their buddies than about what happened to themselves.” He then puts in an important disclaimer, that basketball players do not risk their lives every day like soldiers in Afghanistan. His point being that both a sports team and a military team need trust, love for each other, an ability to perform at the highest levels, and going beyond the purely technical skill or physical talent to succeed.

Another interesting point is the description he gave of his coaching style. He never believed in forcing his will on his players or thinking for his players. “I’ve always been interested in getting players to think for themselves so that they can make difficult decisions in the heat of battle.” Jackson emphasized throughout the book that “selflessness was the holy grail of basketball,” and that winning has no superstars just great players willing to work together. The real indication of a star is how much better he makes his teammates. Jackson also invoked the cliché that there is no “I” in the word team only in the word win.

He also explained about his trademark triangle offense. “The triangle is a simpler offense than most NBA teams run today. Best of all, it automatically stimulates creativity and teamwork, freeing players from having to memorize dozens of set plays.” He liked the fact that it empowers the players where each one plays a vital role, “All five players must be fully engaged every second-or the whole system will fail. That stimulates an ongoing process of group problem solving in real time.” Michael Jordan had to be convinced of this offense’s value, first calling it “that equal opportunity offense,” until he saw how it helped to win championships.

In the book Jackson discusses the many players he coached, pointing out how he dealt with each personality. He compared and contrasted Michael Jordan with Kobe Bryant, noting that Jordan once commented that “Kobe is the only player who can be compared to him, and I have to agree.” The similarities include their extraordinary competitive drive, disregard of pain, playing some of their best games under crippling conditions, and incredible resilience. The differences include having different playing styles with Jordan using his power and strength while Bryant uses his finesse. Jordan was a more accurate shooter and more inclined to not overplay. Jackson stated, “When his shot is off, Kobe will pound away relentlessly until his luck turns. Michael, on the other hand, would shift his attention to defense or passing or setting screens to help the team win the game.” The big difference according to Jackson is that Jordan was a much better leader and knew how to work with his teammates to make sure they were all on the same page while at times Bryant had a self-serving style.

The book also explores Jackson’s philosophy from humanistic psychology, to the Native American thinking process, to Zen mediation. Unless a reader wants to learn about these techniques they might want to skip over them and concentrate on his anecdotes and descriptions of his championship seasons where he won six times with the Chicago Bulls and five times with the Los Angeles Lakers, not to mention the two he won as a player with the New York Knicks.

Eleven Rings is full of revelations about how he became the greatest coach in professional basketball, the players he coached, and his own motivations to winning. Anyone that enjoys the game of basketball will enjoy this book.

Ask an Infantryman, from the 'Stan...

Today I found myself trapped against my will at Bagram Air Base.  As with all tourists, I went to the PX, ate at the Popeye's, and then went to get one of the world famous $30 massages.

A 95 lbs Filipino woman came out and started the message.  She was rough, but I needed it.  As she worked on my legs, I really started to relax.  But when she started massaging my abdomin, it happened.  Bear in mind it wasn't on purpose by any stretch.  I was just all good one minute, and then the next minute, boom went the dynamite.  That's right, I let out a popeye's chicken fart that was audible over the noise in the other room.

Now, I know that in some foreign countries it is customary to belch after a meal to show how much you enjoyed it.  I'm not sure if fecal saturation of an enclosed room with a young filipino lass is the same as that or not.  I was unsure what to do exactly.  Do I laugh hysterically and blame it on the FOB Andar chow?  Do I apologize profusely, and recommend she clear the neighboring stalls before it wafts over and I have to listen to people choking?  Do I just yell "Save yourselves!" and run for the bunker in my shorts?

Completely at a loss.  And, as this is Bagram I am likely to get delayed tomorrow, and I peg the chances of this happening again at roughly 40%.  Help me Infantrymen, you're my only hopes.

Infantryman, sign me-

''Not Mike Yawn''

Ask An Infantryman - Hitler's Birthday

Infantrymen!  You sage counsel is sought.


I read this article about a Illinois Nazi Hitler Birthday celebration that was disrupted last year.

    ...police are investigating a smoke bomb explosion that abruptly ended a birthday party celebration for Adolf Hitler at a Lyons banquet hall, a party complete with decorated cakes and Nazi banners.

    The suspect, a man with a backpack, had ordered a grilled cheese sandwich before he went into a restroom and set off the smoke bomb, authorities said Monday...

They never caught the guy.  He already threw a (reportedly) military smoke grenade and likes grilled cheese sandwiches (who doesn't?).

Let's assume that he reads Blackfive.  What could this citizen-hero do this year, without attracting too much attention?


Elwood Blues

Grunts, your brilliant op orders are required in the Comments section.  And FYI, this idea has already been done...


Ask An Infantryman- Too Young For Me?


I met this really cute guy last year, and we hit it off right away.  It seemed to be love at first sight; he was rich, I am cute, and we had a lot in common.  We met, sparks flew; he said he loved me, and I believed him.  He promised to take care of me 'for the rest of my life'.  Feeling swept up in the moment, we made love.  He confessed it was his first time; that I would be his first, forever.  That made my heart go even further for him.  I couldn't believe my luck...  Even tho he was much younger than me, I could tell- this could be the one.  Finally, the one...

Being it was his first time, it was over all too soon.  We finished, and left the men's room.  He went back on stage, and I went back home and to my room.

Now, I've carried his child and borne him a son, yet he won't return my calls or even acknowledge my existence.  Tell me Infantryman, whatever should I do?  How can I convince him I'm the one for him, and this is our child together?"

Sign me,

Men's Room Enjoyment


Dear MRE-

You're effed.  Literally.  Stone up- find a real man.  Follow the uniform- he will never lead you astray like that, and will stand up for what's right.  Here, you found but a boy; not a man you SHOULD have.  Hear that knocking?  Should be the cops coming for you, you molester, you.  You need help, but not the kind I'D send for you. 

For all you real ladies out there, check this out if you are seeking love.  A real love:

Bringing Home the Troops: 7 Reasons to Date a Military Man

Military relationships are challenging, but here are 7 good reasons to date a military man.

1. Conviction
Nothing says sexy more than someone who is putting his life on the line to protect your freedoms and rights. Joining the military is a choice; by serving his country, you know he has strong ideals and is willing to fight for them.  And he'll stand by them. 

2. He is in great physical shape
Let's not pretend that the fact he's probably in the best shape of his life doesn't turn you on. The rigorous training he is committed to is part of his daily routine, and you get to reap the benefits of his occupation's strict physical and dietary habits. We'll salute to that.  Especially if he's in Special Forces.  My God man, how can you top that one?

3. Potential for love letters
Because your relationship will probably be long-distance at certain points and for long periods of time, communication becomes essential. This means lots of emails, chats, phone conversations, and snail mail. The possibility of epic literary confessions of love is immense.  While Dear John letters are also likely, the scent of his letters, and the anticipation of them becomes a burning desire...

4. Independence and co-dependence
Because he is often in unfamiliar environments, you know that he can take care of himself. He is trained to survive hostile circumstances and protect his fellow soldiers, so he knows what it takes to work as a team. He knows how to work together for a common goal, but he can also assess a difficult situation and figure out a solution on his own. This can translate well for relationships. After all, love can be a battlefield, too.

5. He takes directions well
The military is all about structure, order and rules. If he can survive taking commands from his superiors, you know that he won't mind too much when you ask him to help you with the dishes every once in a while—or when you start ordering him around in the bedroom.  Just don't expect him to ASK for directions...

6. He can keep his room neat
Due to the discipline practiced in the barracks, you can count on him to pick up after himself and keep his personal affects in order. You can thank his drill sergeant for that one.  And you can believe his sock drawer will be neater than your bra drawer...

7. The uniform
It's not just because the tailored cut of a uniform perfectly accentuates his physical assets. A uniform represents discipline, strength, courage, and fellowship—all traits that make for great partners. We are often attracted to men in uniform because of the message it sends to us: this is a person in a position of authority who can provide us with safety and whose job is to protect us from the dangers of the world.

Ask An Infantryman - She Flies in Coach

Infantrymen, your sage counsel is sought!

Dear Ask An Infantryman

I have been dating "Claude" for eight months. We are planning a trip in the fall to visit his family's chateau in France. Claude has long legs and refuses to travel in coach because it's uncomfortable, so he will buy a business-class ticket for himself and a coach ticket for me.

While I'm grateful Claude is paying for my ticket, I feel that since we're a couple, we should travel together. I don't want to be upgraded to business class necessarily, but I'd like him to sit in coach with me. When I brought this up, he refused and is now calling me "ungrateful."

My feelings are hurt, and Claude can't understand why I am upset. My friends and family think he is acting rude and selfish. I can't help but agree. Do I have a right to be upset? I am so uncomfortable with this arrangement that I'm considering not even going.


Grunts, post your wise advice in the Comments section.

Carry on!

Ask An Infantryman - The XBox Edition

Infantrymen!  You wise counsel is sought:

Dear Ask An Infantryman-

As a retired master blaster and CIB owner I need some advice.  I'm going through a really nasty divorce and my Ex decided to hit me where it hurts. Yes, she drove her truck over my XBox. MY. X. BOX.


She could have lit my awards on fire.  She could have poured out all of my single malt scotch.  She could have banged all my "friends".  But no.  She went for the goddamn XBox.

So I need advice on how to handle this situation...and, thanks but I've already got the "date a hotter girl than her" thing covered.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over? 


XBox-less, Not Dick-less

Grunts, leave your sage advice in the Comments.

Ask An Infantryman - The Pantyhose Exception

Infantrymen! One of our own seeks your counsel:

A few weeks ago, I was having a liquid lunch with a bunch of military friends.  One of whom is named Jim Nasium.  Now, Jim was a graduate of one of the nation's finest military colleges, but spent his entire time as an enlisted Infantry soldier, earning a CIB in Afghanistan.  This is very admirable.

But soon, among Rangers, SF Soldiers, and leg Infantry, the talk turned to long road marches.  One of our lady friends asked us how we kept blisters from forming on a 12 or 25 mile road march.  I replied, "Pantyhose".

She laughed a bit.  And then I explained, "The pantyhose reduces the friction between your skin and your sock. It works like a charm.  All you do is get an old pair and cut them at the calf..."

It was at this point that my friend Jim interrupted, "Cut them off?!  Why would you do that?"

"Wait." Long pause. "You don't mean to say that you actually wore pantyhose?!"  I looked around the room at the others who were laughing but shaking their heads to get me to stop this line of questioning.

So, Infantrymen, I ask you:  Is it perfectly acceptable for Jim Nasium to wear full pantyhose on a long ruck march?


China Bull

Infantrymen!  We await your wise guidance in the Comments.

[You can read all of our Ask An Infantryman series here]

UPDATE: The Rumor Doctor at the Stars & Stripes covered this topic back in February. Notice that the Army General wore cut off nylons...and it also quotes our good friend, Nick Palmisciano of Ranger Up.

Ask an Infantryman: How to Break up with your girlfriend


Sorry for my blogging dry spell.  I've been working on a software startup that's taking a lot out of me.  But the other day I got an email from a stud who's about to deploy, and had to take a minute out to put it up on his behalf:

Dear Mr. Pig,

I'm a Para-Rescueman from Sacramento getting ready to deploy for my second time to Afghanistan.  I'm looking forward to the deployment.  Shit, in this humble airman's opinion, there's nothing more awesome than deploying to the Stan as a PJ.  It's kind of like being Charlie Sheen, but instead of banging porn stars left and right I get to save lives. Sadly, there exists a rather large bumblebee in my astroglide.  See, I've been dating this girl for the last few years, but she's just way too into me.  She's knitting me scarves and so on, and all my boys think they're gay.  Kind of like that other Jon Cryer guy from 2.5 Men.  Plus she has this way of insinuating herself into relationships with my brosephs that I don't appreciate.  You know, like trying to set them up with her not very attractive friends.  I mean, seriously, my friends are warrior monks, with chiseled physiques and IQ's you would not believe.  They date swimsuit models with PhD's, not meter maids with goiter.  Anyway, just as I was getting ready to give her the whole "it's not me baby, it's you" speech over surf & turf at my local Outback Steakhouse, she told me she had a present for me.  And then she turned around in our booth and showed me this present.  And to my chagrin, the present was a tattoo of my name on her left buttock, and then this little + (plus) symbol and then her name + "4ever."  

I spit out my Bloomin' Onion.  Through my f!@#ing nose.  

And then I lost my nerve, totally aborting the mission.  

So yeah, anyways, my question is simple:  How do you break up with a girl who has your name tattooed on her left buttock?  

-- Motivated in Mountainview

As always, your advice in the comments below please.


-- Uber Pig

Ask An Infantryman - How to Solve the Oil Spill Crisis (and Kick Ass)

'Sup, Stallions...  Blackfive here, filling in for your columnist Uber Pig.  Got an email today and the CIB team might have some sage advice for this guy.

Dear Uncle F###stick

Where do you ####ing get off thinking you can criticize the POTUS during this economic and environmental disaster?  How would YOU stop the spill?

### you!


Okay, Infantrymen, based on your vast problem solving abilities, how would you solve this oil spill crisis?

* I changed the sender's name.