Tattoos and Terminal Lance: the 5 most surprising things we learned from the commandant’s live Q&A

The commandant and sergeant major of the Marine Corps took to Facebook last Friday afternoon, answering nearly 30 candid questions from the Marine Corps community in the space of an hour as part of his ongoing “Reawakening” effort to engage directly with enlisted Marines.

According to site administrators on the official Marines Facebook page, some 900 questions and comments rolled in during the hour Gen. Jim Amos and Sgt. Maj. Mike Barrett were online.

Commandant Gen. Jim Amos and Sgt. Maj. Mike Barrett answer questions in a one-hour Facebook Q&A session, facilitated by Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga. Photo from official Marines Facebook page.

While Amos addressed a number of popular themes, such as women in combat arms roles, recruiting, and sexual assault prevention, he also revealed some surprising facts about himself and addressed a few hotly contested Marine Corps policies.

Here are top five things we learned:

5. Amos and Barrett read Terminal Lance every week…and like it, most of the time.
In response to a question from Maximilian Uriarte, creator of the popular Terminal Lance web comic, Amos said his favorite strip of the comic was “Rolled Up,” a response to Amos’s decision to return the Corps to rolled sleeves on combat utilities in the summertime.
“Thanks for putting some energy behind this decision. I smile every time I think about it. Enjoy,” Amos wrote.
A few minutes later, Barrett acknowledged that he read the strip every week.
“You are usually spot-on…but not always,” Barrett wrote.
Amos and Barrett did not, however, say which comics they felt missed the mark.

4. Forget about a change to the tattoo policy. It’s not going to happen…or is it?
Next to the recently reversed decision to go sleeves-down in the summers, the most embattled recent Marine Corps uniform policy is the 2010 set of restrictions to tattoo quantity and placement set in place by Amos’s predecessor, Gen. James Conway. In response to a commenter’s request to “reverse silly tattoo policy,” Amos said no dice.
“The current tattoo policy will remain in place. There are no plans to change anything,” he wrote.
A glimmer of optimism does remain for tattoo lovers, though: Amos was similarly adamant until recently that he would not reverse the sleeves-down rule. There’s also a chance that Amos’s successor might decide to change the current policy when the commandancy changes hands at the end of this year.

3. Amos does have a CAR: it’s in his garage.
Active-duty Marines sometimes complain that Amos, a Marine aviator, does not have a combat action ribbon. This has clearly rankled; a staffer for Amos once took to social media to say Amos “has been in many a fight … probably killed more enemy with his F-18 than any single company of grunts.”
During the town hall Q&A, though, Amos took a lighter approach. When a user asked him where his “CAR” was, Amos said he has one, and it’s a classic.
“I have a 1972 VW Convertible in my garage,” Amos wrote. “I bought it as a lieutenant. I’m going to drive away from the Marine Corps in it when I retire.”

2. MARSOC operators may get to sport the Raiders name in the future.
The critical skills operators of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command share a legacy of special missions with the Marine Raiders of World War II. But they can’t call themselves Raiders, Amos decided in 2011, and use of the distinctive Raiders patch on uniforms is not authorized, though it does happen nonetheless.
Amos wouldn’t tip his hand about changes to that policy Friday, but said the Marine Corps was evaluating its options.
“We’re looking into it,” he said. “No decision has been made at this time.”

1. Amos is a fan of the knife hand.
While Marine Corps Times reported last year that some Marine leaders were cautioning against overuse of the aggressive “knife hand” in favor of renewed emphasis on core leadership values, Amos said he still pulls out a bladed hand from time to time.

Marine Commandant Gen. Jim Amos demonstrates a knife hand during his live Q&A on Facebook March 14 as Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga facilitates the Q&A session. Photo from the official Marines Facebook page.

When a user asked him to bring back knife hands, he responded that they were never banned.
“In fact, I use it all the time after I’m done addressing Marines,” he said. “It shouldn’t be used to berate Marines. It’s a sign of camaraderie. Let’s not make it more than it is.”

The Facebook town hall, the brainchild of the Marine Corps social media team, was the first of its kind, but Amos and Barrett hinted that they might try it again soon.

“We will be back up on the net here shortly,” they wrote. “Keep the faith.”

Read the full Q&A here.

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  1. RE: Tattoos, sleeves, knife hands and other fashion accessories.

    Tattoos were only clamped down on when thug punks from gangs started enlisting for military training to use against cops. Remove the current tattoo policy for something with common sense. Tattoos on Marines and Sailors alike is a time honor tradition. Dont be ignorant when creating/implementing policy or it will be taken away from you. Sleeves and the like is a non-issue: if it is hot, roll em up and if it is cold, roll em down. Let common sense rule not Political Correctness. PC has no place in training for war.

    MARSOC title designation of Raider: Why is this being discussed? I dont care if the men operating as a doorkicker/skeleton maker want to be called “Gods Nightmares Made Manifest”…they are the ones enduring the hardships, let them call themselves whatever they want.

    In short genetlemen: you are Marines. The same men the Rangers call on to rescue them when they need it. Act like you have some common sense when writing policy. IF this post ruffles feathers or hurts feelings then maybe its time the reader did some growing up.

  2. I totally agree with you on these issues. All they need to do is make tattoos that are totally offensive illegal. I’m talking about the now unpopular swastika, KKK things, skinheads, black panthers, etc. We had sleeves rolled up in Cuba and we got to wear only a t-shirt while working in labor type jobs. I was a wireman – 2511 with poles to climb. When it’s 105 out, t-shirts are helpful.

    PC sucks. Common sense is always the best route! Semper Fi!

    Corporal of Marines

    USMC – 1969 – 1972

  3. Rangers call on Marines to Rescue them? Are you smoking crack kid?

    Yea the most highly trained and capable light infantry in the world need a bunch of lance twats to rescue them?

    The average ranger is tougher, smarter, stronger and more lethal than your average 0311 or 03XX. Life in the regiment is harder than most SOCOM units, including MARSOC.

    Stick to what you know about.

  4. I understand that you are upset at the marines rescue Rangers but lets not get carried away. Claiming something that can hardly be proved none the less outrageous such as, rangers are harder than MARSOC is an incompetent declaration.

  5. Gregg Walther on

    not to take anything away from our army brothers but I remember at 2nd mar div we sent our cooks radio operators and auto mechanics when Bragg called us to help train rangers during school

  6. Sexual preference is not something that can be discriminated against why is tattoo preference? Sure I made the choice to get a tattoo, just like they make the choice who they have sex with. No one “has” to get a tattoo and no one “has” to have sex. Discrimination is discrimination.

  7. Retired Gunny on

    The Raiders of WWII are the official start of Marine Recon. I would ask the Commandant to look at this issue from the stance of heritage: we SNCOs are the keepers of traditions and nothing I’ve seen motivated my Marines more than to be able to incorporate a Marine Corps legend into their unit and mission. Being 3d Wing I’ve heard of “Darkhorse” and “Walking Dead” from the infantry. Knowing that “Pappy,” the venerable Corsair, and “Hover Cover” provide knowledge that the fight is being won in support of the GCE. So too would the title of Marine Raider be a historic badge of pride to be worn by those chosen to “Lead the Way.” In this age of reawakening, haven’t the old ways always harnessed the spirit we think we have wandered away from? It’s those core values of old that bring us back onto the path where we belong. There was honor for Carlson and Edson in wearing the name Raider. Let the current breed carry the honor of “Marine Raider.”

  8. If theyre going to let people where religious attire i don’t see why we cant wear silkies, if i want to “accidentally” flash my genitals to other people running the pft course that’s my prerogative.

  9. Wow I must have stumbled into the “GAY” battle rattle chat room. What a bunch of queers you all are. Fucking losers, no wonder this Corps is so fucked up.

  10. Lol. The comment are more entertaining than the article. A butt hurt Hooah, pleas for silkies and gay bashing. Silkies, I’m with you. Retired Gunny, good points. Ed, though I agree with you, spell check before you use the word “ignorant” in your next sentence. Pay attention to those red squiggles beneath the words. Ace, even the seals called on boot lances when I was in Iraq, because boot lances were doing QRF and had to bale them out on a couple occasions. If SEALs need boot Marine Lances, then I’m sure the Ranges have gotten their aid from time to time. Let’s not forget the many times in history the Corps has saved the Army’s ass. Let’s also not forget that OIF 2 and beyond was only necessary because the Army did a shitty job as Iraq’s occupying force after the Marine Corps first took the place over. Boom.

  11. “”has been in many a fight … probably killed more enemy with his F-18 than any single company of grunts.””

    Then why doesn’t he have an Air Medal?

  12. CornealiousDAMN on

    Rangers better than your average grunt? Ha, good one. You might know how to fast rope off your stupid helo and jump from a whopping 1,500ft and break your legs from a failed PLF, but that shit does you no good in combat. I recall a time an Army task force called upon us to come get them out the shit storm they could not handle. I believe ranger might have been the least high speed of the bunch minus some comm guy… They asked how we lived every day like that. We’re fucking Marines, how don’t we live like that! KILL FUCKING BODIES YOU BOOT BITCH!

  13. I think the Commandant being on Facebook was a step in the right direction. Leaders need to make a connection with their men. I don’t look for any radical changes in the Marine Corps, now or in the far future. Traditions are more important than satisfying the wants of tattoo fetishists, or wannabe bad-asses. Usually, men who prove themselves in combat don’t go out of their way to be recognized. They have ‘been there’ and ‘done that’. After that, there is nothing left to say… Marines pride themselves on their straightforward mission and steadfast dedication to accomplish it. Things do not need to be spelled out for them; they know what it means and what to do about it. Semper Fi.

  14. Interesting reading and remarks, “Semper Fi”, to all my Marines comrades… 1961 – 66…and Thanks Gunny….

  15. Ladies relax.

    One: We all back each other up. You bet your sweet ass if any unit (unless we aren’t supposed to be there) became TIC the closest capable unit would be mobilized. SEAL, Ranger, PJ, SVT, Delta, 0311, 11B, it doesn’t matter. Hell, I’ve heard of the SAS providing emergency aid to TIC.

    Two: Most of you on here fighting about such nonsense aren’t even in the Community … so stow it … and if you don’t know what the Community is then you really need to lock it up.

    Three: Yes I hate to say it Rangers are held to a higher level than your standard 0311. Again, 99% of the Community loves blending in. We don’t go out and start yelling “I’m a Ranger/SEAL/etc I’m better than you!!” No … Hell no … and if someone did they’d have a seriously pissed off group of friends.

  16. I will keep it simple here. Seems like most of you have already littered this thread with non sense and less than note worthy comments.

    I am a Marine 1st and foremost. Artillery. Now i am Army infantry, so i have seen operations from both side. you boys arguing about rangers and marsoc need to get throat punched. Any special operations unit can find themselves in a situation as to where outside help is needed in order to accomplish mission and evac personnel safely with minimal casualties. If a Marine cook came to my aide i would have no loss of pride saying thanks Devil Dog, you really came through, and i’m sure any MARINE GRUNT who reads this will agree that when your down to one MAG left, if it’s a Army hooah that shows up with re-sup and a call for fire mission at the ready, that Marine will be thankful. I have played for both teams now and i have 8 or 9 other prior service Marines in my unit. We all agree on one thing. Amry, Navy, Marines. It doesn’t matter, we all make the same homosexual jokes and flail our cock and ball around the squad bay at each other the same way. we all dig our fighting holes the same way, we all kill the enemies of our country the same way.

  17. Tattoos have been and always be a vain attempt to have people look at “ME” Look at all my weird, statement making tattoos that I want the world to see! I am soooo cool! Not… Tattoos should be visablewhen the sleeves go up. Your Marines not billboards, act like it!

  18. Hey. Doc here. Quit your fucking measuring and point out some fucking issues, not wrap each others dicks around each others throats. I personally love the Army due to Dust Off. Pulled many of my boys home when the marine air wing said fuck off. Granted I’ve been in fisticuffs with sailors, marines, and soldiers alike, we’re all on the same team. No matter who it was, I took care of them because they took care of me in the end. Remember our fallen and take care of each other, you miserable fucks.

    RIP Sgt. Wade D. Wilson, 22

    RIP Hospitalman Eric D. “Doc” Warren

    RIP Lance Cpl. Joshua E. Witsman, 23 (pumped this mans chest for 15 fucking minutes…)

  19. Whew, a member measuring contest. All I gotta say is that if you feel like you have to prove your worth to the rest of The Community here, then you either missed the point of doing it all in the first place, you feel like you failed to make a difference, or you are simply full of shit and just trying to antagonize people. Either way, you must realize how pathetic it makes you look.

  20. I’m fucking dying over the pissing contest you guys are having. Everyone’s a tough guy on the internet. Yut! 0311 kill bodies

  21. I am appalled at the lack of professionalism of every single comment on this post. This is a public website where everyone can read our responses. It is our jobs as military members to ensure the image of our service is not tarnished. Using derogatory words and arguing back and forth should not be the way we represent ourselves to the public. We should be professional, respectful, and above all set the example of what an outstanding citizen is both as a serviceman and a civilian. I hope you all take into consideration that we are all in the service and we all, ultimately, work together toward one common goal; the survival of our country and culture. Thank you for your time, and keep it professional.

  22. Piss off Nick (USMC) fucking suck ass… You should be on that talk show the View you freaking tulip……. I bet your “GAYASS” where’s silkies too you fucking fruit.

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