Tag Archives: military

ETS Eve Beating

General Information about Item:
  • Genre and Sub Genre –  Customary folklore (rites of passage)
  • Language – English (ETS – extermination term of service)
  • Country where Item is from – South Korea

Informant Data:

Daniel Kang is a 24 year old male, and senior at Dartmouth College. He is currently a math and computer science double major. He is a class of 2015 but he enlisted in the South Korean military in 2012 after finishing a year at Dartmouth. He served from July 23, 2012 to April 22 2014 under the Republic of Korea (ROK) Army Avaition School. He worked as a human resources admin. He came back to Dartmouth to resume his studies in 2014.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context – The interview took place one-on-one in the informant’s apartment living room. The event described in the interview involved 40 other members of his platoon (only the soldiers, no officers). The informant could not come up with the exact date but it was in the bathroom area of his unit at night around April 1st of 2014.
  • Cultural Context – The extermination term of service (ETS) has a very special meaning in South Korea military. Because the system runs on mandatory conscription, almost no one wants to serve and from day one of the service soldiers start counting the days they have left until ETS. There’s even a saying in South Korean military lore that is a variation of the more publicly well known saying “unification is our dream”: “ETS is our dream”. Therefore, ETS is regarded as a very special occasion as the end of military service and almost a new beginning in a South Korean male’s life.

Item:

  • The beating always takes place the night before ETS. After roll calls (930 pm) and before bed time (10pm), the beating takes place in a designated area. For the informant’s unit, it was the bathroom area just outside of the barracks. This particular person, who was the informant’s friend (meaning same month hierarchy), knew what was coming and hid in the telephone booth. But the 40-or-so platoon memebers found him and dragged him to the bathroom area, wrapped him up in blankets (to prevent external injuries), and started giving him a hearty beating.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

 

Transcript of Associated File:

So on the night of April 1st, this event happened? Please describe.

… It usually happens right after roll call [2130] and like before every has to go to bed. So what usually happens is that the person who is like getting discharged the day after is basically beaten up. So they know it’s gonna happen so they usually run away. So this person, in particular, was hiding in a telephone booth, so we tracked him down and basically.. dragged him back to the base, like around the bathroom area. What we do is.. we are aware this could hurt him and also… but it’s like a thing we do so we usually roll him up in blankets and basically hit him, kick him, sit on him (laugh).

Informant’s Comments:

According to the informant, the degree of violence usually depends on how mean the senior was to the juniors. The juniors ranks get the one and only chance to get back at the senior soldier and make amends.

The informant thought this was a brutal and uncivilized way to end one’s service. He revealed that for his own ETS he did not let other soldiers do this ritual to him.

Collector’s Comments:

It is very interesting to see this rite of passage in a particular version performed at the informant’s unit. The collector has seen and heard it in many different forms, but a detailed account of this ritual in another unit that has lived on for a long time is definitely worth observing. It is also interesting to note that the informant simply chose to reject the ritual by his own will.

Collector’s Name:

Jeong Tae Bang

Charms

Title: Charms

General Information about Item:

Customary Folklore: Superstition

Language – English

Country of origin – America

Informant Data:

Brandon Henthrone is 27 years old and from Southern Missouri. He currently lives in South Carolina. His military experience started when he was 18 years old when he joined the Navy Seals. He became a Coremen in the navy after that and has been doing combat medicine since then. He had one combat deployment in the middle east.

Contextual Data:

This superstition was presented in the line of duty to Brandon.  He was kicked out of a vehicle for consuming these charms, and he was informed by the person that kicked him out that the charms were known to be dangerous.  This superstition also involves a fear of getting killed in combat, which is a common theme among military superstitions.

Item:

Charms: Consuming charms candy that can be found in an MRE(Meal Ready-to-Eat) is believed to put you and those around you in danger.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

Transcript of Associated File:

Brandon: Every combat vet knows, charms, charms are bad juju man. Charms get you blown up. Charms get you shot. Charms are the worst things ever. If you come in contact with charms, anything, throw it away, get it as far away from you as possible. I legitimately…so when I heard about it, I just got to division, I was this E3, didn’t know anything, I was out in the field, and they were like, you know, I had just opened up an MRE(Meal Ready-to-Eat), legitimately it had the charms candies in it; I was like, “ah dude these things are awesome.” One of the sergeants literally Spartan kicked me out of the truck because he was like, “you do not know how bad those things are for anybody”. What made it worse, what truly made me believe in them being very superstitious and very bad was the fact that on our trip back, we had 3 maybe 4 trucks break down out of the 8 trucks that we had. All of the trucks were perfectly PM’d, everything was great, but it came down to it, and they were like it’s the f**king charms. They were like doc you f**ked everything up so that’s why I say charms are the devil, and that is probably the only superstition that I truly believe in. Probably really the only one that me personally have heard of. I’ve only experienced what the Marines have experienced, and charms is, to me, the only one that’s out there.

Cole: What is like a charm physically?

Brandon: So charms…have you ever had a Blow Pop?

Cole: Yeah

Brandon: So that is made by the company…if you look on a Blow Pop, it says charms, but inside an MRE, there is these little jelly candies, they don’t put them in there any more, but back in the day they used to. They were little red, yellow, purple candies, and they tasted really good, they really did but they brought bad juju to you. So I did my best to stay away.

Informant’s Comments:

He says this is the only true superstition he believes in because he witnessed the superstition working first-hand.

Collector’s Comments:

This is another example of a superstition that results in the threat of being killed.

Collector’s Name: 

Matt Girouard

Tags/Keywords:

Charms, Superstition, Military, MRE, Meal Ready-to-Eat

Gear and Appearance Perfection

Title: Gear and Appearance Perfection

General Information about Item:

Customary Folklore: Superstition

Language – English

Country of origin – America

Informant Data:

Cory Green is a 26 year-old male from St. Albans, Vermont. He is now located in Boston and is attending Northeastern University. He joined the Navy in July of 2008 out of high school to be a hospital Corpsman. He did boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. From 2009-2011, he was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan where he worked in the ER and ICU doing basic hospital medicine. In 2011, he transferred to first Marine division to be an infantry corpsman where he specialized in combat medicine and combat trauma. Finally, in 2013 he transferred to Portsmouth, New Hampshire where he worked in family practice and eventually, got out of the military.

He joined the Navy because he was 3-sport athlete in high school, and his grades weren’t the best. He also didn’t feel mature enough for college. His dad suggested the Navy as the best option for him. Cory is 6th generation Navy. He felt that corpsman had the best opportunities for real-life experience and jobs outside of the Navy.

Contextual Data:

The military focuses on rigorous following of regulations, and Cory experienced this from various higher ranking officers.  They drilled into their head that if this gear and appearance perfection was not achieved, they would be killed in combat.  The military often uses the threat of death as a motivation for behaving a certain way.

Item:

Gear and Appearance Perfection: The soldiers were expecting to follow all grooming and gear regulations, and if they did not, it was believed they would be killed.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

Transcript of Associated File:

Cory: If you didn’t shave for like a day or something, when you’re in the middle of no where in Afghanistan and you got some staff sergeant yelling at you for not shaving, and following the Marine Corps’ regs(regulations) like that led to complacency, which led to someone getting blown up so you always had to have your boots bloused…like we had this gunny yell at us one time because we were in the middle of Afghanistan in like December time, 20 degrees out and just came from the drill field, and his biggest priority was to make sure we were following regulations when it came to having our boots bloused, shaving every morning, packing our gear, lining it up correctly, and no beanies on past when the sun was up even if it was 20 degrees because those kind of small things led to bigger issues, which for some reason led to all of us getting killed, but it never really happened. But, that was one of the small superstitions that we had.

Informant’s Comments:

The general line of thinking of this superstition is that if you do not follow the regulations down to the minute detail, that means you are not paying attention, and this will ultimately get you killed in combat.

Collector’s Comments:

The reality is that grooming your beard will not have an effect on whether you are killed or not, which makes this a superstition.

Collector’s Name: 

Matt Girouard

Tags/Keywords:

Regulations, Grooming, Gear, Perfection, Navy, Military, Superstition

Blood Stripes

Title: Blood Stripes

General Information about Item:

Customary Folklore: Rituals, Rights of Passage

Language – English

Country of origin – America

Informant Data:

Cory Green is a 26 year-old male from St. Albans, Vermont. He is now located in Boston and is attending Northeastern University. He joined the Navy in July of 2008 out of high school to be a hospital Corpsman. He did boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. From 2009-2011, he was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan where he worked in the ER and ICU doing basic hospital medicine. In 2011, he transferred to first Marine division to be an infantry corpsman where he specialized in combat medicine and combat trauma. Finally, in 2013 he transferred to Portsmouth, New Hampshire where he worked in family practice and eventually, got out of the military.

He joined the Navy because he was 3-sport athlete in high school, and his grades weren’t the best. He also didn’t feel mature enough for college. His dad suggested the Navy as the best option for him. Cory is 6th generation Navy. He felt that corpsman had the best opportunities for real-life experience and jobs outside of the Navy.

Contextual Data:

After being promoted to E4 or above and receiving your red stripes, there would be a meeting where everyone who is above you punches you in the leg where the red stripes are located.  This serves as sort of a hazing tradition.  The military focuses on hierarchy, and the blood stripes serve as a right of passage where the higher ranked officers put someone through some hazing when they become a certain rank.

Item:

Blood Stripes: After receiving your red stripes for ranking to E4 or above, higher ranking officers punch you in the leg.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

Transcript of Associated File:

Cory: The blood stripes more fell with the Marines. When they became NCOs, an E4 or above, how we did it with 24 was that we had a NCO meeting in one of the rooms and to earn your blood stripes, it’s just that all the people that are E4 and above they’re in a room, and it’s pretty much just like you get Charlie-horsed until everyone does it, and then you just can’t walk for a couple days, you know, nothing too crazy. But that was more for like the Marines, even though I don’t wear blood stripes, I still went through it just because when I picked up E4, it was part of the tradition that we had so even though I don’t rate blood stripes, I still went through it just to do it with them so there’s that one.

Cole: What is a blood stripe?

Cory: When you become an NCO on the dress uniforms of Marines, they have the red stripe going down the pants, and they call that the blood stripe so that’s how they get those.

Informant’s Comments:

Even though he wasn’t a Marine and didn’t get the red stripes, when Cory became an E4, he went through the blood stripe tradition because he was in a Marine unit.

Collector’s Comments:

This process serves as a sort of hazing ritual that respects the hierarchy that the military focuses on.

Collector’s Name: 

Matt Girouard

Tags/Keywords:

Blood Stripes, Rite of Passage, Marines, Red Stripe, Military, E4

Earning Title of Doc

Title: Earning Title of Doc

General Information about Item:

Customary Folklore: Rituals, Rights of Passage

Language – English

Country of origin – America

Informant Data:

Cory Green is a 26 year-old male from St. Albans, Vermont. He is now located in Boston and is attending Northeastern University. He joined the Navy in July of 2008 out of high school to be a hospital Corpsman. He did boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. From 2009-2011, he was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan where he worked in the ER and ICU doing basic hospital medicine. In 2011, he transferred to first Marine division to be an infantry corpsman where he specialized in combat medicine and combat trauma. Finally, in 2013 he transferred to Portsmouth, New Hampshire where he worked in family practice and eventually, got out of the military.

He joined the Navy because he was 3-sport athlete in high school, and his grades weren’t the best. He also didn’t feel mature enough for college. His dad suggested the Navy as the best option for him. Cory is 6th generation Navy. He felt that corpsman had the best opportunities for real-life experience and jobs outside of the Navy.

Contextual Data:

Cory first learned about the honor of being a doc in bootcamp in Great Lakes, Illinois.  The honor of being called doc was only going to be bestowed upon someone that had earned the trust of their superiors.  Obviously, the military focuses a lot on hierarchies, and within the hierarchies there needs to be trust.  This is an example of an unofficial hierarchy within the military.

Item:

Earning Title of Doc: Initially as a corpsman, you are referred to as a nurse.  After gaining the trust and respect of your superiors, you earn the title of doc.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

Transcript of Associated File:

Cory: When it comes to the title of doc, I think, was the biggest tradition for me that I wanted to get because I remember when I first got to the Marine Corps unit I was actually called nurse because I didn’t rate, which means you’re at the bottom of the totem pole, you have to earn our respect to be called doc. You don’t just get the name, we don’t give the name out. That actually like drove me to be the corpsmen that I became. When you’re with your marines, and like they treat you like a marine but they also have a little bit of respect even if you are a boot and haven’t done nothing, but they also know that you still have to earn their respect for them to earn your title. It took me over a year and a half; it actually took me until my 7th casualty to even be called doc just by accident, and even when they called [me] it for the first time, they still like you know, just messing with me were like “ah, you’re still nurse to us, but you know…” So I think that’s like the biggest tradition for me that I liked to hear was earning the title doc. You know, you always heard it in school, in Great Lakes, you know, earning that name, and like how it’s just not given out, and then it’s just that pride that we have of becoming one, that was the best part about it I think.

Informant’s Comments:

Earning the title of doc was a big focus of Cory’s, and he feels it drove him to be the best corpsman he could be.

Collector’s Comments:

This item is essentially an unofficial hierarchy that focuses on respect, and it takes a lot of work to earn this title.

Collector’s Name: 

Matt Girouard

Tags/Keywords:

Rite of Passage, Doc, Nurse, Navy, Military, Corpsman

Blood Stripe

Title: Blood Stripe

Informant info: Michael Rodriguez. Informant attends Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH as a United States Army Veteran. Informant enlisted in the Army in 2003 and was a member of the 1st Battalion 8th Marines Bravo Company, which is an infantry military unit. He was stationed out of camp Lejeune North Carolina. Informant served in Iraq from June 2004 to December 2004. He was awarded a Purple Heart. He was from a military family, as well. Informant is 31 years old.

Type of lore: Customary Lore, Tradition

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA

Social / Cultural Context: When a soldier in the military gets promoted to the level of Non-commisisoned officer they are given a ceremony and pants with a red stripe on the side. This stripe is called a “Blood Stripe”. During the ceremony, other NCO traditionally go up to the person being promoted and punch him in the thigh along the red stripe to give him a blood stripe on his leg.

Associated file: Blood Stripe

Transcript: “There’s also when you become like a corporal and a Non-Commissioned Officer, you get these things called a blood stripe,you see it like, next time you see a Marine Corps uniform ya its like blue pants that have a red stripe that go right down the side. They call it the blood stripe. You get that when you become a non-commissioned officer. Or an officer. So um back in the day, they’d used to uh you’d get… you’d become an NCO like and maybe they still in some places they still do it i don’t think they do it too much anymore but uh  you buddies would pull you aside if you were a sergeant or corporal already they would like pound and just like beat the shit out of you. And you’d have these bruises that run up and down the side of your legs. You’d have your ‘blood stripe’.”

Informant’s comments: Informant thought this was a funny tradition. He mentioned that a lot of the traditions are dying down.

Collector’s comments: I thought this was an interesting tradition that was similar to hazing at our school.

Tags/Keywords: Blood Stripe, Customary, Military, Tradition

Pin Hitting

Title: Pin Hitting

Informant info: Michael Rodriguez. Informant attends Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH as a United States Army Veteran. Informant enlisted in the Army in 2003 and was a member of the 1st Battalion 8th Marines Bravo Company, which is an infantry military unit. He was stationed out of camp Lejeune North Carolina. Informant served in Iraq from June 2004 to December 2004. He was awarded a Purple Heart. He was from a military family, as well. Informant is 31 years old.

Type of lore: Customary Lore, Tradition, Ceremony

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA

Social / Cultural Context: Informant was asked if there were any traditions or celebrations related to the military. He claimed that during promotion ceremonies after the person being promoted was given a pin there would not be a stopper on the back to prevent the pin from stabbing the person. While this was happening the close friends also in the military would come up to the person and hit on top of the pin to stab the person. By the end of the night the person would have “snake bites” on his chest.

Associated file: Pin Hitting

Transcript: “They used to, you know, we used to get promoted they would uh…like corporal or something like that they don’t.. there’s these little stoppers that go on the back of the pin so obviously you don’t stab yourself, ummm, for your ring. But when you do the promotion, you don’t put those stoppers on and so like what used to happen back in the day is like you’d get them pinned on and like everyone afterwards would like very quickly would come up and like (makes hitting motion on chest) ‘How you doin’ Mike? How you don’ Rodriguez’ and so your constantly by the end you get these two little stab wounds.. these two little snake bites on either side of your neck and your chest.”

Informant’s comments: This tradition has been dying down as well because of the connection to hazing.

Collector’s Comments: During the interview he banged his chest to indicate what it looked like.

 

Dog Tags

Title: Dog Tags

Informant info: Michael Rodriguez. Informant attends Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH as a United States Army Veteran. Informant enlisted in the Army in 2003 and was a member of the 1st Battalion 8th Marines Bravo Company, which is an infantry military unit. He was stationed out of camp Lejeune North Carolina. Informant served in Iraq from June 2004 to December 2004. He was awarded a Purple Heart. He was from a military family, as well. Informant is 31 years old.

Type of lore: Material Lore, Superstition, Charms

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA

Social / Cultural Context: Informant was asked if there were any charms that he had while in the military or related to the military. Informant said that he carried around his own dog tags along with dog tags from his great grandfather from when he served. He claims that they were good luck charms.

Associated file:

Dog Tags

Transcript: “Uh, kind of. I mean i still have… I usually wear like I mean I have my dog tag my identification tag. I have my great grandfather’s from World War II.”

Informant’s comments: This was his first thought when i mentioned charms and he seemed to think his great grandfather’s and his own dog tags were charms.

Collector’s comments: These could be scene as contactor contagion because he carried around both dog tags in the hopes of having good luck like his great grandfather.

Tags/Keywords: Charms, Dog tags, Military

Malaria Pills

Title: Malaria Pills

Informant info: Michael Rodriguez. Informant attends Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH as a United States Army Veteran. Informant enlisted in the Army in 2003 and was a member of the 1st Battalion 8th Marines Bravo Company, which is an infantry military unit. He was stationed out of camp Lejeune North Carolina. Informant served in Iraq from June 2004 to December 2004. He was awarded a Purple Heart. He was from a military family, as well. Informant is 31 years old.

Type of lore: Verbal Lore, Myth

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA

Social / Cultural Context: Informant was asked if there were any ghost stories that related to the area that he was stationed in or military related. He replied that there weren’t really any ghost stories but there was a sort of myth around the malaria pills that gave you night terrors or weird dreams.

Associated file:

Malaria Pills

Transcript:

“You are on Malaria pills, you know malaria… and I don’t know if they still do, but the pills that they gave us, like, they’re known to cause, um, like a, not necessarily like nightmares, sort of like, they give you weird dreams. Everyone knows, when we take the malaria pills, you’re gunna get some fucked up dreams. I can’t really remember mine, but I remember my buddies, like popping up, like. He was sleeping, and we were in this tent out in the desert, and he like pops up in the middle of nowhere and he’s like ‘There’s a snake! There’s a snake! Get it off me! There’s a snake!’ and we were all like looking at him like ‘yo, bro like there’s no snake there, like, I think you were just having a nightmare.’ ‘No , there’s a snake…’ No those malaria pills just fuck you up. And you always hear a lot of guys like, whether it was actually those malaria pills or like people being stressed. And like you’re near those people at night when you’re normally not. And you’d hear these people having these nightmares, which normally do when they’re stressed, but you never know that. So, whether or not it was the malaria pills or just like the normal stress of going to a new area and being deployed, I’ll let science decide on that.”

Informant’s comments: He thought the effect that the malaria pills could’ve had on those people was funny. He was skeptical on whether or not it was actually the pills or just stress and described the malaria pills incidents as kind of ghost stories.

Collector’s Comments: Thought it was funny the way he described his friend’s dream.

Tags/Keywords: Malaria, military, pills, verbal lore

 

Adapt, Overcome, Improvise

Title: Adapt, Overcome, Improvise
Informant info: Michael Rodriguez. Informant attends Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH as a United States Army Veteran. Informant enlisted in the Army in 2003 and was a member of the 1st Battalion 8th Marines Bravo Company, which is an infantry military unit. He was stationed out of camp Lejeune North Carolina. Informant served in Iraq from June 2004 to December 2004. He was awarded a Purple Heart. He was from a military family, as well. Informant is 31 years old.

Type of lore: Verbal Lore
Language: English
Country of Origin: USA
Social / Cultural Context: Informant was asked if there were any traditions that his family of veterans had told him about the military and he said there were not. Then he said there was a saying that his father used to tell him that was a military saying. The saying is meant to encourage.

Associated File:

Adapt, Overcome, Improvise

Transcript:

[I have recorded the item exactly how it was told to me in the interview]: “He would always harp on me ‘Adapt, Overcome, Improvise’, which is this sort of like military motto. You know you just sort of keep on keeping on. Like oh you fail, you know, work your way around it and try again.”
Collector’s comments: Informant is referring to his father when he says ‘he’. His father was also in the military. He had previously talked about his father.

Informant’s Comments: Found this one more interesting because it was passed on through the military and the Coast Guard, which his father was in.

Tags/Keywords: Military, Retort, Verbal Lore