Of course, being a Marine isn’t a game. It’s life and death business. But, every once in a while a Marine unit invites spouses and other family members over 18 to play Marine and participate in “Jane Wayne Day.” The idea is to be treated like a Marine and experience Marine things. We get to do some of the fun stuff that makes being a Marine sexy. You know…shooting things, driving tanks, wearing uniforms, singing cadence.
The day started with our in-brief, which started 10 minutes late…an excellent lesson in the concept of hurry up and wait Marines are so familiar with.
Donning my borrowed cammie pants, green scivy shirt and tennies, I formed up as ordered by former drill instructor Staff Sgt Hardass. Of course, I had no idea how to form up, and picture 22 women wandering around a grassy area trying to figure out how to make 3 straight lines. Hilarity ensued as we giggled our way into some sort of geometric formation. But SSgt schooled us well and by the end of the day we finally figured out how to make 3 straight lines.
We marched around the static display and introduced to many acronymed vehicles, helicopters, weapons and such. Including a CH46 super stallion helicopter, a 50-cal machine gun, m240g and more. I say marched, but not everyone knew how to step with their left when SSgt said left, so it was more like very organized walking.
We were then treated to a Martial Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP, pronounced like McDonald’s), demonstration. MCMAP combines the most effective techniques of various forms of martial arts. The purpose of this program, according to our blackbelt Gunny instructor, is to learn to read your enemy’s intent mold ethical warriors, one’s who don’t use any more force than is necessary based on the situation.
Then, we got to punch. First, we punched the air, and then we punched the padded things that our partners were holding. And, I learned how to effectively burst my attacker’s ear drum with just my hand – useful knowledge!
Perhaps the coolest, most unique part of the day for me (this being my 3rd JWD) was the military working dog (MWD) demonstration. These beautiful and faithful animals demonstrated how they aid in the apprehension and detention of potential enemies, terrorists, and criminals. The dogs were amazing, with a radio strapped to their backs, following commands from their handler who spoke to them from their radio while the dog obeyed at over 50 yards away. I’m still in awe of these amazing animals and their handlers.
As the morning came to a close we were handed a Meal, Ready-to-Eat – I got sloppy joe, barf. I tried to stomach it, but it just didn’t work. I’ve had MREs before and they were pretty tasty, but this one, barf. The trailmix and Gatorade I had is the only thing that saved me from falling out during our half-mile march to the ISMT.
I’m unsure what ISMT stands for, but I’ll tell you what it is. Basically, it’s a shooting simulator. The rifle is loaded with air, and a target flashes on a big movie theater type of screen. You get 3 seconds to pop off 2-3 rounds. Gotta say, that was the most fun part of the day, especially after I saw my score of 14 out of 15 rounds.
After all of this, we march back to our training area and proceed to run the obstacle course…modified of course. No wall or rope climb, but fighting with the pugil sticks and low crawling through the sand were excellent substitutes. I could have done without the face full of sand as I tried to lob a 20-pound sand bag over a 5-foot high bar. But, I still got my grenade simulator into the roped off target area so that was success.
After all was said and done, I made some new friends, got to experience some of the cool things our Marines do. The most significant thing I learned is that this common experience bonded us wives who went through it together. We endured the yelling, the marching, the lousy food, the hurry up and wait and the talking smack…and so now we have this common experience that brings us together, in addition to the common bond of being married to Marines and all facing the same upcoming deployment together.
For me, the understanding of the bond that is created between Marines who serve together was the biggest lesson of the day, and if I had to endure several days in a row of being Jane Wayne, I’d be pretty cranky, so now I empathize when my mister comes home frustrated, tired, dirty, and hungry.