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Marine Corps

  • Cobalt Jackets

    Written by the late Paul Krassner, he wrote in 2003:

    Ethan suited up and walked into a triple- door sally-port, where he progressed through each airlock via ten-inch-thick lead-lined doors. Past the last door, he stepped into a massive room/warehouse, about 60 feet wide by 100 feet in length, with a 20-foot ceiling–huge for battleship storage-room standards. From the floor to the ceiling, thousands upon thousands of what looked like missiles were stored. It was weird, because he’d never seen missiles stored in such a way where they were on top of one another.

    The officer came around a row of missiles, and Ethan asked him the question he had for him about his TAD request, and then asked him, “What the hell kind of missiles are these?”

    “Those aren’t missiles; they’re cobalt jackets.”

    “What are they for?”

    “Well, this is ‘need to know,’ so keep your mouth shut, but they are designed to slide on over most of our conventional ordinance. They’re made out of radioactive cobalt, and when the bomb they’re wrapped around detonates, they contaminate everything in the blast zone and quite a bit beyond.”

    “So they turn regular ordinance into nukes?”

    “No, not exactly. The cobalt doesn’t detonate itself. It just scatters everywhere.”

    “Well, what? Does the radiation kill people?”

    “Not immediately. Cobalt jackets will not likely ever be used. They’re for a situation where the U.S. government is crumbling during a time of war, and foreign takeover is imminent. We won’t capitulate. We basically have a scorched earth policy. If we are going to lose, we arm everything with cobalt–and I mean everything; we have jackets at nearly every missile magazine in the world, on land or at sea–and contaminate the world. If we can’t have it, nobody can.

    “Just another example,” Ethan told me, “of what treacherous creatures our leadership is made of.”

    Terrifying shit. I can only imagine that not much has changed.

    Paul’s entire piece on the US Military’s use of radiated cobalt casings are no longer online at its original publication source, New York Press. But, it available for reading on the Wayback Machine. You can also peruse an interesting collection of writings about nuclear disarmament and policy, on this mirror and read the original piece here.

  • Ronald “The Gunny” Lee Ermey, was a United States Marine Corps drill instructor, actor, philanthropist, comedian, and of course — a gun-nut.

    He was a voice-actor in one of my all-time favorite animated film (and the subsequent sequels), Toy Story. While Ermey was obviously typecasted frequently, he’s appeared in many many films. I think he enjoyed the notoriety, the work and being armed with such an iconic voice he was likely highly sought after.

    His obituary in the LA Times really captures the breadth of his virtues:

    […] A decorated Vietnam Veteran, R. Lee Ermey was an outspoken, rebellious, and creative spirit who dedicated decades of his life in service to his country and to his craft as an actor or television host. Starring or appearing in over 60 feature films, his decades-long career was highlighted by earning a Golden Globe Nomination for his role as drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, which was released in 1987. While R. Lee Ermey, nicknamed “The Gunny,” often portrayed the villain onscreen, in his personal life he was known best for his sharp sense of humor and generous spirit. Ermey joined the Marines shortly after high school and has often credited the military with saving his life. R. Lee Ermey never stopped showing his gratitude to “The Corps” through his charity work with organizations like The Young Marines, Fisher House and Toys for Tots. […]

    I don’t have a particularly decorated or rosy relationship with my father, but Ermey reminds me a lot of my dad. Both men were complicated, really funny, patriotic, and both are definitely gun-nuts. While my father never served in the military, he has a profound and deep admiration for the Marines and servicemen (and servicewomen) of the US. I like to think that The Gunny and my dad would have been really good pals.

    I’m happy to see The Gunny was laid to rest during a particularly unique and beautiful backdrop at Arlington Memorial Cemetery:

    From MarineTimes.

    Rest easy Gunny. ✌️