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Old 03-31-2020, 09:39 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default USMC Minutiae for Marine Character Background

I have a lot of NPCs in my campaign. Many of them have served in the US military and a fair number are still serving as reservists in 3rd FORECON, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion or some other part of the MARFORRES. There are also people who matter for the history of the 'Night Riders' (Monster Hunters) that the PCs are part of, even if they are now retired or dead, who might have descendants involved with the organization.

In any case, because I don't like inaccuracies, I'm trying to have the service histories and biographies of various NPCs as accurate as possible. Yes, there might be secret occult forces and horrible monsters in the world of the 2010s, but the history of the setting is our history and while these NPCs are mostly exceptional people, they're meant to have real histories.

So, I figured I'd see if any forumites familiar with US Marine Corps history, traditions and other minutiae could offer me any assistance. I probably have a lot of incredibly specific questions, but I'd also welcome general comments and notes.

I have one pretty general question, first, which is about unit attachments and how much Marines tend to move around between units. Is it common for someone to spend most or all of his career in a given battalion or regiment, like in the British Army?

Example NPC 1

For example, one (now dead) NPC was John McBride (b. March 15; 1919; Anahuac, TX; d. July 17, 2006; Anahuac, TX). McBride was not a career Marine (he had a civilian career in law enforcement), but he served as an enlisted Marine during WWII and Korea. I'm tentatively thinking he served in the 3/5, but I'm open to suggestions.

First of all, if someone from Texas joined the USMC right after Pearl Harbor and ended up a rifleman, what were the most likely units he would be posted to?

My background works if he could plausibly have served in any of the nine numbered battalions under the 1st, 5th or 7th Marine Regiments, but I'd like to select one with evocative historical episodes attached, cool nickname, motto or something like that.

I know there is an entire system for East and West Coast Marines, as regards training, at least, but I'm not sure how things worked during all historical periods.

Second, how unusual would it be for a 31-year-old who had been about four years out of the Marines to enlist again as soon as Korea started?

Third, how much training would someone who had been at Guadalcanal, New Britain, Peleliu and Okinawa 5-8 years before be subjected to before being sent to Korea in 1950?

Fourth, if we assume that John McBride was not interested in a military career, but felt that it was his duty to fight on the front lines when his country was at war, and that he was a competent, steady, serious and fearless man who felt a strong sense of responsibility toward his fellow Marines, what might his rank plausibly have been at the end of WWII?

Fifth, how likely is it that John McBride might be able to re-enlist for the Marine Corps and expect a posting to his old unit, which had been disbanded after WWII and was being re-activated at the time?

Sixth, how long would he have served on his second enlistment and at what rank is he likely to have separated from active duty after the Korean War?
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Old 03-31-2020, 10:51 AM   #2
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Default Guillermo Wagner, ca 1977-1980 (Enlisted Service)

Not all the questions I have are about ancient history, either. Here's something more recent than WWII, even more recent than Vietnam, but still not the modern Corps (I have plenty of questions about the modern USMC too).

Example NPC the Second

Guillermo Wagner (b. December 16, 1958; Havana, Cuba) was born to a father who was was part of the management of a US-owned casino in Havana and a young Cubano mother who worked there. Guillermo moved away with his father after Castro took over in Cuba and became a citizen of the United States at some point in the 1960s, having lived in Texas and Florida (his father traveled a lot for business and took him along).

In 1977, after having been expelled from three universities, Guillermo joined the USMC. His father officially drew pay as a security contractor, but had served in the French Foreign Legion and some of his work for French and US mineral and petroleum companies in Africa was nothing short of mercenary work. So, while his father wanted Guillermo to become a business executive with an Ivy League education*, Guillermo could not imagine being anything other than a warrior, like his father and 'uncles', veterans of many different military services.

So, as a 19-year-old kid who grew up around former Legionnaires, actual mercenaries, Cuban expatriates, shadowy Air America pilots and the kind of real-life adventurers who are vanishingly rare in the modern world, what might his Marine Corps career have been like?

Guillermo is smart, tough and aggressive, but he'd have struggled with military discipline. He was probably a very promising recruit, in that he would have excelled at marksmanship, PT, fieldcraft and military aptitude tests**, but he was probably not going to make rank.

Guillermo was not planning on a career in the USMC. He wanted to prove to himself and his father that he could finish the toughest training he could find and excel as a combat soldier. If he could, he would have enlisted for a three-year hitch rather than a four year one (which I think might have been possible at that time), especially since it was peacetime and peacetime soldiering would have bored Guillermo unless he was provided with very challenging training.

As it turned out, Guillermo only served the one enlistment contract in the USMC and then joined the French Foreign Legion, where his father and many of his uncles had served. As there was no war there either, he only served one five year contract there, before leaving (not happy with the peacetime Legion either) and going into the same 'security contractor' field as his father.

Fortunately for Guillermo, the setting diverged from our world not long after that, so instead of being arrested for his part of an ill-considered coup somewhere in Africa, he eventually became a 'Night Rider' (Monster Hunters), along with many of his 'uncles' (his father was one of the main instructors for the first ones).

With that being said, how might a gung-ho, slightly crazy young man in 1977 go about joining the Marines if he wanted to maximize his chances of getting the most high-speed, low-drag training possible and being assigned to something exciting when the Cold War turned hot?

Someone genuinely disappointed that he missed Vietnam, who believes that there will be another war like it any day now, and wants to be among the first to fight?

Guillermo has high Attributes and relevant Advantages (inc. military Talent) to be a great combat soldier. In the peacetime military, he got in trouble, but combat veteran NCOs would probably recognize that the kid had genuine gifts if the USMC ever got into something like Vietnam again.

Would that be enough to get Guillermo into any interesting courses, schools, units or postings in the 1977-1980 era?

For example, if Guillermo was already better at fieldcraft, stalking and shooting than most professional soldiers when he enlisted, what are his odds of making it to Scout-Sniper School if he's only signed up for 3-4 years?

Or is there some assignment or training that might appeal even more to him that he could realistically try for in that period?

Basically, what's the most interesting career Guillermo could have had in the US Marine Corps between 1977-1980 (or 1981 if a three-year enlistment was impossible at that time) that would still have resulted in an honorable discharge?

*Because the father had been lucky enough to be friends with someone who had struck it rich and could afford to send Guillermo to any school he wanted, not to mention that having a Texas oil billionaire for a godfather would give him a leg up in getting lucrative employment.
**His father may not have intended him to become a soldier, but Ziggy Wagner would have considered it part of basic child-rearing to teach his son military skills. Also, he spent much of his formative years as the mascot of one paramilitary, security or mercenary force or another, from Cubano patriots to African mercenaries. He's had a lot of 'uncles' who didn't see why a boy who wanted to learn to fight should have be forced into becoming an over-educated suit.
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Old 03-31-2020, 04:00 PM   #3
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Default Recon Marine Duty Assignments 2001-2018

Aside from operational slots in Recon battalions and companies, what kind of duty assignments are Recon Marines with 0321 and 0203 MOSes likely to have in the modern era?

I mean, I'm assuming that not everyone gets to serve their entire career in just one unit and both senior NCOs and officers tend to be assigned to training or staff assignments at some point.

What kind of assignments might those be?

Where are the schools that they'd be likely to be instructors at?

How long is such a duty assignment generally?

What kind of staff rotations do 0203 officers do, at what point in their careers and where might they be doing it?

And if someone wants to be part of the Marine Forces Reserve after their active duty service as a Recon Marine, what are likely reservist jobs for someone living on the US Gulf Coast, other than those open in 3rd FORECON or the 4th Reconnaissance Battalion?
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Old 03-31-2020, 04:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: USMC Minutiae for Marine Character Background

Everyone moves. You don't always stay in your MOS but you have to do other duties. May have to recruit or train. If you're great at your job you may no longer do it. You might teach or get pulled to do something else. Had two snipers on last deployment who worked logistics.
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Old 03-31-2020, 04:59 PM   #5
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Default Re: USMC Minutiae for Marine Character Background

Hey, thanks for answering!

Quote:
Originally Posted by revshafer View Post
Everyone moves. You don't always stay in your MOS but you have to do other duties. May have to recruit or train.
Ok, cool.

About how long is each duty assignment, generally?

And what are the major training jobs that exceptional Recon Marines might be assigned to do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by revshafer View Post
If you're great at your job you may no longer do it. You might teach or get pulled to do something else. Had two snipers on last deployment who worked logistics.
The NPCs I'm mostly detailing are 'Night Riders' (Monster Hunters), recruited in secret by friends and fellow veterans to fight against a hidden occult threat. Only those who have world-class willpower, strength of character and mental adaptability (in GURPS terms, have high IQ and very high Will) would be considered.*

So, I'm thinking about what kind of careers those who stand out even among exceptional Marines might have. From what research I've done I get the feeling that the 'reward' for excelling is often training duty, passing on skills and experience to the new generation.

At what point in the career of an exceptional Recon Marine are they likely to be promoted out of the jobs they want to do, so they'd perhaps be more receptive to overtures from old friends working in the private sector?

They'd be encouraged to remain in the USMCR, but while they'd officially be security consultants, their real jobs would be protecting civilians from supernatural threats that the authorities either didn't know about or didn't accept.

*It's not as if only Marines are recruited, but I'm asking about the Marines in this particular thread. They recruit from any and all branches, as well as from other militaries where the Patron has contacts and even people from other backgrounds (a lot of jobs aren't front-line operators, after all).
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Old 03-31-2020, 05:35 PM   #6
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Default Re: USMC Minutiae for Marine Character Background

Roughly two years for Officers, three years for Enlisted.

There is constant churn in Active units. When our Reserve unit deployed, all of our orders were extended to cover the deployment. No one left. We had people come in to plus us up. Not as much churn for Enlisted in Reserves because you're drilling closer to home. May be going further away the further up in rank you go.

The assumption that you'll be with the same people for your career is a false one. Always movement. But you keep meeting new people and will see people you know quite frequently. I'm a Chaplain and I plussed up to help at mountain warfare training for ten days, and ended up deploying with the same unit a year later. The CO, XO and Sergeant Major were all new. Enlisted Marines remembered me.
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Old 03-31-2020, 05:36 PM   #7
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Default Re: USMC Minutiae for Marine Character Background

At what point in the career of an exceptional Recon Marine are they likely to be promoted out of the jobs they want to do, so they'd perhaps be more receptive to overtures from old friends working in the private sector?

Needs of the Navy.
Needs of the Marine Corps.
Saw an exceptional Marine leave Marines because he refused to go to recruiting duty. He wanted to go to combat. They wouldn't let him, so he said goodbye.
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Old 03-31-2020, 06:07 PM   #8
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Default MAJ Ryder Blanchard

So, how would I need to adjust this career to make it more plausible?

Ryder Blanchard
b. September 27, 1970; New Iberia, LA.
Joined USMC right out of high school.
1988-1989: Active duty in the USMC; assigned to 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion after training.
1989-1990: Deployed to Kuwait and Iraq for Desert Shield and Desert Storm w. 2nd Recon Btn.
1990-1992: Active duty in the USMC; 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion.

In 1992, Blanchard separated from active duty and went to college at the University of New Orleans. He served as a reservist during that time and was trying to become a Reserve Officer, a goal he eventually succeeded in. He didn't return to active duty after college because he became a police officer in the NOPD.

1993-1998: SMCR service in Alpha Co, 4th Recon Btn in New Orleans .
1999-2000: OCS followed by IOC, SSULC and GIOC.
2000-2003: SMCR service 2LT and LT w. Alpha Co, 4th Recon Btn.
2003-2004: SMCR service w. 3rd FORECON as CPT of platoon.
2004: Called up for his SMCR service for deployment with 3rd FORECON in Iraq.
2005-2007: SMCR service w. 3rd FORECON, call-up and deployment to Iraq.
2008-2011: SMCR service w. 3rd FORECON as CPT S-3.
2011-2013: SMCR service w. Anti-Terrorism Btn as MAJ S-3.
2014-2016: SMCR service w. 4th Recon Btn as MAJ S-3.
2016-2018: SMCR service on 4th MARDIV staff as MAJ in G-2.
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Old 04-01-2020, 09:54 AM   #9
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Default Re: USMC Minutiae for Marine Character Background

Quote:
Originally Posted by revshafer View Post
Roughly two years for Officers, three years for Enlisted.
Thanks. Is it the same in the Reserve?

Quote:
Originally Posted by revshafer View Post
There is constant churn in Active units.
So, how many units will someone (e.g. 0321 or other 03xx MOS) who spends eight years on active duty serve with?

Quote:
Originally Posted by revshafer View Post
When our Reserve unit deployed, all of our orders were extended to cover the deployment. No one left. We had people come in to plus us up. Not as much churn for Enlisted in Reserves because you're drilling closer to home. May be going further away the further up in rank you go.
From what I can tell, some MOS-es don't have that many Reserve units where there are billets.

So, for example, if someone lives in Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama, and serves as a reservist Recon Marine with the 0321 MOS, where can he be assigned other than 3rd FORECON or 4th Reconnaissance Battalion?

Would they be assigned to a reserve unit on the West Coast just to keep them moving?

Quote:
Originally Posted by revshafer View Post
The assumption that you'll be with the same people for your career is a false one. Always movement. But you keep meeting new people and will see people you know quite frequently. I'm a Chaplain and I plussed up to help at mountain warfare training for ten days, and ended up deploying with the same unit a year later. The CO, XO and Sergeant Major were all new. Enlisted Marines remembered me.
Do individual Marines have any influence over which units they get assigned to, either on active duty or the Reserve?

I realize that the ultimate decision is always based on 'the needs of the Marine Corps', but is there any chance for a senior enlisted Marine or an officer to pursue assignment to a specific unit or duty in preference with others, with a reasonable chance of success?

Quote:
Originally Posted by revshafer View Post
At what point in the career of an exceptional Recon Marine are they likely to be promoted out of the jobs they want to do, so they'd perhaps be more receptive to overtures from old friends working in the private sector?

Needs of the Navy.
Needs of the Marine Corps.
Saw an exceptional Marine leave Marines because he refused to go to recruiting duty. He wanted to go to combat. They wouldn't let him, so he said goodbye.
So, how many years of active duty service is an exceptional Recon or other combat Marine likely to have before he gets assigned to (more than a few months) of non-combat duty and/or duty that doesn't make use of his MOS?
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Old 04-01-2020, 10:17 AM   #10
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Default Re: USMC Minutiae for Marine Character Background

That is the reserves.
Active, for me, was two years sea duty and three years shore rotation. But that is different for every MOS. Knew electricians that were five sea and four shore. Poor kid was on the same ship for five years with a succession of bad COs.
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