Marines tote tiny technology to field to pass time

24 Feb 2004 | Lance Cpl. Samuel Bard Valliere 1st Marine Logistics Group

It used to be that a deck of cards, a paperback and good conversation was all a Marine needed to enjoy the down time of deployments.

Marines and sailors have taken advantage of new smaller, more portable technology and deployed here with laptop computers, personal DVD players, handheld global positioning systems, digital cameras, MP3 players, GameBoys and larger console game systems.

Some Marines bring the gadgets to help them pass the time and keep their minds from dwelling too much on their family and friends back home.

Lance Cpl. Robert G. Moran, 20, with the 1st Force Service Support Group, said that the music and games he brought help him direct his focus on the mission he's out here to accomplish, instead of his life back home.

"I was looking at some pictures the other day and I felt kind of down," said Moran, who can often be found stretched out on his cot playing a video game and listening to a hip-hop album during his off-hours. "All I had to do was put on a CD and relax. I can't let the whole family thing get to me, although I love them a lot."

Moran, a native of San Jose, Calif., spent more than $50 on batteries a few days before he left the states. Others are buying adapters at the local post exchange to accommodate the Kuwaiti power outlets.

Moran said he doesn't worry about the fine desert sand ruining his electronics because, like others, he keeps his CD player and GameBoy in a plastic bag for safekeeping when they're not in use.

Some unit leaders say bringing games and music helps Marines to work better during the day. 

"The devices help pass the time and keep up morale," said Sgt. Julius G. Woodley, 25, with Headquarters and Support Battalion, 1st FSSG. "They get your mind off of work at the end of the day so you can come back refreshed the next day."

Not everyone feels that bringing all that entertainment technology is the best way to go, though, and in many tents here, a rousing community game of spades or poker is still preferred over the "solitaire" of video games.

Cpl. Jason D. Crisp, a 21-year-old native of Limestone, Tenn., with I Marine Expeditionary Force's 1st Force Reconnaissance Battalion, said bringing electronic gizmos defeats the purpose of the traditional field experience -- to endure.

"I think not having them makes you a better person because it wakes you up to the things you take advantage of. It makes you appreciate it more," said Crisp, who only brought a set of dominoes to pass the time.

Others, like Master Gunnery Sgt. Gregory S. Jackson, 48, the 1st FSSG's communications chief, who has gone on numerous deployments during his career that spans almost 30 years, agree.

Jackson -- whose only personal electronic item on this deployment is a DVD copy of "Full Metal Jacket" -- claims he doesn't understand the "new Corps'" way of passing time in the field, saying it is grounded too much in spending time alone rather than unit activities.

"They say it's a smarter time now because everyone knows computers, but to me it takes away from just going outside and throwing a ball around and doing stuff together," said Jackson, originally of Renton, Wash. "It's not so much passing the time as it is getting to know the other Marines because you're going to battle with them."

Yet, with all the personal entertainment trinkets getting ever smaller and cheaper, Marines now and in the future will likely be playing cards against a computer and have their face buried in a tiny TV rather than in a book.
Unit News Archive
1st Marine Logistics Group