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By: Ed Creamer

Have you ever tried to ‘splain military rank to a civilian? How about between the branches of service? A rank can mean one thing to someone in the Air Force, another thing to someone in the Navy and yet another to a Marine. I’d mention the Army but you’d have to have one of them funny little berets on to understand it.

In Dec. 1958, while serving in the infantry, I was promoted to Corporal. Back then, Corporals wore two stripes and NO cross rifles. It wasn’t until Jan.1959 the rank of Lance Corporal came into existence and two stripe Corporals became Acting Corporals. Not that I have anything against crossed rifles mind you. It’s just that they remind me of the time my fire team stacked rifles in front of my tent. As soon as we assumed the position of attention, my stack fell down. I was chewed on for so long, the Hundred Years War was shorter than the time it took for my ass to get well.

Regardless, I was an NCO. That is, until I went aboard a Navy base and I was considered “unrated”. When I asked why I was unrated I was told I was an E-3 and not an E-4. You see, Navy personnel use to get confused by ranks so they looked at the pay charts and said, “if I’m being paid as an E-something, that must be my rank”. Nowhere on those charts did it mention the phrase “Petty Officer” and don’t you get me started on the word “Petty”. It seems the Air Force took the same position as the Navy because they couldn’t spell words like Private, Corporal, Sergeant, etc.

After time passed, I finally wormed my way into Warrant Officer School and became a Warrant Officer which seemed logical since it was a Warrant Officer school and logic tells you ,,,,ohh forget it. Then, along came this opportunity to go to the Southeast Asia War Games & Camp Over for a few nights with a few of my closest friends and some aircraft. However, nowhere on my orders for the sleep over did it mention hostile fire.

Come Jan of 1966 I was made a “Temporary 2nd Lt” and remained a permanent Warrant. (Remember me talking about this Warrant school in the above paragraph?) Some time later I was promoted to “Temporary 1st Lt” and promoted to permanent CWO-2. HQMC and I kept playing this “temporary/permanent” game for a few more years until I became an LDO.

Now, if you think this was hard to follow you should have been there when I tried to explain it to my children when they got a little older. I lost them at the Acting Corporal part and never even got to the “temporary/permanent” part.