The Chicken Hawk

Updated: April 5, 2008

chickenhawkAdding Tommy Batboy to the Ranger Up team has made a huge difference – he’s energetic, a natural salesman, has great stories, and works his ass off 24/7 to tell the world about Ranger Up. One of the unexpected things that has come out of the Tommy Batboy acquisition; however, is that I have realized that I am a giant dumbass. Now, this in itself was no surprise to me, but as I started telling him more stories about my military career, the depth and breadth of my dumbassery really came to light. As such, on occasion, I will tell a story from the Dumbass Collection.



Nobody likes a UMO.

The Unit Movement Officer is the guy who is responsible for making sure that all of the people, weapons, ammo, and equipment gets from the deploying base to the combat area and back. For our task force that was like 1280 people and 350 vehicles and all their associated crap. To make the job even sweeter, despite its difficulty, the holder of the title garners roughly the same amount of respect as a forty-year old virgin male wearing a Member’s Only jacket while carrying a bucket of twenty-sided die and showing off his extensive collection of porcelain dolphins, which rests on a series of shelves shaped like one giant dolphin.

Armed with a never-ending list of mundane tasks that require hours of effort, the UMO is like an anti-magnet for troops. Once afflicted with the title, even I wanted to kick my own gullible ass for getting tricked into the job. Soldiers would jump over fences, hurdle ditches, and hide in trash bins just to avoid getting sucked into the deployment vortex that followed me everywhere I went. One guy who I approached at a street corner threw himself onto the hood of a passing car just to make a quick escape.

After a few skin grafts he was okay.

But hey, at least I was the greenest of green butterbars. That would be a whole bag full of help. With gobs of formal authority on my side and a mission no one wanted to be associated with to execute, I was as giddy as Jem was when she played with the Holograms. Seriously, only someone who believed in unicorns that eat four leaf clovers and shit rainbows could find the fun in this duty…or Detective John Kimball. But, I had a mission to do, and I cobbled together the necessary personnel and we planned to meet at O-Dark-Hundred to get the party started.

The Rail Site

We’d been loading railcars since 0400 that morning in the uniform of the day-BDU’s with kevlar helmet, work gloves, and the brightest blaze orange vest that not even Dick Cheney would shoot at, when I saw a flicker of a shadow enter into my peripheral vision. The shadow was V-shaped – a bird? A plane? Nay my friends – twas the Chicken Hawk.

The Chicken Hawk was our Command Sergeant Major, and he had arrived a full six and a half hours after we had begun working. Normally, a sergeant major would never be disrespected, but the Chicken Hawk had earned his moniker:

1) He routinely talked shit about combat and he had never deployed. Please understand that not having deployed anywhere doesn’t make you less of a soldier – unless you’re ducking it (we all know who these guys are) there’s no controlling when conflicts pop up or whether your unit is going, but this guy had a Rambo complex and he had exactly the same number of days in sector that I did at the time.

2) He felt he was above the standards. He was the kind of dude that would have a formation at 0500 with the whole battalion in ACUs and would show up in PTs. He would criticize young NCOs for scoring a 289 (one point below excellent) on a PT test, while he skillfully avoided ever taking one. You get the picture.

3) He had a really bad case of ILS (imaginary lat syndrome). This is an affliction where someone, despite being grossly out of shape and never working out believes that he is very muscular. The primary symptom of this disease is that the victim holds his arms out at a 45 degree angle from his body, as if his arms were sitting on imaginary lat muscles.

Anyway, the Chicken Hawk walks up to me, and I am expecting some kind words of encouragement – not for me – but for all the guys who have been busting their asses all morning, while he was asleep, then skipping PT, and then reading the newspaper at the bowling alley.

I did not receive those words.

No Excuse

At this point I will reiterate that the uniform of the day was BDUs, Kevlar helmet, work gloves, and an orange reflective vest. We were wearing these items because we were moving heavy equipment onto rail cars and we wanted to avoid injuries. The railcar site was several miles from the battalion area and we had no easy way to get back and forth, as we had driven all the vehicles down here in the first place. Once we were down there, we realized one of the Charlie company guys had forgotten his reflective vest. Since I was not going to actually be driving equipment, loading equipment, or doing anything other than officering from the sidelines, I gave him mine, and in its place put two crisscrossed yellow reflective belts.

Was I out of uniform? Yes.

Was it my fault that I didn’t perform a pre combat check of all the guys before we rolled down there at 0400? Yes.

Should I have just sent that young soldier walking back to the battalion area to get himself a vest? Yes.

Was the commander’s intent of a safe work environment being enforced the way I had it all going down? Yes.

I digress.

So there is the Chicken Hawk, in all his glory, wearing a worn out old soft cap, cook-white BDUs bulging where his flat belly had been replaced with a markedly more rotund one, no vest or belts, and no gloves, and he stops a good 20 feet away from me so he can use his booming voice.

ChickenHawk: Hey Sergeant G – do you know why you’re wrong?

SGT G: No sergeant major.

CH: You see anything out of place?

SGT G: No sergeant major.

CH: Really? Nothing that seems out of the standard?

SGT G: No sergeant major.

CH: What’s the uniform of the day down here?

SGT G realizes he has to sell me out. You can tell he is uncomfortable.

SGT G: Sergeant major, it is Kevlar and gloves.

SGT G is a good man.

CH: And what else?

SGT G: And reflective gear, sergeant major.

SGT G is a really good man.

CH: Just reflective gear, SGT G or should it be a reflective vest?

SGT G is defeated.

SGT G: It should be a reflective vest sergeant major.

CH: You see anything out of place, SGT G?

Me: Sergeant Major, I got it.

CH (loudly): Sir, I don’t think you do! There’s a reason we follow standards. If you don’t follow a standard in combat, you’re going to get people killed. You lieutenants think everything applies to everyone but you, but that’s not the case!

Me (holding in aggravation): Roger, sergeant major. I got it.

CH (loud as hell): Sir, I don’t want to see this lack of discipline again. That Ranger Tab on your shoulder doesn’t mean shit to me. You’re out here with my guys and you’re setting a bad example. That’s not what a leader does. Do all the other LTs out here have reflective vests on? Yes! Do all my NCOs have reflective vests on? Yes! There’s only one man here out of uniform and it’s the man in charge. Fix it!

This is the point where a good officer just accepts the fact that he just got dressed down by his sergeant major. A good officer would say, “While this hardly seems fair, considering the variables involved in this current situation, I accept the fact that I am in charge and everything that happens or fails to happen while I am in charge is my responsibility, and I am clearly not in the uniform of the day.”

I had a different reaction.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Me (loud as hell): HEY, SGT G!!!

SGT G (knowing me, is very worried): Yes, sir?

Me (loud as hell): Have you seen the new Kevlar helmet!?!

SGT G: No, sir.

Me (loud as hell): Yeah, it’s great! It looks just like a soft cap! You can buy it at the PX right next to the invisible work gloves and invisible reflective vest!

The Chicken Hawk turned redder than I have ever seen a man turn. He would have killed me if his 45 degree angled arms could reach me. Everyone else had that “Holy shit! That’s both the funniest thing I’ve ever heard, but I also know that the LT just went way over the line and will pay a heavy price for this” look on their face.

The Chicken Hawk looked at me like he was going to kill me, muttered, “I’ll talk to you later” and left.

As he drove away, the place erupted into laughter.

Thirty minutes later I was getting my ass chewed by my battalion commander.

I had my vest on.

Copyright of Nick




  1. Joe

    November 28, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Lol what a douche….

  2. VN, aka usngunner

    October 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Sometimes you just have to drop your pants and slide on the ice.

  3. Schlitz

    October 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    We’ve all had a CSM like that at some point. Mine had a Leg Stache to go with his ILS and looked like Mexican Oompa Loompa.

    Job Well Done Sir

  4. Tony

    October 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve seen that SGM several places. Or, he has several clones scattered about. While it may not be the best thing for a new LT to make the BN SGM look bad, it does engender respect by the jr NCOs. I always respected the young jr officers that butted up against the SGM when he was acting like a prick. Yeah, they get chewed out but we were definately more willing to go out of our way for them.

  5. Steve McCane

    October 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    …reminds me of a douchebag CSM I served with in Iraq with 1/68 Armor, 3BCT, 4ID in OIF 2003-2004. Guy used to dress down Soldiers for wearing their authorized 173rd combat patch after they came back to us. Wanted them to wear the 4ID patch. Meanwhile, he wore over successive days, a 3ACR, 1st CAV, 18th ABN, and 2ID patch. Same turd used to wear all of his high-speed gear on our raids and stay at the detainee collection point. Later went home twice for deaths in the family–got both leaves extended. One for his father, the other for his biological step-father. (Yes, you read that right.) We found empty whiskey bottles in his gear during a shakedown. Told us they were for his biker bar buddies back in the states. (Guy didn’t own a motorcycle.) Blessedly, he is retired now.

  6. Cliff

    October 22, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Nick, not all CSMs are like that one. And most of the good ones detest that type. I was doing MiTT training at Ft Riley on 06 (CSM on retiree recall). A SGM on another team approached me in the chow hall to see what I was going to do about a young soldier wearing a blood type patch (no no of the day). I pointed out to him that AR 670-1 did not authorize the wear of non-subdued SSI with ACUs and since neither of us were in compliance with the regulation (BRO), I wasn’t going to do a damn thing about him. The SGM almost choked, but that is OK, he was a sanctimonious prick anyway.

    From my point of view you did the right thing. Mission first and take care of your soldiers. Would have been proud to work with you.

  7. Marty Doll

    March 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    It was not A SGM but had a CO in Korea that was so worthless that he paid a private that had aced his PT test to take his because he was such a worthless piece of trash that he got winded walking from his office to the Chow hall next door to his office. But have seen Sergeant Majors like that also

  8. Adam

    March 18, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Horse shit. While you indicate that what you did was the “wrong” thing, I challenge that what you did was the only thing. I’m an officer and a flippin leaf eater at that, but I’ll be damned if we let seniors or juniors fail the standard. BTW we can’t allow our juniors to see us condoning it when our seniors are failing the fracking standard. Leadership is most often putting yourself between your Soldiers and some dumbass chest thumper that WILL get them killed. What you did was leadership, not wise, but the damn right thing to do.
    p.s. I retire in about 12 years, can I have a job…I swear I won’t harass Tim Kennedy anymore.

  9. Bill

    March 18, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I think I knew him as a 1SG. My guys had just got done with about a month straight of EIB Prep, EIB Testing and vehicle turn-in. In other words, From 06:00 to 16:30 every day out at the EIB site, and then 1800-2400 every night doing vehicle maintenance so we could turn in the M901 ITV’s. So this fucktard (No EIB, No jump wing, AVIATOR CREW Wearing INFANTRY E-7 Acting First Shirt !!!???) and decides that he is going to have a Class A and room inspection before everyone gets their first weekend off in a month. So he rolls up in his polyester & corfam splendor and proceeds to pick every nit known to man, and then ponificate upon enforcing standards.

    I made the mistake of piping up and saying, “Hey First Sergeant, the EIB is the standard.”

    Needless to say, my last 6 months there were spent dodging ART-15’s like I was on an episode of “Wipeout”


  10. Angela

    March 18, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I just had a GREAT laugh! This is a wonderful story! For what its worth, this tells me you would have been a great Major. Probably would have a deformed ass by the time you made COL, (if ever) but hey, you would have had the respect of those that worked under you. Thanks for the laugh. We need more LTs with balls and less chicken hawks.

  11. Andrew Guajardo

    March 18, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    You sir, Just provided me with the laughs that I needed to sustain me though what was up to this point a really shitty day. Thank you/RLTW.

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