Hey Sgt Grit:
Haven’t replied back for awhile, thought I’d respond today on two counts…first, I was in 87 – 91, we were definitely not called BAM’s except by ill guided young Marines who were trying to act like they were old corps. I just used to laugh at them. We were called WM’s, but I think at the time it was more of a gender distinction for description purposes..”I need the wm’s to clean the female head”, “take this down to the wm barracks”, etc. I can’t recall ever something like “hey you wm, get over here”. I believe that would have been “hey you Marine or Cpl, get over here”. Just as when describing different Marines, “he was a dark green Marine, or he was a light green Marine”, etc…If there were a bunch of Marines standing together (male & female) we wouldn’t have heard “Hey you wm’s and you Marines get over here”, it would have just been “you Marines get over here”.
Second, shooting competitions. I was series high shooter in boot camp. After arriving on Okinawa it was decided that the boots would do their yearly quals at that time, rifle range, gas chamber, pft…so it was off to the rifle range, qual day shot a 244. I was taken from Comm Co and sent to H&S and earned an 8531 MOS as a Primary Marksmanship Instructor. I will say with pride, not bragging, that I have had some great rifle scores on the range, both rifle and pistol, highest on any given qual day a 246 rifle, 381 pistol (9mm). What I will brag about was the ability to teach Marines, both old and new, how to shoot better with their weapons. I loved this job. It was up at 3:30 every day to drive from Kinser to Hansen to be on the line before sun up, but I LOVED it. I had very few Marines who had trouble with receiving assistance from a young (female) PFC/LCpl…one old Gunny, but that’s a story for another day…one of the Marines I was fortunate enough to coach was Col Michael Wiley. The Col had never shot expert with his pistol before…after Monday firing, I asked if he had a few minutes that we could go over some mistakes he was making with his shooting. He stayed for a while and also on Tuesday. By Wednesday, he was shooting sharpshooter, which he was ecstatic about! Wednesday evening, I came down with some kind of bug that put me on bed rest. Thursday my NCOIC took my place on the range. The Col shot expert!! My Cpl explained the tradition of giving your rank insignia to your coach. Col Wiley said he knew of the tradition, but that LCpl Keim deserved it. I was just happy hearing the story! But lo and behold, the next week on the rifle range a young Marine came looking for me, it was Col Wiley’s driver, he gave me an envelope. Enclosed was the attached letter. This was one example of why I loved coaching Marines on the range. Yeah, the shooting was great, but helping Marines progress in their shooting still gives me a warm and fuzzy!
Michelle R Christman (Keim)
Cpl of Marines 87 – 91