Things First Sergeants Say

Army and Marine first sergeants have to talk a lot, considering their duties as company-level senior enlisted leaders. While they primarily act as advisors to company commanders and deal with administrative issues, they sometimes say things that drive troops crazy.

  1. “It would behoove you …”

Often used by first sergeants to tell troops that it would be a good idea to do something — “it would behoove you to wear your eye-pro on the range” — it’s often overused and mispronounced as “bee-who-of-you.”

  1. “Hey there, gents”

Short for gentlemen, first sergeants sometimes refer to their troops as gents. Of course, this is totally fine and not a big deal, except when you are called a gent all of the time.

  1. “Utilize”

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, “utilize” means to use. So stop making a word choice so complicated and just freaking say use.

  1. “All this and a paycheck too!”

In the Army and Marine Corps, you get to work out, shoot stuff, and blow things up, and you get paid for it. It’s often pretty fun — who doesn’t love explosives?! — but the “all this and a paycheck too!” comment from the first sergeant doesn’t usually come at these moments. It comes at halfway point of a 20-mile hike when you are sucking wind and hoping for death.

Also, you make way more than everyone else here. And is that a pillow in your rucksack?

  1. “If you’re gonna drive, don’t drink. If you’re gonna drink, don’t drive.”

Just one of the many things first sergeant mentions in his lengthy talk before allowing the company to leave for the weekend, “if you’re gonna drive, don’t drink” is solid advice that should be followed. But it’s also part of a boring brief that he repeats word-for-word EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK.

Other phrases troops may hear during the libo brief include, “If you’re gonna tap it, wrap it,” and “take care of each other out there.” In first sergeant’s defense, he’s required to give this brief to cover his own butt, in addition to it being a hopeless attempt at avoiding the inevitable 3am phone call to come on Saturday.

  1. “The first sergeant”

When you pick up staff non-commissioned officer in the Army or Marine Corps, they must take you in a room and tell you that you can start talking in the third-person, because it happens a lot. Hearing about what “the first sergeant” would do, as opposed to what “I” would do is eye-roll worthy.

“The first sergeant would make sure to let his battle buddy know.”

  1. “Good to go? / Hooah?”

First sergeants like to use common catchphrases to make sure their troops understand. While a “good to go?” makes sense to gauge whether troops are listening, when it comes after every sentence in the liberty brief, it can get old very quick. For Army first sergeants and others, it’s pretty common to use the motivational “hooah” in a questioning manner. Hooah?

  1. “We got a lot of moving parts here.”

Let’s not get wrapped around the axle here, gents. We’ve got battalion formation in the A.M., the general is coming in, so we need to be there at 0400, good to go? We got a lot of moving parts here, so let’s try to all stay on the same page, good to go?

  1. “Give me three bodies!”

If you ever need a great example of language that makes you feel like you are just a number in the military, look no further than someone asking “for bodies.” What first sergeant means here is that he needs three motivated U.S. Marines to carry out a working party.

“Just get my goddamn bodies, turd.”

“Roger, first sergeant.”

  1. “You trackin’?”

Often used just like “good to go?” or “Hooah?” the phrase “you trackin’?” is first sergeant’s other way of making sure we all understand. We’re all looking in your direction, listening to the words you are saying, tracking along just fine.

  1. “Got any saved rounds?”

Last but certainly not least is the phrase “got any saved rounds?” which is a way of asking if anyone has anything to add. This one usually comes at the end of long meetings and should be followed by complete silence, so we can get out of this godforsaken room.

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