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True Stories by Steve Keely
Hobo Memoirs

The Marine and the Blue Tit Match

My neighbor, a salty veteran, explains why the United States Marines are a cut above the rest. It starts on day one in boot camp with punishing drills coupled throughout training with a ‘Big A’ for attitude. He provides this personal example.

One morning the Sergeant announced, ‘Today we march into Hell to steal it from Satan. We shall do this because there is nothing a Marine cannot do except light a blue-tit match on a bar of soap under ten-feet of water! Are there any questions, ladies?'

Our unit fell silent until I raised a shy hand. ‘What, recruit?' yelled the DI. 'Sir,’ I replied, ‘Requesting a blue-tit match, bar of soap, and zip-lock bag.' ‘Why?' screamed the Sarge. 'Sir, to prove there is nothing in Hell a Marine can't do!'

That afternoon at the Pendleton pool, I stood apart from my unit with the requested items and the DI breathing hot air down my neck. I bent and rubbed the soap until it was covered with sand, put it with a single match into the baggie, and jumped into the pool. There was a splash and seconds ticked by like heartbeats as I sank with little body fat to the bottom. There I opened the zip-lock upside down to trap the air and struck the match on the grainy soap inside it … ignition!! A second later my arm thrust up through the surface like the Statue of Liberty before the startled recruits and Sea regent holding a fiery blue -tit torch. Deep throats sang, 'There is nothing in Hell a Marine cannot do, Sarge!’

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