"King Of The Gun"

A reader writes:

In 1998 I was the XO of a Marine artillery battery. One of our Marines, LCpl Parker (name has been changed), had been discovered as gay, admitted it, and was slated for administrative discharge, even though he was a model Marine in all other respects. However, about this time, Secretary (of Defense) Cohen had found out that more people were being discharged under DADT than before the policy and ordered a full review. He also canceled all open cases and instructed all services to place the personnel in question back in the same units they had come from, as if nothing had happened. In essence they got a reprieve.

Well, in LCpl Parker's case, it was well known what has happening to him and why by every other Marine in the unit. So we, the leadership, had the same concerns expressed by many who advocate continuing DADT today.

We feared reprisals.

But our higher leadership also warned us that we had better make damn sure we allowed no such thing. So the commander of the unit got all the Marines together, spoke openly about the whole matter, and told them that we were under orders to receive this Marine back into the unit, and would follow orders. He also explicitly warned them that any Marine who hazed or assaulted the returning LCpl would be fully prosecuted under the UCMJ.

A few weeks went by without incident. And we were so busy that I actually forgot about it. Then one day out in the field I remembered that I hadn't heard anything from Parker's gun section leader, so I went down and asked him about it. I got the Staff Sergeant in charge of the section aside and asked if he had any problems with the Marine or within his section in connection to this matter. The Staff Sergeant piped up, "No sir, no problems at all. He's King of the Gun!" Which basically meant he had beat down all the other members of the section, thereby winning their respect. There was an unofficial wrestling/fighting contest that went on in each gun section whereby the "King" could be challenged and dethroned at anytime. Of course, the whole tradition was not endorsed or allowed by the officers, but I knew that these things went on. And it appeared that our Marine, who we found later was a kickboxing champion, had challenged and beat the reigning "king" as soon as he checked back into the unit. The Marine successfully served out his enlistment (even got promoted to NCO) and left with an honorable discharge.

So, at least in our small case of DADT repeal, there were no reprisals or other issues of concern.