We have all served with someone that was so incompetent you can’t believe they made it through basic training – let alone life. If you have not served, maybe it is someone you work with. For me, Lance Corporal “McLovin” was that person. He was weak, timid, irresponsible, and incapable of leading or even following. He was a unit-wide punchline. For anyone who has seen the movie Superbad, go ahead and visualize that McLovin, add a pair of cammies, and you end up with the one I am describing. They are eerily similar. Yet somehow he made it through Marine Corps basic training. He was a genuinely good-hearted guy, but he was in the wrong environment.
During his first deployment to Iraq, he found himself serving at a forward operating base (FOB) alongside a group of Marines and Navy Corpsmen that were part of a training team. The training team needed an extra body, and some in our platoon’s leadership thought it was a good opportunity to get rid of him for a while. One day as the training team was performing a mounted patrol through a city on the outskirts of their FOB, an insurgent jumped from behind cover and threw an RKG-3 at the Humvee that Lance Corporal McLovin was driving.
An RKG-3 (Ruchnaya Kumulyativnaya Granata) is a Soviet designed impact fused, shaped (hollow) charge grenade. These grenades have the capability to eat through armor, up to six inches of certain materials, before releasing secondary fragmentation. They include a drogue (parachute) that deploys to keep the grenade stabilized during flight toward its target.
In order to achieve faster flight, the insurgent had removed the parachute from the grenade, which resulted in it being unstable. Fortunately for the Marines and the interpreter in the truck, the RKG-3 landed flush against the side of the truck. This meant that the shaped charge went straight up into the air instead of the vehicle. Still, the force of the explosion damaged the vehicle and busted the thick protective glass. The fragmented pieces of the rear window and door flew through the cabin and raked the faces of the interpreter (rear passenger side) and one Marine (rear driver’s side).
Through our Intel section, I later saw an Al Qaeda recorded video of the attack that was filmed for one of their propaganda ads (much like the attacks shown here). Our unit was also later shown pictures of the two injured personnel. The interpreter suffered cuts and ended up losing his right eye because he was not wearing eye protection. The driver’s side Marine had lacerations all over his face, but suffered no damage to his eyes because he was wearing his protective sunglasses. In true McLovin fashion, he was in such shock that the injured Marine sitting behind him had to yell at him to drive out of the kill zone. Fortunately it was an attack carried out by a single person and not a complex attack. It was not McLovin’s fault that the attacked occurred, but his reaction (or lack of) could have made a bad situation worse for everyone involved because he did not have the composure to make a decision to keep moving.
Why share this story? This RKG-3 grenade attack was the only one of that particular kind to occur during our unit’s deployment. Of the hundreds of people that made up the unit, McLovin was the one driving that vehicle. For those of you who have team members in your platoon that fit the “McLovin” mold, don’t think that you can hide them by reassigning them somewhere else. If they are your co-workers, don’t think that you can just hide them in another project. Their faults will surface in some way or another, and at the time when you least expect it. Instead of passing them off onto someone else and giving up, keep working to find ways to improve them. Even if they are beyond hope, stick with them even after you’ve exhausted every option. Don’t let them become someone else’s problem.