Help me remember a joke
August 5, 2013 9:02 PM   Subscribe

It was a joke about the different military services and how they respond to an order to "secure a house."

I vaguely remember that the Coast Guard boards up all the windows and readies the house to survive a Cat 3 hurricane.

The Marines set up machine gun nests all over the place with overlapping fields of fire.

And one of the services (the Air Force?) finds out who owns the place and gets a several-year lease.
posted by Chocolate Pickle to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: How to Tell the Difference Between the Branches of the US Armed Forces!

If you give the command "SECURE THE BUILDING", here is what the different services would do:

The NAVY would turn out the lights and lock the doors.

The ARMY would surround the building with defensive fortifications, tanks and concertina wire.

The MARINE CORPS would assault the building, using overlapping fields of fire from all appropriate points on the perimeter.

The AIR FORCE would take out a three-year lease with an option to buy the building.
posted by scblackman at 9:22 PM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: The way I heard it:
The Navy turns off the lights, locks the doors, and leaves.
The Army posts a sentry at every door and doesn't let anyone in unless they know the password.
The Marines charge in, guns blazing, and sweep through, room by room, slaughtering anyone inside who looks like they might put up any resistance.
The Air Force approaches the owner with an offer of three times its market value.
posted by baf at 9:22 PM on August 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've always heard it as an Army or Marine joke, which means you put your own service first and make it sound sensible, and the service you're trying to make fun of most last.


The Army breaches the building, sends people in to cover all corners, ties up anyone found and posts people at entrances and windows

The Marines come in gun blazing, shoot everyone in the building, and shoot everyone looking at the building funny.

The Navy fires a single missle from a ship three miles away and blows up the entire building

The Air Force turns off the lights, locks the door, and leaves.
posted by corb at 2:53 AM on August 6, 2013

Best answer: There's a similar (much longer) joke/list of various services' behavior when encountering a snake. Reasonably complete example here.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 5:55 AM on August 6, 2013

What is being played on to say that the Air Force tries to buy the building?
posted by meadowlark lime at 7:08 AM on August 6, 2013

Best answer: There's an even more elaborate version of it in a column by Lt. Col. Bob Bateman (US Army), who's guest blogging about Civil war history on Charlie Pierce's Esquire blog. It begins this way:
You are standing there, as the superior officer, and you have one Marine Officer, one Army Officer, one Naval Officer, and one Air Force Officer. You peer down the street, point to a building in the distance, and say, simply, "Secure that building."

The Marine officer takes his unit and places 1/3 of it in a support-by-fire position with a plethora of machineguns. He suppresses the building with concentrated machinegun fire while he brings in two F/A-18s to drop bombs on the building and uses his mortars to place smoke rounds between his assault element which is at 90-degrees from the support-by-fire element. The assault element Marines enter the building as the support element Marines shift their fires to close any escape routes. The assault element moves ever upward, clearing each room with a fragmentation grenade and a burst from an M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Finally, they reach the top, clear the roof, and hoist an American flag. They call you on the radio and say, "The building is secured."
The whole column is worth a read.

meadowlark lime, I think (as a former Army officer) that the Air Force offering to buy the building is joking about two things: first, how the other services don't see the Air Force as really being part of the military ("If you can't handle military life, you can always join the Air Force" was a common joke among Army types in my day), and second that they've got more money than sense.
posted by Zonker at 7:28 AM on August 6, 2013

Response by poster: In every service there are people who might conceivably be subject to enemy fire, and people who almost certainly won't be. Sometimes they are called "tooth" and "tail". (The latter are also sometimes known as "REMFs".)

The Air Force has the lowest tooth-to-tail ratio of all the services. Even in a major shooting war, the vast majority of Air Force personnel won't be shot at. (The Marines have the highest ratio, because most of the Marine "tail" is actually Navy.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:52 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is supposed to be an anti-Air Force joke??
posted by exceptinsects at 11:13 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

You have to keep in mind, exceptinsects: it's meant to be told by people who think signing up to be shot at is a good thing.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:13 PM on August 8, 2013

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