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There Almost Was No Simon Templar

 

Really more of a humor (I hope) in uniform kind of post.

As many/most/all of you should know by now, I spent the last half of the ’90s and pretty much right up until 9/11 fighting the so called “War on Drugs.” Without that experience I would have been a whole ‘nother ST (truth be known, that is when I got the Simon Templar moniker — don’t ask), but those ~6 years almost did not happen that way.

The backstory:

I was new to the Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (Bn), having recently transferred from a “leg battalion,” and was on one of my first field training events with them. We must have had some downtime and I was shooting the breeze with our Bn S-2 (Intel Officer) when he said, “Simon, you are a FAO (pronounced fay-O; Foreign Area Officer).”

Having no idea what he was talking about, I asked him what a FAO is. He explained and told me to take the Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT) for Spanish, and if I scored 2/2 or better I could apply to be designated as a FAO via the “experience track.” I took the test and maxed it — oorah: 3/3. Then my S-2 helped me to complete an Administrative Action (AA) form to explain why my experiences to date already qualified me to be a USMC FAO: Latin America without the necessity of any additional training (read “dollars”).

We sent that AA form in with my DLPT score and the response from Big USMC was, “Lt. McTemplar, you are now a FAO.” Operation JUST CAUSE, one Persian Gulf campaign later, and a wake-up, and I found myself trying to grow black pepper on a snake farm in Costa Rica. Having never done a [redacted] thing with that FAO “thing.”

I retread back into the Marines some years later as a Captain with the specific intent Big USMC putting me into the JPAT in Peru as the Riverine Counterdrug Officer. The rest, my gentle reader, is history — as they say.

S/F

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There are 46 comments.

  1. 1
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  1. Thatcher

    So you’re the prototypical “W-P FAO”; this is operational, not theoretical, for you: RAH and S/F, ST! Thanks for this… 

    • #1
    • August 7, 2018 at 8:07 pm
    • 4 likes
  2. Coolidge
    Simon Templar Post author

    Nanda Pajama-Tantrum (View Comment):

    So you’re the prototypical “W-P FAO”; this is operational, not theoretical, for you: RAH and S/F, ST! Thanks for this…

    I’d like to think so.

    W-P FAO

    • #2
    • August 7, 2018 at 8:11 pm
    • 4 likes
  3. Coolidge

    Thank goodness there is a Simon Templar! Welcome home :)

    • #3
    • August 7, 2018 at 8:16 pm
    • 4 likes
  4. Podcaster

    I used to hang with one of your brethren: FAO Schwarz. He was known to toy with his enemies. 

    • #4
    • August 7, 2018 at 8:18 pm
    • 23 likes
  5. Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    I used to hang with one of your brethren: FAO Schwarz. He was known to toy with his enemies.

    • #5
    • August 7, 2018 at 8:22 pm
    • 11 likes
  6. Coolidge
    Simon Templar Post author

    Nanda Pajama-Tantrum (View Comment):

    So you’re the prototypical “W-P FAO”; this is operational, not theoretical, for you: RAH and S/F, ST! Thanks for this…

    Let’s get this out of the way early on:

    What the world needs is a few more rednecks.

     

    • #6
    • August 7, 2018 at 8:38 pm
    • 8 likes
  7. Coolidge
    Simon Templar Post author

    last one (I think)

    Still in Saigon

     

    • #7
    • August 7, 2018 at 8:40 pm
    • 5 likes
  8. Member

    Simon Templar is a better name than old Simon Rock-noggin.

    • #8
    • August 7, 2018 at 8:44 pm
    • 4 likes
  9. Thatcher

    History that’s hopefully being written in a way that can be shared someday widely. Btw, I didn’t link W-P FAO because I’m not at the PC…Apologies, kind sir. :-) The musical interludes are quite wonderful! Thanks, as ever!

    • #9
    • August 7, 2018 at 8:45 pm
    • 2 likes
  10. Thatcher

    Riverine Counterdrug Officer? Sounds like someone spent some time tooling up and down rivers in boats.

    I know guys that do that on their own time every weekend, though the only drugs involved nowadays usually come in refrigerated bottles.

    • #10
    • August 7, 2018 at 8:46 pm
    • 7 likes
  11. Coolidge
    Simon Templar Post author

    Percival (View Comment):

    Riverine Counterdrug Officer? Sounds like someone spent some time tooling up and down rivers in boats.

    I know guys that do that on their own time every weekend, though the only drugs involved nowadays usually come in refrigerated bottles.

    Yep. Floating silently downstream on the Amazon at night in a driving rain, pitch black on a tip about a drug run. Something about rage, rage.

    Good times!

    • #11
    • August 7, 2018 at 8:51 pm
    • 7 likes
  12. Member

    Templar, our lives are more similar than I thought! Why, I worked on a snake farm but the damn black peppers kept invading the property. 

    • #12
    • August 7, 2018 at 8:55 pm
    • 13 likes
  13. Thatcher

    Simon Templar (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Riverine Counterdrug Officer? Sounds like someone spent some time tooling up and down rivers in boats.

    I know guys that do that on their own time every weekend, though the only drugs involved nowadays usually come in refrigerated bottles.

    Yep. Floating silently downstream on the Amazon at night in a driving rain, pitch black on a tip about a drug run. Something about rage, rage.

    Good times!

    The truest, bravest, and best…

    • #13
    • August 7, 2018 at 9:20 pm
    • 4 likes
  14. Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Simon Templar is a better name than old Simon Rock-noggin.

    Hoping you’re smiling as you type such stuff, ‘Hant…’Tis indeed, though.

    • #14
    • August 7, 2018 at 9:23 pm
    • 3 likes
  15. Coolidge
    Simon Templar Post author

    Nanda Pajama-Tantrum (View Comment):

    Simon Templar (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Riverine Counterdrug Officer? Sounds like someone spent some time tooling up and down rivers in boats.

    I know guys that do that on their own time every weekend, though the only drugs involved nowadays usually come in refrigerated bottles.

    Yep. Floating silently downstream on the Amazon at night in a driving rain, pitch black on a tip about a drug run. Something about rage, rage.

    Good times!

    The truest, bravest, and best…

    So true. My Marines, Sailors, and Coasties were all top shelf. My SNCOIC (senior enlisted) was usually but not always a sniper, and that my friends can give one confidence when bounding overwatch.

    I always felt that my job was to support them to the best of my ability and stay the heck out of their way the rest of the time.

    • #15
    • August 7, 2018 at 9:26 pm
    • 5 likes
  16. Coolidge
    Simon Templar Post author

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Templar, our lives are more similar than I thought! Why, I worked on a snake farm but the damn black peppers kept invading the property.

    tell me about it!?

    • #16
    • August 7, 2018 at 9:28 pm
    • 3 likes
  17. Member

    Simon Templar (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Templar, our lives are more similar than I thought! Why, I worked on a snake farm but the damn black peppers kept invading the property.

    tell me about it!?

    Well, it’s like your stories, Simon. Pretty goddamned brutal underneath the comically understated facts. The snakes were our friends–after all, they tried to warn us about Eve but we were too lust-struck to listen–but the peppers moved in like they owned the place. Their enforcers were called “The Grinders”. They’d invade homes and sing “Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?” in that taunting voice. 

    I have to admit, though, that they weren’t all like that. The most peaceful of them were nice to have around. 

     

    • #17
    • August 7, 2018 at 9:37 pm
    • 4 likes
  18. Coolidge
    Simon Templar Post author

    BTW: The Coasties were on all of our teams because they could do legal boardings, especially during periods of high visibility. Something about Posse Comitatus.

    • #18
    • August 7, 2018 at 9:39 pm
    • 6 likes
  19. Member

    Simon Templar:

    Really more of a humor (I hope) in uniform kind of post.

    As many/most/all of you should know by now I spent the last half of the 90’s and pretty much right up until 9/11 fighting the so called “War on Drugs.” Without that experience I would have been a whole ‘nother ST (truth be known that is when I got the Simon Templar moniker – don’t ask.), but those ~6 years almost did not happen that way.

    The backstory:

    I was new to the Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (Bn) having recently transferred from a ‘leg battalion’ and was on one of my first field training events with them. We must have had some down time and I was shooting the breeze with our Bn S-2 (Intel Officer) when he said, “Simon, you are a FAO (pronounced fay-O; Foreign Area Officer).” Having no idea what he was talking about, I asked him what is FAO. He explained and told me to take the Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT) for Spanish, and if I scored 2/2 or better I could apply to be designated as a FAO via the ‘experience track.’ I took the test and maxed it – oorah: 3/3. Then my S-2 helped me to complete an Administrative Action (AA) form to explain why my experiences to date already qualified me to be a USMC FAO: Latin America without the necessity of any additional training (read ‘dollars’). We sent that AA form in with my DLPT score and the response from Big USMC was, “Lt McTemplar, you are now a FAO.” Operation JUST CAUSE, one Persian Gulf campaign later and a wake-up and I found myself trying to grow black pepper on a snake farm in Costa Rica. Having never done a [redacted] thing with that FAO ‘thing.’

    I retread back into the Marines some years later as a Captain with the specific intent Big USMC putting me into the JPAT in Peru as the Riverine Counterdrug Officer. The rest my gentle reader is history – as they say.

    S/F

    Hi @simontemplar. With all those acronimz and abbreeziations I didn’t understand a damn thing, but it sure sounded courageous as hell! More power to ya!

    • #19
    • August 7, 2018 at 9:40 pm
    • 8 likes
  20. Coolidge
    Simon Templar Post author

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Hi @simontemplar. With all those acronimz and abbreeziations…

    I try to keep it to a minimum believe it or not.

    • #20
    • August 7, 2018 at 9:42 pm
    • 5 likes
  21. Thatcher

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Simon Templar (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Templar, our lives are more similar than I thought! Why, I worked on a snake farm but the damn black peppers kept invading the property.

    tell me about it!?

    Well, it’s like your stories, Simon. Pretty goddamned brutal underneath the comically understated facts. The snakes were our friends–after all, they tried to warn us about Eve but we were too lust-struck to listen–but the peppers moved in like they owned the place. Their enforcers were called “The Grinders”. They’d invade homes and sing “Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?” in that taunting voice.

    I have to admit, though, that they weren’t all like that. The most peaceful of them were nice to have around.

     

    You’ve pepped me up considerably with this truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tale, Gary…Look out, Dr. Suess!

    • #21
    • August 7, 2018 at 9:47 pm
    • 3 likes
  22. Thatcher

    Simon Templar (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Hi @simontemplar. With all those acronimz and abbreeziations…

    I try to keep it to a minimum believe it or not.

    I can attest to that – and I’m learning from it, too. :-)

    • #22
    • August 7, 2018 at 9:56 pm
    • 4 likes
  23. Moderator
    She

    Simon Templar: I was new to the Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (Bn) having recently transferred from a ‘leg battalion’ . . .

    This sentence caught my eye, spurring instant visions of the chorus line at Radio City Music Hall, as the words “imagine my surprise” coursed through my mind .

    But then reality unpleasantly reasserted itself.

    I suspect the phrase “leg battalion” means something completely different in this context.

    Thank you.

    • #23
    • August 8, 2018 at 4:06 am
    • 9 likes
  24. Member

    She (View Comment):

    Simon Templar: I was new to the Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (Bn) having recently transferred from a ‘leg battalion’ . . .

    This sentence caught my eye, spurring instant visions of the chorus line at Radio City Music Hall, as the words “imagine my surprise” coursed through my mind .

    But then reality unpleasantly reasserted itself.

    I suspect the phrase “leg battalion” means something completely different in this context.

    Thank you.

    Too much Monty Python!

    • #24
    • August 8, 2018 at 5:39 am
    • 4 likes
  25. Member

    Simon Templar: “Lt McTemplar, you are now a FAO.” Operation JUST CAUSE

    Yeah, I always figured you were promoted just ’cause.

    • #25
    • August 8, 2018 at 6:33 am
    • 9 likes
  26. Member

    She (View Comment):
    I suspect the phrase “leg battalion” means something completely different in this context.

    Infantry. Groundpounders.

    • #26
    • August 8, 2018 at 7:04 am
    • 4 likes
  27. Member

    Hang On (View Comment):
    Too much Monty Python!

    No such thing.

    • #27
    • August 8, 2018 at 7:05 am
    • 5 likes
  28. Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    Too much Monty Python!

    No such thing.

    Until you’re 20 – or out of college, maybe? Those guys aren’t that anymore, either…

    • #28
    • August 8, 2018 at 8:56 am
    • 3 likes
  29. Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):
    I suspect the phrase “leg battalion” means something completely different in this context.

    Infantry. Groundpounders.

    Says ‘Hant to the lady married to a retired Marine… :-)

    • #29
    • August 8, 2018 at 8:59 am
    • 3 likes
  30. Member

    Nanda Pajama-Tantrum (View Comment):
    Those guys aren’t that anymore, either…

    They’re just pining for the fjords of home.

    • #30
    • August 8, 2018 at 9:03 am
    • 6 likes
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