Author Archives: Madeleine Huisinga

MRE Charms – USMC superstition

“Charms. Charms used to be an old candy that was in MREs, Meals-Ready-to-Eat. It was probably the 90’s to 2000’s that these fuckers were in the MRE’s. All of the food in MRE’s was bland, but these were fruity and delicious. But if you ate them, it would rain. So when I first learned about it, all the DI’s in bootcamp made us give them away, because they told us it would rain if we ate them. At SOI, school of infantry, the same thing happened. All the instructors said ‘please, please don’t eat the charms.’ And one time while I was there, it legitimately started to rain. Sgt Morgan was his name, Sgt Morgan goes “Who ate ’em?! Who the fuck ate the charms?!” and one of the other junior marines pulls ’em out, a half eaten thing of charms, and so eventually so they took ’em away and they stopped putting them in the MREs, but now my junior marines who show up to the fleet still know about ’em. They stopped putting them in before these kids were even in. Damn those square little delicious things.”

The informant was smiling and laughing while telling the story. I hadn’t heard much about this before, but I guess it was before my time, apparently. Honestly, I think a lot of Marines get bored. These superstitions and legends give them something to talk about. Something to identify with as part of the culture. It keeps life interesting, because when you’re out there on patrol for a ridiculous amount of hours, or training for months on end, you need something to think about other than the danger or pain you’re in.

“Max, Max, Relax” – USMC Proverb

“’Max, Max, Relax.’ Has to do with the PFT. You max the pull-ups, the crunches, and then walk the run and still get a first class. You can be, like, yoked, and screw the run. Cause who wants to run 3 miles?”


This proverb, “max, max, relax”, is something I have seen and everyone in the Marine Corps acknowledges. It’s true. No one wants to run three miles. So we all just bust out on the pull-ups and crunches, and then “do our best” on the run.

“Apricot Jelly and Tanks”

Context: Live Interview, discussion about Marine Corps infantry culture and history.

“So when I first heard about tankers, tank crewman, tankers, when they were afraid of apricots, I was in bootcamp. One of the drill instructors made fun of a recruit who wanted to be a tanker. And he said, ‘watch out for those apricots’, and he said apricots were bad luck. Then, when I was in the fleet, on my first deployment to Afghanistan, my Lt James Beattie, he was a tank officer and volunteered to deploy with my unit (LAR, Light Armored Reconnaissance). We had LAV’s, it’s not a tank, but it has 8 wheels and a smaller turret on it. On our deployment to Afghanistan, and for the Marines on our vic, Osbourne was the driver. Any time he found anything apricot, he’d bring it on the vehicle, and he’d show it to the Lt, and the dude would freak out, and he’d make us throw it off the vic. One day, Osbourne forgot to tell him he had apricot jam, and they hit an IED and the Lt broke his thumb and Osbourne got a concussion. I mean, everyone lived, but it was still…… apricots on the vehicle, and the vehicle hit an IED. And then after that happened, Lt told me a story about WWII. About how one of the drivers didn’t believe the apricot thing, and he wrote apricots on the bottom of the tank while he was doing maintenance, and the tank hit an anti-tank mine. Yep. So from that day on, I .. I don’t mess with any apricots on any tank or tank like vehicle.”

Personally, this piece is a funny little legend I’ve heard quite a bit, but never experienced or seen. Almost all of the Marines I know have either heard about it or have their own stories. Hopefully I’ll never actually have to find out whether or not it’s true, although I highly doubt that there’s any causation in these cases.