Your orders just posted and you're shipping out on a 7 to 13-month deployment. Good luck with all that!
The checklist your first sergeant passed out is several pages of stuff you just cram into the bottom of your sea bag — like extra PT gear, running and shower shoes — just to mention a few.
Pretty much all work and no play items. That's no fun.
Marines assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit embark aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Julio Rivera).
There's another list the NCOs don't hand out; the list of stuff you'll actually use on a day-to-day — one that will make that long deployment more manageable and fun.
Remember, you won't have much storage where you're headed off to, so plan accordingly.
1. Extra undies
While manning the front lines, there's no guarantee when you'll have free time to do laundry. It's amazing how wearing a clean, dry set of underwear can boost morale.
2. 550 cord
Also known as "Paracord," this traditional interwoven cord gets its name from the 550 pounds of heavy tension it can withstand and its ability to tie stuff together. The versatile cord was even used by Space Shuttle crews to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.
You'll use it as a multi-tool, including to tie down cammie netting, attach extra gear to your body armor and air dry your laundry.
24th December 1956: The laundry at the United Nations (UN) camp in Abu Seuir, Egypt.
3. Shock resistant camera
Deployments are life changing experiences. You're going to want to capture the moments, but not any camera will do.
Shock resistant Cameras are designed for rugged outdoor use and are great when ambushing ISIS. They tend to run a little more expensive than traditional digital cameras, but when you're on patrol and take heavy fire, these little bad boys shouldn't let you down when recording your personal history.
4. A Cheap laptop
Deployments can be boring, with loads of downtime if you're lucky. Consider bringing a cheap laptop with as many movies as your external hard drive can hold. Don't spend too much money on one; chances are dust and debris will ruin it after too long.
What better way to spend a Friday night with your brothers then huddling around a 15-inch screen watching an action movie. The more variety of movies you have in stock the better.
5. Calling cards
No, we don't mean that unique object you leave after getting away with a heist.
A calling card or phone card allows you to make calls from any working phone without charging the expenses to the receiver. It can get pretty expensive that way.
Many foreign bases around the world have USOs set up for deployed members to call home or use the internet. Some require the purchase of calling cards so have one handy dandy if you walk into one where Uncle Sam is too cheap to fit the phone bill.
6. Music player
Self-explanatory, because everyone likes music.
7. Magazine subscriptions
Having new magazines show up during mail call is one of the greatest gifts a Marine can receive. Especially, when you're in an all-male infantry unit stationed in the middle of bum f*ck nowhere and Maxim magazine arrives. Everyone celebrates.