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Author Topic: Sunburn
mnotr2
Jingle Bell Hock


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Military service is a wonderful thing... it doesn't seem to make sense, but usualy there's a method to the madness.

For example -

There are as many seemingly innocent things that will get you into trouble in the military as there are ways to avoid work. I don't want to stand watch, or go to the field so I get an outrageous sunburn, go to the doctor and get excused from duty. I don't want to endure a particular training exercise so I dehydrate to avoid it. I've seen both examples in my day.

I would not write up an outstanding soldier for something as trivial as getting a sunburn, but if a dirt-bag got a sunburn at the most (in)opportune time I'd sure consider it.

Mnot - and don't even ask what the UCMJ considers "deviant sex" - r2

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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mnotr2, were you ever in any of my units?? I have seen both as well!!!

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mnotr2
Jingle Bell Hock


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Different branches I think, but troops are pretty much the same across the board.

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snopes
Return! Return! Return!


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Comment: If a member of the armed forces gets a sunburn, rumor has it that
they can be tried or 'Destruction of Government Property.' As a vetera, I
think it is a lot of crap and rumors. I saw lots of guys get sunburns.
Nothing ever came of it.

Making a person the 'property' of the government would be slavery. Right?

So, while I can believe a member of the military could get in trouble for
getting a sunburn that prevents them from performing their duties, I can
not believe that anyone has ever been charged and convicted under Article
15 for 'Destruction of Government Property' because of a sunburn.

What is the truth?

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diddy
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
Comment:
Making a person the 'property' of the government would be slavery. Right?

Unless the military kidnaps you and forces you to serve them (drafting is not included here) than no. You made an agreement to serve them. You are a part of the military services (IE employee). YOu can be charged with negligence or making yourself unfil to serve, but I doubt that they can do much more than that.

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Senior
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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The "sunburn is destruction of government property" myth has been around for centuries. As diddy says, you can be charged with negligence or, if it's done purposely, with malingering. Plus, of course, Article 134, conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, covers a multitude of sins.

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Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
The "sunburn is destruction of government property" myth has been around for centuries.
So, how long do you suggest "for centuries" is?

Bonnie "Bronzed Age" Taylor

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Senior
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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In the U.S. forces, since before the Civil War, which took place in the 19th Century. 21 - 19 = 2. However, the British Army has the same myth. The Coldstream Guards was first raised as a regiment in 1656.

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Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


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What are your sources documenting the historical longevity of this misconception? I'd certainly be interested in seeing reports contemporaneous with the U.S. Civil War and Stuart-era instances of a belief in "sunburn is destruction of government property."

Bonnie "See and Seek" Taylor

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ASL
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by diddy:
quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
Comment:
Making a person the 'property' of the government would be slavery. Right?

Unless the military kidnaps you and forces you to serve them (drafting is not included here) than no. You made an agreement to serve them. You are a part of the military services (IE employee). YOu can be charged with negligence or making yourself unfil to serve, but I doubt that they can do much more than that.
But what you describe is not property. The government does not own you.

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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I realize they were just making a point, but I recall being told by Drill Instructors that they owned me on several occasions!! [lol]

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diddy
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by ASL:
quote:
Originally posted by diddy:
quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
Comment:
Making a person the 'property' of the government would be slavery. Right?

Unless the military kidnaps you and forces you to serve them (drafting is not included here) than no. You made an agreement to serve them. You are a part of the military services (IE employee). YOu can be charged with negligence or making yourself unfil to serve, but I doubt that they can do much more than that.
But what you describe is not property. The government does not own you.
Nor did I ever say that, my entire point was that you enter into s service agreement with the militarty when you sign up with them. I never said that they "owned you" in any way shape or form. I was correcting the false premise that snopes was commenting on that military servce was akin to slavery.

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ConstableDorfl
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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quote:
Originally posted by Senior:
The "sunburn is destruction of government property" myth has been around for centuries. As diddy says, you can be charged with negligence or, if it's done purposely, with malingering. Plus, of course, Article 134, conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, covers a multitude of sins.

In the British navy at least up until WWII, venereal disease was considered a 'self-inflicted wound' and punished accordingly. Surely sunburn would be the same?

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mnotr2
Jingle Bell Hock


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From the Manual for Courts-Martial
Article 108 Military property of the United States - sale, loss, damage, destruction, or wrongful disposition
Para c(1)
quote:

Military property is all property, real or personal, owned, held, or used by one of the armed forces of the United States...(emphasis added)

Article 115 Malingering

quote:

Any person subject to this chapter who for the purpose of avoiding work, duty, or service ... intentionally inflicts self-injury...

The first would possibly be easier to prove than the latter...

Keeping in mind that Non-judicial punishment is a tool for a command to use to correct minor infractions without "the stigma of a court-martial conviction" it is possible that a soldier could be charged under article 108 for getting a sunburn. Non-judicial punishment (Article 15) can be seen as sort of a plea bargain. A soldier can refuse an Article 15 and demand trial by court martial, but the potential punishment is much more severe if convicted by court-martial. So... even though the charge of "destruction of military property" may not stand up in court, so to speak, it could be used in an Article 15. A troop who knows he/she screwed up, is facing relatively light punishment (a few days extra duty, restriction) under Article 15 vs. conviction by court-martial (substantial fine, confinement, less than honorable discharge) could accept the charge, do the punishment and move on with their life. So... sure, it could happen.

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The Rubber Chicken
The First USA Noel


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If a sunburn could fall under Article 108, then so could, presumably, any injury. If I break my leg playing basketball, get into a car accident, trip and fall, etc. all of those would seem to fit the definition. I've seen plenty of Soldiers injured badly enough to be put on profile for a long period of time, and none of them were charged under article 108. A Soldier I worked with got drunk (and he was under 21), tripped and fell down an embankment, and injured his shoulder, and was given a profile. He was given an article 15 for underage drinking, but nothing regarding "damage of government property."

Maybe Article 108 could be used for a sunburn. Maybe it was used in that manner in the past and just isn't now. But I am skeptical that any commander in the military today would charge a Soldier with "damaging government property" for a sunburn.

I have a friend who is a JAG lawyer so I suppose I could give him a ring and ask.

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Unusual Elfin Lights
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by mnotr2:
From the Manual for Courts-Martial
Article 108 Military property of the United States - sale, loss, damage, destruction, or wrongful disposition
Para c(1)
quote:

Military property is all property, real or personal, owned, held, or used by one of the armed forces of the United States...(emphasis added)


Colour added.

Sure, a person is used, property is used, but that does not make a person property. I think the definition of property is the question. Is there a military definition of property?

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Unusual Elfin Lights
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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I've gone through much of the UCMJ (an online version) for various offenses for definitions of property. I've discovered this:

- offenses are oftentimes related against "persons and property" (section on robbery)

- other offenses are against "property of any person" (section on redress of injuries to property)

- there are several offenses of people "abandoning property"

I would have to conclude that people and property are separate from each other for the UCMJ. I would hazard that the spirit of the law about willful damage to government property does not refer to soldiers.

BTW, UCMJ was an interesting read, or at least the part on offenses.

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annabohly
Jingle Bell Hock


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I was in the military in the early 90's as well as my DH. You are goverment property when you are serving in the Military. They can(and do) do whatever they want with you. My DH was NBC Officer and he had the authority to order a soldier to remove his gasmask to determine what kind of biological agent was being used. That is if they were in a war situation...he never had to do it... So if someone can basically order you to kill yourself and you don't do and get in trouble for disobeying that kind of order, Doesn't that mean they "own" you?

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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No, you really aren't "government property."

I am sure you recall that whole "obeying lawful orders" thing, right? That also means that you have an obligation to disobey illegal orders, which, I would imagine ordering someone to remove his/her gasmask would fall under, particularly since there are protocols established to safely determine what biological agent is being used.

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Senior
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Bonnie:
What are your sources documenting the historical longevity of this misconception? I'd certainly be interested in seeing reports contemporaneous with the U.S. Civil War and Stuart-era instances of a belief in "sunburn is destruction of government property."

Bonnie "See and Seek" Taylor

Sorry, I didn't see this until recently.

My source for pre-Civil War military reaction to sunburns is Justin Harvey Smith's The War With Mexico (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1919), Vol I p 266:
quote:
Among the superstitions that the soldiers believed...if one got a bad sunburn, one would be court-martialed for destruction of government property....
I can't trace the British tradition back to the 17th Century, but in Sir Charles Oman's The Peninsular War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1925) Vol 4 p 143 is the following:
quote:
The Sappers and Miners were warned by their Sergeant-Major that if they removed their coats and shirts and became too reddened by the sun, they were liable for court-martial, not for malingering, but wanton misuse of HM property. This joke was repeated throughout the regiment and became part of the folklore of the Royal Engineers.


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mnotr2
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by AnglRdr:
No, you really aren't "government property."

I am sure you recall that whole "obeying lawful orders" thing, right? That also means that you have an obligation to disobey illegal orders, which, I would imagine ordering someone to remove his/her gasmask would fall under, particularly since there are protocols established to safely determine what biological agent is being used.

No, I am really not "government property". My post was wildly theoretical and I meant that in a really screwed up command, with a troop that knew he/she screwed up and wasn't really very bright or paying attention to competent legal advice it could happen.

Annabohly's post wasn't quite correct. A soldier wouldn't be ordered to remove his/her protective mask to determine what kind of agent was being used. There are however procedures (or at least used to be) where after all testing procedures had produced an "all clear" sitaution that the least essential person (IMHO usually the 2nd Lieutenant [Wink] ) would be ordered to remove his/her mask, then re-don the mask and be observed for signs of exposure to a chemical agent. In certain situations the order to "remove your protective mask" would be lawful.

Mnot - never give up your weapon after a chemical attack - r2

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annabohly
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by mnotr2:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by AnglRdr:
[qb] No, you really aren't "government property."

Annabohly's post wasn't quite correct. A soldier wouldn't be ordered to remove his/her protective mask to determine what kind of agent was being used. There are however procedures (or at least used to be) where after all testing procedures had produced an "all clear" sitaution that the least essential person (IMHO usually the 2nd Lieutenant [Wink] ) would be ordered to remove his/her mask, then re-don the mask and be observed for signs of exposure to a chemical agent. In certain situations the order to "remove your protective mask" would be lawful.

Mnot - never give up your weapon after a chemical attack - r2

After posting I asked Dh about this and you are right I had it wrong.

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Well, Annabohly, you aren't COMPLETELY wrong. There is a very clear protocol to establish if the atmosphere is "all clear"... and, yes, it involves using junior soldiers breaking the seal on their masks.

It was one of the things that helped with my decision to get out of the Army.

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RangerDog
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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When I was at Dugway Proving Grounds we had to carry our gas masks everywhere. Some of you might know why. Anyhoo, we got told about the "all clear" thing. [Eek!] I figured that if it came down to me, I could kick the Butter Bar's ass and take off his mask quicker than he could get me to take off my mask! [lol]

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Delta-V
Xboxing Day


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As a former Butterbar, I'd have to say that - 1) you'd better be making a damn quick grab for my mask, 2) I wouldn't ask anyone to take off his mask unless I was damn sure enough to take off my own, and 3) Instead of ordering one of my guys, I'd prefer to grab one of the chemical corps guys who called the all-clear and take HIS mask off!

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RangerDog
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Right-on Delta-V, sounds like you were my kind of LT!

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Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Senior:
Sorry, I didn't see this until recently.

That's OK! Thanks for taking the time to report back, Senior.

quote:
My source for pre-Civil War military reaction to sunburns is Justin Harvey Smith's The War With Mexico (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1919), Vol I p 266:
quote:
Among the superstitions that the soldiers believed...if one got a bad sunburn, one would be court-martialed for destruction of government property....
I can't trace the British tradition back to the 17th Century, but in Sir Charles Oman's The Peninsular War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1925) Vol 4 p 143 is the following:
quote:
The Sappers and Miners were warned by their Sergeant-Major that if they removed their coats and shirts and became too reddened by the sun, they were liable for court-martial, not for malingering, but wanton misuse of HM property. This joke was repeated throughout the regiment and became part of the folklore of the Royal Engineers.

I appreciate your providing those passages. Encouraged by your post and hoping to see what sources Smith and Oman were working from, I took at look at both volumes you mentioned. I'm afraid I may have to ask your assistance again.

I'm unable to find the passage you mention from Smith's work; rather, it's at least not on page 266 of Volume I of the 1919 edition (published by The MacMillan Company; was there an edition put out by Scribner's & Sons' the same year?). Might that bit of text appear on a different page? I wonder whether the edition you're working from is significantly different from the one put out by The MacMillan Company. (Page 266 from the MacMillan edition is part of Chapter 8; it contains a description of Saltillo.)

I'm also having trouble with Oman's book. I've got a 1980 reprinting of Volume IV, which Oman wrote in 1911, from his The History of the Peninsular War (originally published in 1911 by Oxford at the Clarendon Press; the 1980 reprinting is from the seven-volume series, published from 1902 to 1930). Page 143 describes the combat at Redinha and doesn't appear to mention sunburn at all. I wonder, could it be on another page or in a different volume?

I hope you understand my interest. Since you found those passages in books published in the early part of the 20th century, we at least know that this bit of military folklore is not a "modern" invention (i.e., that it predates, I dunno, WWII). Part of the fun now, I think, is in seeing if we can find examples put down on paper near-contemporaneously with the Mexican-American and Peninsular Wars. What's encouraging about both books, particularly Smith's, is that both bear lots of footnotes, so it may not be that difficult a task.

I look forward to your setting me straight.

-- Bonnie

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mnotr2
Jingle Bell Hock


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One nit-pick:

The procedures that I was trained on stated that the "least mission-essential soldier" would break the seal on his mask. This didn't always translate to the "most junior". The running joke was that it would always be the one guy dumb enough to give up his weapon.

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Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Senior, as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I'd be very interested to know what sources Smith and Oman were working from. Consequently, I'd appreciate your clarifying where I might find those passages in the works you quoted from.

Perhaps you can let me know whether I've simply grabbed the wrong volumes off the shelves.

Bonnie "Surprisingly, Wouk's The Solarcaine Mutiny has been of little help here" Taylor

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Groundhog
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I was in the Navy in the late '80s and got nice and burned one day in Benedorm Spain. My E-6 got terse with me the next afternoon and gave me the "Courtmartial" story because I had to take time out during a busy afternnon to apply some moisturizer to my effected areas. It's basically one of those things where you could be brought up, but they have to be really, really bored or really looking for a reason to mess with you. Kinda like a cop giving you a speeding ticket for going one mile over the speed limit.

I do, however, know of someone when I was in San Diego who wanted out of the service really really bad, so he cut off his own pinky finger, then made up a story that it happened while getting mugged out on town that night. Of course, his story unraveled rather quickly and he ended up begin charged with destruction of government property for cutting off his own finger. I'm sure there were some psych charges thrown in there also but the destruction charge was the one they ended up getting him on.

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GI Joe
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by Groundhog:
I do, however, know of someone when I was in San Diego who wanted out of the service really really bad, so he cut off his own pinky finger, then made up a story that it happened while getting mugged out on town that night. Of course, his story unraveled rather quickly and he ended up begin charged with destruction of government property for cutting off his own finger. I'm sure there were some psych charges thrown in there also but the destruction charge was the one they ended up getting him on.

With respect, I have to question this. As pointed out by others in this thread already, the applicable charge for this is clearly:

ART 115. MALINGERING
Any person subject to this chapter who for the purpose of avoiding work, duty, or service--
(1) feigns illness, physical disablement, mental lapse or derangement; or
(2) intentionally inflects self-injury;
shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Keep in mind that before directing a trial, the convening authority must forward the specifications for a mandatory review by the staff judge advocate (Art 34). Also, upon a finding of guilty, verdicts must undergo automatic review by a separate SJA who was not involved in the case (Subchaper IX. Post-Trial Procedues and Review of Courts-Martial). The chances that a wholly inappropriate specification - such as Dest of Govt Property - surviving the review of four separate lawyers (SJA conducting initial review, defense counsel, prosecuting counsel and post-trial SJA review) is well, unlikely, to say the least. And it'd be sure to be overturned on appeal, and since getting overturned on appeal is a BAD THING, you can bet a completely bogus specification will get lots of attention.

Also, I'm not sure what "psych charges" there could have been in a court martial. There are no punitive charges involving psych disorders; these are items for a medical review, not a court martial.

I suspect your friend may not have told the story exactly as it happened.

--------------------
Once a Warrior Prince

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Groundhog
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I don't understand your reply. Are you saying that a charge of Destruction for someone who cuts off their own finger might not be appropriate.

I am, however, allowing that the whole thing might just be an urban legend.

Posts: 39 | From: Kettering, Ohio | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
GI Joe
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quote:
Originally posted by Groundhog:
I don't understand your reply. Are you saying that a charge of Destruction for someone who cuts off their own finger might not be appropriate.

Ooops. Sorry for not being clear. Yes, I am indeed saying that Art 108 (Military property of United States--Loss, damage, destruction, or wrongful disposition) is completely inappropriate. The appropriate basis would be Art 115 (Malingering). Any of several legal reviews during the court martial process would have revealed this and corrected it.

--------------------
Once a Warrior Prince

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GI Joe
Jingle Bell Hock


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Let's see if we can't summarize this thread.

As noted above by mnotr2 and others, Art 108 concerns 'Military Property' only. Military property in turn is defined by the Manual of Courts Martial as 'real property' and 'personal property' owned, held or used by one of the armed services. 'Real property' of course refers to real estate (immovable property). 'Personal property' refers to 'movable property' owned by the service, and does not refer to the personal property of individual servicemen or to the servicemen themselves.

The whole 'Destruction of Governement Property' myth should fall apart when you realize that there isn't even a charge worded that way (Government Property) in either the punitive articles or in the MCM.

So, the "You are Government Property" thing is just hyperbole. Nothing more. Since both Art 108 (Military Property) and 115 (Malingering) are among those required to be taught to every service member at: 1) initial entry, 2) after 6 months on active duty/completion of basic training, and 3) upon reenlistment, I'm always amazed how this myth continues.

You'd almost suspect that people sleep through those lectures . . . [Embarrassed] Naw! No way!

As to the severe sunburn angle, if there were cause to punish someone for it, the MCM includes a paragraph on a subsection of Art 134. The charge is "Self-Injury Without Intent to Avoid Service." (see pg IV-121) The MCM's explanation of that offense includes injuries resulting from acts of omission - which could include screwing up and getting a bad sunburn. Don't recall it ever being used, but recall First Sergeants thundering on about it fairly often . . . usually just before big field exercises.

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Once a Warrior Prince

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laiskuri
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As terrified new Marine recruits we were told by our DI that if we got sunburned badly enough to require that we avoid doing Marine stuff for a few days, our enlistment could be lengthened by that amount of time.

I never knew if this was true or something just made up to scare us, but it worked, believe me!

Posts: 23 | From: Carson, CA | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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