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Beyond the Friday Funnies 

Derek NelsonDerek Nelson has been writing the Friday Funnies since 2002. He also creates the Photo of the Week feature for this website. A long-time Naval Safety Center employee, he is head of the Media Division in the Communications and Marketing Department. He is author of more than 200 freelance magazine articles and ten books about Americana and military history.

I Think We Need Another Drink

Posted September 17, 2013

Not really. That’s a line from a drinking song that we used to sing in college, back when “partying” was a competitive sport. I wish the past tense was accurate, but things haven’t changed that much. Too many young Sailors and Marines seem intent on absorbing three times as much alcohol as anyone could possibly need.

Dozens have drunk their way into the Friday Funnies, and I wanted to share a few examples. Consider an EM3 from a carrier. He invited a shipmate over to his apartment to "drink some beers after work," the mishap report says. Happens all the time, throughout the fleet, around the globe. Perfectly legal, usually not a problem.

The only question is your definition of "some." The EM3 started early, and when his buddy arrived, they got down to business. They each had a beer, and then they had another, and then they had another, and then they had another (using your cut-and-paste feature, please fill in enough "anothers" until they get to twelve beers a piece).

At about 0200, he asked his buddy to rustle up some food, while he got a breath of fresh air out on the balcony. He succeeded -- he got a huge breath of fresh air en route to the ground after he fell off. He then got a broken arm, an ambulance ride, a day off work and two weeks of light duty, in that order.

A quartet of Marines in North Carolina who had been to at least two places: a concert and a place that sold beer. Ears duly ringing and brains duly muddled, they headed back to base at 0200. The driver and two others were wearing seatbelts. The three passengers were asleep. A deer darted out in front of the car. The lance corporal who was driving jerked the wheel, slammed on the brakes and crashed into some trees. Injuries all around, including a broken arm for one guy, and a bunch of broken bones in the face for another (guess which one wasn’t buckled up).

The interesting thing, alcohol-wise, was that the driver claimed to have had one beer at 1900, then another beer four hours later. Were that true, he might have been fine, depending on how sleepy he was when he tried to drive. One beer (unless it is one of those special 1-gallon beers) isn't going to produce a BAC of 0.06 four hours later, unless you’re a Chihuahua.

An E-3 from an aviation squadron had been celebrating his 22nd birthday. At 0100, he faced an apparently difficult challenge: walking down stairs at a local night club. He was so drunk that he fell, tumbled and injured his knee.

As lessons learned, the report offered this: "Drink alcohol in moderation, and if unable to walk, seek assistance from a friend or nearby person." Well, that E-3 was unable to walk in two ways. First, because he was too drunk. And second, because he tore up his knee.

I’m not picking on junior enlisted. College students are probably worse, if that makes anyone feel any better. One study, citing “government health officials,” said that college-age drinkers average nine drinks per binge, and I read an article just this morning that said one in ten high-school students go on 10-drink binges.

Is oblivion really the goal? Do they start out wanting to lose a little control, but then they lose a lot?

Clearly, the phrase “drink in moderation” isn’t a panacea. Some people can monitor themselves, and others haven’t learned how. Did you ever see those little disposable alcohol testers? Concerned supervisors would hand them out for free to drinkers so they could check themselves before trying to drive home after a night in a bar or at a party. That’s the idea, anyway. “We used them to see who could blow the highest,” a young Sailor once told me.

OK, so you won a drinking contest. What exactly was the prize, again?

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Last reviewed: 27 February 2014

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