‘Terminal Lance’ Tuesdays: Knife-Hands and Yoo-Hoo


We’ve pulled another “Terminal Lance” strip from the Marine Corps Times archive. “Vigilance” first appeared in the issue dated June 27, 2011, and includes, in my opinion, one of TL creator Max Uriarte’s most outstanding depictions of the infamous — or dreaded? — knife-hand.

“Vigilance,” original pub date June 27, 2011.
(Artwork by Maximilian Uriarte)

This strip calls to mind a cover story we did back in 2010 examining the Lance Corporal Underground’s growing presence on the web. Max, not then a contributor to Marine Corps Times, was interviewed for that article, which includes (tragically) the newspaper’s only known reference to the term “knife-hand” — references to the title of Max’s book notwithstanding.

While reporting from the 2010 Sergeants Major Symposium, we documented a discussion, led by Master Gunnery Sgt. Byron Bissessar, about the perceived need for vigilance (there’s that word again) as Marines’ use of Facebook and other social media was becoming more prevalent. An excerpt from the story:

A page appeared on Facebook this year for “Sgt. Maj. Knife-hand,” a reference to a martial arts strike. The profile used the likeness of a senior enlisted Marine, and made lighthearted references about traveling to other countries. The page created problems because its humorous intent could be twisted.

“If they can create a profile about you and you don’t catch it, and they start making statements using your photograph, they can create havoc,” Bissessar told senior enlisted Marines at the symposium. “They can make political statements, like Sgt. Maj. Knife-hand. All it takes is someone from one of these other foreign countries, one of these fanatic agencies to say, ‘Hey, the Marine Corps is making fun of us.’

… The Corps was notified by “various leadership” that the Sgt. Maj. Knife-hand page was potentially problematic, and could be removed due to a violation of Facebook’s terms of service, which say users must not misrepresent themselves with profiles they post. The Corps notified Facebook … and the page was removed within days.

We understand the Master Guns’ point, but that doesn’t mean we don’t also enjoy a good laugh from seeing real knife-hands in action. Exhibit A:

Snapped in August, this photo shows Gunnery Sgt. Michael DeQuattro instructing a visibly sweating midshipman how to address a staff noncommissioned officer.
(Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andre N. McIntyre/Navy)

If you’ve got photos or videos like this one, email them to us: marinelet@marinecorpstimes.com. If we get enough good ones, we’ll share them here on Battle Rattle.


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  1. I tend to lose respect for SNCOs and others who resort to screaming and knife-handing as their first action when correcting something as menial as forms of address between branches.

  2. @Mike (in the above comment): Obviously you’re not a Marine. It can’t be explained to you, so don’t worry about it.

  3. You’ve got a good point Mike, but Midshipmen with SNCO instructors is pretty much the same as boot camp for recruits. I’m guessing the pic is from OCS or the Naval Academy.

  4. Yeah, we take that rank stuff more Seriously than our blue-side brothers. But with a million different Rates I can see why they’re more lax.

  5. @Bostonmarine: You dont seem to understand that this is not a form of leadership. It is a broken system that perpetuates itself through misguided children that never quite learn what it is to be a leader. It is the regurgitation of the actions of the many drill instructors before them. Do not try to sound superior because it comes across as arrogant and ignorant.

    @ilcpl: The only marines that “take this rank stuff more seriously” are those who have nothing more than rank to fall back on.

    I got out in may. CPL 0311.

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