Jason B. Ladd

Ask the Questions. Embrace the Answers. Make the Leap.

The Ballad of Betty and Chesty

chesty puller

For Marines, the Crucible is both a test and a way of life. This test of courage and strength begins at basic training, extends into combat, and often continues after their service is complete. This ballad describes one small part of the Crucible and is dedicated to the men and women of the armed forces who have strengthened the bonds of brotherhood through suffering at the Bachelor Officers Quarters (BOQ) at Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma. 

Well they’re sendin’ me down to Yuma
They gonna train me up for war
I ain’t sure what to bring to that Jarhead base
I ain’t never been before

So I called on down to the housin’ place to find out
Where I’d lay my head
And a sweet little thing named Betty picked up
And a this is what she said

“Well I’m glad you called, young man,” she said
“I’d love to tell ya what I’ve got
It’s called a BOQ and I’m tellin’ you
You’re gonna like this place a lot

“It’s got wall-to-wall nice carpet
And beds made for a king
Uncle Sam didn’t pinch no pennies on the lowest bidder
When he built this thing

“We can’t have ya’ll gettin’ lonely
When your home’s so far away
So we double ya up and let ya share a head
For the duration of your stay

“You’re gonna like our toilet paper
It’s the best you’re gonna find
It’s got five ply holdin’ her together just to keep it from a
Tearin’ on yer behind

“Now there ain’t no need to check this crackin’ paint
I’m sure it’s lead
If it gets too much, just give it a lick
In three days you’re surely dead”

I thanked Ms. Betty for all her help
Not sure what quite to think
Of her point of view that this BOQ’s
Like armor w’thout a chink

Well I went on into that barracks room
Expectin’ a real fine stay
But when I opened the door my jaw hit the floor
At the state of disarray

That king-size bed went AWOL
And left a kid-sized in its place
And the broke AC left sweat dripping off
My flabbergasted face

The carpet looked a hundred years
And dirtier than sin
And that 5-ply paper was a missin’ 4
I never seen somethin’ so thin

I was just about to call Ms. Betty back
When a lump formed in my throat
‘Cause near a chest of drawers, hidden on the floor
Was a note that Chesty wrote

It said, “Betty, you’re a sweetheart
And this place could be a ten
With a couple a tweaks and a few short weeks
She’ll be ready for my men

“First take out all this carpet
And put in somethin’ rough
And a nice thick layer a dirt beneath
The beds will keep ’em tough

“You can take out all these king-size beds
We’ll trade ’em for a cot
Or at least a bed smaller than the average Joe
And as comfortable as rocks

“You’ll need to stop blowin’ in this cold air
It’s gonna make ’em sick
And the heads just keep on a cloggin’ up
‘Cause the TP’s way too thick

“We ain’t got much time to watch TV
You can trash all these remotes
Between you and me, it’s just more PT
When they get up to change the show

“And take down all these fancy lamps
All I need is some flickerin’ white
I don’t need no light in the closet space
We’re gonna execute at night

“But I love whatchya done with this place, ‘ol girl
The Marines should have it rough
And when they start to whine, tell ’em ’bout the time
Chesty Puller said it’s enough.

“Well I’m rackin’ out
I gotta hit the training’ field at zero-five
You’re a real swell girl, Ms. Betty
God bless this place, and Semper Fi”

I put down Chesty’s letter
With eyes amazed at what they’d seen
I knew there had to be a reason for the
Way that things have been

But now I know better and beyond a doubt
About the Yuma BOQ
Why it’s always been hell for me to stay
And it’s gonna be hell for you

In The Gift of Valor, author Michael M. Phillips describes how Marines are “weaned on the Corps’ theology in which glory derives from suffering…” Thank you, Chesty, for teaching us this from an early age, and every time we are TAD to Yuma.

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About Jason B. Ladd

Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.

3 Replies

  1. No wonder the USMC is so tough! lol that is quite the ballad!

    1. there’s plenty of time to write when you’re not distracted by reliable high speed internet and luxurious accommodations.

      1. LOL I guess that makes sense – – maybe? LOL