WASHINGTON, D.C. - "Fire them! Fire them all!" raved Gen. James Amos, foaming at the mouth as he was escorted to a waiting police cruiser in a straitjacket late Friday. Amos is en route to a high security psychiatric facility following a firing spree during which he attempted to relieve the entire United States Marine Corps.
It began Thursday morning, when Amos unexpectedly fired his aide. Sources believe the firing was prompted when Amos saw an article in The Marine Corps Times that suggested he was becoming increasingly unhinged. The article, which contained information that caused Amos to believe it was leaked from sources close to him, alleged that he believed he was surrounded by invisible enemies who wished to ruin his legacy as Commandant through leaks to the media, sexual assaults, safety incidents, war crimes, alcohol-related incidents, wasting water, and even their own suicides.
When Assistant Commandant Gen. John Paxton spoke up on behalf of the young officer, Amos fired him as well, believing him to be a co-conspirator. The situation soon spiraled out of control, with Amos running down the halls kicking in doors, and firing everyone he encountered. Victims of this portion of the spree included several of Amos' deputy commandants, large portions of their staffs, one very startled janitor, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
"Are you a Marine?" Amos asked, wild-eyed, not recognizing the member of the Armed Forces Committee.
"Hell yes I am," replied Blumenthal, who left the Marine Corps Reserve at the rank of sergeant in the mid-1970s.
"You're fired too!" Amos screamed into his face before running farther down the hall.
At this point, Lt. Gen. Richard Mills and Sergeant Major Gary Weiser, the leadership of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC) and the highest ranking Marines left in the building, attempted to rally the remaining Marines against the Commandant's administrative onslaught. Weiser gathered all the Marines he could find, and assembled them at a rally point identified by Mills, a hallway adjacent to Amos' rampage.
"Okay, here's the plan," Mills explained. "The Commandant's center of gravity is his ability to fire Marines. His critical vulnerability is that he needs to be able to see us and speak to us to exercise that ability, and he's got a limited field of vision. We're going to exploit that by breaking into multiple groups and catching him in the hallway by the elevators, where he can't escape, in order to put him in a dilemma where dealing with one advance leaves him with his back to the other."
"Form three groups, right now. You three sergeants are in charge. Supporting effort, main effort, and your group is the reserve. Got it?" he asked, looking each noncommissioned officer straight in the eyes.
"Supporting effort, you will advance down the eastern hallway to draw the Commandant's attention and fix him in place. I will be with you, so if the Commandant fires anyone, he'll have to fire me first. Main effort, as the supporting effort fixes the Commandant in place, you'll approach from the opposite direction, put this gag in his mouth, and put this bag over his head. Reserve, you'll follow in trace of the main effort. Be prepared to rapidly advance around them and distract the Commandant as an additional supporting effort if need be. Also, reserve and supporting effort, be prepared to assume the mission of the main effort, since you will also be equipped with field expedient gags and bags to put over the Commandant's head, just in case."
"When we leave here, you'll have five minutes to be in position. After that, I will initiate the attack by shouting down the hallway. Does anyone have any questions about the plan?" Mills asked. "No? Alright, you're all Marines, you know what to do. Let's move."
Minutes later, the floor reverberated with Mills' booming "FOLLOW ME!" as the general bounded down the hallway like a lion. Across the building, Weiser leapt around the corner in response, and rushed toward the distracted Commandant's back. To their shock, Amos calmly fired Mills, and then, hearing the Sergeant Major's war cries behind him, turned around and fired Weiser as well.
They then watched in disbelief as the Marines rallied by Weiser slowly marched around the corners and down the hallways in perfect formation, occasionally executing to the rear march or open and close ranks, all with no verbal commands, while several others filmed them for commercials or wrote press releases about the brilliance of the operation. While this was all very impressive, it provided the Commandant with sufficient time to completely relieve the entire supporting effort and make his getaway while firing several more Marines over his shoulder as he ran.
According to an oral history interview of Weiser conducted just after the incident by one of the Marines from the main effort, he claimed that when he rallied the Marines, most of whom were only temporarily detailed to the Pentagon from Headquarters Marine Corps commands like the Silent Drill Platoon, Recruiting Command, and the History Division, he had been looking only at their ranks, and noted that he and Mills probably would have done some things differently if it had been Friday and they could have seen the ribbons on the Marines' Charlie uniforms.
Soon after, Amos locked himself in a third floor office with a group of terrified young lieutenants who were visiting from The Basic School, and threatened to fire every last one of them "if anybody tries anything." He armed himself with a bullhorn, and every time a Marine stepped out of cover in the area below, Amos fired them. The Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA, pronounced "piff-puh") refused to respond, noting that Amos had committed no crime that they had jurisdiction to arrest him for. Marine Corps military police from Quantico were slow to arrive, and, upon arrival, were effectively neutralized by the Commandant's ability to fire them.
The first casualty was the hostage negotiator, who called Amos and was immediately fired over the phone.
When the door was finally broken down by Army military police specially brought in to subdue him, Amos rapidly fired two of the young lieutenants, then turned to a nearby mirror and attempted to fire himself just before being tackled to the floor, where he was finally gagged and hooded to prevent further firings.
During a subsequent search of Amos' office, officers discovered a stockpile of letters firing tens of thousands of Marines — effectively the entire Marine Corps. The letters were already written up and addressed, and, according to investigators, only needed signatures and postage.
"He had obviously been planning this for a while. We're lucky it wasn't worse," said one investigator.
When called to provide a comment, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Micheal Barrett could not be reached, but his Twitter feed said, "On leave in beautiful Gatlinburg, TN! Make time for your families, Marines. No job is so important that the Corps will go crazy if you leave for a week."