WASHINGTON – Deep in the bowels of the Pentagon, the most legendary killer in the Department of Defense doesn’t hold high rank, hasn’t been head-hunted by a contractor, and doesn’t even demand a parking spot. In fact, he lives in a desk drawer.
Meet “Rusty,” the black Skilcraft pen who’s responsible for killing 38 careers.
Many at Joint Staff J1 remember Rusty fondly from when he was fresh out of the box at Navy Human Resources command.
“There was something different about Rusty,” said Capt. Harold Black, who’s served with Rusty for over 20 years. “Whenever I needed to sign a crushing FITREP, I knew that Rusty could get the job done. I’ve gone back to Rusty for all my favorite UCMJ actions, and even a little note telling an admiral to resign before his corruption charges leaked to the press. Rusty’s a stone cold career killer.”
Though it would be easy to focus on Rusty’s successes, the future hasn’t always been clear for America’s most-feared Skilcraft pen.
For a while, Rusty eyed Lotus Forms nervously, worried that there was no place in the military for a pen who had looked good careers in the eye, only to watch the life drain out of them. Luckily for Rusty, Lotus Forms never quite seemed to work, and Rusty was left to apply only the freshest, wettest signatures to orders preventing a good officer from getting a joint assignment.
Though he’s reluctant to talk about it, Rusty has even endured a Skilcraft pen’s greatest opponent: the washing machine. Though he survived it, Rusty suffers constant pain but laughs at the near-death experience where he earned his nickname.
“Rusty is truly a jewel,” said Black. “A lot of Americans focus on the tanks, the machine guns, or the bombs and the destruction they cause. They don’t know Rusty. Every time he leaves the pen pocket on an angry senior rater’s uniform sleeve, he truly rains death from above.”
“Some of those careers supported families,” added Black.
Though technology has changed, war has always been about inflicting pain, the indignity of death for both the killer and the killed. While many would like to think of war as something small, a thing that can be contained or distanced with computers, those like Rusty know that the essence of war is in the slow, thoughtful conclusion that one is dying.
“Mediocre staff officers sleep peacefully in their beds because rough pens like Rusty stand ready to kill," Black said.
As Rusty slid back into a chow hall coffee mug used as a pencil cup, Black added that he was hitting high year of tenure, but he had planned for Rusty by providing a box of cartridge refills. Rusty might change with the times, but the values that Rusty stands for — that all good careers are vulnerable to bad paperwork — are timeless.
It was clear that America didn’t want a Rusty; America needed a Rusty.