You may be wondering why I sign off each time with the moniker Qmo. Well, this is the simplified form of the nickname that I was bestowed by my platoon in Infantry school, and because I liked it, it stuck. Qmo is short for Quasimodo, the famous bell ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral in France. It became what my team called me in the Marines and followed me all the way through my deployment with I MEF. And like all good nicknames, this one comes with a story…
My platoon was in the middle of learning urban fighting techniques, and at the time I was a fire team leader. I was at the West coast School of Infantry in Camp Pendleton, California during the month of August. This meant that it was very warm out. Our training schedule had us in the field for over a week straight, and this being the phase after the initial range runs, we were in decent physical shape. During this phase, we were learning building breaching techniques, specifically room clearing through an elevated window. The trick to this maneuver was that our fire team would stack and then rush to the window. The first Marine would lean and crouch against the wall and be in position to help heave the next Marines through with their hands giving a boost up. We had run through “Barney-style” multiple times and had been practicing the drill over and over again. My platoon was not meeting the instructors desired levels of proficiency, and as the day wore on and the heat increased, our enthusiasm waned. It just happened that after a particularly blase performance by a fire team that my team was next in the queue. The instructors very demonstratively informed the platoon that if they even thought we weren’t giving it our all that we would “take a walk that night and look for our motivation.” Not wanting to hump all night, and also not wanting to be the reason that we had to miss out on a few hours of rest, I resolved to show them my war face. I slapped my team on the shoulders emphatically to get us moving. I was the second Marine meaning that I would be the first through the window. The way it is supposed to work is that the team clears quadrants of the room. “1 set! Mouse hole right! 1 clear!!” is what I was supposed to scream out to my team as I swept my quadrant, as my team then fluidly cleared their quadrants and the room was declared “ALL CLEAR!” That’s how it was supposed to be. In my case, however, I came running toward the window with my loudest war-cry and upon getting boosted through the window, my Kevlar helmeted head solidly struck the header and I did a complete flip and landed unconscious on the room floor. The instructors in the room told me that they rushed to my side to “see how badly I’d messed myself up.” *an extremely cleaned up version of their actual phrasing… and after a few moments of being motionless I suddenly jumped up and cleared my quadrant properly. They told me this story later that night because I had fuzzy memories regarding that event. But, with smiles and laughter they christened me “Quasimodo, the bell ringer!”
Shortened through time to Qmo, it has been a moniker that I cherish. A reminder of a time when I had gone through some of the hardest training in my life, and had succeeded. A reminder of a time when I had bonded with people I would have willingly taken on anyone with and died alongside happily. As mementos go, Qmo’s not a shabby one at all.