Glory Days – “BOLO”


The 53rd Regiment News

Dateline: March 1st, 2017

Army troops know the term. No one wanted to BOLO a training event, fail a land navigation course or be associated with some Army training event or exercise that they failed in. No one wanted to be a “BOLO.”

BOLO is a pejorative term meaning failure. It also has some history meaning “Be on the Look Out,” but this is not the meaning in modern day units. In my “glory days,” BOLO was directed at failure or a person who couldn’t get their act together meeting the lowest of standards. One might hear:

  • “Hey Smith, what the hell happened, BOLO again?”
  • “Hey Sir, on the range today we had 29 qualify and 3 BOLO’s”
  • “Jones, what a major BOLO”

I also found a reference stating that BOLO was a term used in WWII for American trained Philippine guerrilla forces that failed to achieve basic marksmanship proficiency with a rifle. They were issued “bolo” knives instead of firearms to preserve ammunition. Hence, they were perhaps the first “BOLOs.”

In basic training, BOLO was a favorite term among Drill Sergeants for recruits among other words or terms that were not very  pleasant. BOLO was actually one of the kinder words one could be called by a Drill Sergeant for failure. This was back in an era before sensitivity training, Consideration of Others Program (COOP) training or before present day college Safe Spaces.

The 53rd Regiment would like to hear from you about your glory days. Be heard!

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Author: Guardian 6

Guardian 6 is at the ready: 1st General Order "I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved." 2nd General Order "I will obey my special orders and perform all of my duties in a military manner." 3rd General Order "I will report violations of my special orders, emergencies, and anything not covered in my instructions, to the commander of the relief."