View Full Version : The Yellow Footprints

01-15-03, 08:46 AM
Drill instructors Staff Sgt. Tim Colvin and Staff Sgt. Chrisopher M. Thompson, Receiving Barracks Company, screen recruits for contraband immediately after the new recruits enter the Receiving Barracks. Photo by: Cpl. Ethan E. Rocke

Marine Corps News
January 9, 2003

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- As the brakes on the bus squeak to a sudden halt, his heart begins to race with anxiety. The warm, hurried breaths of the skittish teenager sitting next to him seem to echo in his ear as they both wait, eyes shut tight and heads tucked down in a modified fetal position. The screeching sound of the door flying open pierces a brief moment of silence. Suddenly every second feels like an hour as he anticipates every sound and every action in the dark world around him. One, two, three footsteps ... then the voice, "Look at me right now!"

Many people have heard the saying, "you never get a second chance to make a first impression." Drill instructors at Receiving Barracks Company here don't worry much about that. Every week, they introduce hundreds of young men to Marine Corps recruit training. For the drill instructors, it's just another day at work. For the recruits, it's a night they'll never forget.

"We're the first drill instructors they see," said Staff Sgt. Amman E. Catalan, senior drill instructor, Receiving Barracks Company.

"We have to maintain the high intensity and professionalism Marine boot camp is known for. They're all expecting what they've seen in 'Full Metal Jacket,'" he said.

One thing Stanley Kubric left out of his classic Vietnam-era war film is any mention of the celebrated yellow footprints that are embedded in the memories of every Marine.

"My first night on the yellow footprints made a monumental life impact on me," said 1st Sgt. Michael L. Kufchak, first sergeant, Company H. "How can any Marine not remember their first experience in recruit training? It ascertains the fact that you've been removed from all the creature comforts of civilian society and you're now in a military environment and exposed to a very directive atmosphere."

Four rows of 15 sets of yellow footprints painted with heels together at a 45-degree angle lie just outside the Receiving Barracks Company. These simple training tools are literally the first step in the 13-week indoctrination process that is Marine Corps recruit training. After the recruits step onto the yellow footprints the process of introducing them to the position of attention is expedited, and without even realizing it, they've participated in their first military formation.

Once the position of attention is learned, recruits are given a short block of instruction on the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

From there, they are rushed inside and put through a thorough screening for any unauthorized personal items, or contraband. It is during this time the recruits have their first one-on-one interaction with a drill instructor. This is usually where they discover how intense, demanding and intimidating Marine Corps drill instructors can be.

"The high stress level of recruit training is introduced here in order to prepare the recruits for what they will experience at their training company," said Catalan.

While the recruits get understandably stressed out at this point, they have yet to undergo any significant individual change, but that changes quickly when civilian clothes are replaced with combat utility uniforms and haircuts are administered.

"The first night has to be the most important because we strip away that individual identity and get them all looking the same," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Santiago, senior drill instructor, Receiving Barracks Company. "They begin to realize it doesn't matter who came here wearing designer pants or ripped jeans. Once they're here everyone is the same, and that helps them understand the importance of working as a team."

In addition to haircuts and uniform issue, recruits are also issued a "smart card" which acts as a debit card and contains a microchip that stores personal information, such as immunization records.

The Marines responsible for issuing smart cards, clothing and equipment and processing the recruits' records are not drill instructors, but they also play a vital role during a recruit's first night of training.

"The recruits' careers begin here," said Staff Sgt. Juan C. Guzman, administration chief, Recruit Administration Branch. "We're the ones responsible for making sure everything is in order administratively. It's vital that information is correct."

Without being properly processed the recruits cannot go to a training company.

"Our mission is to ensure recruits are properly processed before they go to a training company," Catalan said. "But there's more than just the yellow footprints and the drill instructors. We do our job, but we can't function without the Marines behind the scenes. We do about 60 percent of the job, and they do the other 40 percent."

Recruits are assigned to Receiving Barracks Company for an average of two to three days while they undergo the in-processing necessary to prepare them for what they will encounter at their actual training company. This includes dental and medical examinations, an initial strength test and administrative requirements.

Of all the nights recruits spend attached to receiving company, it is the first that is usually the most memorable.

"That first night was extremely memorable for me," said Recruit Jason S. Stoltz, Platoon 3142, Co. K. "I realized very quickly I had left all the comforts of a pampered civilian lifestyle behind, and I would have to work hard from then on to become something greater."

Perhaps one of the most memorable things about the first night of recruit training is how long it lasts. The average recruit is awake for 24 to 48 hours, according to Catalan.

"Our job is key for setting the pace and standard for what will happen at the recruits' training company," he said. "All of us know how to train recruits already. We try to make their experience as intense and professional as possible, so they will never forget their first night here."

The Drifter

Red Dragon
01-15-03, 11:20 AM
Nice post Drifter, but most are still in for a rude awakening. Nothing in the world like the Marine Corps Boot Camp(Parris Island), the other place is for Hollywood Marines:D

Seriously it takes your Heart and Soul to become a True Marine, something that is born inside of you and something you will never lose after graduating from Boot Camp.

Semper Fidelis,

Red Dragon aka HL

01-15-03, 01:01 PM
Take a look at the "Crucible" and than take all the "Hollywood Marines" to task...hands down the crucible on the left coast is a tad harder.
Better a "Hollywood Marine" than a "Swamp ???" that is said just in jest.
We fought the hills and you had a fight with the sand fleas and the swamps.

Semper Fidelis

01-15-03, 02:31 PM
'The Crucible" vs. "Elliotts Beach"

In '76, (P.I. of course :D) we had Elliotts Beach as the final drill. An abandonded air field if I remember right.

Does anybody have any idea how they compare?? I've watched some of the stuff on History Channel about The Crucible. Seems like I remember doing the same basic stuff, but not at the end of training.

High crawl, low crawl, barbwire crawl.....
Night infiltration (tanglefoot barbwire, flashbangs...)

Just wondering..... could you still do it :D ???

01-15-03, 03:30 PM
I went thru PI and then went to Electronics' School in San Diego. Boot Camp looked easier to me, but than I didn't have to do it there........LOL.......Did feel sorry for all the boots there. with all those planes taking off right over the base........(not)........LOL

Hollywood Marines got the sunglasses, we got the sand fleas........LOL

Remember Elliot's Beach well, just before the final inspection before graduation........

mrbsox, Hell no!!!!!!!!!!!!!.......Leave all the crawling for the newbees..............Mind willing but body says no.........LOL



08-11-08, 05:26 PM
Lcpl Buddy Alley, a good marine and a dear friend passed away two weeks ago, He will be missed, we served togeather in the early sixtys, at Courthouse Bay, Camp Geiger, and Las Pulgis calif. Buddy I will miss you!
Semper Fi Ol friend

Cpl W.L. Collins

08-11-08, 07:08 PM
Ah bootcamp. I still remember the first words I heard at Parris Island, "you recruits got 10 seconds to be off my bus and on the yellow footprints". Memories that last forever. Hey Marines, remember meeting your Drill Instructors for the first time?

08-11-08, 07:31 PM
There is nothing like stepping on those yellow footprints.I can still hear the Drill Instructors yelling to get off the bus and get on the footprints and that was almost 39 years ago it will be that on Sept 2nd 2008

08-12-08, 08:57 AM
mrbsox- I see that you were 2 months behind me at P.I.. I was in 3rdBn. I remember the night infiltration course with all those lovely fire ants. The cruciable seems to be more team oriented the Elliots Beach and our Warriors breakfast consisted of c-rats, nothing like green eggs straight out the can.

08-14-08, 08:01 AM
PI was broken up in 3bns, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, duh, we called 1st dodge city, 2nd was ? and 3rd was disney land, just some old mems. boot camp was 13 weeks and you could not quit! "ladies the only 2 ways off my island, graduate or death" ssgt norton jul61. oh and also on a daily basis we were at war with the ruskies, and we would never see our civ mother again.

08-14-08, 11:57 AM
mrbsox- I see that you were 2 months behind me at P.I.. I was in 3rdBn. I remember the night infiltration course with all those lovely fire ants. The cruciable seems to be more team oriented the Elliots Beach and our Warriors breakfast consisted of c-rats, nothing like green eggs straight out the can.

DIS........... MISSED !!!!!!!!!!

Ham and eggs, chopped. B-1 meal if I recall. Was actually one of my favorites, along with the CHOLOLATE NUT ROLL. Could find them laying around, but were made by 'American Bread Company' in Nashville TN. So always reminded me of home, as I was looking for a canteen to wash it down with.

My nephew is in P.I. right now (Fox, 2075). We'll be going down for graduation in October. I intend to stand on those foot prints again.... just to say. BEEN THERE DONE THAT... GOT THE TATTOO :banana:

08-22-08, 02:29 PM
Those were the days. What Marine here can honestly say, in retrospect, they didn't enjoy boot camp. I don't mean enjoy like, "I really enjoyed playing my [INSERT FAVORITE HOBBY OF CHOICE]." I mean that was the hardest, most confusing, yet most rewarding time of their life. After boot camp, really nothing life could through at me was much of a "challenge." I reflect on the things my wife frets about and I giggle (not like a girl). If only she had gone through Marine Corps boot camp, all of these work problems she encounters would seem trivial.

I miss boot camp...

08-22-08, 06:30 PM
the bigest let down was when you out posted from PI on those lovely greyhound buses headed for camp geiger "ITR", what a let down when you got there, no structure, no body yelling and telling you what to do, we were in a daze totally lost until we slowley adjusted. this was " our new Corps"

08-22-08, 06:44 PM
Elliots beach was a long way off,,,, but the trees were beautiful. I was taught CPR there,,,, first move, drop on one knee, and break the sternum,,,,,,Oh, It's different now. LOL.