What Was Marine Boot Camp Like In Late 1930's / Early 40's?
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  1. #1

    What Was Marine Boot Camp Like In Late 1930's / Early 40's?

    Hello all,

    I'm aware that not many who went through during those times are still alive, but I've been especially curious as to what boot camp was like back in these days after finding out my grandfather went through during this era. Unfortunately, my grandfather has now passed and I never asked him this.

    Maybe if any of you have parents / grandparents who went through during that time, you could post some of their memories or thoughts on what it was like.

    I just wonder what kinds of exercises recruits went through and how their drill instructors treated them.

    Last edited by Adema1226; 11-29-11 at 07:13 PM. Reason: More details.

  2. #2

    Adema - Boot Camp

    I went through San Diego Boot Camp, 12-1-1942 to 1-20-43, no graduation, just on to Camp Elliott and Green's Farm 1-20 to 3-11-'43, for more training. They had to get us ready in a hurry to send us overseas, doing what they had to do to make us Marines! Running the obstacle course, daily exercises, push ups etc.

    The drill instructors treated us rough to make us Marines, at the end they thanked us and told us we would soon out rank them.

    We were shipped overseas on the U.S.S. Mount Vernon - California to New Caledonia 3-11-43, arriving in Noumea, New Caledonia March 25th.

    Shortly after arriving in New Caledonia I volunteered to join the Marine Raiders.

    Gung Ho,

    Ray Merrell

    I'm aware that not many who went through during those times are still alive, but I've been especially curious as to what boot camp was like back in these days after finding out my grandfather went through during this era. Unfortunately, my grandfather has now passed and I never asked him this.

    Maybe if any of you have parents / grandparents who went through during that time, you could post some of their memories or thoughts on what it was like.

    I just wonder what kinds of exercises recruits went through and how their drill instructors treated them.[/quote]


  3. #3
    My late uncle Richard Manning went in in '39. He told me stories of bugs like mealworms etc in the chow and very large bed bugs in the beds. I believe he said there was a rifle range and camp where the LaJolla VA is now. definately not the cushy bootcamp with the nice barracks San Diego has in the modern era.


  4. #4
    Squad Leader Platinum Member Zulu 36's Avatar
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    My father went through San Diego in July - August 1943 as a 17-year old. He said the Drill Instructors were pure mean pr*cks. He had a Corporal and a hashmark PFC, both Guadalcanal vets. They carried heavy swagger sticks and bashed recruits on the pith helmets they wore. Other punishments were equally brutal and painful. PT was standard calisthenics, rifle PT, running, and obstacle courses.

    No leave afterward. Straight to Camp Elliot and later Camp Pendleton for further training. Then over to the big island of Hawaii to join his unit (6th Marines, Scout-Sniper Platoon) for workups for Saipan and Tinian. He landed on Saipan on his 18th birthday.

    After Tinian, he spent a short time back on Saipan, then was sent stateside for medical treatment. After a couple of months in a Naval Hospital he finally got his first leave, 10-days. He was three-days late getting back because of train delays and spent seven-days in the brig on bread-and-water (luckily he had letters from station masters explaining the delays were not his fault otherwise he'd have gotten 30-days). They had to take him out to give him his Bronze Star and then put him back in. No playing games in those days.


  5. #5
    Marine Friend Free Member USNAviator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zulu 36 View Post
    My father went through San Diego in July - August 1943 as a 17-year old. He said the Drill Instructors were pure mean pr*cks. He had a Corporal and a hashmark PFC, both Guadalcanal vets. They carried heavy swagger sticks and bashed recruits on the pith helmets they wore. Other punishments were equally brutal and painful. PT was standard calisthenics, rifle PT, running, and obstacle courses.

    No leave afterward. Straight to Camp Elliot and later Camp Pendleton for further training. Then over to the big island of Hawaii to join his unit (6th Marines, Scout-Sniper Platoon) for workups for Saipan and Tinian. He landed on Saipan on his 18th birthday.

    After Tinian, he spent a short time back on Saipan, then was sent stateside for medical treatment. After a couple of months in a Naval Hospital he finally got his first leave, 10-days. He was three-days late getting back because of train delays and spent seven-days in the brig on bread-and-water (luckily he had letters from station masters explaining the delays were not his fault otherwise he'd have gotten 30-days). They had to take him out to give him his Bronze Star and then put him back in. No playing games in those days.

    Great story Chris. When our father's generation signed up for the duration plus 6 months it was the real deal. My dad Jack left in June of '42 and didn't see stateside again till October of '45. He was Army, Big Red One!


  6. #6
    Thanks everyone for all the replies. I thoroughly enjoy reading everyone's stories and accounts of their experiences.

    I wish I knew what my grandfather did while he was in the Marines. All I know is that he transferred to the Air Force when it separated itself from the Army and became active. He served 19 years before retiring due to what he called "bureaucracy". He later said he regretted that decision.

    Well, thanks again for all your replies, and keep 'em coming!


  7. #7
    Marine Free Member Apache's Avatar
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    Adema
    You can contact DOD for a copy of his DD214 which will detail his service.
    If someone here posts a link--- outstanding
    If not-contact any military recruiter to point you to a specific contact


  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Apache View Post
    Adema
    You can contact DOD for a copy of his DD214 which will detail his service.
    If someone here posts a link--- outstanding
    If not-contact any military recruiter to point you to a specific contact
    Thanks very much Apache, I may do that.


  9. #9
    Squad Leader Platinum Member Zulu 36's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adema1226 View Post
    Thanks very much Apache, I may do that.

    This is the link.

    http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/


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