A Walk Through USMC Boot Camp
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  1. #1

    A Walk Through USMC Boot Camp

    I was always getting asked what boot camp was like. So I put my experience into words and here is what came out.

    Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California. My journey began on December 16 and as I sat in the white bus I heard the words that frightened me.....and then it began...


    "Now without killing yourselves, GET OFF MY BUS." These are the last four words you will hear prior to your life changing forever. The change begins immediately when you first mirror the yellow footprints. Whatever doubts you had if this is real are quickly gone as yelling is heard from all directions and your heart attempts to escape your frightened body. The night is young and so are you, but you will quickly learn that you have everything to learn once again. We have come from all points throughout the USA. From the big cities, to the rural farms. Different social backgrounds, Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian to name a few. We begin our journey into an elite brotherhood very different, but we will emerge as one, a United States Marine.

    What little knowledge we bring with us is quickly forgotten as we are deprived of what we bring with us both mentally and physically. We are stripped of our character to begin the crucial rebuilding process. Our heads are similar as our youth is shaved to the scalp. We are very wide eyed, but we seem to see nothing. Time seems to stand still as it rushes by at a pace never before experienced by any of us. You are whisked away from room to room not knowing what to expect next. Fear is everywhere, but there is no time to think about it. Every second is being fulfilled to its maximum use. A brief phone call home to ensure our safe arrival is a lie, as no one feels safe at this time. Dental, medical, and psychological exams are done without hesitation or approval. Inoculations are as common as the lack of rest. The longest two or three days of your life are only a small glimpse of what lays ahead.

    Arriving in your permanent platoon is indeed a very frightening experience for anyone. No matter who you are or who you think you are, this moment can leave anyone's trousers soiled. You will do nothing right and everything wrong. You will quickly forget your left from your right. You will think up is down and vice versa. The simplest of tasks will now cause great confusion to your very confused young mind. Stress at a very high level will confuse the brightest and toughest of minds. It is nothing but a blur as it is occurring and it seems to last forever. Confusion and chaos is all around as drill instructors bark out their orders. Some orders are impossible to complete, but we still try because we can not think that far ahead under these stressful conditions. We will learn how to bathe, how to shave, how to dress, how to stand, and how to speak and act by the numbers. From one through ten, we must not skip a single beat. To do so would earn us extra time at pushing our bodies off the deck. It's all about learning how to kill, but we do not understand this at this time.

    Soreness is an everyday issue as we run or march everywhere we go. Everything is done with the sense of urgency. We move like bees in a hive. Our focus is so great that a spaceship can whiz by our heads and we would not even notice it. It is not our job to notice spaceships, so we carry on. We are here to follow orders and to carry them out. Drilling is an everyday thing. Our rifle is our best friend as we march around the never ending parade deck. The only sound our ears are allowed to pick up is that of our drill instructors barking out the most beautiful cadences. As time goes by we begin to gel as a platoon, but no one is giving us any praise. We are still worthless and are often reminded of this by giving us some extra training in a giant dirt pit. This pit builds character, as the reasons for being in it are usually false. To do your best will never be good enough in their eyes. Nothing is ever personal, but it seems as if everything you do is personal around these parts.

    As the end nears you will have a brief moment to reflect on what you have accomplished. From qualifying with the rifle, to swimming with all of your gear. From drilling to inspections and the countless miles ran and humped. The transformation is near its end, and soon it will begin once again. Our movements are now crisp and our appearance is crystal clean. Our words have great purpose and our reflection reflects confidence. Hair is back on top as we now walk with tremendous pride. The drill instructors are still here to remind us of where we are and where we have been. They have not flinched once during their grueling task. They make 'KILLERS' for a living, and this is not an easy task. To question their methods is wrong, to look at the results is proof of an outstanding job. They are at a level in which very few will ever reach. Many try to become one and many fail, so this truly is the best of the best.

    We must never forget why we chose to become US Marines. We must never forget those that made us into Marines. And we must never forget those that died for their country and the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. If everyone could be a Marine, then we wouldn't be Marines. When America dials 911 the Marines will always answer. Always have and always will. Semper Fi Jarheads!!!


  2. #2
    Very well said, brings back many memories! SF


  3. #3
    Well put Cpl. I remember the night I got to MCRDPI, though it wasn't all that long ago. It felt like a horror story. The white bus had purple seats with a gold glittery isle. We were told to keep our heads down. It was storming that night...pouring and lightning the whole deal. Every stop sign/light and turn my adrenaline would pump not knowing if we were at the final destination. The feeling is something I will never feel again.


  4. #4
    josephd
    Guest Free Member
    rraah!....I can't wait to get back to the depot and see it all from another perspective now


  5. #5
    OutStanding ..............


  6. #6
    Just recently, Aug 28th, I was back at Parris Island, to see my nephew graduate from boot camp. I haven't been back to Parris Island since graduating from there 21 years ago. All I can say is what a feeling it was!!! I remembered where everything was. Not much has changed in those 21 years.
    For me, the excitement of being back there after 21 years was at times, a bit overwhelming....got a bit chocked up and brought tears to my eyes.
    My brother, who's a retired Marine GySgt, was with me also, as was a few memebers of our family. My brother and I had a blast just reminiscing. He hasn't been back there in 40 years, and soooo much has changed since he was last there in 1969. Because my brother is a former Drill Instructor, we visited Drill Instructor School and got a tour from the 1st Sgt. They usually don't just give out tours after school hours, but made the exception because of my brother being a former Drill Instructor. The tour was OUTSTANDING and very much appreciated by my brother and myself.
    The memories just came rushing back from when I was there, being that 4th BN is right next to Drill Instructor School.
    Anyway....if any of you Marines do get a chance to go back to Parris Island, go....but in my opinion, wait at least 10 years. I think after waiting for that long, you can appreciate everything that you went thru much more. You suddenly find yourself "standing taller and walking with much more PRIDE."
    Oh yes, and we did get a picture of my brother, myself and my nephew all together on the famous "yellow footprints" in front of receiving. My brother was in the 1st row, I was in the 2nd row to the right of my brother and my nephew was in the 3rd row to the right of me. I'll have to ask both my brother & my nephew, who will be done with MCT training either on Monday or Tuesday (Oct 5th-6th) of next week, if it's OK to post the pic here.

    Oorah & Semper Fi Marines!


  7. #7
    Congratulations for your nephew Lisa.

    33 years ago at this time I was in Boot Camp at PI. It's been on my mind lately and l hope to get there in the next 4 or 5 years. When I was in the old white barracks were still there, we stayed in them during processing. I understand they've been gone for a while so it would be interesting to see what's in their place.


  8. #8
    Thanks Ken! My nephew is currently at 29 Palms now waiting for his schooling to start.
    All I can say is the old white barracks are gone! My brother was in those old white barracks also. I know you'll enjoy yourself when you do go. The memories just come rushing back.


  9. #9
    Well said, couldn't have said it better.


  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by LASWMarine View Post
    Just recently, Aug 28th, I was back at Parris Island, to see my nephew graduate from boot camp. I haven't been back to Parris Island since graduating from there 21 years ago. All I can say is what a feeling it was!!! I remembered where everything was. Not much has changed in those 21 years.
    For me, the excitement of being back there after 21 years was at times, a bit overwhelming....got a bit chocked up and brought tears to my eyes.
    My brother, who's a retired Marine GySgt, was with me also, as was a few memebers of our family. My brother and I had a blast just reminiscing. He hasn't been back there in 40 years, and soooo much has changed since he was last there in 1969. Because my brother is a former Drill Instructor, we visited Drill Instructor School and got a tour from the 1st Sgt. They usually don't just give out tours after school hours, but made the exception because of my brother being a former Drill Instructor. The tour was OUTSTANDING and very much appreciated by my brother and myself.
    The memories just came rushing back from when I was there, being that 4th BN is right next to Drill Instructor School.
    Anyway....if any of you Marines do get a chance to go back to Parris Island, go....but in my opinion, wait at least 10 years. I think after waiting for that long, you can appreciate everything that you went thru much more. You suddenly find yourself "standing taller and walking with much more PRIDE."
    Oh yes, and we did get a picture of my brother, myself and my nephew all together on the famous "yellow footprints" in front of receiving. My brother was in the 1st row, I was in the 2nd row to the right of my brother and my nephew was in the 3rd row to the right of me. I'll have to ask both my brother & my nephew, who will be done with MCT training either on Monday or Tuesday (Oct 5th-6th) of next week, if it's OK to post the pic here.

    Oorah & Semper Fi Marines!
    I went back to PI when I got stationed at Beaufort in 2001. I will never forget my wife wanting to go to the commisary on PI, and the drive there. As we were coming on the island, I swear every hair on the back of my neck stood up, and I was in a cold sweat. It was like I was going back to stand on the yellow footprints all over again (and I was a Sgt at the time). I realized at that moment no matter where I go, and what I do in life, NOTHING will ever compare to the 3 months I spent on PI. It will stay will me for the rest of my life, and it is one of the millions of things that makes our beloved Corps great!


  11. #11
    The thing that did it for me was when i went back in July 2002. I flew from Boston to NC i believe. We had these little meal tickets so i figured i would be smart and use them in the next airport when i would be really hungry. From NC we flew to SC and as soon as we were getting off the plane onto the little bridge that connect the plane to the airport there was a Marine Drill Instructor yelling at us to run and form it up. We were in a platoon formation and filed it off by squads down the ladderwell. I was shocked because i did not get to use my tickets and did not realize they had something set up downstairs to get your Smart Cards. I seriously thought "holy f*cking sh!t, this is some secretive thing and im about to die" lol man i was scared. I started laughing when they made this one country guy about 6'7" over 230 pounds yelling with his country accent (mind you im from Boston and did not know better) "Put your smart card in your smart card holder recruits". I got yelled at but nothing happened seeing as we were not on the island yet. When the bus took off and we were driving there it was pitch black, i could see nothing but the street lights in the distance until we arrived and saw an arch with Marines standing there (MP's). When we arrived to the Check In Bldg. Then im not sure what happened to me, whether i became completely stupid in 5 seconds or just turned into a robot. As soon as that Drill Instructor got on the bus it was on!!! Im almost certain it went like this "You are now at Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot Parris Island. The first and last words out of your mouth will be Sir, Do you understand Me? (all of us) SIR YES SIR!!! Without killing yourselves grab all your trash and get on my footprints right now!!"

    that was just the intro to the whole thing, got a little bit of hair sticking up while i was writing this lol anyway yeah thats how my first intro went.


  12. #12
    Ooh-Rah Marines! Who can forget those Yellow Footprints!

    Thanks for these posts, brings back a lot of memories. I went back to MCRD, San Diego 14 years after completing recruit training to see a friend's brother graduate from Boot Camp. It was an awesome experience! Seeing the barracks and especially that grinder was quite a journey through my military memories. I recommend all Marines go back to visit their Recruit Depot, you will all be glad you did.


  13. #13
    I know that this is an old thread but I
    just wanted to respond to it anyway.

    I remember the GET THE FVCK OFF MY BUS and
    standing on the yellow foot prints.
    Vaugely remember the head skinning and seem
    to remember walking naked through a chamber of some sort
    with a funky mist of some kind.
    I remember the D.I.'s face in recieving but not his name.
    He was short and thick and had a tat on his left
    forarm. The letters were USMC in flames and that
    scared the trash out of me.
    Everything else about that time is just a woodland cammo
    blur.
    But from meeting our permanent Drill Instructors on
    is all as vivid as if it was yesterday.


  14. #14
    I think myself and a couple other recruits were hungover on the bus. I do remember the bus drivers family was with us and got to witness the action first hand. Stepping off the bus with my long hair flowing in the breeze unaware of what I just signed up for, I bebopped down the steps to quickly feel my throat being throttled by a Sgt. who's every word had spittle attached to it. Thats when I knew My number was up. My experience at MCRD are ones that I'll take to my grave.....I've forgotten a lot of lifes memories as time goes by, but being a Marine stands out as my lifes biggest accomplishment. Semper Fi.


  15. #15
    In 2006 was visiting the daughter in Key West and ask the wife if we could leave a little early to go through S.C. on our way home to Knoxville, Tn. She started raising hell and asked why leave early. I told her that 40 years ago I received the Eagle, Globe and Anchor and would like to go to Parris Island before going home. She changed her tune and readily agreed. We were lucky enough to be there for a graduation. Before the graduation began they recognized all the veterans in the stands. It was one of the most emotional times in my life. I wasn't the only one there that shed a tear. I suggest that if any readers have not returned to thier respective boot camp please do. It's weel worth the trip.


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