Marine Corps Boot Camp: My First Week on Parris Island

Marine Corps Letters From Boot Camp
Written by Kevin Webb

Wow! My first week is complete and this phase is intense. I arrived on Parris Island Monday, October 19th, 2009 at about 9pm. Everyone in our van was violently directed out of the bus and onto the notorious yellow footprints where we received our first speech about our decision to become Marines. This is probably the first of many times where we all started asking ourselves “what in the world am I doing here.” It wouldn’t be the last time we questioned our reasoning for taking such a drastic path… but nobody showed up to give up, especially this early.

You don’t walk anywhere… and I mean anywhere! You run to the head, you run to the classroom, you run to get dressed, you run while you’re brushing your teeth, you run to run and run to eat and eat to run. Moving slow at Marine Corps Boot Camp is unacceptable. Everything is life and death, and there’s no time or room for mistakes. Trust me. You make a mistake and you won’t soon forget about it.

We were rushed into the receiving building and sat in some old wooden desks. After being yelled at some more, we were then sent into a classroom that had probably close to 400 desks in it, pressed as closely together as they could get them without touching. After we filled in, we did our best to stay awake while we got started on some last-minute paperwork.

Next was cuts. Your head gets shaved in about 20 seconds. They don’t care if your hair gets ripped out, or if your head gets cut up in the process. They could care less about being nice. You’re lucky if you even get a good haircut. Most recruits had giant chunks of hair on their head, and our next haircut isn’t for 2 weeks.

From there we ran to the area where our gear was issued. Again, nothing moves slow. They probably issued 400 of us gear in less than 10 minutes. This included all of our underwear, undershirts, utility uniforms, boot socks, boots, covers, sea bags, pt shorts, pt shirts, tennis shoes (go fasters), athletic socks and glow strap (reflector belt). We had 2 minutes to change out of our civilian clothes, into our dessert camies and get all of our stuff packed up into our seabags. Of course, we didn’t make it. When you fail a deadline at boot camp, you start over, and over, and over, until it gets done right. In boot camp, mistakes just make you late. In war, they kill your brothers.

After our gear issue, we head over to our supply issue. Here we’re given a mesh laundry bag that all of our stuff has to fit into. Some of this gear included laundry detergent, soap, razors, blades, foot power, tooth paste, deodorant, notebooks, pens, laundry clips, medical tape, marking gear, mole skins and a butt load of other stuff that I could go on forever listing.

You GET NOTHING from your civilian life. Nothing. Unlike the Army that gets cell phones a few weeks into training, days off, holidays off, phone calls on Sunday and an overall easier life… we train with our civilian life completely stripped from us, and that includes no real outside contact for 3 months. If you do take civilian stuff with you to boot camp, it gets ripped from you and put into a large paper bag where it will spend 3 months in storage. Don’t even think about bringing your cell phone. Unless you want it broken over your head.

We were all up at 4am Monday to get to MEPS with just 3 hours of sleep, and then spent the next 40 hours in receiving once we arrived. Don’t plan on getting any sleep for the first 3 days, and when you finally do hit the rack for the first time… you’ll get about 3 hours of sleep. Do whatever you can to stay awake. It will save you and your platoon from getting destroyed in the sand pit.

TIPS: To stay awake, drink water, pull your eyebrows and eye lashes out, play with your gear if you can get away with it… and dream about graduation day. Pinch yourself or bit your tongue; whatever it takes.

The first few days was just a lot of violent yelling, mind games and NO sleep. After receiving we took a tour of Parris Island…with ALL of our gear on…probably about 150 lbs worth. Some people couldn’t even do it. We must have walked close to a mile with two full seabags (one on your front and one on your back), and a full laundry bag carried wherever you can make due. Every time something was dropped, we started over. Every time a person stopped moving, we started over. Yes, 150 lbs. is heavy, but the bad part is that we were carrying it in sea bags with no straps or broken straps. That can make even 50 lbs. a pain to carry. Add in 3 days of no sleep and you have 80 luggage toting zombies. The bad part… we hadn’t even met our Drill Instructors yet.

I’m training with the toughest Recruit Training Battalion here. Not only am I in the toughest Battalion, but I’m in Alpha company, Plt 1000 Lead Series which is the best of the best. The last 6 years both the Drill Instructor of the year and the Marine of the year have come from my exact training Battalion, Company and Platoon.

We had 5 people drop out in just the first 3 days. One guy literally went INSANE, which is easy to do here. He started writing suicide letters, trying to escape, etc. He finally tried running away, but there aren’t any escape routes on Parris Island, unless you feel like playing with alligators, water moccasins and sharks. He ran anyways. Needless to say, he didn’t make it very far. The others were dropped for failing the Initial Strength Test or for medical reasons. One kid was deaf in one ear and didn’t know it. How do you miss that at MEPS? How do you not know you’re deaf?

Medical receiving was a pain…literally. You walk down a line and get about 9 shots and blood drawn. As far as training goes, we’ve only just had a few basic Law and Military classes, some Mixed Martial Arts training and a TON of rifle drills…which surprisingly, I enjoy. We have some REALLY stupid recruits here, which keeps the attention off me. They don’t play here. If something is wrong with you, the Drill Instructors are going to let you know. One kid has a lisp which the D.I.’s hate. They exploit it every chance they get. Another kid has NEVER brushed his teeth and his grill is jacked up! The D.I. looked at him crazy one day and said “maggot, it looks like you ate a grenade.” HAHA!

The hardest part for me is being away from my wife. I never thought I could miss her this much. She is my queen and I have a new appreciation for her. This place is no fun and games, but the only unbearable aspect is being away from Brittany. I’m looking forward to January 15th when I graduate.

I have a new admiration for those who serve and are away from their families. Please keep myself, but more importantly, my wife in your prayers.

P.S. Don’t come to Parris Island FAT. You will have a LONG 3 months here if you do.

P.S.S. Almost forgot…we get about 5 hours of sleep a night. The food is good and we just for the first time in 8 days got 30 minutes of free time. Sorry I can’t write novels like Michael Dunn.

About the author

Kevin Webb

10 Comments

  • Sounds like you are having fun man. Haha. Right now I am enjoying my first post past. Had Starbucks this morning, and I am a finishing up lunch at Pizza Hut right now. It feels so weird acting like a civilian again. I’m sure it’s hard being away from your wife, luckily I don’t have that to worry about while I am here. Have fun, and keep us updated on your training, I’ll check back again when I get the chance.

  • It all sounds very “Full Metal Jacket.”

    Praying for endurance for you and Brittany. My husband sent me an e-mail from Afghanistan instructing me to “download 3 Doors Down’s ‘Here Without You’…now!” It’s a good song for these separations.

  • My good Friend Chris Propst is on day 11. I wish all of you our blessings. Thank God that you love and do what you do best!

  • Ok i dont believe your story. I just came through PI with Charlie Company and there is no way 1st Batallion is the hardest. Platoon 1000??? Um unlikely. Also the only time we got less then 8 hours of sleep was durring BWT and the Crucible. Sorry Recruit just dont believe it.

    P.S. how can you post this blog bc unless they really changed the traing we didnt have access to electronis…

  • Hey,
    So I have to agree with another post on here. I just 2 days ago (4-16-10) finished my recruit training. We did everything you said, but we started “taps” at 2000 and it lasted till 0400. Now to say we actually went to sleep at those hours after shaving, using the head, brushing our teeth, and then waking up around 0300 to put our uniforms on, get hygiened again, and then use the head before 0400, we probably ended up getting roughly 6 or 7 hrs a night. Then morning clean up, chow, etc. Same shit different training day… and Alpha Co. might have had the best SDI and DI’s from your Co. but if you go to battalion in front of the chow hall behind the parade deck, there are plaques in there saying who is the best of the best, and it just so happens that SDI Ramos was voted “Regimental SDI of the year” & “Regimental SDI of the Cycle” every cycle in the calendar year. So I don’t know who was lying to you but the facts don’t like. And we also hold the Regimental Record for Final Drill at 75.5. So, “Delta Company Plt. 1026 1st Recruit Training Battalion” is where it’s at. Just to throw that little piece of Parris Island fun fact in there for you. *Camp Penalton is a 74.8, so atleast we kept the record on our depot and not California* Feels good to be #1 😉 So re-think your knowledge and re-write this because it is scewed. Later Alpha.

    • You’re a “boot.”

      Personally, being called a boot doesn’t bother me. It means I’m doing something right, and staying motivated. It does bother me for those who might not yet be confident as a new Marine. It bothers me because I have seen what being called a “boot” does to other Marines… it turns them into garbage. Because every time you call a Marine a “boot” for being motivated you chip away at what makes them a good Marine. What’s the point? What good are you doing? None!

      If being a boot means that a Marine is motivated, passionate, concerned, and cares about his Corps, then I’ll be a boot all day 🙂 maybe you should try it and stop worrying about negative peer pressure that you might catch from your peers. The problem is that you (and other Marines) turn it into a negative aspect… like being motivated is equivalent to being a nerd. Motivation is what keeps Marines in shape, and sharp on the learning curve.

      Your tactics go against our ethos, and distract people in a public forum.

      Marines who lose respect for the motivation they once had is why we have trash NCO’s and fat Staff Sgt.’s running things. They lost their motivation. A Marine with this perspective will become terrible NCOs if they keep this attitude, and I pity anyone who falls under their de-motivating, self-indulgent, dumb-headed leadership.

      I sacrificed a lot to become a Marine… so it would be stupid of me to not be a “boot.”

      Why not spend your energy correcting or taunting garbage Marines? Marines that don’t put out… Marines that give our Corps a bad name.

      Take it or leave it.

      -Semper Fi

      LCpl. Webb

  • Love it LCPL!!!

    It’s the sh*tbirds that can destroy our Corps, not the “moto-tards” (as the kid was so aptly called at MCT). Love your attitude!!!

    From two former Marines who were done and out before “boot to life” CPL Jones was even a glimmer in his daddy’s eye. 🙂

  • I’m sorry bud but 1st Battalion and the Green Girls were the second toughest to Battalion 3. Treelines and sandpits. India Company all the way. Just a little trash talk Marine. Stay safe and keep others safe. Thank You!
    CWO-2 SP McGann 3164
    SOSG NSA/CSS

  • Enjoyed your writing about your first week! I was 3-Lima WAAAAAY back… My son just arrived at PI today and is making me proud as…. You guessed it 3-Lima! Semper Fi

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