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.