Ah, Boot Camp!

Final Drill for Female MarinesWhether you’re a Marine who served in 1918, 1942, 1955, 1968, 1977, 1985, 1999, or 2010, boot camp is a memory no female Marine will ever forget!  Think back to that first day when you were herded off the bus in the wee hours of the night. The yelling began almost immediately! You were a worthless piece of ____.  Yet, somehow, as the day passed, everything got tougher…your muscles, the callouses on your hands, your bearing and your determination! Every morning when you fanatically brushed your teeth and got your bed made, you knew the long day ahead was preparing you for something you could never imagine. You persevered! You pushed yourself from deep within! You achieved what others couldn’t! You earned the title of US Marine!!! Even more than 25 years after I graduated boot camp, I am still amazed at how people react when I tell them I’m a Marine.  “You did the whole Marine Corps Boot Camp thing? Wow, cool!”  Hahahaha, I guess!

Boot Camp Marine Corps Martial Arts ProgramDo you remember a particular drill instructor who knew how to get under your skin?  Do you remember that first formation run when you just knew you were going to fall out?  Do you remember pulling yourself up on that pull-up bar the first time with your fellow platoon cheering you on?  How about the day they handed you that M16? How did you feel when you pulled the pin of a grenade?  How did you convince your families that everything was OK? Did you write them nightly? Did you leave a boyfriend or child behind?  Was there someone who made you laugh all the time? Do you remember your Molly Marine? Were you a pork chop? Did the sand fleas torment you? Was your hair always in your face? Did you injure yourself?  And just how much did you love push-ups and mountain climbers!!?

Tell us about your boot camp memories in Parris Island. Help us understand how it’s evolved from WWI to Vietnam to Desert Storm to present.  And do tell us why you still poke your chest out when someone asks if you are a Marine!


About AradiseDP

22-year Marine Corps veteran (1985 - 2007). I love the USA! I love life and the entire journey.

9 comments on “Ah, Boot Camp!

  1. Regarding boot camp memories. Our long day of travel from California to Parris Island ended when we stepped off the bus around dinner time. I swear that I did not know women were even capable of being that mean. They were in our face, screaming and basically scaring the crap out of us from the instant their foot hit the bottom step of the bus. We were so scared that none of us even took the time to answer the call of nature for 3 days because we were so afraid of being late for formation. Anybody who says you need to do PT to get your heart pumping hasn’t been around Marine DIs because they, too, can get the old ticket beating like a base drum just from fear alone.
    Our junior DI was a real treat. Her favorite form of torture was to walk into the squad bay during our one hour of “free time” when we had nothing to do (but laundry, ironing, shoe polishing and writing letters home) and and she would start holding foot locker drills. Empty the foot locker, fill the foot locker, and repeat it and repeat it and repeat it until she got tired which usually took quite a long time. Some nights, the only thing that saved us from yet another round of this drill was evening taps. Boy were we ever glad to see those lights go out. It meant the monster would finally go back to its cave!!
    About half way through boot camp, the senior DI came into the squad bay one evening with the log book which she had very carefully studied to locate every single error made by our platoon. We were dressed in PJs and cheap rubber shower shoes when she entered the room and she had us all stand at parade rest while she called up the offenders one at a time. Do you remember the huge mirror near the door? Well she had the recruits stand in front of the mirror and say something like “I will not mark over in the log book” – then execute an about face in rubber shower shoes and repeat the phrase and about face and repeat the phrase over and over and over. Each recruit got to do this until the DI said to stop. Well, as more and more recruits got into this act, it started to get funnier and funnier, but we did not dare to laugh until one recruit did an about face and her shower shoe tore in half. Now she is doing her about faces on one bare heel and one half a shower shoe. One of the girls laughed out loud and her punishment was to join the others and say “HA HA”, and about face, and “HA HA” and about face, etc. We were biting our cheeks, biting our tongues, digging our nails into our hands – anything to keep from joining that crew at the mirror. We did not dare to make eye contact with the recruit across from us because it would have been all over. It was a very long evening for those standing at parade rest while trying with all our might to not laugh. Thank goodness, we only got to enjoy this particular exercise once – and once was more than enough.
    When I went to boot camp, I left behind a 4 year old Godson that I loved more than anything. I had helped raise him from the age of 3 months and we were very, very close. On Valentine’s Day, I got called to the DI’s office which scared the crap out of me because I had no idea what I could possibly have done to warrant a summons into that chamber of horrors. When I got there, the DI informed me that I had a phone call and I could only have 3 minutes. Here I am standing at attention in the middle of a room full of DI’s and who is on the phone but my little Godson. At that moment, I missed him so much that tears just flowed down my face but I somehow got through it. It was my best and worst personal boot camp moment all rolled into one.
    I went to boot camp over 45 years ago and these memories are as clear as if they happened yesterday. I think every Marine could say the same thing. Don’t ask me why this happens because I couldn’t begin to tell you the reason, but once the Marine Corps is in your system, it is there for life. Most of the time now I can’t remember what I did yesterday, but events from 45 years ago are crystal clear. Go figure! Semper Fidelis!

  2. I became a women marine back in 1992. I still remember moments of boot camp as if they happened just yesterday. One of them was when the DI’s used to make us stand in line and drink 2 whole canteens of water before we went to chow because we were getting a little `fat`. I remember some girls puking up water and I was really worried that they would make me. I don’t know how I got through that one. I also remember kitchen duty at 4:30 or so in the morning where the DI’s would wake us up by banging a trash can lid so that we could get up and prepare food, do dishes, or some other crap job. I also still remember doing drills with my M16. I always liked that. It was cool that we would all do the same moves together.

  3. I went to boot camp in 1978. I remember our senior DI couldn’t stand it when she heard us calling each other “you guys”. One day when she overheard it, she called over the recruit who said it and shouted at her, “There are no guys in this platoon! Do you see any guys? I don’t! Look in each face, one at a time, and see if you see any guys!” We all stood at attention with our backs against the bulkhead and the recruit starting going up and down the line with sharp left and right facing movements and looking in each face one by one as she had been told. She started with the recruit closest to the senior DI and had to work her way all the way down the line on one side of the bulkhead, then cross over and go all the way back up the line of recruits on the other side. In the meantime, we all sort of forgot about her because our senior DI starting going on and on about something else. The other DIs seemed to forget about her too. After a long period of time the senior DI was still ranting on and on about something, and suddenly there was the recruit who had finished looking at the last face. She turned, did a sharp facing movement in front of the senior DI and shouted proudly, “Ma’am, I’ve checked each face, and there are no guys in our platoon!” We all wanted to burst out laughing and we were trying hard to stifle it. We could see out of the corner of our eyes that the senior DI was trying to stifle her own laugh, but then she quickly caught herself and yelled at the recruit to get back in line.
    To this day when I think of this, I can’t help but laugh.

  4. “SNAP, CRACKEL, POP” 1977 graduate the words we had to live by… snap to attention, crack into shape, pop into action….. there was no dilly-dallying. Years might have passed on but memories of the Marine Corps boot camp live on forever…..Oooohrah

  5. i was in 1968…boy have things changed since then 10a…was my group…wonder if anyone out there was there too….my name then was mindy maher….i still have my book with our pictures from boot camp…i married a marine also…we have been together 43 years….

  6. I went in in 72. Was a DI 74 to 76. I remember when one of my recruit’s flipped me the bird. She is retired now. I retired in 97 at PI @ 4th RTBn Semper Fi

    • I probably know you because I was a DI from June 73 – Dec. 75, especially if you became a CWO. We met again at Cherry Point.

  7. Member of the 10B platoon in 1973. Fond memories of our ruby red lipstick that was a requirement – the wonderful ladies of my platoon. Things have certainly changed and opportunities available. Any ladies out there from 10B- looking for a WM from Iowa, last name Gustufson.

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