Brian Meyette's USMC Boot Camp Diary
In the fall of 1984, I had run the Barstow to Vegas motorcycle desert race. Toward the end, I crashed and broke my leg (I got back up and finished, though). While recuperating from the broken leg, I read a book about the Green Berets and thought I'd really missed out by never doing any "real" military stuff or going to Vietnam. Being in the Air Force in the early 70s was just like a civilian job, except I happened to work on planes at a military base. In fact, at least half of my coworkers there at McGuire AFB, NJ were civilians!
I decided to join the Army and get into the Green Berets for some adventure, before I got too old to do it. The recruiter was highly skeptical when I came in there on crutches with a leg cast, and said I wanted to join up. He apparently decided I must be a mental case, so he sent me to their testing facility to take the ASVAB, the military's vocational aptitude battery of tests. He was flabbergasted when he got the results back. He said it was the highest scores, in every area, that he'd ever seen. So, he started doing a bit more for me, but I'm sure he still thought it must be a prank.
While many weeks went by working with that recruiter, I decided one day to check out the Marines and see if perhaps they had some hard-ass unit like the Green Berets. It turned out they had a unit called Recon, so I decided they were probably even more hardcore than the Green Berets, and I decided to forget the Army and go for the Marines.
The Marine recruiters did not take me seriously at all, especially the first time I pulled up to the recruiting station, driving my Porsche 911 and wearing a 3 piece suit! Eventually, I was able to convince them that I was not kidding. Once I got the recruiters going for me, the Marine Corps turned me down, and said I was too old (33 then).
I complained to my Congressman, and eventually, after many interviews with various officers locally, a Captain at the San Diego MEPS, and even a Colonel at MCRD, I was allowed to enlist and go to Marine Corps Boot Camp. They were sure I'd bomb out, but they finally relented, saying it would only cost them a bus ticket to send me home when I couldn't hack it with the young studs. Then, I asked about getting a 3 year enlistment, instead of the usual 4 years. I figured that, if it turned out to be the big mistake everyone was saying it would be, enduring it for 3 years was better than 4 years. At first, they said "not available", but then they said that, after all I'd been through for so long, trying to get in, I could have a 3 year enlistment if I wanted it.
I was doing computer service and running a retail motorcycle accessories shop in Westminster, CA, where I lived, at the time. After I got the Marine enlistment all lined up, I started working out regularly to get into shape to enter USMC boot camp in early October. I was doing a lot of running, bicycling, and swimming. At one point, I had what I thought was a unique, "Brian-type" idea, as I’d never heard of it before; I’d ride my bicycle clear across the whole US! Of course, I later found out it wasn’t all that unique an idea, as many people had done it, but the plan was in motion. I tried all through the spring of 85 and into the summer to sell my store. I had a couple close nibbles, but time kept ticking away, and I had no buyer. I needed to wait to sell the shop before I could leave for the bicycle trip. By mid-July, a buyer had given me a deposit, but then he chickened out and backed out of the deal. I was so disgusted and fed up with the whole thing, I decided to just close the store, pack all the inventory into my garage, and leave on my bicycle trip. It was a great adventure, and I completed it just in time to go to Marine Corps Boot Camp.
I'm sneaking a quick note in the line at the dentist. I got in here last night around 5PM in a van from the San Diego MEPS center. I expected the shit to hit the fan as soon as the bus pulled up, like in the movies, but they just told us calmly to sit on some benches. I guess they were waiting for the rest of this day's recruits to come in. We all just sat quietly, not talking, expecting the shit to hit the fan any second. The DIs were rather mild, but it gradually got worse and worse ALL NIGHT LONG.
We received lectures on how to make our rack and on material needed to graduate from processing into the actual training. We had a lousy breakfast and then SGLI paperwork, then dental X-rays. They gave us a class on how to brush and floss our teeth. The brother platoon has an especially mean DI. Then we had more financial paperwork, then blood testing. The atmosphere now is much calmer than the terrorist conditions that existed earlier. Around dawn, the DIs were constantly screaming viciously and throwing tantrums. Since then, the recruits have gotten better at doing everything quickly.
All of their terminology is of Navy things like bulkheads, hatches, portholes, passageways, and decks. The Navy nurses at the blood test area were real vicious bitches. After lunch, we had yet ANOTHER major "moment of truth" session with a couple different speakers. The gist of it all is to entice suckers to "come clean" about any info they have concealed or misrepresented up to now, especially in the area of drugs. We also had one at the MEPS station before we left. They claimed there they had tests that could tell if you smoked 1 joint of pot 6 months ago, and how much you smoked. I'm surprised they didn't claim to be able to tell you where the shit was grown, and maybe who grew it. The idea is that by volunteering the info "they're going to find out anyway", a person won't be kicked out; it'll just be noted in his records. They say if they find out later by the urinalysis test coming back positive, it's out the door.
We got our haircuts and uniforms in our marathon processing session last night. They had us put on our sweatshirts, even though it was uncomfortably warm. I would have liked to ask to take mine off, but I knew better. We got taught a few more basic drill movements. We went to bed shortly after dinner, after a 7 minute shower and shave.
We spent all morning taking reading comprehension, foreign language aptitude, and EDP aptitude tests. After lunch, the Red Cross gave us a briefing. It took about half an hour just to go through filling out a small postcard. The rest of the recruits talk and chatter incessantly, with everyone constantly screaming at them to shut up. We retook parts of the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test after lunch. The idea was to look for any discrepancies between the results achieved from taking the test at a civilian site versus the more tightly controlled atmosphere of boot camp, to see if anyone had cheated on the entrance ASVAB somehow. Then we took a Morse Code aptitude test.
I can't remember what I did yesterday between the moment of truth session and dinner. It's been extremely hectic. We filled out GI Bill paperwork. The new GI bill isn't all that great, but it's better than nothing. We made up our name stamps and stamped our name on some of our clothing. The DIs gave us a long lecture about discipline. Everyone seemed much better disciplined after that.
Today, we got to sleep in. Until 0530! There was a beautiful sunrise. Due to being a "night person", I haven't seen more than a handful of sunrises in my life before coming here. The DIs told us we were going to have a "field day" after breakfast. It sounded good to me; maybe some sports outside somewhere. Well, it turned out that a "field day" is the Marine Corps term for "major cleanup". As part of teaching us teamwork, we made human mops, consisting of one recruit getting down on his forearms on a towel while a second recruit grabbed his ankles and pulled him around the squad bay to wipe the floors down. It was all done in frantic madhouse style, while being screamed at to HURRY UP!, as usual.
We got formed into squads by size after lunch. It was a pretty casual day. We studied our knowledge and learned a few new drill movements. "Knowledge" is the term for all the military classes we receive and carry around in little cammie notebooks. We're supposed to be studying our knowledge anytime we're not doing something else. We had a very brief supper. We had barely sat down when we were told we were DONE. It was a rather casual evening, too. We had a question and answer period with the DIs, and we were given relatively long showers.
We were woken up at 0600. I was up at 0500. I went into the head to piss and see if my skivvy shirt was on inside out, as I had put the skivvy shirt on in my rack in the dark. A DI was in there taking a shower and he screamed at me to get the hell out. The rule here is we can't get out the rack one hour after taps or one hour before reveille. I didn't recall having been told that before, so it took me a minute to figure out what the hell he was screaming about.
It was a beautiful sunrise again. It looked more like a great sunset. The sky was red and pink all over. We did marching practice. I made a phone call after lunch. We went to church and studied knowledge before lunch. After lunch, we sat around and cut our belts to size - after a class on it, of course. The DIs are SSgt Armstrong, SSgt Vasey, and Sgt Bobo. I was given some mild razzing about the Mickey Mouse tattoo on my forearm. I was also given some friendly advice about pushing harder to be a squad leader or guide. The guide is the #1 recruit leader. I spoke to SSgt Armstrong about it. He agreed, but said it's not his platoon.
It was raining this morning. We had medical processing all morning. Then we had lunch, then dental processing and exams, then more studying. After the platoon's dismal marching this morning, I told SSgt Bobo I wanted to be up front as a squad leader, but he didn't seem to get it. After Tuesday night, I plan to push hard for it. There's lots of talking and incredibly stupid moves by the other recruits. Even in USAF basic, I remember I was always annoyed by the stupidity of the others. Some of these guys take stupidity to new levels. It was another poor marching performance to and from dinner. Dinner was GREAT! - sweet potatoes, mixed vegetables, ham steak, and chocolate cake. On the way back from dinner, SSgt Bobo told the 1st squad leader to smarten up. He didn't, so SSgt Bobo pulled me from the formation and made me the 1st squad leader. Later on, back in the barracks, a DI came in and wanted someone to make him a sign. I volunteered, and he ended up questioning me for about 15 minutes in front of the platoon. It was friendly questioning. I got lots of "hoo rahs" for that and for making squad leader. Also lots of congratulations, handshakes, and pats on the back. All right! We had a hygiene inspection after the showers. Even though I had a poor shave on, I passed. Also, another DI called me in his office for about 10 minutes of questions about me, my past, and why I was there.
This is the big day! We graduate from processing, and go to our regular DIs. So far, it's just been babysitting us while we get the major part of our administrative processing out of the way. First, we have to pass written, verbal, and drill tests about the stuff we've been taught so far, though. We packed our sea bags and folded our bedding. I got 100% on the written test, even though 2 of the questions had not been covered by classes.
The DI told the platoon last night that I had a lot of guts to be doing this, with my background and “advanced” age. He was rather blown away by me, as were a couple other DIs listening. SSgt Vesey gave us a lecture today on getting our act together, discipline, self-awareness, image, etc. He also mentioned a couple times how much guts I have.
We marched to a warehouse and left the civilian clothes we had boxed up. We marched to the incoming area and got stamps, PX chits, and soap. Then we went to supply and got our boots and more uniforms. The Marines at the warehouse and supply were rude dicks doing a lot of unnecessary yelling. We inventoried all our gear, then we were marched to B Company.
The CO there gave a little speech and introduced his people in a little ceremony. There's one Senior DI and 2 juniors. Then the Senior DI said "Drill Instructors, take charge!", and all hell broke loose! The DIs started screaming like maniacs to get out, and were throwing things around and screaming threats. We ran out and ran to chow. The DIs like to gang up on someone and scream into both ears. They made a couple guys cry. One guy, Jackson, came to me in tears, asking why they were picking on him so badly. I patted him on the back, and tried to reassure him. I told him to just ignore it; it meant nothing, and it would pass. They have no effect on me. I just go along with the program without panicking. I can see how it's easy to panic, though. I just try to keep everything in perspective.
The DIs played a few little games last night and this morning. I got yelled at a couple times, but it was no big deal. My act is pretty much together. After breakfast, we did our initial inventory PFT, Physical Fitness Test. I did 5 pull-ups, 47 sit-ups, and ran 1.5 mile in 10 minutes flat. I had several DIs come up to me and check on how I did, including the company Chief DI, GySgt McKenzie. Everyone's watching me and expecting me to perform. I’m much older than all the DIs, and nearly as old as most of the other recruits’ parents. It's no sweat.
We had a military customs class, then lunch, then UCMJ class, then dinner. After dinner, we put name stamps on more of our uniforms. We had a little free time, including shower and prep for the next day. Then it was time for hygiene inspection and lights out. As a squad leader, I've gotten yelled at a couple times for miss-hearing or not hearing a marching command. These DIs, Sgts DeMarco, Morris, and Groomes, aren't super loud calling cadence, and the noise level here is terrific. San Diego International Airport is about 100 yards away. The RUNWAY is that far away.
I think it must be rather tough for the DIs to have to gear up for their "act"; they're probably pretty decent guys. Sometimes (often), it's easy to see their human-ness. They're just here to teach and help us. The screaming act is just to help build discipline and to get things done quickly. As they tell us, every single thing they make us do or not do is for a specific purpose. I guess they've taken the scientific approach and weeded out all the stuff that was not found to have a specific purpose. Personally, I think the pendulum has swung the other way too far; they can't even swear or get down on anyone too much. I've even noticed them checking a watch when they're "bending" someone (making them do exercises for screwing up). I think they must have a time limit of how long they can bend someone. One big difference here, compared to Receiving Barracks, is the motivation, teamwork, and camaraderie, both in the platoon and with the more seasoned recruits.
Tonight, the DIs kept threatening us and telling us tomorrow is PAY DAY for all of our screwups today. They both have funny speech idiosyncrasies. We get lots of "5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 - YOU ARE DONE!" Sgt DeMarco says everything twice to help sink it into some of the blockheads here. They never swear, though. Everything is our "little this" and "little that". Sgt Morris uses "dog-gone" and "I believe" a lot. I can't imagine how people find this unbearable. I can think of lots of worse things, including USMC boot camp in years past.
Most of the DIs here only have one or two ribbons. When I went through Air Force basic training during the Vietnam era, the DIs had lots of ribbons. Another difference between the Marine Corps and the Air Force, so far, is that they're not as concerned with precision in our gear as they are with moving fast. In Air Force Basic Training, all of our gear always had to be in a precise position. Here, when they scream that we've got 10 seconds to get our clothes off, fold them neatly as shown, and get on line (stand in front of the racks [(beds]), I've quickly learned to forget folding appearances and just throw the stuff down and get on line fast, because that's all they're really looking for, at least for now. I've had very little chance to write lately. I'm writing now after lights out from the light shining in the window. I'm getting a sore throat from so much screaming. They scream at us constantly and make us scream back.
We had a PT (Physical Training) class after breakfast, then PT stretching instruction. The guide wasn't moving fast enough, so Sgt DeMarco put me in as guide. It was very difficult. I couldn't hear the DI at all while marching, because of the noise level and because when I'm in front of the front row, I'm just that much further from the DI. The DI marches along about 3/4 of the way back in the platoon formation. I had a hard time of it. I didn't get chewed out, though. After PT, we went back to the barracks. Sgt Morris questioned me about why I was guide. He seems to very actively not want me in a leadership role. I don't know if he's afraid I'll be too hard to control, or what. Later on, Sgt DeMarco said he was giving the original guide another chance, so I was out. I think Sgt Morris put a bug in his ear. Sgt Morris is on me the most. He doesn't seem to be very bright. He said he used to be in the Army.
We had a rather successful morning cleanup. We did some drill, then we went to a flag etiquette class. A lot of these morons pronounce the "p" and "s" in "Corps" when they're reading out loud in class. Then we got haircuts for $1.65. We were ordered to borrow a chit if necessary. After lunch, we had a USMC history class, then we got our rifles and had a rifle class. A new DI joined us. I like the way he marches us. We had drill practice and learned some new moves. Then we went back to the barracks. Tomorrow's PT will be the obstacle course and a 1.5 mile run. No big deal. Today's PT was just stretching exercises.
We had our first day of real PT right after breakfast. We did our stretching exercises, then ran the obstacle course. The DIs sent me first through the course, as I'm sure everyone is eager to see how I'll perform. I did miserably on the climb over the bars, the wall, and climbing the rope. The company Chief DI was right there beside me all the way through, keeping a close eye on me. My performance wasn't very impressive. Then we did a 1.5 mile run, which was very easy. After the run, Sgt Groomes fired me as 1st squad leader for not keeping the guide in line as we marched. He also yelled at me for looking to the left. The DI marching us said we'd go to quick time, and we didn't, so I was confused, and I looked over at him to see what was going on. We went back to our gear, and I got back in line where my gear was (at the head of 1st squad). I asked Sgt Groomes if the private (I) was to remain in position with my gear, or return to the rear. He screamed at me to shut up, so I took that as meaning to stay up front. Earlier, I was in the rear of the formation, getting people straightened out after the obstacle course. Sgt Morris screamed at me to get up front. Then Sgt Groomes came by and screamed at me for being up front and not following orders by supervising the squad. I told him I was following Sgt Morris' order to get up front. He screamed at me to shut up and threatened me and my job again. As I went back to the rear, I saw Sgt Morris shaking his head and telling Sgt Groomes something - perhaps to leave me alone, as I wasn't out of line.
When we got back to the barracks, we had 5 minutes to shower and change. I was the first one done, as usual, and yelling for everyone else to hurry up. I don't know if Sgt Groomes noticed, but I'm trying as hard as I can to show my leadership. Then we had a class on Interior Guard put on by Sgt Morris. I thought it was a very poor, confused, disjointed presentation. It was by far the worst class I’ve seen here. I suspect this is his first platoon as a Drill Instructor, and he’s definitely not the brightest candle on the cake.
At lunch, Sgt Groomes was hassling the guy in front of me doing turns and pivots in the chow hall, sneering at him. Then I did mine and he watched me like a hawk, trying to find something to get on my case about, but he couldn't find anything. Sgt Morris watches me all the time, too. He rarely finds anything legitimate to bitch about. We had lunch, then I got bent awhile by Sgt Morris. I got bent awhile before lunch, too. No real reason, other than failing to get over the wall during the obstacle course. The second bending session was easier, but Sgt Morris was screaming like a maniac. Then Sgt Groomes came in and freaked out over it, like I'd just been convicted of killing his mother or something. He started screaming and throwing foot lockers around, and almost broke my glasses laying on the floor. Our new DI is Sgt Orlovsky. He seems like a real nice guy. Sgt Morris acts like we're his first platoon. I think he must be very insecure about me, which is why he’s so opposed to me being in a leadership billet (job). I heard this is Sgt Groomes' first platoon as a Senior DI. Sgt DeMarco went to Platoon 1110 for some reason.
I got bent again after dinner just for GP, along with the guide and the other squad leaders. Sgt Morris claimed we let people talk. I requested that he specify when we let them talk, and he screamed at me to shut up. We had drill after dinner, then one hour of "free time", consisting of a frantic shave, shower, and squaring away our gear.
We had rifle disassembly class right after breakfast. Some of these recruits are incredibly stupid and ill-disciplined. Then we had a PT session. It was longer than yesterday's. We did stretching exercises, then we went through the circuit course, which consisted of low duration, high intensity exercises. Then we had a 1.5 mile run, then a couple sprints. Then we went to lunch.
Sgt Groomes fired me at lunch. He said I wasn't monitoring the squad's pivots and I was looking ahead. How strange for the position of attention! The last time I was fired, it was for NOT looking ahead. He sent me to the back of the squad, and put someone else up front. Oh well; at least I won't have to do the "squad leader bend" tonight.
We had another rifle class, this one on cleaning, after lunch. That was followed by a class on the operation of the rifle. Most of the time (99%), I just don't even have the chance to think about anything but what I'm doing right here, with a DI right on my ass screaming that I've got 5 more seconds to get something done.
My shoulders and upper body are sore from this morning's PT. I always do quite well on the runs. I don't even breathe hard. Toward the end of them, I'm acclimated enough so that I'm breathing through my nose. I did well on the sprints, too. There were only a couple people ahead of me at the end. I passed a lot of people, including most of the DIs and the Assistant Commander, who said "good going, Meyette!" as I blew by him.
I'm very visible and well known here. The only time I can write in my diary is pauses in classes. The rest of the time, we're humping to get somewhere or to do something. There's zero free time other than the shower period. Even that is timed, rushed, and no talking. Tomorrow is Sunday. Hopefully, maybe we'll get a little free time. I think we get to clean our clothes. I hope so. There's no time or place to do anything with dirty underwear, socks, and towels, so they just get stuffed damp and funky into the footlocker every day. Each day (the night before) I pick out what stinks the least. The rifle class instructor has a nice interesting delivery technique, relating all the parts of the rifle to sexual organs. Then we had some more drill, then chow.
As usual, we got lots of camaraderie and encouragement at chow from guys pulling KP. As it turned out, the DIs didn't make any squad leader bend last night; only the screwups. The reason was because Sgt Orlovsky was on duty tonight. He's tough, but fair. He only yells or makes people bend if they screw up, not as a matter of course. Sgt Groomes acts more like a DI than a Senior DI. Supposedly, the Seniors are more calm, controlled, and "fatherly", and let the Juniors do the heavy screaming. Sgt Groomes is always pissed off and always screaming.
We got up at 0600 and did morning cleanup. We worked on our laundry after breakfast. Everything is done primitive style. All laundry is done by hand. We don't have any brooms or mops to clean the floors. We use towels called deck towels. One private lays on the floor, rigid, and another private pulls him around by his ankles. For our stamp pads, we drip ink onto a Q- tip, then rub the Q-tip onto the stamp (while being screamed at to hurry up). I bought a real stamp pad when we made our PX call, though. It is much nicer. I've lent it out to a few people. I guess part of the reason for the primitiveness and driving us is to better prepare us for combat conditions, where they don't have washing machines and pay phones.
I wrote a couple letters to my sister and my wife. Then we went to lunch and had drill practice. A couple squad leaders, the guide, and a few others got bent a long time. We had inter-platoon PT contests. I did sprints. We came in second. Sgt Morris tried not to let on, but I could see he was pleased.
Then we did drill and had a class on spit polishing boots. I made a big boo boo. I used the proper introductory wording to the DI, Sgt Morris, asking permission for “the recruit” to speak and all that, but then I said my boots "look like shit" after working on them awhile. All the other recruits looked shocked. Sgt Morris came unglued, and bent me a long, long time. When he was done, I said "no disrespect intended, sir", and he got even madder and bent me again. Then he had me bring my boots up to the front of the class, and he said some mumbo jumbo about "not the polish". I asked him if he meant I was using insufficient polish, and he got mad all over again at me for using big words on him. Then later in formation, he screamed at me for making a move wrong when I had made it right. I tried to say I did it right, but he just screamed at me to shut up, so I said "yes sir". We had more boot polishing after dinner, followed by cleanup and square-away time.
We had a long squad leader bending session last night and again this morning. Sgt Morris bent a bunch of people this morning for not doing stuff right. The new 4th squad leader is a total dipshit. He can't march, has no bearing, and is always the last one to arrive at cleanup. Then he just stands around doing nothing. I'll talk to Sgt Groomes later today when he comes in, and tell him I want my job back. Both that squad leader and the guide have "the Marine Corps poster" look that apparently turns Sgt Groomes on. After breakfast, we had a long free time period. It is a beautiful day. Except for a couple rainy days about a week ago, every day here has been good weather.
We went out to the parade deck and drilled with our rifles. Sgt Groomes took the guide and squad leaders aside afterward for some special drill training session while the rest of us had study time. I fear his leadership choices have jelled. We'll see. I'll still try to talk to him. It's hard, though. He's always SO pissed off and rude. Sgt Orlovsky is more of a Senior DI than Sgt Groomes is.
Then we went back outside for more drill with the rifles. Sgt Groomes got mad at our poor performance, so he thrashed (bent) us in the dirt, then we had more drill. Sgt Groomes is ALWAYS angry. Some of these clowns are really dumb, though. Castro, Cook, and Velasquez are a few of the zeros. The guide and squad leaders are getting more pressure to get on us about our performance. The 4th squad leader is such a lost bozo; he just stands around looking dumb. After dinner, we had more drill inside the squadbay. Then we got our clothes in off the line and had square-away time.
I had a dental appointment after breakfast and morning cleanup. Things kind of suck and I miss my wife, but I usually just don't think about it, and keep doing my daily routines. Yesterday, some privates were talking about all the drugs they had done. One said he denied everything and the others admitted to breaking down at the "moment of truth". They also told me about a phone in the building I didn't know about. I wish I still didn't know about it. It's really tempting to think of calling my wife some night, but I'd be dead meat if I got caught. Plus it just wouldn't be right to go against our orders.
One guy, MacDonald, is a real screw-off. He's been trying to get out since he got here. In receiving barracks, he was talking about flunking something (I forget what). He's been telling the DIs he has double vision. I think he's getting out. Good riddance! I wish they'd let anyone leave who wants to. That would get rid of the deadbeats. I would NEVER quit, no matter what. I'm just PRAYING for Recon. There, it will be just top of the line, highly motivated, serious people, not these incompetent bozos I’m stuck with here.
After lunch, we had a History of the USMC class, then PT. It was very hot today, with Santa Ana winds. Because of the Santa Ana winds, the planes at the airport were taking off and landing from west to east. Just as PT was starting, I got a message to go to the Personnel Office. When I got there, I had to sign some papers for married BAQ and an allotment for my wife. I ran about a mile to and from the Personnel Office, and did pullups and situps on my own back at the squadbay.
Sgt Groomes came in, but then left again before I could talk to him about a leadership position. So I told Sgt Morris. As I anticipated, he just screamed at me to shut up and said I'd have to earn it first. Then he started giving me a hard time about not making it over the wall back when we did the Obstacle Course. He also called me a run drop. I started to protest that I LEAD the runs, and I'm certainly not a run drop, but he screamed at me to shut up. I heard that the guide was a run drop yesterday. He looks pretty fit, but he can't run well. There are lots of people being bent all day, but not me. I'm always the first one done with things. Sgt Morris couldn't help but notice it yesterday. These guys just don't hustle. That's one of the main things, along with discipline, that the DIs are constantly trying to pound into everyone. We had drill before and after dinner.
I hear there's no PT today. Also, we're supposed to get killer shots in the ass today. I got a couple nice letters from my wife last night. We did drill again last night after supper, then rifle drill in the squad bay after that. Waking up this morning was hard. It took me a few seconds to get my bearings. We all got up at 0330 to fold sheets in preparation for this morning's linen exchange. Then we went back to bed. It seems to me it would have made a lot more sense to have just done it before we went to bed. Sgt Orlovsky said he wanted it done by reveille. Oh well. I knew better than to try to suggest anything different.
I heard that Lindbergh Field, the San Diego Airport, has 9000 takeoffs and landings each month. I've listened to them ALL! We had first aid class after breakfast. Today is overcast and not hot. Then we had Marine Corps history classes.
I had a couple broken fillings fixed yesterday at dental. The dentist asked if I wanted Novacaine. I said "of course" and thought to myself “These Marines really are hard core if they do dental work without Novocaine!”. He did one side without it. I really didn't need it after all. It was pretty minor work.
We had four classes all morning, then a great lunch. It was ham steak, pineapple sauce, yams, and blueberry pie. There was a hot sun out after lunch, but it was accompanied by a cool breeze. Too bad it was such a great lunch, because I ate all I could. Then I found out PT would be right afterward. We went back to the barracks to change into PT gear. Everyone's PT gear is getting VERY raunchy and dirty. We keep them on separate hangers out in the passageway (hall) so they don’t stink up the barracks, but the shirts in particular are very dirty and smelly. We had a practical first aid class, then PT. Sgt Groomes was there, vehemently pissed off and screaming at everyone as usual. During the run, Sgt Orlovsky got angry right away because people weren't sounding off enough, so we ran in silence, except for Sgt Orlovsky and Sgt Groomes telling us how much we suck. I twisted my ankle rather badly right at the start, but I was loathe to be a run drop, so I kept going. The pain subsided some after awhile. The run was a real easy 2.5 miles. There were several run drops, including the usual losers like Castro. That guy is such a zero! I wish they'd drop him. I guess they don't like to, except as a last resort. I'd sure hate to have my life depend on someone like him.
When we got back to the barracks, we had 2 minutes to change and shower. As usual, I was one of the first ones in and out, but many others didn't make it. We were treated to a big bending session for all the screwups and run drops. Then Sgt Orlovsky got even more angry, and made everyone pull their mattress off their rack, run them to the back of the squadbay, and stack them there. The he got even more livid and made us dump our footlockers out onto the deck. The he got EVEN MORE pissed off, and told everyone to get into the showers. We were all mostly dressed from PT by then. I was fully dressed. We all figured he'd turn the showers on us, but he must have cooled down, so he just told us to smarten up and get motivated and clean the place up. He sure got everyone's attention, though! So we cleaned the mess up very quickly and quietly, and went to chow.
After chow, we had drill, then a practice session on our practical knowledge, called "prac". Our prac test is next week! Hell, the end of First Phase is already in sight! My ankle was hurting and swelling more and more all day. I really hate to succumb to it, but if I continue to pretend it isn't injured, it'll only injure it more until I have a really serious injury. So I guess I'll go to sickbay tomorrow morning. I had firewatch from 0030 to 0130, which is about the worst time to have it, as I'm just falling asleep when I have to get back up. My ankle was hurting a lot when I got up for the firewatch.
I wrote letters to Mom & Dad and my wife while I was up. I got a letter from Mom & Dad tonight. Lots of people are saying how much they regret being here and that they want to go home. I wouldn't even consider quitting for a second, even if I could. One thing the firewatch is supposed to do is make sure no one goes to the portholes (windows) or the head (toilets) and kills themselves. I can't imagine people finding this all that hard to take. I sure can think of lots worse situations, especially POW camp, or even old style boot camp. I still haven't talked to Sgt Groomes about a leadership billet, especially the guide position. I can easily picture his reaction, but I have to do it anyway. It's hard to find the right time, and he's always so pissed off and rude. If I try to approach him about it at any time other than our free time, he just screams at me to shut up and get away from him. Sgt Morris led a practice prac session. He was in a good mood and it went well, except for a few undisciplined jokers who laughed too much at little jokes, etc. I don't think he's very bright, but he does an OK job.
Uh oh; lots of people are going to sickbay after breakfast. My ankle was very stiff and sore last night and this morning. Sgt Orlovsky was quite angry about so many recruits going to sickbay. He called us all wimps and goldbricks. Both Sgt Groomes and Sgt Morris were screaming at all of us going to sickbay, and calling us wimps and crybabies. Screw them; my ankle is all swollen up and I don't want to injure it further. I probably didn't do it any wonders by finishing the run on it. It was a comfortable overcast day. The doctor put a small cast on my ankle. He said if I'd continued to walk on it, it would have gotten worse, and I wouldn't have made it through 3rd Phase. That's exactly what I figured, and what I wanted to avoid. I told the doctor I wanted him to write up the light duty slip so I could still participate in non-running PT.
Some rebellion has been going on here lately. Yesterday at PT, Jefferson told Sgt Groomes to go to hell. Last night, Kim was told to bend, and he refused. The platoon was being bent in the pit, and Velasquez refused to join in. Then he started bending and refused to quit until Sgt Orlovsky pulled him to his feet by his shirt. Then he almost got into a fistfight with Sgt Orlovsky over it. So today, Kim, Jefferson, and Velasquez had to go see the CO about it.
I didn't get out of sickbay until lunch. Then we had our weekly haircut. They buzz the sides and back, and leave the top alone. So we can recognize the more experienced recruits by their slightly longer hair on top. Mine is starting to get soft on top now, instead of bristly. Then we went to sickbay and had killer shots in the ass. It didn't hurt too much at first, but they kept pumping in more and more stuff and it really hurt a lot. Everyone came out staggering. I got mine in the right side, the same side as my ankle injury. I figured I might as well concentrate my disabilities on one side. I really thought I was going to puke or pass out from the shot for about 15 minutes. Hours later, my whole ass aches. They say that tomorrow, it'll be even worse.
Then we had a first aid class, followed by a class on the organization of the Marine Corps, then supper. I hobble along at the end of the platoon. After supper, Sgt Groomes led us in COD, Close Order Drill, with rifles, which went fairly well. He seemed to be in a pretty decent mood. There was no mail for me at mail call. Some of these recruits get several, and up to about 10, letters a day.
Sgt Groomes told us our next week's schedule. Tuesday is Phase 1 PFT, Physical Fitness Test. On Wednesday we have the Phase 1 written and practical application tests. Thursday is the initial drill review for Phase 1. On Friday, we go to Camp Pendleton for at least 3 weeks. First Phase is nearly over already!!
Sommers, the guide, has been rather rude lately; a couple times to me tonight. I want very much to ace him out of the guide's job. Maybe I can do it at Camp Pendleton. We'll see how he does in next week's testing. Sgt Morris gave me a hard time tonight about my ankle, claiming I've been on light duty since I got here. Apparently his technique is to make outrageous accusations, then scream at me to shut up when I protest, which is exactly what he did when I tried to protest. Sgt Orlovsky had a bunch of sarcastic remarks, too. Too bad I had to go to sickbay! The dipshit, stand-around, do-nothing 4th squad leader went to sickbay, too, so someone else got his job. As long as I'm on this goddamn light duty, I can't even consider being the guide or a squad leader.
FRI 10/18 T-10
My ass hurts so much I can barely move! I tried to go to PT, but Sgt Groomes wouldn't let me, so I was sent back to the house (barracks) to be a gear guard. I'm watching another platoon's graduation ceremony preparations out on the parade deck now.
All the toilets here are just open stalls, so it took me awhile to get used to taking care of "business" in public. but you just do what you have to do. It's either that, or fill up until you explode!
Kim, Jefferson, and Velasquez had to go to RAMPS, or something like that. Apparently it's a counseling and motivation session as a slap on the wrist for their insubordination. After the platoon returned from PT, they had Jefferson and MacDonald lay out all their stuff in the classroom. MacDonald's medical discharge came through. Apparently Jefferson is being discharged, too. He's the one who has a dick about a foot long and used to walk around receiving barracks swinging it around in a circle like a rope! They sent him to the mental clinic this morning for counseling.
Then we cleaned our rifles. Those returning from rifle PT must have had lots of sand in theirs. It must have been a real tough PT session with the sore asses from the killer shots. The aching in my ass now overshadows the aching in my ankle.
We had a Code of Conduct class, then lunch. After lunch we had more rifle COD. The light duty privates weren't allowed to participate, so we stood on the side and practiced the Manual of Arms. GySgt McKenzie, the company Chief DI, came by and gave us pointers and told us of the problems incurred, especially with PT, when we're on light duty. I told him I tried to go to PT this morning, but Sgt Groomes wouldn't let me. I think he was at least somewhat impressed.
Then we went to USMC history class, followed by more drill. The crips couldn't participate, so we did more Manual of Arms practice on the side. Then it was back to the classroom for a class on Office Hours (Article 15 punishment) and Courts Martial. It is a nice warm day.
We went to supper. Around suppertime, I started feeling more and more feverish, with aches and chills. That's just great! No way will I go to sickbay over it, though! There are a lot of colds and coughing being passed around and around throughout the platoon. After dinner, it was back to the parade deck for more rifle COD. The crips and I stood on the side and practiced more Manual of Arms. I've sure got that stuff down pat! The platoon did well marching, apparently. The recruits were saying afterward that Sgt Orlovsky and Sgt Morris were in good moods.
There was no mail for me at mail call. 20% of the recruits get 80% of the mail. I didn't feel too bad in the evening, although I'm still extremely stiff and sore.
SAT 10/19 T-11
I was going to write some after taps, but I was exhausted and fell asleep immediately. At PT, I was "gear guard", responsible for making sure no one stole anyone's dirty clothes, and for ensuring the gear was in nice straight lines. Big deal! I'm anxious to get back to PT.
The PT field is directly beside the airport runway. The noise really sucks all over MCRD, but especially on the PT field. I'm concerned about more hearing loss. I had a lot of hearing loss when I was tested at MEPS. When my hearing was tested at MCRD during processing, they didn't say how much of a loss I had, but they questioned me extensively about it, so I assume the loss was unusually high for the 18 year-olds they usually get here. So now I'm standing here watching everyone go through the circuit course. It's surprising how many privates slough off through the course and don’t give it all they can, especially the 3rd Phase privates.
After PT, we had a class on Federal Benefits. Then it was more COD for most of the afternoon. I caught some flack for carrying extra rifles and trying to do as much as possible with the platoon. All three DIs, especially Sgt Groomes and Sgt Orlovsky, were treating me like I was sub-human.
After COD, they took the platoon to the pit to thrash for not falling in fast enough. I fell in with the platoon, but they made me get out. I was pissed off and fed up with being excluded, so I started bending with the platoon, off to the side. The DIs all freaked out and started screaming at me to stop. I kept doing it, and they screamed more, so eventually I quit. Then, instead of me hearing their harassment about being a wimp and a fake, they started giving me a hard time about making my injury worse.
I've been working out on the weight machine in the barracks when the platoon has been going out to PT. That way I at least get some workout. Today they made me tag along with them to PT and COD, so I couldn't work out any. After that, we came back to the house and set up practice prac stations in the freeways (aisles between the racks) and worked on our prac.
Then I made a head call and Weary asked me in the head (toilets) why I bent with the platoon. I told him I didn’t want to be excluded and I didn’t want my ankle problem to be kicking my ass. Then we turned and saw Sgt Morris standing behind us. He started screaming and told Weary to get out. He asked me what we were talking about and I told him. He was totally freaking out, accusing me of “corrupting the minds of the other recruits with my bullshit”. This guy is PARANOID! He told me I was a zero and I probably wouldn't make it through boot camp. I just said "yes sir!" Then he called Weary into the office and closed the door. After awhile they came out, and he started bending Weary and made me watch. I started bending with Weary, and Sgt Morris started screaming for me to stop. I ignored him and continued until he had said it a few times, then I got back up off the deck. Later, Weary told me Sgt Morris had asked him what we were talking about, and Weary told him the same thing I had. Wow! If Sgt Morris is that paranoid about being able to control me, that must be why he is so adamantly opposed to me getting a leadership billet here. Then the incident was forgotten.
Several officers were in and out of the barracks, with everyone concerned about the Phase I testing next week. If we don't do well, it makes them look bad. Chief DI GySgt McKenzie came up to me and asked me if I thought I'd be able to cut it physically. I said "yes sir!", and he said "Don't let me down, Meyette". I said "No sir!", and he left. He had spoken to me a couple times on the parade deck while I was watching the platoon drill. He's always quite nice to me. I think he understands that I really want to be with the platoon in PT.
After dinner, we had another prac quiz. I know my prac pretty well; my goal is to ace it. Some of these recruits are really dumb; having questions repeated about 4 times. Velasquez and Castro are always screwing up. I wish the Corps would get rid of both of them. I remember Velasquez from the first evening here. While everyone else was at attention on the painted footprints and looking straight ahead, he was flopping his head around, flipping his hair back (it was before haircuts), and spitting on the deck. He literally acts rather retarded. He's always picking his nose.
I didn't get any mail at mail call. That sucks!
SUN 10/20 T-12
After breakfast, Sgt Morris insisted everyone must go to church. He said "everyone WILL go to church, right?", and I yelled back "No sir" while everyone else yelled "Yes sir". I yell pretty loud, so he asked who said no. I said I did. He asked if I went last week, and I said "No sir". He asked if I was an atheist, and I said "Yes sir". I knew better than to try to explain to him the difference between an atheist and an agnostic. So he said I'd be a gear guard while everyone else went to church. That was fine with me. They can't make everyone go to church, but they try to create the impression they can. I didn't want to set a bad example in front of the platoon, but I was forced to publicly declare my position. Fortunately, it didn't start a trend or set a bad example, though.
I wrote a couple letters, did my laundry, and shined my boots. Privates who are on light duty wear running shoes with their uniform to signify their light duty status. I'm quite anxious to get off light duty, so I took my ace bandage off and tried easing my boots on over the gel cast. My ankle was rather stiff and sore, but it felt close enough to normal that I thought I could carry on like that. I marched to and from lunch with the platoon with my boots on. It was a little painful, but not too bad.
After lunch, we got our rifles and fell out for COD. Then the DIs called me out of the formation and ordered me to stand gear guard in the barracks while the platoon went out to the parade deck and drilled. They have a couple recruits out there now, wearing running shoes, making nice neat rows of the canteens and knowledge books. I wanted to suggest that one of those recruits be the gear guard, so I can get some badly needed practice, but I don't like getting into arguments with the DIs. Right or wrong, they always win.
Uh oh! The platoon must not have been motivated enough during drill. They just came back with the DIs screaming at them, then they were hustled out back to "the pit" for some bending in the dirt. After the pit, they all came in here in a huge panic. They had 2 minutes to make a head call and change into PT shirts for fun and games on Sunday afternoon. Many of them were in such a tear that they didn't properly secure their weapons. So Sgt Orlovsky had me write down the names of everyone with unsecured weapons. They told me I had to stay in the house and be a gear guard for that, too. That sucked, but, again, I’ve learned it just doesn’t pay to try to disagree, argue, or reason with the DIs.
When the platoon returned from sports, they sounded like a different platoon, thunderously yelling "Yes sir" outside. Then they came in with a roar. Apparently they beat the other platoons at the games. All of them, even Sgt Groomes, were in high spirits. Then they showered and got ready for more drill.
I went up to Sgt Groomes and told him I wanted to go to drill with the rest of the platoon. He asked if my ankle was OK, and I said "Yes sir", so he just said OK - no yelling or screaming. I was surprised.
The drill went rather well, then we went back to the house to practice prac stations. I ran a station for assembly and disassembly of the M-16 rifle. I used Dill's rifle to do it. I noticed that it was kind of banged up on both ends. I asked Dill about it. He said that at one of the drill sessions I missed (lucky me!), Sgt Orlovsky had gotten so mad he had actually thrown Dill's rifle across the deck! I was amazed. These rifles are all brand-new, unfired weapons. I also heard he kicked the rifle out of another Private's hand. Supposedly the Senior DI saw it all, too. I think if an officer had seen it, Sgt Orlovsky might have gotten in trouble for it. Maybe not. I certainly would never rat one of the DIs out for anything, no matter what, but I'm equally certain there are other crybabies here who would.
After dinner, we had a pep talk from Sgt Groomes on the upcoming Phase I test next week. He encouraged people to use the weight machine on their free time to get extra physical conditioning. I've already been doing that all along, so after his talk, during free time, there were so many people clustering around the machine I couldn't even get on it. Usually, it's just been me and a couple other recruits using it. Lytle was demonstrating the pullup kip to use momentum to make doing pullups easier. I tried it and I could only do about 3 or 4. I felt like a total wimp. I did 5 pullups in the Inventory PFT. I was worried about being able to do 60 situps, so I've been practicing them. I thought the pullups weren't going to be a problem. I really feel bad about it. If the DIs had let me do non-running PT with the platoon, my upper body would be in better shape. I've really got to start doing more extra work on it. At this rate, Recon is just a pipe dream.
In the middle of the night, we had to get up and fold up our sheets for linen exchange in the morning. I did mine before going to sleep, though. The firewatch wouldn't let us get out of the rack before 2230, so Jackson held one end in his rack and I took the other end, and we folded them vertically.
MON 10/21 T-13
I went to sickbay after breakfast. Lots of others from 1109 went also. There were many recruits in line at Podiatry. There's a "technician" here named Mr. Drew. The guy is UNREAL! He looks, acts, walks, and talks just like Quasimodo. His face looks like it was on fire and someone put the fire out with an icepick. He can barely talk at all, but he lumbers around bitching at the dumb privates for talking or not having their shoes and socks off. I'm anxious to get in and out quickly, and catch back up with the platoon in the classroom.
Last night after dinner, when I was marching back to the barracks with the platoon, everyone was doing quite well marching and we were feeling motivated. Sgt Groomes stopped calling cadence, and we practiced marching with no cadence or sounding off other than the pounding of our boots. We did quite well at it. Sgt Groomes was pleased. Still, I noticed lots of screwups. Boots' distance was often way off. Christiansen marched swinging his arms the opposite way of everyone else. That must take a lot of numb-nuts concentration. He's a classic case of extreme performance anxiety causing poor performance. Lytle impresses me; he seems like a very motivated and serious Marine.
Oh great! Just what I need - more light duty! I just found out I have to stay on light duty. When the corpsmen saw me, I asked several times to be returned to full duty. Apparently, they thought my injury was more severe than the person who saw me before did. They put me on 4 more days of light duty, with even more restrictions on what activities I am allowed to do. They also gave me some medication to help the swelling go down. I don't have a gel cast this time, but they gave me another ace bandage. They said I should have had crutches the first time, too. I wondered about it at the time, but I figured they knew what they were doing. I thought it was a doctor who saw me the first time, but apparently he is only a medical student. This sucks! It means my chances of ever being guide are now a lot less. It's lunchtime now.
After lunch, the rest of the platoon went to a class, then PT. I had to stay in the barracks as a gear guard. That's 3 classes I've missed just today alone! After PT, they all went out to do COD. I got stuck inside again doing guard duty. It really sucks missing out on everything like this. After the platoon returned from COD, we marched (I had to slime along at the back of the platoon) to dinner. It was a very good meal. We had strawberry shortcake for desert. The first meal or two I had here weren't very good, but most of them since have been quite good. Breakfast is usually the worst meal here. Now, about all I bother with for breakfast is chocolate milk, fruit, and oatmeal.
I had firewatch from 0230 to 0330. While on firewatch, I wrote letters to Aunt Bobbie, Uncle John and Aunt Becky, and Jeff Lynn. I didn't get any mail at mail call again.
TUE 10/22 T-14
When the lights came on, we had 60 seconds to be fully dressed and ready to go. I was about the only one ready when the DI said we were DONE and to GET OUT. I was the first one on the road. A few others fell in behind me, and he said "Forward, March!", and we were off with everyone else running to catch up.
After breakfast, the platoon got changed for PT. I got a bunch of flack from Sgt Orlovsky and Sgt Groomes because of my light duty waiver. Sgt Morris didn't say much about it. He just asked if I was going to be doing PT with the platoon, and I said "No sir!". I have now named the group of cripples I am with "The Slime Squad". We are the light duty privates who have to follow the platoon around several paces behind it. The DIs treat us all like slime. Sgt Groomes made all the other light duty privates but me change into PT gear and do situps and pullups. I had to be the gear guard for PT and the classes to follow PT. That sucked! I guess they figure, rightfully so, that the other privates need the classroom exposure a lot more than I do. But I hate to miss any of the classes. Being an esteemed member of the Slime Squad really sucks! I at least try to maintain perfect bearing at all times.
After PT, we had a VD class. One of the classes I missed yesterday was one about yearbooks and how to order them. I'll have to talk to Sgt Groomes about it to see what specifics I missed. We spent all afternoon doing practice prac stations. I think I'll ace both written and oral tests. Captain Kelly came through the barracks as I was practicing the fireman's carry with Strom. I did it well, and he pointed out to the others a few important points of what I had done.
Sgt Morris just bent Herman for some reason. Good! Herman's always the first to raise his hand when we are asked who doesn't know his prac very well. He and Anderson bullshit together constantly. I spoke to them a while ago, and told them to quit talking and start studying. I got a bunch of smart mouth and lame excuses in return. Later, Herman was bumbling and fumbling his way through the M16A2 function check. He said he just couldn't get it. I told him to take over the station and run it. That would help him understand it as he guided other privates through it. The next thing I knew, he was up in the classroom bending again for some reason. He got bent awhile, but not long enough. In my opinion, the DIs here don't bend anyone long enough or often enough. If I was guide, there'd be a lot more bending going on. Earlier, I was tempted to go tell Sgt Morris or Sgt Orlovsky about Herman and Anderson. Now I look at them, and they're back together again, flapping their little lips. No discipline at all!
The PFT run went pretty well. Even Castro finished in under 28 minutes. Jackson ran a 21 something, which amazed me. He's pretty chunky. He said his speed is in his blood. He's half Sioux and half some other Arizona tribe I never heard of. We've talked some. He's a pretty good recruit. He doesn't know his prac very well, but he's serious about it, and puts out an effort. He isn't one of the screwups. He was worried about getting sent to PCP (Physical Conditioning Platoon) because he only did 4 pullups. Castro only did one. What a loser he is!
Sgt Orlovsky is in a particularly savage mood this afternoon. He's bending and biting the head off anyone who speaks to him. He's probably tired of all the quitters, whiners, and screw-offs. I know I am. I keep roving around to the prac stations and telling everyone to stop talking and keep studying.
Then they stopped the prac practice and had everyone go out for COD. Sgt Orlovsky called the light duty privates (the Slime Squad) a bunch of pussies. I was upstairs being gear guard at the time, but I heard about it. I'm quite anxious to get back on full duty and get into shape. This light duty crap is really hurting my chances of getting into better shape and of getting a leadership billet. On the way to dinner, the Slime Squad got a hard time from some passing DI. He kept saying we must be the platoon's most outstanding members because we were marching separate from them. I just kept yelling back "Sir, yes sir!", saying it like it's one word.
After dinner we had yet another prac quiz. I was the only one in the whole platoon to get 100%. There was lots of stupid chattering during the test and grading. When Sgt Morris asked me how I could get 100%, even though I missed most of the classes, I said rather pointedly that it was because I studied hard and seriously at every opportunity, instead of always running my mouth and goofing off. I really wanted to get up and give a speech about how this is all serious important stuff, and it's not a game, but I knew Sgt Morris would start screaming at me to shut up. I think the DIs should put more emphasis on stressing to the recruits that this is serious business - life or death. A lot of these clowns have no idea how to do basic operational checks or disassembly/reassembly of the rifle.
Then we had mail call. No mail again!
There's lots of concern by the DIs about getting everyone through prac. If these recruits would get serious about it, they could all do it with no problem.
In hygiene inspection, the LT asked me about my ankle. He made some comment about "my warranty running out", in reference to my deteriorating condition as an "old man". I just said "Sprained ankle, sir!" and he moved on.
Later, Sgt Morris called me over, and in his "fake gruff" manner, asked me what I did when I was in the Air Force. A lot of people who hear that I was in the Air Force think I came here directly from the Air Force, until I tell them about all the stuff I've done since getting out of the Air Force 11 years ago. Then they're REALLY amazed! Anyway, Sgt Morris said what I did in the Air Force meant nothing here, and that I was just starting over. I just said "Sir, yes sir!". The more hard times I get, serious or not, the more gung-ho I get, and the more I try as hard as I possibly can to do everything as perfectly as possible. They can't help but notice my motivated sounding off and disciplined bearing.
Personally, my feeling on the prac is that anyone dumb or unmotivated enough to fail it SHOULD be set back to start the Phase over. I suppose part of the DIs job is to pump some serious motivation into the lesser ones. But I'd sure hate to have my life depend on some of these idiots' knowledge of their weapon, or of first aid to the wounded, for example.
WED 10/23 T-15
We were blasted out of the racks with notice of 60 seconds to get on the road (get dressed and form up the platoon outside the barracks). Actually, I think Sgt Morris gave us more than 60 seconds. I had plenty of time, and I was working on getting my rack made when he yelled that time was up and to get outside.
After breakfast, we went over to one of the classrooms and had the written Phase I prac test. 90% of it was VERY easy. The method used to give it made it a little harder. The question was put up on an overhead projector and then read aloud. Everyone had to mark the answer sheet at once. I thought that was a rather intimidating method. I missed one, which really ticked me off. A lot of the questions, including the one I got wrong, were from the classes I missed. The question I missed was the one about the 5 Ss regarding POW handling. Two answers were identical, except 2 words switched in the order they were listed. I marked the right one first, then switched it because I decided we should silence them before segregating them. As it turns out, we segregate them first, so I missed that one. I really wanted very much to ace the test.
Then, instead of going into the oral test, we went back to the house. There, Sgt Groomes said he'd gotten some inside info on which prac stations would be used for the test, so he told us and we practiced those specific twelve stations. I was quite tempted to stand up and ask him if finding out what the prac stations were and practicing them wasn't cheating, but I restrained myself. One of the big things they've drilled into us here is that Marines have INTEGRITY. Cheating on the prac didn't seem to me to be a good example of integrity; but I knew what the results would be if I tried to bring it up.
The DIs are under SO much pressure to get results from the platoon. It seems to me to be a very tough, demanding, and high pressure job. The DIs are under constant microscopic scrutiny and must adhere to a minute-by minute schedule, even more so than the recruits. They have to stay up an hour after we go to bed, and get up an hour before we do. Their uniforms always have to be absolutely immaculate.
After we practiced the stations awhile, we went to lunch. After lunch, we marched over to the classroom where the Phase I oral prac stations were set up, and we lined up outside to go through them singly. It’s interesting how contagious fear is. All the other recruits were terrified. Waiting in line to go in, my heart was pounding like crazy from the anticipation and the fear of the others; and I know this stuff cold. I was thinking what it must be like for someone who didn't know it well. Polk was in line next to me, and he was shaking all over like a leaf and panting through his teeth. I reached over and grabbed his shoulder and shook it and grinned at him to reassure him and let him know it would be OK. He looked a little calmer after that. All the recruits looked pretty scared. Their fear and apprehension is infectious, even though I know all this material very well.
After I went in and did the first couple stations, I felt calmer. I dropped zero points. Velasquez missed 5 entire stations out of 12! Sgt Groomes was really pissed off about that. I say “good riddance” to anyone that dumb or unmotivated! All the DIs and officers were standing around, as anxious as we were to find out the results.
We were herded into the grandstands as we finished to wait for the rest to finish it. There was some agitation going on there after awhile; some tough talk between a couple sets of recruits, generally about talking while they were not supposed to be (which is essentially always). Squad Leader Johnson, AB ran his mouth constantly after he came out, so several other recruits were bitching and arguing with him about his talking.
Cook just came out. I think he failed it, too. He's the stupid bastard who used to screw up all our formations in Receiving Barracks, the first part of boot camp, because he was supposed to be the first man in first squad, with all the rest of the platoon forming up around him. Well, he'd usually be off wandering around lost in the back of the platoon somewhere. At the time, I had to tell him to smarten up. I had told his squad leader he was screwing up the rest of the squad and the platoon, so he needed to be watched. Eventually, I think he figured it out. He's been kind of a lost, numb-nuts type since, but I didn't realize just how dumb he really is.
The DIs had Velasquez retake the oral test, and I guess he managed to pass it this time. Apparently, the Marine Corps policy is to let them take the test over and over until the idiots can manage to pass it. They seem to really hate to have anyone fail a test. So what's the point of the test? Castro just came out and he failed 5 stations, too. What a loser! He's the one who bombed the PFT, too. I guess Herman managed to pass it. He isn't dumb; he just doesn't try. I hate to think of my life depending on some of these bozos in combat. What have I gotten myself into?
Herman is a Reserve recruit. So is Castro. Generally speaking, the Reserve recruits are a lot of the "less desirables". One of the unfortunate things about this platoon is that it has a much higher than usual number of Reserve recruits, for some odd reason. Just my luck! We're all sitting in the bleachers after the oral test, still waiting for the others to finish.
Donscheski just "gleeped", or whatever he calls his incredibly gross habit of letting go a small stream of spit from between his teeth. He also has another gross trick where he makes a little spit bubble on the tip of his tongue, then blows it away, just like blowing soap bubbles. Anyway, I saw him "gleep", and I saw a couple privates lower in the bleachers look around, wondering what was the wet drop they had just felt on their neck or cheek. I really freaked out! I stood up in the middle of the platoon and started screaming at him. I told him that if I EVER saw him do that little trick ANYWHERE, I would personally start punching his head in, then go to Sgt Groomes about it. I made him tell me explicitly that he understood exactly what I was talking about. I was really sounding off loud! When I sound off, you can really hear me. My vocal chords have gotten a lot stronger here from all the yelling and sounding off. I never said what I was referring to, so the rest of the platoon was all wide-eyed, wondering what the hell was going on. I didn't embarrass him further by stating what I was freaking out about, but he knew and I knew. The privates he had "gleeped" on probably would have beat the hell out of him for it. Maybe I should have let them, but he's an overweight, sort of friendly and harmless kind of guy.
I can hardly wait to get back on full duty. I'll push as hard as I possibly can to be the guide. Then I'll start cracking down on some the poor discipline around here. The current leaders do a lot of yelling, but that's all they know how to do. They exhibit no leadership and they set no example. In fact, the only example they set is a negative one, as they primarily use their billet solely as a perk. Then Sgt Groomes marched us back to the house. He stopped us outside, and we all went into the pit for some bending because of the oral prac failures. It turns out that Cook was actually a DOUBLE failure. He failed it, got coached on the stations he failed, then retook the same stations again, and still failed them. What a total loser!
So far, everyone is still here with the platoon, but I think they may drop some of the zeros, based on the testing, before we proceed to Phase II. I sure hope so! They certainly don't deserve to continue with the rest of us.
After having fun in the pit awhile, we went out to the parade deck for some COD. Then back to the house, where a SSgt and a GySgt came in and called off several names, including mine. They told us to get in the classroom, which is the front part of our squadbay. Then they brought in small groups from each of the other platoons in our series. We were all wondering why we were there. I suspected it may have had something to do with intelligence, as the group seemed to be mostly recruits I perceived as being brighter than the others. They began asking questions like who had "oddball" or specific MOS contracts, or who wasn't a US citizen, or who had non-US citizen relatives. All those were told they could leave. Eventually, they told us what it was about. We were the top scorers on the ASVAB, so we were selected for further screening for top secret clearances for some special jobs. The first was Presidential Support, as a guard at Camp David. The SSgt described the position. It sounded rather interesting. The other jobs were Signal Intelligence/Electronic Warfare (crypto) and Intelligence. After the descriptions and more questions, about half the remaining recruits were sent away. The rest of us filled out some paperwork; sort of a basic check to see if we might qualify for a Top Secret clearance. I don't know if my job/police record would disqualify me or not. There's nothing major on it, but it's not pure white, either. I remember that Intelligence was one of the fields I was considering cross-training into when I was in the Air Force. Of course, I'm still mainly interested in Recon, but it can't hurt to at least keep my options open about these special jobs, too. I need to dig up more details from my record so I can give it to them for their questionnaire. They also mentioned that they only take people into these jobs directly from boot camp. The Camp David job sounds the best. We'll see.
After supper, which had a great strawberry shortcake for desert, the platoon had COD practice for awhile, then we worked on squaring away our washed belt, pressed cammies, spit-shined boots, polished brass, etc for tomorrow's final Phase I COD test. I hope we do better than the other platoons. We got 3rd in the series on the PFT and 4th (out of 4) on the prac. There's a great deal of competition between the platoons to see which has the better overall scores on tests and the fewest failures. We gain or lose considerable "face" depending on how we do.
Sgt Orlovsky is on duty tonight. He doesn't seem to be in too bad a mood, but not too great, either. I got a nice card from my wife at mail call. That's great! Mail call really sucks when they never call out my name. It's a major disappointment. The card had love and kisses on the outside of the envelope, so I was lucky I didn't get bent for that. If Sgt Orlovsky hadn't been in such a tear, he'd have noticed it and bent me (if I wasn't on Slime Squad). They can't bend Slime Squad. Slime Squad has been getting even slimier. A couple master goldbricks, Means and Walker, are on it now. They talk all the time, and act very relaxed and casual, just having a good time, while I go to extremes to always be totally locked and cocked; not looking at all like I'm relaxing or enjoying it.
I hadn't mentioned my injury to Mom and Dad. I didn't want them to worry about it. I wrote to my wife and told her not to think about being lonely and she wouldn't be; just stay busy and think about the things she's doing, and this won't last forever. She was concerned about the DIs being "mean" to me. I wrote her not to worry about it. This place is definitely easier than I expected. As they've told us a hundred times since we got here (other than a few "attention-getting" sessions), all you have to do here is do what you're told and do it quickly. Take control of your "skuzzy little body" and keep your "lips shut". It's mainly true motivation and determination.
When we were waiting in the bleachers after the prac tests, I was watching the 3rd Phase recruits using the rappelling tower. It sure looked like fun!
THUR 10/23 T-16
This is the BIG DRILL DAY! The Slime Squad isn't allowed to participate. Slime Squad now also consists of such highly desirables as Cook, Castro, and Velasquez. Holy shit; I've got to get OFF this thing and away from these dirtbag losers!
We dressed quickly, made our racks, and cleaned up. Means and I were assigned as late chow privates, which meant we stayed in the barracks as gear guards while the platoon went to chow, then we were relieved by the "early chow privates". After chow, everyone was busy getting ready for drill. We'll be leaving for Camp Pendleton as soon as we get final Phase I drill out of the way, and we won't be coming back to these barracks.
Sgt Groomes told the Slime Squad he wanted them to take the deck towels over to headquarters for washing. Then Sgt Groomes said he wanted me to take care of it, and to pick 3 others to help "because otherwise it would be guaranteed to be screwed up". So I led Castro, Cook, and Velasquez over there. Castro and Velasquez couldn't stay in step more than 50 feet. Castro was whining because his arms were tired from carrying the towels. Velasquez and I nearly got into a fight because he decided when we came within sight of the headquarters building that he didn't feel like marching any more, and he took off on his own. I had to yell at him several times and threaten to take him into the First Sergeant's office before he got back in line.
Naturally, about half the washers and dryers there had various malfunctions, so we had to screw around finding ones that worked. We had many loads to run through the machines. Cook picked up my diary while I was busy and started reading it. I had to yell at him about 4 times to put it down before he did.
What a bunch of losers! Velasquez got the highest score in the platoon on the PFT, though. He got a 295 out of 300 possible points, which is outstanding. Kim got a 288. Kim isn't real bright, either, though. Some people, like Regalado and Kraling, got 100 on the prac and very high PFT scores, too. We finally got all the towels cleaned, and we stored them in a quonset hut.
Upon our return to the barracks, we found out that the platoon didn't do well on the drill test. Everyone was very busy packing their seabags for our trip to Camp Pendleton tomorrow. I went to sickbay to see about getting off light duty earlier than my chit says I'm supposed to.
Sgt Orlovsky has threatened us with much more thrashing at Camp Pendleton. At sickbay, a couple 3rd phase recruits were talking about big time thrashings at Camp Pendleton. According to them, other than snapping in, there isn't much else to do there, so the DIs bend recruits for anything and everything and nothing. They told me about them being made to dump all the platoon's footlockers into a big pile in the barracks, then being given 5 minutes to get it all squared away again. They recommended bagging everything in the footlocker or tying bundles together to prevent things from getting lost in the shuffle. So, that’s a good tip I’ll follow up on. They said we'll come back from Camp Pendleton a lot tighter, though. Good - a lot of these recruits really need it. I don't mind the thrashing, even though I usually don't deserve it, because I need the exercise.
I saw the doctor, and he said I could return to full duty. He said that part of my ankle would NEVER be as strong as it was. Oh, just great! I was surprised to hear that. I’ll have to be extra careful with it in the future. I hurried back to the barracks, changed into PT gear, and ran over to the confidence course area to catch up with the platoon. I looked all around and couldn't find the platoon. I knew if they returned to the barracks early and I wasn't there, there'd be an uproar, so I went back to the barracks.
Later on, recruits started trickling back in, all of them soaked from falling into one of the water traps on the course. One recruit said he didn't fall, but just for fun a DI made him go to attention while on a rope.
A minor fight broke out between Cyzinski and Lagreco. It was quickly broken up. I have no idea what it was about. I went to them with a couple other recruits and told them if they hit anyone, they'd be out of the Corps, or at least get an Article 15 on their records. Afterward, Lagreco was talking to Cyzinski, so I presume they got it straightened out.
Ooghe had to go see the CO because his piss test came back positive. He told me he had told the Corps about doing drugs before coming in, and he’d gotten a waiver, but the CO had told him he'd be on an informal probation here for about a month. Kraling got called into Sgt Groomes' office this morning. He just came back not looking too good and saying something about going home. I went over just as he was telling someone else he didn't want to talk about it, so I walked on by. I guess he's definitely out. He's holding what looks like a sickbay chit and somebody said something about his back, but I don't know now. He looks heartbroken. He's the one who aced the prac, plus got the third highest PFT score in the platoon. The reason I didn't even know who he was is because he's never been called out, yelled at, or bent. What a shame! It might be drugs, too. I suppose the story will come out in a day or so. A clean acting, high scoring recruit like that gets the boot, and total zeros like Cook, Castro, and Velasquez get to stay!
When the rest of the platoon came back, they were all smiles. What a shame I couldn't find them! I really wanted to do the course. I hear they had a great time. As they came in, Flores and Regalado were looking they were about to break out into a fight. I guess Cyzinski must have told Sgt Morris that Lagreco hit him, because they're both getting screamed at and bent right now. Sgt Morris is yelling that he's going to write both of them up for it.
Oh shit; now Sgt Morris has got half a dozen recruits up there bending. I'll just keep my head down. A sure way to get called up to join a bending session is to get caught watching one. Of course, I'll probably get bent for having my head down! Well, as Ooghe said, "The Reign of Terror has begun!". There was more and more bending, and the mood was getting more terroristic, so I went down the ladderwell (stairs) to the washrack to start washing deck towels. While there, I could hear nothing but bending and thrashing and screaming upstairs. Eventually, I ran out of things to do there. I didn’t want to be seen standing around, so I went back up into the barracks, and went around working on recruits' racks, getting them as tight as possible, trying to look busy. Then they got me one of the times everyone had to sound off when I forgot to come to attention first, so several other recruits and I got bent a long time for that. FINALLY, all that fun ended when we had to form up to go to chow.
After dinner, we had a rifle cleaning session, then mail call. I didn't get any mail from my wife, but I got a letter from Mom and Dad. We got a long lecture from Sgt Groomes about getting our act together. A couple squad leaders also got up and spoke about discipline and motivation. I wanted to add a speech, but Sgt Groomes had asked if any "squad leaders had anything to add", so I knew I'd get screamed at or bent if I said I wanted to say something. We finished jamming everything into our seabags for the trip to Camp Pendleton tomorrow, then hit the rack.
FRI 10/24 T-17
It is after breakfast, all our seabags are packed and piled up on the parade deck, and we're just waiting to go to Camp Pendleton. The air is heavy with excitement and the anticipation of starting Phase II.
I found out why Kraling went home. Sgt Groomes told us about it this morning because he was ticked off because Kraling hadn't come to him with his problem first. The DIs insist that everyone bring their problems to them first.
The story is that the worthless little mama's boy wimp wrote a letter to his mommy and told her how very terrible and mean everything here is. He wrote her that it was so unbearable he was going to kill himself to get out of it. That Kraling really pisses me off because it couldn't have been very hard at all for him. He was very smart and physically fit, so he did really well at everything, and I never even once saw him getting bent or yelled at. He was such a sickening pussy he couldn't take it, even as easy as it had to have been for him. Good riddance!
Then the DIs let us make a PX call. I really needed to get a bunch of stuff. I spent too much there, and I didn't have enough chits left to get a haircut. I had to borrow some from one of the other recruits. I was worried about getting into trouble for it, but nothing came of it. After the haircuts, we marched over to the parade deck bleachers to watch another platoon go through their graduation ceremonies. It was very motivating.
While we were sitting there waiting for the graduation, we heard most of the DIs from the other platoons in our series threatening their recruits with severe thrashings as soon as they can get us up to Camp Pendleton away from officers and their rules. They were warming their recruits up for Camp Pendleton by randomly pulling many recruits from the bleachers and thrashing them behind the bleachers. It looks like the stories I heard about big time thrashings at Camp Pendleton are true.
Our platoon seemed to be rather well disciplined, with a few exceptions like Cook, Herman, etc. But we received none of the threatening talks or thrashing that all the platoons around us were getting. This morning, Herman and Anderson showed up at the washrack for morning cleanup. Herman is supposed to be in 4th squad. I didn’t even realize it, which proves he's never showed up before. I have GOT to talk to Sgt Groomes ASAP about being guide or a squad leader.
Right now, it's after lunch, and we're waiting on the parade deck with all our gear. The buses are all lined up now, so we should be boarding them fairly soon. Seeing graduation was really neat! I was covered with goosebumps just from watching and thinking about it. I want that guide billet so bad! Mainly it's just so I can be the guide in dress blues at graduation for my family to see. It will also get me a promotion to Lance Corporal upon graduation, and a better shot at Recon, if I'm the honor man.
Another loser crybaby named Hernandez was shipped out yesterday with Kraling. The poor lad said all the yelling and stress gave him nosebleeds and headaches. Apparently we've retained all the ones who failed the prac tests, though. It seems to me that when all the recruits see the ones who failed getting to stay with the platoon, it's likely to make them not worry so much about putting 100% effort into the next tests they give us.
In the formation after lunch I got into a minor hassle with Johnson, AB, the squad leader. He's a big, dumb "dark green Marine". He was running his mouth constantly for about 5 minutes, loudly, so I yelled down at him to shut up and set a good example by not talking in formation. He started ranting and raving loudly for several minutes for me to get off his back, "mo-fo" this, "mo-fo" that, and how I am just a tired old man. I kept quiet for awhile, as we're supposed to do. We're supposed to take orders from the squad leaders, not tell them what to do. Then I got sick of hearing him running his mouth, so I started yelling for the guide, who can tell the squad leaders what to do. Several of the other recruits in the platoon also began to say to him "Doesn't the rule about being quiet apply to squad leaders, too?". Finally, he shut up. He's sort of effective as a squad leader, in a crude way, but he has an overly loud and obnoxious manner, and he obviously doesn't grasp the concept of setting a good example. I consider setting a good example to be a prime characteristic of being a good leader.
The second squad leader, also named Johnson (there are 5 Johnsons in this platoon), is the opposite of Johnson, AB, the third squad leader. He acts and talks like a fairy. He won't last long as a squad leader. When we got on the bus, Johnson, AB and I locked horns again. I was telling the recruits to fill in all the seats in the back, and he started screaming at me to "shut the fuck up". I said "Fuck you, Johnson; I'm just doing your job for you while you're standing around chit-chatting", so he shut up.
We had to ride all the way to Camp Pendleton with our heads in our laps, just so we didn't enjoy the ride too much. Maybe it was also so that we couldn’t see where we were going; to make “escape” more difficult. Ha ha! When we first got to Camp Pendleton, it was the usual very hectic scene; frantically racing around being screamed at while trying to get racks made and footlockers packed.
During free time, I talked to Sgt Groomes about being made guide or squad leader. He was surprisingly receptive. He said his current leaders are pretty weak, which I agree with.
There's a big sandbox outside for us to "play" in. The area seems like a nice new place.
SAT 10/25 T-18
We got up at 0500 and went to breakfast. The DIs had told us the food here wasn't nearly as good or as plentiful as what we got at MCRD in San Diego. They were right! Breakfast was quite skimpy. The chocolate milk here tastes terrible. The chow line has a very limited selection. The juice isn't even real juice; it's just some flavored sugar water crap. If everyone knows the food here is lousy, and it's openly acknowledged to be lousy, then why doesn't someone do something about it?
After breakfast, we had a 5 mile "nature walk" down to the beach, along it, and back at "forced march" speed, which was a very fast-paced walk. When we got back, the DIs made us take off our boots and socks, and lay on our backs in the parking lot with our feet up in the air, like dead cockroaches. Then the corpsmen went through our ranks, and inspected our feet for potential blisters forming.
Then we did some new COD movements with the rifles. I did OK, but lots of bozos didn't, so Sgt Groomes got pissed off and herded us back to the house. I figured we'd all get severely thrashed for it, but all we did was put the rifles in the armory and go to chow. I'm still uneasily awaiting all the major thrashings I had heard about. Again, lunch was quite skimpy and not very good.
After lunch, we spent most of the afternoon cleaning and recleaning our rifles. I got into another confrontation with Johnson, AB. Many of the recruits were talking while we cleaned our rifles (there isn't supposed to be any conversation anytime; we get thrashed for it), so I told several of them to shut up. Sommers, the guide, was down at the other end of the washrack, shooting the breeze with Dill and Steelman. After I put up with that for about 10 minutes, I yelled down to Sommers to stop talking and set a good example. Johnson started his ranting and raving again, telling me to shut up and mind my own business. Then he threatened to take my name to the DIs if I said another word. So I shut up and went to Sgt Morris and complained about both of them setting poor examples and using their jobs to flaunt the rules. Sgt Morris basically told me it was tough and I had to do whatever they said. He said if I thought I could do it better, and I wanted a job, I'd have to set a good example of doing what they say. I told him I always set a good example, but he ignored that, and kept giving me a hard time about missing the Obstacle Course, and not being able to make it over the wall or up the rope, way back in the first couple days of boot camp. I guess that’s the only negative thing he can come up with regarding my performance here.
I think I may talk to Sgt Groomes about the leaders setting such poor examples, although I'd prefer that some of the other privates do it, so it doesn't look like the only reason I'm complaining about it is because I want the job. I do want the job, but I think it's very wrong to be setting poor examples and flaunting misuse of the leadership billet. This morning, we had a Combined Federal Campaign briefing, in which the leaders were being more aggressive than they usually are, keeping everyone's head and eyes straight to the front, no moving, no nothing. Then Johnson, AB got up and went off to the head just because he felt like it. We're always supposed to get permission to go to the head. A couple of the other recruits complained about it when he returned, so then he went to the DI and asked permission for the platoon to make a head call. I hope to get one of the other recruits who has complained about the "leaders", especially Johnson, to complain to Sgt Groomes about it. If I have to, I'll do it, but I'm reluctant to just because it looks like I'm only doing it to screw him out of his job. I wouldn't complain if he'd just do his job in a reasonably correct manner. Actually, I don't even want Johnson's job - I want Sommers' job, but I think Johnson is a very poor leader.
We're standing outside the chow hall now, waiting to get in for more of that wonderful chow. There's a terrible burning chemical smell in the air. I don't know what it is or where it's coming from. The chow hall lines here are much longer than they were at MCRD, and the food is very limited once we get inside. I guess they do it because we get less exercise here. I also told Sgt Groomes I want to volunteer for remedial PT and for thrashings. A couple times, when other privates were getting thrashed, I've gone up to the DI doing the thrashing and requested permission to join the thrashing, just to get more exercise, but they always just scream at me to get away from them. They have pullup bars here, just outside the hatch, so I've been using them and doing situps every night, which barely leaves me enough time to take a shower.
Well, I managed to get into it again with Johnson, AB, even though I'm trying to avoid it. I'm getting sick of all the hassles, and I'm getting tired of telling the other recruits to get some self-discipline. After doing my situps tonight, I only had a very short time left to take a shower before hygiene inspection and lights out. I went into the showers and started to turn on an unused shower. Johnson was in there, and he started screaming at me that I was taking away his hot water, so he wanted me to turn my shower back off. I didn't even understand what he was yelling about, so I ignored him. Then someone else exited and left his shower on, so I went over and used that one instead of hassling with Gorilla Man. Then Holliday came in and the same thing happened again. He turned on a shower, and Johnson started screaming again. We were running out of time to take showers, so Holliday ignored him and turned the shower on anyway. Johnson came running over, running his big mouth, and in his usual belligerent manner, shoved Holliday away from the shower. I went over to him and told him I'd had it with him and his attitude and behavior. I told him I was going to go to the Senior DI and make a complaint about him.
I dried off from the shower and went to Sgt Morris and requested permission to speak. Permission was granted, so I told him about Johnson's activities and misuse of his authority in general, and what had happened in the shower in particular. Sgt Morris called all three of us up in front of the platoon, which, by now, was on line for hygiene inspection. He asked what had happened. After we told him, he said both Johnson and Holliday had to be in the classroom first thing in the morning for some thrashing, because there wasn't enough time left before lights out to thrash them now. I protested that Holliday hadn't done anything wrong, but Sgt Morris told me to shut up. I told him I wanted the tell the Senior about what Johnson was doing. He told me the situation was taken care of, but I said I still wanted to talk to Sgt Groomes about it. Then I told him I wanted to take Holliday's place in the classroom tomorrow morning because Holliday hadn't done anything wrong. So he said all three of us had to be there!
The Catholic sermon after lights out was about helping your brother Marine, and Hanley's Protestant speech was about teamwork versus bickering. I felt bad about being a public rat anyway, so I felt pretty down when I hit the rack. This is being written on the 0130-0230 firewatch. I feel like I'm right and doing the right thing, so I'll continue. I just want to do what's right, but I don't want to be a divisive factor in the platoon. Johnson now complains loudly to anyone who'll listen that I'm just after his job. No one said anything to me after the hygiene inspection, so I'm not sure what the overall mood of the platoon currently is. Sgt Morris said Sgt Groomes won't be in until Monday.
Tonight, we turn the clock back an hour, so we get an extra hour of sleep, although reveille is at 0600. Since there's so little to do, I can't imagine why we get up earlier here. Sgt Morris said we'll be getting up at 0500 for the next two weeks (on Sundays, we get up an hour later). My right ankle and left knee ache some, but not too bad. The knee is from the cross- legged sitting position we have to use. I was wearing my ankle brace to bed, but I took it off tonight for better circulation. The ankle feels tight, and is often painful.
SUN 10/26 T-19
Well I sure got woke up quickly this morning! The first thing that happened today after reveille was Johnson, Holliday and I got bent for about 10 minutes. Toward the end of it, I was getting warmed up, and started doing them faster, while Johnson was slowing down. It was good exercise. During the thrashing, I told Sgt Morris that Johnson was constantly misusing his position. Sgt Morris screamed at us while we bent that he didn't want any more hassles and that we had to do what the squad leaders said, no matter what it was. He said he wanted us to start using teamwork. I replied (Sgt Morris hates my replies, but I'm still right) that true teamwork in this case would have been for Johnson to just shut up, not misuse his position for personal gain and convenience, not be such a wimp about the water, let the water get a little colder, and nothing would have happened. Since I was right, Sgt Morris said nothing.
After breakfast consisting of fairly decent French Toast, I washed my clothes, then did some situps and pullups. I went through the weekly game of harassment and name calling from the DIs in front of the platoon and other DIs because I won't go to church.
I'm pretty burned out on all the harassment I'm getting just for striving for excellence. I feel kind of depressed, and I feel like never opening my mouth again and just coasting through. I already no longer say anything when other privates talk. Originally, the idea was that the leadership recruits were supposed to help keep the others in line, but I'm getting zero support and lots of hard times from everyone involved; recruits, squad leaders, and the DIs. I feel very alone. Screw 'em all! I'm stronger than all of them. Sgt Morris even said he was going to put a write-up in MY service record about the Johnson/Holliday altercation. He's mad about it because I said I still want to talk to Sgt Groomes about it, but that only ENSURES that I will do it. Obviously, I'm right about it if Sgt Morris doesn't want Sgt Groomes to find out about it. All I did in this case was REPORT the altercation. Sgt Morris was probably bluffing anyway, but I still want to talk to Sgt Groomes about it. I can't believe they're still keeping Johnson in as squad leader. Sgt Morris is apparently striving both to keep Johnson in as squad leader and to prevent me from getting one of the billets. When Sgt Morris called me into the duty hut after the bending session to scream at me some more, I told him of more cases of Johnson misusing his authority. Yesterday, he and Sommers, the guide, crowded up to the head of the line to secure our rifles, then laughed about it. This morning at chow, I saw platoon 1110's guide give his only syrup to another private, saying he looks out for his people. With leadership like that, while we have leaders who use the billets as their personal ticket to flaunt the rules, it's no wonder 1110 took all three of the Phase I events, while we came in last on everything. During my personalized screaming session from Sgt Morris, he told me I wouldn't make it through RFTD, and how he's sick of my replies, etc.
As that was being written, Sgt Morris was leaving for the day, and Sgt Orlovsky was coming on duty, so my feeling down soon passed. Sgt Orlovsky took us out to the parking lot and taught us some new drill movements. So the matter of Johnson, et al was soon forgotten. We had PT contests and games in the afternoon. This is written Monday night, so I don't remember many more details.
MON 10/27 T-20
This was an interesting day. We're off daylight savings time, but we still keep the same daylight-based schedule, so now we hit the rack and get up an hour earlier by the clock; taps is at 2030 and reveille is at 0430. It's been much harder to find time to write since we came to WTB, Weapons Training Battalion, at Camp Pendleton. Often, we're told to leave our knowledge behind. I do all of my writing in my knowledge book, mostly as I'm pretending to be studying it. There are longer waits in the chow line, but there's no opportunity to write there. I have to squeeze a few minutes here and there to write. Plus I have to squeeze in remedial PT time during what little free time there is, as well as square my things away and get ready for the next day. It's a constant battle to stay ahead of the game. I often do it after taps under the covers by the light of my flashlight held in my mouth. It cuts into my sleep, but I have to make time somewhere.
Last night, I skipped my shower, but I had to iron my cover, so I still had no time to write. Tonight, we had remedial PT, plus I definitely needed a shower, so after all that and some minor squaring away of gear, it was time for inspection. So right now, I'm writing this under the covers with my flashlight. I can't do it in the head, because we're not allowed to be out of the rack one hour after tapes or one hour before reveille. I guess that's to force us to go sleep, because no one is going to wait an hour just to go to the head to take care of things there weren't time for during the day. I've often meant to do some writing under the covers after taps, but many times I fall asleep before I get a chance to write anything. So, rather than write things down at various times during the day, I have to recap it all after taps, or on firewatch. So this is a recap of all the details of the day that my tired mind and body can recall.
We had our first rifle class this morning, and we met our PMI, Primary Marksmanship Instructor, SSgt Engstrom. He seems like a pretty cool guy. We had classes in the bleachers, then we were herded to lunch and back to the bleachers. Each movement to and from the classes requires frantic changing in and out of our uniforms, shooting jacket, war belt, and PT gear.
After lunch, we had another class on the prone position, followed by our first snapping in session. Snapping in consists of laying on a paved circle simulating the firing line, then we take aim at a 55 gallon drum with little targets painted on it, and practice dry firing at the targets. I had wondered how we could possibly spend an entire week doing only that, but now I know. The positions are very solid if done right, but rather painful. It felt like my left shoulder was going to dislocate. Hanley claims he used to shoot on a .22 rifle team. He said he thought he might shoot a 250. The DIs said no one's ever done it. I'd sure like to be the first, and I will be making every humanly possible effort to do so.
We had PT after the snapping in session. At least they PT us on the grass here, instead of the dirt, dust, and runway noise of MCRD. We had a 3.5 mile run, which was a breeze for me. We had about 7 run drops, including the guide, Sommers. He fell back, and Johnson carried his guidon for him awhile. They kept running us up and down a small hill to let the stragglers catch up. There was lots of bickering in the ranks as we did it. Sgt Morris called cadence for awhile, but he soon quit, claiming we weren't sounding off. Just like on the "nature walk", we were the only silent platoon. Personally, I'll bet they just don't know any cadence calls to sing out. The other platoons sounded motivating, and singing cadence sure makes the running more interesting.
After chow tonight, we had yet another rifle cleaning session, just to kill time, really. The rifles have never even been fired yet. I didn't go see Sgt Groomes about Johnson. I was undecided about letting it drop. There was a beautiful sunset followed by a full moon tonight.
Here at WTB, I'm racking with Jackson, the Indian from Arizona. I'm on top here. I don't like it nearly as well as the bottom. I had the bottom rack here first, but Jackson's pretty short, so I let him have it. Another problem with this platoon may be the high percentage of reservists, who generally aren't as good or as serious as active duty recruits. Most platoons have 10-15 reservists. We have 33. Well, I'm very tired, and 0430 comes early!
TUE 10/28 T-21
It was a chilly morning. We went to breakfast, then to a PMI class. I had a sore throat last night and this morning. No wonder, with so many people always coughing, sneezing, spitting, etc. Hopefully, it will go away like the last one did. I've been feeling sleepy all morning, probably due to staying up late last night. Johnson spent the entire kneeling position practice session talking, laughing, and singing. I must talk to the Senior about him. We did sitting, kneeling, and standing position practice until lunch. The positions we have to get into are exact, with very little room for individual preference. They are very difficult and painful to get into. I feel like my left shoulder is being dislocated. ç Little did I know then how prophetic that statement was, as it turned out that once I got to ITS, I started having chronic left shoulder separations, which kept me out of a lot of stuff in the Corps, until I finally had an operation in early 1988.
After lunch, we snapped in using the sitting position. I have the most problem getting a good sitting position. So far, I just can't seem to get it to be comfortable or solid. It's a nice afternoon. The WTB training area is right beside the I5 freeway. There's some construction going on over on the other side, with a large metal building of some sort.
I sure hope we get mail call tonight! We haven't had mail call since Thursday night. Our mail still goes to MCRD, and the DIs only bring the mail up here a couple times a week. Mail call is such an important part of the day. It's so good to hear from loved ones on the outside. There's all the anticipation of waiting for my name to be called as the DIs go through the stack of mail, calling out names and tossing the mail in the direction of the "Yes sir!". There's the joy of hearing my name being called, and then there's the big disappointment when the DI reads the name off the last piece of mail and my name hasn't been called.
I can hear artillery practice coming from other parts of the base every afternoon. Our PMI is a very earthy guy who relates points of marksmanship to various aspects of sex and sexual organs. Here's one of my favorite quotes from him: "If grasshoppers had machine guns, birds wouldn't fuck with them".
After rifle class and snapping in, we had COD, then dinner. Many of the other recruits are now heavily into stealing crackers out of the chowhall at every meal. Personally, I don't know what anyone sees in them, but I hear lots of cracker wrapper rustling after lights out.
Here's an amusing aside: the other day, Johnson, AB saw me writing these notes, and accused me of taking notes on him. Jackson just saw me writing this, and seriously asked me if I am here as a spy. I burst out laughing.
After dinner, we had yet another time-killing rifle cleaning and re-re-cleaning session. Then we killed some more time with a preview of some 3rd phase knowledge. Last night, we had another rifle re-cleaning session before remedial PT.
I heard in the chowhall that several recruits got caught last night using the payphone by the PX across the street. The idea had occurred to me, but the area is well lit, and I wouldn't risk it. Plus, even trying to do it is indicative of poor self discipline. Sommers, the guide, has gotten quite rude to everyone lately. I think the stress is getting to him. We had mail call tonight. I got a card and some nice mail from my wife. After so many days without a mail call, I was hoping for more mail. Sgt Morris was in an unusually good mood during mail call. During "free time", I went to the office, beat on the hatch, and requested permission to speak. He told me to get in there, and I told him I hadn't talked to the Senior DI. I asked him what he had put in my record. I don't care how much they thrash me, in fact I need the exercise, but anything that gets written into my SRB, Service Record Book, concerns me greatly. Sgt Morris claimed that he had only put in a notation that I had only turned the incident in, and that I had not participated in it. Then he started yelling and screaming at me to get out of his office. I tried to tell him about Johnson's abuse of his position today, but he just kept screaming that my big problem was my mouth, and to shut up and get out, so I left.
I'll tell Sgt Groomes tomorrow about all the things that have been going on. I wish they'd make me guide. There's so much I could do to improve this platoon. The cleanups are so disorganized! All the guide and squad leaders can do is stand around and yell at people. They never do anything intelligent and they never organize anything.
This afternoon, while we were marching back from rifle class, Sgt Morris sang to us very briefly. It was neat! We all loved it. Some of the other platoons do it a lot. It sounds really motivating, and it's fun, but we never do it, except for a few minutes today.
Our PMI said today that last Sunday night's 60 Minutes show had a story on Nicaragua. He said it was about how they really think we're going to invade, and how they are getting ready for it. SSgt Engstrom, the PMI, said we'd have to train more seriously than the Nicaraguans. That's the only world news we've heard since coming here. Motivation is the number one word here. At all classes, and especially PT sessions, the DIs ask how motivated we are, and we roar back how motivated we are. Well, it's at least an hour past lights out as I do this recap of the day, so I have to crash.
WED 10/29 T-22
It's the middle of the week already. I need to get to the PX or have someone mail me some more knowledge book paper. I do all my diary writing in my knowledge book, and I'm running out of paper. Maybe I can borrow some. Most of these recruits don't take very many notes in the classes, so they have plenty of paper.
It just starts getting light as we get out of breakfast chow. The racks are made and the house is all cleaned up before we go to chow. So, as soon as we get out of the chowhall, we go to the rifle range class. Sgt Groomes told us the other day that we will go directly from WTB to RFTD, Recruit Field Training Detachment, on the other side of Camp Pendleton, then we have Mess and Maintenance week, then 3rd Phase. That makes a lot more sense than the previously described scenario where we went from WTB (the range) back to MCRD for Mess and Maintenance, then back to Pendleton for RFTD (field training: hiking ,camping, and field tactics).
So after morning chow, we went to our PMI class. We watched a safety movie, then they showed us a marksmanship movie TWICE, then they told us the positions the PMI showed us were the correct ones, not the ones demonstrated in the movie. So what the hell was the point of showing us the movie, especially twice? I have no idea. And no, I didn't ask.
We get to fire 10 familiarization rounds tomorrow in the prone position. It's a chilly, hazy morning. The sun has been coming out of the haze in the late morning. Sgt Morris sang briefly to us again while enroute to the PMI class. To me, it's apparent that he just doesn't know many cadence calls or marching songs, so he usually blames it on us and says we're not doing them because of our screwups. So it looks like he's learning a few and gaining some confidence in handling us.
The first thing that happened this morning was that I got bent a long time, along with several others, for the crime of coming up to Sgt Morris and Sgt Groomes with a button unbuttoned.
Every day at our chow break from the marksmanship classes, its a mad dash, more like race walking than marching, as the platoons "march" as fast as they possibly can to beat the other platoons to the chow hall and be first in line. We go to our gear staging area and make a frantic change from shooting gear to uniforms for chow. Then, after chow, it's another frantic quick change from uniforms into the PT gear we're wearing under our shooting gear.
We took our rifles through LTI, Limited Technical Inspection, after lunch to make a basic check of the rifles and to ensure that they appear to be basically safe to fire. Then we had another class about range operations. Marksmanship is SO VERY important in the Marine Corps. That's why we spend a full week learning how to do it, then another full week practicing it before shooting for qualification.
During the range operations class, we watched some Harriers and helicopters carrying cargo in a net land several times near us. The sun is out now, but there's a nice cool breeze. That's one reason we have to get the day started so early; the wind comes up around noon, so they start us shooting at first light. Then, all the relays are done shooting before the wind gets too strong. I'm really looking forward to shooting tomorrow; it should be lots of fun (under the conditions). We will fire 10 rounds in 4 magazines at 15 yards to zero the weapon. I think we have a 4 mile run this afternoon.
Well, now we're getting ready for dinner. We had PT after the PMI class. It was a good run. I believe it was about 3 or 4 miles. It was rather cool weather for it, which was good. It was overcast, with a cool breeze. The guide fell out of this run, too. I never realized it before, but he's another Reserve recruit. So are the 2nd and the 3rd squad leaders. We did calisthenics on the grass, then the run, then several sets of situp and pullup maxouts. I don't know how many run drops we had. We only went up and down the hill a couple times waiting for the stragglers to catch up, instead of about 6 times like the other day. It was a much nicer run. We did singing, clapping, and cadence calls most of the way. There was also much less bitching in the group today than there was the last time we made that run.
It was starting to get dark around suppertime. I just asked Sgt Orlovsky if we could get some additional snap-in practice, because I feel I really need it. He said "not until next week". That worries me somewhat. I don't think my sitting position is anywhere near right. It was a rather nice sunset, considering the fact that there was no sun out all day. The sky was covered with pink streaks. I've been having frequent heartburn for the last couple days.
We're all getting considerably more hair on top now. Now that we're in 2nd phase, we can blouse our trousers and unbutton the top button of our cammy blouse. Each stage of boot camp has its recognizable signs. At first, we got herded around in civilian clothes. Then we were allowed to wear our cammy trousers with green T-shirts and running shoes. Then we got cammy blouses and boots just before entering first phase. Sometimes, when the DIs are angry at us, they make us unblouse our trousers, button our cammy blouse top button, and herd around heel to toe. Actually, this platoon has less harsh discipline than some of the other platoons. I think that is part of this platoon's problem. I haven't seen any of the terror conditions we were warned and threatened about here. In fact, here it's harder for the DIs to thrash the whole platoon in the dirt because the sand pit here is too small for more than a few recruits at a time. I've seen some recruits from other platoons face down in the sand pit, but, other than the first day, all 1109's thrashing here has been a few individual recruits in the classroom.
After dinner, we put a liberal coat of CLP (rifle cleaner and lubricant) on our rifles in preparation for firing the rifles on the range tomorrow. I'm looking forward to finally getting to shoot. Then we had mail call, which I wasn't expecting. I didn't get anything from my wife, but I got a letter from Brenda. She sent me a clipping of Brad's Grannie in the Valley News.
After remedial PT tonight, Johnson was running his mouth, but I didn't want to say anything, because of all the hassles in the past. Lytle told him he should stop talking, so I backed him up and told Johnson to shut up and set a good example. Johnson ranted and raved for about 5 minutes non-stop over that. Later, Kizzia, the third squad leader, came up and asked if I'd gone to Sgt Groomes about Johnson yet. He said he and Smith, the other squad leader, were behind me on it. He said that, in addition to his abuse of his position, he also can't march worth a damn. In marching, the squad leaders set the pace for their respective squad. If they screw up, it usually gets passed down the whole squad, or it can screw up turns. He said he also thought it was only Sgt Morris' backing that was keeping him in his position. As I've said before, Sgt Morris seems to very actively want Johnson, AB in as a leader and me OUT. Apparently I'm not the only one who notices it. I WILL go to Sgt Groomes. I should have done it this morning, but I put it off until a better time, then he left after only a couple hours. It's difficult to find an appropriate time to talk to one of the DIs. Most of the time we're in the middle of doing something or we're scurrying on our way to do something else. So I can only request permission to speak to the DI when we're not doing anything else, which is rather rare.
My ankle was aching after the run today. I hope it will be OK. It's very marginal, because I went back on it sooner than I probably should have. So I'm treading a thin line between keeping up with the platoon on everything, and not injuring it any further in its weakened state. The weak ankle also makes my kneeling shooting position very difficult, because I can't sit on it like I'm supposed to.
After mail call, Sgt Orlovsky told us of some problems they've been having with Marines from elsewhere on the base coming into recruit squadbays at night and harassing privates sleeping or on firewatch. He said, in his usual terse manner, that if anyone came in here, we were to turn on all the lights, get everyone up, and beat the hell out of whoever it was. When he said "Do you understand?", he got the loudest "Yes sir!" I've ever heard the platoon come up with. He's a pretty tough character. When he first came here, I thought he was so mellow, but he's proven himself to be the most vicious when he wants to be. I think he gets more so all the time. But I respect his ideals and his fairness.
THUR 10/30 T-23
We got up at "zero dark thirty", as they say, and went to chow, then the familiarization range. The sun came out of the haze earlier today than it has recently. My shooting went fairly well today. My first group of three shots made one hole in the target. My second group was quarter- sized, and my third group was dime-sized. Like the prac, even though I've shot a lot, the Marine Corps approach to it and all the anticipation made me somewhat nervous. I wasn't as steady as I should have been. I was surprised my first group was as good as it was. I just tried hard to concentrate on the fundamentals, which is what they taught us to do. I felt like there was a lot of pressure to hurry up, so I didn't take as much time getting my natural point of aim as I should have. I was in the first group to shoot, so now I'm waiting in formation for the rest of the platoon. I also didn't use my eye patch, because of the rushing, so by the time I finished squeezing off the last round, my left eye muscles were quivering. Next time, I'll force myself to take my time getting ready and refuse to be rushed.
I just got called over for an interview with the assistant series commander. It was just a BS interview, where he asked me if I was getting my mail OK, getting enough chow and sleep, and not getting any harassment or physical abuse.
The series commander said they submit something like 300 names to Recon at the end of boot camp. He said they make up a list of recruits with above average intelligence and PFT scores. As I told Lt Perdue, I really need to work hard on my pullups. I did 61 situps in last night's remedial PT, which is at least getting into a marginally acceptable range. I still need a lot of physical improvement. I still can't do more than 6 pullups. I'll need to do AT LEAST double that by the end of boot camp. I really need to triple it. It seems strange, but it's HARD to get into shape here in boot camp because there's so little time to work on it. The back of my legs are a little bit sore from situps, which is a good sign I'm working the muscles. My sore throat was worse this morning, and I had nasal and lung congestion. Right now, I don't feel too bad at all. Most of the other recruits are always coughing and sneezing all over everything and everyone. No wonder I'm getting sick.
Harriers keep landing and taking off right behind the hill at the range. They're exciting to watch. I think they're very valuable to Marine-type operations in particular, because of their maneuverability and versatility. I think we're doing the range again tomorrow.
We found out our graduation day is Friday, December 20, so I need to let people who will be coming to the graduation know that. The Sunday before graduation is Visitor's Sunday, so I'll certainly be looking forward to a visit from my wife. I'm hoping the next couple weeks will go by quickly because we do the range, then RFTD.
The military, and especially boot camp, is set up so that we're shown something once, then we get to try it once, then we're graded on our performance of it. So if you pick up something quickly and easily, you're all set. Otherwise, if you're not a natural at it, but you could get good at it with some extra work and practice, that's just tough. We never get the chance to work extra on anything. I was a little surprised at how small the M16 cartridge is. I have never shot a .223 before.
Well, after the foregoing was written, everything went to hell. We were marched up to the school area and told to remove our shooting jackets and 782 gear (canteens, magazine pouches, and cartridge belt). Then Sgt Groomes and Sgt Orlovsky told us to get over into an area where the ground was loose dirt. We knew what was coming, but no one knew why. So we all got bent in the dirt for awhile. The flying dirt and the dust were worse than the workout. Then we had a few games of "on the gear, off the gear, in the bleachers, out of the bleachers, seat (sit down), feet (too slow - stand up again), seat, feet", etc. At one point, a couple recruits tripped over a barrel in a mad dash for the bleachers and they all fell down. Johnson, K later looked like he had a bloody lip. I think a couple others caught front sight ramps in the face during the mad rush for the bleachers. We were told the thrashing was because everyone was talking in the formation at the range, and because some of the recruits were too casual in the way they approached and talked to Lt. Perdue. In fact, after I talked to him, I was wondering to myself if I had been too loose in my bearing with him. I think it may have been because he was acting so loose; like it was just a very casual conversation.
Then the games we played after the thrashing were because some idiot in the formation wasn't sounding off. At supper chow, my line was very slow. The guide was sitting down around the same time I did. Then, before either of us had finished eating, Sgt Orlovsky came up to us screaming that we had been eating casually for 20 minutes, and he screamed for us to get the hell out. The guide is always served last, and when he's done, the platoon is DONE. So normally the guide eats like a pig; with a spoon in each hand, shoveling it in, hardly breathing, and everyone else has to hurry to beat him. This evening, even the guide wasn't done when Sgt Orlovsky started screaming at us to get out of the chow hall. We had a great lunch, though; more food than usual. I had cranberry sauce, salad, applesauce, beets, cottage cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, and a cookie. There was a nice sunset when we entered the chow hall. It is dusk now, and I'm waiting in the formation outside as I'm recapping the day. It's also cooling off as the light fades.
After lunch, we had a rifle class for an hour. It mainly consisted of reviewing this morning's targets and the mistakes we made. Then we went over to the PX for our weekly haircuts and a PX call. I had to borrow $1.60 from Jackson to pay for the haircut. I didn't need anything in the PX, and I didn't have any money anyway. Then we cleaned our rifles. We spent most of the time cleaning out the bore and lubing the bolt and carrier.
After supper, we did a little drill practice; practicing column of files movements. 2nd squad leader Johnson, AB was a total zero at it, as the success of it depends entirely on the squad leader doing the right thing at the right time. Sgt Groomes was Mr. Understanding about Johnson, though. Johnson wasn't sounding off at all. I was tempted to go up and tell Sgt Groomes I would do it right. Then we came in to the house because it was dark and we had 3rd phase prac practice. I asked Sgt Groomes if I could work on PT instead, as I don't need any extra work on prac, but I do need all the extra work I can get with the PT. He said forget it - I would have to do it on my time, not his.
Then we had mail call again tonight. It was nice to get it two nights in a row. Someone sent Cline a box of chocolate kisses, so he passed them around. I wrote to my wife and suggested that she send us some cookies or candy. We love little treats like that, because they're so rare. Sgt Groomes was in a rather good mood tonight. During free time, I spent so much time working on pullups and pulldowns, I barely had time to shave before hygiene inspection. I never did get around to talking to Sgt Groomes about Johnson. I'll try tomorrow morning. I have firewatch tonight from 1130 to 1230. During firewatch, I polished my boots and wrote in my diary.
I'm starting to get a cough. Starting tomorrow, we go to the winter uniform, which means we roll our sleeves down. Someone just yelled out "Yes sir" in his sleep. Smith just yelled out "keep your mouth shut" in his sleep, and he yelled something about gear guards when I first came on duty tonight. He's a pretty good squad leader. All of them are afraid to take anyone's name to get thrashed for goofing off, though. First thing in the morning, we have LFT range again. I'll make a special point of taking my time and getting a good position.
FRI 10/31 T-24
Well, this morning has started off great! We woke up and got our gear staged, then we did the morning cleanup. Then Sgt Orlovsky (I don't know what happened to Sgt Groomes - he was the DI on duty when I hit the rack) started running around like a madman, pulling down everyone's towel displays. He skipped mine. The he got even more agitated about the way the racks were made, so he started going up and down the rows of racks, tipping over racks that he didn't like the looks of. Again, he skipped mine and Jackson's.
Then, what happened after breakfast still has me really bummed out. I didn't talk to Sgt Groomes last night, and I've passed up chances to talk to Sgt Orlovsky about wanting a leadership billet. It had seemed to me that Sgt Morris and Sgt Groomes were the main ones deciding who the leaders would be. After breakfast, Sgt Orlovsky changed the whole front line. He fired Johnson #2. I believe he made Smith guide. He's the one who made Smith a squad leader. He really likes Smith. Then he pulled Moran and DeCluette from the ranks and made them squad leaders. He didn't even know their names; he had to ask them what their names were.
My shooting groups this morning weren't very impressive. It wasn't from being rushed, but I think it was from changing my position (point of aim) while in the midst of a group.. It really sucks about being passed over. I know I could do a better job than they're doing. If Smith really is the guide, then he's really got it made now.
Yeah, I just found out Smith is the new guide, and it's Abram, not DeCluette that's a new squad leader. When we got our targets back, it wasn't as bad as I thought. I shot 3 dime sized groups, but there's still plenty; of room for improvement. I had 6 holes from 10 rounds versus 7 holes from 9 rounds yesterday. My goal is to put 10 rounds into one hole.
Also, this morning, Sgt Orlovsky made us unblouse our trousers, button our top shirt button, and cram our covers down over our ears. This morning, that was fine with me, because it was chilly, but now (after lunch), it's getting rather warm to be dressed like this. Everyone has odd looking tans from the outdoor rifle classes. We're tanned below an inch above the ears, then there's a white band an inch wide where our covers cover the shaved skin, then the top is dark again from the hair that's grown in on top.
Coming back from lunch, another platoon's DI yelled at squad leader #4, Johnson, AB, for talking, which embarrassed Sgt Morris, who was marching us. So Sgt Morris screamed at Johnson for awhile, then he went into the house. It's so funny that, with all these military and nautical terms the USMC uses, they refer to the barracks as "the house". Anyway, naturally, I went trotting right in behind him and told both him and Sgt Orlovsky in the duty hut that I was a good, highly motivated leader who always SETS A GOOD EXAMPLE. Sgt Morris screamed at me "in whose opinion?", then screamed at me to get out. I think he likes me! I'm really disappointed that a couple relative nobodys got picked and I didn't. I always march and do everything else with 100% effort, and I sound off louder than anyone. In fact, last night, Johnson, AB was giving me a hard time from the other side of the squad bay, complaining and saying he didn't like hearing my voice above the rest of the platoon's when we're sounding off. I told him to shove it, that it meant I was motivated, and that he might try getting a little motivation for a change and TRY SETTING A GOOD EXAMPLE. I'm always hitting him on that, because he sets such a poor example.
Then we changed into PT gear and got into formation. Sgt Orlovsky asked who was a great rifle shot, so I sprang forward, shouting "This private, sir!". Guess what it got me - gear guard, while the platoon went back to the school range. The Catholics went off to some religious thing. I guess today is some holy day for them. We have a 4 or 5 mile beach run this afternoon when they return. At chow now, because of so many recruits stealing crackers out of the chow hall and eating them at night, they now have a deck private handing out one cracker pack to each private. I've heard guides and squad leaders from other platoons yelling at people for doing it, too, so I guess it's pretty prevalent. I usually grab an apple if I don't have time to eat it in the chow hall. I think right now, I've got one apple and one pear stashed away. If I get caught with them, I'll burn. I haven't been eating them lately because of my heartburn, which hasn't bothered me today. At the rifle range, they search everyone leaving after shooting to make sure no one is taking a round back to ding the DI the next time he pisses them off. This morning, they found a private with some sugar packets in his pockets, so you KNOW he got severely thrashed. A couple recruits from 1109 got bent after shooting, but not the whole platoon.
I worked some with the PMI on my sitting position, but I still think it isn't very good. I tried lots of variations, including left-handed, but it just doesn't gel. I also tried the kneeling position left-handed, so I could sit all the way down on my good ankle, but it didn't seem a lot steadier. It was surprisingly UN-awkward, though.
We will be going out for the PT run soon. It gets harder all the time to find a chance to keep up with my diary. I've got a painful tendon on the back of my right leg. This morning, it was considerably worse. Now, it's not so bad. I'll have to try to get some good stretching before we run. I wonder how Smith will do carrying the guidon. He's only 5'3" or 5'4". Sommers used to drop out on long or hot runs, and he's over 6' tall. Smith is a tough little character, though. He's going for Recon for the same reasons as me. Since he did 97 situps and 20 pullups the other night, and I know he scored high on the ASVAB, I'm sure he's got it made. He told me the other night that he's trying to transfer to reserve status. He's the only one from this platoon who was called back for another interview regarding those top secret jobs. He really wanted the Presidential Support job, but the minimum height for that is 5'8". He's considering the Signal Intelligence and intelligence fields now. I like him. Like I told him before lunch, after he was made squad leader, I figured he had the best chance of anyone besides me to end up as guide. Now that he's in, I'm sure he'll stay in. Well, if it can't or won't be me, then it SHOULD be him.
Well, more shit has come down. It's now after chow. The run was great! It was 4 or 5 miles down to the beach, along it, and back. We sang all the way, and everyone was highly motivated. There was no bickering at all. Then we did situps and pullups. I wasn't even breathing hard at the end of the run, and I felt great. I did about 25 situps, then the DIs called a false start because they wanted the whole company to do them together at once. When we restarted, I still did 65, so that's improving. Then I did 7 pullups, so I am getting somewhere. I just need to keep working hard. It was very motivating to see all the recruits in today's run. Both series in the company ran together, so it was a solid column 4 people wide and about 650 people long. The front line of our platoon passed the guidon back and forth through the entire platoon.
Then, after showers, we had cleanup. During cleanup, DeCluette said he was the new 4th squad leader because Johnson, AB had to go to sickbay. Earlier, at the range, he had claimed he was a squad leader, which is why I mentioned him earlier. Then when we marched off, he was not at the head of the formation, so I knew he was lying. I told Johnson, who didn't know anything about DeCluette getting his job, that DeCluette had earlier claimed he was the new 4th squad leader, and that I doubted if any DIs knew he was squad leader. I meant to ask Sgt Morris, but I didn't get around to it. Then we had a rifle cleaning session before chow, and Sgt Morris asked Johnson why he wasn't at the front. Johnson told him it was because DeCluette had told Johnson that Sgt Morris replaced Johnson with DeCluette. That certainly raised Sgt Morris' eyebrows. He questioned DeCluette about it, but, incredibly, did nothing about it, and left DeCluette in place as squad leader. DeCluette is a little Hitler, constantly screaming insanely at everyone. He screamed at me for looking at him while Sgt Morris was questioning him. Squad Leader #2, Johnson MA, was fired this morning. He's already been screamed at a couple times for being a dodo with no bearing. Around supper, I felt really bummed about yet another dildo being put in as squad leader, and me being bypassed again. Plus I can't believe that DeCluette got away with such a dirty trick, even though I was opposed to Johnson, AB as a squad leader. My first temptation was to just say to hell with trying so hard and just coast along through the rest of boot camp, just keeping my nose clean and maintaining a low profile. But I refuse to allow myself to do that. Like they say' "Stay motivated, private!"
Sommers, the ex-guide, has lost a lot of motivation. He's just another 4th squad member now, and he spent the entire cleanup time just standing around and talking. Johnson, AB, ex- 4th squad leader, took his screw-over very well. He says he's confident he'll get it back. Now that he's no longer a squad leader, I don't have a problem with him abusing his position, and we get along fine. We had another mail call tonight. As usual, it's the customary few who get most of the mail. Christianson usually gets several each day, as do Davis, Smith, and several others. Christianson is usually last at everything; walking around looking scared and bewildered. I can just picture him and Cook together on the live grenade course! I hope I'm nowhere around!
SAT 11/1 T-25
After breakfast, we went to Range B and got our target and relay assignments. Then we went down to the butts (trenches under the targets where they raise, lower, and mark the targets) for a butts operation class. There's a long tunnel going down the firing line, then the butts is a big pit behind the targets. The targets are run up on racks on one side of the pit and the bullets impact on the bank on the other side of the pit. It's a beautiful, warm, sunny day, although it's kind of hot in sweatshirts and shooting jackets. Each relay for next week's shooting will run the butts while another relay is shooting. The only bozo on my target is Brown, but he's third relay, so I don't think he'll be putting up my targets. Starting first thing Monday morning (we'll be getting up even earlier), we start firing all morning each day. My knees, especially the left one, seem to be getting stiffer all the time from all the cross-legged sitting. After I sit cross-legged awhile (that's how we ALWAYS have to sit, with the left leg over the right), my leg is so stiff, I can hardly straighten it.
After lunch, we had rifle COD. We worked on "stack arms". Sgt Orlovsky was getting himself worked up over people's screwups. Then Mr. Screw-up Herman decided to scratch his face right in front in 1st squad, and Sgt Orlovsky went off the deep end. He immediately ended COD and herded us quickly back to the house. Everyone knew that what was coming next wasn't going to be fun. We all got on line, then he made us do rifle thrusts for about 5 minutes. I figured we'd get it a lot worse than that. Some recruits were breathing quite hard, but not me. My arms were starting to get rather tired, though. Then he told us to sit down and do rifle cleanup, so I tore my rifle down and re-cleaned and re-lubed it. Our PMI mentioned today that ITS (Infantry Training School, where the "grunts" go after boot camp for more training) is more physical and less mental than boot camp. So I guess at ITS I'll be getting plenty of good exercise.
After the butts class this morning, the PMI took us to the 200m, 300m, and 500 meter firing lines so we could see what the targets look like at that distance. I liked what I saw. I had been concerned about being barely able to see the targets, especially at 500 meters, but they're plenty big enough. All I need to do is concentrate on the fundamentals. Last Friday, I heard that someone at Parris Island set a new range record for recruits; a 245 out of 250. That's 50 shots at 5 points each. I'll be trying as hard as I possibly can for a 250. The PMI said he's give his DI hat and a night on the town to anyone who can do it. We shall see. It's really a very nice day out.
After cleaning the rifles, we went out and did some snapping in. I'm finally able to get the rifle pointed at the target and my head behind the sights in the sitting position, but it still isn't especially steady, I don't have much of a relaxed natural point of aim.
When we went out to have COD, Sgt Orlovsky said we could blouse our trousers and unbutton our shirts, after 2 days of looking like first phase privates. When he had gotten mad at us during COD, he made us dress up like we were still in first phase. When we went dinner, he let us try getting it right one more time. Then, right there in formation, Johnson MA was at attention with his arms hanging down in front like an ape. Sgt Orlovsky screamed about that awhile, saying (rightfully so) that was what he was so mad about; stuff we learned in the first day of boot camp.
There's much less chance to write in formation now because there's so much pressure to get everyone locked up (properly standing at attention in formation). At least that has improved a lot. The platoon is getting much better disciplined now. The guide and squad leaders have turned into high pressure screamers. The level and intensity of the screaming has increased gradually. But it's still the same old problem: they scream a lot, but never DO anything about it. If I was running it, I'd just tell them once what to do. Then, anyone talking or scratching would soon be bending.
After chow, half the platoon went off to some gospel music thing, so I'm sitting back in the squad bay, catching up on this diary and other stuff like shining boots and miscellaneous squaring away of my gear.
SUN 11/2 T-26
After everyone returned last night, we had some more square-away time, then free time. I worked on pulldown weights with Velasquez and Gruell, so I didn't have time for a shower, just a quick shave. After inspection, we had cleanup, then it happened.
Smith started screaming like a maniac for us to secure (end) cleanup, and get into the racks. This change in the routine was strange, because we always have a little "getting into the racks" ceremony. There was a lot of hubub, confusion, and talking. Finally, everyone was in the racks. Then Sgt Orlovsky came out and told us he was fed up with us thinking this is a big lark, and that we have no discipline and no interest in training or improvement. He said we were the most disgusting, undisciplined bunch of turds he had ever been stuck with. He said he no longer had any interest in trying to train and improve us. He said he didn't give a shit what we did or didn't do. He said he'd herd us to and from chow, and that was all he'd bother to do. No one made a sound. It was deathly still. We all just laid on top of the racks at attention, awaiting the command to get under the covers. The lights were secured (turned out), and Sgt Orlovsky went into the duty hut. Finally, Smith yelled out for everyone to get under the covers.
This morning, it was eerie. The Drill Instructor was given his wakeup call starting one hour before the recruits were to get up, as is customary. Sgt Orlovsky wouldn't answer his call, so every 5 minutes from 0500 to 0600 (we get to sleep in late on Sundays), the firewatch banged on his hatch (door) and announced the time. Then the lights came on at 0600, and still no sign of Sgt Orlovsky or any other DIs. Everyone was very quiet and well disciplined for a change. We got dressed, made the racks, and got into formation for chow. It was a beautiful morning. After we were in formation, Sgt Orlovsky came out. He wouldn't march us or give us any commands, so we just marched off by ourselves and back by ourselves, with him just strolling along beside us. It was all so very eerie!
However, the self-discipline being exercised is very nice for a change. It won't last, though. It never does. We get a big pep talk & the recruits start acting rather motivated and disciplined for awhile, then it's back to the usual lack of personal discipline. Hopefully, this time it may have some residual effect. In fact, I just walked down the squadbay to tell Herrera, Jalomo, and Bernal to stop talking. I walked back to my rack, and they're back at it again already!
Sgt Orlovsky stressed last night that this is serious stuff; it isn't some kiddie game. All this leaves me feeling kind of down. I want to be guide for my own selfish reasons, but also because I know I have a lot of experience and leadership to offer the platoon. The platoon is losing out on some good leadership and guidance that I could provide. I don't have to be told that this is serious business. I understand it; I came here knowing it. That's why I am here. A lot of these kids think this is fun & games. I've fully understood since day 1 the seriousness of purpose of all this, but I haven't had much opportunity to convey that to the others. I've wanted so much to help the others realize the seriousness of our mission, and to help them understand and achieve self-discipline, because that the only kind of discipline that means anything. "Discipline" that they pretend to exercise while they're being watched over or screamed at to behave is not discipline. They have to learn to do it on their own. I'm bummed because if I had been a squad leader, or especially the guide, I could have been stressing that sort of stuff weeks ago. In my opinion, the platoon would now have a lot more self-discipline if I’d been guide. A couple recruits have already come up to me and said what an empty feeling it is to be "dumped" by your DI. I feel bad because I think the platoon would be a lot better and tighter and further along than the other platoons if I had been allowed to put what I have to work for the platoon. Maybe part of it's my fault for not just pushing it out on them more aggressively, even though I don't have any authority or backing.
Well, sure enough, as I've been writing this, the noise level has been steadily rising. I went back and told Walker and Clark to stop talking, and DeCluette told me to shut up and mind my own business. Now DeCluette, Mr. Power Mad Hitler Squad Leader, is back there shooting the breeze with Steelman. This is so very frustrating for me, because we must always obey whatever the squad leaders say. Since I take pride in my self-discipline, I do it, period. It's not quite as bad as when Johnson, AB was a squad leader, but it still sucks. It really takes a lot of motivation and effort to keep caring and trying. For myself, I can rather easily just continue to keep my own act straight and concentrate on doing well personally, and just tune it out when I get thrashed with the platoon for some other idiot's screwup. It just bums me out knowing that I can help the platoon so much, especially in terms of setting a good example, self-discipline, and guidance, and I'm not allowed to. I'm so over-qualified for the job! If they're just "testing" me, how long are they going to wait? I don't get it. I'm tired of all the frustration, though. For the last week, I've been up and down, mostly down, on trying to help the platoon. I hardly ever say anything to anyone any more. In fact, I think today was probably the first time I did all week, and I immediately got told by a squad leader to shut up.
Sgt Groomes has come in now, so I think he's on duty for the rest of the day. No one has seen any sign of Sgt Orlovsky since he walked back from morning chow with us. I'm going to have a long talk (at least until he throws me out of the duty hut) with Sgt Groomes about all the things that have been going on. Johnson, AB just went up and asked to speak to Sgt Groomes in private. I imagine he wants to complain about the cheap way he was shafted out of his job. I definitely didn't approve of him as a squad leader, because he set such a poor example, but I'm on his side as far as losing his job to DeCluette is concerned.
I did my laundry, sewed some buttons on my shooting jacket, polished my boots, and mostly wrote in my diary and looked around and meditated on things this morning. I can see lines forming at the chow hall, so it must be getting around time to go back there for another feeding. Last night's supper really sucked! The other line got half a chicken (a small one), but my line got some raunchy meatballs. I ate my pear last night during free time. It was great! Well, we're going to chow now.
After chow, we had COD for an hour or so. At the end we got bent awhile because stupid Evans kept screwing up right in front of Sgt Groomes. Then we spent the rest of the day doing a major field day in preparation for a big inspection tomorrow. Tomorrow's the first day on the range! During the field day, I was cleaning the wash rack with a brush and stuck a needle about half an inch up under my fingernail. It hurt a lot, plus I was concerned about infection from such a scummy place. There was no alcohol around, so I soaked it in Listerine. It doesn't hurt too much now.
It’s been weird weather this afternoon; sunny, but very heavy fog rolling in from the ocean. It was so heavy I could see the water droplets flying by just like it was raining. Later in the day, it was just foggy, with no sun.
We did the field day until chow time. We didn't have any PT games today. We had no remedial PT yesterday or Friday. Too bad. After chow, we had showers. Our head and rain room (showers) were sealed off after field day for the inspection tomorrow. So we all paraded off in our shower shoes for a very rapid shave, brush teeth, and shower in another barracks. We had 4 minutes to shave and four minutes to shower for 80 recruits. I was the last one out of the shower, because I was the only one who took the responsibility to shut off all the showers that everyone else had left on. Sgt Groomes was at 1 or 0 on his countdown as I raced to my clothes, so, soaking wet, I grabbed my clothes in my arms and put my towel around me, and got into formation. Then we took off back to the house. We hadn't gone very far and the towel fell off, so I was walking along bare- assed with the towel and all my clothes bunched up in my arms. Some of the recruits started laughing because most of the others had their clothes on. Johnson and DeCluette were screaming at everyone to shut up. Those two are another story unto themselves. Both are loud, crude, power-mad screamers.
Then we had a BRIEF free time, then ANOTHER cleanup before hitting the rack. During COD this afternoon, Abrams was screwing up, so he got fired. I knew he wouldn't last very long. He's much too casual and laid-back. He was 1st squad leader, so the other three squad leaders shifted over one squad to the left and Johnson, who had slipped himself in right behind DeCluette, moved up one space to retake the 4th squad leadership position. Johnson, AB and I seem to be getting along better, though. With all these new jerks as squad leaders, constantly screaming at everyone to hurry up, shut up, look straight ahead, move, don't move, etc, whether there's a need for it or not, I feel less like doing it than when it was only my own self discipline telling me to do the same things. It's after lights out now, and we have to get up at 0400 tomorrow to hit the range, so I gotta crash.
MON 11/3 T-27
We were up at 0400 and went straight to breakfast. It was still dark after breakfast. We marched over to the range. It was an absolutely beautiful sunrise. I was on the 6th relay, so I didn't fire at first, or have to work the butts (raise, lower, and mark the targets as they are fired upon). Instead, I was sent on a work detail to the target factory with a group of others on 6th relay until our turn to fire came up. I tore down targets for awhile, then my job was to lay a little stick of wood on each target as two other recruits laid a new target on the blocks. This was to air them until the glue dried.
I didn't shoot very well. The 300 meter rapid fire was the only one where I got all my rounds in the black. Being on the 6th (last) relay, my relay gets the maximum wind to deal with. It was noon by the time we were all finished. Eight hours of very busy activity before lunch!
After lunch, we had a review of our shooting, shot recording, and range operations by our coaches. Then we were marched down to the pistol range for an introductory class on the M1911A1 .45 cal pistol, followed by an introductory firing of the weapon. First we dry fired it, then we fired one round, then 4 more rounds in single fire mode, then a magazine of 5 rounds, then another. Each shooter had his own coach/keeper, who kept one arm around the shooter and the other one hovered just behind the pistol, to make sure none of the spastic bozos got out of hand.
It was cloudy with a moderate breeze in the afternoon. So, it's been a busy and interesting day. The guide and squad leaders have FINALLY gotten up enough nerve to start taking recruits' names for screwing off. So, after pistol shooting, while waiting for the rest of the platoon to finish shooting the pistol, Sgt Morris was bending a group of recruits whose names were turned in to him by the squad leaders. I went up to Sgt Morris, requested permission to speak to the Drill Instructor, and told him Sgt Groomes had said I could bend with them for remedial PT if I wanted to. As expected, he told me to get the hell away from him, so I did.
Then we had rifle cleaning until supper time. As we went to chow, and as we came from it after eating, I had a deep appreciation for the fantastically beautiful bright pink sunset. It started off as a bright, but localized, sunset. Then it grew until the whole sky for 360 degrees was all pink clouds. It was very nice. Too bad I didn't get to see it more thoroughly (while I was in the chow hall).
After chow, we had a review in the classroom of today's shooting, followed by remedial PT. I did 64 situps and 7 pullups on the first series of repetitions and 62/4 on the second set. My shoulders need a lot of work. I also did some pushups which were very difficult. Now I really regret not doing situps and pushups on my bicycle trip, as I had originally planned. I guess it's because the first part of the ride was so difficult, it was all I could do just to do the pedaling. Later on, I could have stopped and done some every 10 miles or so, but when I'm bicycling and on a roll, I hate to stop and break the momentum. I would do a lot better on the PFT now if I had stopped and done them, though.
There was no mail call tonight. We had free time right after PT. I had planned to talk to Sgt Groomes about making me the guide during free time tonight. Unfortunately, as soon as free time started, another Senior DI came in and Sgt Groomes left with him. He didn't come back until a few minutes before inspection, which is NO time to go up and request permission to speak to the Senior DI. At the inspection, my shave didn't pass. I did a sloppy job under my chin. I'll try to approach Sgt Groomes tomorrow about the guide billet. Otherwise, I'll definitely do it next time he's on duty during free time. If I try to approach him about something personal like that during any of our training time, I'll just get screamed at and bent for bringing it up on "his time". My cough is better tonight. The night before last, I coughed a LOT. Last night, I coughed for awhile. Tonight, when I laid down, I haven't been coughing. Many of the other recruits have coughs, too. Lights were out at 2000 (8PM), and 0400 comes very early, so good night!
TUE 11/4 T-28
I coughed quite a bit last night after I went to sleep. After awhile, it subsided. It's still dark out and just beginning to get slightly light when we arrived at the range.
I went back to the target factory while waiting for the time for my relay to come up. I worked on making target frames for awhile, then I was placed in charge of a group putting cheesecloth on the frames. The two Corporals who work there talked with me at length yesterday. They were quite amazed by me and what I'm doing. One of them commutes from Placentia every day, which is about 75 miles!
Shooting is over now. I shot rather well today. The positions finally fell into place and worked OK. Right now, we are all expecting to get thrashed. No one was pulling together after shooting, and Sgt Orlovsky was getting more and more pissed off. So we're all expecting a major thrashing in the dirt after lunch. Anyway, the positions worked well for me, and I had the procedures down better than yesterday, so it was all smoother and less frantic.
OOOH SHIT! Did we ever get it!!! The platoon wasn't sounding off and, particularly, some bozos in first squad were screwing up column turns. On the way back from chow, Sgt Morris got mad because many of the recruits weren't putting any effort into it. After chow, everyone knew what was coming, and they STILL didn't put any effort into what we were doing. So Sgt Morris herded us heel-to-toe back to the house. UNREAL!! I had sort of expected the "human tornado", but it was a lot worse than I expected. Every single thing in the place was torn up! Every rack was tipped over and broken apart, mattresses and blankets scattered, boots and shoe displays all in a big pile in the classroom. Sgt Orlovsky had taken several boxes of foot powder and dumped them all over the squadbay. There were trash cans dumped and spread all over. All the footlockers were tipped over and scattered. The platoon was getting rather panicky and Sgt Orlovsky was screaming at us. He herded us to and from the head until he decided we were doing it fast enough and sounding off loud enough. Then he said we had 15 minutes to get it 100% squared away. We just grabbed any set of foot gear to remake the shoe displays. We quickly reassembled the racks and remade them. 15 minutes later, it looked rather normal.
Then the PMI gave us a review of the morning's shooting, so that was a sudden change of pace. That's where I am now. Who knows what will happen when this review is over. Platoon 1111 above us got the human tornado last week because the firewatches forgot to wake their DI up in the morning. The DIs are supposed to be woken one hour before the privates. I guess we'll have to get the shoes, boots, and shower shoes straightened out later.
After the shooting review, we went outside for snapping in. The sun was getting low and finally setting while we were doing that. It was surprising how fast the afternoon went! I guess our minds were well occupied! In the snapping in session, I got my positions pretty well squared away. I feel good about them for a change. I tried a little different offhand position and found it to be quite steady. My left arm hooks on some stuff in my jacket pocket, and the rifle almost lays there balanced in my left hand. We'll see how it works with live ammo.
In the PMI's review, he said we're the best shooting platoon he's ever had. Actually, he probably says that to each platoon he has. He said all we need to do is settle our nerves down, which I know is happening with me. The first day was rush rush rush, filled with confusion and uncertainty, and I think I was looking at the target too much. Now it's getting more routine every day, and I just focus on that front sight tip, get some fuzzy black behind it, and ease the round off. I had some saved (unfired due to insufficient time) rounds today, but there were less than I had yesterday. Tomorrow, I'll have to make sure I don't have any. The key is getting into a good position immediately.
After lunch, before Sgt Morris brought us back to the house, we had a shakedown inspection in the formation outside the chowhall. He was looking for crackers. We all had to empty our pockets into our covers and get patted down by the squad leaders. At supper, a deck private (recruit on mess duty) said he saw someone take some crackers, so we had another inspection, but it was less thorough than at lunch. Again, none were found. They're really cracking down on that. I honestly don't understand what the interest is in dry old soup crackers. If they were making us eat them, they'd have to have inspections to make sure everyone HAD their crackers, and everyone would be conniving ways of getting rid of theirs.
After the shooting review, it was just Sgt Groomes on duty. That's how it was yesterday, too. I still didn't get to talk to him. By the time I decided what I'd say and I'd shaved (no time for a shower), we only had a couple minutes before hygiene inspection. I have GOT to make time to talk to him.
After dinner tonight, which we were late to because Sgt Groomes had us make racks then tear them up several times, we did a quick rifle cleaning. It was dark going to chow. We made racks after snapping in. We took too long, though. I know I was, and I think others were too, taking a little extra time to do a really nice job. So he made us tear them down, then run to the back and hold up a fitted sheet, then run to the front and hold up a blanket, then run to the back and hold up a flat sheet, and on and on. So, in a few minutes, all the sheets, blankets, and pillows were totally scattered all over the squadbay. Then we had 4 minutes of perfect silence in which to get them ALL made COMPLETELY. We nearly made it, then he gave us an extra 60 seconds and we finished the job. I ended up with a different mattress and some ratty torn linen. At the start of the snapping in session, first the guide, then the squad leaders were bent quite a while in the pit. Then they called up everyone whose names had been turned in. Lots of deserving zeros like Johnson, MA and Anderson, AL were bent.
Oh, also at the target factory, I heard rumors that some Senior DI said we may get out of boot camp a few days early due to Christmas. We'll see. A lot of people are saying it. Personally, I doubt it. If so, I hope they let us know early, so we can let our friends and relatives know when graduation will be. At mail call, I got a letter from Mom. I was ticked at still not getting a letter from my wife. People like Smith, Barrett, Davis, Regalado, etc got their usual half dozen letters.
I'm on firewatch now, recapping the day's events. I'm on my usual 1130-1230 time slot, the worst possible for me, as I'm just falling asleep when i have to get up. Regalado takes someone's firewatch nearly every night. I don't know if it's to kiss up to Sgt Groomes, or to get stuff done. Tonight, he took the first watch, and you can't get anything done then (like writing this), because the DI doesn't hit the rack until an hour after lights out.
Today's been quite the fun and games day. Apparently so for the other platoons, also. When the guide and squad leaders were bent, the guide and squad leaders from another platoon were just finishing up their "fun in the pit". Then, after they were bent in the pit quite a while, they were sent into the classroom to bend some more to make room in the pit for the guide and squad leaders from YET ANOTHER platoon. I've never bent in the pit. I've only bent once here anyway, and that was for having a pocket unbuttoned, which no one else has ever been bent for before or since. The "sandbox" here is much smaller than the ones back at MCRD, so they can only bend a few people at a time in it. I really don't care to "go play in the sandbox", either. Thrashing and getting sweaty is one thing, but getting sweaty AND covered with sand is quite another. Well, I've used up more than my firewatch catching up on my diary notes, so I have to hurry up and shine my boots and hit the rack.
WED 11/5 T-29
This morning, I was so tired I never even heard the DI calls. The first thing I knew of was reveille sounding. Usually, the DI calls wake me up, so I must have been really zonked. I'm getting low on knowledge book paper again, so maybe I can borrow a few pages here and there, and keep my supply maintained. Most of these recruits certainly don't use them for class notes.
THU 11/6 T-30
It was a VERY busy day yesterday. I'll try to recap.
After breakfast, I went to work the butts, instead of going to the target factory. It was very hectic. I worked a target with Clark. He was overly hyper about it, being more concerned with getting the target back up quickly than with getting all the holes pasted over. Then, I shot quite well. Things are improving. I only dropped 13 points out of 250, so my expert badge is in the bag. My goal is to hit that magic perfect 250! I'll be a hero if I do, probably even if I get very close to a 250.
After chow, we had our shooting review by the coaches. We did some snapping in and rifle cleaning. I got some mail at mail call! I got 2 letters from Brenda, one from Mom, and a big one full of all sorts of goodies from my wife. Working the butts was a different experience. I had figured that the bullets themselves would make noise as they passed overhead, as they are well over supersonic, but someone had said they don't make any noise. Well, they sure do! They make a loud SNAP!! as they pass overhead, then a little SPLAT when they hit the sand bank on the other side of the butts.
Today is pre-qual day, and tomorrow is the biggie. Today is like a dress rehearsal for tomorrow. We had a class yesterday on all the additional procedures for recording accurate scores on Thursday and Friday. If we are prevented from shooting on Friday for some reason, our scores from today will be our official scores. I meant to stay up late last night and catch up on my writing, but there was no time. I didn't even have time to thoroughly read my letters. I got some nice pictures of my dog, BC, in the letter from my wife. Several people looked at them and admired him. Jackson asked for one of the pictures. The squad leaders are finally starting to turn in names of the goof-offs, so there has been quite a bit of pit bending going on. Thrashing is just another way of referring to bending. Actually, BEND is just one fun exercise of many in the thrashing process, although we used to refer to thrashing in general as bending. "Bend" is stand up straight, squat, hands on the deck, kick the legs straight back to the upper pushup position (leaning rest), back to a squat, then back to upright. It is used to correct such highly undesirable behavior as the use of first person or second person words like "I", "you", "me", "my", or talking, moving, etc.
Well, it's square-away time again, and I haven't had a chance to write anything more all day. I can't write in formation any more because of the increased emphasis on discipline and being "locked up", which is good for a change. Back at MCRD, there was more emphasis on learning the knowledge they were teaching us, so I could stand in formation and write while I pretended to be studying my knowledge. Here the emphasis is on shooting skills, so there's no need to be "studying" knowledge in formation.
In the last few days, the platoon has come a long way. At dinner chow, everyone was doing especially well. I worked in the butts this morning, then did my shooting. I had a rather poor start, especially on the first relay at 200 meters. I put the first 5 rounds all in around 6 o'clock, and didn't think to make a dope (sight settings) change. So, I dropped a lot of points there. I had several 4s, a 3, and possibly even a 2. After that, I buckled down and shot fairly well the rest of the day. I ended up with a 229, which the PMI said was the highest score he'd seen today. Later, in talking with the other recruits about scores, it was the highest, until I ran into Smith. He said he shot a 231 today and a 238 yesterday. So, I've really got my work cut out for me to come out as the top shooter tomorrow. I just have to RELAX and CONCENTRATE on the fundamentals, and I'll come out of it as the top shooter. Being top shooter is a great honor. To me, it's the greatest honor here. I can shoot all bullseyes. I certainly have the capability. I just have to apply myself fully and smoothly.
Then we had lunch and weapons maintenance, followed by coach and PMI reviews. Basically, they said all the things I just said here. The PMI says we're clearly the best shooting platoon here. The platoon who takes the range gets its choice of mess or maintenance duty. I've already heard we have maintenance anyway, which is fabulous. It's 8 hour days vs 16-18 hour days on mess duty.
Sgt Orlovsky was on duty all afternoon, so everyone has been acting rather straight, to avoid his wrath. One thing that makes my shooting a little trickier is the wind. It builds as the day goes on, which is why we get up so early and get on the range ready to fire as soon as it gets light enough. By the time I get around to shoot on the 6th (last) relay, it's a definite factor, and by the time I'm back to the 500 meter line, I've got 5 or 6 clicks of additional windage dialed into the rifle to compensate. I got 9 fives and a four from the 500m today. The last one was squeezed off fast because I heard the control guy key his mike, and I thought he was about to call "cease fire". He didn't. All my rapid fire shots were fives. It's funny; I get my saved rounds on the slow fire relays, rather than the rapid fire ones. On the 200 this morning, I nearly ran out of time. Later, though, I found out they've been giving us short slow fire times all week, so tomorrow it should be better. There's been plenty of bending going on. The squad leaders are finally under lots of pressure to turn in names or bend themselves.
FRI 11/7 T-31
I wanted to write more last night, but I fell asleep before I could. Last night, we took everything out of our footlockers, and stuffed it all into our seabags in preparation for today's departure for RFTD, Recruit Field Training Detachment. It's somewhere else here on Camp Pendleton. I got a letter last night from Rusty.
This morning, we were all frantically trying to stuff all our sheets and blankets into our already full seabags, with Sgt Orlovsky screaming at us that if we weren't done soon, they'd all be dumped out into one big pile. I finally got mine partially closed, and I took off with it, running out to the parking lot. When I returned, there were still many clowns who still hadn't even left the squadbay yet, so Sgt Orlovsky was really fired up about that.
Whew! What a day it's been! I'm at RFTD now. Shooting went quite well. I dropped 14 points for a 136 - a very high expert. Sgt Orlovsky said the butts scored me a 131, so there's still some controversy over what I'll end up with. At 136, I'm platoon high shooter, which is a great honor. At 131, I'm tied for second with Sommers, behind Smith at 132.
Later, I was talking to Stenvoldt, and he said he was in the butts on my target. He told me the verifier in the butts had said, after firing began, that my first shot (a 5) was to be thrown out (for no apparent reason), and that I had to reshoot it. Fine, except neither he nor any of the idiots running the show bothered to tell me or my coach. I do remember there was a very long delay in getting my target back up after my first shot. I tried to talk to Sgt Groomes about it before we got on the cattle car to go to RFTD, but he just screamed at me to shut up and get away from him. I'm afraid that if it isn't straightened out right away, right here, it never will be. Once the final official score is posted, I'll go see him about it again if it's a 131. If he gives me a hard time about it, I'll go to the Commanding Officer. They can fuck me out of the guide billet, but no one is going to take my High Shooter from me without a big fight. Working the butts this morning went fast, then I shot. These "verifiers" they drag up out of somewhere are about useless. They're there to verify each recruit's scoring of the other recruits' shooting. When I was in the butts, the one we had, a Staff Sergeant, was such an ignorant bozo that I had to explain to HIM that a shot outside the ring which cracked the edge of the ring is counted as being inside the ring. He wasn't sure. And he's there to verify us!?! Who knows what the idiot in the butts, who decided without telling anyone that my first shot didn't count for some reason, was thinking when he came up with that flash of inspiration. My shooting went really well. I shot all fives, except 14 fours, which were very tight fours (nearly fives). I sure wish some of those fours had been fives, but I am pleased with how I shot; no stupid screwups.
Recruit Field Training Detachment
FRI 11/7 T-31
After the shooting was over, we got chow, then we were packed standing room only into cattle cars and driven about 10-15 miles to somewhere in the hills of Camp Pendleton to begin RFTD. We had chow shortly after getting here. It was a nice chow hall. There were numerous SWAT cops running around, so I guess they must train here, too.
After chow, we had 4 minutes to make our racks from scratch. Jackson and I got his made (bottom rack first) and about half of mine done. Now I'm in a class on introduction to the field equipment we'll be issued. I'm already very familiar with most of it. They're still issuing the canvas shelter halves we used to use in the Boy Scouts when I was a kid! In fact, I think I still have a couple of them up overhead in the garage at home. The instructor is introducing an entrenching tool (folding shovel) just like the one I have at home. Our new "house" is very big and complicated, with several floors and halls going every which way in a big maze. The armory is off down one hall somewhere. The showers are somewhere else, the duty hut is in another place. In our previous barracks, everything was centralized, and each platoon had its own showers, armory, classroom, etc. The classroom is an unused squadbay. Here, there are many platoons scattered all over the building, with common facilities. I'm sure I'll soon figure out where everything is. It's harder to keep track of where everything is and where we're going when there are constantly DIs, squad leaders, and the guide behind us screaming at us to hurry up. The squadbays are huge, with no footlockers, so I guess we'll be living out of our seabags while we're here. We spend several days out of our week here living out in the field, "camping out".
I'm sure the DIs, especially Sgt Orlovsky, will make sure the "camping" isn't too much fun for any of us. After chow, Sgt Orlovsky was pissed off about something, so we had to button our top buttons and unblouse our trousers, and run around looking like First Phase recruits. I hope I can find some more knowledge book paper soon. Last night, I asked around to borrow some, and no one had any; everyone has used theirs up, mostly on letters. The Marine giving the class I'm in now is a GySgt who was in Viet Nam. He's the first Marine I've seen who was there. ITS (Infantry Training School) is also here somewhere, so I'll be coming back here after I graduate, unless maybe there are other ITS centers around Camp Pendleton. The chow hall here even has a mechanized feed belt to the scullery (dish washing area). We just throw the papers in the trash, set the tray down on the belt, and walk away. WTB (Weapons Training Battalion at the Edson Range) was worse than MCRD, because there we also had to scrape our trays off as we left the chow hall, usually with someone screaming at us to hurry up. Silverware, cups, and bowls had to be separated at both places. There's lots more types of people here, too. MCRD is just recruits in receiving, First Phase privates, Third Phase privates, and DIs. WTB is just Second Phase range recruits and PMIs. Here, there are recruits, ITS students, permanent Marines, DIs, ITS Instructors, SWAT cops, and who knows what else. I wonder what time we'll be hitting the rack and getting reveille here. It'll probably be the same as it was at MCRD.
They just called a break in the class I'm in so everyone can make a head call (go to the bathroom). That's one thing they're amazingly considerate about at boot camp. We can request permission to make a head call almost anytime. And they give scheduled head calls frequently, too. After each meal or class, the DIs will stop by the house or a head so everyone can make a head call. They have organized head calls so often that half the time (like now), I don't bother. One thing that's funny is how often I have to go during the night. About 50% of the time, I wake up in the middle of the night and have to go REAL bad. I remember toward the end of my bicycle trip, even if I went just before going to bed, I'd still get up in the middle of the night having to go so bad I could hardly stand up.
OOOH! Uh oh! I just realized that none of our DIs are here in the classroom watching us. They are ALWAYS watching over us. If they're not here, I fear they may be up in the squadbay, going nuts. I also just remembered that I didn't lock my seabag when we came down here. If they're up in the squadbay checking everything and find my seabag unlocked, all my stuff is likely to be scattered all over. I can just picture Sgt Orlovsky up there now, dumping everyone's seabags and spreading the gear all around. The day he did his famous "human tornado", my footlocker was unlocked! I'm lucky he didn't notice it, or I'd probably still be picking up the scattered gear and thrashing for it. I don't always lock it, so I can save time when I have to get gear out of it. I just set it with the shackles slightly in the body, so it looks like it is locked. We are always putting gear in and taking gear out, at a frantic pace.
I recently heard that Platoon 1109, our platoon, took the range! If we did, maybe Sgt Groomes will let us have a phone call! I won't count on it, though. There's a BIG steep hill overlooking where we are now. I wonder if that's the famous "Mount MotherFucker" that we have to hump our packs over. We've all heard about it. I'm sure we'll find out soon enough. No one went UNQ (failed to qualify with the M16A2 rifle) that I know of; everyone still seems to be with us. The DI teaching this class (now we're having one on field sanitation) has many interesting Viet Nam experiences he relates to in conjunction with his class. An especially mean looking DI keeps walking up and down the aisles, looking for recruits who are writing letters (not me - ha!), drawing pictures, or taking a nap.
SAT 11/8 T-32
Last night, I talked to Sgt Groomes about my shooting score mixup. He seemed to be in a particularly good mood. He said he'd see what he could do about straightening out my score.
This morning, after cleanup, we have the dreaded GAS CHAMBER. I'm not too worried about it, but some of these recruits sure are. We had mail call last night, but nothing for me. Sgt Groomes said we scored LAST (again) at the range, and we dropped 5 UNQs. Vanaman was one and Flores was another. I hadn't even missed them. We left the UNQs back at the range. They have to keep trying until they can at least score a minimum passing score. I hear the DIs there make things VERY unpleasant for the UNQs, so they'll be very anxious to qualify and get out of there.
Reveille was at 0530 today. I'm in an NBC (Nuclear, Biological, & Chemical) Defense class now. I'll soon have to figure out where a mail box is here. I haven't seen any. Sgt Groomes said we leave Monday morning for our little "camping and hiking trip", and return on Thursday. Today and tomorrow will be spent getting our equipment for the trip and taking classes on how to use it and how to live in the field. It should be a very interesting week. This sort of stuff is why I joined the Corps. It's a gray overcast day.
Yesterday was cold, gray, and overcast with a wind, contrasting with the sunny, wind-free days we had all week. The change in weather had an adverse effect on some recruits' shooting scores, as did poor butts service. If the people in the butts don't get the targets back up quickly, the shooter has to sit there and frantically wait. They were supposed to have one recruit from our platoon and one from another platoon on each of our targets, but many of us had two recruits from another platoon on their target. Naturally, they didn't care at all how slow or poor their butts service was.
The chow hall here is great after getting accustomed to WTB. It's so nice to see plenty of food, and food supplies that get replenished when they run out. It's also neat to see all the ITS students who've recently graduated. I'm proud to be here and soon to be a Marine. Sgt Groomes was in a fairly decent mood this morning. Usually, he's a tiger all day, then he mellows out some in the evening. I hope he doesn't forget to fix my shooting score.
The platoon is becoming increasingly well-disciplined. It's so much better that way. This morning, we were told to just march back to the house from chow by ourselves in groups of 10 or so and get started on the cleanup. We did it without any problems. That's so much better than standing around outside the chowhall, waiting for the entire platoon and the DIs to finish eating before we can head back to the barracks. I think I could have gotten the platoon to this stage of discipline much sooner.
It's sunny and windy now, but still cool - fall weather. Last night, Sgt Groomes was asked if we would be allowed to make a phone call, even though we didn't take the range. He asked if finishing last meant we deserved it, and we replied "NO SIR!" He said maybe we could when we returned from the field if we do well there. It sure would be nice to call home.
I'm really pissed off! Prior to our NBC class, Captain Kelly got up and made a speech about the Marine Corps birthday and staying motivated and using teamwork in the coming week. Then he formally recognized the high shooters, and said Smith was the high shooter for 1109 with a 232. A couple other platoons had 236s, but no one had anything higher. If only I'd gotten one more point (and hadn't been screwed out of my actual score), I'd have gotten the highest score in the entire series.
After NBC class, we got our gas masks, then had a gas mask class. After that, we had some practical application practice and tests of NBC defense and gas mask use. Then we were marched off to the gas chamber. The gas in there (they use CS gas - mace) was so strong, we were feeling the effects while standing in formation about 50 yards away from the chamber. When they opened the door to let more recruits in, a little bit of the gas would escape. Everyone was coughing and sneezing like crazy. Then we got lined up to go in. Many of the recruits were very nervous, and they kept talking about what they should do, and kept checking and rechecking their masks. Christianson was almost pissing his pants, he was so scared! He was shaking all over, and he kept readjusting his mask frantically. I checked his mask for him and reassured him about 10 times that his mask was OK, and that he was going to be all right. Finally, we went in. It was easier than I had expected. I figured we'd have to take the mask off after we got inside, drop it on the floor, and put it back on with our eyes closed. However, all we had to do was pull it up a little, expose our face, reseat and clear it, then stand around awhile, then leave. Some recruits were hollering and moaning, Then we pulled the masks off as we left the chamber. My eyes and nose were burning. I forgot what I was doing and rubbed my eyes with my contaminated hands without thinking about it because my eyes were burning some. That was the wrong thing to do! My eyes were burning so bad after that, it was quite a few minutes before I could see or do anything.
Then we went back to the house, showered with our cammies on, changed out of the contaminated cammies, and had chow. Chow consisted of sitting in the back of the squadbay and eating one of our recently issued MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat). It was my first military field ration. It wasn't too bad. I hope they have a variety of them for our funzo camping trip.
After lunch, we had a class on Introduction to Offensive and Defensive Combat. Then we scurried over to supply and got our 782 gear; combat helmets, ALICE packs, sleeping bags, shelter halves, E tools, etc. Most of the gear is mighty tired! We had a hurried return to the barracks, then chow. After chow, we labeled all the 782 gear we just got, and did some preparatory packing.
I got bent for eating a cookie. It's a big deal to take food out of the chow hall, but I thought it was OK to save part of my MRE. When we were eating them, Sgt Groomes started screaming at us that we were DONE eating, so I didn't have time to eat it then. So I put the half-eaten cookie back in its wrapper and put it in my pocket. Last night, when we were putting gear in our ALICE packs, I noticed the cookie, so I popped it in my mouth and started chewing it as I walked up to the front of the squadbay past Sgt Morris to throw the wrapper away in the trash. I think at first he thought I had taken it out of the chowhall. Anyway, I got bent quite a while for it. Then, I was so tired, I walked back by him back to my gear without saying "By your leave, Sir", so I got thrashed again for that. It was good exercise.
The squad leaders have been talking about how we should buckle down and stay locked and cocked because they'll be needing to choose fire team leaders in the upcoming week, and they'll pick the most locked and cocked ones for that. Big Deal! I've been more locked and cocked since Day 1 than any of them. Johnson, AB (4th squad leader) came up to me and said I'd be good to be in charge of the fresh water. He said I MIGHT even be able to be a fire team leader. Gee whiz, boss; you really think I can handle it? Wowie! I gave him my blankest stare and said nothing.
SUN 11/9 T-33
Right now, I'm doing my laundry. It's a little laundry room, with only about 3 or 4 working washers and 2 working dryers for at least 2 platoons (160 men). It's super hot in here. The washers have no temperature control, and the water is almost boiling, so I hope I don't screw up any of my clothes. I wish I hadn't put my cammies in there. They'll probably come out a boy's size. There are starting to be some conflicts brewing in here as lines back up to use the few working washers and dryers, while some people are trying to dry huge loads of towels. I think my washer's stuck on wash. It's been washing for about an hour. Another washer finished washing, but then it stuck there and wouldn't drain. I should go upstairs and get my stationery and catch up on some correspondence, but I don't want to let my washing out of my sight. I'll probably come back and find that someone has taken my gear out and put his in.
Well, I finally got tired of waiting for the machine washing my clothes, so I figured out how to manually advance the timer inside it, and it's going OK now. The dryers are going very slow, though. I got another washer going for some privates. Most of these kids don't have the slightest idea how a washer works or what it's supposed to do!
I wrote to Mom and Dad. The lunch chow was unreal! We went in and waited about 45 minutes to get through the line. The line would go ahead a little, then stop for 5 or 10 minutes. Other meals here have been similar, but nowhere near the extent that lunch was. After all that, it was just some lousy cheeseburgers and cookies. They were out of beans. Sgt Orlovsky's been in his prime. I guess Kim smiled in line, so Sgt Orlovsky told him he wouldn't hesitate one second to smash his face in if he did it again. I'm waiting now for the rest of the platoon to finish chow, then we have one hour of COD, then tent pitching class and practice.
Moran just said we're not having COD because chow took so long we don't have time. So, Sgt Orlovsky is rumored to be in a savage mood. This morning, I twisted my ankle some, but it seems to be OK now. I must have been in a very deep sleep when reveille sounded this morning. Suddenly, I realized the lights were on and Sgt Morris was yelling. It seemed for a second that I couldn't move, then I flew out of the rack and hit the deck. I think I landed mostly on my right foot, because it started hurting some. The top bunks are about five feet up.
My 782 gear is in fairly decent condition. I feel sorry for some of the others, whose gear is very ratty. When it was issued, it was just thrown at us, and unless something was completely unserviceable, we were told to just take it and shut up. I put plenty of extra socks in my pack, as well as some foot powder I bought at the MCRD PX. At sickbay back at MCRD, I saw many recruits with big blisters on their feet from all the hiking we're about to do. And I plan on doing it with the maximum degree of comfort I can arrange. Sgt Orlovsky just came in. Terse, but not too bad. Gotta go.
Now it's Sunday night. Supper tonight sucked. It was a carbon copy of lunch, except the wait was shorter and I got the last portion of beans this time. Sgt Orlovsky has not been too bad today. I've been in a pretty bad mood most of the day. I'm real tired of all the talking by some (STILL, even though it's been drilled into us since we got here to not talk), and I'm tired of all the screaming and general incompetence of the squad leaders. I'm not as gung-ho as I was. Generally, I just try to do what I'm supposed to with the minimum hassle, and I try to tune out all the annoyance and try to stay as motivated as possible, I no longer bother correcting or helping anyone. I guess I've lost enthusiasm due to that enthusiasm being continuously ignored and squashed, by both the squad leaders and the DIs. I'm just tired of the crap of the others. I've been feeling very touchy about being pushed, shoved, touched, told to shut up, or told what to do by people who have no business telling me anything. It's not that I'm getting UNmotivated; I just don't have as much enthusiasm as I once did. I'm tired of all the unnecessary yelling and screaming and, particularly, of the NECESSITY for all the yelling and screaming at people to do what they should know to do. I'm starting to get as sick of Smith's voice as I was of Sommers'. I do what I'm supposed to, as well as I can, but I don't go out of my way to do anything extra. I'll work on regaining my original enthusiasm level.
Speaking of Smith's voice, Herman mentioned that, while he is on watch, Smith is usually yelling out all kinds of orders in his sleep. Some of the recruits in the platoon are starting to get their act wired together more now. Herman, Anderson, AL, and Johnson, MA are three who are now more serious about things.
This afternoon, we had tent pitching practice. It was OK, but rather annoying because of the aforementioned yelling, milling around, and confusion. There was more emphasis placed on getting the tents covered and aligned (lined up in neat columns and rows) than on anything else. 4th Squad pairs with 3rd Squad, so I was with Christianson. I suppose that's better than being stuck with Holliday, who's always clawing at his zits. The way all these recruits publicly claw and paw their zits continuously is, and has been, quite nauseating. Fortunately, there's less of it now, with the marginal increase in discipline. I remember in receiving barracks, Holliday was across the "freeway" (aisle) from me, and he would stand over there on line and pick and dig and claw at his face. And Schrotenboer is always sneezing all over everything. I think he's the one who gave me my cold. He was coughing and sneezing behind me in the chow line yesterday.
I'm on firewatch now. What a terrible night this is! To beat the other platoons to the chow hall for morning chow, Sgt Orlovsky told the last firewatch to wake everyone up as soon as he comes on duty (at 0230!), so they can be all completely dressed and ready to double time to the chow hall the moment they sound reveille at 0400. Plus having firewatch tonight means I'll get 3-4 hours of sleep, max, for the big hump tomorrow. Everyone is talking like it'll be a super effort. It probably will be, with everyone going at a near-run, with the DIs and squad leaders screaming at everyone constantly to keep the formation tightened up, and with the dummy behind me stepping on my heels every other step. I think I'll clue him (Mager) in about that before we leave. Just to make it a little worse, now I'm staying up past my watch finishing this part of the diary completed so I can mail it on the way to chow. When we go to the field, it will probably be a week before I can send out any more mail. I hear that we do most of our humps at night. So, we will get to set up our bivvies in the middle of the night, all to the cheery tones of screaming DIs and squad leaders.
MON 11/10 T-34
Well, our little fun camping trip sure didn't last too long! I'm quite disappointed in what happened. This morning, we were woken up at 0230 to get dressed, so we could leave the house immediately at lights on, and beat the other platoons to the chow hall at 0400. For starters, it was pouring out when we got up. Then the inconsiderate slobs talked and made so much noise that those of us already dressed & trying to sleep waiting for reveille didn't have a chance of catching another wink. Then we beat feet to the chow hall, but only 1/3 of us were there when I arrived. The Mighty Squad Leaders and the remaining 2/3 of the platoon dragged in late, so we were behind 1110, who had done the same thing we had, naturally.
Then we ate and got ready to go. It was dark, cold, and raining very hard. Funzo day! I was picturing how slippery and slimy those dirt trails in the hills would be. There’s nothing quite like good old California mud. "It Never Rains in Southern California, But Man It Pours!". Then the DIs said we wouldn't be doing any hills, due to the rain, and we headed out. It was unbelievable! Even on flat or relatively flat ground, it was very slippery muck several inches deep. We were the first platoon in line. I would sure hate to be last person in the last platoon! Muck City! We went up over a little hill, only about 50 feet high, and the rest of the recruits were having an incredibly hard time! They were slipping, falling in the muck, with rifles, packs, and bodies completely covered with mud, muzzles plugged with mud. Most of them were trying to walk uphill flat-footed. Many recruits had their ponchos completely off their packs and wrapped around their necks. I was doing fine. I was wet and muddy from the knees down, but otherwise I had no problem. It was easy on the hills just by stepping sideways and digging the edges of my boots into the side of the hill. I would have helped the others, but I am sick of giving a shit about most of them. Then we got on a paved road and marched quick time to a range. It was only a couple miles total; no big deal. We pitched our shelter halves in a field in the rain. We changed into dry cammies, staged our packs in the tents and were ordered over to a bleacher for some classes on various field techniques. It was cold and raining all morning. We huddled together in the bleachers, shivering and trying to stay warm.
At lunch, we got out our MREs, and the DIs announced that we were going back to the house. I was disappointed. It sure wasn't much fun, but I definitely could have handled it. The most miserable times were when we were standing around doing nothing, waiting to get the word to move out. The instructor we had was a cheery NCO with lots of sex examples to illustrate his points. Our platoon didn't do too bad on the very short hump. Some fell and were muddy, with muddied up rifles, but the other platoons were a lot worse. Of course, the further back in the column each platoon was, the deeper the muck was from all the footsteps that came before them. The other platoons came dragging in carrying their wet and muddy sleeping bags and pads in their hands, looking very bedraggled. The place we set up the tents was at the base of the infamous Mount Motherfucker. It didn't look nearly as bad as its reputation. It was rather steep looking, but it appeared to be less than a quarter mile up to the top. I left feeling rather disappointed in the Marine Corps for wimping out on the hump and, especially, the trip. They didn't even have us march back to the house. We marched a couple hundred yards back to the paved road, and cattle cars picked us up and carried us back.
Back at the house, we took quick showers and changed into our third set of cammies so far that day. We had a class on helicopter and amphibious operations in the back of the squadbay.
TUE 11/11 T-35
Here's a hilarious quote from one of the day's classes: "What if my aunt had balls? Would she then be my uncle??". This gem was given to us by an instructor who said NO "what if" questions, and still got "what if" questions, which, of course, by their very nature, could go on indefinitely.
I didn't get much chance last night to finish writing. I got bent again last night for the "cookie incident", along with Johnson, AB.
Sgt Morris was giving Johnson a hard time while we were bending, because I was bending a lot better than he was. Shortly thereafter, Sgt Orlovsky fired Johnson and put Regalado in his place. I had figured Regalado would be a squad leader soon, the way he's been running his mouth constantly at everyone. Some people just enjoy being a dick. After lunch, we hiked out to a field classroom area. We watched a sample Claymore explosion. Neato! There is precious little time to write these days. I was hassled by Regalado during the hump to the classroom because I refused to run. The DIs said walk fast, don't run, so I walked as fast as I could, but I refused to run, no matter how much he screamed.
Because yesterday was canceled, we missed burst-fire and trace fire, two of the most fun parts of RFTD. Maybe they'll squeeze it in somewhere.
What a day! Here's a quick recap, then I MUST hit the rack. We had classes in the morning, then we ate MREs in the classroom. It was raining off and on all morning. Then we humped over to the field classroom and saw the Claymore explosion. Then we went through a day infiltration course, then a night infiltration course after it got dark. We also had a hand and arm signals practical course with lots of hitting the deck due to dummy grenades coming our way and booby traps. The day infiltration course was something else! It had plenty of simulated machine gun firing, gas flames, sand and ice-cold water about a foot deep to crawl through, and barbed wire to crawl under. We were all soaked and cold, but I guess we all felt like we just had to do it anyway, so we might as well get motivated as hell and make the most of it. Good Marine attitudes! The Platoon Commander got up in the bleachers later, and said our attitudes and the way we attacked the infiltration course really motivated him.
I had a couple yelling conflicts with Regalado and Sgt Morris on the first hump. Regalado kept screaming at me like a maniac to run, but I refused because Sgt Morris wouldn't order me to; Sgt Morris' last order to me was "walk fast, but don't run". I got bent again for the cookie incident. Sgt Morris is trying to get all the mileage out of that one he can. I don't screw up too often, so he likes to make the most of it when I do. As he thrashed me, I tried my best to appear that it didn't make me the least bit tired. After the day and night infiltration courses, we were totally soaked, and covered with sand and mud inside and outside our uniforms. We humped back to the house, only a mile or so, showered, changed uniforms, and headed back out again. We humped a mile or two to a grenade range, and set up camp. I suppose we'll be doing the grenade range tomorrow. We pitched our tents as it was starting to rain again. I'm with Donscheski tonight. He was rather adept at helping get the tent up quickly. Last night, I was with Gebhart, who mostly stood around with his thumb up his ass, watching me set up the tent. Both my fire team members tonight had major problems getting their tents up; bad and missing main poles, so I helped them out. Tonight, we also saw demos of illumination grenades. Cool! I love this shit!
WED 11/12 T-36
We got up before daylight and had MREs at dawn. It was cold last night and VERY COLD this morning. There was frost on my sleeping bag! The cold settles into the valleys here all during the night. At least the sky is clear. We had a grenade class the first thing this morning. Later on, we'll get to throw a live hand grenade. I'm looking forward to it. I'm in a compass class now. The instructor just said we missed the full auto fire, LAW (Light Anti-tank Weapon) demo, SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) demo, and M60 machine gun demo. Damn! Those would have been the very best parts! Too bad we missed seeing them. It's late afternoon now, and starting to get cold again. It's been an interesting day.
THUR 11/13 T-37
We did the live grenade and rifle/grenade assault course yesterday. At the end of the day, we had a very short hump back down the hill to the other side of the RFTD area, and we set up a new camp "hobo hooch" style. We didn't pitch any tents; we just laid out our ponchos, put the sleeping bags on them, then folded the other half of the poncho over the top of the bag. It was very cold overnight, with a heavy frost on us in the morning. This is the last day of our field trip.
The live grenade course was rather disappointing. It was somewhat cool to get to throw one, but we were rather disassociated from the process. First, of course, they were very tightly controlled, and we were not given them until just before time to throw them. With some of these yahoos, I sure wouldn't want it any other way. Then we stood behind a wall on the side of a hill, with the instructor very close, to tightly control all of it, and we lobbed them over the top of the wall and down the hill away from us. Then we quickly ducked back behind the wall. So, all it really consisted of was tossing it over the wall, ducking down and hearing a somewhat distant dull thump. Not nearly as exciting as, say, having an M-80 go off in your hand next to your ear, as happened to me in 1972.
I'm in a Field Fortifications class right now. We were up and eating our MREs before first light this morning. It was cold and clear. I was rather disappointed overall in what we did in RFTD. It was all made out to be so tough, and I wasn't anywhere near being fully challenged. After class, we had blanks issued to us, and we dug into defensive positions for war game practice. Then we had lunch.
It has been a nice cool day, with a warm sun in the middle of the day. In the afternoon, we had offensive combat class, then the offensive assault course, with a few boxes of blanks to play with. There were many jams due to the blanks (they don't feed as well as real ammo) and dirty rifles, but it worked OK. I tried my first full auto burst fire several times. It was fun, but not a real big deal.
Then we had the night defensive course. This afternoon, I talked to Sgt Groomes again about being made the guide. I told him the current leaders emphasize only discipline, and not self-discipline, which is much more important. My speech to him wasn't nearly as good as what I wanted to say, but I suppose it got the main ideas across. I also asked him again about my shooting score. He said he'd take care of it when we got back to MCRD, which will be tomorrow. The paper I'm writing this on is mud soaked due to going through the day infiltration course with me, but it's all I have.
Anyway, tonight, Sgt Groomes told me they will have an acting guide and squad leaders for the week of mess and maintenance, and he's going to make me acting guide. The "acting" guide isn't much, but it's sure better than nothing, and it's a foot in the door to show him how well I can do. It's too bad all we'll be doing is about 18 hours a day of mess duty, so I won't be able to put forth my ideas of running things as I'd like to. I told Sgt Groomes I thought Lytle would make a good squad leader. He seems a little more mature than the rest of them.
I got lots of mail, which was very nice. I got two letters and a package from my wife and a letter from Brenda. Everyone in the platoon LOVED the chocolate chip cookies in the package. They were all broken up into little bits, but they were still delicious, and they disappeared in minutes. Some recruits took too much, so others got little or none. I only got maybe one cookie out of it all. They were all very thankful, though.
Sgt Orlovsky was on duty this afternoon and evening with Sgt Groomes. I was glad it was Sgt Groomes handing out the mail. Sgt Orlovsky's been in an especially vicious mood tonight. He grabbed Davis by the throat with both hands and dragged him across the squadbay, threatening to kill him, for some minor thing. He tipped a couple racks over because we were slow getting into the house. It's nice to be back in our racks, though. He has snarled threats at us all night. He interrupted Hanley's lights out prayer about how much we'd accomplished, screaming "Bullshit! You didn't accomplish a goddamn thing, so shut up!". He kissed us all goodnight and tucked us in by saying that if we're not dressed and ready to go REAL fast in the morning, we're dead meat. I don't care to find out what he's referring to. When he first joined us, he was refreshingly mellow, especially after Sgt DeMarco. He's gotten meaner and more vicious every day since then.
Ever since we went to the range, we've been doing everything as a SERIES, rather than just as a platoon, so I see more of Platoon 1110 and Sgt DeMarco. He calls me Grandpaw. He was with our platoon the first few days of first phase, then for some reason he transferred to 1110 and Sgt Orlovsky took his place. The instructor at the grenade range was blown away (not literally) by my age and background. Sgt Morris asked me today what I'd done in the Air Force and since then. He seemed amazed when I told him. I was surprised he didn't know more about me. Once we start mess duty, I may not be able to write much.
FRI 11/14 T-38
God! What a day it's been so far! We just finished lunch. The only thing we've accomplished so far was turning in our 782 (camping) gear, moving out of the squadbay, and cleaning it out.
But there's been lots of fun and games. Sgt Orlovsky has been having a very fun day. This morning, we got dressed and undressed (60 seconds for each) about a dozen times, and we had several racks tipped over and a trash can heaved across the squadbay before Sgt Orlovsky got tired of that and let us go to chow.
After chow, there was cleanup for some of us and very long bending sessions for others. Unfortunately, times to write are rare these days. I got bent a couple times this morning. Once for going outside and not putting my cover (hat) on fast enough, and once because some recruits in the squadbay didn't sound off loud enough. Some more racks got tipped over.
Now it's after lunch, and we're waiting around on the parade deck for the buses to take us back to MCRD. Sgt Orlovsky isn't around, and Sgt Groomes seems to be in a pretty good mood.
I'm on the bus now, on the way back. Sgt Groomes' good mood appears to be still holding. We don't have to ride all the way back to MCRD with our heads in our laps, as we did on the trip getting here.
Capt. Kelly gave us a short class on patrols while we were waiting for the buses. He gave a little speech, and asked if anyone felt they were not fully challenged at RFTD. Naturally, I couldn't let that one go by, so I was the only one to raise my hand. So he had me get up and explain why. In his speech on our first day here, he had talked about how we'd definitely be challenged, and for anyone who wasn't challenged to tell him. I didn't feel I was, but I wasn't going to get on the skyline and bring it up to him. But since he asked, I was glad for the opportunity to mention it. I figured at the time I'd "pay" for it big time later when the DIs got hold of me, but what the hell. So I told him how disappointed I was that we let things like the weather beat us, and that we’d missed lots of good training. I really didn't get much of a hard time later from the DIs for saying it, though. Sgt Morris (of course) made a few comments, but that was about it. Probably they agreed with me.
When we get back to MCRD, we'll be setting up house in a different barracks, and getting ready for mess duty. It's a BEAUTIFUL day today. I can't believe the bad luck we had with the weather at RFTD. It's a nice comfortable ride back. We're in a Greyhound type bus this time. I think we start mess duty tonight. Yuck!! My worst memory of my entire time in the Air Force was the ONE DAY I had on mess duty. Here, it will be for a full week. I'm not looking forward to it at all. At least I'll be the one running it. I hope I don't have problems from some of the disciplinary problem children because I'm only the "acting" guide. I can picture trouble from recruits like Anderson, AL. I hope to get the others locked and cocked. It'll be such a great honor if I can be both high shooter and guide at graduation. Now that I have a little time to write here on the bus, I think I've already covered today fully. I missed a lot of details the last week or so, but I think I got most of the main events. For the next week, there won't be much to write about, or much time to do it.
SUN 11/23 T-47
It's been well over a week since I've been able to write a thing. I'll try to recap as best I can. I'm on gear guard now while the platoon is going to some religious show.
A week ago last Friday, we arrived back at MCRD shortly before supper. After eating, we were taken to the back of the chowhall. We were told what our mess duties would consist of, then sent back to the barracks. We slept awhile, then reported at 0300 last Saturday to begin mess duty.
I had a terrible cold and a very sore throat. Sunday was my worst day. I had a very high fever, and often felt quite weak. I felt like I could barely stand up. But I had to stay up and put in an 18 hour day; run the place, and keep everyone else going, too. By Tuesday or so, the fever was gone, so I started feeling stronger. There was absolutely NO WAY I was going to go to sick bay and miss out on the one shot I had to be guide. Looking back on it, it wasn't as bad as I had dreaded, even as sick as I was.
By Friday night, I was getting accustomed to the routine, and I was actually somewhat reluctant to quit. I had some problems during the week, but I solved them all. I had all of Platoon 1109, except the guide and squad leaders, and parts of 1110, 1111, and 1112. Most of my problems, especially challenges to my authority, came from the recruits from the other platoons. I think the other platoons sent the bottoms of their respective barrels to mess duty, and rewarded their better recruits with maintenance duty. Many of the recruits I got were quite hostile and hard to manage, but I took no crap at all. Anyone who gave me a hard time went into the head for a bending session with the Duty DI. I usually filled up a legal pad sheet each day with names for the DIs to bend, especially later in the week as they became better educated in how to avoid work. The main problem with them avoiding work was getting them out of the head.
On my last night there, the Chief Cook called me into his office. He said I'd done a truly outstanding job there, and invited me to come see him after graduation. The next time Sgt Groomes is in when we have free time, I'll tell him about that, and ask to be made permanent guide. In retrospect, I should have suggested to the Chief Cook that he mention his opinion of my work to my Senior Drill Instructor. It was a tough job, but kind of fun. It was very long hours, aching legs and feet, and being very, very sick. I was constantly on the move. I got to meet all the DIs in the Depot, though. Many of them stopped and talked with me. They were all quite blown away by me and what I'm doing, especially going into the Infantry and Recon.
I was talking to Funke tonight, and he said he wants to go for Recon, as do as Cline and Iverson. Smith does too, so that's at least five of us trying for it. Funke said he did a 290 PFT. We had Second Phase PFT Saturday afternoon. I did a 218, which sure isn't great, but isn't too bad, considering no exercise for a week, having just come off mess, having a bad cough, and very little exercise since the rifle range. Anyway, I did 74 situps, 9 pullups, and ran a 20:24. There's plenty of room for improvement there, but it IS a "first class PFT", which is a Recon requirement.
It's back to the same old bit with the squad leaders. They have no leadership at all. They set no example. They just use their billets to bully others around and improve their own position. I don't even like or talk to Smith any more. Regalado is the worst of the bunch. I got into it last night with all five of them after Regalado started another incident. After mess week, we picked back up the 5 recruits we dropped at the range: Concha, Flores, Vanaman, Lagreco, and Abrams. So I guess that by going UNQ at the range, they stayed there and missed RFTD and mess week. It seems like missing RFTD (even our abbreviated version) was not good for their basic training as Marines. The Marines seem SO reluctant to kick anyone out or even hold anyone back!
Anyway, Regalado was running his mouth as usual, and Lagreco said "fuck it" about something. Regalado went berserk and started ranting and raving that Lagreco had said "fuck you" to a squad leader, and started writing his name down to turn in to the DIs. So I went over and told Regalado that Lagreco had not said "fuck you", because I was standing right next to him. So then Regalado went double berserk and started screaming "shut up", and all the other squad leaders and the guide ran over to me and were screaming at me to shut up. I stood there and gave all 5 of them the finger with both hands, and kept screaming "fuck you” over and over, right back at them. Sgt Morris came flying out of the duty hut, broke it up and took me inside the duty hut. He screamed at me very briefly, then sat down and told me if I didn't keep shut up, I wouldn't make it through boot camp. I told him the squad leaders were completely out of control. He said he was going to document the incident. I'll have to put more effort into saying nothing to the squad leaders, no matter how out of control they get.
This morning, I did my laundry and got my footlocker squared away. This afternoon, we had COD and a lot of boot and brass polishing and rifle cleaning. We have a big inspection next Saturday, so all our uniforms and rifles have to be very squared away. We no longer use any lube in the rifle, so it's cleaner. We're done shooting it. On Monday, we get our service uniform issue, and Tuesday we spend the day in the swim tank for swim qualification.
Mess duty wasn't too bad, except for the hours and being sick. Most DIs are shorter than me, and many of them are quite a bit shorter. I was constantly busy running around putting out fires. I very much enjoyed the challenge. Every night, we were done with evening cleanup around 2000. We would then have about 20 minutes for a shower, and get into the racks, with lights out at 2030. It was hard to sleep, because my cough was so bad. It's just starting to get better now. By Fri, my voice was, and still is, very hoarse. Then it was back in the chowhall by 0300.
Tonight, I'm on firewatch. My usual 0030-0130 hours came up again. I'm very anxious for tomorrow night's mail call. We didn't get any mail all week. I figured on Saturday, or even Friday night, they'd give us the week's mail. Sgt Groomes told us our graduation is now officially set for the 19th. I'll have to be sure to let my family know of the change.
I have little or no writing time these days. We're now in 3rd phase, and there's a lot more emphasis on appearance, so we have to keep our cammies and covers pressed. We didn't have to concern ourselves with that before. I was going to do the ironing this morning, but I never got time, after doing laundry and getting my other stuff squared away. It's raining tonight. It has been raining off and on all day. Our laundry isn't doing very well in this weather. The longer it stays outside, the more risk it runs of some of it coming up missing. A couple recruits had me wake them up during my watch so they could press their uniforms. I really need to do that myself, but I also want to finish keeping up my diary. I washed my cover, so the only one I have to wear now is the one mashed up in the bottom of my seabag. I have to get that squared away ASAP because it's so noticeable. We had a class yesterday on how to press our uniforms.
I didn't even get to write on firewatch tonight because it's linen survey night, so I had to fold linen. I want to be sure and get this in the mail first thing in the morning. Tomorrow night, I'll probably have to get the firewatch to get me up so I can answer my mail, and work on my uniform. It's about 0200 now, or later, so I have got to crash.
MON 11/24 T-48
It rained rather hard all morning. We spent the entire morning getting our service uniforms (greens and khakis). We changed back into our cammies to march back to the chow hall at lunchtime, then we marched back to clothing issue for fitting and tailoring. Everyone looks good! We look like real Marines now.
TUE 11/25 T-49
Like I keep saying more and more often; there's precious little time to write any more. And trying to do it on notebook paper instead of knowledge book paper makes it even harder to do it without getting caught. I ran out of knowledge book paper quite a while ago. About all we did yesterday was the clothing issue and an indoors COD (rifle drill) session at the end of the day. Any time-holes during the day were spent polishing brass and boots. Last night, Sgt Groomes was on duty, but I didn't get time to talk to him about being guide.
WED 11/26 T-50
We made a PX call this morning, so while I was there, I bought a couple packs of knowledge book paper. That was getting to be a rare commodity. There's still lots of standing around, but there's little opportunity to take notes. Last night, we got our paychecks. Then this morning, we took them to the PX and bought new chit books. Most people were rather broke. We got haircuts this morning. Sgt Groomes knocked down a few beds during cleanup this morning. Once again, I had planned to catch up on my notes last night after lights out, but I fell asleep right away. I got a couple covers squared away during free time, so at least now that's OK, and I don't look like such a bum. I spent $78 at the PX. Herman spent $108 with a $100 chit book, so he got into trouble for that. Sgt Morris bent him awhile.
When we returned from RFTD, we picked up a new DI, Sgt Henion, a big beefy red-faced guy. All four of them are on duty today. It's been a pretty casual day. We had some COD and lots of rifle cleaning and brass and boots polishing to get ready for the big inspection Saturday. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so there should be plenty of free time to get things squared away.
Yesterday was spent at the swim tank. They lined us up on a 10" tower over the water, then we moved forward and, one at a time, jumped into the pool, wearing our cammies. Some of the recruits were rather scared of it. We were brought to the edge and told to "look down, look up, step out". Those who hesitated at that point were given a little boot in the ass to help them over the edge. Then we had to swim across the pool a couple times, then tread water for the remainder of a 5 minute period. They selected people from that test for 1st class swim qualification. I wasn't selected for 1st class qual because my breast stroke didn't look good enough, so I was put into a group to test for 2nd class qual. Smith and Regalado were in the 1st class testing group. I don't think either made it, but Smith goes back Friday for a second chance. I was given a class on how to do the breast stroke. I found out I was doing it ALL wrong, as I'm self-taught. Then we went back out to the pool to try to qualify for 2nd class. I could do the kick OK with a paddleboard, but I couldn't coordinate it the rest of the actions well enough. I had about 3 or 4 passes across the pool, but I couldn't get it together well enough, so I was sent home with a 3rd class qual, which was VERY disappointing. I guess I get to go back Friday and try again, so Thursday I'll lay on my belly across my footlocker and practice the stroke. I need to get it all down smoothly enough that I can do it without thinking about each move. We have to have at least a 2nd class to be considered for Recon. There were a lot of non-swimmers and about 25 who couldn't make the 3rd class qual, so they had to be hauled out of the pool.
One interesting note I previously forgot: while on mess duty, Sgt Orlovsky invented a new way of bending, which he did to Herman, Sisoy, and Ooghe. He calls it "The Blizzard". He took them into the whiskey locker, sort of a walk-in closet, locked him and them inside, and made them start bending. Then he took foot powder and shook it all over them while they were bending. Herman came back from that and said he didn't EVER want to have to bend again. He said they were all pretty scared when he locked them in, because they were afraid he was going to beat the shit out of them. And to think I originally referred to him as a "nice, mellow guy". He can be very inventive and very vicious.
THUR 11/27 T-51 Thanksgiving Day!
We got up, went to morning chow, then had free time/square-away time for the rest of the day. I got several pieces of mail last night, but no mail from my wife. I got 2 letters from Brenda, and letters from Mom, Dad, and Jeff Lynn. My wife sent me some knowledge book paper. I bought twice as much at the PX as I'll probably ever use, so now I have a lifetime supply. There's lots to do today, though. I need to answer a couple letters, straighten out my footlocker, and move some of my gear into my seabag. My wife sent some cookies, which were packed unpadded in a light box, so it was just crumbs, but they still got wolfed down in a hurry. I'm so anxious to see my wife on Visitor's Day, but I try not to think about it. I got 3 letters from my wife Monday night. Too bad I've missed so many interesting details in my notes lately! I will try to stay up on them.
While on mess duty, it was was interesting to see how the food was prepared. Food to be baked was put on 6' high racks, and rolled into huge walk-in ovens. Cooked things that were not baked (like vegetables) were cooked in huge kettles with built-in heat, and big drain valves on the bottom. Jello was mixed in a huge tub on wheels. Mess people and DIs were always stopping me and talking with me and asking me questions about who I am, where I've been, why I'm here, etc. The Chief Cook said I'd done an outstanding job of running the recruits. He invited me to stop by and say hi after I graduate. Since I'm still a recruit, there isn't too much he can say to me now without fraternizing. I have to tell Sgt Groomes about it, and make a final pitch to be guide. Lots of people, like at the swim tank, ask me if I'm a guide or squad leader. When I say I'm not, they say "why not?", which really rubs in what is already a very sore point. One of the instructors at the pool was a Recon Marine. He said I'll have to considerably improve my PFT score to be considered for Recon. We actually get so little exercise here! We haven't had PT all week, except for Friday. I'll bet there have been more days without PT than there have been with it. Whenever I ask a DI if I can join a bending session, they tell me to get the fuck away from them. The Recon Marine at the pool took me into his locker room, and let me have 2 seconds free look at his uniform with the gold jump wings and silver scuba awards on it. I drooled appropriately.
Last night before supper, we went to a class on savings bonds. I signed up for $50 per month for them. Later, Sgt Orlovsky told us we should ignore all the pleas for allotments they are obligated to present (or allow to be presented) to us until we get settled at our permanent station. He and Sgt Groomes also warned us yesterday at Photos not to buy the rings they pitch there, because after we graduate, we can get them for about 1/4 as much at the PX. Yesterday, we all got a fresh shave out at the wash rack, then went over to the Photo concession to get our pictures taken, and to place our orders. I ordered their medium set and a cameo picture on a chain for my wife. In just a couple days, it'll be only 2 weeks until I see my wife on Visitor's Sunday. Sgt Groomes said we will get marched to the Visitor's Center, where we'll be turned loose for x amount of time, until we have to back at the house. The only weird thing at Photo was that they wouldn't let the pictures be taken with civilian glasses, so I went without them, rather than wear a set of the funky black issue ones. My GI glasses still haven't come in, for some reason. Most of the other glasses-wearers, with only about 1 or 2 exceptions, like me, got their GI glasses weeks ago, in 1st Phase. Maybe it's because of the strength of my prescription. Sgt Orlovsky asked me about it again the other day. It suits me just fine if I never get them. I also tend to forget that mine turn dark in the sun, which often really gets the DIs wound up, especially in a formation.
Lunch sucked today. It was chicken and fish sandwiches. I hope they do something better for supper. After lunch, we went out for some COD and to make a phone call. I'm in line for that now.
We were only allowed 5 minutes total for the phone call, and I wasted about 3 or 4 minutes spazzing out dialing the wrong number. When I tried it collect, and the operator said it was disconnected, I realized I must be dialing the wrong number. So when I got thru to the right number, no one was home, so I left a brief message. I imagine that'll be the last phone call we get to make. I tried calling Mom & Dad, but while it was ringing, friendly Sgt Groomes was standing outside the phone booth scowling at me and motioning me to get out, so I hung up and left. I've been feeling sleepy and lazy all afternoon.
After the phone calls, we came back to the house and worked on our boots awhile; then we had more rifle cleaning. My back aches from always having to sit cross-legged. So do my knees, especially the left one. In Air Force basic training, we sat on couches in the dayroom (with a TV) while we did our polishing, etc. I had a very aching tendon in my left foot from the end of the arch support in my boots while on mess duty. That's been bothering me all week. At the PX yesterday, I bought some good boot inserts, and they seem to help a lot. Right now, I have a very achy upper right back that I can't seem to get rid of. It came up during rifle maintenance, but now it's at least as bad as it was then. Bending at the waist and letting my upper body hang down relaxed seems to help.
We're doing prac stations now. I did a few and got all of them right, There was very little knowledge used during 2nd Phase, but now hopefully there'll be more chances to keep notes on my life here. When we got back from phone calls, the guide and squad leaders got bent for not doing well enough on some special moves during COD. After that, they took it out on the rest of us by running around screaming at us to not have our backs up against our footlockers as we worked on our boots. They spent the entire morning with their backs up against their footlockers. I didn't bother saying anything to them, either this morning or this afternoon, when they suddenly decided it was no longer OK, since they were no longer doing it. Anyway, that's part of my current major effort to keep my mouth shut about them and their gross abuses of their positions.
It was a decent sunset, and it's getting dark now. Tonight, everyone's going to a religious Thanksgiving ceremony after supper. As usual, I'll be the official gear guard. By now, I'm simply accepted as an avowed agnostic, and no one gives me a hard time about it. Sgt Groomes is on duty tonight, I believe, so Priority #1 is to go in to his office and politely demand to be made guide. I feel kind of achey and feverish. I pray I'm not getting sick again. I never even got over the one I had during mess. Most of the platoon has coughs and colds. Hanley had pneumonia last week.
Hey, supper wasn't bad at all. Roast beef, turkey, ham, regular and sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, cranberry sauce, etc. I got a huge plate, and since 4th squad went in first for a change, I had enough time to eat it all.
Now I'm on gear guard with Vanaman. I'm dying to sit down and rest, but I shouldn't; it’s against the rules. I have major aches, chills, and ringing in my ears from the fever. The colds here just go around and around and around. I took a couple Tylenol pills I found. Maybe that'll help. I've got my Wooly Pully (USMC sweater) on, too. I just sat down on a footlocker. Damn! That sure feels good! I've got to stay on my feet, though. I don't think Sgt Groomes is going to be on tonight. That's too bad. They take the platoon group photo next week, and I want ME to be in front as the guide. Mount Mother is on tonight. That's the nickname everyone has given Sgt Henion. He isn't super big, but he has pretty big shoulders and upper arms. He's probably about 6' tall. He isn't too scary. Sgt Orlovsky is the one who scares people, because he's so violent and unpredictable. He seems mellowed out since he hit Hill and Kovacs in the chow hall. The mess Staff Sergeant there said he'd turn him in if he ever struck another recruit again.
My back seems OK now. I think it was just a cramped muscle. I've got to do more polishing work on my boots and shoes tonight, and iron and de-Irish-pennant my cammies, especially the inspection ones. Now I'm hot, so I just took the sweater off. There's a nice big fall harvest moon tonight. It's lovely. I just went in the head and sat on the shitter for a few minutes. It really felt incredibly wonderful to sit down for a minute. Overall, I feel terrible. I just want to go to bed, but that's still a few hours away. The rest of the platoon will come back, then we'll have free time, then cleanup, then TAPS, my favorite song these days.
Usually I'm up putting my socks on and whatever else I can before reveille. I usually get woken up by the DI wakeup calls, which commence an hour before reveille. This morning, I outfoxed myself. When reveille went off, I was already completely dressed on top. But we hadn't officially worn the Wooly Pully (it goes under the cammy shirt), so I had it on over my cammies, planning to just pull it off and be ready to go. So I had to remove BOTH & reverse them to get dressed, when they informed us we were going to wear the Wooly Pully under the cammy blouse. The most time-consuming part of getting dressed is lacing and tying the boots. It was convenient when we were in First Phase, because out trousers were not bloused. The pants legs came down over the boots, so I could get away with just wrapping the boot laces around the boot, and I didn't have to thread all the boot lace holes. Now that our trousers are (usually, unless we're being punished) bloused, I can't get away with that any more. Sometimes I have dreams about reveille happening, and getting up super-fast, so if I wake up in the night, I'm in a semi-panic; planning every move, then trying to decide if it's all just a dream, or the lights are really about to come on. Well, the platoon is coming back from the service now.
FRI 11/28 T-52
Last night, after the platoon came back, the squad leaders were real loud rude assholes to everyone. It was hard to bite my tongue, but I did. They were calling everyone stupid assholes, making fun of many of them. I hate those bastards, especially Regalado, the worst of the bunch. Moreaux, the platoon secretary, was also being his usual rude asshole self to everyone while collecting $1.40 from everyone for more Q-tips. Even Smith said he was an asshole, and even mellow recruits like Jackson and Steelman were grumbling about what total assholes the squad leaders were being.
It was raining this morning when we got up, so after breakfast, we cleaned up the house and stayed inside, doing rifle maintenance. More missed training, but I don't know what we missed. Sgt Orlovsky had us clean the rifle and leave everything clean and dry, as we won't be firing it again, and it's cleaner that way for turn-in. Yesterday, Sgt Groomes told us to put CLP on the upper receivers. I thought it was a mistake, but I wasn't about to say anything. Plus, we were told to tape up all the holes to keep dirt out, which was really stupid, since it wasn't all that clean inside yet, and the CLP on the outside wouldn't let the tape stick, anyway. So I spent about an hour this morning getting that CLP and tape residue back off. Dumb shits!
Sgt Morris came in this morning with a very bad cold. He could barely croak out a few words.
Right now, I'm sitting on the shitter, pretending to shit while taking a break from cleaning my rifle. I've scrubbed and scrubbed on the compensator, but I still keep getting carbon. After rifle maintenance, we went to practice prac stations. It seems like that's about all we've done for a week since mess duty.
Now I'm waiting in line for another BS interview with 2LT Johnson. They just ask if we're getting our mail, enough chow & sleep, no harassment, etc. It's a rainy, windy, cold, miserable day outside.
I just got bent awhile by Sgt Morris for not coming to attention when he asked me a question.
Well, now it's almost time for supper. After lunch, those needing further work on swim qualifications went over to the pool. I qualified 2nd class! Before I went over, I was really kicking my ass for not practicing the breast stroke on free time last night, as I had planned. It was a short free time, and I only had time for a shave and a shower. After several passes across the pool on practice runs, we made a screening run. I thought I was kind of spazzing it, but I got pulled for further screening and testing. Then we had brief classes on the side and back strokes, then went back out to do them. By then, it was down from about 90 to about 45 privates. By the end, there were only about 25 left, many from 1109. Doing the side stroke was a little awkward at first, but then I stopped thinking about all the moves so much, and just did it. Then we put on cammies and jumped off a 10' tower and swam underwater to the edge of the pool, then back and forth using breast, side, and back strokes. Then we tread water for the remainder of a 10 minute period. One recruit in my group, a very muscular guide from 1110, pussied out toward the end of it. Once he started pussying out and panicking, I hoped he'd be a quitter, because I'd hate to see a pussy barely make it. So, with only about 20 seconds remaining, he splashed and gasped and moaned his way to the edge of the pool and grabbed it, so he was out. What a wimp! I wasn't even tired.
I just finished guard duty. I don't write on guard duty because we're not supposed to, but I wait & stay up even later & write after I go off duty. I'm thinking of turning Miller in. He was 10 minutes late coming on duty with me, and he always spends the entire time writing letters. I never start writing in my diary until my watch is over. He even asked me to cover for him so he could go make a phone call. I told him to forget it. He's such a worm!
I had another bad incident this evening, which has left me pretty bummed out. After supper, we were doing shoe polishing. Regalado got called up to bend for doing his boots instead of his shoes like everyone else, which is typical of his behavior; he and the other squad leaders had been screaming at everyone else to do shoe polishing only, not boots, while they did as they pleased. So, I thought that was great. After awhile, Sgt Morris called me up to bend for watching, which I was explicitly making a point of not doing. I just went up anyway and bent without a word, though. At one point in the bending, Sgt Morris said something to me I didn't quite hear, so I paused in my bending, came to attention, and said "Sir?". Regalado started screaming at me to bend, so I screamed at him to shut his fucking mouth. Sgt Morris came unglued at that, and said he was going to write me up for losing my bearing. I was really pissed off, and tired of fighting a losing battle, so I said "Fine, Sir!", which pissed him off twice as much. He immediately took me into the duty hut and started writing, saying I had just given him another documented case of my bad attitude. He said I was going to end up recycled back in training to another platoon. He made me sign the complaint form, which I signed "signed under protest". That pissed him off twice as much again, because then he said he would have to go to the trouble of writing it up all over again on a clean form. I told him I had been consciously making a point of not watching Regalado bend, and I told him of some of the cases of Regalado's flagrant misuse of his position. Like right now as I write this; he's over there grinning and laughing and talking. Rules are only for him to enforce, not for him to obey. Few things piss me off more than such blatant abuse of authority.
Anyway, all the stuff I told Sgt Morris went in one ear and out the other. Then he took me out of the duty hut and bent me some more. When everyone else bends, they grunt and moan and groan and huff and puff. I always make a point of doing it silently.
If I can ever think of a great way to fuck Regalado over, I'll do it. I thought about throwing away one of his boots, or taking a shit in one of them. We'll see.
Sgt Morris also said he was going to complain to the Senior DI about me. If he does, this certainly blows any slim chance I might have had at being the guide. I was going to talk to Sgt Groomes during rifle maintenance, because Smith went up to him and said he had a personal problem, and he just said OK; no yelling at his dear guide for wanting to talk "on the Senior's Time". So I figured it would be OK if I asked to speak to him, and I wouldn't get jumped on, like usual, for asking to talk to him on "his time", instead of "my time", as he usually does. But then he left right after talking to Smith, and then he was in and out, and 2LT Johnson was using the hut for interviews, so that blew that. I have got to quit being so hesitant and waiting for the perfect opportunity, and just DO IT, or else it will be too late. Of course, it probably already is, especially if Sgt Morris tells him what went down tonight; in which case, forget it.
After the incident, we had cleanup. I thought most recruits who spoke to me afterward thought I was wrong, which left me even more bummed out. After cleanup, we had mail call. I was hoping for something from my wife, but nothing. During mail call, Regalado was sitting up front smirking and grinning at us. I was thinking about his flagrant abuses & wanting to say something. Then DeCluette started screaming like a maniac at us that nothing was funny, and he'd take down the name of anyone smiling. A typical situation. I just sat there and put these assholes out of my mind.
After mail call, I didn't bother with a shower, and I spent the whole free time period pressing out a fresh cammie blouse. I barely got it and a quick shave done. Showers can occasionally be skipped to steal some time; shaves can't. My current uniform is pretty crumpled because of the bad weather.
Smith and Johnson AP made 1st class swim qual. They said it was real tough, including going off the 10' tower with hands and legs tied, wearing full gear, including ALICE pack and rifle, and treading water for an entire hour. I'll try for it later on, after I practice my strokes more, especially the breast stroke.
When we hit the racks tonight, we continued a new thing we started last night, singing the Marine Corps Hymn. After that, somehow I ended up with my hands behind my head, not at attention, waiting for the command to "ADJUST!". Maybe it was from having all the hassles on my mind. Anyway, of course Sgt Morris saw it (lights were out), and bitched about it. He came over, asking who it was. When he found out, his reaction was no surprise; I said "Private Meyette, Sir!", and he started screaming that he should have known it was me, and that I had no discipline, and that people like me had absolutely no chance of making it to graduation. Then I said "Yes, Sir!", instead of snapping my fingers. We're supposed to snap fingers instead of speaking if we're spoken to by a DI after lights out. So, he said it yet again showed I had no discipline, and that I'd pay for it big time tomorrow. It seems that sometimes my discipline does slip. I try as hard as I can to keep it, and my motivation, pumped up as high as I can, despite all the frustrations. I don't think my motivation and discipline are as high as they were in Receiving and First Phase, but I try hard to keep them up there. Oh well, I just have to force myself to keep my cool a couple more weeks (actually it's still almost 3 weeks) around Regalado, and it'll all be over. We do the S&E (Strength and Endurance) course tomorrow. It sounds interesting. It's a 4 1/2 mile run, and we stop every 1/4 mile and do 25 repetitions of an exercise. Well, I gotta crash; it's probably 0130.
SAT 11/29 T-53
Shit! What a fucking day! I'm on maximum effort to stay motivated and get out of here. This morning after breakfast, we had rifle cleaning and inspection. All 4 DIs were on duty. I thought last night had blown over. I was never called up to bend for moving before "ADJUST!". Then Sgt Groomes called me into the duty hut, and I knew the fun was about to begin.
Sgt Groomes, Sgt Orlovsky, Sgt Henion, and Sgt Morris were all in there waiting for me when I pounded on the hatch. When I entered and came to attention 6" in front of his desk, they all swarmed over me. One was screaming in my face, one was screaming in each ear, and one was screaming behind me. I stayed totally cool and kept my bearing and screamed back answers to their questions until they told me to shut up. Sgt Groomes was screaming that one more incident from me, and I'd be history. Sgt Orlovsky was screaming something about anyone 33 years old who would join the Marine Corps must be either crazy or stupid. I decided to forego the opportunity to respond that my opinion of the Corps was apparently higher than his was. Sgt Morris was just screaming madly in my face. Sgt Orlovsky was screaming something about how he'd like to smash me. I didn't get much chance to offer any defenses. Then Sgt Groomes screamed at me to get out before he smashed me. I kept my cool and did my facing movements to leave. As I did my about-face, he was screaming "GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!!" over and over. He picked up something hefty off his desk, and whizzed it by my head, and it smashed into the wall locker beside me with a huge crash. I stayed cool, and just marched out. No, I didn't ask him if I could be guide!
Then we went back to rifle maintenance, but I was feeling very pissed off and depressed. Then my turn to be interviewed came up. 2LT Johnson and 1LT Sagimoto were in there. I didn't know if they knew of the incident, but they asked me at least twice if I was having any sort of problems or difficulties. I said “No, Sir!”. They asked if I was sure everything was OK. I said “Yes, Sir!”. They also asked about why I came in the Corps, etc. I was tempted to complain about "the incident", but knew better than to bother.
I did ask about the screwing I got on my rifle score, however. I was basically told "tough shit", in typical officer bullshit doubletalk. They said it would have had to have been settled right there on the spot, which is when and where I spoke to Sgt Groomes about it, and was told to shut up. Sgt Groomes had also promised on at least three subsequent occasions to look into it, and obviously, he'd done nothing about it, and totally gaffed it off. Thank you, Sgt Groomes, you prick bastard! I can thank my friendly Senior DI for fucking me out of that. So, in one morning, I can forget ever being guide, Honor Man, or High Shooter. The first two were bad enough, but they involved someone else picking me. The High Shooter (my true score would have also been High Shooter for the entire Company) was different, though. I worked really hard for that, and I earned it. I'm very bitter about the whole thing. The Company CDI GySgt spoke to me later about the rifle score part. He's always real nice to me. He told me to hang in there, stay tough and motivated, and don't let him down; he's counting on me. That kind of talk sure motivates me a hell of a lot more than those piss-poor hired mouths, the squad leaders. The more they scream at me, the slower I move. The Gunny said he's been keeping a close eye on me and my progress.
Apparently, McNeil has a couple Sgt brothers at Camp Pendleton. As a joke, one of them sent McNeil a postcard that said something to the effect of "give my love to your Senior DI, and give him a big kiss and a pat on the ass for me, and tell him you have AIDS". Let me tell you, the DIs really came totally unglued over that. Sgt Morris saw it last night and bent McNeil a long, long, long time. This morning, all 4 DIs read it, and they were totally freaking out. They were calling McNeil and his brothers a bunch of scummy faggots. They made him bend after yelling at him and ridiculing him. Then he said he didn't want to bend any more, so they loved that. They made the whole platoon bend for him in groups of 10 while they made him read the card over and over to us as we were bent. We've been bending off and on all day for it.
After lunch, we had the S&E course, which was a real ballbuster. I've had a sore muscle in the top of my right shoulder all day. It must be from how I slept on it. I thought the S&E course would fix it, but it didn't. Man, I swear I didn't think that course would EVER end! It was the toughest workout I can ever remember having. They say it was 4.2 miles, but it sure seemed like 10. I don't know if it was this bad cold, or the lack of exercise, or both, but it sure was tough. There were a few drops, the usual; like Brown, Strom, McDaniel, etc. I'm not sure if McNeil was considered a drop or not. McDaniel, Mr. Muscle Man, faded back. He has big muscles, but no guts or character. I was just staying with the back of the main pack at the end. It was a faster pace than usual, too. Then we did 2 sets of max pullups and 2 sets of max situps.
I was coughing a lot at the end of the run as we were marching along cooling down. After about 3 recruits yelled at me to stop coughing (the Senior DI had said "stop coughing" a few minutes earlier), I got pissed and said, "Hey fuck you, assholes. You think I'm coughing because I WANT to?" Sgt Groomes stopped the platoon, and I thought I was really in deep shit. All he did, though, was make everyone say "Thank you, Private Meyette", and then march along heel-to-toe for awhile. Afterward, several recruits said I'd better cool my temper and watch my mouth, or I won't make it to the end. They're right. After having been more locked and cocked than all of them since Day 1, it's annoying when one of them jumps on my shit for some little thing, after I've been observing them being so flaky for so long (most still are). Anyway, I know I've said it before, but my #1 priority here now MUST be to keep my mouth shut to the other recruits, no matter what. I don't have any problem taking shit from the DIs, but I consider recruits to be my peers, at best, and no better than me.
Now it's after supper, and we're having prac stations again. We had them after PT also. Also, after supper, we polished shoes and brass awhile before starting prac. My right back cramp is bothering me again. I feel like I'm getting more and more tired and worn out as this goes on. Of course, I'd crawl to the finish if I had to. The pain in my top right shoulder muscle is gone. I'm feeling very stiff, though.
SUN 11/30 T-54
We secured up our prac stations last night, then hit the racks. I did laundry this morning after morning chow. My thoughts this morning are on seeing my wife in just 2 more weeks. It sure will be great! Jackson just suggested I ask my wife to bring some cookies to Visitor's Day for those who won't have a visitor (and for me). I said I would. I was talking with Foster at the washrack. During mess duty, he and one of the belligerents from one of the other platoons got into it. Foster decked him, and laid him open above his eye with one punch. He and I (as guide) got screamed at by the Senior for it. I figured he'd get Office Hours for it. He told me that the next day Sgt Orlovsky said to him, "Did you hurt him, Foster? Did you make him bleed?", and Foster said "Yes Sir!", and Sgt Orlovsky said "Good! Get Away!". Apparently, nothing more was ever said about it. The other guy had to go to emergency sickbay and get the wound taped up. That sure is different from the Air Force! There would be hell to pay there for punching someone.
I forgot to mention it before, but dealing with the belligerents, especially the ones from the other platoons, was a major part of my job as acting guide for mess duty. 1109 sent the entire platoon, except the guide and squad leaders, and the other platoons just sent a few from each. Since mess duty is tough, they apparently sent all their shitbirds, and let their better recruits have the much easier maintenance duty. So I spent lots of time babysitting the problem children. I had clashes with several of them, but after awhile, they mostly figured out that I would tolerate no shit from any of them, and they did what they were supposed to. I spent lots of time rousting them out of the head, where they'd go to hide. I started off with an "assistant guide", some loser from another platoon, but he was a useless piece of shit who just misused the position so he could fuck off himself, so I got him fired after a day or 2. Then I told the Chief Cook I didn't need a replacement for him, and I ran the whole show myself the rest of the time.
I thought we'd be doing the S&E course every day from now on, but the rumor from the T-card private (the recruit who manages the daily training cards) is that we never do it again, and we only have 5 more PT sessions. Too bad. If we did the S&E course every day, the first few days would be rough, but then we'd be in great shape after that.
I started a letter to Mom & Dad, but then we had to go to lunch. 4th squad was the last one in, so I barely had time to wolf part of it down before Smith ran me out. Going into the chowhall, Sgt Groomes nailed slippery old Brown on something. He then asked Brown which squad he was in. Brown said he was in the 4th squad, which was news to me, so Regalado was called up for questioning by Sgt Groomes. After lunch, I went up to Regalado and said "If Brown is in 4th squad, when is the last time you saw him working with 4th squad on cleanup?" Regalado called Brown up and asked him where he's been during cleanup all this time. Sprandel said he's usually hanging out in the rain room (shower) during cleanups. So we'll be keeping a much closer eye on Brown from now on. It was hard to be civil to Regalado, but I managed to do it, at least for a short period.
After lunch, we had prac stations, then COD, then series competitions. After that, Smith selected 8 "squared away" privates to go be a color detail for evening colors (lowering of the flag), of which I was one of the honored. All late afternoon, a beautiful sunset was developing, with streaky and light billowy clouds all over. So I went and did the color detail, and kept one eye on the sunset. Basically, all I did was watch the MPs take the flag down (there were 30 of us in all), and my squad squatted under the flag and held it up so it wouldn't touch the ground. That is how they handle the huge "holiday" flag. When we went back to the house, a full scale field day was in progress, so I helped on that until supper.
After supper, we had more prac stations practice, then a 50 question written prac test. There are still some areas I need to study, but I do quite well at the prac. Usually, the only questions I get wrong are the weird or screwed up ones. In the background, there's lots of bending and screaming going on, with the squad leaders being loud-mouthed assholes. Not a word out of me, though. I just do my job and keep my head down, my mouth shut and my nose clean. The squad leaders are now starting to turn in names for bending like I would have way back in 1st phase. Also, there are lots of new infractions to bend for, such as leaving a footlocker unlocked or leaving a rifle unlocked or not on safe. Regalado, Moran, and Smith got bent for not having their footlockers locked; Moran for the second time. God, I loved it! I made a point of not watching or even glancing up, but I sure enjoyed the sounds.
We have linen survey (exchange) tonight. They started doing it with the first watch, instead of waiting for the second watch. Toward the end of the first watch, an officer came in and asked lots of questions, like why the firewatches were folding linen instead of guarding, and what the privates were sleeping on. I was sitting up in the rack putting on my socks for tomorrow when he came in, so I dove for the mattress fast when I saw him coming. We're not supposed to start doing the linen until after midnight. I imagine that's because we're probably not supposed to be doing it during the night at all. I saw a couple cases of that sort of rule-breaking during rifle maintenance. We're not supposed to use anything but CLP and a General Purpose brush on the rifle, but the DIs let us sneak them into the head to wash the sand and grit out of them in the deep sink. One day, Sgt Orlovsky had solvent he was surreptitiously spraying on our compensators to help loosen the carbon, while being on a close lookout for officers. Great example. I suppose I can't argue with the results, though. It was a cool sunny day.
MON 12/1 T-55
We had breakfast, then COD, then PT. PT was pretty hard (in some ways). The run was none too easy again, although definitely easier than yesterday. First, we did the Obstacle Course twice. When I did it at the start of Phase 1, I couldn't get over the bar, the wall, or up the rope at all. This time, I went through them all with no problem, although by the end of the rope climb, I was exhausted and could barely touch the top bar. I slid down slowly instead of climbing down. Sgt Groomes went bonkers when he saw that, and started screaming at me to do it again, but my arms were like spaghetti and I couldn't go up at all. That's why I slid down in the first place; it took all I had just to get to the top. Finally, they got tired of yelling at me to go back up the rope, and they told me to go around and do the whole course again. Sgt Morris and Sgt Orlovsky were at the wall and Sgt Morris made me do it twice, just for their general amusement. By the time I got to the rope at the end again, I hadn't regained much arm strength. I made it about halfway up. I kept retrying, but once you run out of steam on something like that, you're done for. Finally, Sgt Groomes let me go away, but he said I'd pay for it later. Jackson, Brown, Labrie, Johnson K, and a few others were struggling to make it up the rope at the end, but they couldn't do it at all.
Then we did the run. It was about 4 miles, and it seemed faster than the runs used to be. I certainly wasn't tempted to quit, but it wasn't very easy, either. One thing is that I don't like running too close to the person in front of me, so I either get yelled at to move up, or the idiots behind me try to go around me and elbow in and/or they keep stepping on my heels. I get that on both runs and humps. Anyway, after about 4 or 5 of them went by me and elbowed into my little space, I got tired of that shit and went around all of them and elbowed my own way back into my space. We didn't sing at all during the run, supposedly because of all the "O Course drops", like me. Sgt Groomes made all the "O Course drops" hold up our arms prior to the run, so everyone else could see and admire us. So I said before I felt like I was getting tired, but actually I did a lot better on the O Course than the last time. Oh, I've improved; just not enough yet. Then we did 2 sets each of situps and pullups. Saturday, I did 71 situps on the first set; today was 61 and 8 pullups.
Then we went back to the house and got showers. After the shower, all the O Course and run drops were bent for awhile. Our names were taken for more fun later. Bending is fine with me. I keep asking to bend for remedial PT, and they won't let me. Oh, I also brought that up in my interview with the Series Commander. During the interview, I had mentioned that I had been disappointed that the training wasn't as tough as I had expected. Later, I found out that Sgt Groomes was standing right behind me the whole time I was saying it. So, when I was trying to go up the rope the second time, Sgt Groomes kept yelling at me and ridiculing me because I'd said the training was "too easy", and here I couldn't even make it up the rope.
Then we had lunch, followed by brass polishing, then a long class on terrorism. During brass polishing, I told Sgt Orlovsky I wanted to go to sick call to get some medicine for my cough. I've had it for a couple weeks now. He said OK, but then Sepulveda brought me up some cough syrup he'd been given, and he said it had gotten rid of his cough quickly. So I didn't have to go to sickbay. There was a lot of shit and name-calling this morning about sickbay commandos, because 15 recruits went to sickbay this morning. Right now, I'm in a class on Recruiters' Assistants and the Command Recruiting Program. Somehow, I don't think any of the people in my wide circle of thirty-something friends and associates would be too interested in following in my footsteps.
After that, we came back to the house and worked on shoes. The first 15 minutes of that was spent fixing all the dings from our cleanups. Sgt Morris called up a list of names to bend for disciplinary reasons. I went up and asked him in front of Sgt Orlovsky if I could bend because I didn't make the rope climb. He said "BEND!!" Whenever we speak to the DIs, we have to ask permission first, using all the prescribed terminology. In response, they are usually very hostile and scream in your face, "What do you WANT?!?" Sgt Orlovsky likes to get right in the face of anyone who speaks to him in other than very strong, firm, loud terms and scream "Why are you WHISPERING?!?". He never has any reason to do it to me, but he does it to many of the others. Sgt Orlovsky told me to come see him when Sgt Morris was done with me. So, Sgt Morris bent me quite awhile, while I was wearing my wooly pully, then Sgt Orlovsky called me to the back to bend with a fun little group he had going. It was hot as hell in the wooly pully. Finally, he got tired, and I went back to polishing shoes. They called up another group of screwups after that, but I decided I'd had enough fun for one day, especially while wearing the wooly pully, so I didn’t volunteer to join that group.
Then we went out to a "class" and pitch on the Leatherneck magazine. They were having people sign up for it using their home address. It seemed to me it would be a lot smarter to just wait until we know our address at our first duty station, so I didn't sign up for it. This morning, at the start of PT, there were lots of pretty clouds, but they built up and it's been raining ever since the end of PT. I'm now writing this in the rack. It's still raining.
I had been eagerly awaiting tonight's mail call, since I didn't get anything Friday night. We didn't get any mail call tonight at all! Great!!! Well, I guess that means twice as much mail tomorrow night, right? Moreaux just got caught writing in his rack by Sgt Morris, who said he'll bend him big time in the morning. With all the Boot Camp rules and restrictions in place these days, the DIs can't do anything to us at night except let us get our 8 hours sleep. Well, he didn't catch me, so I continue to write.
We have the Confidence Course tomorrow, which should be fun. Squad Leader Moran and Jalomo were in a fight before supper, then after supper Moran kept trying to provoke Jalomo to restart the fight. Another fine example by our outstanding squad leaders. I despise them, especially Regalado and DeCluette, beyond description. They exhibit zero leadership. They blatantly use their position as nothing more than a personal perk.
Earlier tonight, Jackson bummed some of my cough medicine off me. He said he's got a cold. It sure can't be too bad; I didn't even know he has one. I grumbled a bit, and asked if he was really sick, but I gave him some. Later on, Gebhart said he had some left over from his cold that he'd give me, so my supply isn't as critical as it was.
After supper, we did some more shoe and brass polishing. We had to spend the first part of our precious free time making racks with fresh linen. Jackson and I make some good tight racks. Ours are never torn down or criticized. Some people's racks look like shit. Oh, I got my military glasses, finally, this afternoon. Sgt Orlovsky said he didn't EVER want to see my civilian piece of shit glasses again. The other recruits say I look a lot different in these new (heavy black) glasses. I didn't really think so. Smith said I looked weird as hell in them, but I don't know if he was serious or not. I can see fine with them. I was concerned about that. I knew they don't bother actually checking your eyes. They just take your old glasses and some bored, disinterested clerk takes a quick reading off them in a machine and determines "approximately" what the prescription is. But they seem fine. This afternoon, at lunch, with my old glasses, right after PT and bending, I was getting some odd visual effects, but they went away after lunch. It was kind of a hard-to-define blurriness around the edges, but nothing was blurry when I focused on something.
TUE 12/2 T-56
It's still raining this morning. So far, all we've done is change clothes. We got dressed in regular cammies, and did cleanup. Then we put on the wooly pullies. Then we went to morning chow. Then we switched to boots and utes (cammie uniform with jockstrap added and the cammie blouse removed). It seems to me that better planning would have dictated cammie tops over boots and utes for chow, then just remove the blouses. Anyway, now we're in boots and utes having prac station practice, before we go out for PT. It's raining lightly outside. Laying on the ground doing our stretching exercises should be LOTS of fun.
Well, the Marine Corps has pussied out again! I wasn't too thrilled about the idea, but I was certainly willing to go out and lay in the cold mud to do stretching exercises prior to doing the Confidence Course. Actually, we could have even done them in the house prior to going over there. After doing prac stations for awhile, they told us to change uniform AGAIN, out of boots and utes, back to regular cammies.
So, now we're doing more prac stations. I could do these things in my sleep, which is the idea. Some of these clowns can't even do the simplest, most basic things right. It's scary to think that my life could depend on such incompetent bozos. The DIs bent some recruits for awhile, so I went up and joined them. Then they called more recruits up for not taking off their red shorts under the cammie pants. I joined that group too, but Sgt Morris pulled me out, and wouldn't let me bend. Funny, but it hasn't rained since breakfast. The sky is getting lighter all the time.
Boy, we've sure missed a lot of training. Plus everything we've done has been overly hurried and crowded because each series in this company has 4 platoons of about 80, instead of the usual 3 platoons with about 65 recruits by this time. I believe they packed this company up because they didn't take in any new recruits for a couple weeks after we came, so that the next class graduating after us wouldn’t graduate until after the holidays. And our platoon has many more reserve recruits (generally not as good or as motivated) than most platoons.
The DIs just called up everyone who didn't fill out a subscription to "Leatherneck" to the classroom, and made us fill one out. Sgt Henion asked me why I hadn't filled one out. He said he wanted to know if I was some kind of subversive or pervert. He said I probably subscribed to some faggy thing like Air Force Times or some shit like that. So, rather than try to reason with him about it, I went through the motions for him, even though I thought it was dumb to do so before I knew where I'd be stationed.
Earlier today, they took names of experienced boxers and a few inexperienced boxers who wanted to volunteer for the "smokers", a series versus series boxing competition. I was one of the first inexperienced ones up in the classroom, so my name, weight, and experience were taken down. Later on, Sgt Groomes sent the experienced ones down to see the CDI, and told the inexperienced ones to stand by, in case we were to be used. Sgt Henion was razzing me about being one of the boxers. He says I analyze everything, because yesterday I went up to him and told him that one of the prac stations was all wrong, and explained why it was wrong. But he said just remember what they're looking for, and don't analyze it. So, since then, he razzes me about analyzing everything. He said I'd get into the ring and stand there analyzing the situation while my head got punched in. I think it'll be interesting, win or lose. I'll just go in and do my best and give 'em hell.
I did a prac station Christianson was running. He's turning into a pretty good Marine. He sounds off more, acts less timid and more rugged. Velasquez has improved a lot, too. He isn't very bright, but he's become well motivated and disciplined. We had a COD session after lunch, which went fairly well with no major screwups. We had rifle maintenance after COD, then a class in the theater about pay and earnings, then a class on leadership. Another thing we missed this morning was the Close Combat Course (probably hand-to-hand combat). Another cool part of training missed due to rain. It's been clear and sunny all afternoon. There was a very nice pink sunset.
WED 12/3 T57
We had shoe and brass polishing after evening chow last night, then mail call. I got 3 from my wife, 1 from Mom, and 1 from Aunt Bobbie. I had armory guard duty from 2400 to 0200. I had a hell of a time getting up this morning. My glasses hooked on the bedpost, then I decided not to put on the jock and red shorts because they hadn't been mentioned at all. I was prepared to get them on last night, but I fell asleep first. So, I was the last one out of the rack, then I decided to go for skivvie shorts instead of PT stuff. I had to do my footlocker combination about 3 times before it would take. I guess my brain was a little fuzzy. So there I am, standing there with my balls hanging down while everyone else is nearly dressed. Sgt Orlovsky saw that and made everyone strip down, then start getting dressed all over again. That let me catch up with the others, and that time I made it fully dressed (or nearly so) with the others. At least I had all the major stuff on. I can tie up the bootlaces, etc later. I may have to PAY for that, but I haven't yet, and haven’t received any threats of punishment.
At morning chow, Sgt Orlovsky said we have a fast run this morning, so eat light. I appreciated the warning. Then we marched back to the house to change into boots and utes. I shouldn't have backed out of what I had planned to wear, because that’s what we ended up with. Right now, we're just waiting to head out to PT. We have the platoon group photo in cammies right after PT. Last night, I ironed a fresh set of cammies for the picture. Well, actually all I had time for was the top part; blouse and cover. I didn't get time to do the bottoms. I asked Jackson to iron them for me on his firewatch, and I said I'd iron his for him on my next firewatch. He didn't do it, so I'll just go with the ones I've been wearing all week.
The week's half gone! Just a couple more weeks of boot camp! Guard duty at the armory last night was quite boring. I had it figured pretty close in my mind when the 2 hours was up, and then the relief showed up. I just marched back and forth in front of the armory with an empty rifle. We were told there were 2 MP guards inside with loaded rifles.
Looks like it'll be a nice clear sunny day. I feel anxious about the run. I guess it's from thinking about how tough the last 2 were for me. Hopefully, my lungs will be working a little better this time. The cough is better now. I don't know what else we'll be doing. I just realized I didn't mail my letter to my wife this morning, either. The only chance to mail something is when exiting the chow hall, so if it's forgotten at that moment, usually with the guide chasing me out, then the chance is gone until the next meal.
We had PT this morning. It was a warm day, with a hot sun, typical California day. PT was the usual warmup, then 2 passes through the obstacle course. I made the rope climb BOTH times, and made a point of making sure Sgt Groomes saw and heard me sounding off at the top. I figured out why the previous runs were harder than expected. One reason is that after 2 passes through the Obstacle Course, I'm usually so exhausted I can hardly tie my shoes. Today's run was supposed to be a FAST 5.5 miles. I wasn't looking forward to it at all. We stood around awhile first, though, which let me recover a bit from the O course. The run started off pretty fast, then slowed slightly at the 1.5 mile point. After we turned around, it was a little slower and slowing up a lot sometimes. Then I knew it was no sweat. Another reason is that we weren't wearing our sweatshirts today, as on the previous 2 runs, so I didn't get so overheated. A third reason was they had the "car washes" on today, which also helped keep me from getting too hot. Running in the sweatshirts was hot and uncomfortable.
Right now, I'm in a class on alcohol abuse. Many of these guys could use it, but most will ignore it. I've heard many of them brag about all the drinking (and/or screwing) they are going to do when they get out of here. Anyway, the run was much easier than I expected. Also, it ended unexpectedly. I don't believe it was more than 4 miles. After the run, we did the usual max sets of pullups and situps. My first set was 9 pullups and 71 situps. After the pullups, LT Johnson stopped me and asked how many I did. He said I'd better get moving if I plan to do 20 by the time I get out of here, as I had told him during the interview that I would do. I didn't recall saying that, but I told him I would sure work on being able to do 20. He asked what I thought of the run, and I told him it was too slow and easy. He said maybe he'd take me out for a more challenging run sometime. Great!! He'll probably run me into the ground.
The run wasn't too bad at all. We sang most of the way. Sgt Groomes was really sounding off his songs. Smith S. was doing his usual bitching and moaning behind me. He and Means passed me once, but I passed them back, elbowed back in, and told them to cut the shit. They stayed in line after that. This platoon has no unity; every man for himself. Rather than help each other make the run and stay in formation, people are so eager to pass others that they try to squeeze by me if I leave more than a foot between me and the person in front of me. That lack of unity is one of the reasons we lose every competition. Brown was a run drop, as well as a double O Course failure. I don't know if there were any other run drops. McNeil faded back past me, but I don't know if he fell back all the way past the end of the platoon or not. I had a sore left calf muscle after the run. Jackson said he also made both rope climbs, which is a good improvement for him, too. He’s a good guy. He’s been my bunk mate all through boot camp. Just as I'm getting over my cold, he's picking his up. I'll shit if I get his cold back again. Hopefully, I've got plenty of antibodies built up by now.
After the run and shower, we went over for the platoon group photo. I wore my pressed cammies. I got jumped on by Sgt Henion for not wearing my spit shined boots. I didn't know we were supposed to wear them. In fact, I had thought of it, and decided I shouldn't. They had the guide and high shooter in the front, with the DIs. So, it was just Smith and the DIs in front. That's sure a sore point with me. I had to depend on them to give me the guide billet, but I earned the High Shooter. Then we had lunch with strawberry shortcake for dessert. After the photo session I got bent quite awhile for not having spit-shined boots on. They said they'll get me again later for it, too.
Last night, I weighed myself, and it was the same 180 it was in First Phase. Amazing! I've never weighed so much! I weighed 166 at MEPS when I came here. More muscle, probably, and I am not used to eating 3 full meals every day. LT Johnson was the one who did the nightly hygiene inspection last night. He had a brief conversation with each Private. He asked me how everything was going. I said "Fine, Sir!", and he said "Are you sure?", and I said "Yes, Sir!"
After the alcohol abuse class, we went over to clothing issue to get our tailored greens. I'm waiting in line for that now.
We got our tailored greens and returned to the house. All the series officers and Senior DIs and the CDI came by, and we set up footlockers in a "modeling stand" in the classroom. We took turns lining up to stand on the footlockers and be inspected for fit in each of the uniform combinations. Nearly everyone has at least one article of clothing to go back for more alterations. I have both poly and wool jackets to take back in the morning. I'll make sure tomorrow morning's wakeup is swifter than this morning's.
After the inspection, we had chow, with strawberry shortcake for dessert again. They gave us huge helpings! They said they had a bunch of it they needed to get rid of. I was glad to do my part to help them out. Gruell and Brown didn't want any. I tried to get Gruell to get some anyway & give it to me, but he didn't want to bother. Usually, he will if I ask him. 4th squad was the last one in, so I didn't get to eat everything, and I was the last one out. We had shoe polishing after chow. We had mail call, but there wasn't much mail. Cline got candy again (kisses), and gave me one. I didn't get any mail, so I reread the mail from the other night.
Our official rifle scores and our MOSs (the job we'll be assigned) were posted last night. Regalado said Smith had also been chosen as Series Honor Man. I am quite jealous, because it could/should have been me, but he has done quite well. He made 1st class swimmer, high PFT, and high shooter. He's going to be a 2621, manual Morse interceptor, so at least I won't have him competing against me for Recon. He would have made it easily. So that's one more possible slot for me. But if I don't improve my PFT, especially the pullups, I can forget it anyway.
On the shooting scores, I was quite curious to see how Hanley shot, because at the start of boot camp he was saying he used to shoot on a .22 rifle team, and so he expected to shoot 250, or at least be the high shooter. I had initially considered him to be my main competition for high shooter, but I wondered then if he was just talk. When we completed the rifle range, I had asked him how he shot. He said he didn't know his score, which I took to mean he didn't do jack shit. And he didn't; he only shot a 202! Many recruits were listed on the MOS board as 0300, infantry; Anderson AL, Gruell, McNeil, Means, Burke, Funke, Johnson MA and AB, to name a few. Well, infantry is the backbone of the Corps!
THUR 12/4 T-58
It's right after lunch.
Now, it's right after supper. I didn't get to write anything all day.
Now it's after taps, my only chance to write. It's been a very busy day. First, we had our green service uniforms refitted. Then we had a PT session, consisting of a practice PFT and a short run to and from the PT area. I didn't do very well; 9 pullups, 75 situps, and a run time of 20:30. My mile time was 6:30 and my 1.5 mile time was about 10. I was disappointed. I think I pushed it about as hard as I could, though. Jackson passed me at 2 miles. I kept up with him for another 1/4 mile, but I couldn't hold it. I turned it on and passed Hill and someone else in the last half mile, but I couldn't hold it, and they got me back in the last 1/8 mile. Pullups were especially disappointing. I really need to practice the kip. Lytle says he can double his count by using the kip, which is making the pullup into sort of a swinging motion. I tried without any success. It feels like it'll tear my arms out of the sockets, though. If I can get it down, I can make a marked improvement in my score, and in my Recon chances. (Later, I found out that, when you go for Recon Indoctrination, the kip is prohibited, anyway. All they allow is a steady down and up motion; no swinging.)
Tonight, McNeil got a letter from his brother in the infantry at Camp Pendleton, which said civil war is imminent in the Philippines and, thus, so is our presence. I told Smith and Anderson that was fine with me; that's what I came in for. They, especially Smith, seemed quite stunned. I asked them what the hell they thought we were really here for; just kiddie games and college money? He just said "You mean you want to kill someone?" a couple times. Later, he sat staring off into space, shocked about all of it. Earlier in training, possibly at the range, the Philippines was mentioned as a growing hot spot. I hear that McNeil's brother (the infantry Sergeant at Camp Pendleton) says we'll go there directly from ITS (Infantry Training School).
I was talking to Regalado this morning. It takes quite an effort, but I try to maintain some basic civility. He came in to be an MP (it sure figures, the way he loves to misuse his position and bully people around), but he couldn't get that MOS, due to losing his license for the second time just before coming to boot camp. Anyway, he said I ought to do the Recruiter's Assistant program, because it would get me rank faster (I get a promotion to LCpl if I get 2 people to sign up), and my age should make it easier to show young people that it isn't too hard, and that it's a viable alternative for anyone, not just those with no other place to turn to. It was a good point. Maybe I'll write to Rod, my recruiter, about it. Except, of course, now he’s GySgt McNeil, not “Rod”!
So after PT, we had lunch, then a couple classes on drug abuse and on clothing; then we had some COD. Enroute to the first class, we paused awhile and did some lively refreshing exercises in the dirt because some of the recruits weren't trying hard enough. The DIs spotted some rust on Moran's rifle, then bent him, then fired him. The first thing I knew about it was when Sgt Orlovsky came up to me while I was bending with the others, and said I was the new first squad leader. So, I've been doing that all day. It's been very difficult. I'm not used to squad leader COD moves, nor 1st squad moves, and that position puts me even further from the DI, so I have to listen very carefully to his commands. The column of twos and the files moves were especially foreign to me, but the DIs were pretty tolerant of me, and Kizzia was helping me a lot. He’s a good guy; the only squad leader I can stand. Grezenia is the second one back in the first squad. He started screaming at me when I first came up to take over 1st squad, and I told him to shut the fuck up. Later, he made a few critical comments, too. I told him he'd better keep his shit REAL straight, or he's going to start getting bent a lot. I'm not going to take any crap from him. I've already heard people are betting I won't last long. It wouldn't surprise me at all, either. Sgt Morris' reaction was typical for him, and I expected it. As soon as he saw me at the head of the platoon, he scurried over to Sgt Orlovsky and asked why I was there. I expect he'll soon find an excuse to fire me. If he can't find an excuse soon enough, he'll just fire me for the hell of it. Oh well. Tonight, during cleanup, he called Moran up and said Moran should "stand by; if he's good, he may get his job back". What a surprise! Later, I asked Sgt Morris if I could switch racks with Moran into the squad leader rack area, and he said "hell, no!", a pretty clear indication he doesn't expect me to be in the billet very long. The toughest part is COD, especially all the new movements.
The DIs were really hot this morning. Brown was a run drop/last again. When we got back to the house, Sgt Orlovsky started in on him, sounding really vicious. He bent Brown a very long time, and kept making him stop bending long enough to guzzle full canteens of water. Sgt Orlovsky took Brown to the back of the squadbay. He said he was going to bend Brown until he puked, and he did. Things are definitely not slacked off here for the last couple weeks of boot camp. In fact, expectations are much higher than ever before. Anyone slacking off now, thinking it's just about over, is in for a rude awakening.
Walker got some fudge last night, but he said he would not share it with anyone because everyone is so mean to him because he's such a worthless, spineless pussy. He's the one who threw a temper tantrum during mess duty, punched the dish washing machine, and broke his hand. When he did that, I wouldn't let him go to sickbay for it until the next day, because he did it to himself. The Chief Messman had backed me up on that. Later, I was questioned by the DIs and the officers about why I wouldn't let him go, and they seemed to understand the logic, although they felt obligated to say I should have let him go. He's one of the pussies who's been on light duty throughout most of boot camp. A few days ago, he was getting bent and told the Senior DI he wanted a discharge. The Senior just said "BEND!!". No wait, I think that was McNeil, another last-placer on the runs. I must say though, McNeil's gone from 2 to 17 pullups while he's been here, which isn't too bad. Anyway, poor little Walker wants out now. I sure hope they drop him.
Brown is a contract PFC! If there was a rank below E-1, that's what Brown should be. When he told us he is a contract PFC, in response to Sgt Groomes asking us who’s a contract PFC, Sgt Groomes asked him outright if he took knee pads with him when he went to his recruiter. I hope they drop him, or at least pull his PFC promotion. He's worthless, always sloughing off at everything he does. I also pray they drop Mr. Lost; Cook. We'll see. They make lots of threats, but my experience has shown them to be extremely reluctant to drop anyone. If they wouldn't drop someone as completely worthless as Cook after he failed everything in First Phase so miserably, then I doubt they will drop him now after putting a couple more months of training into him. Well, I would like to write more, but I've already stayed up all the way thru the entire firewatch shift after standing my own watch. Plus, any free time I have now will be spent learning the extra stuff I have to know as a squad leader, and making sure all my shit is always totally squared away.
FRI 12/5 T-59
This morning, after morning chow, we had more cleanup, then prac stations. Sgt Morris called DeCluette up to bend because the scuttlebutt (drinking fountain) hadn't been polished, so I joined him because it's partly my area of responsibility, too. It was a long, tough bending session. My muscles, especially my arms, felt like mush. Mr. Teamwork, total piece of shit DeCluette, actually started screaming at me a couple times while we were bending because Sgt Morris was yelling at me to do it faster, even though I was doing it at the same pace as DeCluette. When I get a chance, I'll tell DeCluette what I think of that. As a squad leader, I can tell him off without getting into a bunch of shit for being disrespectful to their lofty rank. I didn't even have to be there bending with him. I volunteered to be there, because it was my responsibility, something his kind is incapable of comprehending. I asked him later what the hell his problem was. He claimed he did it because he was expected to. I told him he was a sorry little worm. Most of the squad leaders, but especially DeCluette and Regalado, blatantly just use their positions for their own personal advancement and to bully others needlessly. I keep reminding myself that I suppose it's the DI's technique of stressing us in ways they are no longer allowed to. I can take anything from the DIs, but it's very difficult to put up with the squad leaders abuses. Oh well, maybe it's preparation for further abuses of rank and billet I'll probably encounter all over the Marine Corps, anyway.
Guess what!! I'm fired already! What a surprise! It was the same deal as when I was fired as guide the last time. I didn't do anything wrong; Sgt Morris just said I was fired, and he put Moran back in. I guess he got tired of waiting for an excuse. As I finished writing the first entry for today, Sgt Groomes sent the squad leaders outside to practice the column movements. He also sent Moran along "to help me", and to practice himself, no doubt. After about 15 minutes of that, they secured prac, and the platoon came out to join us. We squad leaders were sent into the house to change into wooly pullies to match the rest of the platoon. When we came down, Sgt Morris told me to get in the formation in my old spot, and he put Moran back in the front. When we got to the class we were marching to, I asked Sgt Morris why I was in the back and not in front, and if it meant I was fired. He said it did mean I was fired. I asked what reason I was fired, and he said it was because I didn't bend fast enough, and because they didn't want anyone new up front with Third Phase drill inspection coming up so soon. Actually, I was quite concerned about that aspect myself. That's one reason I stayed up late last night working on learning the moves. Then Sgt Morris started screaming more and more about how I couldn't bend for shit, then Sgt Henion joined in screaming at me, and then they started screaming about my shave. Then they made me get over in the dirt and start bending. Then about 3 other DIs from other platoons joined in, and they were all standing there screaming at me about being a bad squad leader, and wanting to be guide, and being a bad example because I couldn't bend, and being an Air Force pussy. I just kept my bearing, and kept bending and stopping periodically to yell a reply back at them. After awhile of that, they got bored, and told me to get into the classroom.
Right now, I'm in classes. We've had 2 on uniform wear and maintenance, and now it's one on information security. It's only a week more until Visitor's Sunday. I am so eager for it to get here! I don't know the details yet, but I do know we get marched to the Visitor's Center to see our visitors. They haven't told us much at all about it, and it's not a wise subject to inquire into, for obvious reasons. Final prac is Tuesday! There's an inspection tomorrow. Final drill is next week! One week to parade practice! Final PFT is a week from Tuesday, I think. Sweet anticipation! It's a cool, sunny day.
We had PT this afternoon. We're doing prac stations now. Doing prac gives me a good chance to write. I run through the prac stations quickly, to refresh the details in my mind, then I spend the rest of the prac time helping others out and writing these notes. We had a fast lunch, with 4th squad being the last one in again.
Now, we're getting ready to go out for COD. Shit, half the platoon's on light duty and/or going to sickbay for something this afternoon. I forgot to mail my letter after lunch, as usual, so I snuck out the back door during prac, and ran back over there and mailed it, so it'll get out today.
It turns out I was right about the light duty privates; 33 of them!! The Senior was livid! He threw a major temper tantrum. He was slinging footlockers all around the classroom and screaming like a maniac. Then everyone not on light duty had to bend in sessions of 10 to pay for all the light duty privates. I just finished one of my turns at it, so I can write a little while the attention is focused in the classrooms. I have to be very careful about it, however, as the DIs are always looking around for someone to nail for something, like writing or watching the bending. I still can't do pushups worth a damn, so I sure need the extra exercise.
Now it's after PT. We had a nice easy slow 5 mile run. It was more like the old runs. We ran fast from about 4.5 to 4.75 miles. Brown and McNeil fell back to the end of the platoon, but I don't think McNeil actually dropped, and I heard that even Brown didn't. You can drop to the end of the platoon group without being considered a drop, but if an appreciable gap opens up, you're considered a run drop. I was surprised Brown wasn't a run drop, because he started falling back at about 3 or 4 miles. Once someone of his little drive starts falling back, that's usually the end of him. I figured we'd surely lose him in the fast part, but I guess he put out a little extra for a change. Maybe he's actually becoming a Marine! How nice! It feels great now after a shower.
We had more prac stations after PT, then chow, then a prac test. During PT, Senior DI SSgt Luna from another platoon was talking to me. He's 33. He always calls me "old man". He's always nice and friendly to me. I've always wished he was my Senior. He was right ahead of me on the PFT run, running with “Fat Albert” Wesson, trying to motivate him to run faster. I came in ahead of Wesson, of course, but lost SSgt Luna between 1 mile and 1.5 mile. Anyway, while I was doing stretching exercises prior to the run, he was talking to me, asking me questions about how I was doing in boot camp and asking about my tattoo. Sgt Groomes was standing there, making lots of sneering remarks about me and everything I said to SSgt Luna. I just ignored the asshole. SSgt Luna said he'd have had me as guide, or at least a squad leader. He asked me if I was hard charging, and I said "Yes, Sir!". Sgt Groomes sneered that I used to be a squad leader, but obviously wasn't hard charging enough, because I no longer was a squad leader. SSgt Luna's always so relaxed and friendly, and Sgt Groomes is ALWAYS so vicious and pissed off, and never, ever nice or friendly.
At the start of the run, I couldn't believe what Sgt Orlovsky did. He came up to Brown and smiled real big, and said in a very friendly way, "You aren't going to drop out of the run today, are you, Brown?". I've never seen him do anything so friendly. During the run, when Brown started fading, we were trying to encourage him to keep up, and Sgt Orlovsky told him to be sure to keep up. Later, when Brown's shoelace came untied, the other Sgt Orlovsky came back out. Sgt Orlovsky started snarling at Brown and screaming at him that he deliberately tied his shoelaces poorly, so he'd have to stop to tie them. So he told Brown he'd have to continue the rest of the run like that. On one of the tough runs, the one after the S&E run, my shoelace came undone because they weren't double-tied because I was last off the O course, and didn't have time to do it. I ran at least a mile like that before I decided to stop and tie them. I stopped real quick and tied them. Sgt Orlovsky said, as he went by, to hurry up and catch up. I sprinted by him a few seconds later like he was standing still. He never gives me a hard time about anything. Sgt Morris, on the other hand, has an entire separate rulebook for me.
After the PT run, we did the circuit course, which was a good workout, then we double-timed back to the house. I got a letter from Brenda at mail call.
SAT 12/6 T-60
Shit, what a day so far! We're doing prac stations now, so I have a chance to write. Everything is "hushed". Everyone is walking on eggshells, fearful of more fun to come. We got up and made our racks OK, and started to do the cleanup this morning. Then Sgt Orlovsky saw dumb shit Miller moving too slow, so he made everyone tear apart the racks and stand on line holding the sheets and blankets overhead. Of course, that wasn't done fast enough, so then we had to stack our mattresses by the portholes (windows). Then we had 5 minutes to put it all back together in perfect condition. When we were done, something else pissed him off; either someone not done or someone moving too slow, so then ALL sheets, blankets, and pillows went into a stack in the rear classroom. Then all towel displays were heaped in the rear. He threatened to add footlocker contents to the pile next if anyone screwed up in any way. Then we went to the chowhall for a VERY brief meal, and came back to remake the mess. Naturally, everyone's gear was all mixed up , so we just grabbed anything and started remaking racks frantically. I really just LOVE getting to sleep in the sheets someone else has been jerking off in for a week! I've had about 3 changes of fitted sheet, blanket, and pillow this way. Sometimes I end up with shitty stuff, and sometimes I get decent stuff. One time at the range, I got a fitted sheet that was all torn to shreds and a blanket with several tears in it.
We're taking and retaking practice prac tests now, so I'm getting a break to write. I got 100% on my test, so Sgt Orlovsky has me giving the tests to everyone else. That piece of shit Cook, Mr. Phase One Double Prac Failure, just got 9 wrong out of 25 very easy and obvious multiple choice questions. I really hope they drop his dumb worthless ass, but they probably won't. Also after chow, during cleanup, nearly everyone in the platoon was bent. First, everyone whose rack wasn't tight or who had sloppy displays got bent. Naturally, Jackson and I didn’t get called out for that, as our gear is always done right. Then lots of others got bent for various reasons. When there are so many light duty commandos, a lot of privates can't be bent. Therefore, the DIs, especially Sgt Orlovsky, will bend about 4 innocent bystanders for someone who can't bend.
Wow! I just did a prac station run by Strom. I thought he looked pretty down, and his face looked puffy. I asked him what was wrong, and he said that after chow, Smith, Regalado, and DeCluette each came up to him on 3 separate occasions and punched him in the face because part of this morning's shit was because Sgt Orlovsky said Strom wasn't sounding off. Also, awhile ago, during prac stations, Squad Leader Moran had started a fight with Vanaman. They wrestled on the deck awhile with a couple swings, then Moran got up first and kicked Vanaman in the head with his combat boots. The psycho squad leaders are really getting out of hand. I've told them before that if they ever gang up on me, they'd better not ever go to sleep again in this squadbay. There are plenty of weapons all around us for those who can recognize them. In the Air Force, a commonly available weapon was the easily removable iron pipes that hold the top rack up off the bottom one. I’ve told all the squad leaders repeatedly and publicly that if they ever gang up on me like they have with some of the others here, there will be some SERIOUS injuries to deal with. Fortunately for all concerned, they believe me.
My triceps and shoulders are a little stiff and sore. Good! That means I must have given them a good workout yesterday. Now I just need to keep it up every day. We were supposed to have an inspection today, but we had prac stations instead. We were also supposed to have an inspection last Saturday, but it was canceled. Supposedly, it was because we weren't ready for it. It's after lunch now. The squad leaders are being total assholes, screaming constantly at everyone and putting everyone down. We're going to a class, then the Confidence Course. It sure isn't a downhill coast to the finish. I'm just keeping my nose clean and my mouth shut, and concentrating on whatever's at hand.
Now, it's after the Confidence Course and before chow, and we're doing more prac stations. There's more turmoil going on all around me. Anderson is being bent heavily with both Sgt Morris and Sgt Henion screaming in his ears. It's bedlam; all the DIs are screaming at most of the recruits, and all of us recruits are trying to look as busy and inconspicuous as possible. After lunch, I missed a couple classes because SDI SSgt Luna and Sgt Groomes had me do some typing for them. It was mentally difficult because the work consisted of typing up the nominations for meritorious promotions for the squad leaders and Smith, commendations for Smith for being honor man, for Smith for being the high shooter, for Smith for being the series honor man, and for the series high shooter, who shot a 236, the same as me.
The Confidence Course was fun. The CDI spoke to me a couple times while I was going through it. He asked me at one point what I thought of the course. I said I thought it was "interesting and fun, but not difficult". He said it wasn't meant to be difficult, just to present mental challenges that the recruits could learn they could overcome. At the slide for life, everyone was watching me (I arrived last after completing the typing). Sgt Morris was having fun yelling at me, and I was just having fun. They got me half way down the slide for life, and made me stop and hang there until I couldn’t hang any longer, and dropped into the water below. Many of the recruits were afraid of the obstacles, but I enjoyed them and thought they were fun. Their fear was infectious, and I had to remind myself not to let their fear influence my knowledge that I could easily do them all.
While doing the typing, I told Sgt Groomes about the squad leaders being so out of control. I told him about them ganging up on Strom and about kicking Vanaman in the head. I saw Sgt Groomes questioning the squad leaders about something when we were at chow. Hopefully, he'll get them somewhat back into line.
After chow, the platoon went to some kind of a show. We've been unbloused all day. Sgt Groomes said he didn't think we deserved to go to the show, but apparently the series commander thought we did, so they've all gone to that. I have 2000-2200 guard duty at the armory again, so I'm waiting to go to that, instead of going to the show. The last time we had guard duty, Sgt Groomes got compliments from the Battalion Commander about how well we did it.
After I got dunked at the Confidence Course, Sgt DeMarco was razzing me about being "all wet", because I'd said it was easy, then I got dunked. Sgt Groomes is concerned about prac failures, so now he's set aside about 20 of the ones having the most trouble with prac, and they're to study it at every opportunity, including during each cleanup. They're doing it now.
SUN 12/7 T-61
It's nearly suppertime now. We are doing yet MORE prac stations. If we spent half as much time improving people's PFT as we do working on their prac, I'd be about a 300 PFT by now.
This morning started off pretty bad. After morning chow, we came back to the house, and all the racks were turned over by Sgt Henion. Then we had to pile up all our shoes and boots in the classroom. Then we had to dump our footlockers. Then we had a couple minutes to put it all back together. It seems Sgt Henion saw Herman, Miller (again), Nombrana, and Kruzinsky coming out of the Chow Hall, chewing food and laughing and goofing around. Also, I guess some of them gave a Corporal of the Guard some shit last night. Last night's guard duty was long and boring. I heard the show the others went to was pretty good.
After we cleaned up the house, Sgt Groomes had a powwow, in which he said we could give 100% for the next 11 days, and things could be smooth. Or we could try to coast, and the DIs would make sure things were quite unpleasant for us every day. I got into another confrontation with Smith and the squad leaders about them jumping people. I heard them making some comments about someone else needing a pounding. I just couldn't hold my tongue any longer. I told them they had no right to be attacking people, and that if they ever tried anything like that with me, they'd quickly find out they'd bitten off more than they could chew, because I'd go totally apeshit on them, and people would be going to the hospital over it. Of course, Regalado had to puff out his chest and talk big, but I invited him to just go right ahead and give me a try if he was dumb enough, and he backed down. Of course, I suppose that's a big part of the difference between me and some of the pussies the squad leaders like to bully. I would never take the shit they do. Strom has been on light duty most of the time here. So has Walker and Gebhart.
Anyway, we cleaned the place up this morning and had free time. We had sent some of our new uniforms out to the cleaners for pressing and application of the PFC stripe for those who will be PFC when we graduate. My shirts really look great with the PFC stripe on them. I worked on Irish pennants (loose hanging strings) on them. I did my laundry and ironed my cammie blouse. Then it was lunch time. I had no time at all to write.
We had lunch, then a COD session with the CDI grading it. There were several major screwups. Then we had the series versus series boxing matches. Holliday, Cline, and Clements were the ones from 1109. Our series lost the boxing match; six fights to three. Many of our boxers, especially Holliday, bled a lot. I had signed up to box as an inexperienced boxer, but they only took a few experienced boxers from each platoon. Watching the boxing was fun. There was a lot of spirit in it. We were doing many chants, especially ones related to things we've said during training, like "Deck private, spill!" whenever someone started bleeding. Some of the off duty DIs and their families were there watching. It was party cloudy today, with a chilly breeze. I was glad to get back to the house from the boxing matches. It’s only one more week to Visitor's Sunday. Great! I can hardly wait! There are still no details on it.
After evening chow, we did yet more prac stations. It's been continuous alternating between doing oral stations and going to the classroom to take another written test. I use this time to catch up on my diary, as I know all this stuff cold by now. Smith is up front screaming about something in his squeaky little voice. I have to admit, though, he does put out a lot of effort. That was another thing that sucked about the platoon group photo and my rifle score. I should have been up front with Smith, as High Shooter. At the graduation ceremony, I'll miss the honor of being publicly recognized for that. That really burns.
MON 12/8 T-62
Right now, I'm waiting in line at the sickbay clinic to give blood. It's a standard part of boot camp. In Air Force basic, I passed out afterward. Here, they didn't send everyone over; only about 20% of us. Of course there isn't a war on, as there was when I went into the Air Force. The Navy personnel are so casual and nice with us, it seems very unusual. In First Phase, the Navy medical people were real pricks. Their hair seems so long! And they stand around with their hands in their pockets, etc; no bearing, compared to Marines. It's been a standard morning. There was a nice sunrise, with the sky covered with pink streaks.
I got into another confrontation last night with Regalado. He was doing his usual mindless screaming, and I gave him a dirty look, because I'm so utterly sick of hearing his voice. He flipped out, and ranted and raved for awhile about how he was tired of my looks, and how I was going to get it. I just told him to fuck off, and we faced off for awhile. I'm going to try to fix his ass somehow before I leave this place.
Well, giving blood wasn't too bad. I never felt sick or weak or queasy at all. Smith passed out. When I saw him afterward, he was all sweaty and weak. After giving blood, we all got granola bars and a wide variety of drinks. In the Air Force, as I recall, we just got crackers and a tiny cup of juice. When we got back to the house, Sgt Morris said the platoon had been "playing some games" while we were giving blood. When I asked him why, he just told me to get the fuck away from him.
We're getting more shots now. I've had just about enough needles in me for one day! The shots weren't too bad. The first one was for yellow fever, and it was more painful than the second one. It's cool and partly cloudy today. After the shots, we picked up a new SSgt. I think he's someone in DI school. There were a bunch of them around at chow. They are Sgts and SSgts, but they have no Smokey Bear hats. The one we have doesn't yell; he just points out areas for us to correct. Of course, Sgt Orlovsky and Sgt Henion didn't yell at first, either. We had prac stations after lunch. Sgt Morris called me up front, and had me tell the new SSgt about my age, what I did in the Air Force and as a civilian, and show them my tattoo. Then they yelled at me a couple times, and told me to get away. Standard amusement fare for the DIs.
After that, we went to a class where we went through each page of our SRB, Service Record Book, and made sure each page was OK. That class rolled over into one where we got our raw ID cards, and we checked them over, signed them, and returned them for laminating. We should get our pictures taken for them soon. In the Air Force, we had the pictures for the IDs taken in the first few days of basic, while we were still completely shaved bald. So at least the picture on my USMC ID card will look a little swifter.
Regalado just got caught by Sgt Groomes for goofing around behind me and looking at some pictures he had stashed in his knowledge. Then he was laughing and grinning about it on the way back to his seat. I didn't think of it at first (because I'm not an asshole like him), but I should have jumped up and screamed at him "It's not funny, Regalado!", and gotten him in more trouble. That's exactly the sort of thing he'd love to do to someone. We're supposed to be silent (as always), but he's been sitting behind me talking throughout the class.
Last night, I wrote a letter to Rod McNeill about being his recruiter's assistant. We'll see what he says. I believe we're lining up for the ID photos now. Now it's after the photos, and we're doing more waiting. It's the "usual" Southern California day; warm sun with a cool breeze.
After we came back from the photos, "the house came down"! I think it was because we weren't marching well enough on the way back. All the foot gear went into a pile in the classroom. Some of these dumb shits still don't have their names on their gear. All mine is well marked. By the end of free time, I got all my gear back. Some people ended up with 2 running shoes of different sizes. We had mail call, but there was nothing for me. I got nothing from my wife. I look forward so much to hearing from her, but maybe she doesn't have as much to write about as I do? I had earned a couple medals while I was in the Air Force, so I asked Sgt Groomes about getting my Air Force medals, and he said I could pick them up at the PX on Visitor's Sunday.
TUE 12/9 T-63
We're getting ready for the Third Phase prac test. Captain Kelly came by last night, and told us that passing it is a graduation requirement. Yeah, right! I'll bet! If some of the bozos fail it, they'll retest them and retest them until they manage to "pass" it. I really don't know about some of these clowns. I've been doing a lot of extra work, trying to help the others, but it's a herculean task. The losers have two things going against them; first, some of them are dumber than dog shit and second, they just don't put out maximum effort; they spend their time gabbing and screwing off. I gave a 50 question test last night. Many of the other recruits missed over 15 and 20. Boots missed 28! What morons! This isn't rocket science we're being tested on, either; it's just simple basic stuff we've had drilled into us all through boot camp, and each of these questions has been given to us, along with the correct answer, hundreds of times by now.
Well, prac is over! I aced the oral. I made a few minor slipups, but the graders were being VERY liberal. Most recruits came through with few failures. I watched Herman totally muff the immediate action for the M-16 over and over, while the grader kept giving him hints. Well, I knew that, if passing prac was a "graduation requirement", then something would have to give, in order to get some of these clowns through it. I guess I missed one question on the written test, but Smith says they're going to throw it out anyway, because everyone missed it because they never gave us the information. The test wanted the maximum effective range of the M16A2 at a POINT target, which I guess is 550 meters. We were never told that; only that 800 meters is the maximum effective range. Apparently, that range is the for AREA targets. It's a chilly, partly cloudy day. I hear we have our last PT session later today.
25 oral prac stations:
Navy rank structure (shoulder boards)
* mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
types of fire (oblique, frontal, trajectory)
* awards and medals (pick 5 cards & identify picture)
complete disassembly & reassembly of M16 in 9 minutes
UCMJ articles (86, 91, 90, 121, 128)
* offensive combat (5 stages - assembly area)
* deadly force (4 cases out of 8)
flag etiquette (in uniform, in civvies, in auto)
* arm & hand signals (private demonstrates)
types of wounds
M16 function check
M16 immediate action
M16 safety check
M16 applications of CLP
fire team members (identify symbols)
* main guard personnel (tell duties)
* WWII battles (tell significance)
types of flags
types of emplacements (hasty, permanent)
M16 cycle of operation
WED 12/10 T-64
I didn't get to write any more yesterday. The PT session was good. It was a 4 mile run. The pace was a little faster than usual. At the end, we did 1/4 mile sprints, but we only did 2 because it started raining, and we went back to the house. After the shower, there was a lot of screaming and thrashing going on. We got our wool blouse belts and buckles squared away and checked out. All the run drops, 4 of them, were bent a long time, as was Lytle for some reason. He seems like a good recruit.
We finally found out about Visitor's Sunday. It starts at 1400. The Commanding General's house, Obstacle Course, Close Combat Course, Confidence Course, and the barracks are all off limits. There are to be NO public displays of affection. It secures at 1620. The Visitor's Center is over by the dental area. After doing our wool blouses yesterday, we did shoe polishing, then chow, then more polishing, then mail call. Shoe polishing consisted mainly of fixing all the scratches and dings acquired from the DI games.
There was no mail for me again at mail call. This morning, it's cold and rainy. After a brief breakfast, we had parade practice in a light rain. Friday, we'll be in the parade for this week's graduating class. During one of yesterday's big bending sessions, Sgt Orlovsky made everyone put on their ponchos, then bend in them. He said, "Do you all know what you are?" We all said, "Yes, Sir!", but no one could say what we were when he asked. He said, "Christmas trees! BEND!!!". He sure has quite the sense of humor.
It's after lunch now, and all the diet privates and Strom and a couple others are being bent now. The bending sessions are a lot longer these days, with a couple new ones thrown in, like diamond pushups and short man side straddle hops. Lunch was good, although 4th squad was the last one in again. We had turkey and lots of cranberry sauce. I guess the scullery was broken down, because it was served on paper plates, styrofoam cups, and plastic silverware. We marched over to Alterations after doing rifle maintenance awhile, but the stuff wasn't ready, so we double-timed back to the house. It seems to me that a phone call to Alterations to see if our gear was ready might have been a prudent move. No, I didn’t mention it. On the way back, Sgt Morris sang a neat song; something about 9 more days and then not having to take any more shit. I don't think our DIs know nearly as many cool songs as some of the other DIs, because we rarely get to do it, even though they always blame it on us.
So we're back at the house now, cleaning rifles. Sgt Orlovsky is bending the diet privates for amusement. He and Sgt Morris and Sgt Henion are on duty now. The sun is out now! It was cold and rainy all morning.
It's getting close to the end of free time now. I took this to bed with me for the last 2 nights to write more things down, but I was so exhausted, I fell asleep immediately instead. We got our haircuts today on the way back from Alterations. We made a PX call, but I had no money. The refund I got from the excess laundry/tailoring charge was not to be found.
Smith went before a series board yesterday, and won Series Honor Man. I knew he had it in the bag. Today, he went to a Company Honor Man board. He'll probably get that, too. I sure wish it had been me; I certainly tried for it hard enough. He has done very well here, though.
Tonight, after supper, we had a class on how to tie our ties. Then we all tied and marked them. Most of the recruits were having problems tying the ties. I went around helping as many of them as I could. No mail call tonight. I sure hope I get something from my wife tomorrow night! Jackson and I are hoping I'll get some more cookies this week. We have a new Sgt from DI school helping out. He's very aggressive. We had COD this afternoon before supper. It was getting quite cold around sundown, even in the wooly pullies. 4th squad has been last in the chow hall about 4 out of the last 5 meals. I shovel it in as fast as I can, with both hands, and usually get about 3/4 of it gone before I have to leave. I've been yelled at by the DIs a couple times for eating with both hands and for picking up a bowl of soup and draining it directly into my mouth. I think they even kicked me out of the chow hall once for it at Edson Range.
Sgt Orlovsky bent Strom a long time this afternoon. Strom's been screwing up a lot lately. He got the house torn down a couple times because of stuff he'd done. He got caught the other day with 4 sets of mess whites in his footlocker. He got caught not securing his footlocker. He was a run drop the other day. Sgt Orlovsky bent him quite awhile, then took him to the back of the house and bent him some more. Then he started tipping over racks, and made Strom put them all back together. This place is DEFINITELY not a relaxing place for one's "wah", especially when about 3 DIs all get wound up on a person or group. Supposedly, we have a big day tomorrow, including the Company Commander's inspection.
THUR 12/11 T-65
It's a cold morning, but it's clear, so it warmed up as the sun came up. It's still cool now at noon in the shade, though. First, we had parade practice, then COD, then we went back to Alterations to pick up some of our remaining clothing. Then we marched back to the house to prep our uniforms for the inspection. We put our emblems, etc on our uniforms. It's been a mellow day so far. No screaming or bending yet. Then we went back to Alterations again to pick up more of our uniforms they've completed.
4th squad was last in AGAIN for breakfast. It used to be split up more evenly. The DI taking us to chow decides the squad order when we arrive at the chow hall. He hollers out, "Two, One, Three, Four, Attack the chow hall!", and we yell back, "Sir, Two, One, Three, Four, Attack the chow hall! Aye aye, Sir!". They push us through the lines and make us eat even faster than ever. The entire time we're in the food line, they are screaming at us to hurry up. We never dare actually stop at any point; we just keep moving, and grab what we can as we go by, side-stepping.
We went to lunch after working on squaring away the uniforms some more. 4th squad was last in again! I almost got bent because I left my lock unlocked after Sgt Groomes called for volunteers in the classroom, then he sent us outside and directly to chow from there.
After chow, we had more COD, then a class. I heard it was on what to expect in the FMF (Fleet Marine Force, or "The Fleet"), the "real" Marine Corps. I didn't get to attend, though. We marched to the building where the class was to be held. As we filed in, Sgt Groomes pulled me aside to guard the rifles outside. I didn't fully hear him, so I said, "Sir?". He just screamed viciously in my face, so I screamed back, "Yes, Sir!". Later, he came by and screamed at me for standing smartly at attention, and he told me to stand at parade rest. What a dick he is! ALWAYS pissed off. Then we marched back to the house for more shoe shining and uniform prep.
It's a very nice, slightly cool day. We're having mail call now. The incoming mail is much less these days. We got 2 days' worth, and it's only one small stack. I got nothing from my wife. I can't believe it! That makes it over a week with nothing from her! Every day, mail call is one of the big high points, and I've gotten relatively little mail from my wife. I got a nice Christmas card from Brenda and Barry, though, so at least it wasn't a nothing night. I owe Mom & Dad and several others a letter, but there's absolutely no time for it. Just keeping my diary even slightly up to date requires staying up well past taps. This is being written in the rack under the blanket, with a flashlight. I also have some things I need to work on before morning to get ready for tomorrow's parade and inspection.
After the last shoe shining and uniform prep session today, we went back out for more COD. It didn't go well. There were lots of screwups and people weren't trying or focusing. Then Sgt Groomes got pissed and said, "Pack it up!", and he walked away. We knew the shit was going to hit the fan. We were marched back to the house and put the rifles away. Then we were herded out to the pit for some fun. After a relatively short bending session in the dirt, we were unbloused and given the full First Phase treatment with trousers unbloused, top button buttoned, covers pulled down over our heads, hands in pockets, and no marching; just shuffling along. Actually, the worst part was how everyone immediately started turning on each other, and were at each other's throats. The guide and squad leaders were especially bad; acting like total assholes and screaming at us about screwing up, and pretending they never screw up. Often, one of our marching screwups is due to a wrong move by a squad leader, which screws up the entire squad, if not the entire platoon.
We went to evening chow. 4th squad was last in again! I couldn't believe it. It didn't seem like the time to complain about it, though. Regalado was especially being a complete asshole. He wolfed down his chow in a couple minutes, then started screaming at the rest of us that we were done eating, and to get out of the chow hall. He really enjoys the opportunity to be an asshole and harass people. No wonder he wanted to be an MP. This afternoon, Kruzinski was on bed rest. Apparently, he went to chow by himself without checking out with a DI. Once it was determined that he was at the chow hall, Regalado offered THREE times to the DIs to go over to the show hall and drag him back here immediately.
After supper tonight, it was more uniform, parade, and inspection prep. Some of the other recruits aren't nearly as far along as me. I help some of them the best I can, but my time is extremely limited, too. I helped Moran with his tie, and Jackson with sewing on a button. We also did some rifle maintenance after chow. Sgt Orlovsky brought out some cans of lighter fluid to stealthily use to get the carbon traces off. We had to put it into little plastic caps and keep a lookout for officers coming through. It did work well, though. It seemed to get a lot of that carbon we've been chasing since the range and RFTD.
One surprising thing I found out at the MOS class yesterday is that ITS (Infantry Training School) is very little humping (hiking) and little or no overnight bivouac (camping out). I wasn't exactly looking forward to camping out in the Camp Pendleton mud during the cold and rainy winter season, but I was ready to do it. It all sounds very interesting. I am eager to go there and do the training. I think I'll put down machine gunner as my first choice (after Recon and Scout/Sniper). It'll be nice to get back to semi-normal living. ITS will last about 6-8 weeks, then I'll move on to the FMF and life of a real Marine. I am recalling what it was like to go from Lackland AFB to Sheppard AFB. It was still restricted, but nothing at all like all the bullshit and games and zero free time of boot camp. I hope I get Recruiter's Assistant first. Regalado is one of the 03s. That figures. If I end up going to ITS a month after he does, due to 30 days as Recruiter's Assistant, then hopefully I'll never see the bastard again. “Never” will be none too soon. The group going to the 03 briefing was by far the largest one. Sgt Orlovsky briefed a communications group, so I assume that's the field he came from. Our Sgt helper wasn't around after this morning. He was very aggressive, doing all sorts of yelling at recruits.
FRI 12/12 T-66
Well, now it's about the end of the day. There's a lot to try to catch up on here. We had late supper chow, and now we're doing brass polishing. I got tired of doing that, so I requested permission to make a "sit down head call", so I'm sitting on the shitter writing this while pretending to be shitting.
4th squad was last in for morning chow AGAIN. After chow, we had parade practice, then we came in and literally got dressed by the numbers; one button at a time, as called out by the DIs. Then we had the parade, then it was back into cammies for lunch, then back into the Alpha uniform for the big inspection. I think the inspection went OK. We didn't take the parade. We can't take anything. We didn't take 3rd Phase prac, either. Probably due in no small part to our outstanding leadership within the platoon.
After the inspection, it was back into cammies, and we went back outside to the parade deck for a practice final drill review. We didn't do too bad on that. Tomorrow is the final PFT. I don't know what they'll find for us to do all next week. We've done the prac test, so no more knowledge. No more PT after tomorrow's PFT. After final drill on Mon or Tue, there will be no more COD. I'm sure they'll find something interesting to keep us occupied, though. Oh, I think we do the Confidence Course at least one more time, and we do rappelling once. We may do the pugil sticks sometime also. Those things sound like fun. We’ve missed a lot of that cool stuff, due to the Corps pussying out on the weather. Well, it’s probably more like the Corps taking into account what pussies some of these losers are. So, today was mainly spent doing final prep and checks on uniforms, changing in and out of uniforms, and marching. 4th squad was FIRST in for lunch and dinner, so it was very nice to have a clean tray at the end of the meal, for a change.
The Senior's in a pretty good mood tonight, for some reason. Quite unusual. As he said today, we are now the senior recruits on the Depot. Around sundown, we marched over to the General's building for Christmas tree lighting ceremonies and Christmas carol singing. Well, it beats bending, I suppose. The Senior yelled at me in a half serious manner that I was singing too loud and I had a lousy voice. It ran on so long, I was afraid we'd miss chow, but we got back just in time for late chow. Sgt Groomes even let us eat pop sickles for dessert, which I didn't care about, anyway.
Now I'm mainly waiting for mail call and praying I get something from my wife. Well, after writing that, we got lists of inspection discrepancies and things to check for, then more shoe polishing, then uniform maintenance. It looked like there'd be no mail call, which was a super bummer, because that meant there would be no more mail call until Monday night; 3 days away. But, at the last minute, Sgt Groomes announced mail call and I got some chocolates, but no note, from my wife, a card from Rusty, and a letter from Mom. I'll have to be sure to see Rusty when I am home on leave.
Sgt Groomes was in a pretty good mood this evening, too. Mighty unusual. He asked me if I was a contract 0300. I proudly said I was. He shook his head and said it was the weirdest thing he'd ever heard of; a 33 year old PFC grunt. I was talking with some of the others about their MOSs. Both Moreaux and Regalado were whining about theirs, asking the Senior over and over if he could help them get it changed. The Senior was also kidding around about promoting all his criminals. I guess he happened to check people's records in their SRB, and apparently Regalado, Moran, and Kizzia all have records and/or drug involvement. He was razzing Foster, who apparently had a charge of "watching TV while driving" on his record. T
he parade this morning was very moving and exciting. The one next Thur will be even better! Graduation parades are usually every Friday, but we're getting out a little early because of Christmas. I need to tell my family what I think is the best place to sit to see me. While Sgt Groomes was telling us about our inspection discrepancies, he mentioned that Visitor's Day will commence at 1300, not 1400, as previously stated. I asked him later if I could call my wife tomorrow and tell her to come earlier than planned. He just said “OK”, and he didn't even scream at me about it. Amazing. We have one of the biggies; the final PFT first thing in the morning, so I can't be staying up late tonight writing. The Christmas tree thing was neat. There were lots of high ranking officers and their young, expensively dressed wives there. Major General Lukeman was there, too.
The chocolates I got from my wife were Reeses cups. Regalado is such a total asshole. I swear somehow I'm going to fix his ass good before I leave here. I think I'll take his dress shoes the night before graduation and shitcan them or fuck them up good. When I got the Reeses cups, and later when I was handing them out to some of the other recruits, he kept screaming that I should be forced to shitcan them. Iverson got some chocolate chip cookies that Regalado was also screaming about. In fact, I believe he and Smith did make Iverson throw them in the shitcan. Then everyone grabbed them out of the shitcan and ate them. That's one thing I hate about getting goodies in the mail; the other recruits are so greedy, and suddenly everyone is your friend. Regalado didn't have the audacity to come up and ask me for some, but all the other squad leaders did. In fact, Moran and Smith kept bugging me several times during free time about how many I had left, and whining that they wanted some MORE. I just kept telling them they were all gone, while Jackson and I kept slipping more out from where I was hiding them, and munching on them. Well, I gotta crash. Big day tomorrow!
SAT 12/13 T-67
It's late morning now. A truly beautiful day! It's warm, clear, and sunny. The PFT was all fucked up! They did the run first, and everyone really put out 100% for it, but some dumb bastard routed us wrong, and we were headed out the wrong way. Finally, someone figured it out and got us turned around and running back the right way. I had been wondering about it, as I was sure we'd gone over 1.5 miles and we were still heading away from the starting point. Then I was thinking maybe it was a point to point run instead of the usual "out and back". We all kept running hard and giving it 100% right to the end. I was hoping they'd take our run times and just extrapolate what it would have been if it had been the proper 3 miles. Actually, I don't think anyone here even knows what "extrapolate" means, much less knows how to do it. I think it ended up being about 4 miles. But they didn't log any run times, and just told us to get back in line. As we were running back, I was passing LT Sagimoto as someone else was. Whoever it was yelled at the LT as we passed, "Good going; thanks a lot, Sir!". I figured he'd burn for it, but I guess even the LT realized what a major screwup he or his people had made with us, and I never heard anything about that. We then did the rest of the PFT, although I was wondering why, since it all has to be done together. I was still hoping they'd let our run scores stand somehow. We all really put out on that run! I did 9 pullups and 80 situps. The DIs gave us some honey for energy just before we went out for the run. Now they say we'll have to rerun just the run later on.
Then we had rifle maintenance. First, when Smith was gone doing something, Regalado and the other squad leaders were going around pitching all of us to donate $1 to buy Smith some anodized brass for the dress blues he was given for being honor man, and for some corfam (patent leather) shoes to go with it, also. I said (to myself, to avoid conflicts) "fuck that". Then later on, Smith was going around giving us a big pitch to do everything for the Senior (fuck that, too; I do the very best I can, but it's for me, not for him). Then Smith was pitching all of us for $4 each for a gift for the Senior. Fuck that, too! I'm trying hard to avoid any conflicts for the next few days, and I still need pro and con (proficiency and conduct) marks from Sgt Groomes, so I'm just keeping my mouth shut, but if push comes to shove, I will refuse to give anything to any of them. So far, I'm just avoiding giving anything while also avoiding making any clear stand. Of course Smith wants to do a lot for Sgt Groomes; look at all Sgt Groomes has done for him. All he's done for me is screw me out of series high shooter. Johnson AB asked me what they were collecting money for, and I told him. He said "fuck that", and we just smiled at each other. In retrospect, I know they did end up collecting a bunch of money from a lot of easily intimidated fools. To the best of my knowledge, neither the money nor any gift were ever given to Sgt Groomes. I don't know who ended up with the money collected. Smith did get his brass and corfam shoes, though..
SUN 12/14 T-68
It's a positively beautiful morning! There was a gold sunrise with pink streaks and colored clouds all over. After writing during yesterday's rifle cleaning session, we went out for COD. Things did not go well at all! Sgt Groomes finally got really pissed and terminated the session, and “took us to the dirt”, meaning a funzo thrashing session in the sandbox. Then we went to the washrack for more rifle cleaning, while groups of 10 bent upstairs. Sgt Orlovsky was in a savage mood, and so was Sgt Groomes. Then we went back to the dirt, then back to the parade deck for another COD session. During that session, Johnson, MA got kicked out of the formation for about the 50th instance of his stupid shit, and sent to the house. He started off walking toward the house. Then Sgt Orlovsky started walking after him. Johnson started walking faster and faster, with Sgt Orlovsky right behind him, walking faster and faster, until Johnson was sprinting and so was Sgt Orlovsky. The next COD session didn't go very well, either. Half of these dumb bastards have their head up their ass; they just aren't paying attention, and they aren't giving it 100%. So, about half an hour later, that COD session was terminated, and we went back to the house. When we got there, Sgt Orlovsky was STILL bending Johnson, and he continued bending him. We were told to get in the classroom with our dress shoes and shoeshine kits. Then we had to bounce the shoes off the ceiling and let them rain down on our heads while we stood at attention. I tried to make it look like I was throwing my shoes up hard, but I was really trying to avoid actually hitting the ceiling, to minimize the damage to the hours of polishing I've put into them.
While all this fun was going on, Sgt Orlovsky took Johnson into the whiskey locker (cleaning supplies closet), and started bending him in there, while smashing the hell out of everything in the place and knocking all the cleaning gear off the shelves and onto Johnson while he was bending. Finally, Sgt Groomes saved Johnson's tired (in more ways than one!) ass by coming out of the office and telling him to get his stupid ass out of the whiskey locker, and for everyone to get on line. I managed to hang onto my shoes in the sprint to our places on line. Most of the other recruits didn't. Then we had to tear up the racks and stand on line with our sheets and blankets over our heads. Then we played "stack the mattresses in the back". Then we played "shove all the empty racks against the starboard side". Then we had 5 minutes to put it all back in perfect order.
Right after we started rebuilding the house, Sgt Orlovsky asked who wanted to make a head call. Naturally, no one wanted to be on the skyline and draw any attention at a time like this. He kept insisting and yelling that he wanted to know who had to piss. I was very studiously rebuilding my rack, and developing a sudden hearing problem. Finally, my poor old buddy Jackson gave in and said he had to piss. So, Sgt Orlovsky told him to get in the classroom. We were all wondering what wild and crazy thing was coming next. Sgt Orlovsky went over to Smith's rack, got the platoon guidon, threw it on the floor in the classroom, and told Jackson to piss on it. He said we had no unit integrity, and that, as a platoon, we were shit, so we might as well just piss on the guidon, the symbol of our unit. Jackson refused to piss on it, and Sgt Orlovsky kept screaming for Jackson and/or someone else to get up in the classroom and piss on the flag. We all were VERY busy making our racks, and no one was glancing up. Then Sgt Orlovsky said he wanted someone to come up in the classroom and take a shit on the guidon. Of course, no one would, so he said we were all a bunch of pigs, and he knew he could go in the head and find a shitter that one of us pigs had not flushed. He took the guidon to the head, then came back and said sure enough, he had found a shitter with shit in it, and that's where our guidon was. We also got unbloused again.
The Senior came out and told us all to get in the classroom, and he gave us a lecture on trying hard, so these next few days aren't hell. He also gave us many warnings and threats of dire consequences if anyone screwed up in any way on Visitor's Day or the Battalion Commander's inspection. He said we should all cut Visitor's Day short after an hour or so and get back to the house to work on uniforms. I don't think so, Sir. I won't be back late, but I sure as hell won't be back within the hour, either.
After chow, Sgt Morris told us to put CLP on all metal on our rifles. I told Smith that doing that would screw up all our cleaning work for the last several days, but he just jumped all over me, and said "instant response to orders", so I did it. Later, we found out that we shouldn't have, and that Sgt Morris had only really wanted the front sight and compensator done. Real fucking smart, boys.
Now it's after lights out on Sunday night. Here's a recap of the day's events. After breakfast, we had a long cleanup, then square away time. I used up most of my time taking the platoon laundry to the Battalion laundromat. I got to polish my good boots some, and did a very hurried pressing of my inspection cammies before we had another cleanup, then chow. Also, last night, after lights out, I was up from 0230 to about 0400 polishing my boots and talking some with Hill and Jackson. I couldn't remember Smith before the time Sgt Orlovsky brought him out and said he was the next squad leader. Hill said he remembered him, that he was platoon treasurer, and he used to yell at people often to shut up. Hill’s another one of the good recruits here.
So after lunch, we had our Alpha uniform inspection, cammie inspection, boot inspection, and lots of threats and conditions laid down before we were finally marched over to the Visitor's Center. The DIs stopped us three times on the way for more threats. Finally, we made it, and I got to see my wife. It was great. She brought some cookies, which disappeared within minutes of my arrival back at the house at 1600. We walked around, and went to the PX for my ribbons. We went to the bowing alley. I saw numerous people I knew. We went around the O Course and the Confidence Course, then it was back to the house for me. It was a brief visit, and no touching, but it was nice.
After Visitor's Day was over, we got ready for COD. I should have had my wife wait and watch us. COD went very well, with no real screwups at all. Then we went back to the house, with everyone in good spirits, then to evening chow. There was a very beautiful sunset happening all during COD. There were lovely colors all over the sky. After chow, we took turns doing brass polishing, shoe polishing, rifle cleaning, and Alpha uniform maintenance. I went to put my ribbons on my uniform, and found out that I needed to buy a bracket to mount them on. The whole time I was in the Air Force, I never once wore any uniform that ribbons were used with, so I didn't realize what it took to mount them. Was I ever bummed!
Sgt Morris bent me again for working on my boots last night. When he got tired of that, I asked him if he had an old mounting bracket I could buy from him, to put my ribbons on. Both he and Sgt Orlovsky really came unglued at that. They were jumping up and down and screaming hysterically at me for wanting to screw up a good Marine Corps uniform by putting Air Force trash on it. Then Sgt Henion got in on it, too, but it was mainly Sgt Orlovsky. I stuck to my guns, and said they were medals issued by the US government, and they didn’t detract at all from the uniform. I said I’d earned them, and I had every right to wear them. Finally, after lots of screaming and thrashing, I said I didn't want to do it, just so they'd go away and leave me alone. Later on, I felt like a pussy for giving in, and wished I'd really stuck to my guns and steadfastly insisted on planning to put them on. A couple recruits like Jackson and Moreaux were saying I should have just said right away that I didn't really want to do it. It was just a game, though, because a few minutes later, Sgt Orlovsky said I'd have to go without the ribbons for the inspection, but to be sure to remind them to let me got to the PX to get the bracket. Well, I have to iron some cammies for tomorrow and maybe polish my shoes some more, and it's already about 2300.
MON 12/15 T-69
It's after lunch now. The entire morning consisted of preparing for, and having, the Battalion Commander's inspection. It went well, I think. We got up fast at reveille, and rushed immediately over to the chow hall, and got dressed in line there, so we could beat the other platoons in and out of the chow hall. Then we did rifle maintenance and shoe and brass polishing. After that, we got dressed one step at a time, by the numbers, and went out to the parade deck for the inspection. They had about 4 or 5 inspectors going through the ranks, but only 2 of them inspected me. My bolt was already locked to the rear, so it faked me out during "inspection arms", but I maintained my bearing. But then I stood there thinking about my mistake until the inspector reminded me to give my little speech with name and MOS. Then the Lt Col came by, asking each recruit a couple simple questions. He asked me a few casual questions, then did a major double take when I told him how old I was. So then he stayed there awhile, and asked me several more questions about myself, my history, my family, etc. At the end, he said I looked really sharp. After the inspection, we were filing off, and I heard him telling someone in his group that a 33 year old recruit was amazing. My shoes were killing me throughout the inspection.
Then we had lunch, followed by rifle cleaning. We're doing rifle cleaning now, so I'm sneaking a chance to write a little. We have Final PFT, Attempt Number Two, soon. It's a nice warm day, which is great, but not for doing a PFT. I'm not looking forward to it. I sure hope they let us keep our old pullup and situp scores, but I doubt it. I went back to rifle cleaning, but it was boring, because the rifle was already clean. I asked Sgt Groomes if I could go to the PX to get my ribbons bracket. He said I could, but then my buddy Sgt Morris stopped me as I was leaving and said I couldn't go. Then he and Sgt Henion bent me for "tricking the Senior into letting me go to the main PX". They claimed Sgt Groomes thought I meant the little PX next door, not the main PX. Sgt Groomes knew why I wanted to go, so he should have been able to figure out where I planned to go to do it. When they were done bending me, Jackson said I should try to go with the flow more. I gave him a big grin, but Sgt Morris saw it, and started screaming at me. I looked at Sgt Morris with a very serious face to show him I wasn't laughing. He and Sgt Henion got all pissed off about it, and bent me a very long time. After awhile, I was getting very tired, and Sgt Morris was doing his usual bit, screaming that I wasn't even sweating yet, as the sweat dripped off my nose. Finally, they let me quit, and said they were giving me a big break because of the upcoming PFT. They said there would be more of it to come after the PFT.
Smith has been acting real uppity lately. I have no rapport with him at all any more. A typical event; during rifle maintenance, I needed Q-tips. I asked him if I could get some from him. Of course, he wouldn't just hand or toss them across the freeway (aisle) to me, so I had to get up and walk over to get them. He wouldn't even raise his hand with the Q-tips to hand them to me. He just held them in his hand down near the deck (floor), so I had to bend way over to get them. I felt like kicking him in the face; that would have gotten his attention.
We hit the road for class. I was the first one down, as usual, and started yelling for others to hurry up. I got into an altercation with Regalado over it, and even a couple other jerks were joining in and yelling at me to shut up. So much for the very brief return to the super motivated me of first phase.
Now it's 0230 Tuesday morning. The last few nights, there have been a lot of recruits up during the night, working on gear in the head. There's just too much to do, and not enough time. I compound that problem for myself by trying to write as much as I can, on top of all the other responsibilities. Tonight, we were prepping for the final drill tomorrow. After that, it's all over, except for a few final small details!!
We TOOK the inspection today. Amazing! Sgt Groomes was walking around all smiles this evening after we found out. The class we went to was one on how to fill out forms for the hometown news release. Then we went over to do the PFT. At the last minute, they decided we had to repeat only the run, which was great. It was late afternoon when we ran it, and there was a nice cool breeze, so conditions weren't too bad for it. I had no pains during the run. I ran it pretty well. I did a 20:20 overall, with a 10:05 or 10:10 at the halfway point. I missed 20:10 by about 1 second. I was kicking as hard as I possibly could as they kept calling 20:10, but it changed to 20:20 when I was about ten feet away. They only score it in increments of ten seconds.
Then we went back to the house for COD, which went very well, for the first time. Then we had chow, then more COD, then boot polishing, then more COD. There was no mail call. Well, I've got to stop writing to work on polishing my boots. Some asshole in the chowhall tonight stole my cover (hat). When stepped outside after eating, I realized it was missing, so I went back in the chowhall. I think it was the recruit who was sitting beside me during the meal. I couldn't see any bulges in his pockets, so I don't know what he or whoever might have done with it.
Squad Leader Moreaux just came into the head at the start of his firewatch, and was his usual asshole self, only even more so. He nearly started a fight trying to loudly evict several of us working on our gear in the head. He's always been such a jerk! It was a real treat when he and Regalado were the secretaries. He was being very loud (it's almost 0400!), yelling that he doesn't give a shit if he wakes any of the other privates up. That's typical for him; he usually wakes me up when he has firewatch, by being so carelessly noisy. What a leader! Anyway, Smith was one of the ones in the head working on gear, so that added some weight to all of us telling him to fuck off.
Now it's 0410, and the DI calls have started, so I'm back in the rack, but I think I can forget about getting any sleep tonight. I was tired, sleepy, and lethargic all day from the lack of sleep last night. Missing all this sleep tonight on top of all the sleep deprivation I already have ought to make the day that's about to begin a tough one! I've also been clearing my throat a lot tonight, and I feel a slight sore throat. I PRAY it's not another cold! Illnesses are spread constantly here. Some other bug went around, putting many recruits on bedrest with nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, etc., but luckily I've missed that one so far. After the PFT run, I've felt very tired and drained physically, too. I'm not sore, just dead tired.
In the head earlier, Moreaux was running his mouth about how he doesn't give a shit about anyone else (I'll be sure to remember that, since he's an 03), and nobody gives a shit about him or me. He was giving me a hard time, saying I was too dumb to say the right things to keep from getting bent, and that everyone just laughs at me when I get bent. As a matter of fact, after I got bent so long this afternoon, several recruits came up to me, patted me on the back, and said "Hang in there!".
Foster was selected to be the only recruit, besides the guide and squad leaders, to be meritoriously promoted to Private First Class. There was no apparent reason that anyone knows of. Maybe it was for busting that idiot's head open when we were on mess duty! There was also no mention of the "American Spirit Award", which I saw on one of the forms I typed out. I had hoped that I might at least graduate with that, but apparently not. The Corps does not do "surprises", so if I haven't been told by now that I am to be a "stage private", one selected for some award, then it won't be me. It's a major disappointment for me that I didn't get selected for any awards at all, although being honor man was the one I tried for so hard. Earlier, in the head, Hill was telling me that DeCluette told him Regalado asked DeCluette to escort him to the airport after graduation, because he's afraid of getting jumped for all the shit he's given everyone. Most of the recruits hate him, but I doubt if anyone would jump him somewhere. It would be great if someone did, though.
I'm hearing the Receiving Barracks recruits marching now. Reveille is only about an hour away. I've considered various ways of fixing Regalado's ass, including pouring edge dressing or shoe dye on his Alpha uniform the night before graduation. I think I'll just take his shoes. It's not such blatantly obvious sabotage, and it will sure mess him up good, especially since he's a stage private. I just need to figure out the best place to get rid of them.
Sgt Orlovsky told us tonight that this is Sgt Groomes' last platoon, so that's why Smith was saying we should "do it for the Senior, because we can really help him out". Smith hits on that theme a lot. I don't do anything "for the Senior". I do the very best I can, but for myself. I'm sure a lot of that "do it for the Senior" is just put on by many others just to go along with the program. This evening, Regalado called 4th squad over, and asked who had not yet contributed for Smith. A couple others didn't seem too enthused. In fact, most of the recruits I've talked to about it are not at all enthused about it (to themselves), but none have the balls to do anything but contribute and go along with the program. I'm doing all I can to just skirt the issue and avoid a showdown about it, but if it comes to a head, I will flatly refuse to give any money to anyone. After Regalado said why he called us over, Johnson, AB came up to me and asked what Regalado wanted. I told him, and we both just said "fuck that", and walked away together. Ever since he got fired as squad leader (I shouldn't have complained about him; Regalado is 100 times worse), I've liked him pretty well, and we get along fine.
MY PFT SCORES:
SITUPS PULLUPS RUN TIME TOTAL
INITIAL 47 5 21:00 154
2nd Phase 74 9 20:24 218
3rd Ph prac 75 9 20:20 220
3rd Phase 80 9 20:20 231
TUE 12/16 T-70
Well, Final Drill is over. The bending and screaming began as soon as we got back to the house. Drill was a very nervous experience, with all the drillmasters swarming around us with clipboards, and the officers, DIs, and the CDI sitting in the reviewing stand. I was tense and concentrating on deep breathing, relaxing, listening carefully to the commands, and thinking about exactly what to do. I made a sloppy move in "prepare slings", but I don't think anyone noticed. Boots and Johnson, AP had incredibly poor alignment. Dill's stack fell over, and Hanley went to the wrong shoulder during "right shoulder arms". At least Hanley had enough presence of mind to correct such a mistake as we've been taught to; by waiting until the person controlling the platoon sees it and calls out a command for the incorrect person to correct himself. Dill and Hanley got thrashed immediately upon our return to the house. The rest of us got it in groups of 10 just for the hell of it. My boots looked great during Final Drill! They were the best looking ones I saw out there.
This morning, we turned in our 782 gear, and picked up our civvies from the warehouse. It's a very warm day. We still had on our wooly pullies when we were turning in our "deuce" gear, and it was very hot in them. My dungarees and BC Cycle T-shirt looked funny after not seeing them or any other civilian clothes for three months. They have stopped bending us for now. Hell, we really didn't do that bad in drill. We could still possibly take it. Anyway, now we're polishing shoes while some recruits have to go back to Alterations. It's all over but the rifle turn-in and some processing and graduation. As Jackson said, "If we end up doing well on the Drill, it'll be easy and relaxed from now to graduation." Otherwise, we'll go "island hopping", which is marching to every thrashing pit on the base and trying it out for awhile.
Now, it's after taps again! I've got to quickly recap the afternoon and evening so I can crash. I am dead tired. I've bent a lot, did the PFT yesterday, and lost about 12 hours sleep in the last couple days. I didn’t sleep at all last night. We went over to the armory to turn in our rifles. We had to clean them some more first (I later found out this is a Marine Corps tradition; your rifle never passes inspection the first time when you try to turn it in at the armory), then lubricate them. I got in trouble with Sgt Henion there. He came up and said that, due to how I was cleaning it, I'd probably get my cleaning rag stuck inside the buffer spring area. I guess I was feeling a little loose from knowing it's all over, plus I think most of it was because I was a little punchy from the lack of sleep lately. I just looked up at him and gave him a big grin and laughed. He was not amused! He started screaming at me, and Sgt Morris joined in, and I still couldn't stop grinning. I got thrashed awhile for that.
Then the same thing happened again at 782 gear turn-in. The DIs were getting down on some of the recruits for their boot heels not being worn down, indicating failure to set the heels in firmly when marching. I was curious how mine looked, even though neither of the DIs had complained about mine. Naturally, when I looked at my boots, Sgt Henion saw me do it. He pulled me out of the line, and made me pull up my heel in back and stand on one leg. It sounds easy, but after awhile, it gets harder and harder. I had a hard time keeping a straight face there, too, because it seemed so funny. After doing it awhile, my leg muscles started getting tired, so I began hopping around trying to keep my balance. So, when we got back to the house, Sgt Henion and Sgt Morris called for "the laughers" and other bad guy types to come up to the classroom and bend. When I came up, I was the first one up there, so Sgt Henion started yelling at me about it. Again, for some odd reason, I just couldn't keep a straight face, no matter how hard I tried. Sgt Henion grabbed my shirt and twisted it, and screamed at me. Even that didn't phase me much. Finally, I got pissed enough at myself for acting like such an undisciplined turd, and I locked it up. They bent me and a bunch of others a fairly long time. Sgt Henion was telling the squad leaders he wanted more recruits to bend, so they were calling off names of anyone who had crossed them recently. Finally, he let us go, with the threat that this was only Part 1 of much more to come later.
He called for the squad leaders to get more names. I started yelling that if he wanted names for laughing, he should get Regalado up there, because he's always flagrantly flaunting his position, and laughing and smirking at things. At the armory, he was fooling around and talking in the line to turn in weapons. Regalado freaked out, and came over and started screaming threats in my face. Then he shoved me back down on my footlocker. With only one day to go, I was loathe to jeopardize myself or get into the trouble I got into the last time, although I really wanted to jump up and start smashing Regalado. I looked over at Sgt Henion to see some sign from him that I could attack Regalado without getting into trouble. He yelled "What the hell are you looking at me for?" I told him I wanted permission to attack Regalado. He said "Just break it up". Later, a couple recruits told me I should have just decked him. He's quite muscular and a little smaller than me. I really wanted badly to smash him. He'll get his tomorrow night.
The Senior posted our final drill scores. We got third out of four, so he was really pissed, and he threw his chalk against the wall and walked out. The DIs made us all sit with our heads down in shame awhile, then we went over to the theater to practice the indoor part of graduation. It's really quite a ceremony. Naturally, I was pretty bummed that I wasn't in the ceremony at all. It lasted quite awhile. I was afraid we'd miss chow. They let us out, and we double-timed over to the chowhall. We used Hatch 1. There was a platoon of super green recruits going in ahead of us. This is their first night here. Half were freshly clipped with the gray sweatshirts on, and the other half still had long hair and civvies. You can't get any fresher than that!
After chow, Sgt Groomes had us in the classroom. He was in a fairly decent mood. He said it's all over, and he turned us loose to start packing. For some reason, I took my shirt off. I guess it was because we were packing, then it was time to start getting ready for the showers. I don't know if anyone else did, or where I got the idea. Maybe I was hot, maybe still punchy from the lack of sleep. So anyway, I had my blouse off, working on packing. Then dumb shit Cook went running by the Senior, with no "by your leave", and with nothing on but a towel wrapped around him, heading for the showers. So Sgt Groomes nailed him for it, then my buddy Sgt Morris noticed I had my cammie blouse off, and it was bending time again. Finally that ended, and I packed up my seabag.
They ended up throwing out a huge pile of towels to be used as deck towels. I sure could use them in my garage, but there's absolutely no room at all in my seabag for anything more. It was all I could do to get it closed just with my own gear. Then Sgt Groomes had us back in the classroom again to write little critiques on all our DIs and officers. He was in a pretty casual mood, and said something about "our own little gong show" tomorrow. So, I guess tomorrow will be rather casual. I hope some idiot doesn't take advantage of it and screw up the good mood. Regalado got up and gave a teary speech about how sorry he was for screwing up final drill (the squad leaders screwed up a lot and cost us most of our points) and for being such a meanie in general. He looked like he was going to cry. Then they presented Smith with his set of anodized brass for his dress blues, and handed him a fistful of cash to buy his corfam shoes. He seemed moved. Then I finished packing all my gear into my seabag, and we had hygiene inspection. Some Army Generals and Colonels came by to watch how we did hygiene, cleanup, and hitting the racks.
Well, it's late, and I really need sleep badly. We still don't have our official PFT scores. I'm anxious to see my SRB (Service Record Book) and see what kind of pro and con (proficiency and conduct) scores I got from Sgt Groomes. I also heard something about a written evaluation from the DIs that goes into the SRB. I'd like to see what they honestly thought, without all the hype. Tomorrow should go fast. We have pictures, orders, and paychecks to get. I showed Jackson my BC Cycle Supply T-shirt, and he liked it, so I gave it to him.
WED 12/17 T-71
It's late afternoon now. First thing this morning, after chow and cleanup, we had parade practice. It was so-so. Mager was constantly out of step. Afterward, most of the others were not trying at all in marching back to the house. Sgt Orlovsky was pissed. Later on in the day, they were trying a little more, as some of us were getting on those who were not trying. At lunch, Moran gave me a lot of mouth for telling people to try harder in marching. What a complete asshole!
After parade practice, we had a long class until lunch. The class consisted of a review of each page in our SRBs, getting our orders and going over them, filling out postal forwarding forms, and getting our ID cards. After lunch, we got our paychecks, and went over to SATO, Scheduled Airlines Ticket Office, to turn in our PX chits, pick up the photos we had ordered, cash our paychecks, get airline tickets home, and order our yearbooks. It took all afternoon to get through the lines. My paycheck was for $1425, and I didn't have to buy any airline tickets, so that was nice. I ordered the yearbook. The pictures I got were OK. The group photo wasn't very good, because there was too much sunlight.
Right now, it's after taps. This is our last night here! There's lots of excitement in the air, and there's a lot of horseplay going on. Reveille is at 0400 tomorrow. At SATO, Sgt Henion was playing with me, asking me questions about my life, trying to make me laugh, and messing playfully with my glasses and Strom's glasses. After SATO, we came back to the house in small groups on our own, and worked on our shoes for tomorrow's graduation. Then we went back out for parade practice and to practice the indoor graduation ceremony. The 20 minute film they're going to show at the beginning of the indoor ceremony looks pretty good. After the practice, we had chow, then we went back to the house to finalize packing our seabags and cleaning out our footlockers.
This afternoon, we put most of our trash (gear) in the seabags. I had a hard time getting mine closed, especially after Sgt Groomes said he wanted it closed up in a certain way. Finally, Jackson and I got it closed, after a lot of slamming it on the deck, kicking it, and punching it. When we went to the indoor ceremony practice, Sgt Groomes was taking Smith to the PX to get his corfam shoes, so I asked if I could go along with them to get my ribbon bracket. He said I could, but then when he left, he didn't take me. I hoped he'd at least pick it up for me. I asked him about it later, and he said he didn't have time. Somehow, he managed to find the time for Smith's corfams, though, the fucker! He should have let me go this afternoon or yesterday when I asked him. There was plenty of spare time then. He said he'd fix me up in the morning. I'll bet, you dick! We'll see. It's too bad I didn't have them on for the inspection, but I sure want to have them for the graduation.
THUR 12/18 T-72
Well, that's the end of my notes! The rest is from memory. There were too many people milling around during our last night there for me to get at Regalado's shoes then. In fact, Regalado was so sure someone was going to get him on the last night, he stayed up all night. I'd missed too much sleep recently to even try to stay up. We got up at 0400, had chow, and began cleanup. Then we took all of our seabags, suit bags, and war bags (gearbag) out and lined them up very neatly on the parade deck, and returned for the final big cleanup of the barracks. During the hustle and bustle of cleanup, I snagged Regalado's shoes and took them down to the dumpster. Trouble was, both pairs at his rack were unmarked, so I tried to figure out which pair were Regalado's, based on location. It figured that his were unmarked, in violation of the requirement that they all be marked. Later on, when we were getting dressed for graduation, they were missed. When the shit hit the fan about the missing shoes, it turned out they belonged to Kizzia, who was the best and most rational squad leader of all of them. I just about shit when I realized it was Kizzia who said his shoes were gone. I always liked him. Sgt Groomes was going ballistic about them being missing, and made all of us search the entire barracks for them.
Then Smith reported his wallet missing. I thought Sgt Groomes was going to have a stroke at the idea of someone messing with his precious guide. I have no idea who might have taken Smith's wallet. Sgt Groomes was positively livid. He made everyone search everywhere, and threatened us that if Smith's wallet didn't turn up, we were all going to stay right there until it did, and to hell with graduation. During the confusion and bedlam, I slipped out and got Kizzia's shoes out of the dumpster. Good thing I didn't damage them at all. I slipped back into the barracks and set the shoes down and let someone else find them. Someone made the suggestion that Smith go down to the parade deck, go through his bags one more time, and make sure the wallet wasn't in one of them. He left to do that. After awhile, he came back and said he had found the wallet in his seabag, after all. I never knew what the real story was. I suspected that Smith was smart enough to just say he found the wallet in order to get things moving again toward graduation. I never heard either way, though, nor did I ever see or hear of Smith (or Regalado) again after graduation.
We got the barracks all cleaned up nice, and turned in our bedding. We got dressed, by the numbers, into our Alpha uniforms. Of course, Sgt Groomes didn't "hook me up in the morning" for my ribbons bracket, as he'd promised he would. Thank you, Sgt Groomes, you prick! Then we went out and played "move the bags around and get them all perfectly lined up" awhile. Finally, we went to the theater for the indoor ceremony. I knew my family was there somewhere, but the crowd was huge, and of course I couldn't be gawking, looking all around for them.
Walker, who spent about 90% of boot camp on light duty, was sitting near me. One of the DIs, I think it might have been Sgt Orlovsky, came up to my row after we were seated and called Walker out of his seat. He was taken away, and I never saw or heard of him again. I'm pretty sure he never came back for the ceremony, and he wasn't with the platoon when we marched in review for the final graduation parade. What a shock it must have been for him to think he'd managed to coast his way through boot camp, then to get pulled out during the graduation ceremony! I was glad they did it. They should have done it to more of them. They probably just sent him back to the platoon graduating next, although that would have been one graduating AFTER Christmas, so his goldbricking probably got him to stay at MCRD over Christmas.
I'm fairly sure we were the last ones graduating before Christmas. In fact, they even moved our graduation up from the normal Friday to a Thursday to get us out of there a day early. Both the indoor ceremony and the final parade were very thrilling and stirring moments. The music gave me goose bumps all over. Soon, it was over, and I got to see and hug and talk with my family. I think I saw Sgt Groomes and Sgt Morris briefly after the ceremony. I never saw Sgt Orlovsky again. I would have liked to have said goodbye to him. I respected him and Sgt Henion the most. We walked around some, but the family was eager to get going, so we left fairly soon. Families were being offered the opportunity to take lunch at the chowhall with their new Marine, but, again, my family seemed like they wanted to get going. I did make my trip to the PX to get my ribbon bracket. After the graduation ceremony, of course. Thank you again, Sgt Groomes! I also went by the chowhall to see the SSgt Chief Cook who had asked me to stop by and say hi after I graduated. Unfortunately, he was off that day.
After boot camp, I spent a couple weeks at home for the holidays, then reported to Camp Pendleton in January, 1986 for 8 great weeks of ITS; Infantry Training School, in "Double-Time" Delta Company at San Onofre on Camp Pendleton. I loved it! That stuff was what I joined the Corps for! After getting rid of a couple Regalado-like position abusers there, I was made first squad leader for the entire time. I couldn't be guide, because we had a Corporal who was going through the school after retraining from Combat Engineers. So, he was the guide, and I was the First Squad Leader. I saw Sgt Morris and Sgt Groomes a couple times while I was an ITS student, and said hi to them. I wasn't too keen on either of them as DIs, but I let bygones be bygones. I would have liked to have bumped into Sgt Orlovsky or Sgt Henion, but I never saw them again.
I had some more injury problems, but I simply didn’t allow them to interfere with any of my training, which I think earned me additional respect. I tore a muscle in my groin as a result of trying to do too many situps, and I can remember being out on a field exercise getting around on my hands & knees because I refused to sit it out. On one of my last days at ITS, I twisted my ankle again badly while running across a field at night, and was in a cast and on crutches for a few days. But I cut the cast off for graduation, because I didn’t want anyone to know about the problems.
I ended up graduating ITS with honors, and was the only one in the platoon selected for meritorious promotion when we graduated. So, I graduated as a Lance Corporal. And I was selected for ARC, the Amphibious Reconnaissance Course (Recon School) at Coronado, CA!! After I showed up at ARC, I had to tell them about the bad ankle, because it was getting much worse. The corpsman told me I would have lost the foot if I had kept pushing it. Then later, quite unfortunately, I washed out of there with repeated left shoulder separations that plagued me throughout the Marine Corps, until I finally had an operation in the spring of 1988. From ARC, I was sent to Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines at Camp Pendleton, about 50 miles from my house in Orange County, CA. So, I was in the Marines & didn’t even have to relocate.
While at ARC in July, 1986, I heard that Sgt Nunez, one of my instructors at ITS, was killed when a M203 grenade exploded in the chamber of the launcher as he was helping a student. That saddened me greatly, as I really liked Sgt Nunez. See HERE and HERE for LA Times articles on Sgt Nunez's death. HERE is a link to an article written by someone who was there when it happened. HERE is a picture of Sgt Nunez during one of my classes at ITS.
I also heard, while at ARC, that one of my MCRD Drill Instructors, Sgt Henion, was busted back to Corporal for hitting a recruit. Being a DI is a tough, tough job, and I respect them for all they give! I hope Sgt Henion came back from that setback OK.
I loved the Corps. I saw and did some incredibly neat things with the various weapons and with combat patrol training in Okinawa, Korea, and especially the Philippines. Unfortunately, those cool things were very few and far between. I had thought the Fleet would be like ITS; doing meaningful training every day. However, I soon found out the vast majority of a grunt's time is spent on mind-numbing drudgery like guard duty, working parties, cleanups, formations, standing around waiting for something, and cleaning other people's urinals. Meaningful training and/or getting to fire live rounds was rare, although there were a few exciting exceptions. Handling any other weapon besides the M-16 was practically non-existent. I especially enjoyed my time in the field; doing combat patrol training. I also very much enjoyed one day each of Live Fire Patrol range, Squad Air Defense range, and demolitions – but those were only 3 days out of my 3 years in the Corps.
I don’t know if Recon had bozos, as I never made it into a Recon unit, but I found the FMF (Fleet Marine Force) platoons to be the same as boot camp had been; some good Marines and some real losers who screwed up everything they came in contact with, and couldn’t find their ass with both hands. I also saw plenty of “leaders” who just goofed off and used their position as a personal perk, although none as bad as a couple of the Boot Camp Squad Leaders.
I had some really great times in the Corps, and I've never regretted for a moment having done it. I have always been very proud to be a Marine, and I strived toward the ideals of being a good Marine; ideals that were taught to me at boot camp, ITS, and in the NCO Handbook. When I came back from the Asian “float” with K-3/9, I was selected to go to Camp San Onofre in a different part of Camp Pendleton for a special temporary job. I was the Admin Chief (a SSgt billet) at Division Schools as a Corporal, and was also able to attend the Scout/Sniper and Combat Motorcycle Instructor courses there, toward the end. While at Division Schools (this is also where ITS, RFTD, and other schools are), I saw then-SSgt Morris once and chatted briefly with him.
A Cpl Johnson (yet another Johnson) and I went to 29 Palms with the combat motorcycles (Kawasaki KLX 350 dual-purpose, water-cooled singles) for a couple combat exercises over most of August, 1988, shortly before I went back to 3/9 and got out. It was hot as hell during the day, but great fun. As part of the exercise, he and I were testing sidecars. I gave an unfavorable review; they got stuck too easily in the sand. Although one purpose of the sidecars was to transport an officer somewhere, none of the officers dared to climb in and ride with us. I wrote up an extensive after-action report that attracted a lot of attention around Camp Pendleton. A Colonel from Base even came over to talk to me about some of the observations in my report, during my last few weeks in the Corps. It was very tempting to stay in, and help the Marine Corps enhance and expand the combat motorcycle program and/or finish the Scout/Sniper training to get the 8541 MOS. Unfortunately, the Corps wanted me to first go to Okinawa for 6 months again with K-3/9, with no guarantees of anything I wanted when I got back, so I decided not to stay in.
When it came time to reenlist, it was a very tough decision I struggled with for quite awhile. In fact, on my last day of driving the 50 miles down to Camp Pendleton, on Oct. 2, 1988, I still struggled with wanting to stay and wanting to go. I got out, though, and joined the STA (Surveillance and Target Acquisition) platoon at the 2/23 reserve unit in Encino, CA, where I was promoted to Sgt. I was there until I moved back to NH at the end of 1990. To me, STA is even better than Recon. It's the same "snooping and pooping" (sneaking around in the bushes and gathering intelligence information), but with the added plus (for Scout/Snipers) of carrying a custom-made .308 sniper rifle, as well as heavy emphasis on self-reliance and fieldcraft. When Desert Shield was heating up, I considered trying to get back into the Reserves, so I could go to the Middle East as a Marine, and perhaps even as a sniper, but I didn't think Desert Shield would ever turn into anything real, so I didn't pursue it. After the 9/11/2001 attacks, I called a couple recruiters but they were totally disinterested in an old man.
Whenever I go back to Southern California for a visit, I often schedule a visit to MCRD on a Friday morning, to watch the graduation.
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