Friday, April 29, 2011

One possible job: Guarding the president

"If you got on itch on the nose, you know, just suck it up."

I love the falling Christmas tree part.
You have to be squeaky clean to make the presidential station, high test scores, no glitches in your past. It's a huge honor to be selected for this post and apparently requires signing up for a fifth year in the corps. Looks like a great job to me.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Teachers at boot camp

This video made me cry all over again. The whole series is pretty cool, I can totally see being one of those educators being pushed around. Hopefully they don't take that screaming-in-the-face part back to school with them.

It's not unusual at all it seem to welcome outside groups in to enjoy the Marine boot camp experience.

Each year, the Marines pay for nearly 2,000 educators to observe four days of basic training, or boot camp, to reach people the corps considers "key influencers" of young people.
Educators from Western states go to Marine Recruit Depot San Diego; those from the East come here, to Marine Recruit Depot Parris Island, a swampy, bug-ridden place north of Savannah, Ga.
The educators workshop recently drew about 60 administrators, guidance counselors and teachers from New York and New Jersey -- all flown down on commercial planes. The Marines put the group up at the Country Inn in Beaufort and treated them to dinners at places like the officers' club at Marine Air Station. On the last night, the Marines took the educators out for seafood and steaks. An impromptu bar tour followed.
Last year, the program helped the Marines meet their goal of new recruits despite suffering heavy losses in Iraq, having the longest and hardest basic training -- and without offering extra cash to enlist as the Army often does.

The above quote is from 2006. There have not been "heavy losses" for a good while thank God. The recruiting goal for that year was 30,000 for the Marines. That goal has decreased significently.

For the fiscal year ending in march 2011 for the Department of Defense, the Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force branches all made their recruiting goals. The Army has the most recruits with 34,264 (goal was 33,600) and the Marines the fewest with 11,497 (goal was 11,468). The Navy recruited 16,011 (exact goal) and the Air Force gained 14,279 (also exact goal).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Week 5: Martial arts

It doesn't matter how much martial arts training a recruit has had, everyone starts at the beginning in boot camp.

Gen. James L. Jones, envisioned a program to enable every Marine to realize their full potential as a warrior. Drawing upon our rich legacy of leadership and heritage of innovation, the Marine Corps developed the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. It is a martial art whose roots reach back from the boarding parties of the Continental Marines, extend through the Raiders of World War II and include the modern complexities of the three-block war. 

Recruit will be working at least for for a "tan belt," which is the first level he needs to reach to get through the program. After tan is grey and then he can earn up to a black belt (not in boot camp). There are 6 degrees of black belt but every one above first degree requires the Marine to be an officer of some sort.
Because the Marine wears his belt as part of his uniform, bright colors like red, yellow and purple are not included in the system.

The Marine Corps Martial Arts Programs has several nicknames including Semper fu, MCSlap, MCNinja and Bushido.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Boot camp holidays

There in not much on the Internet about Easter at Marine recruit boot camp but a fair bit about other hodidays, mostly Halloween. It seems the DIs get very creative around Halloween. Probably because it's not a religions holiday.

Anyway, there is a group of people in San Deigo who visit the recruits there on Easter and bring them cookies and letters from children's groups, so maybe someone elses mom will get to hug Recruit tomorrow. Oh, I would so rather it be me!!!! But I am glad for him to get to hug anybody.

Images from mikey's funnies

Anyway, back to holidays in general, my favorite was this Christmas story:
It was Christmas Eve night and the recruits were out in the boondocks as they were in the field part of their training. But the drill instructors weren't even acknowledging the occasion. Finally, one of the recruits finally had to broach the issue. "So you want Christmas, let the games begin," said the DI.

The DI then proceeded to have half the platoon climb a big tree (with their flashlights) so that the recruits were evenly spaced throughout the tree. Half of these recruits were ordered to put the red lens in their flashlights, while the others kept the white lens in. Then the DI ordered the recruits in the tree to sing "Silent Night, Holy Night" while switching on and off their flashlights.

As such, the half of the platoon that didn't climb the tree were witness to a real live singing Christmas tree
complete with blinking red and white lights. After the song was over, the recruits in the tree and on the ground switched places and repeated the experience, so that everyone had a very Marine Christmas that they will never forget.

And here is one from Halloween .... nasty
Halloween in Boot Camp

We all knew that Halloween in Marine Boot Camp wasn't going to be good, as we figured our DIs had something special in mind.
Well, the evening of Halloween, the DIs had some time to kill.
(Previously, during field training, the DIs collected all of the cocoa mix from our MREs. That was not a good sign.)
Anyway, we were all sitting in front of the squad bay cleaning our weapons. The DI then called four recruits to the front and had them start doing bends and thrusts (a push up where you stand up after each one). After several, several minutes the recruits would be gasping for air. At such time, the recruits were ready for their treat - a nice packet of cocoa mix. While heaving and gasping for air, the DIs made the recruits eat the cocoa mix. As you can probably guess, the dry mix was spewed everywhere, coming out of both mouths and snorted through and out noses. It was not a pretty sight. This process was repeated until the entire platoon got their Marine Halloween trick-or-treat.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Honoring the oath

So I tried to change, add to and fix yesterday's post and something was wrong with the "HTML tag" so I couldn't but this is what I wanted to say ...

I think that anyone who signs on that line before they go should understand they are no longer their own. No matter what life gives you, there will be some danger, some leap into faith that someone will keep you safe. But you have to accept and know, it is not always so, especially in the armed forces. These young people who lose their lives in training should be as respected and honored as any who fall in the field. They signed on the line and gave their lives for the causes.

"I, (Recruit), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


This week Recruit may get to start in the pool. It is not swim week yet but there is a day listed to be introduced to the pool in most of the lists.

"By definition, the Marine Corps is an amphibious assault force. Therefore all Marine recruits are required to know how to survive in the water.
"Recruits face many challenges during their 13 weeks on the recruit depot, but swim week is especially challenging for recruits who don’t know how to swim.
"Training in combat water survival develops a recruit's confidence in the water.
"Recruits receive basic water survival training at the indoor pool, which is safely conducted by specially-trained instructors.
"A new qualification system for combat water survival was implemented on November 10, 2010, that coincides with new combat and battlefield needs.
"The new system will train recruits to be able to survive in the water while wearing all of their combat gear (including a rifle, helmet, flak jacket and pack), whereas the old system only required recruits to train in their camouflage utility uniform.

But things are not always perfect,

The Jason Tharp drowning happened in 2005 and things have changes since then with new regulations and existing regulation being better monitored. Also the San Diego training facility has far fewer cases of recruit deaths than the Parris Island facility, although broken wrists and ankles seem to be popular at both training facilities.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Week 4, class work, class work, class work

There is class work every week in the boot camp. According to Recruit's letter this is one of the things he does every day. So what do they learn in Class, which is probably Recruit's least favorite part of boot camp.
"First-phase" education is mostly about the Marine Corps, history, culture, first aid, rank structure, protocol, customs and courtesies. Also the 11 General orders, five paragraph order, equipment prepration, and uniform regulations.
They are taught to use rote memorization and mnemonics to help them remeber everything and are sometimes expected to be able to recite passages or quote in unison.
Everything centers around the Marine Corps Core Values:
1.     Honor - Marines are held to the highest standards, ethically and morally. Respect for others is essential. Marines are expected to act responsibly in a manner befitting the title they’ve earned.
2.     Courage - Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to face fear and overcome it. It is the moral, mental and physical strength ingrained in every Marine. It steadies them in a time of stress, carries them through every challenge and aids them in facing new and unknown confrontations.
3.     Commitment - Commitment is the spirit of determination and dedication found in every Marine. It is what compels Marines to serve our country and the Corps. Every aspect of life in the Corps shows commitment, from the high standard of excellence to vigilance in training.

Being probably the least exciting part of boot camp, and perhaps one of the most classified, there is not a whole lot of information about the course work anywhere.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Letter day, one of several rights

I got a letter from Recruit!
Lovely letter saying how much he misses us and that all he does all day is marching (like in band), class work (like in school) and physical training (PT). He says there is never enough to eat. I think this is because there is never enough time to eat.

No, these are not letters from our Recruit, just a sample. Actually from Vietnam.
Who would have guessed, recruits in Marine boot camp actually have rights and private letters is one of them:

The Marine Corps Recruit Training Regulation lists the following "recruit rights:"
(a) Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, except under certain conditions and times 
(b) One hour of free time daily, unless removed for punishment, and during processing, forming, weapons and field/combat training, and the Crucible Event.
(c) 20 minutes to consume each meal.
(d) Attend sick call.
(e) Attend scheduled religious services.
(f) Request mast via the chain-of-command.
(g) Make and receive emergency phone calls.
(h) Receive mail on the day it is received by the parent company except for Sundays, holidays, and during the Crucible Event.
(i) Send mail without fear of censorship.
(j) Make head calls.
(k) Use medication prescribed by a certified military medical officer.

From the Marine Corps Recruit Training Regulations

"The purpose of free time is to allow recruits to read, write letters, watch instructional television (ITV), and to take care of other personal needs. It is a period when no training is received by recruits and no instruction is conducted by Drill Instructors. Free Time is intended to be a relief period from close, constant association for both recruits and DI's and to take care of personal hygiene and other personal needs."

I can't wait for my next letter!

"To err is human, to forgive divine. However, neither is Marine Corps Policy.
-- ???

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Getting physical

Every day Recruit trains physically as well as mentally.

This reportedly consists of six limbering exercises, followed by a "daily dozen" of side-startle hops, bends and thrusts, rowing exercise, side benders, leg lifts, toe touches, mountain climbing, trunk twisters, push-ups, bend and reach, body twists, and squat benders, up to 15 reps each, and up to three sets of each. This is in addition to required runs and long-distance marches.
On week three the recruits also begin on the Confidence Course. Obstacles, just what our Recruit loves, I see more and more what the draw was for him to go through this thing.

No there are no young women where Recruit is. The women go to Parris Island on the East Coast, but this video describes the idea of the Confidence Course better than any of the others.
Once the recruits know how to fight, they need to know how to maneuver across a battlefield. This is where the confidence course comes into play. This course is made up of 15 obstacles that make recruits climb to new heights of more than 35 feet.
"Some recruits are terrified of heights,"  said Staff Sgt. Roger A. Taylor, close-combat instructor "And sometimes, recruits don't know they are scared of heights until they get up. But we encourage and motivate them to complete the obstacles, and once they do, it's a great sense of accomplishment and they leave for Camp Pendleton ready to take on any challenge."
The course ends with the Slide for Life - where recruits shimmy down suspended cables over a swimming pool.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

mmmmm, Foooood

Recruit weighed-in before he went as on the light side. This means he may have been subject to double rations status.

Recruits on double rations, or "double rat recruits", are given twice the "chow" of their within-standards compatriots.

They get three meals a day served at a mess hall or, later during the phase called the "Crucible," will be Meals, Ready to Eat. During marine recruit family day, before Recruit went to San Diego, we, his family, were subjected to MREs. I hope they get practice preparing the MREs, because the whole process took a fair amount of time to read and figure out how to warm up the food and boil water for coffee etc.

One mom on a forum said her recruit reported:
"Chow was pretty good. However, there isn't much time to eat it. He said he jammed everything between two slices of bread and horsed it down, which he's good at. When your platoon guide is finished, you are also finished. And he has a DI encouraging him to eat faster. So, learn to eat quickly.
"So, food quality is decent, quantity is fine, allowed time constricted ..."
Other sources also say the food is decent but you have to eat it fast, one young man even suggested a method of  "Keep your head down and fork moving drink in between each bite, you wont be granted more time to eat once your table is done you will told to leave."
I don't see how double rations will be doing any good if one does not have time to eat them.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Week three: Polishing

So Week 3 of Phase One continues "tearing down" of Recruit.

"At this point, civilian thoughts and habits are considered detrimental to training, so they are squashed during this period by intense physical training, unchanging routines, strict discipline, and heavy instruction."
The "I"  in individual goes away, they are not allowed to even say it. The term is "this recruit" when they are talking about themselves. Unit, unit, unit.
Recruit is becoming friends with his rifle, M16A4. He has memorized its serial number and is practicing four weapons safety rules and four weapons conditions.

Safety rules
1. Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.
2. Never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot.
3. Keep finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
4. Keep weapon on safe until you intend to fire.

1.  To place a weapon in condition 1, a round must be in position to be fired and the safety must be on.
 2.  To place a weapon in condition 2, a round must be in position to be fired, the weapon’s action must be closed, and the hammer must be forward. (This condition only applies to weapons that have external hammers).
3.  To place a weapon in condition 3, ammunition is in position to be chambered, the chamber is empty, the action is closed, and the safety is on.
4.  To place a weapon in condition 4, all ammunition is removed, the chamber is empty, the action is closed, and the safety is on.

Week three is bayonet training. There will be lots of yelling and attacking tire people with a knife at the end of the weapon. Recruit will be good at this and have a great time with it. In fact, I haven't seen anything in boot camp yet that I don't think he will be getting a kick out of. The pugil stick training looks to be almost exactly like Amtgard activity he used to love so much.

In all this activity, Recruit will also be studying Marine History and First Aid.

Note: Various sources put the things the recruits are learning in different orders, for example, in some schedules pugil sticks began in week 2 and first aid begins in week 4. This is deliberately to confuse the enemy and not be predictable.

"Marines know how to use their bayonets. Army bayonets may as well be paper-weights." -- Navy Times

Friday, April 8, 2011

Letter time!

So we finally got notice from Recruit of his address! Now we can write him. His wife got the letter and even a personal note at the bottom saying he is fine, he misses everyone and he is having fun.

The suggestion for writing letters is to not get sappy and sad and talk about how much you miss him or all the things he is missing, instead focus on what he is doing, stay positive and show him that you are interested in what he is doing.

We are not supposed to send care packages, cookies or hearts.

Recruits have had to eat entire batches of homemade cookies all at once, had to give them all away, or just have them taken away. Some have had to do extra PT (physical training) to be allowed to keep their "surprise" gifts from home - or do extra PT in addition to having to eat them all or give them all away. Other items might be taken away from your recruit until graduation.

Anyone who knows him and would like his address to write something to him, let me know.

"Any Drill Instructor will tell you that recruits who regularly receive mail are better motivated, have fewer illnesses or injuries and generally do better than recruits who do not regularly receive mail.
Your mission is to see that your recruit receives mail of one sort or another every day."

Some more suggestions:

After you hear from your recruit and check, they will probably like to get pre-printed labels, with their address on some and yours on others. Make sure you have the proper postage on your letters - one recruit had to pay in sweat for 12 cents postage due!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Week Two

It looks like this is them most boring week. A week to get caught up on routines, getting things done properly and on time. Line up, boots, teeth, clean, physical workouts, feat, and start over and over again.
Here is a site that goes week by week in video, quite cool:  12 Weeks Module - Marine Corps recruits

And a quote from our Trinity Site visit April 2. This Marine was getting on a shuttle bus. He must have heard me read the quote out loud twice. It is from Elenore Roosevelt.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


So tonight I wonder about doubts. Is Recruit lying awake wondering if he can make it? Is he depressed and frustrated over some failure to meet a goal? Is he angry because some drill instructor has disovered something to hurt him with?
I want to say to you my son, I love you so much I want to wrap my arms around you. I believe in you.
There will be doubts and moments you wonder if you can make it. I want to say, I know you can, I know your pushy ability to get over and under and through. I know your loyalty and friendship will create bonds for life with those around you.
You are my rock, my knight, my hero.

Funny guy!.... Proof that you can be the same person you were when you went to boot camp. Unless, of course, it was boot camp that made him crazy in the first place.

"When in doubt, empty the magazine."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Moms speak out

I am obviously not the only mom to go through Recruit withdrawl. Here are a couple that resonated with me a lot...
The first ...well the vegan-dyed PEACE T-shirt just says it all.

"I wore my best vegan-dyed PEACE T-shirt. I was wary but not too worried. Zach was barely 17, graduation seemed far off still and the notion that he would volunteer was laughable. He didn’t like killing anything, even insects. The sight of blood made him gag. His favorite hobby was napping.
Zach looked over my shoulder as I examined dreamy photos of Hawaiian bird life and Munich’s museums and beer festivals. 'Great opportunities if he likes culture. … '
“What about the war?” I said.
'The Iraq thing?' I recall him saying. 'That’ll be over in no time. Let’s take a look at some of the great educational benefits.'"

This second one resonated not so much with this quote but with the full text of a couple of the recruit's early-in-the-experience letters which pretty much describe what Recruit must be feeling and doing. The above editorial is from 2006 and the below post is from September 2010.

"I am so proud of him I could cry.
He seems to be doing well, and is good about letting us know as much detail as he can.
When I read about him coming in 3rd in the race, I was so thrilled!  That's my boy!"
"Thats what she said" blogspot

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Field day Sunday

So apparently today is cleaning day for Recruit. Following a morning off for worship, the brushes, mops and chemicals come out and the recruits get to sparkle their habitat. Teamwork is emphasized and off they go swishing, tossing and scrambling to get everything just right for inspection in an hour.

Teamwork seems to be the focus of boot camp although one starts hearing over and over again the words "Marines boot camp will tear down and rebuild the recruit while weeding out the undesirable recruits thereby leaving only the best to earn the name Marine."
I feel like teamwork is probably the foundation of being a Marine. Starting with the drill instructors and their behavior, the recruits are given a common enemy and a reason to work together.
Drill instructors "almost certainly be the most sadistic, maniacal tyrants you have ever met," but they are also all special duty volunteers for the job and  "off duty they are kind hearted, honorable men and women who want to do the best they possibly can to help insure that you come home safe should you be deployed to a combat zone."

I liked this video/slide show a lot because it has some great images and probably captures the life of Recruit very well.

    "Marines are about the most peculiar breed of human beings I have ever witnessed. They treat their service as if it were some kind of cult, plastering their emblem on almost everything they own, making themselves up to look like insane fanatics with haircuts to ungentlemanly lengths, worshipping their Commandant almost as if he were a god, and making weird animal noises like a band of savages. They'll fight like rabid dogs at the drop of a hat just for the sake of a little action, and are the cockiest sons of bitches I have ever known. Most have the foulest mouths and drink well beyond man's normal limits, but their high spirits and sense of brotherhood set them apart and, generally speaking, the United States Marines I've come in contact with are the most professional soldiers and the finest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet."
--An Anonymous Canadian Citizen

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Another day

Last night I picked up my phone to call him to see what he was up to. It didn't work too well. Those tears are always right behind the eyes waiting to fall out. It's like perminant PMS.
Today is Saturday. We went to Trinity site where all that is left of a lake of green glass is little bits of green crackle which you can find hiding in the dirt.
It's toxicity has declined to the point where it is less radioactive than a person.
Such a small indicator with so much anguish coming.
I can hope the world has gone beyond that and my golden warrior child won't have to face true evil.
Tomorrow, Sunday, at least he gets the morning off for worship. I wonder what he will do with it?

"It is at this point that a recruit must come to terms with the decision he or she has made and develop the true determination needed to make it through the process of becoming a United States Marine. The final "moment of truth" is offered to those who have been dishonest about their eligibility, such as drug use, judicial convictions, or other disqualifying conditions."  
                                                                                                                           --- wikipedia