Marching on toward becoming a Marine

     Well I’m kinda PO’ed off the last three attempts at writing a chapter have been lost before I could post them.  That’s a lot of work for a old man.

     Like I said all we did for the first few weeks was march, march and march some more.  We learned to step off with our left foot on command.  Some guy’s actually had to learn which foot was their left first, hard to believe but that really is not a joke.  We marched so much and did turns on our heels and the outside of the soles on our boots that by the tenth week they marched us down to the shop areas where we tied yellow tags on the laces of our boots and left them on a dock to be picked up two days later when we sat on the pavement and changed out of our boon-dockers and left them to be resoled.  We eventually learned to step with precision where our heels all hit the ground at the same instant and sounded as one loud step.  Our paces were the same-mile eating 32 inches no matter our leg length.  All hands swung six inches to the front and three to the rear.  We were one giant precision marching machine.  All this time we were getting our teeth checked and worked on.  One kid named Cattlin from some hill state had all of his teeth pulled they were so bad and eventually he got a full set of false teeth.  He received no special treatment of diet that I know of at this time.  I remember him as a clown short kinda goofy looking, after boot camp and at Individual Combat training we got our first leave, I went home to Redondo Beach Cal., but a bunch of the guys went to Tijuana, Mexico.  They told of Clattlin paying Mariachis singers to follow him around playing and singing. 

    But back to boot camp.  We attended classes on Marine Corps history and tradition.  We learned first aid, some map and compass reading and stuff like that.  Soon we were introduced to the obstacle course.  Oh yes there was the famous mud pit with the rope swing, and yes the DI’s would not swing the second rope on time if they felt like messing with you.  What I hated the most was the tall confidence tower, you did not have to tackle it if you did not want to.  But you were a outcast if you did not do it.  It was like a giant ladder sixty feet tall with the rungs more than four feet apart.  You climbed up one side and down the other no nets no ropes just you and the damn ladder.  It is probably the most fear-full thing I ever did in my life.  but what a sense of accomplishment after finishing it.  Some refused some quit but pride and fear of failure caused most of us to complete it. 

    Like I said anyone in uniform gave us a order we obeyed.  One time  another DI saw us standing out side of the mess hall, called us to attention and marched us off behind some bleachers and left us at attention and walked off.  We stood there for three hours before our DI showed up and reamed us new butt-holes and marched us till we  were dropping in our tracks.  After about five weeks we were issued our weapons.  Brand new Grand M1 rifles.  9.5 pounds of wood and steel, 42.5 inches long, consisting of three main groups.  Barrel and receiver, stock, and triger housing groups.  Oh how I loved that gun, I had already spent three years with one in high school ROTC.  It was officially a gas operated, air cooled, clip fed, semiautomatic, individual shoulder weapon.  And for the next two years it went ever where I went except home on leave.  And for the next fifteen’s weeks it was never more  than arms length away from me.  When I slept at night it was hung on the foot of my bunk, when I ran to the shower in the morning it went with me and my towel and soap and wash cloth and razor.  It waited patiently out side stacked with five other weapons, as it did out side the mess hall while I ate.  We were closer than a brother ever could be and if you dropped it you slept with it in your bunk that night.  We learned to clean it and care for it like our life depended on, which it would if we ever saw combat.        It was cleaned before we were.  At inspection one time the guy next to me got to demerits when a small spider was found in his barrel.  One demerit for a dirty rifle and on for having a unauthorized pet.

     The Drill instructors loved to play games with us.  Mail call was always a time of fun.   It became a game with the sister platoon,  Our DI would call out our name if we had a letter we would break rank and run from behind the platoon and around in front where the ass would hold out our letter we were to snatch as we ran by,  The other DI would hold a broom like a baseball bat and swat at our rear as we ran by.  If we missed the letter of the DI jerked it out of reach we had to make a second pass.  My favorite cousin Mary Jean sent me a letter with perfumed powder in side one time to make the other guys think I had a sweetheart writing me.  That was good for three passes and hard swats.  Another game that was popular for awhile was air raid and flood.  We would hit the racks at lights out and just get settled when suddenly the lights would go on and the DI would holler Flood drill and we all climbed on the top bunk.  Then he would yell air raid and we both jumped to the bottom bunk, this went on until he got tired of it then he would scream clean this mess up and stand inspection in ten minutes.   He would then go to the next hut while we furiously remade bunks and straighted the place up and stood at attention until he returned to look us over finally we would be allowed to try to go back to sleep.

     Eventually all good things come to a end and we recieved our finally clothing issue.  And prepared for graduation,  none of us were sorry to leave this part of our Marine Corps experence behind.  Yes we also did our live fire qulafaction turring this time where we learned how to fire our weapons.  And a Lot more schooling and Big officer inspections and all it takes to finally get to be called a Marine some thing we were all proud of.  It did make us a unique band of brothers, I never saw    a Marine that was a stranger to me, and today all it takes is a word andany ex-Marine is some how a brother.  Oh sure there is the ocasional asshole who you dislike but that is not because he was a Marine its who he is personally.  Got to admit my wife has a second neice who was married to a real jackass who us other Marines will reconise as a brother but that is just who he is.

   Ah there is so much more that I would have to write a book to cover it all.  Rent The DI with Jack Webb, It is a good look at the 1950’s boot camp experience, but still tame.  Later I get to the meat of Combat  Training called ICT on Camp Pendelton.  That’s where you learned how to survive as a team in combat or Hell in six weeks.  Got a cat sleeping on my foot so got to stop and try to get some circulation going in my leg. so long ramblingbob

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3 Responses to “Marching on toward becoming a Marine”

  1. Raven Says:

    Wow, hard to imagine what that must have been like. At least now recruits have had more exposure to the armed services, but I’m sure they are probably just as unprepared. I have tremendous respect for people who serve for their country and often think of the young men and women (boys & girls, in many cases – barely 18 and out of high school!) fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and serving in other parts of the world. Lucky for you that your time was between conflicts, even though the experience doesn’t sound very rosey!

    Love ya Dad!

  2. ramblingbob Says:

    You know think of a 19 year old kid who used to have get permission to stay out after 12 PM, Driving a couple million dollar armored vehicel, of a 23 year old girl flying a Tank Killer aircraft and it is amazing. Yeah I was lucky but I’ll never know how I would have meassured up. But I was trained and prepared what ever they asked of me. And at that time there was no Draft in the Marine corps we were all volenters and they were turning guys away. Do you know that Verlon was a combat Marine and Stell’s, Charlie was in the Navy in Sagon durduring the Teith Offenaieve? Both do not talk about it much.

  3. Charlotte Young Says:

    OK Bobby, I noticed one little problem. The guys I know that were Marines tell me there is no such thing as an ex-Marine. They are FORMER Marines.
    I’ve always heard it takes a special person to be a Marine and the family was always proud of you.

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