Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Not much to report

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at Mom's, helping her get her new computer running. It was during the booting and setting date and time when I realized the date; 17 January. Today is of course the 18th. This morning I do remember waking at 0500, 33 years ago after only going to sleep at 0230. Our first night was spent getting haircuts and new clothes, and throwing what ever contraband we were carrying into the Amnesty Box.

We did that stuff in the video at 2200 (Ten o'clock) at night. I think these guys were getting it easy because of the film crew.

MCRD San Diego was actually a little easier than I expected, on that tired and early wake up. They threw a trash can across the barracks and yelled a bit, but the Drill Instructors weren't particularly animated. I think they were a bit tired, too. We were in what they called "Receiving Barracks". I thought they would start off running the real show, but no. Receiving Barracks was a ruse to get us comfortable with the idea of being a Marine Recruit.


Us recruits got up and fumbled into our stiff new camouflaged utilities and we were instructed to button the blouse all the way up. We were then invited to "get on the road for chow!" and got pushed out the door because we were too f%^$#@ slow. We got back on our footprints and were told to stand at attention, and all that. After a bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth we were diddy-bopped down a quarter mile to the chow hall, where we were asked kindly to form two lines.

After a rushed meal of fried baloney and oatmeal we were formed up on the road and walked back to the barracks to perform clean up. We made our messy bunks and swept and swabbed the floors. About 0800 we were again invited to go outside to the foot prints ("Feet at a 45 degree angle, Maggots!") and we bopped our way to medical where we got jabbed with needles, stuck with a weird sewing pin with a pustule like object on the end (Small Pox!) and drank a foul shot of polio vaccine. Then the inevitable double tap of the air compressors shooting God knows what into our arms.

Blood was drawn and we were probed and prodded and the famous short arm inspection came to pass. The Corpsman and a Drill Instructor would closely stare, apparently looking for critters and odd social afflictions. They also asked very private questions and laughed at our physiques. Every time I passed into another room, some smarmy Drill Instructor would ask in a faux-kindly way, "Is there anything you forgot to tell the processors at the Armed Forces Entry Station, hmm? "Maybe a small arrest that nobody would give a crap about, or that you like (Insert foul innuendo about a person's orientation), hmmm?"

"Go ahead and tell us now if you fibbed about anything, anyway. "You won't be in any trouble... Just get it off your chest son..."

I saw about five privates vanish after they admitted to whatever. One guy was in tears as he admitted he had no High School Diploma. The Drill Instructor laughed. We nervously giggled.

The next day we repeated the first morning's fun, only we got to bed at 2130 and had a bit more sleep. This time we retook the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. This was to ensure some morons didn't use a "Ringer" to take the test for them.

As if being in Marine Boot Camp was some place a rational person would want to be.

I wound up having to take an extra test regarding languages. Apparently I displayed some accidental linguistic talent I was unaware of. But they caught it. They were aware of everything. That afternoon, a couple more young Privates had vanished away from our squad bay. We were down to about forty five recruits and I wondered if I would also be disappeared, too.

No worries. The next morning we continued processing as usual. The funny thing was that we didn't get punished too much, maybe ten push ups as a group and that was about it. We didn't get yelled at too much, either. I was wondering if the Marine Corps had relaxed and that boot camp would be like the Sea Cadet boot camp I had just gone through six months prior. Oh, how nice it would be that the Marine Corps had stepped up to the Twentieth Century, Age of Aquarius and all that! My nerves were on edge and I was scared.

I had good reason to be scared. On the fifth day, we woke up and repeated the routine; On the road for chow at the foot prints, eat, come back and sweep and swab...

Something was different. The nice Drill Instructor came back and told us to pack our seabags with our blankets and sheets. While we were in the midst of doing exactly that, there was a faint rustle in the wind. It was like the temperature just dropped and the air pressure was falling, too. Storm warning?

Four very hard-bodied Drill Instructors with tightly-tailored  khaki shirts and green trousers came flying into the squad bay with a new kind of fury... It took all of us by surprise as things and bodies began to take flight around us!


And so on. There was more but it would all be repetitive, you get the picture.

Actually, I kind of condensed those first few lines. There was an endless staccato of resourceful and articulately clever cursing. We tried to get on the road with our gear but we kept getting kicked and shoved down the street. There were officers watching, to make sure nothing got too out of hand but the many Drill Instructors were pretty much free to kick and curse us down a quarter mile to our new barracks. Fortunately, we were given a ground floor squad bay so no one was hurt on the stairs. It really was an incredible clusterf&*; well, you know what!

Our particular crowd seemed to swell as additional recruits from other barracks mixed in with our group. A Series of Four Marine Recruit Platoons were formed at that moment. We were the first Series for the new year, and our group was it. I found myself in Platoon 3001 and the others were Platoons 3002, 3003 and so forth.

Once we were herded indoors we were assigned thrown by our racks and a roll call was ordered. We had to stand in front of our rack (actually at the head of the rack, facing the other row of privates) with our arms held high, like we were surrendering. We had to count off by numbers. The count would start at one end and circle around. I think I was number 15, or something like that. At the end of the counting (Which took about an hour and a half, really!) Us Privates had to say, "Sir, the count on deck is 59 Recruits, Sir!"

Afterwards, we were invited back out on the road, to form up. Well, that didn't work so well, so we were asked to go onto the dirt at the side of the road. The dirt was sort of soft, and the dirt part was separate from the grass part. In fact, the dirt part was Platoon Shaped. With room for about 60 Marine Corps recruits to frolic in.

We learned about "Bends and Thrusts" and "Lean and Rest", which was usually accompanied by "Down Up... Down Up!" Also, there was another fun thing called Leg Lifts. We sometimes were instructed to either throw dirt at our neighbor (That is the precise terminology!) Or make a dust cloud by blowing into the dirt while relaxing in the Lean and Rest Position.

The dirt area became known as "The Pit". And when we were allowed back inside later, they let us drink some water. I never thought that the taste of something so plain and common could be so delicious. From now on, anything we ate or drank was strictly monitored. As was everything else for the next eleven weeks, especially bathroom breaks.

Oh well, enough of that. I survived. The trick was not to get noticed.  At least not in a negative way.

Into the gym and later I will do some shopping for wine and foods that are going on sale at a local supermarket chain. Said chain is closing down for good in Florida, the economy is still doing its best to stay on the ropes.

Have a fine day and remember that someone in the Armed Forces would gladly switch places with you!

1 comment:

Buck said...

Ah... Basic. It was kinda-sorta the same in the AF, "shock and awe" of a most obnoxious and fearful nature. But we survived, unnoticed. ;-)