Boot Camp Letters Home: July 2003

I’m procrastinating like any good college student as my class enters its last week today. As such, I figured I’d do something else equally valuable and share some things from boot camp with you all today.

I truly enjoy sharing old stories and photos so that they can serve a purpose to someone else and I think it’s good for people to see some transparency regarding recruit training. My experience is not like the movie “Ears Open, Eyeballs Click” but if you get a chance to watch the movie, please do so. I find it utterly hilarious. It’s a good reminder boot camp has some ridiculous moments and I laughed so hard at some points in the movie I had tears streaming down my face.

Moving on….

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The nerd that I am, I kept a journal during my preparation for boot camp and asked my family to hold onto my boot camp letters. My stepmom had the responsibility to keep these in order and she did a great job not decorating my journal, as I feared, in my absence.

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I imagine a lot of people are better prepared for boot camp than I was, but some of my high school athleticism worked out in my favor. Running, a constant PT activity in the Marine Corps, is something I was used to but the flexed arm hang was one of my weak areas from the very beginning.

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I’ve always been that awkward introverted nerd and I won’t say the Marine Corps beat it out of me. Over time, I just found people I got along with, but I felt like a fish out of water at boot camp. There’s a lot of stepping outside one’s comfort zone. Personal space is not really a thing and for someone as private about their body as I am, it’s awkward to shower in a communal setting.

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I don’t mind admitting I’m an average person who decided to become a United States Marine. There are other people who run with the idea and become the best in different areas of Marine Corps life like the person who always rocks a high 1st class PFT (physical fitness test); the person who always shoots expert; the person who always knows everything. I was never one of those. I decided to serve in honor of my late friend, Lance Corporal Barton J. Carroll, and it didn’t take long to figure out, I had no idea what I signed up for but I committed to it and I was going to complete that obligation.

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I am not surprised I barely spent any time writing to my family about what boot camp was like, but more so on what I didn’t care for and the things I appreciated. These simple things remind me that I love focusing on relationships rather than achievements. I’ve never enjoyed being the center of attention and it’s kind of comical to see how much I tried to hide in the background of boot camp as well.

I was quite content to try to not be noticed. I wanted to observe and learn, but mostly to pass under the radar.

I don’t remember the process of receiving all that much but bits and pieces. The drill instructors took away a lot of things individuals brought with them like makeup and hair appliances (Why someone thought they could bring that to boot camp is beyond me as is the makeup. Our need for feminine hygiene products didn’t last very long and most of us only had one cycle through the three months of training. Our civilian clothes were placed into brown paper grocery size bags and returned to us at the end of our training. I still remember the fact I wore a short sleeve baby pink color t-shirt and jeans. My recruiter did a good job reminding us to take as little as possible with us and to dress comfortably.

The new clothes we received, and purchased with our own money, required marking. We had stencils and marking tape to mark all sorts of items we wore: sports bras, underwear, socks, shirts, shorts, camouflage tops and bottoms, and boots. I can’t remember my thoughts on clothing issue for our dress uniform items other than being grateful one set of trousers was left a bit loose; it really helped out when I decided to eat a lot of junk food at Marine Corps Combat Training (MCT) although it was a pretty poor decision to undo my mostly healthy eating habits from boot camp. The other uniform items were marked as well once in our possession.

Basically, you need to mark your sh#t. It’s a requirement. Drill instructors will notice it if it’s not marked or that marking tape starts falling off. I got pretty lazy about marking my stuff later in the fleet with the exception of Corporals Course since there was an inspection.

Last thoughts though before I end here for the day. I never shot expert on the rifle at boot camp, or any other part of my Marine Corps career. I was a sad little marksman the whole time, but at least I learned a new skill. One of these days my husband and I need a trip back to the rifle range; I haven’t shot in years, and it would be nice to pick up a rifle and shoot better than I did in the Marine Corps. If anyone will help me get there, it will be my husband. I shoot the rifle left-handed and he’s the only left-handed rifle coach I’ve ever met; it’s a real shame he wasn’t on the rifle range with me in the Marine Corps.

(Sorry for the serious detour towards the end of this entry; can you tell I really don’t want to do homework right now?)

 

 

 

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