Boot Camp Letters: October 2003 (From Recruit to Marine)

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This entry is the conclusion of my “Boot Camp” series of entries and I hope you all enjoyed my behind the scenes sentiments.

I am glad I completed this journey as a way to honor my friend Bart after his passing. His mother sent the photo below to me while at recruit training. I know my experience does not make up for losing him, but it is important his dream came full circle. He wanted to go to Iraq, and by serving, I made that dream real.

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Lance Corporal Barton J. Carroll

There’s not much I planned to write today, but I do have some photos to share. We had recruit liberty which lasted, if I’m recalling correctly, four hours. I know I should talk more about other things like the Crucible, but it doesn’t stand out in my mind as much as other things do. After being under the scrutiny of drill instructors constantly, recruit liberty felt awkward, but exciting at the same time. It was a small opportunity to explore the base. I think of things like this experience and the Warriors Breakfast and having makeup classes (yes, we learn how to wear makeup to complement our skin and uniforms!) that are worth discussing more than being frustrated, exhausted, and annoyed during the Crucible.

My apologies the photos are not dated, but I took them with a 35mm camera and never wrote any captions in my scrapbook to better contextualize the experience.

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Our Senior Drill Instructor SSgt Curran
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These women did not have an easy job as drill instructors. Their billet is one of the hardest (and most coveted) assignments in the Marine Corps.
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Tucked in the middle and super serious in this group photo.
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Our Senior and her husband, also a drill instructor
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I’m on the far right and as you can see the footlocker at the end of my bed is not very big. Nearly everything I owned at boot camp fit into the locker.

When we had our weapons, they were slung over the end of our bunk beds with a cable through them and secured by a combination lock. In one of my letters home, I discussed my combination lock being taken away; this event happened because I failed to double check my combination lock was secure. Small mistakes like these are things you pay for and I learned to be better about checking my items.

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4th Battalion, Oscar Company, Platoon 4030 

After recruit training, I went on to Marine Corps Combat Training and later my Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) school at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Of my fellow recruits, one was also at Camp Blue Diamond with me. I ran into another during my second tour in Iraq at Camp Al Asad. The third worked at the mail room at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

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I was very proud to graduate even if it was as a Marksman (that “pizza box” on my uniform), not a Rifle Expert.

That large smile on my face is less about leaving recruit training but everything to do with being surprised to see my dad. My maternal grandmother and her boyfriend came to my graduation but my dad had let on he was at court during my graduation. Back then, he served as a police officer so the reason sounded pretty valid.

Earning the right to be called Marine is something I’ve never regretted. The events that came later weren’t all great, but becoming a Marine is one of the best life decisions I ever made.

 

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