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  • Ol' Skool Marines.....

    Where it all begins



    Recruit training is ever-changing, but results remain the same
    By Alvin Benn -
    Posted : September 22, 2008

    We were sound asleep when our bus rumbled across a bridge and pulled into a parking space in the dead of night after a long, tiring trip. Seconds later, loud screams and the sound of somebody pounding on a metal trash can jarred us awake.
    “Out, out, maggots, welcome to Parris Island,” he shouted.
    On that muggy morning in August 1958, we had arrived at the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot in South Carolina — about to embark on a three-month survival test.
    Marine Corps basic training is intended to turn boys into men. Many don’t make it. How I did is a mystery, but it remains my greatest physical achievement.
    It’s been 50 years since my memorable arrival at Parris Island, and I thought it would be appropriate to go back for a look at how things have or have not changed since that time. I’m happy to report that the Marine Corps is as strong as ever and has the situation — whatever the situation might be — well in hand.
    There have been significant changes in the half century since my arrival at Parris Island, but the principle mission remains the same: training raw recruits to become aggressive, highly disciplined Marines.
    At times, there have been efforts to disband the Marine Corps, especially by those in power who feel it has outlived its usefulness and is no longer needed. President Truman, an Army artillery officer who saw plenty of combat in France during World War I, used to call the Marines the Navy’s “police force.”
    Claims of drill instructor brutality have hounded the Corps in the past. The worst incident occurred in 1956, when a drill instructor marched his “maggots” into Ribbon Creek. They all wore heavy packs, and six drowned.
    That event led to radical changes in the way recruits are trained. This was never more evident than during my four-day visit. Political correctness has invaded the Marine Corps and appears to have established a solid beachhead.
    Today’s drill instructors are ordered to keep their distance from recruits when disciplining them. That means no punching, gouging, elbowing, kneeing or slapping — DI “wakeup calls” familiar to recruits who went through boot camp years ago.
    The Marine Corps is trying to cope in an age of “gentle persuasion” and appears to be doing a pretty good job, especially in the area of recruit safety.
    At the “Confidence Course,” a large net now catches those who might fall from a rope leading downward from a tower to the completion point. In 1958, we didn’t have a net. Those who fell made quite a splash, depending on how far the fall was. Some were hurt. I was among many who got wet, but from a fall a lot closer to the water.
    During my visit, I drove by a large brick building where about a dozen young men on crutches waited outside for admission and treatment. Marine Corps basic training is a Spartan-inspired period, with days that begin before sunup and end long after it sunset.
    Much of today’s training is aimed at protecting recruits from possible danger. In 1958, when our platoon struggled under barbed wire obstacles, live rounds flew over our heads. Simulated firing is used today.
    During my basic training, the Corps had four special platoons dealing with recruits who were overweight, underweight, recovering from injuries or lacking in proper “motivation.”
    I wound up in “Fat Man’s Platoon.” I was the lightest member at 198 pounds. A New Yorker who topped 300 pounds spent a long time in a platoon that had an elephant as its flag icon.
    Eleven pounds lighter after 11 days, I was reassigned to a regular platoon. I lost another 25 pounds during infantry training in North Carolina.
    The Corps has strict rules about easing up on exercise when the heat and humidity become unbearable. A black flag is raised at that point. It means “Stop.”
    When I was there, our DI marched our platoon to the flagpole and worked us out under a red flag that ostensibly meant the same thing the black one does today. He had a smirk on his face, as I recall. When I got back home, I had a deep tan, weighed 165 pounds and some of my high school buddies didn’t recognize me at first.
    The Corps still has a special training unit, but no longer calls it “Fat Man’s Platoon” — chalk up another one for political correctness. Perhaps the biggest change in recruit training today is something called the “Crucible”— a 54-hour endurance test with only a few hours’ sleep and plenty to do for weary recruits.
    Back in the “Old Corps,” we had our own “Crucible.” It was called daily training.
    The Marine Corps is a cohesive unit in which officers and enlisted personnel share a mutual respect. It’s always been that way between those who lead and those who follow.
    Many of the new Marines will wind up in Iraq or Afghanistan during America’s continuing war against terrorism. Some will die. Some will be badly wounded.
    It’s a price the Marine Corps has paid since its creation, and those who successfully complete boot camp know they may be called on one day to step up to the plate.
    I may not be as lean as I was the day my platoon marched in review on that big parade ground 50 years ago, but being a Marine never loses its meaning. Our motto is “semper fidelis.” It’s Latin for “always faithful,” two words that say it all.
    The writer, a columnist for the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, served in the Marine Corps from 1958 to 1964. He was discharged as a sergeant. His e-mail address is [email protected]
    sigpic

    ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.

  • #2
    tell us your story . . . how did you make it thought the marine corp??

    thats what u get 4 breaking my heart...

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    • #3
      OOOOoooo.....you just gave me a new thread idea........
      sigpic

      ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.

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