DesertExile: The ones who stay

01 March 2007

The ones who stay

IF You scroll through SGT.GRIT NEWS, (Which I get weekly by Email Newsletter)
You will read short accounts from Marines who have entered the Marine Corps from 1940 to the present day, like this:
Horror Stories
I read with great interest the letter from the "Marine Mom" who was concerned for the safety of her son, because she had heard all those "horror stories" about boot camp. We WWII Marines are dying off at the rate of 1,000 per day, so I figured I best tell her what was on my mind. I may not be here tomorrow. Nice lady, I guess my Mom was very concerned for my safety, when, at the tender age of 17, plus one month, I enlisted here in Atlanta. Went to P.I. right? Nope. Went to San Diego MCRD. What ! ? The Sgt. told our draft of 6 guys that Parris Island was full up, and so we headed west. Arrived there about middle of Sept. 1943. The Marine Corps has its own special way of getting your complete, un-divided attention from the moment you step onto those "yellow footprints". There was a war going on, and The Corps was taking its share (and more) of casualties in the Pacific Theatre; our boot camp was 7 weeks. We had no Crucible then. The Corps needed grunts, who knew what to do with an M-1 rifle. Fortunately, I fired "high expert", which got me about $60.00 as winner of the platoon "pot"; a $5.00 per month salary increase for one year, and got me my PFC stripe. I survived Okinawa and 6 months of repatriating Japanese troops from North China back to their homeland. Ma'm, I hope you will read this from an 80 year old, former Marine, who loves his Corps and his country so much that were it possible, he would be in Iraq or Afghanistan right now. I don't know what sort of "horror stories" you are being fed, as coming from boot camp. I say to people like you, every time the occasion arises. "I want you to notice in detail everything about your son as he is leaving for boot camp; I want you then to notice everything about your "Marine" when you attend his Graduation, and when he receives his Eagle, Globe and Anchor. He will NOT be the same person you sent off to boot camp. Horror stories? I learned, during boot camp, that my father (he and mother were divorced) had tried to use his political influence to get me out of The Corps. (All three of his sons were now in the military - I was the youngest.) Now, if you want to hear horror stories, I have a few to share with you. The Corps (especially my D.I.) did not take kindly to "wimping out"; I found out there were guys who enlisted, then when the going got a little tough in boot camp, they would yell "I want out". That was not me; I wanted "in". Took me forever to convince the United States Marine Corps that I really intended making them a good Marine; after calling home and telling my Dad to "knock it off"; he had made my life miserable, life settled down to making a Marine out of a Georgia "redneck". Ma'm, the purpose of all this boring history is to hopefully convince you that the Marine Corps has told your son, and his entire platoon, that they will never make it through boot camp; they will never become Marines; they told me the same thing. Marine Corps "boot camp" is many things to many men, and now women. The Marine Corps has the finest discipline training, responsibility training, obedience training, respect training, self-discipline training, integrity training, honor training, Corps history training and educational training of any branch of service, with due respect to each branch. The horror stories you may have heard are coming from young men, such as your son, whose mettle is being tested and challenged at every turn, and who are being transformed, by the world's finest and most competent Drill Instructors, from likely self-centered individuals who could jump into their cars and head for McDonald's whenever they wanted to, into one of the world's most respected and admired "soldiers" - a United States Marine!. The horror stories you hear about come from the grunts and groans of these boots as unused muscles become like steel, lazy brains become quick as snake fangs and pride of accomplishment takes over. Your son is in good hands. Take it from one who has been there 64 years ago, and remembers most of it as if it all happened yesterday. Forget the horror stories. Just take a good look at the transformation in your son on Graduation Day. Semper Fidelis, Ma'm.
James D. Broome495285
Corporal of Marines
And this one:
Being Told How Wonderful
I enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to Boot Camp at MCRD San Diego on 30Oct73. I had nearly 5 years as a real Marine and was a Sergeant before I was busted for conduct unbecoming an NCO and busted in rank to 2nd Lieutenant in 1978. During the summer of 1979 I was assigned to the Midshipman Company at MCDEC Quantico. There were six of us 2nd Lieutenants and one Captain, Steve Rittacco in the Company. During the summer we hosted nine groups of Midshipmen from the Naval Academy, introducing them to the Marine Corps. Besides the week each group spent with us, they also spent a week aboard a Naval Air Station, and a week aboard a Submarine Base. The Midshipmen were there during the summer between their 2nd and 3rd years at the Annapolis. In 1986 I was serving in Okinawa when another Marine Captain called me by name. I did not recognize him but he knew me. He was one of the Midshipmen from that summer in Quantico. He told me that he had never considered joining the Marine Corps until that summer, he had been Navy all of the way. But after spending a week with Navy Air (being told how wonderful his life would be), then a week with the Submariners (being told how wonderful his life would be), and then a week with the Marines (being told this is the Corps and if you do not like it, too bad), he knew we were being honest, and was commissioned in the Marine Corps. I was just like him. The Army recruiter kept promising me pay raises, easy duty, and fun schools, but the Marine Recruiter in Boise, Idaho offered me a chance to prove I was good enough to be a Marine. On Boot Leave I made a point to thank him for that opportunity. When asked if I wanted an extension on Boot Leave I said, "No thank you, Master Sergeant. But can I go back early?" I come off leave early, headed off for my MOS training, and never regretted a day of the best 20 years of my life.
S.H. Bishop
Retired 2811/0302/5803
Any Marine who has survived Boot Camp, and all Marines have an entrance school- the Officer's version is THE BASIC SCHOOL. In the Basic School, Drill Instructors treat Officer Candidates like new boot recruits. The DI's have the power of GOD. IF a DI feels that a candidate can not lead, or that a candidate could get his/her Marines killed--that candidate is dismissed.
There are NO Promises of an easy life, country club settings, or a career after the Corps. The challenge is " Are you good enough to be a Marine?"
The reward:
Being a part of the best military force on earth.
Having a brotherhood that will never let you down, and a knowledge that YOU can never fail them. As a popular DI statement says: " I do not see Black-I do not see Brown--I do not see white--I see Marine Green. You are all Marine Green." Forget Race. Forget favoritism.
The point of this Entry is that most of these people got the crap knocked out of them. They were challenged to physical things that ordinary civilians are never expected to do. Yet, these men survived Boot Camp, and more seriously, often lately, Combat.
They would not trade these experiences or the fellowship for any bonus or lucrative job after separating from the Corps.


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