One Marine's Stories
First Night at Bootcamp
They swore us in and that day they gave us a movie pass to see Randolph Scott in Stagecoach [Riding Shotgun?]. It was a 3D movie. And we went over and seen that. After the movie the train was in Wilkes-Barre. We came there, we had our stuff, we got on the train and they shipped us down Yemassee, South Carolina. But that’s another trip; it was on the train and it was one of the nicest trips I’ve ever had.
They put me in charge because my score on my test was higher than the two guys with me, my cousin and Ox, put together. If you added their two scores together I still beat them by twenty points or something. So they put me in charge, I’m the littlest guy there. We get down to Yemassee and the train pulls in it was nighttime, I guess, when it pulled in and we get off the train.
Stepping off the train
Ox goes first, I was last. Ox steps off the train, he gets down to the floor and this DI comes over and punches him right in the mouth, knocked him back to my cousin and my cousin knocked me over. I’m laying on the floor of the train. Ox started to speak and the DI yells, “You’re chewing gum. Get that gum out of your mouth!” Well I had gum in my mouth, I swallowed it because I didn’t want them to see me take it out of my mouth. So I just layed back and then the DI yanked Ox up, he yanked Joe up and then I’m there last. I was in behind the train.
The DI says, “Get in formation! Assholes to bellybuttons” that means close up, your bellybutton was against his rear end. That’s how tight we were. And he’s running around in a circle, I think there were two of them, but the one guy was the big mouth anyway. He was running around kinda punching and shoving us and cursing. The people were in the station and they were walking around like nothing’s happening. I’m thinking, “Hey! What’s going on? Don’t you see what this guy is doing to us?” I mean, I wasn’t scared, I was just in shock. Ya know, I’m thinking, “What the heck is this going on?”
The DI was marching us around the station and the bus is out there waiting. There’s a pile of guys on the bus already. So he says, “Find a seat. Sit down at attention and I don’t want to see your eyeballs move. Hands on your legs and sit.” It was dark, so, we’re sitting there and I’m sitting next to Ox and my hands are there and I don’t want to turn my head but I ask, “What’s going on here?” “I don’t know…” So I says, “This is weird. We are Marines, right? This is the same place, right?” Ox says, “Yeah.” The bus trip was like twenty seven miles and I don’t think I moved a muscle. The DI is standing in the front of the bus just looking at everybody. It was dark but I mean you could hear a pin drop in there.
We get going; we get down to Parris Island. We get to the receiving area so they said, “Get your stuff and follow us.” We got out, I don’t know if we even got in the ranks or anything, I think we just followed in a group. We walked in and they took us to the second floor receiving and he says, “Pick a bunk out and sit on it.” We all picked a bunk and he says, “Sit at attention!” Ya know, we always did everything at attention. So you just sit there and don’t move.
Showers and Smokes
About nine o’clock or so the DI comes over and says, “Go take your showers now. Be quiet, I don’t want to hear nothing.” Ya go in and it’s an open shower where everybody is there. Ya shower and nobody is saying a word. Ya get done showering and we put our underwear on. So we’re sitting with our underwear on, on the bunk at attention and it’s five to ten. A guy in charge comes over and says, “If anybody wants to go out for a smoke you can go out.” We said, “OK” and these guys went out and I’m sitting on the bunk thinking, “ Well, I may as well go out and get a chance to talk to them,” because I didn’t get a chance to talk to them.
It was like eighteen degrees at that time. So they’re out there in underwear and I go out and these guys are already smoking. So I says, “What’s going on here? This is ridiculous. I didn’t think it was going to be like this!” We just did our talking and everything else. I says, “Well I’m going in, I’m freezing.” So they said, “Alright, we’ll be right in.” So I open the door to go in and I hear, “Hey! What the ‘f’ are you doing?” “Coming inside sir.” “I told you you could go out I didn’t say nothing about coming back in.” So we had to go out there. Ten o’clock he shuts the lights off and we’re all out there on the porch. I’m thinking, “Oh man. This is ridiculous. I’m freezing.” I says, “I don’t even smoke and I’m stuck out here with you guys.” I don’t know how long we were out there, but I was freezing.The guy in charge opened the door and said, “Okay you can go in and find your bunk and I don’t want to hear no noise or anything.” It had to be at least fifteen minutes, but seemed like an hour. Maybe it was an hour, I don’t know, but we were out there and we were pretty cold. So we go in, get in our bunk, fall asleep.
When you’re taking showers at night, you gotta be quiet. So if you weren’t quiet, he runs in and shuts the lights off. And you got seventy two guys in there taking showers. You don’t know where your towels are. Where your nothing are or this are. Or else, he'll come in and tell you to fall out outside. So you gotta go whatever you are lathered up, soaped up, whatever, you gotta go outside and fall in out there.
Bootcamp Day 1
All of a sudden, man, four thirty in the morning these lights go on and they’re like spotlights, like you’re on a stage show. I’ve never seen lights so bright in all my life. I looked down and I saw mattresses flying, bodies flying, and six DIs. They come in throwing guys out of bed and everything. Fortunately I was on the end and I got up and out of bed and standing at attention. And they’re screaming. They’re running around. They’re doing this. They’re screaming and hollering, “Get dressed. You’re going to breakfast. And we don’t want to see this and all of that stuff.”
We got dressed. They came in, lined us up outside, and oh yeah, like cattle. That’s what they used to say, “You guys are like cattle. You’re not cattle anymore. You’re going to start marching so get in formation.” So we got in formation, they march us down to the mess hall which was pretty nice. We went in there and you walk through a line and they gave ya food like I never had. For breakfast you had the oatmeal and homefries, fruit and eggs and bacon and sausage and toast. Whatever you want. So I mean, that was kind of a surprise. Got down there, had a nice meal.
Then they line us up. They took us back to receiving and then we sat on our bunks at attention again until they said, “Now you go outside, we’re waiting for the rest of the platoon to come. They’re coming from the Bronx in New York City. They had chairs out there. So we sat at receiving and we’re sitting there and along comes the bus. The guys start coming off the bus and there’s four DIs out there. The one guy, Rodrigues, gets off the bus and he has a leather jacket with zippers all over and scorpions on his sleeves and long hair, long black hair, duck’s rear end.
The DI comes over and he grabs him by the hair and slams him up against the bus, by his hair he’s holding his head. The DI says, “Are you a hood?” and he says, “No.” And the DI starts punching him and says, “You look like a hood!” He starts punching him and banging him and banging his head against the thing and he says, “You say sir! No sir!” and he started banging him, banging him and he says, “Now, are you a hood?” He says, “Yes...” and the DI starts banging him screaming, “You say, ‘Yes sir!.’” “Yes sir!” “You are a hood.” He said, “Yes sir!” The DI said, “I hate hoods!” and he beat him up again. He was bleeding, his nose was bleeding, his mouth was bleeding and the DI says, “I hate hoods! And I hate liers. First you told me you weren’t and now you tell me you are!” No matter what was said he was beating him.
More to come...
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