Monday, March 12, 2007

Boot Camp Humor

Boot camp is where just about all Marines develop their unique sense of humor. There comes a point where you learn to laugh about situations, (on the inside, of course) because the fact of the matter is, there is not a darn thing that you can do about it. This is one of the many lessons learned in boot camp that to this day I repeatedly remember.

For example, our Drill Instructors were very strict about mail. Letters and cards were ok, but if you got any food or packages, you were a marked man.

There was a recruit from Louisiana that wrote home and described how he was always hungry, and especially missed dad's beef jerky and mom's hot sauce. Well, his parents wanted to take care of their son, so they sent him a care package. I vividly remember the recruit taking breaks from his exercises to chug the hot sauce while the Drill Instructors sampled the jerky. They explained how, if there wasn't enough for the platoon, there was no need for the individual to get anything 'extra'. As we had about 76 recruits at the time, that would have been one heck of a shipping charge.

Another recruit had the benefit of a twin brother who had entered the Marines a few years earlier. This guy had sent a package to his brother, and addresses it attn. Sgt.Maj (recruit) Jeffrey 'Big Boy' Johnson.

The Drill Instructors had a field day with that.

When the soon to be hating life recruit 'Johnson' opened up his package from his mischievous brother, he found it full of male stripper specialty magazines, lotions, and 'adult toys'. That recruit got very strong from all of the push-ups that he had to do on account of his brother.

Almost as bad, one recruit's parents wrote TO DRILL INSTRUCTOR 'EVIL' and asked him to personally look after their 'schnookums'. They were really worried about him, and apparently having never heard of the Marine Corps, decided it would be a good idea to request additional care and attention. That poor guy certainly did get the 'extra' attention.

One Sunday, we got back from the chow hall, and prepared for religious services. I really like Sundays, because we got to sleep in an extra half hour, and actually kind of got half a day off for church. All church services didn't go on at the same time, so if you were going later in the morning, you had time to read a paper, write some letters, etc. As I was writing some letters at my foot locker, I remember feeling hungry. That was kind of odd, because I knew that we had only been back from chow for about 45 minutes.

I had never had the pleasure of experiencing severe food poisoning before.

After another 20 minutes, I started to feel ill. I then spent the next 15 or 20 minutes trying to decided which end needed to violently explode, in the relative peace and quite of the heads (bathrooms). After a particularly violent episode, I was lying on the deck of the heads, trying to get the world to stop spinning, when unbeknownst to me, one of the other recruits had gone to advise the duty Drill Instructor of my condition.

I opened me eyes to the sight of the Drill Instructor looking at me from about 2 inches away. He waited until my eyes were about half way open before he started to scream at me to stop malingering, and told me that he would ensure that I had something to be sick about. He then glanced at the evidence of my illness that was (mostly) contained in the toilets, and muttered to a few other recruits that they better help me get some gear together for a trip down to sick bay.

It was at this time that another Drill Instructor came running up to inform the other that there were 5 or 6 recruits up-chucking in the dirt in front of the barracks, another 7 in the squad bay that weren't feeling too hot, and a Staff Sergeant on the phone with am illness advisory.

Turns out that there were many, many recruits that got sick that day.

A couple of my buddies helped me to the pick-up truck that one of the Drill Instructors would use to drive us to the sick bay, and they helped me into the cab. "OH, HELL NO!!!. YOU MUST BE HIGH ON DRUGS, NUMBNUTS!!! YOU ARE NOT WORTHY TO RIDE UP FRONT WITH ME, GET IN THE BACK, THING!!!' politely suggested the designated Drill Instructor driving. So, I piled in the bed of the truck with about 10 other sickly recruits. This is where I first head the joke,

Question: How many Marines can you fit into a pick-up/Hummer/LAV/etc.?

Answer: One more.

In our condition, it got a few amused/ill groans.

To say the least, the sick-bay was overwhelmed. I wound up sharing a puke bowl with two other recruits, in one corner of the receiving room, until they could free up enough beds. Not a pleasant afternoon.

As a result of some suspicious ham and milk, quite a few of us got three days of bed rest in a barracks designated 'sick-bay central'. After the first day, most of us were going stir crazy. They did have one Drill Instructor from another platoon to baby sit us, and he did his job of ensuring that we went from the rack to the heads and straight back to the racks. So to pass the time, we started doing what many recruits and then Marines did, we started talking shit.

Some of you who have experience in the military or more specifically the Corps know that Marines will talk shit to just about anybody. If there is no one else around, we will talk shit to other Marines. We were having a conversation (amongst many) of who had the worst Drill Instructor. I had just completed a fairly decent recap of the 'Evil' story to the other sick bay commandos when who but Drill Instructor 'Evil' himself came walking through the squad bay. Of course, we popped to the position of attention, still lying down in the beds, and gave him the appropriate greeting of the day.

To the severe befuddlement of my story and to my own personal amazement, he was quite civil. He had just come to check on us, to make sure that we were recovering well, and getting fed enough. Jeeezus, if I didn't know better, I would suspect that this guy was actually human!

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