Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Boot Camp

I'm sure many of you have heard of Murphy's Law. When that law came into being, Mr. Murphy was a civilian. What you might not know is that in May of 1995, Mr. Murphy came with me to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. His stint in the Corps was a raging success, and the basis of this whole blog. While I only made it up to the rank of Sergeant, Murphy made it up through the ranks, eventually being promoted to Lord Murphy, Ruler of all Mortals and Commander of all Combat.

I got shafted, huh.

Going into boot camp, I had a little bit of an idea of what it was going to be like. I was in pretty decent shape (I thought), had a decent head on my shoulders (most of the time), and used to generally higher levels of stress. Let's just say that boot camp was still a kick in the balls, the first of many in my time in the Corps.

When you get to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), several things are happening at once. Different flights are getting in at different times and days. Recruits are showing up, getting assigned to receiving platoons, filling out paperwork, and the like. There are Drill Instructors (DI) here, but these guys are not the platoon's eventual DIs. These guys are just making sure that you are getting where you need to go. They still could be somewhat intimidating, though. Not much, just enough to confirm that you hadn't entered the Peace Corps.

This is where you first got to know the guys in your platoon. Most of the sentiment was somewhat an excited 'can't believe we are here!' rather than the moaning of several days later 'can't believe we are here!'. After a few days, you get 'dropped' to your DIs, and that is where the fun (for them) begins. Looking back, much of it was hilarious, but at the time...

The first thing that I noticed was the variation of the people that came. Of course there was different races and ages, but there were also variations in professions and educations that surprised me. Roughly half the platoon had some sort of college education, somewhat normal I hear for a summer boot camp platoon, due to the number of reservists that entered the Corps at that time. There were also a number of college graduates, people that had really great jobs, but were just not happy with their life and wanted a sense of accomplishment. Some had been cops, some teachers, and one guy ran his own computer business.

Murphy made his first appearance to me early in boot camp. Due to the (I gather high) level of test score, I was withdrawn from my platoon to do some additional testing. There were about 2 days of additional tests, with questions like If 'toujs' means apple, 'slodv' means market, and Androv is a name, then what could the following sentence be translated as (provide 3 different possibilities.)? Androv fui slodv, guidmn toujs.

What the hell?

After a while, one of the instructors came to the front of the class after a period of testing, and announced that we were going to be going into a different military occupational specialty (MOS) than what we had expected. We were to go into some sort of military intelligence field.

What the hell?

Not really sure how it happened, perhaps I tanked on a few tests after that, but I was soon after unceremoniously kicked back to my platoon. The DI who I met greeted me and in no uncertain terms let me know that 1) my continued existence offended him 2) if I was smart enough for additional testing, I was smart enough to be the 'prac recruit', and 3) my continued existence still offended him. He threw me (actually threw AT me) the recruit book of knowledge, and I was on my way.


Two days into boot camp, and I had already broken a couple of rules.

1. Never volunteer for anything.
I know I didn't volunteer, I was 'voluntold', but the fact of the matter was I now had additional duties. The prac recruit was the guy who had to stand in front of the platoon and teach them anything and everything related to memorized information that the platoon would be tested on.

2. Don't let the DIs notice you, stay in the middle of the pack.
I suppose that this was a 'good' way to be noticed, but never fear, I would have plenty of brain farts to challenge any presumption of a modicum of intelligence.

to be continued...

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