Arrival at Parris Island

29 04 2012

Our bus pulls into Parris Island around midnight on April 23, 1969, , , almost exactly 43 years ago as I write this post. It was dark, cool and I could smell the sea air of the Atlantic Ocean. My Marine Corps experience had begun.

The bus stops, the door opens, and enters a Marine Corps Drill Instructor who immediately begins shouting at us to, “wake up, , , wake up, , , get off the bus, , , hurry up, , , move it, , , move it”. This was the “wake-up call” and something that got your attention and quickly let you know that you were in someone else’s house now, , , “This is not Kansas, Toto”.

We all scramble out of the bus where another Drill Instructor starts lining us up in single file. Then we have our first Roll Call and we are instructed to shout “Here” when our name is called and run to a new line they create in alphabetical order. Life will not be fun for anyone who answers, “Present” or messes this up.

Everyone seems to be here so they march us to a processing center, , , a large room with rows of tables. There, we are instructed to empty our pockets of anything and everything on us, , , money, key chains, wallets, jewelry, , , everything. There will be dire consequences for anyone found with “contraband”. We put our personal belongings in a plastic bag and write our name and address on the outside.

Then we are instructed to write a short note to our parents telling them we have arrived safely and are now “in the care of the US Marine Corps”.

Then, we march to an empty barracks where we are told to stand in front of the bunks at attention. This would be a position we would get very accustomed to, , , standing at attention in front of our bunks. We would also get very used to the guys facing us and on either side of us, , , this will be who we see the most for the next 12 weeks.

No sitting or lying on our bunks except when we sleep, , , even then we had to sleep at attention.

First thing in the morning, , , around 5:00am we head to the barber where all our hair is cut, , , we get a high and tight Marine Corps “buzz”. We all looked pretty sad with no hair, pale skin, and a look on our faces that looked like, “What have I gotten myself into?”

No talking allowed, , , the consequences are not good, , , you learn quickly to do exactly what the Drill Instructors tell you ( and nothing else) if you have any smarts at all. Still, there are always a couple who just “don’t get it”. These guys will pay for their mistakes over and over during the course of our 12 weeks at Parris Island.

I can’t call myself a Marine yet, , , still just a lowly recruit at this point. Graduating from Parris Island Recruit Depot will allow me to actually become part of the Marine Corps family.


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