So many of you have legitimate questions you are wondering about. Hopefully this entry targets most of the basics.
Weapons and Maintenance
The rifle is attached to the recruit everywhere he goes. In the beginning, carrying around a weapon can get frustrating because they can become a nuisance when trying to engage in simple tasks. They weigh around seven pounds and they are fairly long. However, these weapons can be the difference between life and death in a combat environment. Getting use to being with one at all costs is crucial to success.
Aside from drill, the M16 is used on the range. They finally get to use the rifle for what it is intended for: Shooting. I will talk more about weapons next week, but I would like to touch on one very important factor.
Weapons maintenance should never be pushed to the side. A clean weapon is good for more than just a senior drill instructor inspection. Clean weapons help prevent malfunctions on the firing line and enhance accuracy. Learning the proper procedures now will really help in the future because weapons maintenance is continuous in theatre (overseas).
The recruits actually receive this object that resembles a long place mat. On it is the drawings and names of each part of the weapon once broken down. This ensures they clean every part of their weapon and also teaches them the name of the individual pieces.
Here is a tip you may want to write your recruits about: when using sight black, always clean it off before the next firing day. The buildup can possibly affect their shots.
My thoughts on DIs
Okay, so a lot of you have asked me what I think about the Drill Instructors. Here is a sad attempt at answering your question.
They hardly ever have time to eat a meal and they are lucky to get 3 hours of sleep. If your recruits are walking three miles, the DIs are running six. Your recruit spends three months here, a DI spends 36. They sacrifice their lives, to change the lives of others. They live off the miseries that come with the job and love every second of it. They are by far, the craziest people I have ever met. They are truly the unsung heroes of the Marine Corps.
Do I have a favorite platoon? Yes. Do I have a favorite DI? Yes. Do I have a favorite series? Yes. Will I ever tell? NO! As long as I keep it equal, who really cares???
The hardest part of the day
I remember being in bootcamp vividly. We were always being pushed from one place to the other. Little time to eat and our meals came mostly from boxes. The physical fitness training was a killer and I remember always being exhausted. Hikes here, classes there, run through this obstacle and apply first aid. Everyday ran into each other and we always wondered when it was going to end.
I feared the end of the day. That one hour of free time before hitting the rack (going to sleep) was by far the worst part of bootcamp for me. It allowed us time to think about home, our family and friends, our hobbies or even what we would have done if we didn’t go this route.
Of course we used that time to write letters, fix our hair and bond with one another, maybe even make fun of the DIs or what happened that day. One good thing that came from this free time is the bond I created with my bunkie. I am still extremely close to my bunkie (rack mate). I am fortunate to have so many people like her in my life. Your recruits will probably have a similar experience and create relationships with people unlike themselves that could never be replaced. They will become extremely close to one another and always consider each other family.
So, when do recruits have fun? Whenever the hell they can. I know you see some of your recruits smiling here and there. They aren’t supposed to be. But, they have gotten used to the craziness that surrounds them, so some things may become humorous. Now it’s time for them to work on their bearing.
Initial PFT: Well, Staff Sgt. Willis called it again. Follow series took that trophy too! The winner? Staff Sgt. Jackson’s platoon: 2156. Lead series keeps disappointing me!
[Editors Note: Opinions expressed are not to be considered an official expression of the DoD, DoN, or the USMC.]