In the mean time

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.

Playing Favorites

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.

Results:
Initial Drill
2155
2149
2156
2151
2153
2150
2154

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.]

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Week 4

A dip in the pool

This week your recruits participated in the swim qualification. This week is one of the “slower weeks” in recruit training in my perspective, but some recruits may think otherwise. Those recruits more specifically are those who might be afraid of heights, swimming or failing the Initial Physical Fitness Test.

The swim qualification takes place in a very large, Olympic-sized pool and is passed in parts. Completion of the five parts determines pass or fail. These parts include jumping off the dive bored properly and swimming a distance, taking off gear under water, swimming with packs and treading water.

Treading water should be the easiest part of this test because they are taught several techniques to keep you afloat. One way to stay above water (the recruits didn’t do this) is to take off your utility trousers, tie a knot in the legs, blow them up under water or fling them under the water from over your shoulders to capture air in them and then put your head in the middle of the trouser legs. This will end up looking like some sort of life vest.

The worst part of the pool in my opinion is the smell of chlorine and heat.  The chlorine burns your eyes without even getting in and the heat will make you want to jump in to keep from sweating. The training environment in the pool area is also a bit calmer because only their SDI is allowed to be present inside.

Swim qual is part of annual training and is supposed to be completed every year without fail. As a matter of fact, when I deployed to Iraq I completed swim qual. I know you may be thinking that’s a bit crazy, because the chances of me drowning in a country that is nowhere near an ocean is slim, but it is still necessary. I am not going to lie; I was scratching my head too, very nice pool though.

Now, there were many recruits who had additional training that may not have passed through the first time, but in the end everybody made it. So if your recruit didn’t know how to swim, they at least know the basics now.

The Confidence Course, Part 2

This was quite an event. I watched many young men face their fears, cry and complain, but never the less they all left that day with some type of experience.

These obstacles are definitely a bit high, but your recruits managed to make it through just fine. Those who didn’t make it down the slide for life even got to take a little swim.

I remember these obstacles being much scarier when I was in boot camp then they are now. I also remember them being easier. I am assuming that had something to do with being more afraid of the drill instructors than actually hurting myself.

The purpose is not to scare the crap out of them, even though it probably did. Each obstacle taught the recruits techniques that can be used to get out of sticky situations using ropes and logs to make it to the end. And yes, it’s pretty high off the ground.

While standing on top of the Slide for Life, I asked a few recruits what they thought about training. I recognized some of their names from reading your comments. I think the uniqueness of this recruits name is what made me remember his first name. So hey Blain’s parents, your recruit is doing just fine. He told me so himself.

The Initial Physical Fitness Test

This was the first PFT that your recruit will take every year from this point forward. I will admit, it’s not my favorite thing to do annually, but it has to be done. A 3-mile run, pull-ups and crunches are timed and calculated. The calculated score will fall in one of three classes. First class is the best you can get. Your recruits will learn that PFTs have an impact on promotions.

This event is also another that the series compete for. It is very similar to the IST your recruits completed the first week they arrived.

For many, it’s a fairly easy to pass. It also might be a nice break (anywhere from 18 minutes to 28 minutes) for the recruits to not have a DI in their face, at least the whole time anyway.

I didn’t make it out for this event because Lance Cpl. Belleau Wood, the depot mascot, and I had to make an appearance at graduation. But I do have a few facts about the PFT that may surprise you.

The PFT used to be required bi-annually. The second PFT has now been replaced with the Combat Fitness Test, which your recruits will complete soon. Also, there is a modified PFT. Most Marines know this as “The Old Man’s PFT.” That’s right, once you hit a certain age you aren’t required to do as much or as fast as each category, but it can still be challenging for those who don’t age that well.

GET SOME

I know I write this blog on a first hand account of what I see, but I am encouraging you to ask me questions that you may want me to cover in my next post that are boot camp related. No question is unworthy and it would benefit to know what you guys really want to hear that your recruit is not telling you.

SCUTTLEBUTT

Your recruits went up North yesterday to Camp Pendleton. They are preparing for their next big obstacle, the rifle range. Mail tends to slow down here, so please don’t be alarmed if you don’t receive as much as you are use to, however, they still receive mail so keep it coming.

[Editors Note: Opinions expressed are not to be considered an official expression of the DoD, DoN, or the USMC.]

Week 3


CCX – Succeed through sustainment

The Combat Conditioning Exercise is another demanding physical training event. Recruits will run through this course, practicing martial arts they have learned during MCMAP. Sustainment is key to Marine Corps martial arts. For most people, martial arts isn’t second nature (I probably couldn’t convince anyone that works at the dojo that though), so if you don’t use it, you lose it.

Although I feel that the CCX is beneficial as a whole, I do believe that the movements between stations are crucial to combat. Becoming proficient in the fireman’s carry (throwing a person over your shoulder like Forrest Gump did in Vietnam) and buddy drags (self explanatory) is crucial in combat. Having the strength to execute these simple skill can mean life or death in a combat situation.

I am not going to sugar coat this, the course was challenging for the recruits. However, I don’t think it’s because they couldn’t do it, I think they felt like they couldn’t do it. I think it was mentally challenging and they are beginning to push themselves to the limit.

SDI INSPECTION

This inspection is only one in many inspections they will receive while in training. They are tested on the retention of what they have learned over that last three weeks to include Marine Corps knowledge and rifle manual. The questions they ask are fairly easy, i.e. – Who’s the Commandant of the Marine Corps or Who’s the Regimental Sergeant Major (his name is Sgt. Maj. McCook by the way, and you can ask anyone they will tell you he is everywhere on the depot assuring the welfare of your recruits. He’s probably even reading this blog so you might want to tell him how much you want it to stay…)

Now with that being said, pretty easy right? Well not always. When someone who is 6’2, screaming in your face and about to snatch a rifle out of your hand, the answer may not come quickly enough or not at all for that matter.

Speed and Intensity is also tested here. Responding under pressure is another crucial characteristic in combat.

INITIAL DRILL

Well, all I can say is congratulations to Follow series (more specifically platoon 2155) for taking the trophy home anyway. BUT, I do want to take this chance to make a point:

Follow series has more platoons, which means they have a better chance of winning. Now, when I said this at the competition, the response I got was one I expected, “That just means Lead series needs to step it up.”

GET SOME

The answer to last weeks question is there are nine events that the recruits of Golf Company are graded on to win Honor Platoon.

The Dan Daly Award is given every cycle to the hardest working drill instructor. I think this award is significant because it is a symbol of the energy, time and patience they put toward your recruit. Until next time, you should familiarize yourself with Dan Daly as some may say he is the epitome of a Marine.

SCUTTLEBUTT

The video to this blog is on its way. The first series to this blog will come out in this weeks paper. Look for it here.

[Editors Note: Opinions expressed are not to be considered an official expression of the DoD, DoN, or the USMC.]