Letter Five: Letters From Boot Camp

United States Marine Corps Rct. Dave Ortiz of Platoon 1004, Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, simulates being a casualty during a Crucible event on Parris Island, S.C.

In This Article

These boot camp letters sent home from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, reflect a rapidly changing mindset. Chubby recruits become fatbodies. Food is chow. The bathroom is the head. The wall is a bulkhead.

Us Marines in Afghanistan

Never understood why a water fountain is a scuttlebutt, however.

There’s some interesting things to note here. One, the lack of letter writing time. In the first paragraph, I’m complaining about not getting any letters, and by the time I have enough time to get back to the letter I’m writing, six have come in the mail for me. Two, the lack of explanation of any military terms. As pick-up platoon, we were the last in our series—meaning series of platoons in Delta Company. Platoons 1069, 1070, 1071, etc., and I was in platoon 1075.

Recruits are dropped from platoons for various reasons. Usually it’s because of fitness, lack of motivation to learn and therefore subpar performance, and sometimes men just can’t hack it.

One of the most interesting things that echoes my entire enlistment is the theme of living out Full Metal Jacket. I even have a video where my team leader in Afghanistan interviews me like Animal Mother. Maybe we’ll share that later.

Anyway. Here is letter five from boot camp. Transcription below the photos.

Letter Five - Letters From Marine Corps Recruit Training - Korengal Industries
Letter Five - Letters From Boot Camp USMC San Diego - Korengal Industries


Dear Parents,

Things have really started to pick up around here. Today we ran the Strength and Endurance Course. It’s a 2.5 mile course with 8 different strength exercises stationed throughout. It was the hardest thing we’ve done so far. The platoon is starting to get their drill together, people are starting to help everyone. We now get an hour of square-away time at night, and since my stuff is always good, it’s a good time to write letters. I hope to be getting more letters soon.

Some time has passed since I started writing this and I received six letters. Kyle actually wrote, which surprises me, I didn’t think any of my friends would. It’s good to see that he is a true friend.

Things are starting to settle into a routine around here, and it feels good to see other platoons picking up on “black” Friday.

Our platoon is the “pick-up” platoon meaning we’re the last in our series and we pick up all the recruits that were dropped from companies further along. We seriously picked up a guy that looks like Gomer Pyle from the TV Show. He acts like it too. My rack mate is being dropped a week behind for being slow to learn.

I am working my hardest and keeping my motivation up. Please keep writing.



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