Table of Contents

Letter One – Letters From Boot Camp

Letter One.

April 14, 2004. My 22nd birthday.

Nine days before my 22nd birthday, I shipped out to Marine Corps recruit training in San Diego, California. What made me join the military? I get asked that a lot. Sometimes I give the form answer—patriotism, wanted to give back, serve my country, travel the world, etc—but really, I just wanted to go to war.

No, really. Life at home wasn’t going anywhere and sitting in a chair getting college education talked into my head wasn’t it for me either.

Then the war broke out. If there was one chance I could be a part of history, if I could leave home, and take a bite out of adventure, this was it. So I cleaned up, started working out, and shipped out.

Here are the first letters from boot camp. Full transcript is provided after the photos. The 1st Battle of Fallujah had just started, for historical background. Some of our Drill Instructors had just came from those very same units, so tensions were high against those of us who had chosen a combat arms MOS (Military Occupational Specialty).

The madness of recruit training is real. Especially the rage against other recruits. Drill Instructors punish you as a unit, because in war, failures affect the whole unit.

This is letter 1 of 18.


Dear Parents,

Finally got a chance to write today. My birthday was not the best I’ve had. Our platoon is stuck with all the fatbodies and idiots who can’t pull themselves together, so the DI’s punish everybody.

Today is T-2, second training day. Graduation has been moved to June 30, so plan accordingly. More surfing time I guess. My rackmate is terrible. He never sounds off and always moves slow. Truth is if you move fast and be loud it’s easy. The DIs don’t even know my name yet. They can’t even pronounce it right. So I’m doing well.

Recruit food is good and there’s always plenty to eat if you can get it down in time. Other recruits tell me the days will start flying by once you get used to lack of sleep. From the way the DIs speak to us going into infantry, it sounds like deployment isn’t far off. Some of the Drill Instructors lost friends this last weekend. There are some people who don’t respect that not putting out tarnishes the image of those lost. That really gets to me when they play Taps every night.

We went to MCMAP today (martial arts program) so I got some aggression out hitting another kid.

Anyways, I don’t know how often I’ll get to write, so keep the letters coming.

Recieving was last week, we went to medical and got 7 shots in the span of two minutes. Then two vials of blood drawn. The recruiter never told us about that!

I look forward to the days flying by and getting to Camp Pendleton, the graduation.

Gotta go,

Love Mark.