Letter Eight finds us nearly a month into recruit training, and I was starting to get used to the routine, getting a lot stronger, and displaying some aggression that the Drill Instructors liked. We had undergone our first Battalion Inspection at Recruit Training Depot San Diego, which was more chaos and trying to throw your concentration and bearing off than actually inspecting everything. Foot lockers, beds, and bags were thrown all over the barracks room and all the windows were closed to make it super hot.
I had my parents send me the recruit training schedule so i would know what was coming up next (the first insurgent attempt at finding some control in a chaotic situation). Camp Pendleton was next after Initial Drill, and that included learning to fire your M16 rifle out to a distance of 500 yards. Hell, I took my first shot at 200 yards. There is no civilian equivalent marksmanship program.
I also used Marine Corps jargon more extensively, which I’ve annotated at the bottom for you, dear reader.
Good luck to those of you pursuing becoming a United States Marine, your road is a hard one but a worthy one. See the letter below, with transcription afterward.
20040430 (April 30, 2004)
Well it’s been about a month, which means the hard part is halfway over. We had an inspection the other day, which is less what it sounds like and more like chaos. About 20 Drill Instructors charge through the squadbay and try to make you lose your bearing. I think the Drill Instructors like me becayse they don’t play with me much anymore.
We started out with 55 recruits, and we’ve dropped a total of 12, including my rackmate. We picked up a few but it looks like they’ll be dropped too. The Drill Instructors can pretty much get rid of whoever they want to. A bedwetter is leaving soon as well.
Thank you for sending the RTR Matrix (recruit training schedule), it gives me a sense of control knowing what’s next. We had pugil sticks on tuesday, and that’s when you find out who the real warriors are. I got pummeled in the head a lot at first, but my opponent started getting tired (wearing flak jacket, football helmet, crotch protector, pugil stick) so I laid into him really good and won. I didn’t hear the whistle blow, so a Drill Instructor grabbed me by the face mask and stopped me. They said I have good aggression.
We got our debit cards and get paid on Saturday (yeah!) but there’s nothing much we can buy.
When I got here I couldn’t make it up the rope at the end of the obstacle course. Now I can do it twice with pretty good speed. I can tell I’m a lot stronger. We did log drills Monday on a mil long course, which teaches you a lot about teamwork. You pick up the slack for those who don’t want to hold it anymore.
Yesterday I was picked to go through the Presidential Security Forces Screening Test. I was dismissed, however, because I have too many traffic tickets (three).
It was interesting to hear about snow, some of the days here it’s been 95° with moderate humidity. You start sweating at 6am on those days. It rained once, and it still gets pretty cold at night.
I’m not as sick as I was, but still congested at night and have the occasional cough. More than a few people have gone to MRP (medical reconditioning platoon) and that’s a worry for me if I go to Medical. I’ve worked too hard just to be here to get sent back a week or two.
Tomorrow is Initial Drill, and the platoon has been marching well. If we do really well, they’ll let us blouse our trousers from now on. Start acting like Marines, and you can start looking like one.
The PFT (physical fitness test) comes pretty soon, and I’m sure some more people will be dropped. Each time it happens we’re expected to sound off louder to make up for it.
Camp Pendleton is now a week away and i’m really anxious to get to grass week, qualification day, and the Crucible. Even the Battalion CO, Lt. Col. Blankenship goes on the hikes and runs the PFT with us. At 42, he runs a 283 of 300. That’s really impressive.
When we do well we get more time for chow, which makes me happy. At Camp Pendleton I should gain weight eating those MREs all the time (Meal, Ready to Eat).We take our pictures next week however, so don’t be too surprised when you see them.
I hope this letter finds you warm and exercising regularly. Remember you’ll have a Marine to deal with when I get back.
Semper Fi, Love,