"They're the ones I want. They're the strugglers;
they've had to cope with adversity"
- Col. John W Ripley, US Marine Corps
As I have mentioned, boot camp is its own separate reality.
From the first day on, you are pushed, prodded, and tormented
at levels that you never knew existed.
You end up more tired than should be humanly possible, sorer
than many people have ever had to be and prouder than you ever
have been before. (My answer to my mom to the question "How
are you doing?" was "There isn't a place on me that doesn't
hurt." No, that wasn't an exaggeration.)
Now imagine how difficult it is to adjust to the fact that
you have earned the title of Marine and that you are going to
On the Thursday morning before graduation, we get to put
on a little show for the parents, family and friends that came
out to see us. We go on a little motivational run. It goes for
five miles and involves the whole Company. A five-mile run may
sound like an odd thing to be motivated about but Marines aren't
known for their sanity.
Our guests were waiting for us out on the parade deck. We
ran up to them, then came to a stop. We could see cameras flashing
at us and we felt anticipation build. Then we heard the commands
that we were waiting for.
"FORWARD...MARCH! DOUBLE TIME...MARCH!!!"
Then it began. We ran through the whole base and got a rather
scenic trip. We were calling out cadence as loud as we
could and making ourselves heard. We knew that we were almost
going home and felt the euphoria kick in. We made it back to
where our families were waiting for us about forty minutes later.
I wasn't even winded from the run, just covered in sweat. We
were marched back to the squad bay to shower and told to change
over into our Deltas.
It was time for us to be turned loose on the base.
Base liberty is very disorienting for the new Marine. You
dream about it, you see other Marines enjoy it while you are
still a lowly recruit and you begin to make plans on what you
are going to do when you get it. It's shocking when you finally
are allowed to wander on your own. You can go where you want
on base, the Drill Instructors smile and congratulate you and
you finally see women for the first time in several months (Definitely
one of the highlights).
My parents were waiting for me when we were dismissed for
the day. I gave them the whirlwind tour. Not too much was a
real shock to them; my father's a retired Officer and my mom
loves the kind of PT that Marines do. I showed them all the
obstacles that we had to face, the places that we had classes
and everything else that we could do in the short amount of
Lunch was in a restaurant that was set aside for us. Much
to the delight of my caffeine-deprived bloodstream, I had the
first cup of coffee that I had been allowed for several months.
All of the effort and sweat that we put into for the last few
months was finally showing us some results.
We had to go back to the barracks at 1630. There were preparations
to make for tomorrow, and we had to be sure that everything
was set up correctly. It was one of those rare days when all
was right in the world.