Armageddon. That is the best description I can come up with.
There is a moment n bootcamp no one who goes through it will ever
forget. There are many of these types of moments in boot camp
but one stands out among all the rest.
For the first week, the processing procedures take up most
of the recruits' waking hours. Endless oceans of paperwork,
tests, physicals, and interviews. Of course while all this is
going on, the processing DI's are attempting to teach the basic
drill movements. After the first day, the stress volume knob
is turned down a bit. Trying to get a bunch of dumb, scared,
confused teenagers to get all the paperwork is bad enough. To
try to do the same thing to terrified teens would be even more
trouble than it would be worth.
I guess the analogy would be that we were getting our toes
dipped into the waters. Not many could have handled the full-force
brunt of an attacking DI and without a little hardening of the
shell, it would be useless to subject them to it. But soon we
would be shoved headlong into the pool. And that pool is cold!
All week the DI's were warning us about our permanent DI's.
SSGT Ingram would harp on us about how far behind we were and
how our permanent DI's were going to tear us to pieces if we
did not improve. This constant reference to our permanent DI's
set a psychological time bomb in our minds. By the end of the
week, if given the choice between a pit of hungry alligators
and a room with our DI's in it, a swimmin' and a slashin' we
would go! The processing DI's ensured that we cowered in the
presence of our new leaders. We did not know who they were,
what they looked like, or what their names were. We only knew
two things: they were out there somewhere waiting, and at the
end of the week, we were all theirs.
No DI will ever let you think that you were up to par. So
it was with SSGT Ingram. He let us know the day we were being
picked up (the term of the transition from processing to training)
that we were very far below sub-par.
"I AM EMBARRASSED TO HAND YOU OVER TO YOUR DRILL INSTRUCTORS!
I WILL HAVE TO APOLOGIZE TO THEM FOR GIVING THEM SUCH AN UNSAT,
UNDISCIPLINED, MOB OF SLIMY INDIVIDUALS! MOST OF YOU WILL NOT
MAKE IT BUT DO NOT COME CRYING TO OLD SSGT INGRAM WHEN YOU FAIL.
IF I SEE YOU SCURRYING OUT OF THIS DEPOT WITH YOUR TAIL BETWEEN
YOUR LEGS, YOU HAD BETTER START RUNNING."
With that, he was gone. Good-bye SSGT Ingram, it was nice
We were then herded into the auditorium where the entire
series gathered. We were unsure what was going to happen next,
but it couldn't be good. Suddenly a colonel came up to the mic
and addressed us. For the first time in a week, someone spoke
to as like human beings. He told us that we had completed the
initial part of bootcamp but that it was the easiest. He told
us that the training will now begin and that we should keep
a positive attitude, and train hard. He spoke to us much like
what I would imagine a general would just before a harrowing
battle. We all caught onto the implication and none of us liked
One at a time, the colonel introduced each platoon's drill
instructor team. As he would call their name, they would march
out, stop, face towards us, and remain at attention. Each one
to the last had this look. It was the look of utter intensity.
You could tell that they were caged lions ready to be let loose.
The colonel came to the drill instructors for platoon 3075.
Our ears perked up because at long last we were going to see
the infamous drill instructors we had been conditioned to fear.
First he called out Senior Drill Instructor
SSGT Wertjes. A somewhat short man with a black belt marched
out. As he faced, we got a glimpse of his version of "the look."
We could tell he was not one to be trifled with. Next came SSGT
Garcia. A short, solid Hispanic man, SSGT Garcia looked
as powerful as a bulldozer and as mean as thunder. Lastly, SGT
Robinson marched out. Again, he was not that big, but his
"look" put the others to shame. No one felt good about this
After the last drill instructor was introduced, the colonel
wished us good luck and then the moment was upon us. Looking
back on it, it can only be imagined in slow motion. It was like
a nightmare gone bad. Armageddon had arrived.
The colonel said "Drill Instructors......you have them."
Suddenly the world turned upside down. Each drill instructor
knew precisely where his platoon was sitting and like a winged
demon, he flew, not walked or ran, FLEW at them with all the anger
of the world. The room was suddenly filled with the most intense
screaming I have ever heard and it was coming from every angle.
Instantly our DI's were in front of us. They were screaming almost
incoherently to get our asses up and outside. Everyone was a blur
of movement and no one was moving fast enough. The DI's would
descend on someone who was blocked by someone else trying to get
out. The look on every recruit was utter disbelief and unmasked
terror. Welcome to the training cycle.
Once we got outside, they did not let up. They got their
first glimpse at the preparation we had received in processing.
Of course they were not very pleased. They marched us over to
the barracks and we stampeded into the squadbay. For the next
half hour, the DI's established their authority over us in no
uncertain terms. They were running around like maniacs while
we tried to obey their orders. For the rest of the day, we "got
to know each other" and that set the tone for the rest of the