23 October 2000

Dear Capt. Grose,

Sorry, I couldn't have written to you in boot camp but after I received your letters, we started to get real busy. Not only with the scheduled events but getting blasted, every other day. We were at the rifle range, when I received your letters. Right after that, we started getting into one mess after another. Whether it was bring crackers into the squad bay or just ticking off the Drill Instructors, we were constantly getting smoked. I'm not sure if you heard of the Dumpster Bandits but it while we were at the rifle range (We got killed for it).

Basic story is two stupid recruits (Yes, recruits are truly stupid animals as stated in one of your boot camp stories.) decided to go after Oreos, thrown away in the dumpster near the barracks, since we weren't allowed pastries or cookies. Well, they got caught and the platoon had to pay. Moving on, we had our UA recruit (only 3 or 4 weeks till graduation!). Basically, we got blasted for the actions of the few selfish, independent recruits.

Besides that, boot camp was an EXPERIENCE. It taught me things and views, I never considered. Being on Parris Island, really taught things in life that we all take for granted. Such things like time (We never had enough), freedom (Do things, when you want to do them), and individuality (Which society stresses being an individual is more important but in the Marine Corps, it's the team that counts.).

More or less proved the statement our parents have been preaching about all over the years but as a teenager, we never took into account what they had to say: "The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence.".

As I look back, boot camp made me realize how "good" we all have it but fail to realize it. It's the realization that after twelve years of school, more than half of our lives, we spent going to school, that now we are out into a new environment with freedom & responsibilities we never conceived of. College freshmen are just now feeling the reality of it, the responsibilities they now have as opposed to living at home with their parents. It's all the "behind the scenes" things we never see, that we are now responsible for, like laundry, picking after yourself, or even planning your schedule.

It's hard to believe that school safety net we had for over half of our lives is gone. We are directly responsible for our actions and ourselves. As I have learned: there are no Drill Instructors looking over my shoulders now, I am directly responsible for my actions and have to self-discipline myself. I have to make sure my service blouses are ironed, Cammies or BDUs (Battle Dress Uniforms) are pressed, I am squared away, and basically, I am looking the best I can look.

That's about all for now, I'm just getting packed and ready to leave for Camp LeJeune, to attend School of Infantry. Thanks for you letters and motivation. Keep up the good work with your website.

Semper Fi!

Rong Liu