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First hand perspective of Boot Camp - MCRD San Diego

Posted By: Melissa Catmull 12-12-10


MCRD San Diego - Mike Company - Platoon 3261

Private 1st Class Catmull CA

During his 10 day leave, I asked my son Corbin to be a guest poster on my blog.

Below is the following text of his post dated 11/29/10 *Today's post brought to you by a special contributor*

Well, being a guest writer on such an awesome blog is quite the set of shoes to fill. So, instead of trying to paint a general picture of what I think most can understand or relate to...I'll set my shoes down as I see them and you as the reader can fill them as you see them fitting.

"LIGHTS LIGHTS LIGHTS!! Get the **** out of your racks! Get on-line right now! As you jump out of your sheets and try to find your flip flops to stand at the end of your rack (bunk bed) next to your rack mate, standing in nothing but a t-shirt and underwear to count off accountability for every recruit in the platoon, a Drill Instructor runs by and gets in your face for not getting on-line fast enough.

Drill Instructors: "Counttttttt!"


Drill Instructors: "OFF!!"

Recruits: "Snap!"

Left arms raised and we each put it back down counting off around the squad bay to make sure that all recruits are up and accounted for. As the Guide being the last to count off, yells, "Annnnd 85!" The platoon then yells, "Sir, the count on deck is 85 United States Marine Corps Recruits."

Drill Instructor:" Boot socks on the body right now!"

Your hurrying to put them on as he counts 20 seconds off and turns them into 10 seconds. Continuing to the next piece of clothing with a new countdown, your hoping that everyone in the platoon makes it in time because if they don't the platoon has to take them back off being counted down again, just to get them off in time to go back to the next piece of clothing to get dressed. Once your finally dressed and trying to sneak in adjustments to how you put your uniform on, the drill instructors then move to the rack you just slept in.

Drill Instructors: "Two sheets and a blanket online, RIGHT NOW!"

Once we all are online (standing at the end of your rack)

Drill Instructors: "One white sheet on the rack now!"

After finally getting the bed made with no wrinkles, and a 45 degree fold at every corner to make it look perfect. The platoon is rushed into the bathroom to shave and brush our teeth in 300 seconds. Bear in mind its a mess when there are 85 recruits in a bathroom with 12 mirrors and 12 sinks. Toothpaste and shaving cream go everywhere. The Drill Instructors are correcting recruits for being slow and not having the things they need to shave and brush their teeth. After you are rushed back out of the bathroom, the platoon gets back online to grab covers and one slick canteen to get outside and form up to march to chow.

There are 6 platoons in Mike company and each one with a set of 4 Drill Instructors. The Drill Instructors compete to be first at and in everything we do as a platoon and they compete just as hard or harder than pro athlete's. They expect nothing less than full speed and intensity at all times.

Once we get to the chow hall, its a heyday of corrections as we have to speed through the line to get our chow and sit down using all manners and proper gentlemen table etiquette, we eat it to get out before the rest of the other platoons. Hopefully you are able to chew and taste the food so it helps you stay motivated to take on whatever the day brings. Chow is the only thing you have to look forward to because it feels good to eat and sit down.

We head back out to form up to march back to the house to change over into PT workout gear and we are counted down as we do this as well. We get the platoon all changed over with armband identification and set to get back outside to form up with the rest of the series of 3 platoons to march to the PT field. We hit the PT field and its non-stop intensity and 110% effort to increase run times, carry strength and full body exercises, with 12-18 Drill instructors all over the field. After about 3-4 hours of training, we re-hydrate and head back to the house.

Oh wait. On the way one of the recruits decides to gaff off a Drill Instructor, so the Senior Drill Instructor takes us all to the dirt to teach us corrective discipline.


"SIT UPS!"...


We hit each exercise as he shouts them out trying to go full speed to hope he will stop because the only way he stops us is if he feels we are putting out max effort. Of course, there are those recruits that just cant keep up so we keep going and going for roughly 20 minutes of full speed interchangeable workouts until senior shouts

SDI: "Head up!"

Recruits: "Back Straight!!!!!!!!!"

Only once everyone has a straight back in the push up position, does senior decide that we can stop and go home. We get formed up, march back home, to take a quick PT shower and change over back into cami's to march to afternoon chow. You are counted down with the platoon to get undressed naked with a towel around the waste and walk one continuous wagon wheel circle in and out the 12 showers in the "rain room". One shower hot, one cold, one hot, one cold etc. trying to get all the dirt and sweat off possible so you don't get blasted by the Drill instructors at chow, for being dirty and disgusting.

After we get out of the shower, the already @#!*% off Drill Instructors count you down to get back into the same clothes used for PT with all the sweat and sand, but this time since that one recruit messed up AGAIN, the drill instructors order the platoon to all throw their shirts in the middle of the squad bay and give us only 30 seconds to grab a shirt and put it on. Doesn't matter size, shape, smell...etc. You throw it on and finish getting dressed. After the platoon marches to afternoon chow, we speed through and eat again. Remember this time to give the greeting of the day, as, "Good afternoon sir." to all Drill Instructors and officers you come within 6 feet of, or you get destroyed or humiliated.

After that you rush outside to form up as a platoon and march back to the squad bay to grab rifles and get back out to the parade deck to practice Drill. (competitive marching) All movements are done on counts and have to be executed perfectly as a platoon or we fail and do it over and over. The recruits that have no coordination or rythm or discipline keep getting the platoon screwed over again and again.

Drill Instructor: "Wanna keep gaffing off?? Good. Run to the pole!...Get back....RUN TO THE POLE!.....GET BACK. Stop. RUN TO THE POLE!" The orders are continuous and non stop repetitive.

After drill we get back to the house to sit down in a circle together as Senior Drill Instructor educates us as to why we are now holding ourselves to a higher standard of living. Why we obey orders without asking why or when. Why people don't understand what we go through, but we valiantly do it so that they may live how they choose to. Why we need to be gentlemen and extraordinary husbands and fathers. Why we base our lives around Honor, Courage and Commitment to God, The Marine Corps and ourselves. Why we wont be afraid to jump on a grenade if it means saving 2 of our fellow Marines. Why we kill efficiently and without fear. Why we love to fight and take the opportunity to defend our country and loved ones...the "Why's" go on and on. From every aspect of life, self growth, finances, ethics, family...etc.

Then its off to get online and have the other Drill Instructors hygiene us by the numbers again...shower, shave, brush the teeth and back into underwear for Basic Daily Routine where we get 5 minutes to pray and count off and inspected individually by a drill instructor to make sure we don't have any injuries that require medical attention. After that we throw a t-shirt on and hydrate and get ready to jump in the rack in time for taps to be played as the lights are shut off all over the depot and we go to sleep. Most of the time you don't sleep because you are trying to sneak in time to get things prepared for the next day or stay up late to read and write letters. During sleep time it is mandatory that a 4 man fire watch be on deck at all times. So at any given time if its your turn, you are forced to get up and spend an hour cleaning, and taking charge of the squad bay til lights. If you hold a leadership billet such as squad leader or guide...(Myself, I was 1st Squad Leader) it was also mandatory that you have at least one hour of fire watch every night. 2 hours depending on how well the platoon did during the day and night before.

Now, what I have tried to do is explain a typical day at the beginning of Boot Camp. Bear in mind that EVERYTHING the Marine Corps does has a purpose and meaning behind it. No matter how obscure or eccentric the order or command or task. The subconscious learning and discipline becomes a 2nd nature growth that you don't realize til you look back on the beginning. Everything we did could at anytime be counted down, or corrected and we were assessed and evaluated over everything by each Drill Instructor. They were like fathers to us. With us 24/7 raising us to be the Marine and warriors that they are. To be a USMC Drill Instructor, you have to be in the top 10% of the entire Corps.

These men set aside their families, lives and personal commitments to train us and develop the new Marine Corps. They have a passion like you'll never understand. They honor tradition, respect the fallen and understand what it takes to uphold that standards and expectations to be the best at all times. They INSTILL this in us. Especially for those who want it and are open and receptive to it. Such as myself. They provide the opportunity to change yourself, test yourself and prove to yourself that you can be something great. It was mine for the taking and I took it. I'll never look at things the same. Having to do 90 days of things similar to how I explained a typical day, was amazing, Each day bringing something new and challenging. Weapons, Mixed Martial Arts, conditioning and education of life and family. By the world's top 10% of men? Yeah. I want to be a part of that. I want to carry on that work. I want to improve and add my skills to it.

When you go through all of this with 85 other young men, you develop a bond of respect and admiration to each other. This is where the brotherhood comes into play. We, without question, will do anything for any one of us. We take pride in being so dependable, along with pride in EVERYTHING thing we do whether its asked of us or not. Its just how we work. Its is instilled into us.

With that being said,

Semper Fidelis.

Private First Class Catmull C.A.

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Comments (14)

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Tara Ellis Avatar


Thanks SO much for sharing. My son is leaving for boot on or before Oct 1st. What a great insight this was. Thank you for your service!

Posted by: Tara Ellis on 07/25/2012




Deborah Arndt Avatar


Thank you for sharing!!

Posted by: Deborah Arndt on 06/15/2012




Melissa Watson Avatar


Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us! As a mother I think every days about "what is my son doing today" Your words not only brought more understanding, but encouragement and a loyalty that you don't hear every day! I feel so honored to have my son desiring to be one of the best! A United States Marine. He graduates January 6th in San Diego and we are so excited! God Bless you Always!

Posted by: Melissa Watson on 12/03/2011




Rachel Arazashvili Avatar


WOW! My son just left to bootcamp Monday September 26,2011 and I have been wondering every moment of the day WHAT he's going through. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Now I know what to specifically pray for.

Posted by: Rachel Arazashvili on 09/28/2011




Sandy Brown Avatar


Thank you so much for this informative post!
God bless you for serving our country.

Thank you for sharing your son with us!
Your idea of asking your son to write his
experience was fantastic!

Posted by: Sandy Brown on 08/25/2011




Dell Crumpton Avatar


Does anyone know if Boot Camp Parris Island, S.C. offers any time in air conditioned environments? My son left July 18 and the heat will be at peak for quite some time. Thank you, Dell

Posted by: Dell Crumpton on 07/23/2011




Dell Crumpton Avatar


Thank you for taking a bit of mystery out of what happens at boot camp. I am sure there is plenty of mystery left. But this is enough information to help me understand and relate. It will also give me insight into my letter writing. I apppreciate your willingness to share.

Posted by: Dell Crumpton on 07/23/2011




Melissa Bennett Avatar


PFC Catmull,

Thank you so much for this post! It was enlightening and encouraging. It is a blessing to know a little about what my son could be experiencing. The pride you feel in your accomplishment, the great effort poured out by your DIs, and the respect you show for them and the Corps is reassuring. Thank you for serving!

Semper Fidelis!

Posted by: Melissa Bennett on 07/13/2011




lisa lester Avatar


Thank you for this account. I need to know what's happening to my baby

Posted by: lisa lester on 07/01/2011




Jo Neff Avatar


Thank you for this account of your daily marine basic training life-My son is currently in basic and every moment of every day I wonder what, how he's doing. I'm glad to know that marines are taught about so much more than defense and offense. Finance, family life, brotherhood, etc. are great things to focus on at this phase of your lives!

Posted by: Jo Neff on 04/11/2011




Kirk Smurawa Avatar

Former Marine

Ah...I miss Boot Camp!!!! Thanks for this...And to PFC Catmull, Welcome to the family, brother...

Posted by: Kirk Smurawa on 03/08/2011




Joni Roake Avatar


Thank you for such insight into the daily life of a recruit. As a parent, I sit at home, review the Marine website, try and follow what my son is going through and training for week by week. Wait for letters and being over joyed when one arrives. This post is a real wake up call into the daily life of a recruit. Now when my son tells me he only has a minute to write to me, I understand. When he tells me that he wonders what I'm doing at 5am when he's walking to chow, I can visualize what he has already done that day in order to get into that line and when he tells me that he loves what he's doing and that he knows that he was meant to be a Marine, I can understand why.

Semper Fi

Posted by: Joni Roake on 03/08/2011




Mindy Boyd Avatar


Thank you for this rich detail. It will give us comfort tonight knowing what that time did for you and what it is doing for our son right now. He is at Parris Island and graduates 3/11/11. It sounds as if your story is very similar to our sons.....thank you for your story, thank you for your dedicated service.

Posted by: Mindy Boyd on 12/19/2010




Dotty Koughan Avatar


Thank you for telling your story. My grandson is at Parris Island and due to graduate on January 7, 2011. Let me thank you for your service to our Country. God Bless and keep you safe. Dotty

Posted by: Dotty Koughan on 12/15/2010