Excerpt from a book being written


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“The explosive violence of the next few minutes can be compared to the first shock of combat, the awesome moment when one phalanx of cavalry crashes into another, when an artillery barrage finds its target, when an ambush is sprung. At least so it probably seems to the thirty young men who spring off that bus and line up on the road on the sets of yellow footprints.”

Marines by John de St. Jorre

The bus took us to boot camp far too quickly. I wanted it to last longer in the vain hope I might calm down from the nervous tension that gripped me. I wanted it to take us downtown to let us see the sights, to maybe even have the bus driver give us a running commentary as we went along, but that’s not what happened. Not knowing where I was, it was difficult to keep track of where we were going in the middle of the night, but at some stage we seemed to enter a small concrete tunnel and when we emerged it was to the gates of Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), San Diego.

We drove through the gates and continued through the base for a couple of minutes until we came to a floodlit area seemingly at the back of a large building. The bus slowed and I could see two extremely fit men waiting for us in tailored olive-green trousers, khaki short sleeved shirts and hats that resembled those worn by the Canadian Mounties; they were Drill Instructors. The bus stopped. I can say with absolute certainty that at that very moment, I would have rather been anywhere else in the world, but before I had the presence of mind to fake a heart attack, the door opened and a muscular Drill Instructor entered the bus. Above the beating of my heart you could hear utter silence.

“On behalf of Major-General Grinalds, I welcome you to MCRD San Diego.”

This was okay, he wasn’t yelling, he actually talking to us in a very calm, even voice.

“Pick up all your belongings, ensuring there is nothing left on the bus, or that anything is obstructing the aisle.”

He was being polite, and we were being co-operative, this might actually be okay.

“When I ask you to get off the bus, do so quickly. When you answer me, you will say ‘Sir Yes Sir’, do you understand?”

So far so good, although getting a bit louder, he was being quite reasonable really. We all complied by replying,

“Sir Yes Sir.” Well actually we didn’t, some said ‘Sir Yes Sir’, others only managed a ‘Yes Sir’; next to me Jefferson went for originality and came out with ‘Yes Sir Yes’.

“I can’t hear you!” shouted the Drill Instructor. This was better, this is what I had been expecting, I’d seen this in the movies. This time we all obediently shouted back,

“Sir Yes Sir!”

“Louder! Sound off like you’ve got a pair!”

His voice was rising all the time and was developing a cutting edge to it that matched the increasingly pissed off look on his face. This was getting worrying. We tried to placate him with a coordinated and loud,


For some unfathomable reason our reply had enraged him, an expression of pure disgust crossed his face; the honeymoon was most definitely over, and it hadn’t even been that nice while it lasted. The next command was screamed at us in an alarmingly loud voice,


We all frantically tried to get up and out at once, and it seemed to take forever. We jostled up the aisle while hearing what seemed like a crazed maniac outside yelling at us to “Get off my bus NOW! MOVE IT, MOVE IT, MOVE IT… FASTER!”

We managed one by one to struggle to the front and stepped out onto the road. It was at that instant life as we knew it changed forever, heralded by the loudest screaming I have ever heard. The two drill instructors had turned into four and all were yelling at the top of their voices. ‘Yelling’ makes it sound like they were shouting as loud as was humanly possible, but they were much, much louder than that. It was a yell that emanated from deep within their body and got louder and meaner as it erupted in an angry crescendo from their snarling mouths.

I wanted to run, but I wasn’t exactly sure where I was meant to be running to, then through the wall of sound I could see my salvation- rows of yellow footprints painted on the concrete. It seemed to me if I valued my life I should find a pair and stand in them as fast as I possible could. Whether that instruction had been actually yelled at me I couldn’t really say. Drill Instructors were swarming over us, knocking baseball caps off, yelling at us to drop our bags, yelling at us to stand in the footprints which were painted with ankles touching and the feet angling out at a forty-five degree angle, and yelling at us to stand at attention. The last ones off the bus had to run through and around us to find a pair of footprints, those who ran through the embryonic formation got yelled at for doing so, those who ran around it got yelled at for taking too long. Songbird actually bumped into a Drill Instructor and jumped back as if electrified, from the look on his face he almost had the heart attack I’d forgotten to have. The Drill Instructor glared at him and with a piercing yell said,


The yelling defied all the laws of nature and actually seemed to be getting louder. Drill Instructors were milling about, kicking bags, yelling at people to pay attention, while all the time telling them to stand straight. I was conscious of the bus pulling away and felt a wave of desperation flood over me as I looked at its tail-lights disappearing into the darkness; I’d have felt tremendously sorry for myself in that instant if my right eardrum had not just been ruptured.


I’d just attracted the attention of my very own personal Drill Instructor. He seemed inordinately slim yet muscular, and very, very angry. He had no hair, he had no neck, he had no pity and he certainly had no patience; I’d seen pictures of friendlier looking Great White Sharks.


I thought my feet were in the yellow footprints and I made the mistake of looking down at my feet to check.

“I SAID LOOK STRAIGHT AHEAD!” He seemed incredibly and personally pissed off with me now and despite the cool of night I could feel sweat trickling down my back. He was now standing only a few inches directly in front of me, the brim of his Drill Instructor’s hat was knocking into my forehead, we were almost touching and he was still yelling at me not to look at him. I tried focusing on the bridge of his nose, but then he moved into my line of sight and I was looking straight into his manic eyes, incensed by this overt show of intimacy he screamed,

“STOP EYEBALLING ME YOU PUKE! UNLESS YOU LOOK STRAIGHT AHEAD I WILL PLUCK OUT YOUR EYES AND REINSERT THEM BACKWARDS AND THEN YOU CAN TELL ME IF YOU SEE A BRAIN OR A FART CLOUD INSIDE!” He took a step backward and barely controlling his rage he pointed a shaking black finger at me, drew a cross in mid-air with it, as if hexing me with a voodoo curse, and declared,


He fixed me with a piercing stare and then he simply disappeared out of my line of sight to go yell at someone else. I have never been so glad not to see someone in my entire life. While alive I was shaking from within and was definitely slipping into a mild form of shock. I had barely touched the ground and I was a ‘freakin marked man’, this was not a good situation, this was most definitely not a good situation at all, this was terrible situation.

The Drill Instructor who had invited us to get off his freakin bus in such a hurry was in front of us now. His audience had been lined up in three rows, were staring straight ahead, were sweating, were very scared, were extremely confused, and with only minimal success were trying to not piss off the other three Drill Instructors still prowling around them like six foot tall Doberman Pinchers.

“Oh my God. What in heaven’s tarnation is this herd of squid doing on my base? You are the sorriest bunch of pussies I have ever seen, you can’t even get off a freakin bus without screwing it up. Listen to me. Listen to me very carefully. If you don’t square away your **** within the next ten seconds I will personally rearrange your sorry assed existence. Is that perfectly clear?”

“SIR YES SIR!” We responded as if our lives depended on it, and actually at that particular moment in time, we firmly believed our lives did depend on it without a trace of doubt.

“As long as you are allowed to live, the first and last words out of your stinkin’ cakeholes will be ‘Sir’, is that clear?


“You will not look at me, you will look straight ahead unless I instruct you otherwise, is that clear?”


“Look at the sign on the wall, it outlines articles found in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, it states that ‘Congress shall have the power to make rules for the government and regulations of the land and naval forces.’ That means we rule your *** from now on in.”

We looked up at a big red sign with yellow lettering attached to the wall while the Drill Instructor spelt out its meaning to us.

“Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice outlines Commanding Officers Non-Judicial Punishment. That means when you screw up, which most of you will, you can request that your commanding officer decides your punishment instead of appearing in front of a court martial. Is that clear?”


“Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice states that compulsory self-incrimination is prohibited. That means you still have the right to remain silent, along with your god given right to remain a threat to the human gene pool. Is that clear?”


“Article 86 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits absence without leave. That means you cannot leave this depot without permission. Is that clear?


“Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice covers failure to obey orders or regulations. That means you do exactly what we tell you to do. Is that clear?”


“General Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice covers everything and anything not already covered in the preceding one hundred and thirty three articles, including any actions prejudice to good order and discipline, or conduct of a nature that brings discredit upon the armed forces. If you even think of trying to piss us off, we will **** on you from a great height. Am I understood?”


“The Marine Corps policy on Drugs is simple; drugs will not be tolerated. So save your pathetic sob stories, your confessions that you ‘just experimented’ or ‘didn’t inhale’ for someone that gives a damn. You do drugs in the Marines, we will catch you and you will be kicked out. Is that ab-so-lute-ly crystal clear?”


Well, actually, it wasn’t, I couldn’t remember a thing about what he’d just said, but the gist of it seemed to infer that we had stopped being happy-go-lucky, free-thinking civilians and had were now entirely and unequivocally the property of the US Marines.

“I sincerely hope so for your sake ladies; I really do. When I tell you, hold up your left hand. Hold up your left hand. Put it down! When I give you the command to ‘Left Face’ you will turn to your left. Is that perfectly clear?”

The Drill Instructor barked out an unintelligible command that ended with the word ‘face’, so we all turned to our left and were now in columns facing a large door. Above the door words declared that, ‘Through These Portals Pass Prospects For America’s Finest Fighting Force: The United States Marines.’

“Read those words! Burn them into your weak-bodied souls! It’s the closest some of you will EVER come to being called Marines. Now get inside, MOVE!” It crossed my mind that Dante’s ‘Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here’ would have been more appropriate inscription at the time, for it did seem we had arrived in an inferno staffed with screaming green devils; otherwise known as United States Marine Corps Drill Instructors."

The next morning was cold, well at least by Southern Californian terms it was cold, with a slight mist rolling in off the San Diego bay. Allanmore and Heathwood had been with us all morning, trying to reassure us while making us pack our sea bags and field-day the squadbay. We had grown to like them, even Sannox, and I probably wasn’t the only one hoping that somehow we’d be told to stay where we were and that they’d be our Drill Instructors for the duration of boot camp. But that wasn’t going to happen. With a tension mounting on that we’d experienced at the railway station while waiting to be picked up, we fell in outside with our seabags over one shoulder, to do the ‘seabag drag’ to our new home.

Staff Sergeant Allanmore instructed us for the tenth time to listen to what we were being told, to move quickly, and to act as a platoon, then he ordered Sergeant Heathwood to march us to our new squadbay. We started to march down Midway towards a set of five ‘H’ shaped barracks, three stories high. Outside the middle building we could just make out the figure of Staff Sergeant Singleton waiting for us with hands on hips. Heathwood’s cadence increased in volume and he told us to,

“Show ‘em what you got. Make me proud!”

Despite the seabags on our shoulders we started to go through the close order drill we’d learnt and our heels crashed into a series of ‘Change Steps’ as we closed in on our destination. We came to a halt, did a left turn to face Sergeant Heathwood, who nodded his approval and then simply marched away back to the receiving barracks and out of our lives.

Staff Sergeant Singleton told us to drop our seabags and stand at Parade Rest, then he left to go inside one of the ground level squadbays. A minute later he reappeared, and ordered us inside at the double. We ran in and were quickly assigned racks alphabetically from three rows of metal-framed bunkbeds, told to leave our seabags on top of a pair of footlockers situated in front of each bunk, and then to gather and sit on the floor forming a semi-circle around quarterdeck, the open area immediately inside the main hatch, which now became a stage. Upon the stage stood Singleton.

The hatch opened and Captain Catto, who had given us the ‘Earning the Title’ speech two days earlier, walked in; Staff Sergeant Singleton yelled ‘Attention on deck!’ and we all sprang to our feet and stood at attention. The Captain took his position to the left of Singleton, then Singleton barked out the command, ’Detail, forward march!’. Three Drill Instructors, one behind the other, marched through the open squadbay hatch, did a right turn, halted and executed a sharp left face to line up in front of us and snapped to ‘Parade Rest’. Singleton formally announced that,

“My name is Staff Sergeant Singleton. I am your Senior Drill Instructor. I am assisted in my duties by: Staff Sergeant Linkwood, Staff Sergeant Skaig and Sergeant Gombene.” As he called out the individual names, the drill instructor would snap to Attention, then revert to Parade Rest.

After this Captain Catto stepped forward and told us to sit back down on the deck. He then proceeded to tell us that we were about to begin some of the hardest military training in the world, that in the following eight-four days we would be constantly challenged, but that we with the proper motivation and enthusiasm, and with the constant help and encouragement from our drill instructors, we would succeed in our effort to join the world’s finest fighting force- The United States Marines. He then had Singleton swear the Drill Instructor’s Oath:

“These recruits are entrusted to my care. I will train them to the best of my ability. I will develop them into smartly disciplined, physically fit, basically trained Marines, thoroughly indoctrinated in love of Corps and country. I will demand of them, and demonstrate by my own example, the highest standards of personal conduct, morality and professional skill."

This was all well and good, but I wasn’t listening to anything the captain was saying, I was looking at the middle of the three drill instructors lined up in front of us. Staff Sergeant Linkwood, on the left, was an older, shorter, barrel-chested Marine with piercing blue eyes; Sergeant Gombene, on the right, was Mexican-American and had a heavily pockmarked face, both had a permanently pissed off look about them. While both alarming in appearance, my attention was focused on the ebony black drill instructor in the centre, Staff Sergeant Skaig. I felt physically ill, I could feel sweat beginning to trickle down my back despite the feeling of icy cold desperation that was gripping my body. It was HIM, the drill instructor from the yellow footprints; the drill instructor that had drawn a voodoo cross over my heart and that informed me I was a ‘marked man’. Not for the first time, and probably not for the last, I considered faking a heart attack, but before I could further form my cunning plan, Singleton began to address us in front of the Captain.

“Our mission is to train each one of you to become a United States Marine.

A Marine is characterised as one who possesses the highest military virtues. He obeys orders, respects his seniors, and strives constantly to be the best in everything he does. Discipline and spirit are the hallmarks of a Marine. Each of you can become a Marine if you develop discipline and spirit. We will give every effort to train you, even after some of you have given up on yourselves.

Starting now, you will treat me and all other Marines with the highest respect, for we have earned our places as Marines and will accept nothing less than that from you. We will treat you as we do our fellow Marines: with firmness, fairness, dignity and compassion. At no time will you be physically or verbally abused by any Marine or recruit. If anyone should abuse or mistreat you, I expect you to report such incidents immediately to me or one of my drill instructors. Further, if you believe that I have mistreated you, I expect you to report it to the series commander. My drill instructors and I will be with you every day, everywhere you go.

I have told you what my drill instructors and I will do for you. From you we expect the following: You must give one hundred percent of yourself at all times. Obey all orders, instantly, willingly, and without question. Treat all Marines and recruits with courtesy and respect. You will not physically abuse or verbally threaten another Marine or recruit. Be completely honest in everything you do; a Marine never lies, cheats, or compromises. Respect the rights and property of all others; a Marine never steals. You must work hard to strengthen you body. Be proud of yourself and the uniform you wear. Try your best to learn the things you will be taught. Above all else, never quit or give up.

We offer you the challenge of recruit training- the opportunity to earn the title United States Marine."

At this Captain Catto faced Singleton and commanded in a loud voice,

“Drill Instructors, take charge of these men and make them Marines!”.

We all jumped up again to the command ‘Attention on deck’ and the Captain marched out of the squadbay. There was utter silence, which lasted long enough for the Captain to get some distance from the squadbay and out of earshot. I thought, ‘here we go’ and braced myself for whatever was coming. After what seemed like an eternity, Singleton took a step forward, looked us over with a look of utter disdain, and then turned to his three drill instructors,

“Get this trash off my quarterdeck!”

Then all hell broke loose. Singleton stood with his hands on his hips while his three drill instructors exploded into action, simultaneously yelling commands.




One recruit ran up the wrong passageway and doubled back towards Staff Sergeant Linkwood.

“Oh, we have a lost child here! Where are you going lost one? Looking for your momma? Well I’m your momma now! You have exactly three seconds to get on line!”

The recruit stood transfixed in front of the drill instructor like a rabbit in headlights.


A weak voice replied, “Sir no sir!”


“Sir no sir!”

“Well make up your mind sunshine! I think you like me! Liking leads to loving, are you trying to mess with me private? Do you want to kiss me private?”

“Sir no sir!”

“JUST FRIGGIN DISAPPEAR! NOW!” And with that Linkwood shot his hands out, flicking and extending his fingers, like a magician casting a spell, and yelled,

“POOF! YOU ARE GONE!”, and with that the unfortunate recruits scuttled away to his position on line.

We stood rigidly at attention, looking straight ahead towards the recruit across from us, praying for divine invisibility, as the three drill instructors went up and down the line firing off questions at individual recruits. I could see the recruit across from me straining to look down the passageway at Gombene’s back while he was yelling at another recruit, I willed him to lock his eyes forward, but it was too late, out of nowhere Linkwood stormed into view.

“I HEARD EYEBALLS CLICKING! Who here has no friggin discipline? Who here thinks this is some sort of grab-assing love-in?”

I was impressed. I’d always thought eyeballs swiveled on their orbits pretty much silently, obviously I was wrong.

Linkwood stood with his back to me chewing out his latest victim.

“Were you trying to look at my *** recruit?”

“Sir no sir!”

“Well what were you looking at recruit?”

“Sir, nothing, sir!”

“Nothing? How can you be looking at nothing? How boring for you. We can’t have that can we? Well lets give you something to look at recruit before you get so bored you fall asleep! Push-up position, now!”

The recruit dropped to the deck.

“Well what are you waiting for? Start counting!”

As the recruit did push-ups Linkwood walked down the line, stopping in front of the muppet looking recruit that had been across from me in the receiving barracks.

“God almighty! Why do you only have one eyebrow recruit? Why does it not separate in the middle? Well, I’m waiting recruit.”

Silence. The muppet was not talking but just stared ahead with a confused and vacant expression.

“Can you speak recruit?”

Linkwood began shouting into the recruit’s ear,


The dwindling counts coming from the recruit doing push-ups drew Linkwood’s attention back down the line of recruits, with a final look of disgust he said, “I’ll deal with you later spaceman!” and reverted his attention to the exhausted private on the deck.

“Well what do we have hear? Did I say stop? Did I say lie on the deck and have a snooze?”

The recruit replied with a strained and exhausted “Sir no sir!”

“Then get your scuzzy body at attention and stop sweating on my deck!”

In an admirable show of democracy the terror was evenly shared and distributed, at any given second three drill instructors were yelling at three recruits, sometimes they ganged up for maximum effect, but mostly they were working alone. And then what I feared would happen did, Linkwood and Gombene left to the other row of recruits, and Skaig, the voodoo menace, started to work his way down our passageway. Now as scared as I was, I thought there was little chance he would pick me out of the line up, he probably yelled at dozens of recruits that first night, and now we were all dressed alike, and had no hair, I convinced myself I was no longer a ‘freakin marked man’. But all that didn’t help me begin to inwardly panic as he worked his way up the line. He stopped one recruit short of me, in front of Mayer.

“Where you from recruit?”

“Sir, San Antonio Sir!”

“Texas! Only steers and *****s come from Texas, which one are you?”

Mayer understandably didn’t know how to answer, but that didn’t really matter, because at that instant Skaig lost interest in him, and let out a low whistle.

“Well, friggin well, what do we have hear? Is someone still missing his freakin bus.”

My heart was pounding so hard I thought they’d be no need to fake an aneurysm, I’d probably die quite naturally from fright without any false melodramatics. He stepped in front of me, so close his face seemed to block out all my peripheral vision. His eyes were bloodshot and seemed slightly yellowish and were partially obscured by his Smokey Bear cover.

“Are you eyeballing me recruit?”

“Sir no sir!”

“Oh heck no, sound off like you gotta pair!”




“Sir no sir what?”

“Sir, I was not looking at the drill instructor sir!” Which was plainly untrue, but seemed the only answer I could give.

“’I’? ‘I’? This is an freakin eye!” And with that he pointed his finger at my right eye and poked it into the lens of my eyeglasses.

“You are no longer an ‘I’ or a ‘me’ or a ‘my’ or a ‘he’ or a ‘they’, you are a miserable stain on my deck, you will address yourself as ‘this recruit’ until we tell you otherwise, or I have killed you! IS THAT CLEAR?”


“Out-freakin-standing! I’m glad we have a relationship- I’m the boot, you’re the ***! Now start pushing!”

I dropped to the deck and started doing push-ups, counting them off as we’d been taught to do by Sannox. Skaig looked back at Mayer,

“Well what are you waiting for Texas, an engraved invitation? Push!” And Mayer joined me on the deck, for no good reason, but reason had clearly gone UA - ‘unauthorized absence’, AWOL, and had abandoned us to our fate
Please tell me you copy/pasted that. Dang, that's a lot of typing.

Sounds similar to a few books I've read about it. I don't remember the book, but the platoon was 3086 I believe, and it was at the Paris Island depot.
Me 2 lol. It was very funny, but to the people that have been through it probably brings memories back. Are they still like that? I laugh now, but when i get to it its gonna scare me to death lol.
That reminds me of my basic training first hours in ft.knox back in 82

Thanks for the memories

I'm loving this one.