What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

Marine Corps boot camp is legendary. But is it anything like the movies show?

The commercials make it look like constant action, with obstacle courses, gladiator style fighting, jumping off high dives, and crawling through the dirt commanding most of the airtime.

In reality, these things are sandwiched between hours and days of monotony and boredom.

I spent the summer of 2012 at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, and here is a sample day that a recruit might experience in the first phase of training.


What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

A recruit writes in the log book as he stands watch at night.

(U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Caitlin Brink)

0330: Officially, 0400, pronounced as “zero four,” or “oh four hundred,” is the time to wake up and get out of bed. Unofficially, you’re up 30 minutes before that.

The drill instructor woke you up by barking commands at the firewatch. The firewatch, which you will also stand every few days, is the interior guard. They are members of the platoon who are awake for one or two hours at a time throughout the night. The first and last shift aren’t so bad, but the 0000 to 0200 shift is brutal. The drill instructor is yelling at them, asking them why they messed up the log book, making them give the report until they get it right, or just making them run around the squad bay, looking for things that are amiss. You take this time to use the bathroom, as there won’t be time later. There are around 50 recruits to six toilets, so it’s best to go when you have time. Officially, you will have time to go after the lights come on, but it’s best to go now. It’s also best to brush your teeth before the lights come on.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

A drill instructor storms through the squad bay as recruits stand “on line.”

(U.S. Sgt. Jennifer Schubert/US Marine Corps)

0400: Lights, lights, lights! That’s what firewatch yells as they throw the switches, turning on all the lights.

There’s no time for stretches or yawns, you get up and stand on line and stick your hand out. You better be ready, because the count starts immediately. Every time your platoon goes anywhere, you are counted. They have to make sure nobody took off in the middle of the night, even if firewatch is there to make sure this doesn’t happen. The recruits are standing “on line,” meaning standing in front of their beds, called “racks,” at attention, awaiting instruction. You will spend a lot of time here on line, so get used to it. The drill instructor runs down the line of recruits, around 25 on the left, and then back down the right, 25 there too. You have to yell your number and snap your arm back down at lightning speed. If somebody messes up, you start over. This counting process takes forever in the first few weeks, as recruits mess up by shouting the wrong number, pausing too long, or skipping over somebody. You do this counting process until you get it right.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

Recruits race to put on their uniforms.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley)

0401: After 30 seconds to get 50 recruits in and out of the bathroom, now called the head, it’s time to get dressed.

However long it takes you to get dressed in the morning, it takes longer now. You are about to get dressed “by the numbers.” This process was the single most frustrating part of boot camp for me, since it was so tedious and you would inevitably end up with a sock inside out all day. This process looks like this: the drill instructor names a piece of clothing, say trousers, and all the recruits get that item and bring it on line. The uniform items, or cammies, are hung on the back of the racks overnight, meaning you have to run to the back, get it, and make it back on line, arm outstretched, before the drill instructor gets to zero. If somebody doesn’t make it, you put it back.

You finally get your trousers on, but somebody didn’t get them buttoned by zero, so you take them off and put them back. Once you get your trousers on, it’s time for the blouse. Then it’s time for the boots. You can get to the last item of clothing, say your left boot, and have to start all over. This process takes as long as the drill instructor needs it to. If there is a gap in the schedule, it takes forever. The countdown goes as fast or as slow as they want. You can sometimes tell when the games have gone on too long, as they start counting down slightly slower. But in the beginning, you will finish with a few buttons undone, your boots untied, and you’ll be rushed onto the next task. You are expected to fix it on the fly. Not surprisingly, tying your boots while trying to run down the stairs is not easy.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

Recruits “scuzz” the floor of their barracks.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Caitlin Brink)

0415: Time to clean house.

With around 50 recruits constantly running in and out of the squadbay, dirt is always present. You will spend many hours “scuzzing” the deck, meaning sweeping the floor with a little hand held “scuzz brush.” This process works much like getting dressed, (“Scuzz brush on line, ready, move!”) but you have to run to the wall, squat down, and push the dirt to the middle of the squadbay. You are in boot camp though, so you have to do so at “parade rest” with your non-scuzz brush hand behind your back. And don’t even think about letting your knee hit the deck. You squat and duck walk your way to the middle. If you don’t get there in time, you do it again. Either before or after this, you make your bed, aka “rack.” In years past, recruits got wise and started sleeping on top of the sheets so as to leave the rack pristine. This was not allowed in the summer of 2012. You either slept under your sheets, or you would have to tear them up in the morning anyway. Making the bed can be as fast or as slow as getting dressed, depending on what’s happening that day. They can let you get it done fast and move on, or they can have you rip all the sheets off and bring them on line. It’s always a surprise.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

Recruits at Parris Island march in formation.

(U.S. Marine photo by Cpl. Caitlin Brink)

0430: Somewhere during that time, you got your boots tied, and it’s time to get outside and “form up.”

Forming up is the process of getting outside and standing in formation, ready to move to the next place. For right now, it’s breakfast. All meals in boot camp are referred to as “chow.” This is morning chow. You are formed up in the correct order, rifles in hand, and you are ready to march to the chow hall.

This isn’t a leisurely walk though, this is a chance to practice drill. The drill instructors call the commands, and you execute. Depending on how early in the process of learning drill you are, you could be marching at a snail’s pace, your foot hitting the ground only when the drill instructor allows it. You eventually get to the chow hall, you stack your rifles outside, since they don’t go in, and get in line. You leave a couple of guards on the rifles, who will have a chance to eat when the first two in your platoon come out.

While waiting in line for the chow hall, you will study your knowledge. Knowledge is just the word that the Marines use to describe any of the things that will be on the tests. This can be history, land navigation, first aid, marksmanship, drill, uniforms, customs and courtesies, or rank structure. This is usually done at top volume, with the drill instructor shouting the question, and the recruits shouting the answer. For example, the answer to “Two Marines, two medals,” is “Dan Daly, Smedley Butler Ma’am!” at top volume. The question is looking for the two Marines who have been awarded the Medal of Honor twice. The answer will be shouted at top volume, or it will be shouted again.

Eventually you get inside, get your food, and sit down to eat. You eat as fast as possible without choking, since the drill instructor is yelling at you to get out. There is no time here for butter on toast. If you want butter on your toast, you stuff the toast in your mouth, then stuff a pat of butter in after it. You finish eating and go back outside to pick up your gear.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

Welcome to the sand pit.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Sarah Stegall)

0500: Your platoon got into the chow hall first, and now you are done. Your next activity doesn’t start until 0600, so it’s time for drill.

Your platoon marches back and forth on a concrete square, called a parade deck, learning how to turn, start and stop, or reverse direction as a unit. If anybody messes up, you start over.

If you are struggling more than they would like, you might be sent to the pit. There is a sand pit conveniently located right next to the parade deck, and you are about to go do exercises in it. You do pushups, sit-ups, mountain climbers, side straddle hops, or hold a plank while screaming at the top of your lungs. Usually you are screaming the number of reps completed. If you aren’t loud enough or you aren’t performing up to their expectations, you just stay in there until you do.

If there is more than one of you in there, it’s a group effort. This is one of the most effective ways to break a recruit down. Maybe I don’t care about getting yelled at or being seen as weak, but there might be five of us in the pit, and nobody gets to leave until I hold that plank for 60 seconds. After 8 or 9 solid minutes of planks, 60 seconds gets a lot longer. They force you to care, because now you’re letting the team down. (“Oh good, Ohlms wants to let her knees touch the deck. Start over.”) The funny thing is, they will say you cheated a move just to piss off your fellow recruits, and you can’t say anything about it. Eventually you get back to your unit, just in time to mess up the next drill move.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

Recruits attend classroom training.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jennifer Schubert)

0600: Time for class.

This should be a relaxing time. You go into a classroom, sit in the air conditioning, and learn about topics that the Marine Corps will test you on later. You may be a huge history buff, and this may be a history class, but it will not be fun. You drill over to the classroom and get inside as fast as possible, lining up by a desk. You don’t dare sit down, as you weren’t told to yet. Your rifles get stacked in racks at the back of the room, and you take off your day pack, holding it out parallel to the deck, arms straight out, both thumbs hooked under the carrying handle. You stand there until the drill instructors deem you worthy of sitting.

If you don’t get that day pack under the chair and your book on the desk fast enough, you pick them back up, arms parallel to the deck. All the while, a constant stream of yelling. You try again and maybe this time you make it. You sit when told to and you open your book. The teacher is another drill instructor, but the class isn’t so bad. He isn’t yelling at you, unless your eyes start to droop or your head starts to bob. Then you get put on a list. After about an hour, it’s time for a break. Those who were pointed out in class are rushed outside to the pit, while the rest of you are given a chance to go to the head and refill your canteens with water. Everywhere you go, you are screamed at. You are screamed at to fill your canteen faster, pee faster, wash your hands faster, get back in the classroom faster. You get back to the classroom to pick up your pack and hold it out again. As soon as everybody is back, some covered head to toe in sand, the next class starts.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

A drill instructor inspects a recruit’s weapon.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Anthony Leite)

0900: Class is over and there is an hour until afternoon chow. Time for more drill.

This time, the sun is beating down on you, adding to the experience. The sweat makes the sand stick so much better.

1000: Afternoon chow. The bugs have come out now, making standing outside the chow hall unbearable. You dare not swat at a bug crawling on your face, as you know that earns you a trip to the pit later. You just stand there screaming knowledge as the sweat drips into your eyes and the bugs crawl on your neck and face. Eventually you get inside, stuff down as much food as you can in 60 seconds, and get back outside.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

A recruit in the basic warrior stance during martial arts training.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brooke C Woods)

1100: Time for MCMAP, the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.

You move to this football field-size lot of chopped up rubber and slip a mouth guard in. You are about to do the Marine Corps version of karate. You partner up and practice punching, kicking, chokes, escaping from chokes, slamming your partner to the ground, and trying to enunciate with a mouth guard in. If the drill instructors feel like you aren’t going hard enough, they will make you do it again and again until you do. Your partner will thank you to do it right the first time.

1300: Time to go back to the house, but you’ll stop by the parade deck first to get in a little drill.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

A drill instructor inspects recruits.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Anthony Leite)

1500: You get back to the squad bay.

With your first inspection coming up, the drill instructor shows you exactly how everything is going to look in the squad bay. Everything has to match. Every recruit has a foot locker, a sea bag, and a rack, and they all must be marked and arranged in exactly the same way. If one person marks their foot locker in the wrong spot, the tape is ripped off of all of them and it is done again.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

Recruits line up for chow.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley)

1700: Evening chow.

1800: Back to the squad bay. It’s time for all 50 recruits to take a shower.

1805: Done with showers. Get out.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

Recruits are responsible for cleaning their rifles.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Maximiliano Bavastro)

1806: Rifle cleaning time.

One piece at a time, and everybody cleans the same piece until they are all done. Also, somebody was slouching, so you are scrubbing with both arms fully extended up over your head.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

A recruit reads letters from his family.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Mackenzie Carter)

1900: You get one hour of “free time” before bed.

This is when they hand out letters, you have time to study for the upcoming history test, you can practice drill movements that you are having trouble with, or somebody might forget to announce a drill instructor as they enter the room and you spend most of your free time at attention waiting for forgiveness.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

Even sleeping involves discipline.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple)

2000: Bedtime.

You lay at the position of attention in your rack until you are given permission to adjust. You will get used to falling asleep in the position of attention. Another day down, only seventy-something left.

Sweet dreams!

Sara Ohlms spent 13 weeks feeding the sand fleas of Parris Island in the summer of 2012. She then spent the next four years as a military working dog handler. She is now a freelance writer based in St. Louis, Missouri.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This home-cooked meal helped a combat engineer transition home from Afghanistan

Keeping the troops well fed is a big part of how the military works. Navy veteran and pop-up chef August Dannehl knows this better than most. In the WATM series “Thank You For Your Service” August cooks a four-course meal for his fellow vets, and each course is inspired by a veteran’s story from his or her time in uniform.


When he came home from Afghanistan, Max’s mom prepared the classic Nicaraguan Carne Asada dish with fried plantains. It was a symbol of prosperity and transition into good times from his childhood. When he was young, his mother was a new immigrant to the U.S. and as a single mother, it was sometimes hard for her to put food the table. This dish always served as an embodiment of her love and stayed with Max from his home to overseas.

Short Rib Carne Asada w/ Bacon Jam, Apricot Mojo and Platanos

Inspired by Max’s Mother’s Nicaraguan Carne Asada

Ingredients

Carne

8 beef short ribs

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

6 thin slices bacon, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 carrots, diced

2 jalapeno, finely minced

1 medium onion, diced

Splash of red wine

4 cups Cola

4 cups beef broth (low sodium)

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

 

Mojo

1 cup olive oil

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tbs apricot jam

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

8 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 1/2 teaspoons ground

cumin

 

Platano

2 Green Plantains

Corn Oil for Frying

 

Also need 

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Prepare

Season short rib liberally with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat olive oil and bacon in heavy, oven-proof pan on medium heat. Once bacon starts rendering fat into the pan, add carrots, garlic, onion and jalapeño. Sweat for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

Sear short ribs in pan, working in batches to not crowd pan. If pan starts to look dry, add olive oil. Once all sides of every short rib are browned, deglaze pan with red wine and add cola. Let simmer for 10 minutes on stove to reduce.

Meanwhile, prepare the mojo by adding all ingredients but the olive oil in a blender. Slowly increase blend speed to reach about 4 out of 10. Slowly add olive oil through the top until the sauce becomes the consistency of smooth salsa.

Once cola is reduced by half add beef broth, thyme, rosemary and place entire pan (with top) into a 325° oven and braise for 4 hours. Remove short ribs and add flour to braising components to make jam. Stir ingredients for 4-5 minutes or until ingredients bind together.

Prepare platanos by slicing plantain, frying in 350° oil until light brown, smashing with side of a knife and then frying again until crispy (about 2 mins).

Grill short rib for 2-3 mins just to add final touch of smoke and fire to the meat. Then plate by adding platano and mojo to plate topped with meat and bacon jam.

 

MIGHTY CULTURE

US Marines and British soldiers practice handling POWs and bombs

Marines with 2nd Intelligence Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force continued to build a strong relationship with British Army Reserve soldiers with 5th Military Intelligence (5MI) Battalion, during Exercise Phoenix Odyssey from Sept. 11-19, 2019.

The purpose behind the exercise originated in 2014 to improve interoperability by increasing cohesion between British and US military units so they are better prepared to work alongside one another. This year, the training was hosted on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

The weeklong training placed the two units inside the Infantry Immersion Trainer (IIT) on MCB Camp Lejeune.

Inside the IIT, the military members conducted detaining operations, handling prisoners of war and finding improvised explosive devices.


What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

US Marine Corps Cpl. Nathan Fiorucci, ground sensor operator, assigned to 2nd Intelligence Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, reviews notes during Exercise Phoenix Odyssey at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Sept. 10, 2019

(US Marine Corps/Cpl. Austin Livingston)

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

US Marines with 2nd Intelligence Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, and a British soldier with the UK’s 5 Military Intelligence Battalion, clear a room at the Infantry Immersion Trainer during Exercise Phoenix Odyssey at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Sept. 11, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austin Livingston)

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

A US Marine with 2nd Intelligence Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, and British soldiers with the UK’s 5 Military Intelligence Battalion, provide security at the Infantry Immersion Trainer during Exercise Phoenix Odyssey at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Sept. 11, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austin Livingston)

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

US Marines assigned with 2nd Intelligence Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, and soldiers with the UK’s 5 Military Intelligence Battalion, plan their next training operation at the Infantry Immersion Trainer during Exercise Phoenix Odyssey at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Sept. 11, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austin Livingston)

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

US Marines with 2nd Intelligence Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, and British soldiers with the UK’s 5 Military Intelligence Battalion, are debriefed at the Infantry Immersion Trainer during Exercise Phoenix Odyssey at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Sept. 11, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austin Livingston)

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

US Marines with 2nd Intelligence Battalion and British soldiers with 5 Military Intelligence Battalion conduct room-clearing operations while participating in a live-action simulation during Exercise Phoenix Odyssey on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Sept. 12, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austin Livingston)

“We train together to learn how to work with one another in the intelligence operations center so that in the event we have to deploy, it’s important we understand how to do the same processes,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Tevis Lang, a master analyst with 2nd Intelligence Battalion. “If we understand each other, we can work together anywhere.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards chief tells Trump to bring it on

A top Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander in Iran says his forces are ready to confront U.S. forces should President Donald Trump act on his warning that Tehran will “suffer consequences” if it threatens the United States.

“Mr. Trump, how dare you threaten us?” Qassem Soleimani, who leads the IRGC’s elite foreign operations Quds force, was quoted as saying on July 26, 2018.


“We are near you, where you can’t even imagine…. Come. You will start the war, but it is us who will end it, ” Soleimani said in a speech in the central city of Hamedan.

He made the remarks in response to a July 22, 2018 all-capital-letters post on Twitter by Trump in which Trump warned Iran not to “threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.”

Trump’s tweet came following comments by Iran’s President Hassan Rohani who said: “America should know peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

Soleimani called Trump a “gambler” and said his language belongs in “nightclubs.”

“We’re ready to stand against you,” Soleimani, who has been blacklisted by Washington, added.

Rohani said on July 25, 2018, that Trump’s “empty” threats did not deserve an answer.

Iran’s governmental IRNA news agency reported that, after Rohani mentioned “baseless comments” by “some U.S. leaders,” he told a cabinet meeting “there is no need for us to respond to any nonsensical comment and answer back to them.”

Soleimani said he’s responding to Trump “as a soldier.”

“Don’t threaten to kill us; we’re thirsty for martyrdom,” he was quoted as saying by the hard-line IRGC affiliated Fars news agency.

Following his Twitter warning, Trump suggested on July 24, 2018, that he’s ready to talk to, saying, “We’re ready to make a real deal.”

In May 2018, Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and announced that the United States is moving to reimpose tough sanctions.

U.S. officials have been telling countries to cut all imports of Iranian oil by November 2018.

Iran has warned of equal countermeasures, with Rohani suggesting that the country could block Persian Gulf oil exports if its own exports are halted.

“The Red Sea, which was secure, is no longer secure today with the presence of American forces,” Soleimani said.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Indonesian special forces drank snake blood to impress James Mattis

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis saw a rare display on a trip to Indonesia where he sought to improve ties with the country’s historically vicious special forces.


As part of that trip, Mattis watched a demonstration by soldiers, during which they broke bricks over their heads, walked on hot coals, performed martial arts, rolled in broken glass, killed live snakes, and drank their blood.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp
Members of the Indonesian Special Forces hold a demonstration in honor of Defense Secretary James N. Mattis before Mattis met with Indonesia’s Chief of Defense Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto in Jakarta, Indonesia on Jan. 24, 2018. (DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

As the troops prepared the snakes, which were king cobras, one reportedly got loose and postured, as if preparing to bite Mattis, though it was wrangled back into the fold, the Japan Times reports.

Eating snakes is actually a common military ritual, with some U.S. troops training in the practice to prepare them for jungle warfare.

But Mattis was in Indonesia to repair ties with the country’s military, which came under sanction when the country’s former dictator used the special forces as a criminal organization to brutally enforce his policies.

Currently, Indonesia’s special forces are banned from training with U.S. forces, but Mattis may look to soften that policy after the trip.

Also Read: The Pentagon will partner with a powerful Indonesian special forces unit

Many fear that Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, could become home to extremist groups like ISIS as the group looks to expand beyond Iraq and Syria.

Additionally, Indonesia has proved a key figure in pushing back on China’s expansion into the South China Sea. The U.S. may look to fold them into a coalition of countries that resist the unilateral militarization of the important shipping lane.

Mattis said on his trip he thought the human rights violators of Indonesia’s past had moved on from the special forces, and stressed the need for the countries to work together.

“No single nation resolves security challenges alone in this world,” Mattis said, according to the Washington Post.

MIGHTY MONEY

Everything you need for a secure financial future and when to start

The world would be a perfect place if everyone grew up with a financial advisor, someone who told them exactly what to do with their money and when. While the best rule of thumb is to start investing early and often, the benefits of compound interest just aren’t as interesting as spending your allowance on candy and Wiffle ball gear.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp
It’s also not nearly as satisfying.

The rule that you should get started early still stands but it’s not necessary to get started quite that young. However, if being bullish on Wall Street is more appealing to you than playing ball in the street, go for it — your future, financial self will thank you.

Military members have experienced a lot of changes in the tried-and-true retirement and benefits packages we used to know. For new troops, guaranteed pensions by themselves are gone. This is true for some older members who decided to opt-in to the new system, too. And now, the military will match your contributions to your Thrift Savings Plan (a kind of military 401(k)). There are other variations in the blended retirement system that troops need to know, too.

Some will still wonder if they’re doing enough to save for retirement. This is a completely understandable feeling as a trade war with China grows and the stock market becomes more and more present in daily news cycles. After all, infantry troops and aircraft mechanics are not traditionally well-versed in financial products.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

If you don’t know if you’re doing all you can to promote a healthy financial future, you should turn to the financial advisors available on base or seek help elsewhere. But for starters, here are few general guidelines to let you know if you’re on the right track.


What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

Paying off your credit card feels like being awarded an achievement medal.

(U.S. Air Force)

Around age 22 — Get rid of credit cards and save some cash.

I know, every single financial advisor or personnel officer starts out with this advice, but it’s for a good reason: they’re right. Paying off your debt means you can use that cash and put it to work for you. When you have a lot of credit debt, you’re the creditor’s investment and they’re earning interest on your money instead of the other way around.

At about this age, you should also be saving a significant portion of your income, roughly 15 percent. While this sounds like a lot (and it very well might be, especially for military families), remember that every little bit helps. Setting aside an allotment of fifteen, ten, or even five percent of your pay is worth the time and effort.

How you do this is the (potentially) exciting part. Explore a 401(k) like the TSP, IRAs, and savings accounts — in that order. Just keep an eye on the management fees companies charge. Most charge a percentage of your overall portfolio and the difference between one percent and one and a half percent can be hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime. Look into fiduciary firms to open these accounts. Most can even be managed on your smartphone, via tools like Wealthfront or Wealthsimple.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

Paying off your student loan feels like a handshake from Chuck Norris.

(U.S. Air Force)

Your 20s — Don’t miss a chance to pay extra on your student loans.

They’re the goddamn worst.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

Crazy things happen.

Your 30s — Prepare for your home and family.

You are never going to be fully financially prepared to have kids — nobody is really. But if you’re finally up to saving that 15 percent of your income, you can open a 529 pre-tax college savings account for the little ones. You can also be open to other kinds of investments, like a real estate investment trust, which is a kind of managed fund that buys and manages income-generating real estate.

Another thing that needs to go at this point are excessive fees that take away your money without giving you much in return. The market is flooded with organizations that want your money and they want to take it without you noticing. You shouldn’t be paying a lot of bank fees, ATM fees, or any fee that seems excessive. Keep watch.

By this point, you should be building up a savings account of three to six month’s worth of expenses as a cash reserve and, in the case of any unexpected windfall of cash that comes to you in the form of bonuses or gross profits or lottery win (no judgement), you should always put half away before enjoying the other half.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

If you’d thought of this 30 years ago, DiCaprio would be your neighbor.

Your 40s — Expand your reach.

For the life of your mortgage, you should be trying to make an extra mortgage payment on your home at least once a year. If you have the means, you might even seek to buy a vacation home or investment property that you can make money from while working to pay off. Renting a house in New Mexico (or wherever) or putting it out on AirBnB for 15 years could turn into a fine place to retire later.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

No matter what Tom Selleck, Fred Thompson, or Henry Winkler tell you.

Your 50s — Slow your roll.

Move investments away from stocks and think about commodities through exchange-traded funds (ETFs). They aren’t as prone to market changes as stocks are but still allow for growth over the years. As you approach your 60s, consider getting half of your investments into securities, like corporate or municipal bonds.

If those kids have flown the coop, this also might be a good time to downsize your home to take advantage of any equity from making those extra payments all your life. A reverse mortgage is not a good way to take advantage of your home’s equity because, like credit cards, you’re spending money you haven’t made yet.

Your 60s — Live it up.

Find a new career that you love for the love of the job. By this time, any money you make will just be the money you throw around for fun, instead of using your savings. Try to stay active, get out, and maybe see some of the world.

MIGHTY HISTORY

One of the closest brushes with nuclear war was Russia vs China

As they’re now America’s two top rivals, it’s easy to forget that China and Russia aren’t allies and actually have decades of regional rivalry and have been at each other’s throats more than once. In fact, in 1970, the Soviet Union started asking around about whether or not anyone would really care if they launched a preemptive nuclear strike against China.


Ya know, for world security and all that.

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China’s first nuclear test in 1964 set off a series of dominoes that almost convinced Russia to nuke it.

(Public domain)

Russia and China try to smooth over their regional troubles in the common interest of trying to constrain America, even when Russia was the Soviet Union and the year was 1950. Russia and China sent pilots to North Korea to help fight American air power, downing and killing U.S. pilots. It was a real high-point for Soviet-Sino Relations.

But at the time, China was basically to the Soviet Union what North Korea is to China today. The Soviet Union was much larger and stronger, and it was embroiled in a battle of superpowers with the U.S. China was welcome on the playground as long as it was playing by the rules and backing up Soviet interests. But China wanted to become a nuclear power just like its big brother.

And so, in 1964, China detonated its first device, becoming the fifth country to become a nuclear power.

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Russian boats try to knock a Chinese man off of his craft in the Wasuli River during the 1969 border clashes between the two countries.

(China Photo Service, CC BY-SA 3.0)

This combined with already simmering tensions over border conflicts and brought the two countries’ relations to a low boil. Their troops fought skirmishes against one another on their shared border while both sides greatly built up their troops and their stockpiles of less-than-nuclear weapons like biological and chemical threats.

In 1969, this grew into the Sino-Soviet border conflict, a seven-month undeclared war between the two sides from March to September of that year. Moscow seemed to hope that internal divisions in China would distract Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi, the top leaders of China’s Communist Party at the time.

Instead, China called international attention to the clashes and stared Russia down. And on Zhenbao Island, Chinese and Russian troops drew serious blood with 58 dead on the Russian side and 29 dead from China. So, that summer, highly placed Soviets, including the son-in-law of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, began telling their counterparts in other nations that it might become necessary to take out China’s growing atomic arsenal by force.

In April they said that, hey, maybe the best way to do that was with surgical nuclear strikes. It was the only way to restore the peace, after all.

China and Russia agreed to bilateral talks in 1970 that eventually restored peace, so it’s possible that this was a bluff from the Soviet leaders. Maybe they believed that the threat of nuclear war could end the border clashes with no need to actually send any missiles or bombers up.

But it’s also quite possible that the threat was real. While we in the West like to think of the Cold War as an all-consuming grapple between America and the Soviet Union, the Soviets were actually holding three times as many military exercises focused on their eastern border with China in the 1960s as they spent practicing for war with the U.S. and Europe.

So, yes, the world’s first nuclear war could’ve been a clash between the Soviet Union and China, but that was thankfully averted. Unfortunately, China watched for weaknesses in the Soviet Union and, as the bloc started to crumble in the late 1980s, China made its move. While the Soviets tried to hold themselves together and America was preoccupied with finishing the fight and planning the post-Soviet world, China began an arms buildup.

And, uh, they’ve gotten stronger now. Including the nukes.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The amazing way this Israeli pilot survived a birdstrike

An Israeli pilot only known as “Lt. H” was flying at a low level near 350 knots in an A-4 Skyhawk one day. He was flying over the desert near the Dead Sea in September 1985. He was flying straight and level when the next thing he knows he is laying on the floor of the valley near where he was previously flying. All he knows is that he has a massive headache and no memory of how he got there.


What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

Eventually, H did remember seeing a small object coming at him at a high speed. As he approached, he instinctively ducked to avoid hitting the object, but to no avail.

“I couldn’t tell what it was,” he told the New York Times. ”As it got closer, instinctively I ducked. That’s all I remember. I woke up on the ground with a parachute around me and my neck broken.”

His command knows exactly what happened – he ran head-on into a migrating flock of birds. One of those birds penetrated the canopy and flew into the cockpit, then hit H in the head, knocking him unconscious. What happened next was nothing short of miraculous.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp

This wasn’t an ordinary bird, it was a Honey Buzzard.

The Israelis found H laying in the desert, as H remembers. But they also found feathers and blood on the helmet of their young IDF lieutenant. They sent the evidence to a lab in Amsterdam to get some answers. That’s how they discovered what kind of bird the Skyhawk hit and how it was able to break into the jet’s canopy. It turns out Israel in the 1980s was smack-dab in the center of a migration corridor for storks, pelicans, and predatory birds like the Honey Buzzard.

It turns out the bird crashed through the front windshield and eventually hit the pilot’s ejection seat lever after knocking him out. Lieutenant H’s parachute opened on its own, and that’s how H ended up on the ground with a headache.

The bird, however, probably went down with the Skyhawk.

Articles

Iran threatened the US Navy again

The crew of a U.S. Navy helicopter reported that the crew of an Iranian vessel pointed a machine gun at them earlier this week.


The incident is the latest in a series of threatening actions by the theocratic regime.

According to a report by FoxNews.com, the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter was vectored in on the small boats after they were attempting to shadow the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). While the helicopter was near the boats, crew members pointed an unidentified machine gun at the helo.

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MH-60R fires a Hellfire missile. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Iran has routinely threatened American ships and aircraft this year. In one incident, the Cyclone-class patrol craft USS Squall (PC 7) fired warning shots at Iranian Boghammer-type small boats.

American and Iranian forces have clashed before, most notably during Operation Praying Mantis in April, 1988. This past January, Iran seized 10 sailors after an engine failure occurred on a riverine boat. A female sailor was recognized for her courageous actions during the incident, which included the detention of the Navy personnel for roughly 15 hours.

The MH-60R is a multi-mission helicopter that operates off surface combatants and carriers. It has a top speed of 180 nautical miles per hour, a crew of three, and can carry Mk 46, Mk 50 or Mk 54 anti-submarine torpedoes or AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. The helicopter can remain aloft for three hours.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp
Iranian fast-attack boats during a naval exercise in 2015. | Wikimedia photo by Sayyed Shahaboddin Vajedi

Iran has a large force of around 180 small patrol boats. Often armed with heavy machine guns and small arms, these vessels were used during the Iran-Iraq War to attack supertankers. The most notorious of these patrol boats was the Boghammer, a Swedish design that can carry .50-caliber machine guns, a ZU-23 twin 23mm AA gun, or a 12-round rocket launcher.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

US Special Forces troops reportedly took part in a previously undisclosed firefight in Niger, two months after a battle that killed four US soldiers in October 2017.


The undisclosed firefight on Dec. 6, 2017, first reported by The New York Times, was between a coalition of US-Nigerien troops and a group believed to have been Islamic State militants.

Also read: This is the general demanding answers for the families of the soldiers who died in Niger

Eleven militants were reportedly killed and no coalition forces were killed or wounded, according to US Africa Command spokeswoman Samantha Reho. She added that two of the militants were wearing suicide vests.

“The purpose of the mission was to set the conditions for future partner-led operations against violent extremist organizations in the region,” Reho said in The Times. “There was no aspect of this mission focused on pursuing enemy militants, and the combined force was postured to respond as necessary in case contact with the enemy occurred.”

But according to an anonymous military official familiar with the incident, the mission was to sweep through a potentially dangerous area so that Nigerien troops would be able to build an outpost.

Though Reho did not disclose why the Defense Department did not notify others of the incident, a House Republican aide told The Times that other lawmakers were notified of the December 2017 attack after it occurred.

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A US Army Special Forces weapons sergeant and a Nigerien soldier. (Photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros)

Lawmakers previously pressured the White House and Pentagon for more information on the circumstances surrounding the ambush in October 2017, after military officials appeared to leave several congressional leaders in the dark.

“That’s not how the system works,” Sen. John McCain of Arizona said to CNN in October 2017. “We’re coequal branches of government. We should be informed at all times.”

The firefight was initially referenced in an unclassified report given to lawmakers this week as part of a broader report on the legality of using military force, according to The Times. The report notes that US-Nigerien troops were attacked “by elements assessed to be part of ISIS,” and that coalition forces “responded with armed force in self-defense.”

More: New photos may show ambushed US troops killed in Niger

US Army Brig. Gen. Donald C. Bolduc, the former commander of US Special Operations in Africa, said that US troops and local training partners were attacked around 10 times from 2015 to 2017, The Times reported. Though enemy combatants were killed in these attacks, no US troops were reportedly killed.

The incident highlights some of the danger in conducting military operations in West Africa, just as military officials aim to curb the number of riskier missions. US Army Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, and Sgt. La David Johnson were killed in October 2017 after they were ambushed by ISIS-affiliated militants.

Articles

SecNav loves Mattis but thinks Congress is right to debate the ‘7 year rule’

The Navy’s top civilian leader told reporters Jan. 11 that while he respects the career and leadership abilities of President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of defense, he thinks Congress should take a hard line on its mandate to keep civilians in charge of the nation’s defense.


What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp
(Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communications Specialist Shawn P. Eklund)

Outgoing Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said Congress had a good reason to require former military leaders be out of uniform for at least seven years before they may take the top leadership positions at the Pentagon — including the roles of secretary of defense and deputy secretary of defense — adding that the time out of uniform had recently been reduced from 10 years.

Trump’s pick to lead the Pentagon, former Marine Gen. James Mattis, retired from the Corps in 2013 after 44 years in the military. His appointment would require a waiver from Congress to skirt the seven-year mandate.

“I have worked very closely with Jim Mattis almost the whole time [in office] and I have an enormous amount of respect for him,” Mabus told defense reporters at a breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C. “I think that civilian control of the military is one of the bedrocks of our democracy and there was a reason that was put in place.”

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Top lawmakers in the Senate held a meeting with experts on military affairs Jan. 10 to debate the restriction, with many arguing the rule should be kept in place but that Mattis’ experience and intellect warrant a one-time waiver.

“I would hesitate to ever say … that there is any indication that dangerous times require a general,” said Kathleen Hicks, a former Pentagon official in the Obama administration, according to the Washington Post. “I don’t think that’s the issue. I think dangerous times require experience and commitment … which I think Gen. Mattis can bring.”

So far one member of the Senate Armed Services Committee has spoken against granting a waiver. New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand has said she’d oppose a waiver and hasn’t “seen the case for why it is so urgently necessary.”

Former Army Gen. George Marshall is the only Pentagon leader to be granted a waiver under the 10-year rule, and he served only one year during the hight of the Korean war.

“It was done for George Marshall but it shouldn’t be done very often,” outgoing SecNav Mabus said. “So I think [Congress] is right to raise that issue.”

“This is nothing to say about Jim Mattis, I think he was a great Marine and a great general officer and a great CoCom,” he added.

Mattis is set for a confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee Jan. 12. Both chambers are expected to vote on a service waiver before Trump’s inauguration Jan. 20.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These Guardian Angels have pulled off over 1,105 rescues

When a teenager became seriously ill on a cruise ship hundreds of miles off the California coast, the call arrived at the 129th Rescue Wing in Silicon Valley. Within hours, the California Air National Guard unit would tally its 1,105th rescue.


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Sailors assigned to the frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG48) help rescue a family with a sick infant in the ship’s small boat as part of a joint U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and California Air National Guard effort in the Pacific Ocean, April 6, 2014. The family and four Air National Guard pararescuemen were safely moved from the sailboat to Vandegrift, which then transited to San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo)

From their Moffett Federal Airfield home in Mountain View, Calif., the 129th’s rescue squadrons operate the MC-130P Combat Shadow airplane and the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter. When paired with airmen highly-skilled in medical trauma and airborne ops — pararescuemen (fondly referred to as PJs) and combat rescue officers — these squadrons form “Guardian Angel” teams for peacetime or combat rescue at sea or on land.

Peacetime rescues, such as in remote mountainous terrain or vessels in treacherous sea conditions, can be just as high-risk as those in combat zones. Guardian Angel teams can venture 1,000 miles or more into the Pacific, rescues that require multiple aerial refuelings for helicopters and over-the-water parachute jumps into the Pacific to reach victims or stricken vessels.

That was the case in 2014, when Guardian Angels with the 129th were dispatched to rescue a 1-year-old toddler ill at sea; the child was on a 36-foot family sailboat that was sinking 900 miles west of the coast of Mexico due to damaged steering controls. PJs parachuted from an MC-130p turboprop with a raft they used to reach the sailboat.

What 24 hours is really like for recruits at US Marine Corps boot camp
A Guardian Angel pararescueman from the 131st Rescue Squadron, prepare a litter carrying a civilian patient to be hoisted onto an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter during an over water rescue mission, Jan. 17, 2017. California Air National guardsmen from the 129th Rescue Wing performed a personnel recovery mission of the seriously ill 14-year-old boy on board a cruise liner, the STAR PRINCESS, approximately 450 miles off the coast of San Diego, California. (Courtesy photo by Lt. Col Kathryn Hodge)

The Navy joined in the mission, sending the USS Vandegrift to intercept the team, bring the toddler and her family to its medical department, and tow the sailboat to San Diego. The PJs got a ride back to shore, too.

The latest mission this week also was a rescue on the high seas. A 14-year-old passenger on the cruise ship Star Princess reportedly suffered seizures and required immediate but higher-level medical care. The ship was 450 miles off the coast.

The Coast Guard and the Air Force coordinated the rescue, sending two of the wing’s Pave Hawk helicopters — each with a two-person Guardian Angel team — to the cruise ship. But the long distance required those helicopters get refueled en route. A KC-130J Hercules refueler with the San Diego-based Marine Aerial Refueling Transport Squadron 352 launched from Miramar Marine Corps Air Station.

“What it takes to coordinate something like this is a massive undertaking, and it has to be done safely. Literally hundreds of people are involved,” Lt. Col. Kathryn Hodge, the mission medical director and flight surgeon, who flew on the mission, said in the news story.

When the Pave Hawks reached the cruise ship, the Guardian Angel PJs hoisted down to the deck, stabilized the teen, and hauled themselves back into the helicopter, along with the teen’s father. With refueling support from an MC-130P for the return flight, the rescue helicopter and team took the patient to Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego.

“It’s always good and you feel really rewarded at the end of the day. But that’s not why we do it. We do it so that others may live and to save lives however we can,” Master Sgt. Sean Kirsch, a PJ, said in the statement. “When you bring a 14-year-old American boy home to receive better medical care and he makes it there and he’s in stable shape or better than we you pick him up, is pretty rewarding.”

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An HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter from the 129th Rescue Wing hovers over the Chinese fishing vessel Fu Yuan Yu #871, March 12, 2012. Guardian Angel Pararescuemen from the wing rescued two fishermen who were burned in a diesel fire onboard the vessel more than 700 miles off the coast of Acapulco, Mexico. (Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class John Pharr)

The 129th Rescue Wing took on the rescue mission in 1975. In September 2008, the 129th Wing was credited with rescuing 34 people (and 11 dogs) after Hurricane Ike struck the Gulf Coast. The following year, during a combat deployment to southern Afghanistan, the wing tallied more than 180 lives saved.

While its location, aircraft, and higher commands changed over the years, the 129th has maintained its role in rescue and personnel recovery for both state and federal missions.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia wants its flag to be raised at a consulate it doesn’t run

The Russian Embassy in Washington has demanded that a flag removed from the now-closed Russian Consulate in Seattle be put back.

The embassy claims that the U.S. removal of the flag “under the cloak of night” in late April 2018, violated international law and was “unacceptable treatment” of the Russian national symbol.


But U.S. State Department officials countered on May 2, 2018, that the Russian flag was lowered “respectfully” from the Seattle consul-general’s residence after it was vacated in April 2018, under orders from the department.

While the Russian Embassy said the mansion is still its property and the flag should still be flying there, the department countered that the house was built on U.S. government-owned land.

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The building that housed the Russian Consulate in Seattle.

The State Department said it asked Russian consulate personnel to take the flag down themselves before they vacated the premises.

U.S. officials say that U.S. diplomats took down an American flag flying at the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg with a brief ceremony when they were similarly ordered to leave by Moscow.

“Since the Russians chose not to treat their own flag with such respect, we have done so for them,” the department said, adding that it will return the flag removed in Seattle to the Russian Embassy.

The Seattle Consulate was shut down in response to allegations that the Russian government poisoned a former Russian spy living in the United Kingdom with a nerve-agent in March 2018.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.