Here's what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

 


Here was my experience at Marine Corps Boot Camp in San Diego, California.

As has been said there is no way to describe boot camp or even the Marine Corps accurately enough to really make them feel what it is like. But, I will give it a shot. I began writing this and realized it was turning into a short story, so I will shorten it to the first 36 hours of boot camp, and it will give you some idea of how it is in boot camp.

Boot camp is the time when a teen, or young adult, is taken and slapped in one of the worst places to be. That kid is broken down to that of a whimpering boy, then rebuilt into what the Marine Corps wants in its warriors.

The first time I asked myself “what am I doing here?” was basically my first run in with a drill instructor. This was at the USO in San Diego’s Airport, yep that’s right an airport. All recruits are flown to the airport and staged in the USO, effectively out of ear shot, or sight from the flying passengers. Everyone there is basically thinking the same thing, holy crap what is about to happen! There will be people there who pretend to act calm and collected, that’s fake. Everyone is terrified, and waiting for that minute to get there. They told you the time, I assume to mess with your head! 7:25 p.m. I will never forget it.

So, there I was, 17 years old, one month out of high school, sitting on the couch watching T.V. I have no idea what was on because that wasn’t what I was worried about. There were other soon to be recruits playing pool, drinking soda, eating the free food that was given. All of the workers at the USO had a look of “oh honey, you are about to have a bad three months.”

 

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis/USMC

7:25 p.m. on the dot I heard, “Everyone going to MCRD get on your feet and get outside!” Not a scream, but just enough fire to make your heart race. I jumped up, and saw the drill instructor, about 6 feet tall, service charlie uniform perfect to every thread, that iconic campaign cover aka. smokey bear, and wouldn’t you know it, an eye patch! This dude was scary.

I ran outside as the Drill Instructor (DI) signed the paper work for the USO. We were all just standing around with no direction, or any idea of where or what to do. Then there was that voice again, “Get in a single file line at the side of the bus, have your SRB (service record book) ready to give me when you get on, do you understand?!” There were a lot of reserved “yes sir’s,” some said nothing, other’s snickered. “THE CORRECT RESPONSE IS YES SIR, DO YOU UNDERSTAND!” This time we all said it!

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Photo: Lance Cpl. Rodion Zabolotniy/USMC

As I stood in line something caught my attention to my right (at this point any Marine reading this is probably saying don’t do it man, don’t do it), but I looked over to see what it was, and quickly looked forward. “HEAD AND EYE BALLS TO THE FRONT!” I said nothing, because I didn’t know he was talking to me.

Side note: Every single person who goes through boot camp is, at some point, a blubbering idiot. All common sense leaves!

“YOU, OPEN YOUR MOUTH!” Still I said nothing, and now he was approaching. This was about to be my first, to put it into Marine jargon, ass chewing of my new career.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

The DI was directly in front of me, slightly at a 45 degree angle, seeing as there was another recruit in front of me. “I GUESS I DON’T RATE A RESPONSE, IS THAT RIGHT RECRUIT!” Then I looked at him, you are taught to look at anyone who is speaking to you, in boot camp this is suicide. As I looked I answered with a “nyes sir” Yep, a no and a yes combined so elegantly into recruit words. “I GUESS I SAID LOOK AT ME RIGHT, KEEP YOUR HEAD AND EYE BALLS FRONT, AYE AYE SIR!” DI’s would sometimes give you the correct response at the end of their belittlements. So I shouted “Aye aye sir.”

Finally on the bus were we could take a simple breath, still too petrified to look anywhere but forward, my eyes burning from fear of closing them. “PUT YOUR HEAD IN YOUR LAPS!” We did without saying a word. “THAT RATES A RESPONSE, AYE AYE SIR!” We all shouted “aye aye sir” as we kept our heads in our laps.

“You will keep your heads in your laps until you are told otherwise, do you understand?” “Yes sir” we all shouted. The bus started driving to our new home, MCRD San Diego, California. The drive was probably only about 5 minutes, seeing as the airport is literally attached to MCRD. Not one person dared raise their head in defiance, even though the DI wasn’t on the bus with us, we wouldn’t even chance it.

The bus stops, and the air being released from the brakes was almost deafening. My senses were all in over drive, my body telling me to get the hell out of there. There was a squeak from the door and footsteps up the ramp. “EYEBALLS!” This was the command given to recruits that instructed them to look at the DI. We all somehow figured that out without any prior knowledge because we all looked. This started the phase known as receiving.

Receiving:

“You will stand up and quickly exit the bus, you will find yellow footprints on the pavement outside, you will fall in on those footprints from front to back, you will do this as fast as humanly possible, DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME!”

“YES SIR!”

“GET OFF MY BUS!”

The iconic yellow footprints, you hear about these things in tales of the past, this is the same spot where every Marine has stood. You never knew if you were standing on the same prints as any of the hero’s of old. Perhaps these belonged to a Medal of Honor recipient. You are told so much about these footprints that you expect you will be on them for three months. NOPE!

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Photo: Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple/USMC

As soon as every recruit was on the foot prints we were taught the position of attention. Once that was accomplished we were gone. After being taught Article 86 of the UCMJ, dealing with hazing, we were off into the building. We had numbers written on our arms, our head was shaved, any and all personal belongings were taken, excluding money, credit cards, IDs, etc., we were issued our gear, and our identities were effectively removed. From this point on I was recruit Evans, the lowest of the low. There wasn’t one thing on the planet that I was above. Trash was more important than me, or so this is what they make you believe. We were turned over to our receiving DI’s, these would not be our permanent ones of course, that is later.

The first 36 hours are the worst, well the worst part of receiving, because you don’t sleep, and are herded around so quickly you don’t have time to even think. From line to line, desk to desk, room to room, the DI’s had us processed in every system, on every piece of paper, and in every way attached to the United States Marine Corps. By hour 30 I was closing my eyes just to wish I could sleep, but I was standing most of the time. You dare not fall asleep. I guess the recruit next to me didn’t get that memo because he fell asleep, while standing, fell over, and didn’t wake up until he hit the ground. I didn’t even know that was possible.

Finally, FINALLY a bed. In the deep recesses of MCRD, in squad bays that looked, and probably were, condemned. This was the time when you go to sleep and think, tomorrow will be better. It can’t be this bad the whole time.

The next morning, Wednesday, we were awaken in a very peaceful way, by our drill instructor throwing metal trashcans, shaking the beds, screaming things I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy, and banging anything that made noise. It was 3 a.m. or at least that is what I assume because we didn’t have watches, and I felt as though I had slept for about an hour. We got dressed as quickly as possible in the very noticeable attire of a Marine Corp recruit.

Basically it is hell, and anyone who says it isn’t or wasn’t is lying. Or just had a really easy time in boot camp. Also, anyone who says that they couldn’t do boot camp because they would just laugh at the DI’s yelling at them is ignorant in every way. These are US Marines who are trained to destroy your soul. We had a couple of those people in my platoon, they didn’t last long with their laughing. Only a drill instructor can make holding a pen the worst experience of your life.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis

 

To give some examples of life in boot camp I will list a few of my experiences.

– My shortest shower was 4 seconds long. Impossible? DI’s made it work.

– House turnover . . . I just cried a little. Imagine someone coming into your house with the soul intention of destroying it completely. This means taking clothes and putting them in the shower, moving 100 pound bunk beds from one side of the room to the other (the room being big enough to hold 130 recruits), pouring anything and everything they want on any clothing or gear, throwing everything in every drawer or cabinet anywhere they wish, pouring soap, detergent, or anything else they could get their hands on all over the place. Just imagine walking into that mess. Now, imagine someone forcing you to do it all the while screaming at you, then imagine having to clean that up.

I lost things I never got back, I had someone else’s shoes for the remainder of boot camp. It was a mess. Thankfully this only happened only 3 times.

– Pushing the Nile:

My DI came up with this one. There were two rooms: The squad bay, and the head (bathroom). No door separated the two rooms, just a 6 foot wide opening. The tiles on the bathroom floor were different from the cement on the squad bay floor. In the bathroom there were two nozzles on which hoses could be attached. Why? I HAVE NO IDEA! The DI would turn the nozzles on and pour buckets of dirt on the floor. The recruits job? Never allow the water or dirt to touch the squad bay floor.

 

– My shortest meal was on graduation day; I sat in my chair, and got back up immediately. That was the meal.

– How many people do you think can fit in one standard Porta-John, now imagine how many can fit wearing a flak-jacket, and a kevlar helmet? Got your number? Our DI accomplished 9. He once made a platoon of 89 recruits disappear in 10 porta-johns.

Now, this may all sound harsh and unnecessary, but I wouldn’t have had it a different way. It teaches you more than you can imagine. Including showing you that your limits are in your mind. There are tons of experiences any Marine can offer, but as I said it is impossible to know what it is like unless you live it.

Military Life

6 ways troops deal with hangovers and still make it PT

It’s no secret that troops and alcohol go together like a fine whiskey does with a couple of ice cubes. That’s why it’s not uncommon to hear troops talk about drinking heavily on a work night, even when they know they’re about to PT their asses off in just a few hours.


There’s no magical cure to being drunk. No matter the remedy or superstition, whether it’s drinking coffee or taking a hot shower, nothing can immediately sober someone up — only time and a good night’s rest can do that. But there are ways troops can take the sting out of nature’s reminder that alcohol is, technically, a poison and function at the level required by Uncle Sam.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Everyone wants to get swoll but forgets that cardio helps you drink more. Don’t forget to balance the two.
(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Redman)

 

Get fit

How alcohol is handled by the human body depends greatly on a person’s body type. The larger the person, the less of an effect each drop of alcohol has. The metabolism of a person also determines how quickly the alcohol is cleared through the body. This is exactly why extremely big and fit people, like Andre the Giant, can drink 152 beers in a single sitting and function relatively well the following day.

You, probably, aren’t as massive as he was, but you can still boost your metabolism through rigorous exercise.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Don’t be that idiot who puts alcohol in their Camelback. You need actual water and the alcohol will eat through the plastic lining.
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Gloria Lepko)

 

Hydrate the night before

To understand why everything hurts in the morning, let’s take a look at exactly what’s happening to your body when you’re hungover. In actuality, it’s the same sensation as doing some extreme training in a hot climate: It’s a bad case of self-inflicted dehydration.

Take a tip from your medic or corpsman and take in plenty of regular, old water before the night begins. It should go without saying, but you should be a one or a two on the pee chart before things get crazy.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Which shouldn’t be an issue because they’ll probably be on their way to PT and not stopping by Burger King.
(Photo by Patrick Buffett)

 

Eat a big meal beforehand

As we said, dehydration is the leading reason why hangovers suck. We can continue to mitigate this by making sure our bodies retain as many fluids as possible throughout the night.

Greasy foods with high sodium are common go-tos among troops. While these might not be healthy choices in general, the fats and grease line the stomach, decreasing the amount of alcohol absorbed into the bloodstream.

It should be noted, however, that greasy foods are terrible after someone is hungover because the body will reject it, making nausea worse.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
If you cut it with a bottle of Gatorade or something, it will go down a lot smoother. But seriously, this stuff tastes like ass.
(Courtesy Photo)

 

Hydration solution formulas

Since hangovers are literally just terrible cases of dehydration, it makes sense that products designed for re-hydration are helpful choices. There aren’t many options for name-brand hydration solution formulas, but if you go into the baby-food aisle at most stores, you’ll find something like Pedialyte.

Yes, it’s technically baby formula. Yes, it’s designed for children with stomach and bowel sicknesses. And yes, it’s going to taste like crap. But if you want a quick hit of electrolytes to help you function as an adult, just drink the damn baby formula.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
They got pills back there in the Aid Station for every situation and ailment and yet the only thing they give us is Motrin… Just saying…
(Photo by Charles Haymond)

 

Motrin and water

If you really want to hear what your medic has to say, give ’em a visit. They may hook you up with a saline bag (to quickly replenish your fluids and keep ’em in there) or they’ll just toss you some Motrin and tell you to go away.

Now, the Ibuprofen isn’t going to cure your hangover, but it’s going to lessen the symptoms until your body can handle itself. The water, however, is actually going to help, so drink up. You’ll need it if you’re already dehydrated before a big run.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
The world doesn’t give a damn if you’re in pain during PT. So, neither should you.
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Samantha Villarreal)

 

Suck it up, buttercup

If you really want to know how your crusty ol’ first sergeant handledtheir alcohol back duringtheir barracksdays —they just stop caring and moved through the pain.

Being hungover doesn’teven makethe list of the top 10 thingsthat bothera senior NCO. They’ve pushed their bodies to the limit for God-knows-how-many years and they seem to be doing just fine. At the end of the day,they know that complaining about it doesn’t make it anybetter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

7 signs that a veteran’s story is ‘totally legit’

Since ancient times, warriors have gathered around the fire to recall battles fought with comrades over flagons of strong ale. Today, we keep this same tradition — except the storytelling usually happens in a smoke pit or dingy bar.

If you’ve been part of one of these age-old circles, then you know there’s a specific set of mannerisms that’s shared by service members, from NCOs to junior enlisted. The way veterans tell their stories is a time-honored tradition that’s more important than the little details therein — and whether those details are true or not. Not every piece of a veteran’s tale is guaranteed to be accurate, but the following attributes will tell you that it’s legit enough.


Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

Just hear them out. Either out of politeness or apathy — your choice.

Beginning the story with “No sh*t, there I was…”

No good story begins without this phrase. It draws the reader in and prepares them to accept the implausible. How else are you going to believe their story about their reasonably flimsy military vehicle rolling over?

It’s become so much of an on-running trope in veteran storytelling that it’s basically our version of “once upon a time.”

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

But sometimes, you just have to tell the new guy that everything they just signed up for f*cking sucks.

Going into extreme (and pointless) detail

Whenever a veteran begins story time for a civilian, they’ll recall the little details about where they were deployed, like the heat and the smell.

Now, we’re not saying these facts are completely irrelevant, but the stage-setting can get a bit gratuitous.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

If your story is about your time as a boot, everyone will just believe you… likely because your story is too boring to fact check.

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

Constantly reminding the listener that they can look it up

The military has paperwork for literally everything. Let’s say you’re telling the story of how you were the platoon guidon bearer back in basic training. If you tried hard enough, you could probably find a document somewhere to back that statement up.

As outlandish as some claims may be, nobody is actually to put in the work to fact-check a story — especially when you’re just drinking beers at the bar.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

Maybe it was because I was boring, but I never understood why people felt the need to go overboard with hiding people in the trunk. Just say, “they left their ID in the barracks.”

(Photo by Senior Airman Ryan Zeski)

Citing someone that may or may not exist as a source

Among troops and veterans, it’s easy for most of us forget that people also have first names. This is why so many of our stories refer to someone named of ‘Johnson,’ ‘Brown,’ or ‘Smith.’ It’s up to you whether you want to believe this person actually exists.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

If they start getting into the stories that will make grandma blush, fewer nudges are required.

(U.S. Army photo)

Tapping the listener’s arm if they lose interest

Military stories tend to drag on forever. Now, this isn’t because they’re boring, but rather because the storyteller vividly remembers nearly every detail.

Sometimes, those telling the story feel the need to check in on the listener to make they’re absorbing it all. Most vets do with this a little nudge.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

Basically how it works.

(Comic by Broken and Unreadable)

Filling in the blanks with “because, you know… Army”

It’s hard to nail down every minute detail of military culture, like how 15 minute priors really work.

Some things can only be explained with a hand wave and a simple, “because, you know, that’s how it was in the service.”

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

Or they could just be full of sh*t. But who cares? If it’s a fun story, it’s a fun story.

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Finishing the story in a way that fosters one-upsmanship

Veterans’ stories aren’t intended to over-glorify past actions — even if that’s how it sounds to listeners. Generations upon generations of squads have told military stories as a way of a team-building, not as a way for one person to win a non-existent p*ssing contest.

Whether the storyteller knows it or not, they often finish up a tale by signaling to the listener that it’s now their turn to tell an even better story. Just like their squad leader did for them all those years ago.

popular

5 reasons your troops are more important than promotion

If there’s one complaint common across the military, it’s that commanders too often care more about their careers than the well-being of their troops. It’s problematic when higher-ups are willing to put lower enlisted through hell if it means they look good at the end of the day.


Troops are quick to recognize this behavior but, unfortunately, commanders don’t see it in themselves or they just don’t care. There are plenty of cases, though, in which a leader will stick their neck out for the sake of their subordinates at the risk of their own career — because they understand what it means to be a leader.

This doesn’t mean you should be soft. It means that you should think about being in your troops’ shoes and understand the sheer magnitude of unnecessary bullsh*t they go through.

Here’s why leaders need to care more about their troops and less about their promotion.

They’re essentially your children

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Tough love without the love is tough. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos)

No one like to feel unwanted — and that’s exactly what it feels like to have a commander who cares more about their career. It just results in unnecessary misery across the board.

Troops respond to care with motivation

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
They’ll even charge into battle behind you. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ally Beiswanger)

As previously mentioned, troops know when you’re only after a promotion. Once they pick up on it, they’re going to be reluctant to follow you anywhere. When it becomes clear that you do care, it motivates them to want to work for you. When your troops are motivated, they’ll follow you anywhere.

You gain more respect

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Respect is a two-way street. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Pete Thibodeau)

If you rely on your rank to get your respect, you’re going to have a bad time. Your goal as a leader should be to earn the respect of your subordinates by being the commander who gives a sh*t.

Here’s a tip: if a troop comes to you with a problem that doesn’t need to be reported to someone above you, handle it in-house. Your goal should be to do everything you can to avoid having your troops crucified if they don’t deserve it.

They’ll follow the rules

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Maybe your sign will look less and less like this over time. (Terminal Lance)

This may not always be true but when troops respect you, they’ll go out of their way to make sure you look good because they want you to succeed and climb through the ranks. After all, kids want to impress their parents by doing good things.

They’ll understand when they have to do something stupid

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
They’ll be happy to do things like this for you, but only after you earn respect… (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alejandro Pena)

If your troops know you’re the type who won’t ask them to needlessly do stupid tasks, they won’t blame you when you have to. Instead, they’ll blame someone above you for giving you such a task to pass down and understand that you aren’t trying to make their lives miserable.

In fact, they may even start to take initiative for minor tasks so you won’t have to ask them to do it.

MIGHTY TRENDING

4 ways airmen party while deployed to Afghanistan

Whether you’re on a small FOB — let’s face it, most airmen won’t be here — or a military base, Afghanistan deployments can either be the most boring or a little bit exciting, depending on how you play your cards. Okay, fine — it’s going to be a little boring no matter what.


Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
That reminds me, you will probably play a lot of cards.

Yes, deployments are most often filled with binge-watching TV on time off or working out multiple times a day, but these are some tips that can make time in the sandbox a little more exciting.

That is, if you can get away with them and not get an Article 15 or court-martial.

4. Alcohol in mouthwash bottles.

Everyone knows that drinking while deployed is against general orders — meaning this you could get in heaps of trouble if you’re dumb and get sh*t-faced. Tip: Don’t be dumb.

It’s easy to get alcohol into Afghanistan if you utilize everyday items to smuggle it in and send it through regular mail. Just don’t go around swigging out of the mouthwash bottle or else someone is going to figure out what’s up.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
It’s not just for cruise ships and prisons anymore!

And if you’re going to share, make sure the ones you share with don’t f*ck it up by opening their mouths to supervisors.

3. Befriend a loadmaster.

Okay, okay — this might only work if you have access to a loadmaster or if you work near the flightline, but networking saves the day in dire times.

Make friends with a loadmaster — or heck, even a pilot — and they’ll willingly bring you back anything you want from wherever they go, probably for a price. Obviously, you’ll pay the price of whatever they bring back, but you might find yourself owing them a favor later (No, not that kind of favor, sicko. Just be willing to help them when they need it).

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Spot the contraband in this photo. (Hint: It’s green). (U.S. Air Force photo)

2. Hang with the foreign military.

Any chance you can spend time with military personnel from different countries, do it. New Zealand is particularly delightful because they can drink on deployment and their accents are easy on the ears (ladies).

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
If David Boreanaz were in a military, he would join the New Zealand Air Force and fit right in. Just sayin’.

Besides the allure of alcohol and the accents, getting to know others from other countries just opens up new lines of communication, and meeting people kills time. You might also end up with some cool challenge-coin swag and squadron T-shirts by the end of deployment.

1. Last Resort: O’Doul’s at the BX and binge watch TV shows.

If you’re not daring enough to do any of the above for fear of a court-martial or an Article 15, stick with a couple of O’Doul’s non-alcoholic beers and watch movies on your laptop or smartphone. The Air Force Exchanges are notorious for selling almost anything you can get at a Walmart, so go wild, go crazy, and buy some fake beer.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
The only acceptable surrender.

It might sound boring and pointless, but at least there are no general orders being broken. So, airman, crack open that O’Doul’s and re-watch Dexter for the third time, because that might be as good as it’s going to get.

Military Life

The origin of the ‘best’ rank in the Marines (Lance Corporal)

Insane work environments, low-income housing, cafeteria food, and a general tone of condescension from leadership, combined with big personalities from all over the United States and beyond, have produced the “best” rank in the Marines — the lance corporal.


Also known as “third from the bottom,” lance corporal is one of the most common ranks in the Marine Corps. Despite the number of Marines who have received this humble endowment, the lance corporal is often called the “best” rank by those who have served in the Corps.

The origin of the rank’s title is both French and Italian and roughly translates to “one who has broken a lance in combat” and “leader.”

Related: 5 reasons veterans love the Terminal Lance perspective

Today, this would be similar to calling a Marine salty. The rank spawned from a need to establish small-unit leadership on the ground. Lance Corporal, as a rank, was used in medieval Europe for the same purpose. When one became a Corporal, they would receive their own horse and lance with which to ride into battle.

 

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
A U.S. Marine Corps lance corporal, right, addresses guests during the Evening Parade reception at the Home of the Commandants in Washington, D.C., May 24, 2013. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Adrian R. Rowan)

The horse became a symbol of rank, but if the horse died and the soldier was grounded, what was there to separate them from the rest? Thus, lance corporal was established to distinguish corporals on the ground by giving them a lance.

In the U.S. Marine Corps, lance corporal didn’t officially become a rank until 1958, when Congress amended the Career Compensation Act of 1949. However, the rank has a much longer history than that. In the 1830’s, Lance Cpl. was used as a billet title for Marines that were on track to become corporal.

It wasn’t until the rank of private first class was established in 1917 that Lance Cpl. was almost totally removed from Marine rank structure. The U.S. Secretary of the Navy and Commandant of the Marine Corps, at the time, felt that the rank of Pfc. ended the usefulness of Lance Cpl., although the rank dies hard, and one writer on Marine Corps tradition asserts that privates were being detailed as lance corporals as recently as 1937.

Despite its turbulent past, the rank has been immortalized not only by heroic actions but also by the ridiculous conduct of Marines who wear its chevron with crossed rifles. Make no mistake — there is a reputation that goes along with this rank, and it has many sides.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Marine lance corporal service alpha dress chevrons.

Yes, it is the senior-junior rank, yes, many great leaders bear the mosquito wings with honor, however, the rank is also synonymous with those who will do anything to get out of a working party. They’re also the one ones who have the best liberty stories, barracks room socials, and an endless stream of comments ridiculing anything the Corps can come up with.

Every Marine who served as a Lance has stories detailing the debauchery consistent with the rank, and if they didn’t serve in the rank, like an officer, they have stories of a young Lance Criminal acting accordingly.

Lance Corporal is considered the best because of the distribution of responsibility amongst its ranks.

Also Read: What it’s like having a submarine crash into your ship

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Living Marine legend Kyle Carpenter wears the rank of lance corporal.

When you wear the rank, you are among the highest density of eligible working party Marines, creating an environment primed for skating. It is here that legends are born. These legends range in notoriety from the heroic medal of honor recipients to hilarious battalion level shit-baggery. One of them has even become a dark lord of the Star Wars universe.

Only those who have served in the USMC will ever really know just how much of an impact a Marine Lance Cpl. can have with the proper amount of motivation and creativity, and it is in the name of those hard chargers that we honor the history of the Corps’ best rank.

For more reference, check out the Terminal Lance comics by Maximilian Uriarte, a former Marine Lance who has been chronicling the mind and spirit of the USMC E-3 in the most comprehensive way (comic strips) for years.

Military Life

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit

Getting assigned to your first unit or transferring to a new unit can be exciting…and unnerving. You want to make a good impression and quickly find your role on the new team, but you know being too much too soon can give off a bad vibe. 

First impressions matter, but what matters more is the impression others have of you after your first four to eight weeks. This is the time when you move beyond pleasantries and others will truly see who you are and what you’re like. That’s why if you follow the 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit, you’ll set yourself up for long-term success.

new unit commaraderie

1) Don’t talk.

When you join a new unit, it’s important to remember others might be skeptical of you and they might not trust you. It has been their unit for some time, and you’re the newbie. You’ll want to lay low when you start out. Keep your opinions about what the unit should be doing to yourself and don’t engage in conversations about controversial issues like politics or religion. Eventually, your unit members will become more comfortable with you, trust you and ask for your opinions. That’s the point when you have the willingness of your teammates to be open to what you think.

2) Listen.

While you’re doing a good job keeping your mouth shut, open your ears. As the new unit member, you’ve got a lot to learn, and the only way you can learn by listening. Pay attention and listen to everything and everyone you can—briefings, presentations, off-hand conversations with other unit members, etc. After a while, you’ll get a good sense of how the unit works, who the influencers are and how to get things done.

3) Meet as many people as you can.

Once you report to your unit, you’ll obviously meet with your unit leadership, but make sure you also schedule check-ins with personnel, operations, logistics, plans, communications, training, finance and any other support functions your unit or command has. While it might not be required, it’s a good practice because developing good relationships with officers and enlisted in those functions can help you get things done in the future. 

It might be hard to keep track of everyone you meet, so keep notes of who they are and the roles they play. Doing so might be impressive to others and help you build good will early on. 

4) Don’t cause any problems.

The last thing you want to do as the newbie to a unit is cause a problem, big or small. Obviously don’t be the one missing your Reveille or muster time, but also don’t be the one leaving dishes in a kitchen sink or leaving extra copies of your documents on a printer. Those little things will be noticed by other unit members and will make it more difficult for you to assimilate with your new group. Remember that the quicker you learn and follow the unit’s unwritten rules, the faster you’ll become one of the team.

In the end, it’s important to prioritize your long-term role in your unit. You can be known as the thoughtful, hard-working, reliable and strategic-thinking teammate, or you can be known as the one who causes problems, talks too much and doesn’t listen. By following these unwritten rules of joining a new unit, your choice will be obvious.

Military Life

The ultra-rare Marine Corps uniform accessory you may never see

From the point of view of an airman who (in the right town) could be mistaken for a Coastie while wearing my dress blues, I have to say: Marine Dress uniforms have no equal. I totally get why people join the Marines just for the dress blues.


After a few years in the military and a few years in military-oriented media, I thought I had seen every uniform there was. That’s when I saw this guy:

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Why is this Marine dressed like a magician?

This was surprising to me because I continually make fun of the movie Basic for depicting Samuel L. Jackson’s Army character wearing a cape. But I wasn’t the only one who was perplexed by this. In 2016, a Quora user asked Marines what that cape was.

For those not in the know, the Marines in the top photo are “pretty much wearing the same mess dress uniform” and the cape is a somewhat antiquated, but still on the books, accessory: the Boat Cloak.

Boat Cloaks are a made-to-order item that can cost upward of $1,000 at the NEX/MCX. One former Master Gunnery Sergeant recalled seeing one worn by a Chief Warrant Officer 5 at a Marine Corps ball. The Master Guns described the look as “magnificent.”

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Army capes: not magnificent. Also, not a thing.

It’s difficult to find exact regulations for the Boat Cloak, but it looks like there are different versions for the Senior NCOs and Officers. As of 1937, it was still a required item for officers.

Get your Boat Cloak at the Marine Shop for $650.00. If you wear one to any mess dress-level function, please send photos to We Are The Mighty.

Military Life

3 myths about females in combat positions, dispelled

Women have always been present in war, whether it be as nurses tending to the wounded or in other career fields not typically exposed to combat. The truth is, even women who are not designated in combat positions still experience run-ins with enemy fire and combat situations and continue to do their jobs.


The recent lifting of the restriction that kept women out of combat positions stirred a flurry of controversy. Even still, some wonder if this was the best choice for the military because of the “myths” that have surrounded women and their military service.

Let’s dispel a few of those myths.

3. Myth: Women are too nurturing to pull the trigger.

Yes, women have children, and yes, women often are nurturing, but saying a woman wouldn’t pull the trigger to save herself and her fellow service members just because it’s not thought to be in “her nature,” is obviously false. Women who choose to be in the military and sign up for a combat position know what’s at stake and are aware they’re not out there to play house or coddle babies.

Although you may not think of your mother going out and kicking some ass on the front line, there are women out there who would love to take a stab at it (literally). That’s why the military decided to allow women to choose if they think they have the ability to fight alongside their male counterparts in combat.

Not every woman has children but, even if motherhood instills a nurturing disposition, you can bet that it only would further drive a woman to accomplish the mission and destroy whatever lies in her path to keep her children, and her team for that matter, safe.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Do animals coddle enemies trying to attack their family? Think about that.

2. Myth: Women are not strong enough.

Long before the U.S. military allowed women to enter career fields other than nursing, there was a stigma centered on females’ physical capabilities. To date, standards in every military branch are separated and women’s qualifications on PT tests are lower than men’s.

But just because women perform their PT tests at a lower standard than men doesn’t mean that some women have not exceeded the minimum, and even surpassed men in their ability.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Or literally carried them. (U.S. Army photo)

Combat position requirements will not be lowered for women but that doesn’t mean some can’t rise to the challenge. The women who have broken the stigma of weakness by meeting the physical qualifications of combat positions led the way for others to break free and challenge themselves.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
All the way. (U.S. Army photo)

1. Myth: PMS will get in the way of completing duties

The biggest myth is about the mood swings that spring out of the blue, making the work environment tense. If this is the case, then every workplace in the U.S. is always tense because women work everywhere and, surprisingly, still do their jobs — and do them well.

When it comes down to it, women know being in the military is not about being pretty, smelling nice, or letting emotions go wild on those around them. How do you think women in the military are doing their jobs right now? Women are professionals and can handle day-to-day stressors and the deployment conditions just like men. PMS is more of an issue for some of the men in the military than the women who serve.

Recently, a survey taken by SOCOM on the opinion of male special-ops personnel included statements such as, “I think PMS is terrible, possibly the worst. I cannot stand my wife for about a week out of every month. I like that I can come to work and not have to deal with that (E-6, SWCC).”

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
PMS: Worse than ISIS.

Apparently, women are men’s worst nightmares during PMS.

Military Life

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton

Every week, new service members report for duty at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton located in Southern California. There, they’ll undergo some intense training — but they’ll also have some time off. So, the boots will often ask others what fun stuff is nearby.

You might get a few good suggestions but, for the most part, it’s tough for a newbie to travel around without spending a sh*t ton of cash. So, if you’re “ballin’ on a budget,” we’ve come up with a few places you can visit while on liberty that won’t bleed your wallet dry.


Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
The ferris wheel and ice rink located near the heart of Irvine Spectrum.

 

Irvine Spectrum

Located in Irvine, this outdoor mall contains of plenty of excellent restaurants, a state-of-the-art movie theater, and a Dave and Busters to help you hone your gaming skills. Just north of Camp Pendleton, the large shopping center has enough to keep you entertained for hours.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Welcome to the laid-back OC Tavern

 

OC Tavern

Ready for some excellent fish tacos? Well, OC Tavern has great ones alongside a full bar to get you smashed — if you’re of age, of course. This place hosts concerts, has a cigar lounge, and is a great place to play billiards. Since it’s located just a few minutes north of Camp Pendleton, it’s an easy spot to reach on a Friday or Saturday night.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
The Kaleidoscope. They have girls at the gym!

 

The Kaleidoscope

Located in Mission Viejo, this shopping and entertainment area is close to Camp Pendleton and features a Buffalo Wild Wings, a solid movie solid theater, and a gym where real girls go — as opposed to the male-dominated Marine gyms.

Since it’s closer than Irvine Spectrum, the Uber ride will be cheap, which is perfect for junior enlisted who don’t make a lot of cash.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Chill out and have a good time at Goody’s Tavern.

 

Goody’s Tavern

Located just north of Camp Pendleton, Goody’s Tavern is a chill place for great drinks and entertainment. You’ll run into tons of Marines here, so you know you’ll be in good company.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Members of the Western Army Infantry Regiment, Japan Ground Self Defense Force, and Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit play a game of football on the Del Mar Beach at the conclusion of Exercise Iron Fist.
(Photo by Sgt. Christopher O’Quin)

Del Mar Beach

Located near the main gate, the beach in Del Mar has everything you need to blow off steam. There, you can camp and rent small cottages for a few days at a time. These rental areas are so close to the shore that you’ll hear the waves lapping onto the sand as you sleep. There are also BBQ pits available, and you can sneak in a few games of football or volleyball before heading back to the office on Monday morning.

It’s perfect.

Articles

These combat camera vets return to train young troops

It’s no longer just the higher-ranking, saltier NCOs and senior NCOs training young troops. In the world of military photojournalism, veterans who have been separated or retired for a decade or more are returning to teach the newest generations to capture stories on the battlefields.


Some of the military’s most surprisingly underreported jobs may be in the visual journalism fields. Every branch of the armed forces of the United States features teams of correspondents, photographers, and even combat artists and graphic designers.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Veteran military journalist Paul Watts Jr. mentors a student editor, an active duty combat photojournalist.

They go through the same rigorous news writing and storytelling training as any student in any j-school in America. They learn the potential for every medium in visual journalism at the military’s disposal.

One problem with this is that they also have to focus on the fight. They have to learn small unit combat, urban warfare, close-quarters battle, self-aid and buddy care — the list goes on and on — and drill it into their muscle memory, not to mention learning the particulars of their branch of service.

When these young combat camera troops get into active service, they are thrown into an oft-underfunded world of retirement ceremonies, passport photos, and base change of command ceremonies.

Imagine a potentially world-class photographer working a Sears Photo Studio.

When one of these soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen, or Marines gets to where the action is, they need to be able to adequately show and tell the military’s story. It’s not just for history’s sake, it can literally mean life and death for their subjects.

“I had the honor of photographing the last living pictures of soldiers on the battlefield,” says Stacy Pearsall, an Air Force combat camera veteran, referring to the Army units she covered during the Iraq War. “They are still today, my personal heroes to whom owe my life.”

Military photojournalists have since taken it upon themselves to train their youngest and greenest combat troops in the artistry of visual media. These veterans want to turn every one of the newbies into award-winning multimedia storytellers.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Andrew Breese, award-winning producer from Airman mentors a team on site for the Shoot Off competition portion.

It’s not just higher-ranking active duty. Juan Femath is a veteran Air Force aerial videographer. In 2011, he and some fellow Air Force and Army veterans decided to help the military do a better job of telling its own story.

“The photographers in the military have a great culture of older guys coming back to teach the younger troops,” Femath says. “There are so many photography workshops where skilled military photogs come to speak and mentor.”

One such workshop is the D.C. Shoot Off Workshop, run by Navy Veteran and White House news photographer Johnny Bivera.

Bivera uses his professional connections to bring attention to the military photojournalism world, attracting brands like Nikon and Adobe to his training weekends.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Military cameramen train incognito on The Mall in Washington, DC.

“The best speakers, mentors, editors and judges throughout the country volunteer for this event,” Bivera says. “These workshops are for all levels and provide professional development, helping to fill training gaps for our military and civil service photographers.

The weekend-long workshop starts with a seminar portion, covering the most important storytelling and production fundamentals used by civilian media today. These lectures are given by some of the media’s most important producers — many of them veterans themselves — from companies like HBO, USA Today, NFL Films, NBC, Canon, and the Washington Post.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

Participants then break into teams and go out to apply the skills they just learned. Each team produces a two to five minute multimedia piece based on a topic drawn from a hat and are given an expert media producer as a mentor to guide them through the process. There is a hard deadline: work submitted after the deadline will not be eligible for awards.

Final products often reflect the experiences and inherent creativity of military photojournalists from every branch of service. They are thoroughly judged and critiqued by a panel of experts who make themselves available to everyone’s questions.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Producers from the Washington Post and NFL Films were among previous judges.

Though the Shoot Off charges an entry fee, the most telling aspect of the Shoot Off is that no one gets paid for their time — not the sponsors, the creators, mentors, or speakers. The fees cover only the overhead costs of running the workshop.

The D.C. Shoot Off Video Workshop, now in its seventh year, will be held May 4-7, 2017. For more information and to register visit dcvideoshootoff.org. It is open to all military, civil service, government, and veteran media producers.

The still photography Shoot Off has multiple dates and is held in Washington, D.C. in the Spring and San Diego in the fall. For more information visit visualmediaone.com.

Military Life

4 most annoying regulations for women in the military

It might seem that women would have it easy when it comes to regulations in the military — I mean, how hard is it to stick your hair in a bun, slip on your boots, and head out the door?


It’s actually pretty restricting once you realize how many regulations are placed on women in the military.

Granted, regulations are nothing new, and everyone has to follow them, but let’s take a look at a few that women in all branches of service have to abide by on a daily basis.

4. Hair

Women’s hair must be professional and steer clear of unnatural colors and eccentric styles. Yes, this means no fad hairstyles, no blinged out barrettes and bobby pins, which makes sense, to an extent. This regulation might be the hardest for women to comply with because the description is so broad and is ultimately up to the interpretation of supervisors to potentially escalate a breach of regulation (“No sir, my hair is not red — it’s Auburn”).

Heck, sometimes it might just be easier to chop it all off like GI Jane (newsflash that’s against regs too, no buzz cuts for women!). Looks like a bun it is!

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

3. Nails

Nails might seem like a menial regulation to gripe about, but it becomes tedious when supervisors are out to get you for anything that they can. Regulations call for natural nail polish, and the length must be no longer than ¼ of an inch. Imagine being called into a supervisor’s office for your nails being too long or wearing too pink of a polish. It happens to women in the military more often than you would think.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
I like where your head’s at, but it’s still a no. (Photo via MarineLP)

2. Makeup

Women must not wear makeup that isn’t flattering to their skin tone or unnatural. Again, this regulation is so broad that it allows for misinterpretation or someone to deem others choice in makeup “unnatural.” Everyone has his or her own opinion of what natural and unnatural makeup looks like, and it’s hard to pin this one down.

Of course, there’s no blue eye shadow or purple eyeliner (duh), but there are many shades that are open to interpretation. Women usually adapt and figure out that no makeup, or close to no makeup, is the best way to stay out of trouble in this area.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Go with this look to play it safe.

1. Nametag/ Ribbon Rack Alignment

Nametag and ribbon rack alignment might be one of the most annoying regulations of them all. Men have pockets on their formal shirts to align their nametag and ribbon rack perfectly. Women don’t get pockets on their formal button-down shirts, and it makes it almost impossible to align because of the nuisance of, well, boobs.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Everyone should just wear flight suits.

Every woman has them and some more than others, which makes uniform wear, and abiding by small details frustrating. Women usually go to the lengths of sewing dots onto their shirts once they find the perfect alignment, because who knows if they’ll ever find that sweet spot again!

Props to all the women in the military who put up with these regulations and don’t let the details impede on their work performance, even though they might want to say shove it to their supervisors when they get called out for their eyelash extensions or the length of their fingernails.

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