Established in 1915, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island churns out 20,000 new Marines every year.
Every Friday, a new crop of Marines leaves the base, and they leave happily.
The 12-week program is widely considered the most hellish of all recruit training regimens in the U.S. Military.
Here at Parris Island, the legendary drill instructors (DIs) make sure every waking moment of a recruit’s life is jam-packed with training.
This article was originally written by Geoffrey Ingersoll.
Recruits who want to run away can't take the only road and are unlikely to brave the alligators in the swamp.
Once they arrive, the first thing they do is shuffle off the bus and line up on the famous yellow footprints.
There are three 'decks,' each one housing a training platoon of anywhere from 60 to 85(ish) recruits.
This is the back door, and the door the recruits take to get outside. The front door is only for the DIs.
As soon as we come in, I ask him to unlock his footlocker. This is a motion he has done so many times under stress that he could probably do it in his sleep. Also, notice that his footlocker is marked on both ends with his name and recruit laundry number. Marines are required to mark their issued gear, and DIs teach recruits the importance of marking everything by periodically ...
.... ordering recruits to open and dump their lockers, then piling the platoon's belongings into the middle of the squad bay and timing recruits as they sort everything out again. A recruit's entire life is held inside this box. A recruit owns nothing else outside this box.
These two removable squares hold various hygiene gear and handbooks. Below them a recruit's issued utility uniform is usually folded neatly and staged for use.
Every bed is made exactly the same. Here you'll notice that the recruits oscillate their beds head to toe all the way down.
There should be at least six inches of sheet and blanket pulled back in a fold, and another twelve inches of bed sheet showing, for exactly '18 inches of white' at the end of the bed.
Recruits will sleep head to toe and stagger their racks in order to keep disease and sickness from quickly spreading through the platoon. (Regardless, each recruit will get badly ill at least once during training.)
Throughout boot camp, recruits are bombarded with general Marine Corps knowledge as part of a comprehensive indoctrination program.
Posted up all over the squad bay are bits and pieces of general knowledge a recruit is expected to know prior to taking written exams.
Further toward the front of the bay is the quarterdeck, part of which is set aside for a small 'gym.'
Recruits who are reporting or requesting permission to talk to DIs will stand on those footprints and slap that hand print.
Posted beside the door, in case a nervous recruit forgets, are the precise directions for how to request permission.
Marines (for this training battalion) urinate in troughs. Posted above the trough is how to read urine colour for body hydration.
Soap and hand sanitizer stand like Marines in formation all the way down. Hygiene is a huge emphasis when you're living with 80 other people.
Back outside, near the DI hut, drill orders are written out for recruit memorization. Close order drill is of major emphasis at Parris Island.
Recruits memorise drill movements through use of 'ditties,' words and phrases they say in unison as they receive the order on the march. Later, once they're good, they will drop the ditties and perform all orders silently.
On the way out, I notice one guy who put his lock on backwards. Even in the end, this guy will get hammered if the DIs notice.
My brothers and cousins give me hell for not touching the top piece of wood, I'm just desperately trying not to fall.
On the drive out I notice a bunch of recruits in the sand pit doing push-ups and various calisthenics. A crowd of onlookers from graduation has gathered, smiles on their faces while these recruits chew dirt and the DI screams. Ask me if I miss it, I'd tell you sometimes. The sandpit is not one of those things I miss though.
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