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Platoon Commander aka Senior Drill Instructor

If you’ve never heard of a Platoon Commander while in Boot Camp, it’s not my fault. I didn’t write the book, I didn’t publish the book. I simply purchased the book sometime during my internment at MCRD San Diego. The Marine Corps, or the Navy, recorded my experience for me during those two plus months. I was much too busy to take pictures. My book clearly shows the Senior Drill Instructor listed as “Platoon Commander”. I don’t recall the Senior DI wearing a different style belt than the other Drill Instructors except while drilling toward the end of training, preparing for “final drill”. Then he wore a black leather belt with scabbard, otherwise it was the standard canvas cartridge belt with first aid pouch. SF

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In reply to “D.I. Motivation And Inspiration”

The night before graduation, we were getting ready, spit shining shoes, cleaning M-14’s, getting the last of the speeches from our senior Drill Instructor. He looked at all of us with a look we had never seen on his face before. “You’re all going to Vietnam. Do you think you’re tough after what we put you through here? You’ll know how tough you are if and when you hear these five words-“Gentleman, prepare to defend yourselves”. When it actually happened to me,my blood ran cold. Tell that to some 21 year old kid today-they don’t have a fucking clue! I can’t believe that in 3 months it will be 50 years ago-half a century!

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Finding your bunk fun

I got to MCRD, Parris Island, 2nd Battalion, platoon 37, on April 27, 1955. True, the DI’s were tough and not as restricted as they are today. They were inclined to use some rather rough language and a physical reminder for emphasis. One of the fun things to do when it was time for lights out, was to have all the maggots march around the squad bay with the lights out, singing the Marine Corps hymn. Then came the order to get in the rack. What a madhouse it was, in the dark, trying to figure out where you were in the squad bay and to find your rack before the lights went on again. Some bumps and bloody noses were taken into the rack those nights. Fun and games, but all good memories. Semper Fi!

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USMC constant uniform spending and up-keep vs. times worn.

What really sucks is the hundreds of dollars spent at cash sales, multiple bullsh*t games put up with during inspections be it Company, CG or the oh so loved ‘dog & pony’ show for a visiting (my personal favorite, haha) dignitary.
Fact is being in WPNS Co 1/7 1st Mar Div all 4yrs active duty only wore my dress uniforms a handful of times and even had my Blues tailor made in 89’ Okinawa.

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Kids today vs. generations prior

I joined the US Marines Corps at 17 in 88’ with my mother’s signature… as I entered boot camp swore I would not come home if didn’t earn that EGA in the end. Two years later at 20yrs old in 91’ with WPNS Co 1/7 1st Mar Div Task Force Ripper fought and destroyed the 4th largest Army in the world with (then) Lt Col. Mattis as our Battalion Commander.
I know our war compares not to those fought by brave American’s in the past… but one thing holds true, there are still young men/women within our citizenry willing to lay down their lives if necessary in defense of the greatest nation on this planet.

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Scrap Lumber & Vodka

Had a few drinks in the back yard this past Sunday. I was staring at a stack of boards behind the shack and had an idea for some folk art to embellish my tool shed. The metal USMC seal was purchased several years ago from grunt.com and adorned the front of the shed for years. This started out as a standard American Flag, but spacing the 50 stars was just too difficult after happy hour. A little bit of white spray paint and voila! I really like that it irritates my Air Force neighbor. It’s approximately 8′ x 5′ and be seen from far below the hill my house sets on. Semper Fi!

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DI Inspiration

Sgt. Grit, I can’t necessarily think of one action or one saying that my three DI’s said to me to motivate or inspire me, because they inspired me every day. I was obviously intimidated by them, and yet I admired them because they set the standard for the Marine that we were trying to become. To me they represented every Marine in the Corps. However, what does inspire me the most when I think of them is the military bearing that they maintained throughout the entire three months on the island. Through the heat, the humidity and mental strain on their own person and having to deal with 70+ knuckleheads each and every day, they held firm to the standard of being a United States Marine. I know there were a few turds in my platoon and some that might have even washed out once they got into the FMF, but when you consider the overall success rate and the emotional strain those guys went through (even the unmarried DI’s), it just amazes me that day in and day out they delivered their best to us. I won’t ever forget them – they helped to shape me into the Marine and the man that I am today. Thank You SSgt. Krause, Sgt. Ishmail and Sgt. Mazenko. Mike Kunkel, Platoon 2063 Cpl 0331, Lima 3/8 Weapons Platoon 81-85

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My non stop attitude.

I was a boot Marine on my first Combined Arms Exercise in Twenty nine Palms California Oct of 1988 CAX 8-88, we had been training for our 30 plus days in the dirt and we were on our way to the rear to head back to Hawaii. I was a artillery man on a M198 towed howitzer. I was told where I was to sit in the truck as all the good seat were taken by higher ranking Marines so I sat on the floor against the tailgate. We were traveling at a good 40 plus mph in the desert so it was very a very rough ride. I had my back against the tailgate when it falls open at this speed. I was able to flip over onto my stomach and hole onto the tailgate for awhile but eventually was thrown off, striking my head on the cannon, receiving a head and brain injury and then my right leg was run over by the cannon cause only soft tissue damage but closing the artery in the leg. I was medivaced via helicopter to Mainside then to Balboa in San Diego. I fought hard to recover and carry on with little to no help from the Corps, I had problems both physically and mentally do to this horrible accident but was able to recover enough to finish my enlistment and serve honorably in Desert Storm as a assistant section chief on my own gun. I made a driver after the accident, I guess the Corps figured hell he cant fall out if he is driving. I was the gun truck driver, as well as the plugger and A-Chief on the gun. We fought in the artillery raids before the war and in Khafji during the Air War, we were attached to task force ripper for the ground war. I received the many medals and ribbons for my service. I am proud that I was able to regroup enough to finish my enlistment and not taking a medical which is what I think everybody thought I would do. Thats defines the spirit of the Corps. I may of fell back on runs and humps when I returned but I never fell out.

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My Summer of 1969

DISCLAIMER Recruit training in the Marine Corps has historically had a reputation for the use of obscene language and the physical abuse of recruits. What I am telling is what I saw and experienced. Another Marine of my generation or earlier would concur with what I re-live here. Some would say that what I tell has been overblown over time. All I can say is that I can’t make this up! For me, recruit training was the most stress filled experience of my life.
MAKING THE RACK
That mental videotape machine of mine did not record every minute I was at the recruit depot, just the moments that made an impression on me. And there were a lot of them.
I remember it was getting near dusk. The DI’s gathered the platoon together to show us how to make our bunks (rack) military style. After they demonstrated how to do it, they undid the bunk and then had a couple of recruits get in front of the platoon to try and do it. What a joke. They immediately began to screw it up and the DI’s start screaming at them.
One of these fellows starts to cry. I remember our Platoon Commander going over to this kid and acting like he was consoling him, when suddenly, he slaps him across the face! There was an immediate “gasp” that came from all of the recruits. I had heard that this sort of thing could/would happen, but to see it, that’s another thing. Then, our assistant DI, a thin wiry staff sergeant whose name I never cared to remember , looks at us with this evil grin and says “you ain’t seen anything yet! After your physicals, the real beatings begin.”
It’s time for lights out. After many attempts of jumping into our rack in a timely way to satisfy the DI’s demand for precision, they finely turn out the lights. I’m in a top bunk. I’d never slept in one before.

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BLT 3/5 as a SLF aboard LPH-5 USS Princeton (‘Nam 1966)

BLT 3/5 as a SLF aboard LPH-5 USS Princeton (‘Nam 1966)

It was sometime in mid-1966, somewhere off the Vietnam coast, we were returning to our ship after a search and destroy operation. As I stepped onto the deck, and knowing most of the deck crew from my helicopter guard duty while on the ship, I could see the startled expression on a swabbie’s face.
Not knowing if it was the aroma from fifteen days of sweat, gunpowder, insect repellent and rice paddy mud or the unshaven face, I just grinned. Recognizing me, he said “Hey Jarhead, what did you do, scare ’em to death?” I replied “Yeah, VC number ten.” He then said “I’ve got the latest scuttlebutt.” I replied dryly “What’s that, some chicken shit inspection?” He laughed and said “No, we’re floating back to Subic to confuse enemy observers for a few days and having liberty call instead of training.”
Ski, our wireman, said he knew the perfect place for us to go and unwind.

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