In the times before e-mail and Google, keeping in touch with my drill instructors would not have been very practical. I know that on the day my platoon departed Parris Island, my opinion of the men who had done so much to inflict mental and physical discomfort on all of us had suddenly evolved into the realization that their work had the primary goal of putting Marines on the bus whereas they had greeted us as much lower life forms just 8 weeks prior. When each of them, GySgt Gentile, SSgt Floyd, and Sgt Anderson said their good byes, it really was a big thing to hear them each refer to us as “MARINE” for the first time. They regarded us all as brothers from that moment on……. I wouldn’t believe that any of my new Marine Brothers would have been bold enough to as for the DIs’ mailing information. Maybe if we could have went to the slop shute for a beer or two with them….. that was in early May of 1966.
In May 1968 I was working at my MOS ( Aviation Electrician) on the tarmac in the Danang terminal area where my squadron of C-130 aircraft operated. Sub Unit 1 of VMGR 152 transported personnel and supplies into Marine combat bases in the north of Viet Nam. The return flights from Khe Sahn, Quang Tri, Dong Ha, etc were very often loaded with the green bags containing bodies of the heroes who would not go home as they had come there. One day I spotted in amazement, SSgt Floyd coming toward me on the flight line. I recognized him from about 50 yards. Since he was Force Recon Marines and I was working in a green skivvy shirt, no cover and pretty greasy, it took a minute before he acknowledged that I had been one of his boots some two years prior. I had a tremendous feeling of reunion in that moment and was amazed to learn from him that this was his second tour in Nam since our last parting in PI. He also mentioned that he had been in touch with Sgt Anderson, who was in a Naval hospital in Japan, recovering from wounds for a second time since I left him at PI. So he had maintained comms with his fellow DI, but they were evidently in country at the same time although in different units.
Now fast forward to about May of 2014. The internet and a web sites that was created for the purpose of enabling Marines to locate their brothers over time and distance, (TogetherWe Served.com), gave we the tool to research my DI’s. I found that MSgt Floyd was now retired and lives near Camp Le Jeune, NC. I actually got his phone and called him. I learned that he retired after 20 in the Corps and then went into law enforcement and eventually retired from that career. He did share with me that he had contact with several Marine he had DI’d through Parris Is. But I gathered that these were Marine who had come into his Force Recon unit, or nearby, and they therefore has been able to sit for a few beers. I have contacted several Marines using the site mentioned. These were mostly the guys I served with in various location, Okinawa, Danang, El Toro, Beaufort, Jacksonville, etc.
This is not a say that all Marines follow my pattern. I would bet that there are more connections made today from boot to Marine to Drill Instructor.
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