I’ll remember my Drill Instructor – Parris Island – 17 Mar 1966 – 17 May 1966

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.

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!

18 thoughts on “I’ll remember my Drill Instructor – Parris Island – 17 Mar 1966 – 17 May 1966”

  1. I have tried to contact several of my brothers through that very same site, although it has been several years ago. I never got in touch with anyone. I did, however, through Facebook found a buddy that I served with and hung out with. But have once again lost contact with him due to some life changing circumstances. I no longer have access to my Facebook any longer and would really like to get back in touch with him and other that I served with, anyone have any suggestions for me?

    1. I found 1 of my DI’s SgtMaj D J Farrell about 5 yrs ago went to see him at his home and were in touch regularly by phone SSGT Shadd died in a car crash I think in 85? sgt Hurley dont know anything about him.

      1. I think that I may have known this same SgtMaj Ferrell back around ’72 while I was attending the second SNCO Academy class at Quantico…Then GySgt. Ferrell was one of the better instructors that we had for that class — I remember that his favorite expressions was “critters” when referring to recruits…I believe that he was married to a WM SSgt at the time…Ran into him again a few years later while I was going through Recruiter’s Scol at MCRDSD…Ferrell had been promoted to MSgt by this time, and was looking to “re-designate” to 1stSgt…Last that I heard, He had been selected for SgtMaj, and he was headed to Seattle to become the RS SgtMaj…I retired shortly after that, and lost track of him….Where’s he living at nowadays ??

      2. we had a sgt maj DJ Farrell up at bangor sub base around 1983. the man was a running sob. his idea of a good time was taking the ncos out on a run and not turning around until he had dropped half of them. he didnt have a chair in his office, just a podium. never saw him sit down. he had his own silent drill team up there. they were good. one day we were having guard mount and the sgt maj was going thru picking out his new members. myself and the staff duty were with him. he stepped in front of this one young man and looked him over and informed him that he was now on the silent drill team. as he started to step away, the young man said “but sgt maj, i dont want to be on the silent drill team” it took me and the staff duty everything we had not to bust out laughing. (the sgt maj wasnt known for his sense of humor) the sgt maj turned back to the young man, got right in his face, pointed his finger at him and said ” look here mf’er, this aint no mf’in democracy, you aint got no mf’in choice” OMG i thought we were gonna die hahahhahahaha

    2. If you went through boot camp between March and May 1966, there is a good chance that I processed your arrival on the Island. I was working at the Recruit Receiving Barracks in the 2nd Bat. area from November 1965 thru October 1966. We worked one day crew of eight hours and two night crews at 16 hours each evening until about sunrise each morning. I was in charge of one of the night crews. All of the recruits arrived via Greyhound bus in the middle of the night — usually after about 11pm until early morning. In 1966, with Viet Nam picking up momentum, we received an average of 500 recruits each night. I often wonder how many of the recruits who I saw arriving at Parris Island have departed us and how many have become successful in their military and later lives. I know that my boot camp training from July through October 1962 was probably the most meaningful time of my life and my drill instructors, although pretty tough at times, had our best interests in mind. Their goal was to teach us to survive in combat and in our lives. — I would be happy to hear from any of the recruits or the Marines from my Recruit Receiving Crew at r.dotson@charter.net Semper Fi ’til I die.

      1. I went through recruit training at PI the same time as you did! I don’t remember much and I can only remember Sgt Smiley and Sgt Smith. Sgt Smith talked just like Elmer Fudd! “Oh, you people like to play games, huh? Ok gworls get in front of your bunks!” lol! Sgt Smiley followed me to Camp Lejeune and was my first Boss! I didn’t like that very much!! Hahaha! I got over it though and moved on… I loved the Corps and got out in Nov 1967.

  2. JR Morgan Sgt. USMC 1970 is a member of our Marine Corps League Detachment # 1250, Loveland Colorado. I have been trying to start a Newsletter for the Detachment and this month we posted our first Newsletter. I like Sgt. Grit because I can find Marine Corps items but also to find ideas. I like to read the stories and low and behold here was JR Morgan’s article. This was a great article and learned some information about a great Marine and person. Semper Fi Brothers

  3. I have been looking to reach a Capt F.S Blair,I served under his command on the USS ProteusAS19 from Feb 1968to April 1969,or others I served with in the Marine detachment during those years.Semper Fi to all. L/cpl L.B.Webster.

    1. Plt. 160. Eight of us from San Angelo, Texas got to receiving on July 5, 1960. DIs Diaz, McGraf and Dudley. On my profile in marinestogetherweserved I stated that other than becoming a Christian, Marine Corps boot camp was the most defining event of my life. True, the change lasts forever…well, at least in this life.

  4. JR Morgan, your SDI Gunny Gentile and I served together at Marine Barracks, Portsmouth NH Shipyard 1961 to 1963. He was at that time a A/SSGT (E5). The new paygrade was in it’s third year and a lot of NCO’s and Staff NCO’s were placed with a title of “Acting”. Therefore a lot of them were more than eager to get rid of the “Acting” title on their rank. New Years eve 1961, I am a PFC with 31 months in grade, just returned from SE Asia with the 1-9, with no disciplinary actions in my SRB. I had worked at the O club that day to earn some cash to attend a party in town. Purchased a bottle of Cutty Sark from the club manager, went to the barracks, showered and was leaving the squad bay with my bottle, looking forward to having a great time at the party. In comes A/SSGT Gentile (OD) asks what is in the paper bag. I of course tell him and show him the bottle, explaining, I’m heading into town to celebrate. He takes the bottle and walks out of the squad bay. I stop in town, buy another bottle. …January 2nd, I face our CO (a reserve Major in his first year of active duty) and I get busted down to Private. Missed my Good Conduct Medal by 13 days. Made a vow that day that I would not reenlist..

    1. In our beloved Marine Corps all Officer have to go to OCS and TBS and then to our A school. So the Major that was your CO is not in his 1st yr of Active Duty.

  5. Looking to locate any of the following Marines The DI’s of PLt 151 MCRD San Diego Summer of 58, Capt Abernathy USMC last time I saw him was the night we got mortared in Feb 67 at Phu_Bai we were both with MACS-7 as controllers.. We were both wounded that night and I lost track of him after we got to “C” med.. Also W.O 3 Frank Moore, I was stationed with Frank win MACS-1 in Yuma in 62 -66 then again with MACS -7 at Chu-Lai and later in Phu-bai I’d loike to hear from anyone who either know them or served with me 58-67

  6. I met one of my Drill Instructors Sgt. Gary Shoemake the spring of 1977. I had just pinned on my first rocker and just located SSgt. Shoemake at MCAD El Toro. I called him and ask if I could come down and visit with him. I remember making sure I was all spit shined and polished as I drove down from MCPAOLA to MCAS El Toro. When I marched across the hanger floor to greet him he was sitting on a stool in trop trousers and a T-shirt. As we stood and got re-aquainted his CWO4 stepped up and SSgt. Shoemake introduced me as one of his former “turds.” The Gunner looked at me and my rank and suggested to SSgt. Shoemake he might re-evaluate his comment. You see I graduated as a PFC on 9/15/71 and this was approximately 3/15/77 only six years later and we were the same rank. He was our “heavy hat” and I guess he never changed.

  7. Enlisted on 14 Aug 1961 in Pittsburg and reported to PI MCRD early morning hours of 16 Aug 1961. DI’s were GySGT J.C. Sterling, SSG M.C. Dennison and SGT H. M. Hemlepp. Our Platoon 354 became Marines on 6 Nov 1961. Upon completion of ITR was assigned to MACS-8 and remained with MACS-8 throughout active duty. Many members of MACS-8 get together annually to this date, any one wanting more info I would be happy to assist. I recently rekindled the camaraderie of our Corps when I became a member of MCL Det 54, Clearwater, FL. Interested in hearing from any one wanting to swap stories and also would like to hear from any fellow Sky Divers from Camp Lejeune Skydivers Club, Atsugi NAS Skydivers club and Salem Ohio Skydivers Club where I made my last Parachute Jumps in the fall of 1966.

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