I arrived at MCRD San Diego, 18 years old from the midwest and we were gathered together and issued a sweat shirt and a cover (hat) fitted to our head with a full head of hair, a pail and a brush. Then we went to the barber shop and all our hair was cut off, the cover became to large for our heads, but went down over our ears. Our DI’s shouted out the word “Shit Bird” I had never heard that word before, but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I was one standing there at attention, cover over my ears, a pail, a brush and a sweat shirt, still in civilian pants and shoes. Not sure of the timing, but we were marched to the quanset hut where we would spend 3 months and with the pail and brushes we scrubbed everything from top to bottom, in the meantime being sprayed by water type fire extinguishers by the DI’s, who were shouting some brand new words that I had never heard before…I had not been a prissy person, but I was shocked at some of the new words we heard and learned.

WOW – guess it was a kind of shock treatment, We then were marched over to get our issue of clothing, locker, and we were constantly bombarded with the opposite of love and affection! I buried my smile in a 4 X 4 hole I dug in the sand, no longer intentionally smiling – If we filtered out the new words the DI was uttering, there would not have been very much said.
What a time from being a Real Shit Bird to 3 months later when our Platoon marched at our graduation, all so very proud to graduate from being a recruit to becoming a MARINE! that was in 1953 and now at 81 years old I am still Proud to be a MARINE! No longer a shit bird! Semper Fi

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

53 thoughts on “NEW WORDS”

      1. I love the mention of the oversize cover. in Sept. ’59 @ MCRDSD this private wore his back inside to exchange a too large pair of tennis shoes. The private consequently encountered two DI’s upon exiting said facility. Cover was pulled over ears, private was bent over and kicked square in the ass out of facility. Never have wore cover inside to this day. Semper Fi to all my brothers and sisters out there.

    1. Platoon 318, PI, in July 51, got heat stroke, hauled off to Beaufort Naval Hospital for a week, transferred to Platoon 324, graduated there. Would love to hear from old buddies from 318. Was an Army brat, got a crew cut and practically memorized the Guidebook for Marines figuring I’d get a jump on boot camp. Damn DI’s weren’t impressed, but sure impressed the hell out of me. Love the Corps to this day, regret I didn’t make it a career. Semper Fi and to hell with that new Corps Oorah stuff—GUNG HO’s the word!!!!

      1. I joined the Corps in Oct.1958 in Chicago went to MCRD San Diego. I am a N. C. hillbilly. I joined in Chicago so they would send me to Calif.. Bad mistake, the DI called me and another Chicago boy hoodlums. So when he wanted something done he would call (get them damm 2 hoodlums up here ). needless to say we caught hell. I agree with you on the oorah bullshit never heard the term until Emorys tv show he was a great Marine. My buddy Waldo Searcy left a comment today. We were both in Honor Platoon 1008. Had my nose broke by DI while fighting another marine no big deal, our DIs were great people, and like all the rest of you Marines we could take it. I would not take anything for the right to be called a Marine. Semper Fi Marines

  1. I started to write a comment then notice date 1953 don’t see to many old Corp comments. Like u I was a 17 shirt bird at MCRD PI Feb/may 1951 Never regarded that time of my life a big SEMPER FI

  2. Semper Fi, Brothers. ’54-’57. P.I. – I married a Marine and she still wears a Marine Visor, proudly. When she had big surgery on her foot, they offered her a fiberglass boot. What color, they asked? Camo, she replied. They even embedded a big USMC logo on it. Shits and giggles, boys and girls, she loved it, as did everyone at the VA. Wore it proudly! I love that woman, just like the Corps.

  3. We arrived late at night, did the same drill, and were marched to our tents. The Vietnam war was in progress, so there was an overflow in San Diego. The DI, Gunney Michaels, sent us scrambelling to turn on the lights. It turns out we did not have control of them. He was just F***ing with us. We never slept, and were marched off to have our fist taste of powdered eggs, and SOS made with greasy hamburger. We had a full day ending with indoctrination lectures, in some hot quanset huts. Those that dozed off, were taken outside, and lets say diciplined. We lived in tents until we returned from the range.

  4. It hadn’t changed at all in Jan. of 58, Plt.308. I to was from the Midwest and 18 years old but was not “seasoned” for what was to come in the next 12 weeks. But over time our SDI S/Sgt. Thurmond, JDI’S Sgt’s Foster, Nichols, & Way molded us into a Platoon of squared away Marines ready to take on the world. Best thing that ever happened to me. Once a Marine, always a Marine. S/F

  5. Seems it was the same in 61, only dint bury my smile. Kept it. But payed a price for that .but looking back it worked out .Semper fi.

    1. Cpl Jim: I was at PI Jul 7, 1961 to Sep 27, 1961, Plt #339. Looking for my grad book or someone who could upload my Dress Blues photo. Were you there at that time and in that Plt.?

      1. cpl Long here, I was at p I sept 1960…..and i don’t remember a thing……:) But i know I’ll aways be a marine. “Bay of Pigs”. Thank God I got out before nam really got going.

      2. T J Lacey….I was in this Plt 339 w/SSgt, Rushing as our Senior DI..I still have my grad book, a little ragged after so many yrs. I can text you the pix, or mail to you……..Let me know…….Semper Fi …………

  6. Flew from Milwaukee to San Diego, bused to MCRD, did not sleep for days it seemed. I had went thru the Army’s boot camp when I was 15 (lied my age) but this was 100 times stricter. Can still remember doing a afternoon (1200 to 1630 ) run at the rifle range Camp Matthews in 1959. Was Right Guard of Plt. 113 and made Series Honorman. Proudest Day of my life!

    1. Borski; I arrived 2/12/59 from Chicago with two others. Kelly and Friehart. Di’s Heinz, Wells and Moore. Give me a call. 818-909-2520. Let’s catch up.

  7. Looks like I’m just a kid here. I was in from 1960 to 1964. I spent all four years at Camp Lejeune with the exception of 12 weeks at PI. I enjoyed my time at Lejeune although I am a victim of the ( POSION WATER ) we had to deal with. I ended up with kidney cancer and a couple other related things from the water. I am still proud to be a Marine, and will until they plant me. Semper-Fi

    1. John,im 51 was on the Island in 84 and at Lejeune up until 87 drinkin the water.I now went to VA for health care if somethings hits me healthwise I’m letting the gov pay for it considering.When did u experience these health related issues and what else besides kidney cancer?I hope for better health devil dog and pray for all our brothers we lost at Lejeune due to their negligence.

      1. Cpl Herrie, I lost my left kidney Oct 1986. I also have problems with my right kidney and a nervous disorder. The Va is now paying out on these claims. Pull up Camp Lejeune Water Problem and it tells you the ailments that the water caused. There are several types of cancer on the list. I wish you the best.

  8. Geez!! I was there in March 1969 (2041), and except for the years in between it was like Darrel B Whiting Jr was writing my boot.

  9. Not much changed in ’68! It was an extremely rough go, for our whole platoon 3335 was draftees, all from the LA area! We were real Hollywood Marines! You could read our dog tag info imprinted in our chests from all the butplate strikes, not to mention the numerous other blows! We were lucky though. Boot camp was reduced to eight weeks so they could hurry us off to Nam.

    1. A lot of Marines at that time thought an 8 week boot camp was always the way it was. It was reduced but when I have no idea. I was in Plt 361, April 8th to June 5th, ’68, 4 weeks at SD, 2 weeks at the range, then 2 weeks back to SD.

      1. Could have sworn it was longer then 8 weeks got to MCRDSD 7 NOV 68 have to get my boot camp book and look it up. I was 17 at 18 was in the Nam. Do not know witch was scarier. Good night MAGGOTS

  10. It was very hard not to laugh at a DI’s imaginative use of language, but Lord help you if you ever did. “Full Metal Jacket” indeed.

  11. I was at P.I. August 1957 through Nov.!!,1957.Transferred from reserves to regular for three years. The term ,Shit Bird,and various other combinations of words were very educational .Took a short time to learn them and along time after I got married to lose them.I learned lessons that I have carried with me through life. Semper Fi !

  12. 17 years and 3 weeks old when I stood on those yellow footprints. One of the highlights of my life. The Marine Corps made me a man. I was there when the DI could “correct you”. Now recruits and I hate to call them Marines can quit. Don’t like your MOS? Quit and go home to your mommy. Plt 355 3/68.

    1. Almost better that they can quit, isn’t it? They would suck at being a real Marines! Let their moms keep them, because remember, before there was boot camp, there was Mom. The making or breaking sometimes begins at home.

  13. Sgt Greg Jurczak PLT 175. San Deigo Oct 1962. Reading all of the comments about the language I was reminded of my boot camp days. For this 18 year old Michigan Catholic to hear not just the colorful language but all of the various names of women’s anatomy that where direct at us was truely amazing. At times I didn’t know if I was being trained to be a gynecologist or a Marine. And Like all the rest of you, this 73 year old Viet Nam vet would never wear any type of a cover in a building. Sender Fi

  14. Plt.242 June through September 1958. Remember the steel pitchers on the mess hall tables? You hefted it thinking it was full of Kool-Aid and out tumbled unwanted brussel sprouts and broccoli. Platoon right guide and top shooter with M1 Garand at Camp Matthews. Thank you SSgt Grand, Cpl Palermo, and Cpl Lewis. Were we having fun yet ? Time of your life, right, kid ? Semper Fi.

  15. Platoon 90 way back in 1945 served four years then got out but joined the reserves. Along came Korea and then Inchon Wanson, Chosin and finally Mason. Retired after 21. Now at 88 still have fond memories. Most funstrating and rewarding duty was as a DI in 1951-52. Charles W. F. McKellar Capt USMC ret.

  16. I hear you loud and clear. My introduction was in 1969 at MCRD San Diego.the members of Platoon 3195 learned Words like shit bird,. scuz bucket., whale shit, and maggot came in to my language. Along with other descriptic nuances like “I will unscrew your gourd from its stacking swivel and shit down the hole.

  17. Parris Island late 1956 Platoon 297, 5th Bn. Senior DI T/Sgt R. Sumpter, Jr. DI Sgt. Vido. 50 years later I treated my Sr DI (32 yr. Retired Sgt/Maj) to a steak dinner. He called me “Vince.” I said Sir, Yes Sir. He laughed, I didn’t. I never heard before that I was a “maggot.”

  18. I got to PI in July 1969 and the culture shock was immediate to every one of us. I thought my DI the epitome of excellence when he referred to one of my fellow recruits as “The Slimy Afterbirth of a Cockroach” Only a Drill Instructor could be that creative! Nothing , not even whalesh!t, could be lower than that!

  19. We (Plt. 375, PI, fall of 1962) were all trying to get the hang of USMC language (deck, cover, bulkhead, mess hall, etc.). Early on, a recruit came out of the mess hall uncovered one day and when the Senior DI asked him where his cover was he said “Sir, the private left it in the chuck wagon, sir!” ‘Bout the only time I can remember SSGT Rivers smiling. Semper Fi.

  20. Honor Platoon 202 July 4, 1953. Thank you Sgt Montgomery, Cpl Morrison and PFC Pallot. At 17 headed the wrong way, save my life. At 81 now I am grateful to you and to the Marine Corps.Semer Fi!

  21. 1960 plt.246 honor platoon in the series. My favorite DI words were slimy dog shit. Of course being from Texas, we received special treatment. Our senior DI was Gunny Beebe fine squared away man. MCRD was a great life changing event but not a big shock to the son of a Marine. My dad was in the 1st Div. and spent 2 years in China.

  22. MCRD 1959, one week after high school grad. On the foot prints and to quanset huts and time at camp Mathews, with platoon 334 then to ChuLai with force Logistic Support motor transport. July 1960 transferred to. MCLFDC Camp Pendleton working with MCLFDC And Discharged.

  23. i don’t remember the sweatshirt but do remember the cussing and we got our first issue of any kind of uniform items when we got our whole utility issue. by the way I graduated from paris island on august 1967

  24. MCRD San Diego, 1955, Platoon 143, Right Guide. Most of the platoon was from St. Louis. A few from Texas and IL. Senior DI removed due to mistreating a recruit. Can’t remember his replacements name, but the Assistant DI’s were Sgt Richards (Richardson ?) and Cpl. Y. Ota. Great DI’s! Great experience! First assignment was to NAPS at USN Base, Bainbridge, MD; then to MB Annapolis, and then to HqHq, 2nd MarDiv, Camp Lejeune where I was assigned to the Division Sgt/Major’s office (Sgt/Maj Mike Burgess). Love the Corps to this day. Sorry I didn’t make it a career. Would like to hear from anybody with whom I shared duty assignments. Semper Fi !

  25. February 1957 Remember the gray sweat shirt, bucket issue, hair cut. Was ask if i wanted my side burns was told to hold out my hands I,ll never forget T/Sgt Underwood Sgt Stoffer and Cpl Brisco. Plt 219 dan Diego Also the hick to Camp Matthews

  26. Same here for me and old Benny B Bland, Plt 1008 . MCRD. Great times. Waldo W Searcy, East Texas farm boy, would do it all over again…

  27. Platoon 201 ’54. Brings back memories of DI sayings. My favorite response of a DI to a sad explanation: ” My name is Marco Polo. Seven times I’ve been round the world and never have I heard such a sad story as years.”

  28. My favorite memory, plt 2173 MCRD San Diego. After the haircut getting our first issue of clothes I told the man I needed 30-36 pants when I actually needed 36-30. Well coming out of a wet shower there was no way those pants were ever going to fit. I sure the DIs still laugh about it, l was scared to death. However, in eight weeks I could wear them, I’d have to roll up the legs. The whole six years were the best of my life. Semper Fi.

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