The mission of a Marine Drill Instructor is to create a Marine without damaging the goods in the process. After the drowning incident at Parris Island in the 1950’s do-gooders, and those “leaders” who believed the Corps should be meshed into the other branches (both MacArthur and Eisenhower disliked the Corps), did their best to smear boot camp training methods. In 1958, at MCRDSD, I never saw a D.I. actually punch a recruit. They weren’t, however, above telling the platoon that if “Pvt. Jones” didn’t get his sh*t together, we would all suffer for it. “Jones” would then be subject to the wrath of his squad mates. Mass punishment was a very effective tool. As far as language used, the only words I didn’t hear used to a recruit were those with personal stigma (S.O.B., Mother F–, etc.)
It was suggested that some of us had mothers who didn’t have any kids that lived. Other than that, our D.I.s were extremely creative in the use of foul language. I learned that the “F” word, which describes the most wonderful human experience between a man and woman, could be used as a verb, noun, adjective – just about any function of language. That being said, I never witnessed, or heard of, maltreatment that injured, either physically or mentally. The punishments were meant to be overcome, not to defeat the spirit. When my brothers, all Marines, and I look back at the experience, it is with pride and humor. It inspired my book, “SH*TBIRD! How I Learned to Love The Corps” and, of the dozens of funny stories that I solicited from Marines across the country, I received not one that expressed any reservations that Marine Corps boot camp was at the heart of what makes it the finest military branch in the world.