I'll Remember My Drill Instructor - Parris Island - 17 Mar 1966 - 17 May 1966

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!


  • Scott Johnston LCPL

    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?

  • Dave Hennion

    In reply to Scott Johnston LCPL.
    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.

  • Richard Dotson

    In reply to Scott Johnston LCPL.
    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.

  • Rodney (ROD) Daugherty

    In reply to Richard Dotson.
    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.

  • Cloyd B. Rael

    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

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