By: James Renfro
I arrived at Lindbergh Field San Diego on Sunday 27 December 1972. No one was there to meet or greet me so I found a SD policeman and asked him how to get to MCRD. He told me to wait out front of the terminal and he made a call to MCRD. I waited for about an hour and had several of the long haired types drive by and try to get me to “get the h_ll out of there” before it was too late. After waiting and wondering for the hour or so, a green Dodge van pulled up and the driver was the finest looking female (WM Sgt) I had ever seen and would ever see in my career. She told me in a very nice manner to get in the van and I did. While driving over to the base we talked about all types of things I would soon experience. She let me “burn a couple” (Marlboro) , but as we approached the gate to MCRD she told me how to field strip the butts and get rid of them. She dropped me off at Receiving Barracks and I saw my first YELLOW foot prints. I was directed to by the Sgt. to go inside and wait and someone would be with me in a little while. I proceeded to lean against a wall, and soon had a short and very angry SSGT jump up in my chest and proceeded to tell me to get the (deleted) off his bulkhead!!! Well I wasn’t too dumb and I figured real fast what a bulkhead was and stood at what I thought was attention. And I learned I wasn’t doing that correctly either. To cut to the chase now, I and a whole bunch of young men that had arrived on Saturday (I was the ONLY arrival on Sunday) were moved to a barracks and assigned a bed that I soon learned was a rack. We didn’t pick up or get picked up by our Drill Instructors until 2 January 1973 so we did a lot of swabbing and cleaning of the barracks. We were issued our sea bags and clothing, told to box up our personal clothes, got a haircut, etc., during that time. If memory serves me correctly, Our DI’s, Sgt. Schweigler, Sgt. Van Bibber, and Sgt. Jamieson picked us up very early on the 2nd and all h_ll broke loose. I don’t have any horror stories to tell about our 12 weeks in their care, but I was jacked up a few times for failing to do EXACTLY as told. All my DI’s were VN vets and they taught us well. They said they didn’t know if we would go to VN but they were going to teach us to survive if we did. I didn’t go to VN as I was a reservist (about half of our platoon was I think) but they made me a better person anyway. I do know that Sgt. Jamieson was a “short” American Indian and I had never seen any one his height jump straight up in my face and give me “love-tap” like he could. When we went up the road to Edson Range we were issued M-14’s and I learned to love that weapon. In fact I have the M1A now cause I loved it so much. I shot expert every pre-qual string but on qual day I blew it and got a toilet seat. I still insist that it does snow in Southern California cause I froze my young butt off that day. Shivvering doesn’t help in qualification with a rifle!! Anyway, I could go on for a while and I suppose I will close this out by asking anyone out there that was in Platoon 3156 to holler back. Oh yeah, Plt. 3156 took final drill comp and we were herded over to the mess hall and told by our senior DI to “drink the soda machines dry!!!”, and we did………then paid for it by doing bends and thrusts until the DI’s got tired.