My Summer of 1969

My Summer of 1969


Recruit training in the Marine Corps has historically had a reputation for the use of obscene language and the physical abuse of recruits. What I am telling is what I saw and experienced. Another Marine of my generation or earlier would concur with what I re-live here. Some would say that what I tell has been overblown over time. All I can say is that I can’t make this up! For me, recruit training was the most stress filled experience of my life.


That mental videotape machine of mine did not record every minute I was at the recruit depot, just the moments that made an impression on me. And there were a lot of them.

I remember it was getting near dusk. The DI’s gathered the platoon together to show us how to make our bunks (rack) military style. After they demonstrated how to do it, they undid the bunk and then had a couple of recruits get in front of the platoon to try and do it. What a joke. They immediately began to screw it up and the DI’s start screaming at them.

One of these fellows starts to cry. I remember our Platoon Commander going over to this kid and acting like he was consoling him, when suddenly, he slaps him across the face! There was an immediate “gasp” that came from all of the recruits. I had heard that this sort of thing could/would happen, but to see it, that’s another thing. Then, our assistant DI, a thin wiry staff sergeant whose name I never cared to remember , looks at us with this evil grin and says “you ain’t seen anything yet! After your physicals, the real beatings begin.”

It’s time for lights out. After many attempts of jumping into our rack in a timely way to satisfy the DI’s demand for precision, they finely turn out the lights. I’m in a top bunk. I’d never slept in one before.

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


  • Ddmaujoe

    Parris Island August 1969 plt. 1034. what don’t kill ya will make you stronger! Simper Fi.

  • Allen

    I was asked what Woodstock was like,I thought a minute and said I went to the AntiWoodstock. I got some blank looks and said Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego as far from Woodstock in distance and spirit a person could get

  • GT Sunde

    In reply to CThomas, 68-72.
    I was a DI at MCRD San Diego 1969-1972 and again 1974-1975. The term Platoon Commander was used during both tours. I held the positions of Junior DI, Platoon Cmdr, Series GySgt, Chief Drill Instructor of “F” Company and Receiving Barracks.

  • Clint Doña

    My most memorable moments in the summer of 69, MCRD San Diego: after our platoon failed its first test, the DI’s said we had embarrassed them. They put everyone, in shifts of 10 recruits, into the squad bay broom closet in which the DI’s had previously poured out a couple of gallons of ammonia, and then locked them in. Of course, no one could breathe, and those inside actually cracked the solid oak 1″ thick doors, trying to get out. The DI’s, to insure they stayed in there, had other recruits hold the door closed from the outside. I was outside holding the foor. But, eventually I took my turn inside. A few recruits went to sick bay that night with breathing problems. On another occasion one recruit was smacked upside the head with the M14 rifle butt. He went to sick bay. Finally, on a final pre-inspection day, one recruit did not lay out his gloves “thumbs in” but “thumbs out” so he got a private tutoring session in the broom closet. A couple of minutes later, he came out and the DI said the recruit was going to pay the cleaning bill for his uniform shirt for getting blood on it. Hard lessons. But needful. Later in life I went on and made a career with the po-leece in Los Angeles and the discipline gained in the Corps held me in good stead. Seller Fi.

  • Clint Doña

    In reply to Gene Madrzykowski – Sgt. E-5.
    I do not recall your name, but I, also, was MCRD July 69, 1ST MAW DaNang Dec 70 til May 71.Poss just sister platoons. Glad to see you made it bavk.

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