New Words

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

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29 comments


  • Vince Fischelli

    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.”


  • Mac McCauley

    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!


  • Cllff Lawson

    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.


  • Proud MoM

    In reply to Sgt. Larry Stoneking. Plt 355.
    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.


  • Cpl Herrle

    In reply to John Carr.
    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.


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