The 'Frog Voice' is Real

The 'Frog Voice' is Real

Drill instructors literally scream so hard at recruits that they can pass out, give themselves hernias, or do serious and permanent damage to their vocal chords. That’s why they spend a lot of time at DI school learning to project from their diaphragms.

Even so, most DIs develop that raspy “frog voice.” Losing their voice is inevitable, especially during the first phase of boot camp when orders are constantly barked. But at school, they try to teach new DIs how to prevent voice problems turning into something permanent, Craven said.

Staff Sgt. Antonio Curry, a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, barks out orders to his platoon of fresh recruits.

Photo Credit: Sgt. Kuande Hall/Marine Corps

Still, they need to speak loudly enough for about 100 recruits to hear them, and that requires practice. Schoolhouse instructors will stand a set number of paces away from the Marines as they learn to project their voices, he said.

While they do lose their voices on occasion, they have become masters at getting it back fast. Craven said the treatment is similar to soothing a sore throat, including hot water with honey and lemon. But Sgt. Melissa Sandoval, a DI with 4th Recruit Training Battalion here, said some DIs get a little more creative.

She drinks hot tea followed by a cold drink, she said. But she has also tried pickle juice or lime juice mixed with salt.

“It’s something about the vinegar or the acid in the lime juice,” she said. “It helps the lining of the throat.”

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3 comments


  • Connly,David E

    I am reminded of Corporal Burke Plt 295 1956. We were marching when Cpl. Burke gave the command “To the rear March! Everyone got the word except the Guidon Bearer who continued marching straight ahead blissfully unaware that he was all alone out there! Burke called Platoon Halt! He then shouted the words that will echo through the Corps forever! “Guidon Bearer (Name mercifully ommited) “You better get your head out of your ass lest you sit down and break your neck”!


  • Top Sharetts

    I wore the “round hat” at San Diego” in ‘67,’68’ & ‘69. The Mess Sgt always kept a good supply of lemons on hand. But by the time you got to the end of Phase 1 training almost every one had the froggy voice. But sucking on a lemon would get you through a period of drill instruction.


  • G W “The Thumpin’Third’

    In the ’70s don’t think I ever had a Platoon over 80 out of receiving, and in those days we were doing back to backs, sometimes just 2 of us until another D.I. walked off the Grinder at graduation, insane. If you were at P.I. then, you know what I mean! Usually down to 65-70 by week 2. Short drive out of Florida so I go up once in awhile and the numbers aren’t much different, except for 4th Bn (WM’s). The young guys and officers love seeing the old “Uptown” – 1st Bn, only air conditioned barracks, “Twohey’s Tulips”, and the “Thumpin’ Third” D.I.’s. I did boot in MCRD Diego, Hat in 3rd Bn P.I. Never really lost my voice, Bn Commander would say, “I always know when it’s you, the windows shake”, smile and walk off. If my throat felt a little swollen in the morning (first thing it does before the voice is gone) I definitely hit the honey and lemon or olive oil…both DID work.” If you smoked it wasn’t long before you switched to KOOL or SALEM (opened from the bottom so when someone bummed a smoke he wouldn’t touch your filters. Strange isn’t it?? Even then we knew about cancer, but we worried about someone else’s dirty fingers LMAO. AND THEY WERE NOT CALLED “SCHOOLHOUSE INSTRUCTORS! They were appropriately called D.I. School Instructors; every one of them the best of the best.


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