The Hand That Held All Knowledge

The Hand That Held All Knowledge

I entered boot camp at MCRD in July of ’65. My last name, the name I used until that point was different from the last name I used in San Diego because, I was informed, my step Dad had never legally adopted me. You can imagine where this is headed. That’s right. My new name was called for mail call and, like a dummy, I just stood there in a daze until the slap upside the head cleared the thinking part of my brain to make room for more important stuff.

Being the complete idiot that I was, the second time my name was called, about two minutes later, I was too busy trying to get the buzzing out of my head from my first letter, and failed once again to speak up. Just as the hand that held all knowledge applied itself to the brain housing, I realized my new name had been called once again. Too late. It sounded like a rifle going off beside my ear.

After that I never missed listening for, and answering to, the sound of my last name. Now a days I’m a little deaf so I do not always answer quickly. Thank God no one here has the hand of correction. I couldn’t survive it now.

CPL. ’65-’69

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


  • Charlie Ledbetter

    I dreaded the thought of receiving a box of cookies, gum or any kind of sweets. I got lucky and it never happened to me. Plt 191, San Diego, 1964.

  • Sgt. Richard Hunt

    I was the platoon secretary of Plt. 3084 in May through July of ’69. Sitting on a stool in the duty hut early one morning doing my job I was dodging back and forth as the drill instructor was throwing a pvt. off the walls of the drill instructors hutch. The guy had only gone through the 5th grade and you could tell it without asking. I later found out that the drill instructor had broken one of his ear drums. This young man would have never made it in Viet Nam and could have probably been a liability to other men in in unit.

  • Ogamez

    That’s a funny story, but as a drill instructor at MCRD San Diego, I was responsible for changing several recruits last names. Why, you ask, simple. I did not like their last name, the name did not fit the character of the recruit or I simply could not pronounce their given name, so a change was required. It took awhile but the recruit adjusted to the new name. Then once they had completed training and were about to graduate I would call them by their real name and the whole confusion would start all over again.

  • Corinne L.

    I love this story, it coincides with my Dad’s memories of Basic training. That the response to those blows was “Thank you sir, may I have another”. Of course he would never hit me, but we joke about it. Being an Air Force veteran myself, we have that camaraderie. This story brought back sentiment for the military, thanks for sharing.

  • GySgt 65-90

    Yeah, Sgt Grit… I can empathize completely about that name business; I was in the same boat!

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