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"Now without killing yourselves, GET OFF MY BUS." These are the last four words you will hear prior to your life changing forever. The change begins immediately when you first mirror the yellow footprints. Whatever doubts you had if this is real are quickly gone as yelling is heard from all directions and your heart attempts to escape your body. The night is young and so are you but you will quickly learn that you have everything to learn once again. We have come from all points throughout the USA. From the big cities to the rural farms. Different social status, Black, White Hispanic, and Asian to name a few. We begin our journey into an elite brotherhood very different. But we will emerge as one, a United States Marine.
What little knowledge we bring with us is quickly forgotten as we are deprived of what we bring with us both mentally and physically. We are stripped of our character to begin the crucial rebuilding process. Our heads are all similar as our youth is shaved to the scalp. We are very wide eyed but we seem to see nothing. Time seems to stand still as it rushes by at a pace never before experienced by any of us. You are whisked away from room to room not knowing what to expect next. Fear is everywhere but there is no time to think about it. Every second is being fulfilled to it's maximum use. A brief phone call home to ensure your safe arrival is a lie. As no one feels safe at this time. Dental, medical and psychological exams are done without hesitation or approval. The longest two or three days of you life are only a glimpse of what lies ahead.
Arriving in your permanent platoon is indeed a very freighting experience for anyone. You will do nothing right and everything wrong. You will quickly forget your left from your right. You will think up is down and vice versa. The simplest of tasks will now cause great confusion to your very confused young mind. Stress at a very high intense level will confuse the brightest and toughest of minds. It is nothing but a blur as it is occurring and it seems to last forever. Confusion is all around as drill instructors bark out their orders. Some orders are impossible to complete but we still try because we can not think that far ahead under these stressful conditions. We will learn how to bathe, how to shave, how to dress and how to speak and act by the numbers. From one through ten we must not skip a single beat. To do so would earn us extra time at pushing our bodies off the deck. It's all about learning how to kill but we do not understand this at this time.
Soreness is an everyday issue as we run or march everywhere we go. Everything is done with the sense of urgency. We move like bees in a hive. Our focus is so great that a spaceship can whiz by our heads and we would not even notice. It is not our job to notice spaceships. We are here to follow orders and carry them out. Drilling is an everyday thing. Our rifle is our best friend as we march around the parade deck. The only sound our ears are allowed to pick up is that of our drill instructors barking out the most beautiful cadences. As time goes by we begin to gel as a platoon but no one is giving us praise. We are still worthless and are often reminded of this by giving us some extra training in a giant dirt pit. This pit builds character as the reason for being in it is usually false. To do your best will never be good enough in their eyes. Nothing is ever personal but it seems as if everything you do is personal around these parts.
As the end nears you will have a brief moment to reflect on what you have accomplished. From qualifying with the rifle, to swimming with all of your gear. From drilling to inspections and the countless miles ran and humped. The transformation is near it's end but soon it will begin once again. Our movements are crisp and our appearance is clean. Our words have purpose and our reflection reflects confidence. Hair is back on top as we now walk with tremendous pride. The drill instructors are still here to remind us of where we are and where we have been. They have not flinched once during their grueling task. They make KILLERS for a living and this is not an easy task. To question their methods is wrong, to look at the results is proof. They are at a level in which very few will ever reach. Many try to become one and many fail, so this truly is the best of the best.
We must never forget why we chose to become US Marines. We must never forget those that made us Marines. And we must never forget those that died for their country and the Eagle Globe and Anchor. If everyone could be a Marine then we wouldn't be Marines. When America dials 911 the Marines will always answer. Always have and always will. Semper Fi Jarheads!!!
The objectives of any boot camp are generally the same regardless of service branch although the Marines do tend to build more pride in service than the other branches. Step one in the process is to break down your sense of individuality so that a sense of "team" can replace it. This is done through progressively difficult physical conditioning to get you in perhaps the best condition in your life, some rather mind numbing verbal assaults, a totally regimented schedule and occasional lack of sleep.
The training is well thought out and planned to build your pride in yourself for achieving each step in becoming part of an elite group. You are given tough physical and mental challenges but, as with any goal it is you challenging yourself to meet and exceed those goals that is the biggest hurdle and greatest reward.
As you come to identify yourself as a member of your platoon you will receive many hours of classroom training on the skills and responsibilities that you will need to know to be successful.
Bootcamp is a relatively brief but, intense period whereby you put away your individuality for a time and challenge yourself to do what millions before you have already done.