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The Marine Corps, 1966
Not Too Many Snowflakes
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This is criminally long. It will probably leave no space on the internet for anything else. It was published in the magazine of Army Times in 1979. It describes a Parris Island that no longer exists. In fact it describes a world that no longer exists. The thought of some effeminate Snowflake telling a Marine DI that he needed a Safe Space so he wouldn’t feel uncomfortable, poor darling–well, it just charms me. He would develop a whole new understanding of “uncomfortable.”

Anyway, the piece will resonate with a few Marine old-timers now long in the tooth. Semper fi.

Boot camp. Yawning gateway to military life, an adventure outrageously funny and frightening, source of a lifetime of lies, all growing worse with each bull session. No one forgets boot. Get two GIs together over a bottle of gin, talking about old times, and sooner or later the talk will turn to tales of boot, a few of them true.

Not many, though. It is all right for most stories to be based on fact, but the better recollections of boot have only a nodding acquaintance with truth. Facts inhibit flexibility. They stultify.

But boot is more than tall tales. It is part of American life. We talk of being a peaceful nation, but usually we have a couple of million men and women under arms and often a war going. A high percentage of Americans spend time in the military. They shape it, and it shapes them.

A particular aspect of the national character appears in the organized anarchy of military life. Literature finds the military a feast — Catch 22, M*A*S*H, A Farewell To Arms, Dispatches, and all the rest.

Boot is a gateway. Here’s to basic, as I remember it, as everyone remembers it, as I saw it in going back this year. A boy’s first great taste of life.
Next to finding a Portuguese man-of-war in the bathtub, the worst thing that could happen to a kid of 20 in 1968 was getting to Parris Island at a grainy-eyed two in the morning, flat exhausted, and meeting a drill instructor. Everyone’s heard the tales. DIs will pull your fingernails off one by one, make you run until your knees corrode, bury you to the neck in sand and leave you for the mosquitoes.

When the bus pulls into the swampy lowlands of South Carolina and Parris Island signs appear, it all becomes plausible. And there’s no…way…out.

I arrived on a chartered Greyhound crowded with Richmond boys who suddenly suspected that they weren’t a Few Good Men. It was a raw deal all around–cottony taste in the mouth, somebody else sure to get the girl back home, bus reeking of stale sweat and beginning fear, no thought yet about dying in Asia, just a sort of uh-oh feeling.

The driver had picked up a sergeant at the gate to give him a ride. “You wanna get off before the stampede?” the driver asked. Stampede? It was ominous.

On that loneliest morning I’ll ever see, my introduction to the Marines–the Green Team, the Crotch, Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children–was a little man 32 feet wide and about as high as my chin. He had killed Smokey the Bear and stolen his hat. He had a voice like Krakatoa in full eruption, and his name was Staff Sergeant Bull Walrus. At least I think it was.

He exploded into the headlights like one of hell’s more vicious demons, trembling with fury.

GiddawfadatgawdambusNOW!” he bellowed, blowing several windows out of the bus–I swear it, three windows fell out–by which we understood his desire that we disembark. We did so in sheer terror, trampling one another and no longer worried about our girls. To hell with our girls. Bull Walrus was clearly about to tear out throats out with his bare teeth, that was the important thing.

There we were, The Few, The Proud, standing in deep shock with our feet in these silly golden footsteps painted on the pavement. Move one inch, Walrus screams, and he will do unspeakable things, after which our girls will no longer want us. I figured they kept Walrus in a dungeon by day and just let him out to torture recruits by night.

We were groggy with fatigue, minds buzzing with adrenaline, and Walrus is inspecting our suitcases to take away glass objects. So we won’t commit suicide with them, see.

I imagine myself tearing out my carotids with an Arid bottle. Suddenly he is in front of me. I lied. He’s not 32 feet wide. He is 40 feet wide. He’s got arms like anacondas and his head is held on by a bolt.

He also is confiscating porn books, to protect our morals and read later. He reaches for a book in my suitcase and glares at me with eyes of tin and death. I realize, with calm that still surprises me, that he is going to murder me. The book is Medieval Architecture.

A recruit, a drill instructor told me much later, after I had been reincarnated as a journalist, “is the funniest goddam animal alive. He’s gotta be. You get these kids, some of them are street kids from the city, some of them farm kids, and these suburban kids who just don’t know nothing–every kind of kid.

“And dumb? Jeez they’re dumb. And they’ve got about three months to adjust to a complicated life they’ve got no experience with. They’ve got to learn how to think Marine Corps. Military thinking isn’t like civilian thinking.

“Half of ’em don’t even know how rifle sights work. Like this friend of mine is teaching a class about the M-60 machine gun, and he’s telling them its rate of fire, it’s gas-operated, and this skinny recruit says, ‘But where’s the gas tank?’”

“Jeez, they’re dumb.”


Sergeant Sly is a man with a sense of humor. He’s black, strac, and cocky — the DI cockiness that says there’s nothing on God’s green earth better than the Green Team, and I’m the coolest thing in the Marines, and, Prive, you gotta sweat to be as good as me. All DIs are like that, all the good ones anyway. Sly is a good one.

Sly runs recruits along the hot, dusty weapons ranges of Camp Lejeune — hot and dusty in summer, anyway. He tries to keep his recruits from getting hurt.

“All right,” he tells a platoon, standing in sweat-soaked utilities. Nothing looks quite as dispirited as recruits in a hot sun. “While you’re in the field, you gotta take certain precautions against the wildlife. I don’t have to tell you about some of it. Don’t feed the snakes, or try to pick’em up ’cause they’re pretty.

“I’m talking about the other wildlife. Most of it’s harmless, but one kind is bad news–what people down here call the Wampus cat. It’s related to the bobcat and it’s not too big, ’bout like a cocker spaniel, but you don’t want to make one think he’s cornered.”

Another afternoon at Lejeune. The recruits listen, barely.

A few scenes are so close to boot camp that they deserve inclusion here, embodying as they do terrors near to those of boot. A massive grinder at Camp Pendleton, California. A private, fresh out of training and spending a week on maintenance duty before his school begins, has been sent to pick up toilet paper for the barracks. Battalion issue has no box in which to carry it. He ponders, has an idea, sticks a dozen rolls on a mop handle, puts it over his shoulder like a rifle.

A bird colonel rounds the corner. The Marine is new enough to the real military that officers terrify him. Panic strikes. He hesitates and, driven by reflex or some buried death wish, gives a snappy rifle salute. The colonel’s jaw drops. His hat slowly rises on a column of steam.

You learn. It just takes a while.

Boot camp is a very quick education in the ways of the world–of many worlds. For a weird collection of people, the average training platoon beats midnight in a New York City bus station.

In my platoon we had a Mexican kid named Rodriguez who couldn’t speak English, a black kid who said he was Bill Cosby’s nephew, three college students–one of them a physical chemistry major, one a tiny blond guy who couldn’t have been more than 11 years old–and a bunch of judicial draftees. (“I’m gonna give you a choice, son,” says the judge. “Four in the slammer or two in the Marines.” It’s supposed to be illegal. So are a lot of things.)

Many of these judicial draftees were burglars from Tennessee. Free enterprise seems to be broadly interpreted in those parts and usually begins after midnight.

One of them was named Mulvaney. He had been caught in a second floor bedroom collecting someone else’s silverware. He preferred the Marines to the slammer, not necessarily a wise choice in those days. I later heard he got killed outside of Danang.

Anyway, Mulvaney was built like one of those Martian robots on the late show, arms like logs and the legs of an offensive lineman, and he had gray eyes and a long, slow smile that meant he was about to break your legs in 20 places. He didn’t get mad easily, but it was spectacular when he did.

For a college kid accustomed to settling disputes by reason, Mulvaney was a revelation. He didn’t care about right and wrong. Either he liked you, or he tried to kill you.

One night Mulvaney was standing fire watch in the latrine–the Marine Corps thinks they are flammable–and he somehow got into a fight with Rodriguez. A Mexican kid from Brownsville is not the best choice to throw hands with. We could hear it all down the squad bay — terrific thumps with a splattering sound like a sack full of hog kidneys hitting a tile wall, and not a word. Neither wanted to waste energy talking. It was one of those extended fights engaged in by men who simply like fighting.

Next morning it was hair, teeth and eyeballs all over the deck, and enough gore that you’d have thought they’d been slaughtering hogs. Both combatants looked like they had lost a discussion with a cement truck. Mulvaney’s left eye looked like an egg fried in blood and Rodriguez’s nose wasn’t quite where I remembered it.

“What you pukes been doing?” snarled the drill instructor. Pukes was the nicest thing they ever called us. He really wasn’t mad. Fighting was a sin, but not as bad as falling out on a run.

“Walked into the door, sir,” says Mulvaney, deadly serious.

“Wha’ sir?” says Rodriguez, looking puzzled. His English deteriorated when he was asked inconvenient questions.

For hours, Mulvaney and Rodriguez pounded round the grinder in full packs, holding hands and yelling, “I love Mulvaney more than poking my girlfriend.” When they finished, I bet they did. It was justice of a sort.

McCoy was the saddest thing I ever saw. McCoy was very tall with a long, sad face. He was disturbingly thin — your impulse on meeting him was to feed him — and beet-brown from heaven-knows-how-many-weeks in strength-building platoons.

McCoy didn’t have any muscles to enlarge. If he had any coordination, you didn’t notice it. His voice was soft and feminine and he was funny looking, a bad thing at boot. He reminded me of a clerk from a Dickens novel.

On the grinder he stuck up above everyone else like a weed and was always out of step. He tripped over his feet and fell into other people. McCoy struggled to do pushups until tears ran down his cheeks, but couldn’t do them. His back folded until his belly touched the ground, and when he got into the “down” position he couldn’t push himself back up.

The DIs wanted to get rid of McCoy. He didn’t belong in the Corps, they said. They offered him medical discharges and general discharges, and set him back time and time again, but McCoy wouldn’t quit.


Later we learned that McCoy’s older brother had gone through Parris Island and had been All-time Superprivate or something, a really hot trooper. McCoy wanted to finish to make his brother proud. He had never amounted to much and wanted to show that he could do it too. Trouble was, he had the guts for five Marines but the body for about a third of one.

The DIs bullied him to drive him out. They were practical men, and they knew he would die in Asia, probably getting several other men killed at the same time. They badgered him mercilessly and made him stand on tables and roar for the platoon. He’d stand there on a bayonet instructor’s table, surrounded by the platoon, and the DIs would torment him.

“Roar, McCoy.”

McCoy couldn’t roar. A muted groan came from his scrawny chest.

“Louder, McCoy! Let’s hear a Marine Corps roar!”



“Make a muscle, McCoy.”

McCoy, looking sadder than ever, would tense his muscle for all to see and nothing would happen. But he wouldn’t quit because he was going to be a Marine and make his brother proud.

I forget how they finally got rid of him. If there is any possible way to do something wrong, a recruit will find it.

There was the ambidextrous kid at the grenade range at Lejeune. The idea was to stand between two walls of sandbags and throw the grenade over a high parapet. He pulled the pin and rared back to throw. Then he stopped. You could see the puzzlement in his face. No, that hand didn’t feel right. He casually tossed the thing in the air, caught it in the other hand, and threw it. By the time it exploded, the instructor was in the next county and accelerating.

I remember lying in lovely cold muck behind a log at Lejeune, firing at enemy oil barrels a few hundred yards away. It was one of those weird situations that occur regularly in the military.

Cold rain drizzling down my helmet and running neatly down my spine, my helmet slipping down over my eyes, and I’m in a firefight with a bunch of extremely dangerous barrels. The rifle is a worn out M-1 probably left over from the Napoleonic Wars, in use only because the government has several hundred billion rounds of ammunition for it.

The trigger mechanism is broken. Every time I fire it, the damned thing falls out and hangs down like a wounded clock. I slap it back. Bang, slap, bang, slap. Every fourth round, the clip pops out of the top of the rifle–spoing–and lands on my helmet.

Bang, slap, spoing, clunk, adjust the helmet. Bang, slap. I begin to see that it could be a long war.

A recruit was standing on a roof at Parris Island in the burning sun at parade rest. His DI had put him there to work on the roof and somehow had forgotten him. A passing sergeant noticed, stared curiously for a second, and bellowed, “Git down from there, prive.”

The private didn’t move.

“Goddamit, git down here,” bawled the instructor, unused to being ignored.

Nothing. The private looked deeply unhappy, but didn’t so much as twitch.

Another DI came along and yelled, but nothing moved the recruit. He gazed desperately ahead, either deaf or crazed by the sun. A group formed on the sidewalk, including a warrant officer, a lieutenant, and, finally, a passing light colonel.

The colonel snapped his crispest order. The private stared ahead. The crowd conferred, decided they had a mental case on their hands and prepared to send for a struggle buggy and some big corpsmen. Then the private’s DI returned.

“Jaworski, Ten-hut! Git your butt down from there.”

Down came Jaworski. From parade rest, you see, the only acceptable order is “attention”. The manual of arms says so.

“You see,” a drill instructor explained to me, “a recruit’s in a place he doesn’t understand at all, and nothing ever works for him. Back home, he knows the rules. Maybe he’s a big dude on the block, got it made. Not here. Everybody’s yelling at him and he can’t ever do anything right.

“So he figures he’ll do exactly what he’s told. It’s his way of protecting himself. If something goes wrong, he thinks at least it’s not his fault. This is what a drill instructor’s got to learn — nothing’s too crazy for a recruit to do if he thinks it’s what you told him. And you really got to think about it. Otherwise you can get him hurt.

“One time in winter a friend of mine, Sergeant Grunderling, had evening duty at some building and he wanted to go take a leak. So he tells this recruit who’s with him, ‘I’m going out for a minute. Don’t let anyone in who doesn’t know the password. You got that?’

“The recruit says, ‘Yes, sir,’ so Grunderling relieves himself and realizes he can’t remember the password. So he hollers, ‘Minter, open the door.”

“What’s the password?”

“I forget. Open the door.”

“I can’t do that, sir. You told me not to let anybody in who doesn’t give the password, sir.”

“Goddamit Minter, now I’m telling you to open the door.”

“‘No sir, I can’t do that.”

“Minter, it’s cold out here.”

“No, sir, I can’t do that.”

“By now Grunderling’s mostly frozen and so mad he can’t see straight, but he sees threats ain’t going to help him.

“Please, Minter, let me in. I ain’t gonna yell at you. I won’t do anything to you.”

“Aww, you’re trying to trick me.”

“No, Minter, honest, I ain’t trying to trick you. Open the door.’

“You’re gonna yell at me, aren’t you sir?”

“No, Minter, I promise.”

“Finally, old Minter opens the door and Grunderling nearly kills him. But he should have expected it. A recruit does exactly what you tell him.”


“You probably won’t see a Wampus cat,” Sergeant Sly continues, “but if you do, remember he’s fast. A cat isn’t built for endurance like a dog is, but he’s lightning in a dash. Don’t think you’re gonna tease a Wampus and run away when it starts spittin’ and howlin’.

“They’re not that fast — I mean, a Wampus cat can’t keep up with a cheetah or anything, but they’ve been clocked at 50. It takes a damn good shot to hit anything at that speed.”

A September day in a clearing at Camp Lejeune. Our company of trainees sits in weathered bleachers, scratching and, after three months of training, feeling as salty as three bosun’s mates.

A massive sergeant with a velvet Georgia accent is teaching us the care and feeding of a white phosphorus grenade, otherwise known as Willy Peter (and several other things unfit for a family magazine).

Willy Peter is an unpleasant weapon that throws white phosphorous around, a nasty substance that sticks to you and burns.

He holds the lethal cylinder in his hand, tells us what horrible things it can do to Luke the Gook–who was then the hated enemy–and announces that he will trot into the field and demonstrate.

That is fine with us, as long as we can sit in the sun and relax. We watch with interest as he lopes into the grass.

For days we’d been watching weapons specialists trot into Lejeune’s clearings, and something spectacular always happened. Something blew up or went bang or made colored smoke.

So the sergeant gets out there next to this little steel hut he’s supposed to hide in while Willy Peter does his stuff. He chucks this incredibly vicious grenade downfield and ducks into the steel hut.

Two seconds later he streaks out at roughly Mach Four, like Tony Green on a punt return. He has the unmistakable gait of a man who is flat terrified. About that time Willy Peter goes whoomp! and the air around the sergeant is filled with long smoky trails of flaming phosphorous. He streaks on as if he took showers in the stuff, ignoring it, a mountain on the move in blind fright.

Somehow all that smoking agony misses him and he reaches us panting hugely.

“Goddam wasps.”

Training has changed. Ten years ago, reveille at Parris Island meant a GI-can lid sailing down the squad bay at oh-dark-30. The lights would come on suddenly and 10 seconds later a hundred recruits would be standing at attention in their underwear, half-conscious and miserable.

Now the GI-can lid is gone. So is much of the stress of training.

“What happened, some kid’s mother heard about it and wrote her congressman. He came down and said, Oh dear, ain’t this awful, what if they hit somebody with that lid. So they made us stop that.

“And one time a recruit died of heat stroke carrying his first issue to the barracks, so everybody’s mother started writing her congressman. Now we gotta carry recruits around in cattle cars.

“Hell, you can’t put thousands of people through military training without somebody getting hurt. It just ain’t possible. If they don’t train hard, they get killed in combat. They ought to shoot the doctor that let that kid in here in the first place. Congress doesn’t give a damn about training.

“And you know what? The recruits want training to be rough. That’s why they joined-to do something hard.”

Parris Island can make a Marine out of almost anything with a detectable heartbeat. What a kid wants most at Parris Island is out, and the quickest way out is to behave. Most kids have a well-developed sense of self-preservation and see the wisdom of obedience. A few are hopeless.

I remember a tall kid named Gurdy from the slums who was terrified of the water. He had a tiny cue ball of a head and held it to one side, like a rattlesnake. There was a mean, cautious defiance to him, the look of a trapped animal. Gurdy had lived so much on the outside of society that he didn’t realize you ever had do anything.

We were lined up at the pool for the swim test, if you could call it that. I think you had to swim about as far as most of us could broad jump. Gurdy stood there wild-eyed and strange, leaning his head one way and rolling his eyes the other. He didn’t say anything.

The rest of us were going through boot camp, but Gurdy didn’t know what he was going through. I guess he thought we were going to make him walk the plank. He was out of some remote tenement world of Chicago, and beyond even the military’s ability to handle.

We could see him getting crazier and crazier as the line got shorter. Tension was building up in him like a head of steam. Finally he broke and ran like a jack rabbit — just shot out the door and kept going.

God knows where he thought he could run to on Parris Island, where it’s hard for a fugitive in a bathing suit to hide. I don’t think he much knew himself, probably figured it was like ducking a cop in the city. It was the last we saw of him.

I had thought it was borrowed from some book like Battle Cry, but it happens: Private Mulligan walking down the squad bay at Parris Island, chanting, “This is my rifle, this is my gun…,” firmly holding onto both.

The worst hazard for a recruit is not shrapnel or even dismemberment by Sergeant Bull Walrus. It is tattoo parlors. These garish dens abound near big bases and prey on recent recruits longing for any evidence of manhood. New soldiers spend 15 minutes getting that impressive eagle, and then they spend 20 years pricing plastic surgeons to get their boyhood back.

Some recruits go stark nuts over tattoos — Wasloski, for example, a red-headed Polish kid from Chicago I met in the drab barracks of Pendleton.

Wasloski was crazy. He had an angular, pugnacious face with half the world’s strategic reserve of freckles, and claimed he had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, which for obscure reasons he called UPI, and had less judgment than a volunteer for kamikaze school.


God help him, Wasloski discovered tattoo parlors. It had to happen. He showed up at the barracks one night with a half-naked Vietnamese girl tattooed on his forearm. It was conspicuous to say the least. I mean, it had colors like a Day-Glo detergent box and probably had batteries.

Before it had healed the poor maniac had another on the other arm, and then on an upper arm. I don’t know where it ended, if it did. He’s probably got naked bar girls running up his spine.

Nothing is quite so military as a tattoo, and he wanted to be military. He just didn’t know that guys with tattoos spend the rest of their lives trying to get rid of them. If Wasloski ever has a girlfriend, which is barely possible, he’ll have to have his arms amputated. And maybe his back.

Junior enlisted men have a limitless capacity for avoiding work. Among the better recruits, this talent verges on religious inspiration. Trainees learn it quickly.

My first experience with this useful ability was watching a platoon that was walking in line across a sandy field to police up cigarette butts. Instead of picking up the offending butts, each man carefully pushed sand over them with this boots. They hadn’t planned it or seen anyone else do it. The idea simply came to them as the obvious response to the situation.

They left a spotless field. Thirty minutes later, wind blew the sand away and the place looked like a public dump. I suppose those butts had been accumulating for 30 years, buried repeatedly by generations of recruits.

Then there was McClinton, assigned to water the grass at a chow hall on a blazing California day. There wasn’t a puff of wind. The heat would have baked a camel’s brains, and asphalt was turning to a sticky ooze. McClinton was supposed to walk back and forth across the lawn, spraying each patch until it was thoroughly wet. A Russian would have done it, but the American trooper thinks for himself.

McClinton found the opening for a storm sewer in the ground in the shade beneath a tree. For three hours he stood in the shade and watered that grate. The grass never got wet, so he always seemed to be watering a dry patch. A hundred yards below, the gutter flooded.

“Now the Wampus cat isn’t any damn killer bogeyman, no matter what the locals say. All that stuff on TV about how it killed seven Boy Scouts in a swamp is so much crap. At least in my opinion. But it can get real savage, like any cat, and we do lose three or four recruits every year to it. It’s mostly their own damn fault because they don’t take the right precautions.

“When you put your tent up, just make sure you’re at least four feet from the tree line. Four feet, got it? And the Wampus cat tends to hunt on a north-south line, so I want those tents facing east and west. That’s all it takes, and the colonel won’t be chewing my ass because the Wampus cat killed one of my recruits.”

The beach at Lejeune, a chill gray day with fog wafting over greasy Atlantic rollers. A platoon of infantry trainees stands shivering beside the looming bulk of an amtrac–the old LVT P-5, the beach-assault vehicleof the Marines in those days.

It’s shaped like a steel loaf of bread with tracks. It runs up on the beach and drops its ramp, whereupon the grunts run out and get machine-gunned.

At least, that’s what the crewmen tell the grunts. The grunts are trainees. They’ll believe anything.

LVT P5. What I drove. Also known as a Wide Area Notifying Mine Detector. The gasoline tank was in the bottom. If you went over a mine, a four-hundred-foot plume of black smoke notified everyone within fifty miles.
LVT P5. What I drove. Also known as a Wide Area Notifying Mine Detector. The gasoline tank was in the bottom. If you went over a mine, a four-hundred-foot plume of black smoke notified everyone within fifty miles.

The corporal in command yells and the trainees scramble aboard-37 of them. A trac is like a steel coffin, dark and cold inside, with only two small windows on the side.

Sometimes they become coffins for real. Once, a hatch was left open and a big roller came aboard, dragging the trac down in 150 feet of cold water. Nobody has heard from the occupants and, as this was some years ago, they are presumed dead.

The crew tell the grunts about it as the ramp closes.

The engine revs up to a deafening roar, hollow and sepulchral, for the dash into the breakers. The beast crashes into the surf and sinks to within a foot of its top, which is what it is supposed to do. Green water comes over the windows and shoots in streams through the minor leaks a trac always has.

The recruits don’t know this. They are very, very uneasy in this death trap, imagining the terrified scramble should it sink. There would be no hope of avoiding a watery grave.

A hundred yards from shore, the crewman stands under the machine-gun periscope and looks out like a U-boat commander.

He eyes the rollers, which break over the top, and says laconically, “It’s too rough up there, Charlie. Let’s take her down to 50 feet and hope the bulkheads hold.”

Three recruits faint. Trainees will believe anything.

I had this guy Handley, couldn’t do anything right,” one DI told me. “I mean, he was the kind of guy who tries hard, but everything he touches turns to crap. Big doofus guy outa Miami. You can’t persecute that kind of guy, because he genuinely is trying his best.

“One day Handley is sitting in this 10-holer latrine we had, along with about six other guys, all with their trousers around their ankles. Well, the colonel comes in to take a whizz, and Handley stands to attention and yells, ‘Ten-hut!’”

Oh-dark-30, a frigid morning at Lejeune. Our last day of training. We line up single file to go into the dark administration shack and collect our boot pay. We are harder and heavier than we were three months ago, a little cocky, confident, aware of new muscles. Inside the shack we have to stand to attention and do some silly boot rigmarole: “Sir! Private Smith reportingforpaycall-serial number twothirtyonetwentysixfiftyone Sir!” all in one breath.

We also have to stop just outside the door and count the crisp new bills. One of the squad leaders — Bergland, a beefy kid from Alabama — has been ordered to be sure we do.

He is feeling full of himself on the dark sidewalk and well he might. For the first time in his life, he is in charge of others.

A figure comes from the shack, like 20 before him, but counts nothing.

“Marine, count them bills!”

The figure doesn’t stop, so Bergland grabs him around the waist and pulls him back, unaware that he has grabbed the meanest gunny sergeant in Camp Geiger.


Sir, what’s a Wampus cat look like?” a recruit asks Sergeant Sly.


“I wish I could tell you. You see, a Wampus is unusual in one way: It only runs backwards. It’s one of the mysteries of science. A lot of people have seen the back end of a Wampus, but nobody’s seen the front. That’s why you gotta run your tents from east to west, so the Wampus cat doesn’t back into it. And let me tell you, if you ever see the butt end of a Wampus cat coming in, you better kiss your ass goodbye, ’cause it’s all over.”

Noon in the Lejeune woods, chilly with autumn and the slowing drizzle, gooky red mud making sucking noises under our boots. Rain-laden pine branches brush across faces like cold hands. “S” Company is coming off the flame-thrower range for chow. Why the scene sticks in my memory I don’t know, but it is my most vivid impression of training: a company of sodden recruits, shivering.

There were inexplicable moments when it all came together and we were proud to be in the service, the real world, not pumping gas or pulling frogs apart in some tedious laboratory. A fair number of us would be dead in ten weeks, but we didn’t believe it yet.

Steam rose from the field kitchen, the only warm thing in the entire world, and we held out mess kits for the cooks to fill with savory glop. At 19 you’re too dumb to know when you’re uncomfortable. We were used to 3 1/2 hours sleep, at ease with rifles and seven-eighty-two gear, beginning to feel like Marines.

One blond kid with huge, round, blue eyes has lost his mess kit. He takes chow in his canteen cup–stew, spinach, bread, canned peaches dumped on top, string beans. It all goes to the same place, he says. When you’ve been up and running since 4:30, you don’t care what it looks like.

Sergeants bark at us, but act like we’re human, which may or may not show good judgment on their part. I line up with the rest of these olive-drab warriors at chest-high log tables. We eat standing up in the soupy clay, gray clouds rolling and twisting overhead. Someone passes a rumor that we have declared war on Red China. Some believe it. Some always do.

There is no such thing as a recruit with enough to eat. Chow wasn’t bad-not like at the chow hall where, when the cook scooped up the powdered eggs with an ice cream scoop, green water filled the hole.

Along the log tables are jars of peanut butter and jelly for making Geiger-burgers-two-pound sandwiches that keep you going through the training ranges of Lejeune’s Camp Geiger. Huge wasps and yellow jackets crawl around in the jelly jars.

The man next to me eyes a hornet the size of a heavy bomber in his jar. The beast is obviously dangerous. On the other hand, the Marine wants a sandwich.

It doesn’t pay to stand between a recruit and food. With a quick twist of his knife, he forces the hornet deep below the surface of the jelly and makes his sandwich with the top layers.

Others before him had done the same thing. I count seven buried wasps, some still twitching. You do what you gotta do.

(Republished from Fred on Everything by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Military, Political Correctness 
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  1. Truth says:

    The thought of some effeminate Snowflake telling a Marine DI that he needed a Safe Space so he wouldn’t feel uncomfortable, poor darling–well, it just charms me. He would develop a whole new understanding of “uncomfortable.”

    You need a safe space, Guadalajara.

  2. Funny how on the one hand young men are stupid and on the other he feels pride for having been one of those stupid young men, even though he won’t say it aloud.

    Why can’t young men just be young men, without all the peering down our noses at them? Does some sort of female imperative demand it or are older men threatened by the vigor of youth?

    I too played the boot camp game, though in 1981 and in San Diego rather than Parris Island. It doesn’t define who I am now nor is it a source of shame. Truth be told I don’t care to share it very often, not because of some negativity but rather because the vast majority of people I encounter have no understanding of such things. I’d rather have the respect of my peers than the admiration of any number who never bothered to be a soldier for the working day.

    • Replies: @Dr Strangelove
  3. Having joined the Corps in January, 1948, I suppose I am now an official member of the Old Corps. I know I’m officially old for sure – 87 later this year.

    I had the “pleasure” of doing a tour at PI as a staff NCO – teaching out at the range, not running a platoon.

    I don’t think I could ever belong to any branch other than the USMC – you absorb the Corps and it becomes an integral part of you. Whenever I meet another Marine, I already know a lot about him.

    In a word association test, when you say Marine Corps, I think “sweat”.

    Fred’s anecdotes are part of the lore but I’ve forgotten much of the detail though I do recall getting sick on an LVT off of Little Creek when they put the covers down and all the diesel smoke stayed in the troop space. I also recall going down the rope ladder into an LVCP with a 40+ pound radio on my back, a pack on my chest, an M-1 slung around the radio and the extra battery in the pack. I was around 155 lbs in those days.

    And, on the M-1, when issued my new weapon, it was all cosmolined with a tag on it reading: CONDEMNED – U.S. Army – 1945 Gave me a secure feeling I’d be able to knock off all those NORKS easy with my well-broken in weapon.

    Semper Fi is right Fred.

  4. Whoever says:

    Made me laugh out loud twice. That’s two drinks for you!
    Saw this and thought of your post:

  5. Now the Generals are thinking of allowing mixed gender platoons in boot camp. They wouldn’t like things like this:

  6. anon • Disclaimer says:

    In 1966 they had the draft, which is involuntary servitude.

    • Replies: @Bill Jones
  7. Wyrd says:

    It’s a pity there aren’t more plaudits for this article because these stories are hilarious. Thanks for sharing them, Mr. Reed!

  8. I don’t recall seeing many Marines getting together over gin. That wasn’t the poison of choice for those I knew, though it might be for the pretty-boys higher up the chain in DC.

  9. 2/1 doc says:

    In summer of 65 having seen my friends all off to Paris Island. I spent a few months in boot at Great Lakes with a deranged CPO as USMC DI wannabe. We had once a week to piss in a garbage can with a plastic liner at reveille. Abbot labs outside the base used it to make a drug called urokinase.Used to break up blood clots they claimed. Didn’t work well, Went to corpsman school not knowing of its fatal possibilities. Went to work on the psychiatric wards at Bethesda in Feb 1966. We probably passed each other as I used to sit at Psych desk at entrance to Building 7 which led to PX.
    Spent a month playing Marine at Camp Pendleton, in July 68 and to my credit didn’t go to TJ for the donkey show.
    Oceanside was fine. I had graduated from Oceanside, New York high school and thought life is strange to wind up on the west coast in a place I left on the east coast. Considering casualty rates for corpsman it might be the last place.
    I spent most of my time sitting on Marble mountain outside Danang with a pair of 106 reckless rifles. Not far from where you were at LVT compound. Enjoyed the wonders of beautiful down town Nui Kim Son. There were lots of burned out LVT’s on road to our AO and spent some time riding on top better than inside. The question was always which one to ride. First or last.
    Spent some time at Swamp Lejeune with 25th Marines playing Vietnam. Rained alot and chiggers carried off a platoon.
    One other thing like you . I live in Europe 10 years now. Living is good and beer much better.
    If your in Europe stop by . The name of the town I live in is YPRES. Its got some history you probably know about

  10. I read this article about 15 years ago on Fredo’s site and remember it as being more enjoyable and/or witty back then. Whether I have become more intelligent or cynical is beyond my comprehension. I would prefer the former but I suspect it is the latter.

    I have done the Cook’s tour of occupations from having been in high level office jobs, being a business broker with my own show to busting sod the old fashioned way ( bar none the most physically demanding job in especially when you do it after spending 15 years as a suit) and presently and always a hobby farmer which requires exertions that you don’t even notice. Oh, I also cut and split firewood manually on a business scale. Add a university degree when those things actually mattered. Done it.

    My point is not to exalt myself but to give myself some credibility when I state that the best thing that could ever happen to a youth, headstrong or not is a harsh physical regimen with NO opportunity to quit either due to extreme authority or most importantly peer pressure.

    Fredo’s experience is relatively a pussy walk in my eyes. It was designed to lose only a minor percentage of recruits. A lot of wimps end up as USMC. Special forces are obviously different.

    To give youth an opportunity to overcome fears, develop their bodies and acquire a competitive mental state not only for themselves but also for the good of the commonweal should be the honest duty of leaders who hold the national interest as the highest goal.

    Conscription and real boot camps ( age 18-20) should be mandatory for any nation that hopes to have a future. Trannies and rump rangers should be given medical exemptions. Women should be told that they are no starters for reasons too obvious to discuss.

    To see what I have written as ridiculous is to see how far we have fallen.


    • Replies: @Avery
    , @Willem Hendrik
  11. Avery says:
    @Timur The Lame

    {To give youth an opportunity to overcome fears, develop their bodies and acquire a competitive mental state….}

    Also give the Yutes an opportunity to get killed, or lose limbs, or get maimed, or become vegtables….. in some foreign lands to make the world safe for the Globalist corporations to loot and exploit. When was the last time American military fought invaders on American soil?

    {Conscription and real boot camps ( age 18-20) should be mandatory….}

    What the Hell for?
    You don’t need conscription for men to fight invaders of their own lands.
    You need conscription to have an endless supply of young men – cannon fodder – to be sent to foreign lands to kill or be killed for the interests of a few rulers, who more often than not, have been draft dodgers themselves. (like Cheney, G.W., Clinton, etc. ).

    {“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”}
    Smedley Darlington Butler, USMC Major General.

    One more thing: anyone who wants to volunteer and go and get killed for the Halliburtons, and such – go for it. But don’t ask others to send their 18 y.o. sons to get killed for the warmongering scum that rule US.

    • Agree: Dan Hayes
  12. Alden says:

    Loved the article.

  13. Wally says:

    the facts:

    ‘Join the US Army, or Marines, & Fight for Israel
    The True Cost of Parasite Israel
    Forced US taxpayers money to Israel goes far beyond the official numbers.

  14. @Timur The Lame

    Nah, you are just another social justice warrior. Thinking his way of live is best for everybody. Is all.

  15. mp says:

    When I was in Army boot camp, 1972, we marched and sang:

    I wanna be an Airborne Ranger
    I wanna live a life of danger,
    I wanna go to Viet Nam
    I wanna kill some Charlie Cong.

    Do they still sing like that, anymore? Does anyone even know who Charlie Cong is, anymore? Looking back on it, Charlie may not have been the good guy, but he certainly wasn’t the bad guy.

    Saw a recent ad. The Navy is now advertising itself as a Global Force for Good. I hear that pregnant women serving on ships are a big problem for the Global Force. With the big push for LGBT friendly units, that problem should solve itself.

  16. Agent76 says:

    Feb 17, 2012 The American Way? Our Connection To Nazi Germany

    Don’t let the title fool you. This video is actually about how government-run schooling contributed to the rise of socialism, imperialism and eventually fascism in Germany between the 1890s and 1940s.

    • Replies: @joe webb
  17. dearieme says:

    I now find it hard not to read “corps” in the Obama style.

  18. Agent76 says:

    Jun 23, 2014 The Truth about the Vietnam War

    Did the United States win or lose the Vietnam War? We are taught that it was a resounding loss for America, one that proves that intervening in the affairs of other nations is usually misguided. The truth is that our military won the war, but our politicians lost it. The Communists in North Vietnam actually signed a peace treaty, effectively surrendering. But the U.S. Congress didn’t hold up its end of the bargain. In just five minutes, learn the truth about who really lost the Vietnam War.

  19. gdpbull says:

    Army guy here. Got off the bus into boot camp at Ft Polk Louisiana at about 1 AM. While us recruits were piling off the bus amid the rancorous insults of the Drill Sergeants (DSs), a planted fake recruit snuck in among us (we later learned). He was a fake smart-ass cut-up. While we were standing in loose formation being informed of our sorry worthlessness from two inches away by screaming DSs in our faces, the fake smart-ass recruit would laugh at the DSs and make smart remarks back at them. He was yanked violently out of the formation by a burly DS, and drug off a ways into the darkness. All the DSs gathered round the apparent hapless recruit and began to kick and beat the guy. The screams were blood-curdling, until the fake recruit fell silent. The burly DS then drug the fake recruit who appeared unconscious by a heel back into the light and past the formation of real recruits, picked him up and threw him into a jeep. The driver of the jeep drove off.

    We were all scared s__tless. The only words we could speak for a week or so after that was “Yes Drill Sergeant!!” Unlike the marines, if you called a DS sir, you were in deep s__t. It was considered an insult to them. Only officers were addressed as sir.

  20. joe webb says:

    too bad we ain’t got boot camp anymore…for all males. provides a good look at actually existing human beings…at least your own kind and some of those Others.

    Mine was at Fort Ord in Monterey California. The whole herd of antifas, etc. should be sentenced to Basic Training. Basically.

    Joe Webb

    • Replies: @Alden
  21. bluedog says:

    Well son I know its hard to get over after all we are the exceptional ones, the shinning light on the hill never lost a war or a battle, for we are the best of the best or so we think, but than again delusion does that when the truth is at stake and propaganda become the word of the day…

  22. @Agent76

    The truth is that the Deep State is more than happy to ship the whole middle class economy to communist Vietnam and China. Quit trying to rationalize your enslavement, YT.

    Your enemy has always been right here; the leftists in their sinecures in the State Dept., Pentagram, NSA, CIA, IRS etc., etc., etc.

  23. jimmy83 says:

    The Army still has some good ones

    I saw a Taliban dressed in bla-ack
    That’s my knife in his baa-ack
    I am the one he did not see-ee
    U.S. Army Infantry-hee


    Most of us in basic never got on board with the hooah for hooah’s sake crap. Our drill sgts were terrifying, sure, but they always took time to explain why they were doing something and our company strove to live up to their high standards. And they were professionals, too. Older guys (especially Marines for some reason) like to bitch and moan about how basic training is “soft”, but you know what? DIs getting drunk off their ass in front of recruits and then shoving some mother’s son in a dryer while yelling racial slurs in no way promotes discipline or good order. Especially not when the kid jumps out a window afterwards.

    • Agree: Whoever
    • Replies: @Rusty
  24. Rusty says:

    I have been reading Fred on everything for years ,and have sent him an email to tell him how much I enjoy his take on things. This article captures boot in the old day,I went in 1972,as well as words can for a rite of passage. You really have to be there.
    Hey,Fred, why dont you write up the ballad of the House Mouse next? I think that might be a great follow up to this one.

  25. Rusty says:

    Well Jimmy83 , we had one murder in my training platoon 3066 San Diego 1972. One guy hit another one in the head wit the disassembled barrel and receiver group of his m-14 rifle at Edson Range chow hall on Sunday morning.And one guy jumped off the top floor of the barracks. I dont know what his problem was. Later at Miramar Air Station I walked into the head, and a guy was sobbing and both wrist cut deep,bleeding out into the sink. I helped save him.
    Alot of stuff happens. I dont necessarily agree with putting recruits in industrial clothes dryers, but my DIs did ship our house Mouse ,in a foot locker,to Edson range with the gear. He come out spry as hell. I thing he was glad to get some sleep.I could fall asleep stand up in Boot.

    • Replies: @jimmy83
  26. Rusty says:

    Another funny one from Boot. Once we got to Pendleton and met the mountains,my head DI SSgt. Smith, a big redneck from Lufkin Texas, sent some of the East Texas stump jumpers out and they got a bag full of snakes.
    SSgt. Smith got us in formation and we had to take the snake. The dark Green Marines were none to happy about that, but nobody wrote their congress critter or told their Moma. One of the crazy stumpjumpers caught a rattlesnake, and they killed it and threw it up under the barracks.He later snuck around and got it and made it bite him on the arm so he could go to the base hospital for some RR. He came back with tales of steaks,and nurses, and keep us all entertained many a night.
    I think he might have been making up some of those stories ,but you wanna believe so:) Simpler times, simpler place. Glory Days.

  27. JackOH says:

    Parris Island, 1974. I liked boot. Discipline, selflessness, martial virtues, all that. Maybe a genetic deal. My Dad had been a police cadet in the 1930s, then an Air Force lifer. Learned to shoot. Learned that a few guys are extraordinarily gifted with physical ability and aggressiveness. Still believe that martial societies are pretty good, pretty admirable.

    Smedley Butler’s War Is a Racket blew me away when I first read it. Education and work experience taught me a little about how manipulable people can be. Human condition, I guess. “Light at the end of the tunnel”, “weapons of mass destruction”, and on.

    Twenty-some years after boot I thought of emigrating from the States. Maybe Gen. Butler’s message, that America and her institutions weren’t what they seemed, finally sunk in with me.

    I’m glad I served. Good, decent people in the Corps at that time. I moved on though.

    • Agree: anarchyst
  28. anonguy says:

    What did the first Marine recruited at Tun Tavern say to the second?

    “It was tougher in the Old Corps”.

    Fred Reed indulges in a timeless, USMC tradition here and frankly, his Corps was pretty easy compared to that, say, of Marines going ashore at Tarawa.

    The Marines have been having recruit abuse scandals, and cycles of reform and tenderness towards recruits, since the Ribbon Creek scandal in the fifties.

    A more intelligent article would trace how a cycle of abuse started in WWII in the USMC as it expanded nearly tenfold from a small, neo-colonial naval gendarmerie to 500k strong amphibious warfare machine.

    Via this, a previously self-selecting recruit base was replaced by a random selection of draftees.

    The USMC then adopted the motto, “We can make anyone into a Marine”, because they had to.

    They never said this before WWII, wasn’t part of the culture.

    So this was all well and good with the recruit material then and through Korea, which largely reflected the middle class of America. It was rough, but manageable.

    However, during Vietnam, the quality of recruits started dropping due to widespread opposition to the war. The USMC motto of “We can make anyone into a Marine” just caused the institution to double down, becoming ever more abusive.

    This got even worse in the immediate wake of Vietnam when the draft ended. The USMC was completely blind-sided, they thought it wouldn’t affect them since they had been largely volunteer. They completely underestimated how many people joined the Marines rather than being drafted into the Army.

    So the bottom completely fell out on recruiting and in the 73-75 years, they took anything that moved, basically.

    And kept screwing down at PI and San Diego, at the deckplate level, the DIs had to get these guys through. Hazing just increased, exacerbated by a worn out/demoralized post-Vietnam NCO corps ridden with PTSD, alcoholism. A situation ripe for abuse and plenty of it happened. Dude in my platoon got his front teeth knocked out, in front of the platoon, by a DI I continued to consider truly psycho after you figure out that the DIs, for the most part, really aren’t psycho.

    Gen Louis Wilson took over as CMC in 1975 understanding the cultural/personnel policies that weren’t helping the then debate as to whether the U.S. even needed the USMC any longer. There was also a spate of movies and books about the horrors of USMC boot camp in the early 70s, incidentally.

    It all came to a head in 1976 with a pair of boot camp scandals. This wasn’t the first time “accidents” happened, but these ones caught the popular imagination, congressional investigations, hue and cry.

    Gen. Wilson, with the assistance of the future commandant Gen. Barrow, initiated a cultural change then within USMC boot camp that resonates to this day. It took them about 4 years and literally hundreds of courts-martial over 3-4 years to convince the entire USMC that the days of beating up recruits was over.

    That would have been a lot more interesting article for Fred to write, even the USMC official histories discuss how this cycle of abuse started, was exacerbated over decades, then remedied by Wilson/Barrow who essentially saved the USMC.

    But no, grandpa moaning about how it was tougher for him in the old days.

  29. Ivy says:

    Check out the following website for some military fun.

  30. jimmy83 says:

    True. Cycle before mine they had some guy decide he was going to Full Metal Jacket drill sgt. He hid some rounds in his boot from the range and was climbing a downspout on the side of the barracks when it collapsed halfway up. Broke his arm and got five years in Leavenworth. Another company had someone decide that the best way to get down from the climbing tower was by letting go of the rope 57 feet up. Medical discharge.

    Ain’t saying that injuries don’t happen, just that they shouldn’t be instructor-inflicted. Our company was understaffed and we had two drill sgts until halfway through the cycle when one of them PCSed. The man that was left, a big Polynesian whom the entire company was terrified of, sat us down and said “hey, if any of you are struggling, if any of you don’t understand something, you can ask me anything after dinner chow and I’ll do my best to help you. I don’t want none of you privates out there in the field with an Iraqi bullet in your head, okay?” Our PT scores jumped from third to first, we crushed the rest of the company in combatives, and to this day I honestly believe that each member of First Platoon would have charged a machine-gun nest for that man.

    It’s possible to get fantastic results without physically abusing the recruits, but it takes leadership to do so.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  31. SanityClaus says: • Website

    Can’t find a job? Got no morals or loyalty to the American people?
    You can kill people for the British Empire. We call it N.A.T.O. .
    Treason and murder are OK if you call it military “service”.
    When the British Crown mafia snaps its fingers the pentagon goes running
    to kill their enemies for them just like in WW1 and WW2.
    The pentagon and national guard don’t need the Declaration of Independence.
    They don’t care about the American revolution.
    They print all the fake money they need to kill innocent people that never attacked the U.S.A.

  32. @anonguy

    That would have been a lot more interesting article for Fred to write, even the USMC official histories discuss how this cycle of abuse started, was exacerbated over decades, then remedied by Wilson/Barrow who essentially saved the USMC.

    But no, grandpa moaning about how it was tougher for him in the old days.

    Well, thank the Lord you found your way here to enlighten us.

    • Replies: @anonguy
  33. anonguy says:

    Well, thank the Lord you found your way here to enlighten us.

    De nada, glad to help. Things have been quiet at the iSteve.

  34. Continuing the tradition of failure.

  35. Rob Payne says:

    America takes its dick out and waves it around.

  36. Isabella says:

    Sorry this is off topic but I cannot think of any other way to get through. I cannot access Fred’s site, I get a message saying I have been blocked. I dont know if it’s because I am trying to access it from Russia. I also cannot get any of the “automatic email to Fred” links to work -is that for the same reason. Is anything from Russia being blocked. I like going to Freds site, I have done for years, I have never experienced this before.
    Any help much appreciated.

  37. @ Alden,

    Your points are valid in the circumstances (as at present) where military forces are used as state sanctioned mercenaries. Do bear in mind that these are all volunteers so there is no conscription as you harped upon. There will always be such a pool of recruits. Mandatory training may be a form of conscription but I use the original term to mean being called up by force of law, trained and sent to the meat grinder.

    My point was that putting young men into a tough physical regimen with structural authority and peer pressure/support will give them a sense of pride, courage and accomplishment if they successfully endure the program. Of course they will hate it at first. But one starts to like it when the first hurdles are overcome and you start to like looking at yourself in the mirror seeing musculature where previously there was none. At this point you seem to want more of it.

    The job market used to mitigate this problem to some extent but this is all but gone now. This is especially true these days when automation (as in agriculture) eliminated a lot of hard manual work traditionally available for teenagers. In my day everyone had a summer job. You needed spending money and a way to get to buy a jalopy (which enabled you to get to your job in the country in either event). Through high school I worked on farms. In University summers I roofed army camps with a crew for a big company. There was no way to slack off on either of these jobs. If your co-workers didn’t kick your ass for not pulling your weight the boss would simply fire you. Both were shameful so it wasn’t going to happen. Oh, and if fired when you got home do you think mummy would say ” Oh those cruel boors, sit down bubby and let me make you some hotcakes”. No, the real shaming would take place there especially from the man of the house. Fathers did have a use in those days and it wasn’t always being a ‘big buddy’ pussy as they all are on popular media shows.

    Another important thing to consider is what is referred to as ‘muscle memory’. If you do not develop a muscular infrastructure during those years, it is lost forever. When I went back to the land for some of the hardest work that existed in the country after 15 years of physical debauchery while wearing a suit, I managed eventually to regain my form. I thought that I would die several times but I wasn’t going to be the first one to walk off the job. The rest of the crews were about 10 years younger, athletic and contemptuous. I was the old man. Peer pressure is a strong motivator. There was no sympathy for falling short or having swollen forearms. In relative terms it was an elite job. Either you made the cut or you were a yet another wannabee.

    Look at some of these snowflake wastrels walking around these days. 200 lbs of doughnut batter with man tits. If times got tough these clods would get a heart attack drawing a bucket of water from a deep well let alone doing something that would require any kind of exertion. Diabetes is their future.

    Me a SJW? That’s funny if meant as the term is tossed around these days. I was just lucky that I was born at a time and a place when hard work was the norm. I didn’t know any better and would have probably taken a path of least resistance if one was offered. By the Grace of God I had to take the rocky road uphill. I shall forever be grateful.

    On reflection I suppose that proposing to do the right thing for the youth will be yet another PC casualty. I sincerely do feel sorry for them. Inane texting 24/7 has already replaced riding around for hours on bikes with your band of brothers looking for minor adventures.

    My two centavos.


    • Replies: @anonymous
  38. thanks to avery for a little bit of sanity among the mucho-macho, never-say-die mercenaries for Empire…
    you know, it is quite possible to believe that we have let our ability to teach young people hard work, physical labor/exertion, and generally working for a common goal among a group, has become somehow unfashionable or declasse; BUT, that DOESN’T mean you have to go full-retard and revert to an inhuman, inhumane, knuckle-dragging system of indoctrinating young-n-stoopids to kill/die for Empire…
    um, is EVERYONE only capable of binary thinking: either they are useless slobs, OR they are trained killers for Empire ? we can’t find a middle ground there ? ? ?
    stop with the military worship already, by any metric we are the most militaristic society EVAH, but won’t even dare to recognize that salient and central factoid of our existence…

  39. dearieme says:

    That’s rather like the boxer who complains that he won fourteen rounds and that it just wasn’t fair that he was knocked out in the fifteenth.

  40. The Yard says:

    OK, I admit it. I never thought I could laugh at anything connected to the Marine Corps. After reading only several paragraphs of this piece I have to admit that Fred Reed had me laughing until my eyes watered and eventually fell out on the floor. That was truly funny, Fred. I mean funny. I can’t believe anyone could make me laugh about something connected to the Marine Corps. You did it, Mr. Reed. You are the man. You may have saved my life.

  41. The Yard says:

    The Wasloski story. I can’t handle it, Fred. It’s going to drive me to drink. Oh, wait, I forgot. I’m already there. This is a great piece, Fred, seriously. I can’t say that I’m anything but seriously enjoying it. I’m not even done reading it. I just have no choice but to give you this feedback.

  42. Max Payne says:

    Criminally long? I could go for more….

  43. oh, and one more thing: a wampus cat ? ? ?
    really ?
    next you’ll tell me they went on a snipe hunt…
    c’mon, you fall for that wampus cat bee ess, you are a special stupid…
    which, well, i guess is what the marines select for: smart enough to know which end of the gun to point at the enemy, but stupid enough not to ask why you are pointing at that enemy…

  44. I may be a bit twisted but I enjoyed Boot in ’80 after a few years in the fleet I wished I could go back and do it again. I didn’t do the PI or a sand flea burial, I got my sunglasses and suntan lotion issued on day one 1 at SD.

    I also sat off shore on a very infamous morning when over 300 of my brothers were killed in what was one of the first terrorist attacks of Americans in a place they no longer talk about; swept under a rug and not mentioned by our media.
    And now I read people on here write out crap on a subject most of them have never lived, or even seen with their own eyes. And all I think is “Your Welcome, due to my service, my families service, and other men and women over the past 200+ years you have the freedom to say the stupidest sh*t and not fear being visited in the night by “Brown Shirts” or “Jack-Booted Thugs”.

  45. anon • Disclaimer says:

    Getting drafted wasn’t funny. It was bad.

    I got a bad attitude. Still have it.

    I got called up. And actually passed physical #1. But eventually beat it. It was the last gasp of the draft. Everyone knew the war was a mistake.

    The idea that they are going to throw your ass in jail because you aren’t willing to fight for a war that everyone knew was a mistake — still pisses me off.

    I can’t think about anything remotely funny about that time.

    I don’t think about it much any more. The US is a great country and all. But conscription? No. And if they still had it, snowflakes would forget about micro aggressions and think about their own ass.

    I didn’t know anyone that was even genuinely idealistic. Just self interested. But people never learn. I read the Pentagon Papers. No one has read much of it. You have to be crazy to read it.

    The full edition wasn’t released until 2011. It is massive. The little paperback abridged versions — no comparison.

    The military wanted it. They thought it was a good idea. And promoted it. WW 2 was, amazingly enough, only over 16 years earlier. The greatest generation — this was a jobs program with career advancement potential. It cured the country’s bloodlust for 15 years. It was that bad.

    I know this was supposed to be funny. And Fred? Its cool. This is just another mans opinion.

  46. Notice how boot camp (USMC or not, American or not) never involves using some kind of brain or intellectual power. Indeed anyone who seemed to have any would almost certainly be victimised.

  47. @some random guy

    Good reply.. These bullet headed types are just making unthinking cannon fodder for the corporations..Smedley Butler had it right… To Sgt Rock: They aren’t dumb, they just haven’t learned your system of mind control and war making… The Marines have not truly served America since 1812, but they have contributed to the dumb, shallow macho culture that’s too stupid to figure out who it’s real masters are..oy vey

    • Replies: @anonymous
  48. Here my last love died. There was nothing remarkable in the manner of its death. One day, not long before this last day in camp, as I lay awake before reveille, in the Nissen hut, gazing into the complete blackness, amid the deep breathing and muttering of the four other occupants, turning over in my mind what I had to do that day — had I put in the names of two corporals for the weapon-training course? Should I again have the largest number of men overstaying their leave in the batch due back that day? Could I trust Hooper to take the candidates class out map-reading? — as I lay in that dark hour, I was aghast to realize that something within me, long sickening, had quietly died, and felt as a husband might feel, who, in the fourth year of his marriage, suddenly knew that he had no longer any desire, tenderness, or esteem, for a once-beloved wife; no pleasure in her company, no wish to please, no curiosity about anything she might ever do or say or think; no hope of setting things right, no self-reproach for the disaster.

    Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited,
    —Evelyn Waugh

    Fred seems not to have gone through this process of falling out of love with the military. Instead he resorts to old-man speak, gazing back longingly and idealizing. I will not attempt to criticize old-man speak in general; I will only say that these are not the words of a soldier.

    A true soldier can never be somebody who loves the army. He loves his country, which is why he fights in the army; but he does not and cannot love the army. The army is only the means by which he loves his country. To love the army itself would be like the suitor who loves courtship rather than loving his lady. Such marriages are doomed to disappoint.

    It always seems to me like there is something deeply contradictory at the heart of these Heinlein-esque soldierly reminiscences. They are in fact cryptic confessions that one was never really inwardly and authentically a part of the military and not really a patriot, observations which seem to be borne out by Fred’s subsequent actions.

    • Agree: Whoever
  49. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Late 60s Parris Island- we boys from NY City boroughs were disliked by senior DI- he kept sending a few of us to Motivation, and then Puerto Rican E-6 DI from Bronx , NY told me and another boot to let him know if senior DI pulls that shit again. Senior DI didn’t pull that BS again.
    It was winter and we would come back soaked and covered in mud at Motivation course. The mud and stuff didn’t bother me but it was the disgust shown by senior DI for NY City boys that stuck with me. The boot with me was from Brooklyn- he had trouble telling time; was killed in Vietnam and awarded posthumous silver star.
    If I had to do it over again, I would have gone in Army- I have no use for Corps- what I saw and what they did to people- lack of concern, neglect, abuse, trying to bust people for any reason and even trying to ruin the lives of guys who somehow survived 12 months in the bush. Neglecting and ranking on people was far worse than facing fists , bullets, mortars. Suffice it to say I have no use for Corps and more angry as I am older- I would have gone in Army.
    Careerists in Corps are no different than selfish, conniving, self serving careerists in civilian jobs or in Army except that Corps spreads its propaganda with that “we stand by our men and brotherhood and Semper Fi and all that other bullshit. I wish it were different . I wish it had been a decent experience but we were nothing but objects. I wish I did not have this hate for what I saw done to so many of us. Not easy to forget even with age , and time does not heal all wounds.
    Never saw officers above Captain and it was clear most of these lifers above O-3 didn’t want to see us anyway- they would have all of us dead before we disrupted their careers.

    • Agree: Alden
  50. anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Dr Strangelove

    you said it perfectly and so did so many of the comments
    and I went in in 68

  51. @anon

    Continuing the tradition of failure.
    Bunch of low IQ fuchkwits willing to be murderous slaves. Pitiful really.

  52. anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Timur The Lame

    you said it just right Timur
    whether I travel to city areas, burbs, even country, where are the kids
    they don’t hang out anymore-at least not outside
    what a waste-being chained mentally to a computer , smartphone, and all the other junk

  53. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    And yet so few know how to lead
    they have to read books to figure out how to lead and inspire???

  54. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I still give great credit to Fred Reed and all the rest that served in countries far away. 36,000 men died in the Korean war; 58,000 in Vietnam. The war in Vietnam probably should not have been fought by the USA but the men that went had an upbringing of anti Communism- I know I did.
    I can dislike the Marine Corps and all its public relations but I reserve good thoughts about mostly unselfish (and unknowing) men fighting far away from home against Communism.
    Thailand, South Korea, and many other countries in that part of Asia said that if the USA had not blocked Communism their countries would have had bigger ongoing battles fighting Communists.
    I read the Polish archives where it makes clear that the USSR had definite plans to attack western Europe if the situation was good enough, but of course we know that our great number of troops were serving in Germany and thus prevented the Soviet Union from attacking.
    I give great credit to those young men from the USA who went to these places to take a stand. Of course young men (most of us) may have known little about geopolitics back then but we believed that our country, the USA, was truthful and dedicated to stopping aggression in the world. Of course we were naïve- young men still know little when they rush out after events like 9-11 and join the military to fight the “bad guys”.
    The mainstream media sees to it that we maintain a population that knows little truth about why things happen. This mainstream media is controlled by Zionists.
    I dealt with thousands of soldiers in the past 14 years and almost all believed that the USA would never deceive them and was still the beacon of truth and virtue. Almost all of these youths-men and women- who joined the military believed what this Zionist controlled mainstream media was feeding them.
    I can only say that this is how a lot of us looked at it. Once we got into the military many of us then saw a dirty, sleazy side to how careerists ran their branches of service. For me, the over 2 years I put in the USMC was largely a waste..
    I would like to hear what others here think about the motives of young people. These are good young men and women-they are being deceived and have no idea about how the world really works.

    • Replies: @some random guy
  55. @anonymous

    I don’t know about anybody else but I never joined up (twice) for this or any other country. For various reasons I had a great desire to be a soldier. I even gave some thought to the Foreign Legion. Did that make me a mercenary in service to my own country? I would say absolutely yes. I have no problem with that.

    Now later in life I’m approached by youngsters wanting advice about joining up. I tell the girls they absolutely should, and for the most difficult jobs possible. The guys I recommend they don’t, not for political reasons but because it seems to have become such a swamp of PC causes. As to patriotic reasons, I advise doing so only if you really want to be a soldier and then only somewhere like the Foreign Legion.

    You’ve touched on the naivete of young people. I agree that they are. It’s entirely natural. I wouldn’t trust or believe an 18 year old who expressed a rational political opinion. It’s also unlikely to change. All we can do is counsle those we know. I do.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  56. @anonguy

    Before WW2 the US Marines wouldn’t even accept blacks, who regarded it as “the white man’s service”. This started to change in the war – the dramatic expansion of the MC made it impossible to keep blacks out.

  57. Alden says:
    @joe webb

    I’ve got better ideas for SJWS, more like what their great hero Lenin and his Cheka did in Russia beginning in 1918.

  58. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I watched the video-those same Congressmen have never cut off aid to Israel. The Bolshevik press in America (mainstream media) would never tolerate defunding Israeli aggression.
    Most of the people in the antiwar demonstrations were not sincere- it was a big 60s happening. People older than me pointed out that these antiwar demonstrations all revolved around that thing called the draft.
    I was made to feel like a subhuman in the late 60s when in the Corps.

    Noam Chomsky said antiwar activism was “hard”. Noam Chomsky would get a good night’s rest in a nice hotel every night after a “hard” day’s marching and shouting, but those dudes in the Vietnam bush were sleeping in holes at night or whatever was available.
    I guess those reeducation camps were just fine by the antiwar crowd. Communism was such a great thing according to the Zionist mainstream media.
    And we keep funding Israel.
    The NY Times and all the rest were wrong about Diem- they lied and they worked on a lack of information and knowledge. We are wrong about a lot of things. Those Ivy League grads who make our policies and run our think tanks are wrong most of the time. Curse those self serving pompous egotistical elites.

  59. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I believe in universal conscription-everyone does something. Healthy fit normal males expected to serve in a military role, males otherwise and females in a service organization where they do something useful. (Women would be allowed in strictly noncombet military roes, along with those men that are just going to get themselves adn/or others killed in combat.) Women who are married with children would be exempted, but they have to stay married or else go back and put in their time.

    • Replies: @anonymous too
  60. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @some random guy

    I have yet to meet an American who joined the Legion and served his initial enlistment and came back. I am sure they exist, but I never met one. I met some ex-Legionnaires from other countries in Europe. They all said it was miserable.

    • Replies: @some random guy
  61. @Anonymous

    I suspect you are correct about the Legion being miserable and probably purposely so. With that said I would only suggest it because it’s the only military organisation that is set up for foreigners. Where else can you go to be a soldier these days besides the Legion or your own countries military?

  62. @Anonymous

    Draft all of them- warmongers first. Those who studied the situation and want us out of future wars to be the last ones drafted unless they want to go in.
    Yes, let women not be in combat arms roles or up close, and yes, for sure, those males who are very uncoordinated, hesitant, and lack that sense of when to move and do not pick up on cues, they too should not put others in harm’s way or have others be killed because they cannot read situations. I have seen those in military who should not be truck drivers simply because they do not read all of the road and they are unable to pick up on cues.
    We see a majority of drivers every day on our roads , especially women, who just cannot read the road nor can they pick up on the simplest cues about where and when to move, speed up, slow down, and all.
    And keep those people above 6 feet 6 out of the infantry-they are too much a target.

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