In the Receiving Barracks, we received our “Bucket Issue,” clothing and toilet gear. We each were issued a galvanized steel bucket, containing: A scrub brush, a bar of Sand Soap, a plastic toilet kit with normal soap, tooth brush, tooth paste, razor and blades, two towels, two washcloths and a tube of shaving cream.
We were issued: Two blankets, one mattress-cover (fartsack) two sheets, and one pillowcase.
Next, we were issued one Sea Bag, one pair of combat boots, one pair of boondockers (USMC and Filipino slang for mountain boots) and high-topped tennis shoes. We were also issued four pairs of cushion-sole socks, three sets of utility trousers (only girls wear pants), blousing bands, three utility jackets (Blouses), two utility covers, two belts, one belt buckle, four sets of skivvies (boxer shorts), four tee shirts, no comb. A comb? We were as bald as eagle-eggs!
It would be at least another six months before any of us would have any use for hair combs.
The Receiving Barracks
We were then double-timed into another room (which the Drill Instructor called a Compartment) – the Receiving Barracks.
This Compartment had a bunch of tables with boxes and rolls of tape sitting atop them (this Recruit was prepared for this part). Thankfully, the Marine Recruiter had warned me what not to take into the Marines. The Drill Instructors screamed that we had thirty seconds to take off all our clothes, remove all our jewelry, except for wedding rings, put it all in the box in front of us and seal it up. We could keep our wallets.
Smokers could also keep one pack of cigarettes and a lighter too.
“Thirty seconds! Go!”
Shirt buttons went flying everywhere, since practically no one took the time to unbutton them. Shoes were yanked off, without untying the shoelaces. Most of us made it in the allotted time, but a few didn’t. These slow transgressors were dragged out onto the portico and beaten.
We could hear the Drill Instructors hollering and also hear them landing punches on soft flesh. This Recruit had been wearing only a pair of jeans, a tee shirt, and a pair of tennis shoes. Like this Recruit said, he knew this was coming.
After everyone got their belongings packed up, we filled-out mailing labels to send our civilian clothes and other gear back home, in the boxes provided by the USMC. We were then ordered to dress in our skivvies, a tee shirt, a sweatshirt, utility trousers, a web belt (which was four feet long), a belt buckle, socks, tennis shoes and a utility cover.
Drill Instructors Run the Show
By this time, we were all thoroughly terrified. There were some pretty tough characters there too, and they were just as scared as this Recruit was.
The Marine Corps wastes no time letting you know who’s running things. After we were all dressed and looking uniform, we stuffed all our new possessions into our sea bags, grabbed our bucket issue, and were run over to some Quonset huts (Hooch’s). There were maybe a couple of hundred of them located all over MCRD. These huts were to be our new home. Our Platoon had about 6 Hoochs (Quonset huts).
Except for the Drill Instructor’s Hut, each Hooch was furnished with at least a dozen double-decker racks (metal, military, spring beds).
Six double racks were located on each side of the hut compartment, positioned head to toe with two footlockers stowed under each. One of the Drill Instructors then showed us how to make up our racks.
He then ordered us to do it, ourselves. We made them up and stood at attention in front of our assigned rack. He took one look at what we had done and went absolutely insane. He started tearing up our racks and turning over everything; throwing sheets and blankets everywhere and bellowing, “You can’t even make up a [expletive deleted] rack? This is the easiest [expletive deleted] thing you’re going to learn!”
This Recruit estimates that we spent about an hour making up our racks and having him tear them up, again and again. Our Drill Instructor never was satisfied, but eventually he allowed us to go to sleep.
I lost track of the time; but we probably worked until well after midnight. No one slept.
This Recruit did a lot of thinking. My vocabulary was building up nicely, lots of new words I had never heard before. At 05:00 Hours (the USMC uses 24-hour time), the door burst open and an already (or still) pissed-off Drill Instructor flipped on the light switch, grabbed a garbage can and threw it down the center of the hut.
“What the [expletive deleted] are you [expletive deleted] idiots doing still in the rack? Where the [expletive deleted] do you maggots think you are, Vacation Bible School?”
This Recruit had already deduced where he was, and it was not Bible School and definitely not vacation. This Recruit knew we weren’t going to get to watch any civilian movies or cartoons at this school.
The Drill Instructor thought that when we heard the light switch click, we had plenty of time to jump out of our racks and should be standing at attention by the time the light actually came on. We practiced trying to beat the light for a while. We never did beat it, but this Recruit thinks we got pretty close.
A Lampoon of Mission Impossible
After a lot more yelling, we were told that we had five minutes to make up our racks, and get out on the platoon’s road, which was a wide asphalt sidewalk located to the front of the Quonset huts.
After several tries, we made it.
We were given fifteen minutes to shave and brush our teeth. Then, back into our huts to get dressed. The Drill Instructor yelled at us some more and again cursed the fact that we were so hopeless. He hollered that his job – which was hard enough to begin with – had become impossible.
This Recruit figured the Drill Instructor was probably right. There we were, in our cushion-sole socks, high-top tennis shoes, with the cuffs rolled-up, on our crumpled utility trousers, four-foot long belts hanging almost down to our knees, baggy sweat shirts and unblocked utility covers, which were pulled down over our ears.
We looked like a lampoon of Mission Impossible.
Next Week: You will learn why every Marine remembers his serial number.
References & Image Credits:
(1) U.S. Militaria Forum