Thursday, September 17, 2009

So You Want to be a Marine




I have not been enlisted in the USMC for a long time. A lot has changed since I was at Parris Island. Women in my day did not qualify with a rifle, participate in the obstacle course, or do any type of combat training. That has all changed now. The one remaining constant is that women in the USMC still do not train along side the men. Personally, I think that is a good thing.

I recently received a request for "details" of my military life. Here are some of the more humorous things that I still remember. I hope that you all can laugh along with me.

I think they still only train women at Parris Island, SC. I arrived at the airport in some small town off the coast at like 2 in the morning. I think they do this on purpose. Anyway, there was no female Drill Instructor there so the male DI made me sit in the airport away from everyone else. All the young men that arrived, had to stand up beside him facing the wall. They were in a platoon formation and they stood there for what seemed like hours.

When we finally get on the bus to leave, the DI starts pacing the bus and telling us that we have to turn over any weapons that we have. You would be surprised at what you could take on a plane then. Almost all of us had a knife of some sort.

So we get to Parris Island and when we get off the bus, there are these yellow footprints painted on the ground. We all have to stand on them. Then the yelling starts. "Stand at attention!" "Eyes to the center!" "Hands down!" You get the drift. I went to boot camp in October so it is still dark and it is cold at 3 in the morning.

Then we all go in this room and we are weighed again and our luggage is searched. Since I was under the minimum weight allowed and "cheated" to get in, I was worried that they would send me back home. But, obviously their scales were wrong because they put me in at the minimum allowed weight.

You are given a list of things to bring before you leave. Most of this you will not need. Anyway, you have to take all items that are not allowed and put them in a bag with your name on them. You get this back after basic.

So the women get back on the bus after at least 2 hours of this and go to the women's barracks. By now it is daylight and you have missed breakfast. On the way there, we see these people marching with flashlights. We assume they are practicing for something. Little did we know that the next morning that would be us and they were going to breakfast. IN THE DARK!

We also had to go through the gas chamber. This is not fun. They use these tear gas tablets and you want to be in the first group to go in. The reason is they keep adding tablets and if you are in the later groups you get all that gas. So because I am so small, my gas mask did not fit properly. I could not get a good seal on it. You go in and they start talking to you. "Remove your mask." So everyone has to take the mask off. If anyone freaks out at this point, you all have to stay in there until they calm down. Needless to say, I was in one of the last groups. Some girl thought she was going to start screaming and I think the girl next to her hit her or something because she calmed down real quick.

Since this gas is in your hair, clothes, all over your body, any thing you touch will burn. We came out and every orifice on my face was running. Naturally I want to touch my face. Fortunately, I turned towards the wind and that helped to stop all the flowing rivers from my eyes and nose.

When I wrote my mom about this all I said was "we went to through the gas chamber today." My mom freaks! She calls my recruiter and asks what are they trying to do kill me or something? So he calls Parris Island and they get in touch with my DI. I have to go and call my mom and let her know that I am still alive and all is well.

There are a lot of things you are not allowed to have in basic training. You are allowed to get packages from home, but, you have to open them in the presence of the DI. Any contraband is taken then. Depending on their mood, any number of things can happen. So, in every letter I sent home, I always ended it with "Please send no candy!!" I saw too many women do pt (physical training), as punishment for getting contraband.

That's enough for now. Hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!!

2 Comments:

  1. a corgi said...
    that was fascinating to read Inge; especially the part of the gas chamber; I didn't realize that was part of training, but I could see why you would need that part of training

    betty
    Expat From Hell said...
    Well, I hope this wasn't all my fault! In any case, I REALLY enjoyed reading this. You are the TRUE Private Benjamin and G.I. Jane rolled into one!

    With respect and admiration...EFH

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