Quote of the Day: “Don’t be afraid to learn. Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.”
I’ve seen a lot of shit in my 18 years but I’ve never seen ANY shit like this.
Travis and I were talking shop to a Drill Instructor assigned to us by the depot concerning our program. After we finished, I mentioned how it would be useful to talk to a Senior Drill Instructor who was using the program and get his feedback. Yeah, really just a lame excuse to go out into the wild and see DIs at work. I got more than I could imagine.
He took us over to the barracks and we saw that the entire series was in formation, going through their first “inspection.” Allow me to provided a little background.
The first inspection is not really an inspection. It’s really a blood-fest. From the recruits perspective, they are getting ready for their first inspection and what they EXPECT is that the DIs will come in front of them, grab their rifles, inspect it, inspect them, ask them some questions, and basically ascertain the level of “squared-away” the recruits have spent endless hours getting polished.
But there’s a trick here. The real intent from the DIs’ perspective is simple. Chew up the recruits like no one’s business. Drive in the fear of God, deeply, to the recruits to show them that the level where the recruits THINK they are is quantum levels below where they SHOULD be, thus hiking up overall expectations. There is nothing personal about it and the DIs really don’t look for anything. The recruit will mentally supply his own deficiencies and attribute it to the all-knowing DIs’ insights.
The result of this is humbling: the DIs JUMP in front of the recruit and rage into the young recruit will full force. It’s a modern day slaughter worthy of the battle scenes in Braveheart.
As we approached the back of the formation, we were introduced to a First Sergeant who happened to be in charge of all the Drill Instructors for this series. When we were introduced, I almost saluted. Even by Drill Instructors’ standards, this guy was one of the most visually intimidating human beings I’d ever seen. Rugged, square jaw and an animalistic look in his eyes that spoke of years spent being the baddest son of a bitch on the planet. As a First Sergeant, he obviously had been at this for many years and just his physical appearance broadcasted that he was a man to be feared by all.
We spoke but right behind him was the formation, with the recruits’ backs to me and I could see DIs just going apeshit. The sounds of the depot are familiar to anyone who spends any time there and it didn’t seem at all strange to be carrying on a normal conversation with someone while maniacal screaming was going on all around.
But I was severely interested in the process, not seeing that level of stress applied since my days in shaky recruit boots. I kept having to concentrate on paying attention to the conversation when all I wanted to do was to watch what was going on.
The First Sergeant called over one of his DIs and it was WEIRD. He beckoned one who came running over. And I mean RUNNING!
“Yes, First Sergeant?”
The Staff Sergeant had an earnest look on his face and a trace of fear in his eye. FROM A DRILL INSTRUCTOR! This made my blood run cold just seeing the respect the First Sergeant got. I mean, this Staff Sergeant was a Drill Instructor who had seconds before been yelling full force in the ear of a recruit and now subjugated himself to he First Sergeant like a puppy of the pack to the alpha dog.
We all talked for a few moments and with a wave of his arm, the First Sergeant told the Staff Sergeant that “that’s enough, get back to work” which the Staff Sergeant gave a “aye, aye First Sergeant” and went scampering back to the inspection.
Another Captain and a First Lieutenant came walking up and it struck me that they both looked about as dopy as I felt. These guys weren’t geeks or anything but in the company of howling mad DIs, I suddenly FELT my place as an Officer. I saw on their face a lack of hardness that all the DIs had and I saw from the DIs perspective how officers are there just as pseudo-necessary figureheads. The DIs were the ones who ran the show, at least where the recruits hit the road.
As we were talking, I saw movement in my peripheral vision. What happened next is certain but what caused it can only be conjectured.
My best guess is that a wayward recruit from another series was walking by, saw the antics of the Drill Instructors eating recruits alive, and must have either smiled or maybe even laughed.
That’s conjecture. What I actually saw is fact.
A Drill Instructor escorted the wayward recruit over to the First Sergeant and by the time I turned around, the feast was in full roar.
The recruit was in green cammies (which is why I identified him as a recruit from another series since all the recruits being “inspected” were in desert cammies) within a sea of angry DIs.
All I heard was an EXPLOSION of screams as no less that a DOZEN DIs enveloped the single recruit. They were like a pack of angry wolves, all in motion, screaming, swirling around the recruit, trying to get to the middle. It was like a hurricane with the recruit as the eye, head down, screaming “Yes Sir!”
Again, I’ll point out that whatever this poor lad did, he probably deserved what he was getting (in the world of Marine Corps Boot Camp) or the First Sergeant wouldn’t have let it happen. I was amazed that in the presence of the Series Commander, the Company Commander, and another Captain (me) that this would be allowed.
It went on for about a minute.
And it made me sweat.
They were giving it to this kid like no one’s business, all straining to get to the center and “get some.” I thought the kid’s fight or flight instincts would take over, or that he would just faint. One DI in your stuff is bad. Two is worse. Three is getting into sensory overload.
Twelve is just an insane man’s deepest nightmare.
Travis and I watched in awe until the First Sergeant opened his arms to which the DIs reacted instantly, backing off. The First Sergeant put his arm around the shaking kid in a fatherly manner and said something to him before telling him to get the hell out of the area. The kid got about 10 feet away but didn’t have the presence of mind to give a last “AYE AYE SIR!” to the First Sergeant which prompted the pack of DIs to reconverge on him.
It started again as intense as before but this time it lasted only until the First Sergeant strolled over and broke it up again. The kid’s voice cracked as he yelled a final “AYE AYE SIR!” and RAN for his life.
Whatever the kid did, he’ll NEVER do again. And it couldn’t have been too comfortable to hear with your back turned toward it for the recruits standing at attention, after getting a very scary inspection, albeit nowhere near to what they just heard behind them.
The kid ran away, turning left and disappeared behind the barracks. Suddenly, there was a roar of another DI.
All I could see was a side-view of a DI pointing with his hand down the corridor between the barracks where the recruit had disappeared.
The DI wasn’t involved in the recent bloodbath and probably knew nothing about it. All he saw was a recruit running and as happens in bootcamp, decided to have a talk with a random recruit. And one that is running for no apparent reason was a prime target.
I know the kid was probably in tears after enduring what was the most stressful bootcamp moment I had ever seen. Now he got randomly nabbed by a DI who neither knew nor cared what had just happened.
As Travis and I walked away with our assigned DI, we discussed what we both saw. I assured him that I had NEVER seen anything like that and we were both in awe.
We went back to an office building and as we were walking, two recruits were coming the other way and I kept saying in my head “Salute! Do it! Come on…”
Sure enough, they didn’t and the DI with us barked “STOP!”
He walked away from us, went over to the recruits as Travis and I stopped, and watched what we all knew was coming.
One of the recruits had a canteen and other items tucked in his arm but was carrying it with his right hand (a bad move since you are never supposed to carry anything with the hand you will need for saluting). The DI knocked it out of his hand and started berating him about saluting officers. The other recruit did a quick about face and with a look of terror, popped a salute.
The problem was, I saw the second recruit start to turn around and didn’t want to salute until both of them were saluting. This made the first one wonder why he had saluted and I was just standing there. That, and I felt like an ass because I was the reason for this whole scene (I know, they screwed up, but I still felt bad for them).
So I saluted them both and the DI barked at them to pick up their trash and carry on.
Gotta love boot camp.
Free Advice for Today: “Answer the phone with enthusiasm and energy in your voice.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.