Quote of the Day: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
- Thomas A. Edison
Today I accompanied my wife and daughter to Jane Wayne Day on the Depot. What is Jane Wayne Day?
At most bases, it’s a day where all the wives get to do the same things their husbands get to do. If he is with Tanks, they ride around in tanks and fire weapons. If he is a grunt, they usually go on a little operation and fire weapons.
Start to get the idea?
It’s normally this big evolution where the unit will put together a series of events for the wives so they get to do some of the cool Marine Corps stuff their husbands do.
At MCRD, of course they have to take this to another level. They put the wives through bootcamp.
We really didn’t know exactly what to expect but we soon found out. My daughter wanted to join in the fun so along with Carrie, Steph got ready and we were at the base, ready to go by 0730.
The ladies milled around the little courtyard outside the museum, some with Starbucks (I’m staring at you, Pam) but most were just wondering why the hell we all had to be there so early.
They were broken into platoons based on where their husbands were from so there were wives from First, Second, Third, and HQ Battalions. Carrie and Steph, along with the Colonels wife, were in the HQ section and I was a tag-along to watch the festivities.
And oh what festivities they were!
The wives were milling around and when the time came, they got in their respective formations, everything was low key, and then someone unleashed the Drill Instructors.
Maybe “unleashed” is the wrong term…
Nope, that’s EXACTLY what happened.
You see, they wanted to replicate the first few minutes of bootcamp and for those of you that don’t know, those first few moments are an insane trip down the path the Hell.
The DIs came flying out from behind the ladies and literally ran while screaming at the top of their very healthy lungs. The look on the ladies’ faces varied. Some of them were frightened and some of them, unbelievably to my Marine Corps eyes, were amused.
I guess since they lived with these men, they were somewhat immune to the whole yelling and intimidation thing because the DIs were FULL THROTTLE and some of these women were unfazed.
Come ON! You’re supposed to be terrified!
The funniest part was when my friend Pam got caught with her Starbucks in hand and she was unaware she was not supposed to have it. That changed most rikki-tik. One of the DIs tore into her for having it and she was at a loss as to what exactly to do with it; a bit of knowledge the screaming DI did not offer her. She was just NOT supposed to have it.
With a scared look, she rushed it over to me as I took the role formerly held by the Corpsman in my history of this kind of moment. The Corpsman was the only one in the general area that still maintained a status of “human” and therefore could be entrusted to receive whatever you needed to get rid of. You didn’t dare ask a DI. Duh!
Another funny little drama was with the wife of our DI. When he started in on here, full force, she was heard to say quietly, “You made me cry, you ain’t getting’ any tonight!”
The hardest part to me up to this point was my daughter. She fell in the “yeah, this is some scary stuff” category which I could read all over her face.
I went through an array of emotions over this.
I was pissed at the DIs when my parental jackals were raised. I wanted to swoop in and save her, overcoming my tattooed terror and battling the most feared symbol of my entire life to save my child.
But part of me was proud that she got to see the business end of what I endured and I hoped she would understand the depth of stress I encountered so many years ago which, no matter how many stories I tell, cannot be captured through simple storytelling.
At first, the ladies didn’t know if this was for real, if they were expected to act like recruits or what. Of course, this pissed off the DIs who were playing this to the hilt and responded like they would to recruits who just weren’t “getting it.”
It was not pretty.
But again, what was with the smiles? I just don’t get it.
The DIs got the ladies in some kind of pseudo-formation and started to teach them the very basics. And I was amazed how hard it is to teach someone things that are so deeply-ingrained into every Marine that it is beyond second-nature.
These DIs do this every day and it didn’t take long to figure out how they can get so frustrated so quickly; these ladies could MARINE worth a shit…just like new recruits.
After trying to teach them some basics, the DIs marched them over to the famous Yellow Footprints.
It was ugly, there was a lot of yelling, and among the ugliness, I noticed that my lovely daughter fell victim to a very common mistake: her arm swing didn’t match her marching.
If you walk normally, your leg will be forward when your OPPOSITE arm swings forward. It’s natural but like asking someone if they breath in or out during a golf swing, too much attention to this messes up the whole process.
The ungainly result is a stiff, robotic march that looks downright foolish.
I tried to correct my lovely daughter the best I could from afar but she was getting ever so frustrated with the whole yelling thing and attention her marching was getting form the DIs.
Once we got to the Yellow Footprints, they “parked” the formation where the bus would normally pull up to simulate the bus arriving from the airport. Once they explained that the recruits would be coming in at night, blah, blah, blah, the DIs were once again let loose like the moment every recruit faces when he first arrives. This time it was a fresh set of DIs that had been given the responsibility to explain this first step in a recruit’s life at the Depot.
I think the wives were getting sick of the all-too-real shenanigans. I know Carrie was.
For me, it was surreal. I know I overuse that term but it never fit better than watching my wife and daughter being exposed to the most horrifying moment of my entire life ON THE VERY FOOTSTEPS I ENCOUNTERED IT 20 YEARS AGO!
They got the full treatment and were then herded into the building just as I was long ago. They then got the same spiel in the contraband room about what they had to put in the little cubicles in front of them, painted a high glossy red that still star in my nightmares.
After a brief respite from the yelling, it was explained to them what the purpose of this phase of bootcamp was and after a few nervous questions, the stress faucet was once again turned fully on and they were yelled out of the room to simulate haircuts.
Herding them down to the Moment of Truth room, they were given the speech about what they had to disclose, what the punishments were if they lied, etc. Threats were made and I think finally, the ladies started to see that there was a pattern to everything happening and how everything they were being put through had a purpose. It wasn’t just shock treatment and harassment for the sake of mean-spirited fun.
From the receiving building we went to a barracks where the ladies were shown what the inside of a barracks looks like.
They were given a brief before being sat on the quarterdeck where they got to witness the Drill Instructor Creed.
This is when each of the Drill Instructors are introduced to a platoon for the first time and recite their creed to the actual Recruits they are about to train:
These are my recruits. I will train them to the best of my ability. I will develop them into smartly disciplined, physically fit, basically trained Marines, thoroughly indoctrinated in love of Corps and country. I will demand of them, and demonstrate by my own example, the highest standards of personal conduct, morality, and professional skill.
Right after this, of course, the DIs are let loose on the Recruits to establish exactly who is in charge.
So once again, the ladies saw the business end of yet another set of Drill Instructors.
After the bloodbath, the women were marched over to the obstacle course where I started taking about a million pictures and to my horror, ran out of room on my memory stick. Luckily, I got the set from the Combat Camera Marines who were swarming around taking all kinds of pictures.
The ladies were allowed to negotiate (yes, that’s how we refer to getting over the obstacles) part of the course.
Up to this point, I had really tried to stay an observer. I so wanted to jump in and make little corrections, offer advice, and help out but I knew my place. It was so hard to stay neutral and really pretty much served as a donkey, carrying coats, coffees, and whatever the ladies weren’t allowed to have which was pretty much everything.
No, I didn’t carry any purse and I KNOW that’s what you were thinking.
After watching the women flop over the obstacles (which was nothing short of hilarious), …
… they were shown rappelling.
I say “SHOWN” because based on their performance on the O-course, we would have been seeing physics and gravity combine to create quite the scene if they would have actually been allowed to ATTEMPT the rappelling.
At some point, the ladies were allowed to eat and once again, I experienced more than a little of surrealness as my wife and daughter ate at the same chowhall that was my sanctuary three times a day in the summer of 1987.
When you are scared silly and under constant pressure, the actual quality of the food is not an issue. It tastes like the best thing you ever put in your mouth in your entire life so when you taste the same food sans the stress, well, it tastes like shit.
Sorry chowhall folks but dems da facts.
There seemed to be some confusion whether the DIs were supposed to keep up the stress on the ladies in the chowhall or not. Some kind of stopped doing it, some didn’t. My wife stopped playing her role and didn’t take kindly to the treatment and started to gaff off the DI. To me, that was like giving God the finger and I was frightened for her life.
I think the DIs got the hint and backed off and I stood there with my mouth as wide open as my eyes.
I think at this point, the DIs were starting to warm up to the ladies and backed off the treatment. And like what always happens in high stress situations, the stressees developed a respectful if not playful relationship with the stressers.
I say “always” but that excludes the real Recruits and the DIs. The Recruits, like these ladies, learn to respect and even like their DIs but the DIs never return the warmth. Ever. Their mask is on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the full 3 months.
But it was amazing to watch the ladies adjust under the stress and not be scared anymore. You can see it happen and especially with a woman like my wife who can zing and throw out little barbs as fast as she takes them.
The DI let down his guard a little. After all, this was just a Jane Wayne Day and they were only going to be spending a few hours on this Saturday with these ladies.
The final evolution was the final drill. Like a super-compressed bootcamp, the schedule of the day only included a little time to actually drill so the DI had to teach in between and on the way toward the next event.
The ladies had a little practice but this little game was being played to the hilt on the Grinder in front of everyone to include the Commanding General.
The DIs were given real drill cards they had to execute and each platoon got their turn.
Throughout the entire day, our platoon was kind of the underdog. The other units actually brought in their wives before today and practiced drill. They took it so seriously that “taking final drill” became as much of an obsession for some of them as it was for a real platoon.
Our ladies, well, they didn’t really have that level of competition coursing through their veins. I mean, they were laughing…….. LAUGHING…. at the DIs at first!
I kind of felt for our DI, SSgt Tallman. I mean, he was dragged out here on a Saturday and forced to put wives through a mini-bootcamp and keep up the charade that they were recruits despite their less-than-cooperating reactions. Then on top of all that, he had to go out and run them through a drill card for score in front of God and everyone to include the Commanding General after only a few hours of exposure to Marine Corps training.
I think he deserves a medal.
The ladies totally rocked the drill. I mean they looked like Eighth and I Marines out there and even nailed the throwing rifles routine.
OK, maybe that entire paragraph was a lie. They performed….. as you would expect women with a few hours of drill training.
BUT, they didn’t come in last as expected. The other teams, as I explained, were a lot more organized and even snuck in some practice before hand. They all had the same shirts and cammie bottoms while we look like a patchwork.
But when everything was tallied, we came in third which, while not much to brag about, came in as a rousing “NOT LAST!”
Maybe even I saw a bit of pride in SSGT Tallman’s demeaner.
Or maybe not.
As though all of this was not enough, we had tickets to the Padres and even after an exhausting day of playing bootcamp, we decided to take advantage of the free tickets.
The one realization worth writing about is this: every anthem played at a baseball game has gay roots.
Think about it.
We Will, We Will ROCK YOU. As I’m joining the crowd stomping our collective feet, I realize, hey, this was by Queen Hello, gay as it gets!!
A little while later, they played We Are The Champions and the thought hit me again, hey, Queen, another gay anthem.
As I was pondering this as a coincidence, YMCA came blaring out the stadium speakers. Holy mack-a-molies, talk about gay. Village People are about as fabulously gay as it gets.
The coup de gras had to be Rock & Roll Part 2 by Gary Glitter.
You don’t know what this one is? Think hockey game. You know (Baa, baaa, bomb a bomb a bom HEY!….) Take a listen if you’re still lost.
And if you didn’t know, Gary Glitter is a the worst kind of flamer. Not only does he bat for the same team but a few years ago he had some computer problems and took his box into a repair shop where they discovered a buttload of porn, literally. Not so bad you say? Well, it happened to be of little boys.
So, yeah. Stadium anthems are gay.
(what a way to end a great post)
Free Advice for Today: “Learn to make great chili.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.