It was a stormy October night when the plane landed in Charleston South Carolina. The plane was filled mostly by others with the same fate as me. As
we made our way out of the tunnel way from the plane, we had our first encounter with a Marine Corps Drill Instructor. “Get your butt’s in two
lines right now”, he screamed as he pointed to where he wanted the lines to form. Once we were all lined up he hurried us into a closed off area
where we all stood in line to receive our Smart Cards that would hold our data for the next thirteen weeks. All around the area there was commotion.
There were other DI’s there now and at some point I think everyone had their butt’s chewed. Once the process was complete they marched us out into
the p0uring rain and on to a bus. The DI’s stayed off the bus and just watched us and laughed as it pulled away. I assume they were laughing about
how nervous we all were when the bus pulled away.
The bus ride to the island gave us all a little time to relax; in fact it gave us just enough time to get relaxed before we were thrown into chaos
again. It was the quietest bus ride I have ever been on. Nobody made a sound the whole ride. I imagine everyone else was a nervous as I was, for we
were all entering the unknown and did not quite know what to expect. The thunderstorms continued and seemed to increase as we drew closer to our
destination. It was as if Mother Nature was signaling to us the harshness of our futures.
We passed the first sign of our new home as we began to cross the bridge onto The Island. As we came to the end of the bridge we had arrived at the
. No escaping it now; we had reached the point of no return. The guard simply waved us through and we began our way
through the winding road that leads in to the base. We began to see the brick structures that litter the base on both sides and were just barely able
to catch a glimpse of the banner as we drove underneath it.
We had all seen it in photographs, but here it was right above
our heads. We were here and in just a few short moments our bus ride would be over.
Before the bus even came to a complete stop, a Drill Instructor stormed aboard the bus and started screaming for us to get off his bus. Everyone piled
out of that bus as fast as they could. The anxiety I was feeling at that moment was almost overwhelming for me and many others I am sure. As soon as
we stepped off the bus there were other DI’s yelling at us to get on the yellow footprints.
The same yellow footprints we
had been told stories of and the very footprints where many Marines before us had stood in their beginnings. It was a humbling feeling and an
expression of the pressures of what lay ahead. The rain continued to pour from the sky as if to help wash away the nastiness of our civilian ways.
During the next few minutes we were told that we were no longer human beings. We were now maggots, scum, or simply, recruits. We were told we would
have to earn the right to be called Marines, and that this was the beginning of our process. We were instructed in simple formation procedures and how
to address any personnel. It was simply, sir, or ma’am, yes, aye, or no.. But the DI’s had many unique ways to instill that into us. After the DI
had finished his opening speech they lined us up at the doors entering the receiving area.
For me the fear and anxiety was
still on overload, and only seemed to increase as I passed through the same portal that many Marines before me have.
Once inside we were given paperwork and told to sit in a bunch of desks. Once our paperwork was filled out we were instructed to put our heads down
and to not make a peep. We were also instructed not to sleep. Some fell asleep and were abruptly awoken by a DI in their face screaming at them to get
up and stand at attention, while they chewed their butt. Anyone who decided to look around out of curiosity met the same fate, myself included. We
sat there for what seemed like forever before being shuffled through to phone home and apprise our families of our safe arrival, and nothing more.
From there we went through basic clothing issue and were then filed into a long room with tables running along the center. There the DI’s made us
strip down and by the numbers put on our new camouflage uniforms. We were being issued the brand new digital cammies and to me they looked strange at
first, but I soon grew to love them. During this time there was a lot of screaming and yelling and men running around lost in their new world of
chaos. Soon everyone had it figured out and we began to look the same in our new uniforms.
When clothing issue was complete, our hair was shaved off as quick as I have ever seen it done. The barbers are very rough with your head and you come
out with a bright red head full of irritation. Next we were taken through and issued the rest of our personal gear. We were then marched to a squad
bay that would be our temporary home for the next few days. At some point they fed us a pre packaged meal containing a sandwich, an apple, and juice.
Still we all went hungry from the stresses of the day.
The sun was beginning to rise and we would soon be going out to take out initial PT test. It was only a mile and a half run but everyone was doing it
after not sleeping for quite some time now. It would be late into this night when we would first get a chance to sleep on Parris Island. The rest of
the day was filled with classroom instructions and medical evaluations. We received so many shots that day that I felt like a pin cushion. The chaos
stayed consistent throughout the day and into the night. Chaos seemed to be the theme they were going for in the beginning.
As evening came we got our first experience in a Marine Corps chow hall. We stood in line at attention and marched our way through the line to get our
first Marine Corps chow hall meal. By the time we sat down were ordered to get up and go and that was the end of dinner. To this day I do not remember
what it was I ate. I was so hungry I ate what I could on the way to the trash, and the exit but I learned to eat quickly from then on. After chow we
were marched to our sqaud bay and given an opportunity to shower and organize our gear.
Firewatches were ordered for the night, and the lights went out. Sleep deprivation had given in to those who were still anxious, as sleep was much
needed at this point. Everyone went fast to sleep but still thinking about what would await them the following day. Tomorrow would be another big day
for us. We would be taken to our permanent squad bays and would be assigned to platoons, where we would meet The Drill Instructors that would train us
for the next thirteen weeks. We had survived our first twenty four hours on the Island. Little did we know that our adventure had just begun.