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04 April 2016
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Category: My Marine Corps
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Marines in Formation


Like most teenagers I left for Boot Camp after high school graduation.

The bus ride was long and I was bursting with anticipation of what lay ahead. I had been dreaming of becoming a United States Marine since I was 14 years old, now finally I was on that bus ride to Parris Island. We drove pass the front gate rolled onto the base the time was way past mid-night, the date was July 29th 1979.

As we stepped off the bus amidst the shouting of the receiving Drill Instructors we were all blasted by the heat of South Carolina. The first thing that caught my eye was how immaculately perfect this place was, spotless, clean, without blemish, well kept, well maintained, all the buildings were dated like something out of a 50's military movie. There were many more sensations that came along with that blast of heat. There was the smell of grass mixed with the sweetness of the Spanish moss trees, the smell of the warm pavement, mixed with the smell of the old wooden buildings and the smell of the surrounding marsh lands. Amidst the din of all these sights and smells the Island was absent of sound, no cars, no trucks, no people, all you could hear were thecrickets in the background and voices of the receiving DI's while we stood on the yellow footprints.  . . . . Welcome to Parris Island.

 Inside the receiving barracks we were bombarded with an overwhelming assortment of immediate tasks to perform, late night paperwork, late night phone calls, the surrender of possessions, as well as early morning haircuts. After being awake for well over 24 hours we were filed down a hallway and assembled inside a room where they handed us everything we needed for the next 12 weeks. Everything from Hats to toothbrushes to underwear, they gave us everything.

After we filled our sea-bags with our Marine Corps issue, they herded us into a grab assed formation and marched us over to the chow hall. We marched like a gaggle of civilian trash, we were that coffee stain on your white shirt or the drunk Uncle that comes to the family barbecue, we were just sad to look at and out of place. We left our sea-bags outside to mark our formation and marched single file into the chow hall. They gave us these stainless steel trays that were divided into sections so you knew were your potatoes were supposed to go and were your meat should end up, no guess work here everything was laid out plane and simple.  The Marine at the head of the line kept shouting "Keep the line moving Prive" while the servers slapped spoon full's of food into the sectioned parts of our tray. Believe it or not folks, this was a moment for all of us, this was our first Marine Corps Breakfast.

 After we ate, we stood outside the chow hall, . .  all of us, a mass of civilian slime and waited for our receiving Instructors to join us. As we stood in formation on the sidewalk I could hear the sound of a cadence being called to my left. I couldn't make out what is was at first but as the cadence of the Drill Instructor became louder so did the sound of Boots hitting the pavement. As the drill instructors voice came closer so did the sound of this rhythmic thunder,  I swear the ground began to shake as each and every thud got closer. I wasn't the only one to feel it, we all did. and in series we all turned our heads left and saw the most amazing sight imaginable. it was a platoon of 3rd phase recruits Marching towards us.

This was the most impressive and awe inspiring sight I had ever seen. Their faces were chiseled and hard with a concentration that couldn't be broken. Their movements were short and exact. their arms swung the exact same distance, their boots all hit the ground at the same time it was deafening, Damn these were United States Marines.
My heart felt anxious I was happy scared and sad at the same time I couldn't explain all the feelings that rushed through me at that moment but I was completely floored. I thought to myself that this is it this is what I wanted to become, standing there in that line I didn't know if I could do it, but I was damn sure going to give it a everything I had.

Three months later we made it . .  here is my platoon marching on the Parade Deck, I am on the right the last one in the image: Platoon 2059

Ralph Curtis

Posted by Ralph Curtis