I took on Parris Island
By Joe Joe Wright
Up at 4:00 a.m. everyday, wow! I’m not use that part. The older I get, the more of a systematic person I become. In others words, I have a routine. I am usually up about 6:30 a.m. and at work around 7:30 a.m. Now, I am getting up at 4:00 and starting activities before the sun rises. Boy hidey! That is for the young, not old like me.
As recruits enter Phase two of their training, they are moving from a chaotic environment to a teaching environment. Now, don’t get me wrong, the yelling at recruits never stops through 13 weeks of training. However, it is redirected. Instead of being yelled at for being ugly, now the focus is on screwing up assignments. In other words, corrective behaviors, as the teaching has begun. Learning how to shoot a rifle is paramount to becoming a Marine. If you can’t shoot to certain degree of proficiency, then you will be going home. This is also another reason for the DI’s to reduce the yelling, the recruits now have loaded guns. Does everybody remember the movie “Full Metal Jacket?” They don’t need any such recurrence. The Marines have many sayings and or little songs they love to march to. They also have a prayer or the “riflemans creed.” They like to recite at night before bed. The original has been modified, but it essentially still the same.
“This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my rifle is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will… My rifle and I know that what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit… My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights, and its barrel. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will…
Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.
So be it, until victory is America’s and there is no enemy, but peace!”
It should be noted here that all Marines are rifleman. Their job or MOS (military occupational specialty) maybe photography, but everyone carries a rifle in a combat zones and is trained to shoot it. All persons from the beginning to present day have gone through just about the same basic Marine Corps training. Or, they don’t get to be Marines. The Marine Corps training is second to none. For instance, it is significantly longer and much more intense than the other branches. If you are, let’s say an E-7 Master Sergeant in the Air Force or a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy or a Sergeant First Class in the Army and you suddenly decided you wanted to be a Marine, you will have to go basic training for 13 weeks at Parris Island or Camp Pendleton. All other branches, you can swap over, but not to the Marines. That should tell you something about the traditions of the US Marine Corps.
I’m going to just go out a limb here and say that the confidence course at Marine Corps Training Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina, is a monster. Yes, I did go through it – well if you wanna call it that. We started out going over the uneven logs as depicted in the pictures. It was here that I slammed my toe into the log and wanted to cry like a little girl. Another man, more out of shape than myself, in fact broke his toe and later went to hospital to get it set. It was, however, on the rope across the ditch maneuver that I suffered my greatest pain as I got a rope burn and pulled my back out of whack all in one swift action. A note to myself “Rope swinging is for monkeys and children.”
As the group as a whole meandered our way through the Confidence Course (it is called that because recruits gain self confidence in learning to negotiate the course in record times), I would go onto suffer a number of what one might call physical mishaps, but I never hit the ground like so many of them teachers did over there. We were all pretty pitiful, except for this one little lady who was in great shape and made us all look like we belonged in a retirement home. I might add that even though the DI’s were yelling at us so that we could get the effect that recruits get, it was by far not even close to the level the recruits receive but just a taste for us.
Now, I will say that the Marine Corps fed us well while over there. I never got hungry. They took us at supper to two different Officers Clubs and it was delicious. Yeah, we got to hang out with the big brass somewhat. Generals and Colonels and other officers, but it was our DI’s Staff Sergeant Lewis and Staff Sergeant King that showed us what it is like to be a Marine recruit. For instance, before you march anywhere you first have to learn how to count. 4321,2341,1234, 1324 – there was a reason to the madness I assure you. The Corps is teaching you how to follow the most basic of orders. The yelling from them and your loud response is to create confusion and to make you listen, really listen to what is said. If you didn’t respond to Staff Sergeant Lewis loud enough, he would “find your volume” over there at the tree line a hundred yards away – so run!
On the rifle range, Marines learn to shoot in a kneeling position, prone, and standing position. They learn how to distinguish distance when it is unknown and what is the difference between a fine sight and an open sight when shooting the M-16 with iron sights. Marines as a group are world renown for their shooting. Lee Harvey Oswald learned to shoot in the Marines. He killed President Kennedy with two headshots and another body hit from nearly 100 yards away in a moving target with iron sights and an Old Italian bolt-action rifle. That would be hard even with a scope.
Marines adapt and overcome, and it is the DI’s sworn duty to make each and everyone of the recruits the best Marine they can be. So as recruits go through second phase, they are learning to shoot, swim, rappel, and do lots and lots of push ups and pull ups. This phase is all about teaching and getting in top-notch shape physically.
Next up, Phase Three – the mentoring phase.