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A place for the poolees, Delayed Entry Programers to mingle and ask questions. Get tips from your fellow poolees before you head to MCRD.

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Old 02-26-2009, 05:20 PM
beddoe beddoe is offline
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 7
Joining the Marines

So, you're thinking about joining the Marines, eh?

Hopefully, my post here will give you some meaningful information that might help you to make that tough decision. Everybody that joins the Marines does so for their own reasons or have their own stories. Some join because their father or uncle were Marines or their fathers before them were OLD CORPS Devildogs while others might join to avoid jail time or simply for the challenge or love of country. Others may wonder if they should go to college or join the service and take classes while on active duty. There is no generic answer that is right for everybody.

How I came to join the Marines:
I grew up in Harlingen Texas, in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. When I was a senior in high school (1980), two of my best friends and I were in my truck driving along when one of them said they had run into a Marine recruiter and were thinking about joining the Marines. I responded with something like "Are you * nuts!"; I think I almost drove off the road. Growing up, we were always aware of the Marine Military Academy in town and would occasionally see the students in uniform at the mall or other public places. I never gave their existence much thought. Years earlier, I had posters in my room from the Navy. I had interest in being on an Aircraft Carrier when I was younger. There was always an interest to serve somehow. After further discussion with my friends, we decided to go to the Sun Valley Mall and speak with the recruiter. Sgt. Crutchfield was a great guy who looked sharp in his dress blues. His comments and theories on life were impressive. He knew how to be a recruiter. I would feel proud just hanging out in his office, where passers-by in the mall would look in with curious glances. He had a TV and VCR set up which played a video showing life at Marine Corps boot camp. The video was motivational and showed all the good aspects of training (anyone remember, "Used to sleep till after noon, growin' up to an easy tune..."). It wasn't long before Sgt. Crutchfield had me signed up in the Delayed Entry Program. I was originally set up in an "open contract", which means I would be assigned a job doing whatever the Marine Corps needed me to do, most likely a "grunt" or basic rifleman. While I was awaiting my ship date, the Gunny called me in and spoke with me about some new openings in aviation and asked if I would be interested. As he was asking me, he was shaking his head up and down. I said, "Aviation?". He said "Aviation, Supply, Support, and Anti-Air Warfare". I said, sounds cool! The fact that I signed up for the Marines was a real shock to my friends and family. I had not known another Marine until I met Sgt. Crutchfield. Nobody in my immediate family had ever been in the Marine Corps (Paul M Beddoe, KIA Khe Sahn, was a distant cousin). I did love my Country and knew that serving her was a good thing. June 3rd, 1981, I would report to MCRD San Diego without any meaningful boot camp knowledge or preparation whatsoever.

Boot Camp:
The day came for Sgt. Crutchfield to drive me to the airport. We stopped by the Koffee Klatch so I could say goodbye to my Mom who was a waitress there. As the second of her six kids, I was the first to leave her. Neither one of us really anticipated what could be in store for me. Sgt. Crutchfield then took me to the airport. When I landed in San Diego, I was directed outside by a Marine Liaison Officer. When I got outside, there was an ugly green military bus, full of teens, waiting to take off. I stepped on board and took a seat. While we were all waiting for the driver, there was much trash-talking going on about who was gonna do what when we got to the base. Once we arrived at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), we were greeted by one nasty individual who was screaming at all of us to get off his bus and onto the yellow footprints outside. This was the beginning... From this point and for the next three months, my mind would be in a constant spin.

The physical challenge:

I knew nothing about anything going in. I had never run a mile in my life. I was skinny, 6'3" and 145 lbs. and was a smoker. I would soon wonder why boot camp wasn't exactly the picture Sgt. Crutchfield had painted for me. After a few days in a receiving platoon, we were introduced to our formal drill instructors. Training day ONE was about to begin. Physically, I was able to do everything that was thrown at me. Together, you work to build up your strength and endurance. You do things physically you never dreamed possible. I remember seeing other platoons on base that were within weeks of graduation and thinking how lucky they were and wondering if I would make it to where they were. After doing physical training most of the day, marching on the parade deck, and rushing here and there, from chow to classrooms, we would be completely exhausted by day's end. I mean completely exhausted.

The mental challenge:
Nothing can prepare you for the mental challenge of Marine Corps boot camp. The first part of the movie "Full Metal Jacket" is very accurate. There is little deviation in the decades of drill instructor behavior and effectiveness. From the moment you arrive on the yellow footprints until the moment you graduate, everything you do is controlled by a drill instructor. You are yelled at constantly, belittled, embarrassed, confused, and subject to head games of every imaginable possibility, and some that only the Marines could conjure up. When unrelenting prolonged physical and mental thrashings are combined, the result is an incredible transformation of breaking down the individual shit-bird civilian and rebuilding the boy into the Marine.

The aptitude challenge:

Contrary to public perception, recruits spend countless hours learning about their history, their weapons, first aid, chemical warfare, chain-of-command, and other various subjects. Much pride is taken in teaching recruits about the famous Marines who served before them. From the birth of the Continental Marines in a bar in Tun Tavern, PA. in 1775, to the battlefields from the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli, recruits gain a deep sense of debt owed to these Marines from the Old Corps. Aptitude tests are also taken which help determine, for some, their next school or duty station.

There are many many other challenges in Marine boot camp, some measurable, some are not. Qualifying with the M-16 rifle is a two-week process. The first week is spent "snapping in" or learning all about shooting. The next week is qualifying week. Not qualifying with the rifle can end your journey to be a Marine, as can failure to qualify in swimming or other required skills.

My advice:
Nowadays, there is so much information available on the Internet that many young boys and girls can get some facts to help them prepare for boot camp. Nevertheless, here's my advice for anyone considering joining the Marines.

1. Get a guaranteed MOS. Whether it's a basic rifleman (0311) or a huey helicopter crew chief (6174), think about your future. Try to gains skills you can use when your active duty ends. I was fortunate to get into the aviation field because I ended up working in computers. Since I got out I have been working in IT. I never would have received that opportunity had it not been for the Marine Corps. I have taken numerous college courses over the years but the lack of a degree has never slowed me down. The IT experience from the Marines catapulted me into several excellent career opportunities.

2. RUN, RUN, RUN... Get into shape before you report to boot camp. It will help you like you won't believe. Work on upper-body and leg strength as much as possible. You CAN get through the physical aspects of boot camp. The better shape you are in, the easier it will be for you.

3. Prepare yourself as much as possible for the mental head games you will be subject to. Keep a low profile, do your best, speak loudly, don't take shortcuts, study hard, stay focused. Watch the Full Metal Jacket boot camp scenes over and over. I had NO CLUE about the mental challenges and I still made it.

4. STUDY! Know your general orders, rank structure, chain-of-command, and general history of the Marine Corps. Know who Chesty Puller, John LeJuene, Maj. A.A. Cunningham, Dan Daly, and Smedley Butler were.

Oh, and my other two buddies from high school... they both chickened out. One joined the Air Force, the other stayed a civilian. Sadly, I lost contact with both after I left for boot camp. My real friends, my brothers for life, are those I served with in the Marines from 1981 to 1985 and many I have met since then. I have never once regretted my decision to join the Marines. In fact, becoming a Marine was the best decision I ever made.

After I graduated from boot camp, I returned to the Sun Valley Mall in Harlingen and walked into the Marine Recruiting Office, there was Sgt. Crutchfield grinning ear to ear. He sure was proud to see me. We were now brothers. I shared some boot camp stories with him, shook his hand and thanked him. Words weren't required. He knew...

The change is forever! Once a Marine, Always a Marine!

Semper Fi,
Cpl. Beddoe
USMC 81-85
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Old 02-26-2009, 06:19 PM
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Cpl Miller Cpl Miller is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Sacramento, Ca
Posts: 2,548
DAMN Wally,

THAT Marine was outstanding, ain't now way to put into words what boot camp does to a guy, or girl but I think you did a great job explaining it.

Thanks for the input Marine

Cpl Miller
Semper Fi

Cpl Miller 1964 - 1970 USMC
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Old 02-26-2009, 06:24 PM
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JITB JITB is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Stratford, CT
Posts: 981
Yup! That was certainly one of the best posts I've read in a long time. I may even bump it from time to time to keep it on the main page.
Saepe Expertus, Semper Fidelis, Fratres Aeterni, Per Mare, Per Terram
Jack LaBrecque
Stratford, CT

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Old 03-02-2009, 11:47 AM
pisc69 pisc69 is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 52
I tell them one thing, and that if they remember it at all times they'll sail through no problem.

pain is weakness leaving the body
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boot camp, mcrd

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