One of our own, LC Cortilaen, will be shipping off for Marine Corps boot camp at MCRD San Diego in the next few days. Yes, I, a Parris Island Marine, just called San Diego “boot camp”. Not everyone can actually go to real boot camp at Parris Island. Somebody has to keep the sun glass and suntan lotion manufacturers in business.
In all seriousness though, please keep Cortillaen in your thoughts and prayers over the next 13 weeks.
He sent me an email asking for two things, advice for himself, and advice for his parents who are in near “panic” mode, as he described it. Below is what I sent him back, but anything that y’all want to throw in would be greatly appreciated.
First off, congratulations on making it through the screening process. In case you didn’t realize it, the Corps has already been evaluating you.
In reality, there’s very little advice that I can give as far as “making it through” goes, either you want it enough or you don’t. Having said that there are a few things that if you remember them will help you keep your sanity.
1. No matter how stupid something may seem, there is a reason for it. EVERYTHING in boot happens for a reason, and I mean everything. And it’s all designed to make you a Marine. That may seem like a trite saying, but it’s not. You will not be the same when, if, you come out the other end. Marine’s are arrogant and think we’re special because in God’s honest truth, we ARE. And you will be too. Everything that happens in boot camp is designed, crafted to an art form in fact, to do just that. When you graduate, remind me to tell you about the blankets and linen day. You’ll understand then.
2. When you reach that point where you just can’t go on, when every muscle is on fire and screaming at you, every fiber of your being is cursing you for being so stupid, when you doubt yourself and whether you’re good enough, and you are screaming at yourself because it seems that the other recruits are dong it and you can’t, remember that they hurt just as bad, if not worse, than you do. Draw from their strength until you get your own back. Because believe me, they are doing the same thing. And also remember, you’re not the first maggot to go through it. And you won’t be the last. They made it, you can too, and those who follow after you will also. You’re joining an elite chain of brotherhood that stretches back to Tun’s Tavern in 1775. Their victories, their hardships, their adversities, will become yours, and yours will become those who follow you. Have you ever noticed that a lot of times when Marines talk about our history, we say “we stormed Iwo” or “We took Hue or Fallujah”, and not “They”. There’s a reason for that too. It’s that unbroken chain. It’s the brotherhood. We won’t fail because they didn’t fail, and we will not be the ones who bring dishonor to those who preceded us.
3. When you think that the DI’s hate your guts, don’t delude yourself. They do. But they also swore an oath to train you, care for you, and make you Marines. And even though they hate your smelly, nasty body (that’s not just a euphemism either, recruits DO stink), they love you also, a love that you will understand when your DI places that Eagle, Globe and Anchor in your sweaty, bloody hand.
For your parents, well I can’t really give any advice worth what you’ll pay for it since when my son shipped out I knew what he was in store for and didn’t worry. I knew he wasn’t gonna die in boot camp. And if he died after that, either in Iraq or even in training, well then at least he died FOR something, not just because the crossed he wrong street at the wrong time. In short, I looked at it more as a grunt than as a father. When he deployed to Iraq there were a lot more fatherly emotions then, but I dealt with them as a grunt too. My wife on the other hand says for them not to worry because you will be in good hands, which is true, and that they should take advantage of all that the Corps offers to keep them advised of your status. When I went through boot camp the only word my parents got was what little I was able to write. Again, they are not the first to go through this, and they have advantages that modern technology offers that are unprecedented in the history of parents sending their children to war. She also said to be proud, not only of the man they raised, but of the man you will be on the other side.
God’s speed and Semper Fi.