Letters TO Boot Camp

After receiving a letter from my young cousin from Parris Island I felt it only right I return a letter to him at boot camp. Besides, sending a recruit a letter addressed from a SgtMaj is too good an opportunity to pass up:


No doubt by now you’ve discovered Recruit Training is nothing like you imagined. It will continue to be. I never worried about what we were doing the next day or next week or next month. I simply endured each day until graduation. Just let boot camp happen to you as it does. I think it’s the best way to experience it. For you, time does not exist, only missions and obstacles to overcome in order to complete them.

Don’t obsess about your platoon mates not sounding off. I remember wishing I was in a different platoon because at least they seemed loud. In the end, my platoon won drill and the rifle range so don’t let those initial impressions deceive you. [Im not actually sure if we won the range but we ended up kicking a lot of ass]

Don’t attempt to curry favor with your DIs by being a tattle tale. To me it smacks of weakness and you will find some of your platoon mates do so in an attempt to protect themselves. It’s like saving yourself from an alligator by pushing other people into it’s maw. You’re still going to get eaten eventually. I find it unbecoming of what you are trying to transform yourself into. Unless someone is doing something unsafe, leave the tattling to the weasels.

Do continue to keep writing down your experiences and don’t sugar coat things for your parents. You have a sharp mind and quit wit, use it. You will read your own letters years from now and laugh your ass off. Trust me.

You will find yourself being tested to the very limits of your mental and physical endurance. Boot Camp will only be the first time this happens to you. Your mind will want to quit long before you body does. When it really starts to suck ask yourself if your mind has quit, because you body hasn’t. Your body will always have a little more to give than your brain thinks it does. Remind yourself you can always take just one more step, one more bayonet thrust, one more strike, just one more …

Don’t let your mind quit before your body does. Endure the hard things others are unwilling or incapable of enduring. Only then will you have become one of us.

The lad will probably need the encouragement as he was foolish enough to admit to his Drill Instructors he had a cousin who is a SgtMaj. Of course, it probably didn’t help when I e-mailed his Senior Drill Instructor and told him the kid’s uncle and grandfather were both Sailors. I am confident the team will take appropriate action.

Semper Fidelis!

America’s SgtMaj

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    1. I hope that you were only kidding about addressing the recruits letter to Sgt Major.
      That would be a piss-poor thing to do.

    2. My son and his best friend since 6th grade enlisted and went to boot camp together. They were wise enough not to let anyone know they were good friends once they hit Pendleton. Their scheme fell apart , however, when they received identical tshirts signed by all the friends back home at mail call. Obviously, the secret was out!

    3. There is no situation so dire that your family can’t make it worse. Two of the spousal unit’s brothers were 0311’s.

      When the SOI first sergeant learned that the female captain who kept calling and leaving messages for Pfc Blair was that young man’s sister in law, I believe his exact words were “Blair, I’m going to kill you.”

    4. It has been 55 years since I crossed the Grinder and your words still ring true. I suspect that I might have gotten a bit of special attention after the Gunny discovered that my father was a Navy Captain. The irony was that I had dropped out of a Jesuit college after my first year because I didn’t like Jesuit discipline. Little did I know that there isn’t a heck of a lot of difference between Jesuits and Gunnery Sergeants. But I had an attitude that you can kill me, but you can’t make me quit. I have done many things, and carried a number of titles, but the done I am proud of is United States Marine.

    5. Ah my senior drill instructor sure did love to here that you were my cousin and on occasion we did have what I recall as conversations (from a recruit mindset) about your blog, he was looking forward to meeting you but unfortunately our graduation was moved forward. Quiet a surprise coming home as a Pfc and finding a SgtMaj in your living room and enjoying the after bootcamp wake up call.

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