Marine Corps Training: Last things before My Tour of Duty

I hope to conclude this boot camp segment with this blog. Then I will begin writing about my tour in Vietnam.

About halfway through boot camp they (my drill instructors, I think) decided that I wasn’t motivated, so I was transferred to what was called “motivation platoon.” I don’t know why they decided that; maybe it was because I didn’t seem fearful enough of them. Like I said previously, I prayed a lot, especially while I stood at attention; and I was always committing everything to God. Maybe they sensed that I was too calm about everything. Anyway, motivation platoon only lasted about a week. We did things like, set up tents, and camped out, and watched movies about how great the Marine Corps was. Then they transferred me to another boot camp platoon—which seemed easier; and the drill instructors seemed nicer and didn’t swear as much. I remember that the top drill instructor said to me that he couldn’t figure out why I was transferred, because I was doing so well. He especially likes my high marks in the physical exercise tests, like pullups and pushups, etc. And so, anyway, I was feeling good about the whole thing. No doubt God had something to do with it.

After boot camp everybody got sent home for a week. I don’t know why, but I can’t remember any details about that week. It was a time to relax and get ready for more training (at ITR) and Vietnam.

ITR (Infantry Training Regiment) was located also at Camp Pendleton, but was separate from the boot camp area. It was a place with lots of hills and trees and underground bunkers, a perfect area to train for war. The instructors there were kinder, I mean they didn’t harass you as much. We were respected more—as marines. But the training was more intense. Oh, I remember trudging up and down those hills with back packs and rifles. In fact, everywhere we went we carried our rifles. And they would sternly let us know if we didn’t always have our rifles with us. That was part of the training: to know that we had to be always combat ready.

I really don’t remember anything in particular about ITR, except that it was very intense. I think I had my mind more on what was to come—Vietnam. And they would constantly talk about it, to prepare us for it. ITR wasn’t nearly as long-lasting as boot camp, though it seemed long. I think it lasted about six weeks, enough time to get us all geared up for our year long tour. But before Vietnam, they gave us another week off to say goodbye to friends and family.

If it wasn’t for the pictures I took, I wouldn’t remember this week. I guess it went by fast, and I probably had my mind on what was to come. I know that I saw my girl friend Joy a lot; and though I really felt that I loved her, it was a strained and awkward relationship, mainly because I knew she wasn’t a Christian. But I was going off to Vietnam, and somehow, I knew that that would provide me with a way of escape. That is, to get away from temptation.

I also slightly remember that during that week my mom, as well as my grandparents (on my mom’s side) were quite upset and fearful for me going to Vietnam.  In fact, my grandpa had taken some legal steps to get me a humanitarian discharge. The whole thing was strange to me, because I really didn’t want it. It was all his idea, and maybe my mom’s too, and they pursued it kind of behind my back. As I remember it, there never was a time that I didn’t want to go to Vietnam. I never was a person that would fight against going to war. I always figured that if your country called you to go, you should go; that it was part of God’s will. And, this may seem strange, but I really kind of wanted to go. There was something in me that was excited about it. I wanted to fight for my country, and I was ready.