I’m posting this a day early because tomorrow is the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in America, and I have a different kind of post planned.
Welcome back to another edition of Military Fridays! This is a series of blog posts I’m doing to help other writer get a better glimpse at what life is like in the military so they can more accurately portray it in their books. Today will be the first of (probably) many parts that deal with boot camp. It’s a formative time in the life of a service member, so it’s important to get it right!
A reminder that I will be speaking about the USMC and the boot camp that future Marines go through. Basic training is what the Army, Navy, and Air Force go through, and these are all very different in terms of the training they do and how long it lasts. However, the general attitude and atmosphere is all very similar.
First, let’s get one common misconception straightened out: the Army has drill sergeants, but in the Marine Corps they are Drill Instructors. This is an important distinction between the two, and one that is not commonly known. So if a character in your book is a Marine, he would have had Drill Instructors.
Now there are only two places where the USMC holds boot camp: San Diego, CA and Parris Island, SC. Everyone west of the Mississippi River (not counting parts of Illinois and Louisiana) goes to boot camp in San Diego, and everyone else go to Parris Island. I myself went to San Diego.
Now there’s a bit of a rivalry between the two boot camps, with each side of course believing that they had it worse than the other. Marines who come from Parris Island even have a nickname for those of us on the West Coast: Hollywood Marines. Now
I’m right and West Coast is harder neither side has it worse, they just have different kinds of worse.
At Parris Island (or PI as it’s called) they have sand fleas that apparently cause you to itch badly, which is unfortunate for a person who’s not allowed to move without being ordered to do so for long periods of time. However, PI is also located deep in the backwoods of South Carolina, far from civilization. There it’s easy to get immersed in boot camp, which helps time fly.
Not so in San Diego. The boot camp there is literally right next to the San Diego Airport. Why is that so bad? Well for starters, about ever twenty minutes you see a jet flying over poor, miserable you. Every twenty minutes you get to look up and wish for God to poof you onto that plane. You don’t even care where it’s going, you just wanna be on that plane.
You can also see homes and busy roads from the third deck of the barracks every night, which again reminds you of how miserable you are. Oh, and there’s massive hills and mountains to hike up, too.
So like I said above,
I’m right and West Coast is harder both boot camps are difficult in their own way, and the rivalry is just another silly military rivalry.
Is there anything specific you’d like to know about Marine Corps boot camp? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to feature your question in next week’s post! Thanks for reading!