Welcome back to another edition of Military Friday! This week, I’ll continue discussing a few particulars regarding Marine Corps boot camp that writers without a military background may not know.
First off, the so-called sir sandwich is a thing of the past. Made famous in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, it used to be that when a recruit spoke to a Drill Instructor, it would be “Sir, yes sir!” or “Sir, no sir!” But that’s now done anymore. Now it’s just yes sir, no sir, or aye-aye sir.
That last one is another bit of lingo that’s different from the mainstream understanding. The Marine Corps is coupled with the Navy, and so much of the terminology is the same. And in naval tradition, the correct response to an order from a commander is aye-aye sir. Yes and no are answers to questions, and aye-aye is still used when given a command.
(Eventually this becomes shortened to just ‘aye sir’, but in boot camp it’s still two ‘ayes’)
And even using ‘sir’ is also unique to the Marine Corps. In Army basic training, Drill Sergeants are referred to as Drill Sergeants. But in the Marines, recruits must use ‘sir’ when speaking to any Marine, especially Drill Instructor and regardless of rank. A recruit is considered so low on the totem pole that any Marine deserves a title typically reserved for officers!
And lastly, this one shocks most civilians: recruits must refer to themselves in the third person. Always. He never says I or We. Rather, this recruit or these recruits. A fellow in my platoon once made the mistake of saying I to a Drill Instructor…he spent the next hour standing at the front of the squad bay pointing from his eyeball to himself while repeating, “This is an eye, this is a recruit.”
(Well, it felt like an hour at least. I’m not sure how long it was exactly because recruits are not allowed to wear watches, and there’s no clocks on any walls)
That’s it for this week! Leave your questions or thoughts in the comments below, and have a great weekend 😃