View Full Version : One of my stories from USMC boot camp

11-04-2006, 07:28 PM
Hey all,
I've held off on posting this in here for awhile now, but I decided, "What the hell..." so here we go. It's a short story I wrote of one of my experiences at MCRD San Diego, (well, this part is actually took place up at Camp Pendleton) for one of my creative writing classes. Comments would be appreciated, -but hopefully I don't get flamed for it, ha.
So, without further adieu...

The Beginning of the End

It was a Wednesday night back at the end of June, actually the last Wednesday of June, and my last Wednesday in active training. That day, (mid-field week) we had gone through the Confidence Chamber, (gas chamber) the final required event before the Crucible, which would commence in the extreme early hours of the following Tuesday morning. That was to be 56 hours of hell, 50-some miles of humping, and then it'd just be two (relatively) easy weeks of review and preparing for graduation.

That's what was supposed to happen. Instead, as it would happen, I had been forcing through the pain in my injured left knee for more than a week at that point, and it was only getting worse with every hurried movement. One of our bulldogs, (extra-feisty supporting DI's) Drill Instructor Sergeant Turner, ****ed with us before going into our hooches, for the night, as usual. I don't even remember what we were being punished for that night, but it probably doesn't even matter. It was the usual "f**k-f**k" games they played to make sure we never got relaxed, "Run to the rear of the hooches right now! Oh, we want to take our time, huh?! Good! Run back to the front right now! Nope, too slow, run back to the rear right now! Mother-f***ers! You STILL want to take your time?! Very well, drop down on the deck and start low-crawling back here right now!" that kind of fun stuff.

Well, sometime during the running back and forth the DI Sgt. Turner singled me out due to the fact that I was hobbling along and quite noticeably having a difficult go at it. "What's the matter, Quilling?!"
"Just limping a little, sir!"
"No f***ing ****, what is it, your feet?!"
"No, sir! This recruit's left knee, sir!"
"GOOD! You're going to medical tomorrow, Quilling!"
"Aye, sir!"

Lying in the hooch that night I couldn't even turn on my side without searing hot pain shooting through my leg, and even once the initial jolt would fade, it still wouldn't subside enough for lying on my side to be a viable position. So, I spent the night on my back staring up at the pitch blackness that a hooch in the midst of nowhere at night provided, agonizing over the complications that the pain in my knee would bring to my future. I knew that they'd send me right back to MRP, (Medical Remediation Platoon) the very place I'd had to try and get out of for so long (two months) when I'd had pneumonia. The first time had killed my motivation to return to training within two weeks of being assigned there, and it'd been a constant battle trying to get it back and keep it. I knew a second time would be even harder, and at some level I was even aware that I probably wouldn't be capable of keeping that motivation. I sighed heavily, resigning to my fate and allowing my weariness to give in to sleep. I heard my hooch-mate roll over easily to my left and mutter, "Yes, sir..." in his sleep. I silently prayed that my own would be deep and dreamless.

It felt like I'd scarcely fallen asleep after my firewatch shift, when last-hour firewatch came by waking everyone up to get dressed and ready in their hooches so we could jump out right when reveille sounded. We were to move out to Alpha range that morning for a fire-and-movement course, so we had to make sure everything but the hooches were stowed-away, -there wouldn't be much time for that later. Everything would have to find its way back to the barracks the same way it'd made it to this bivouac site, -on our backs, slung over our shoulders, or in a free hand, so obviously it was a good idea to have everything properly secured.

Thankfully, the **** to Alpha range, only two to three miles max, was officially labeled a "day-time movement" rather than a forced march, and so the pace wasn't quite as frantic as we had "gotten used to." For me, it was still excruciating enough, but I couldn't help but keep in mind that it could have been much worse. You know you're in bad shape when you start having to brace your knee with your free hand when going up hills, or when you're screaming at the top of your lungs just to drive out the maddening pain long enough to hurl your whole body forward in order to close that gap with the guy in front of you back to 40 inches in a sudden burst of energy your body's been telling you isn't there. And yet, that's exactly what I'd had to do to keep up for days.

Later, after we'd been sitting on the deck in chow hall formation at Alpha range, the Series Gunnery Sergeant called for anyone who needed to report to sick call to report to him first. I told my guide and squad leaders that that was me, as I'd been told to do so the previous day. "Are you sure? We're so close to being done, can't you at least hold off until after the Crucible?"
"I'm not about to disobey a direct order, Guide..."
"I don't know, I'd rather get yelled at than go to MRP... But do what you think you have to."
I debated with myself for awhile and then stood up. "I'm going to follow my orders and just have to trust this to fate..." I said out loud, more to myself than anyone else, and made my way for the Series Gunnery Sergeant.

In short, the corpsman and then a specialist back at Camp Pendleton medical diagnosed me with ITBS and patellar tendonitis. I was given the option to either be dropped to MRP then and there, or to take three days light-duty, and see if that would be enough. I took the light-duty and hoped for the best.

Back at the barracks later that day, DI Sgt. Turner confronted me and asked what medical had said. He was infuriated when I told him about the diagnosis and the light-duty, "ITBS?! No f***ing way you're going to be fine in three f***ing days! The Crucible is in three days, you won't possibly be able to keep up!"
"Aye, sir..."

I already knew that of course he was right. And he was. I wasn't about to be a burden on my platoon and my drill instructors. On Monday while my platoon, -my whole company, was going through the company commander's inspection and making final preparations for the Crucible, I was sitting on my gear in the company office waiting to be dropped to MRP back down south at MCRD San Diego.

11-04-2006, 07:45 PM
I'd like to hear more, you got me interested then it ends. I always like to read personal stories about combat training or experiences. It makes what you hear is a rumor into a reality.

11-04-2006, 07:53 PM
@james: rofl rofl rofl, @rosscoliosis: Good story...I also would like to see how it ends :)

11-04-2006, 07:53 PM
Lmao, what ended up happening to XXXX?

11-04-2006, 08:04 PM
Lmao, what ended up happening to XXXX?

He was thrashed for about an hour by Sgt. Calzada, and I think he had solitary head cleaning duty for a few days. About three weeks alter we graduated. He went into a support MOS (admin I think), while I went into the infantry. I ran into him 3 years later on Okinawa. We were both Corporals. He was doing well and seemed happy.

11-04-2006, 11:49 PM
Does MRP mean you start the whole cycle from Day 1 again?

11-05-2006, 01:27 AM
Does MRP mean you start the whole cycle from Day 1 again?

No, once you've been cleared by medical to RTFD, (Return To Full-Duty) you take the PFT (Physical Fitness Test) and provided you pass, you go back to a training company as close back to where you left off in the cycle as they can. If you don't pass, you go to PCP (Physical Conditioning Platoon) where you take weekly PFT's until you pass.

MRP = Medical Remediation Platoon. When I was there, there were three of them, but at one point (while I was still on depot) there were four, due to an outbreak of respiratory infections (the time of the SARS scare). They are platoons filled with sick or injured recruits, and aside from checking in at medical, your days are filled primarily with cleaning the barracks endlessly, (or being sent off to clean OTHER squad bays, or provide fire watch for them while the platoon housed there is out) though there are times where the Drill Instructors actually teach you a couple things for when you go back to a training company.

Every once in awhile a motivational speaker comes in, and the Battalion chaplain makes weekly visits. This is because MRP is incredibly depressing, you're still being treated like recruits, and new guys are coming in from all different parts of the training cycle, so you're constantly getting f***ed for their mess-ups. This of course does not help the fact that there are also a lot of recruits there that have already decided that they want to get out of the Marines altogether, so there are always pockets of recruits not just talking about how they want to get out, but discussing ways of getting out, -both ways they've thought of and ways they've heard have worked. As such, run-aways and half-assed suicide attempts are not uncommon. The second time I was in MRP, there were even a couple guys that formed a "Fight Club" where after lights out they'd take turns punching each other in their injuries so that they'd get worse/not heal.

Oh the stories I could write about my 9 months and 22 days in boot camp...
That's right, 9 months and 22 days in boot camp. Yup, it's only supposed to be 3 months, -1 week of processing and 12 weeks of training.
I'm afraid the end of my story there is a bit anti-climatic. After another 2 months spent in MRP my second trip there, my knee still wasn't good-to-go for running, (I'd get stopped by the Series Gunnery Sergeant or Series Commander within a lap while out doing PT because I'd be limping) but the physical therapist at medical had basically done all he could. Also, the training schedule had been changed while I was there, which meant that if I were to go back to a training company, instead of just going straight to the Crucible and graduating two weeks after, I would have to repeat another four weeks of training.

My first time in MRP, (when I had gone in for a bad case of pneumonia) I had eventually gotten fed up and told medical I felt fine, (even though I was still constantly hacking up nasty phlegm all the time) so that they'd sign my RTFD chit and let me go back to training. I had thought about trying the same the second time, but was afraid that I might end up not passing the running section of the PFT, and end up being sent to PCP, since as far as they'd be concerned, medical had written off that I was fine.

So... with all of that and my family back home basically only telling me to find a way out and come home, I had learned from other recruits that I wouldn't actually have to do anything stupid to get a ticket out via MHU (Mental Health Unit). This was because, I *had* been seen by a psychologist for depression while in high school, and had been on an anti-anxiety medication (Celexa) for two months. I could just bring this up and saying it was giving me too much difficulty in MRP, and I'd have a good chance of getting out. And I had brought this information on my past up at the MOT (Moment of Truth) so I couldn't get a fraudulent entry discharge either. So, I brought it up to my medical provider, who told me he'd help me, "get out of this hell-hole" provided I could get the medical documentation sent, and not discuss it with the other recruits.

I did this, got in to see MHU, and got signed off by the doctor there for a discharge of: Personality Disorder (depressive disorder and anxiety disorder). However, since I had been in for over 6 months at this point, it had to be an administrative separation, (at that point I was considered a "paper Marine") instead of an entry-level separation. Which meant it would take a good while longer before I could actually go home.

I was in RSP (Recruit Separation Platoon) for 3 months. I had become the head SEPS runner for the separations office, (basically I did clerical work, and ran papers and packages all over the base to be delivered/signed/picked-up) so at least it wasn't boring. Some of the Marines I took papers to told me after awhile that perhaps it was taking so long for my own discharge paperwork to go through because I was doing too good of a job, and that I should start screwing up, ha. By the end I was even doing the RSP Senior Drill Instructor's morning report, daily report, and roster on his office computer at night after I'd been working in the separations office all day.

Anyway, I ended up with a General (under honorable conditions) discharge, separation code: JFV1, re-entry code: RE-3P, narrative reason for separation: Personality Disorder (Condition not a disability). Oh, I left as a Lance Corporal too, as I'd come in as a PFC, and met the time in grade and time in service requirements for LCPL, ha.

I was discharged Dec. 5th, 2003, and this past year I tried talking to a recruiter to get back in. Ever since I got out, I'd wished I hadn't given up and weaseled my way out, and had stuck it through. Being a Marine is the only thing that really makes sense to me as something I want to do with my life. I had initially joined up for all of the right reasons. I wanted to serve my country, better myself, and become part of a brotherhood and have that pride of belonging that only Marines share. I'm in college again, about to finish my AA with a 3.51 GPA, but I have no idea what major I'll go for...

The first recruiter I talked to said I just needed to wait another year from the time I last got off of meds, (I had decided, "What the hell..." and gone back on Celexa for awhile after a baaad break-up) but when I went back to the station several months later, he wasn't there anymore, and the recruiter I talked to then said he thought I needed to go to Veteran's Affairs and have them change my discharge paperwork. At Veteran's Affairs, the guy I talked to gave me a form to request a waiver for re-enlistment from the Marine Corps Board for Corrections of Naval Records. He said I would need a medical doctor to provide evidence that everything that was said as a reason for my discharge was no longer an issue, and include that with the form. I went back to the recruiting office to ask who they thought would be best for me to go to, and the Gunnery Sergeant I talked to thought it would probably be the psychologist they use at MEPS, but he didn't know the number at the time, and would get back to me. Well, there was one reason after another why he hadn't found out for me yet, and then finally some months later he told me through another recruiter, (he was on the phone at the time with their CO, trying to see if they could do anything for a guy that had a felony case) that he'd found out I was disqualified for re-enlistment.

So apparently, that's that. Or is it? Anyone know anything else I could try? Try getting that paperwork from a civilian psychologist and send that form in anyway? Write a congressman?
Should I re-post this whole reply here as a separate thread? Haha

11-05-2006, 02:29 AM
Thanks for the stories, James and Rosscoliosis. I spent two months in MRP at MCRD San Diego, after getting a bad case of cellulitis and getting sent to the Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital (for a week), on the final day of 2nd phase (that was in the days before the Crucible). I probably got the cellulitis from getting my leg scratched and infected while climbing Mt. Motherfu*cker or *****ridge, when a DI from another platoon shoved me to the ground for inavertantly making contact with him while trying to pass him.
The week in the hospital was nice, but it really sucked to get recycled and see everyone from your original platoon graduate and leave.