With Memorial Day just past and talks with fellow
veterans, I walked down Memory Lane to Boot Camp. When I
went to Boot Camp we could choose between Orlando, San
Diego, or Great Lakes Recruit Training Commands. Now the
only choice is Great Lakes.
Navy basic back then started with P week where one was
prodded, poked, jabbed with needles and checked for
drugs. We all got a haircut while learning the meaning of
‘hurry up and wait’.
Several friendly people point you various directions
while telling you to do different things. You get issued
your gear and lose your identity. If you make it through
this dotting all your I’s and crossing all your T’s in
triplicate you were placed in a Division.
Some friendly Petty Officers ran this show and politely
walked you through your transformation from civilian to
sailor. After a pleasant sleep in your rack with about
70 other young recruits you awaken to the clanging of
metal garbage cans and the glare of the overhead
lights at 0500 hours.
Then a nourishing breakfast in what is appropriately
called the Mess Hall and your indoctrination begins.
Training involves exercise, small arms, fire fighting,
swimming, and memorizing things that, although useless
in civilian life, you can’t get out of head years
latter among other skills. And there will be tests.
At times these friendly Petty Officers can be a little
devious. They will explain that you will march into a
trailer full of tear gas to experience what happens.
They add that you will be wearing gas masks when you
enter. What they don’t tell you is once everyone is
inside the gas filled trailer you will be ordered to
remove your mask. One of a number of playful pranks used
to keep you on your toes.
On graduation day you put on your dress uniform and
pass in review looking your sharpest and proud as a
peacock. My parents were in the revue stands that day
and I still remember the smiles on their faces.
Comments are always welcome.