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Joining the Marine Corps
Old 05-04-2010, 12:30 PM   #1
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Joining the Marine Corps

Any advice to pass on to a 17-year-old who has no idea what he's getting into?

I was talking to our tenants yesterday. Retired USAF couple. He's a Citadel alumnus and thus he's equipped with an extraordinarily high tolerance of pain plus a keen understanding of that skull/brick wall concept of "perseverance". He's working a contract job while he decides what he wants to do all day, and she's running the family. Good people.

She said that their youngest was graduating from high school and was about to change status from "valued family chores slave member" to "squatter". He did OK in high school but I don't think he's interested in college yet. I joked "Congratulations, when is he visiting the Marine recruiter?" She replied "Tomorrow", and she wasn't joking.

They understand the military, and their kid clearly has no idea what he's getting into. But he has his goal and his plan, two features which have heretofore been in short supply in his long-term thinking, so they'll support him.

Their son is over six feet tall and skinny-- heck, he may be underweight for his height. Generally quiet & respectful around adults but he's articulate when engaged in conversation. He enjoys outdoor activities and he's no couch potato but I'm pretty sure he's not in shape for recruit training. However he's a qualified lifeguard, and around here that requires actual physical conditioning and some skills. He enjoys history and military re-enactments so he's no stranger to the martial culture, but again I doubt he's truly experienced anything like the Marine version of outdoor activities.

With nearly eight years of ER it's possible that my knowledge of military training is no longer on the cutting edge. (Gosh, I sure hope so.) ClifP recommended an excellent book called "Making the Corps" a while back, and I passed that on as well as another one called "Into the Crucible". (Both books are over 10 years old but very focused on recruit training.) There's also useful information on Military.com about the Marine physical-fitness standards (Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test - Military Fitness - Military.com), although I'm sure that's only minimal preparation for the reality of recruit training.

He's been chatting with the recruiter, who seems to be doing a decent job, and of course the parents know how to distinguish between military policies & recruiter promises. There won't be any surprises or unreasonable expectations on their part. He's thinking artillery but I don't know what he's learned about the program or any enlistment incentives. No doubt after a few years of the Marines he'll have a completely different view of college plus the motivation to succeed at it.

Anything else to recommend or to do differently? Anything else you Marines wish you'd known before you raised your right hand?
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Old 05-04-2010, 04:21 PM   #2
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I have a son that is a Marine. He went to OCS in college and then dropped out his senior year, and went enlisted reserves. Later he went back through OCS again (gluten for punishment!) and is now a helicopter pilot in the corp.

The Marine Corp is the best thing that ever happened to him! While basic is tough, they can no longer curse at you, but according to him the find other ways to make up for it, they don't really do any physical harm.
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Old 05-04-2010, 04:31 PM   #3
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I have a son that is a Marine. He went to OCS in college and then dropped out his senior year, and went enlisted reserves. Later he went back through OCS again (gluten for punishment!) and is now a helicopter pilot in the corp.

The Marine Corp is the best thing that ever happened to him! While basic is tough, they can no longer curse at you, but according to him the find other ways to make up for it, they don't really do any physical harm.
No cursing? I hope the Marines aren't softening their training program..............
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Old 05-04-2010, 05:28 PM   #4
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Uh, how about tossing out some other options? US Forest Service? Lifeguard?
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:08 PM   #5
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US Forest Service?
Oddly enough that was "Plan A" a few months ago. Not sure what happened there.
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Old 06-14-2010, 09:25 PM   #6
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Six weeks later.

He nailed his ASVAB (he's homeschooled with some sort of diploma/GED) and was offered intel. He'd "heard" that Marine intel consisted of mainly sitting around in an office updating PowerPoint briefs. (And your problem with that is? We'll have to check back with you on that in two years or so.) So he told the recruiting sergeant that combat engineering sounded a lot more like his avocation.

Passed his MEPS screening a couple weeks ago. His enlistment requests are CE, artillery, or security. He starts recruit training in September. I don't know if that's still MCRD San Diego or only Parris Island.

His mother's trying to decide which worries her more-- when her spouse was flying USAF C-130s or when her kid's going to be defusing IEDs...
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Old 06-15-2010, 03:07 AM   #7
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Six weeks later.




His mother's trying to decide which worries her more-- when her spouse was flying USAF C-130s or when her kid's going to be defusing IEDs...
Great to see more cannon fodder dedicated patriotic young men and woman join the Corp to protect our country. If he comes to the island's I'll buy him a drink.

Don't give his mom a copy of Hurt Locker the C-130 pilot I know are are pretty sane bunch, the Explosive Ordnance Demolition guys well I admire their courage...
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Old 06-15-2010, 07:03 AM   #8
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One of my wife's relatives pilots an AC-130. One of these days I will have to pour a few beers into him and get some stories.
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:01 AM   #9
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Did not see this thread until today. I spent a summer on Paris Island and must say that basic training was not exactly what I expected. But the USMC experience was never something I regretted at all since it helped put things in perspective at a time when I was unsure of where my life was headed. If he is going to Paris Island, at least he is not going at the most uncomfortable time of year (June-August) like I did!

Also, there was mention of the US Forest Service (by Brewer I think?), and just so happens I worked for that agency as well. Since it is a civilian agency, one must apply for jobs that are advertised as they come open. Back when I was hired, you were selected from a national register that was in place at the time (your application was given a score and as vacancies came open nationally, the three highest scores were in the running for the position). The downside was that you had to go to whatever national forest happened to be filling the job for which you were qualified.
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:01 AM   #10
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I still favor Army. More choices--real choices, not 'We promise to try to get you into ZZZZ."

Can't get my son interested, though. Can't get him interested in much of anything. Oh, well.
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Old 06-15-2010, 03:11 PM   #11
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Parris island in the summer is HOT. Parents used to live down there, in a nice little rental right outside the main gate. I visited a few times and checked out the Marine Corps museum.
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Old 11-29-2010, 10:04 PM   #12
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Update:

He's graduating from recruit training this Friday. Seems fine but it'll be interesting to talk with him.

The recruiters actually picked him up from his home two days before he was due to report in September. They put him up at a hotel near the airport the night before (so that he wouldn't go out drinking & drugging) and flew them to LAX the next morning. They spent a few more hours hanging around the LAX USO playing video games instead of catching up on their sleep waiting for the rest of their group to fly in before moving to MCRD San Diego.

Or at least that's what he was told. The reality is that they didn't get to MCRD until well after nightfall and spent the rest of the night getting extremely fatigued and disoriented indoctrinated. His parents got one 90-second phone call that evening (reading from a script, with lots of shouting in the background) and she's had occasional letters since then.

Depending on how they counted the numbers, his recruit training was 12-13 weeks. He started out 6'4" and about 150 pounds and, from the photo I've seen, looks about the same. He claims to have gained five pounds, and I bet it's not from pigging out in the dining hall. He doesn't seem to have any major complaints, but we don't know whether or not they've actually finished the Crucible.

He'll be home for a month of hometown recruiting duty before starting the next phase of training in early January.
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Old 11-29-2010, 10:19 PM   #13
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Or at least that's what he was told. The reality is that they didn't get to MCRD until well after nightfall and spent the rest of the night getting extremely fatigued and disoriented indoctrinated.
Everyone gets there at night. Disorientation is the goal, and although indoctrination is used by many as if it were a bad process, it is the first step to induce a new concept, a professional methodology. Marines are made, in a process, that has been going on for a long time.

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Old 11-30-2010, 01:37 PM   #14
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Everyone gets there at night. Disorientation is the goal, and although indoctrination is used by many as if it were a bad process, it is the first step to induce a new concept, a professional methodology. Marines are made, in a process, that has been going on for a long time.
I read about that in ClifP's book recommendation "Making the Corps", too. I figure almost nothing at MCRD happens by accident.

When he gets home I'll eventually get around to saying "Remember when I suggested that you should sleep every chance you get before going to recruit training?"

When spouse and I were stationed in San Diego, we used the MCRD childcare center in 1996-7. Our daughter was 3-4 years old then and during their playground time the kids could look across the street to the obstacle course where the recruits were training. One day our kid mentioned that she'd seen them on the equipment and I foolishly said "Well, you have your playground and that's their Marine Corps playground!" Of course she immediately wanted to go over there and play on the big kid's equipment, and "little kids aren't allowed to" was not an acceptable answer. She was pissed off about it for weeks.

I'm sure it's just a coincidence that she's in NROTC today, but spouse still hasn't forgiven me for that comment...
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:09 PM   #15
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I really am disappointed my son didn't go into the Marine Corps, but hey! I'm only his mother.
Anyway, just as an asidum, I know a guy I went all the way thru school with. Never a big guy or very muscular, so when I came back to my home town and went to say hi to him I expected to meet maybe a 5'8" guy at most. He grew 5 inches in the Corps, is totally buff and works out all the time. He looks just great for a guy of 65....and I mean great physically. (Mentally he's still charming but kinda on the dumb side, tho...some things never change.)
The Marine Corps builds men...no kidding.
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Old 01-26-2011, 08:32 PM   #16
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military

I was in the chair, uh air force. Definitely an easier way to go.
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Old 01-27-2011, 11:55 AM   #17
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I was in the chair, uh air force. Definitely an easier way to go.
A 2004 study of the military's demographics concluded that of the veterans leaving the Air Force every year since the 1980s, 20%-30% of them were retirees.

Overall the military's retirement rate is about 15%. In the Marines the percentage is more in the single digits.

http://www.prb.org/Source/ACF1396.pdf
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