Home Veterans Bootcamp in the Vietnam Era: Part Two

Bootcamp in the Vietnam Era: Part Two


This is part two of the series, please click to read part one. 

Boot Camp in the Vietnam Era stories of vietnam marine corps usmcAfter what seemed like eternity, we went on to some more hand to hand combat. This training was really intense. Little by little, one after another, men were becoming defiant. Those few were sent back to their platoon and were told that they would have to go to motivational training. I didn’t like the sound of that so I dealt with the crap that they were dishing out.

Finally the day was almost to an end and we were told to return to our platoons. As I walked back toward the Quonset huts on the other side of the base the sun was setting; it was a big orange ball in the sky not so bright that you could not look at with a glimpse. You could almost see it falling toward the horizon. I was walking past the main offices when I saw several Marines approaching the flag pole. Suddenly I heard one of the Marines start to blow on a bugle; everyone around stopped in their tracks and came to attention.

As I watched and joined in, our right arms snapped and held a salute while taps was played and the flag of our great nation was lowered. For the first time in my life I felt chills run down my back as I listened and watched. I knew now, what exactly it felt like to be patriotic.

When I returned to camp, I reported to the hut where the drill team stayed. I found Sergeant Hernandez sitting in a chair wrapped in a blanket and shivering. He looked real bad. I went to him and asked him if he needed anything. He told me to get his keys from his jacket and run to his car. He had me get the pills he left there and bring them back to him. I took off as fast as I could even though my legs were killing me from the day’s workout. I made it to his car which was a cool VM sports car, a red Carmen Ghia. I found the pills and doubled timed it back. When I arrived, he was in the same condition. He took the pills. I stayed with him a short while and we talked a little. He told me that he had contracted Yellow Fever in Nam. He didn’t want to talk much and said that he would be fine. I returned to my bunk.

The next morning came quickly and a trash can went flying and the yelling began. That little shit Tagalari was in charge today. “Fall out!” the order came. We were given the order to piss, shower, and shave. I believe we all made that happen in ten minutes. We got dressed and fell back in formation. In boot camp you have to keep your blouse (shirt) buttoned to the top. It was to be done until you reached the final week of training. Wouldn’t you know there is always one who just wouldn’t follow orders? Tagalari gave him a ration of shit and we all had to pay. “Everyone down!” Tagalari yelled. “Push ups!” My body was still hurting from the day before, I groaned. Tagalari heard me and came over while I was doing my push ups. He put his boot on my back and gave me some encouragement.

After about thirty or forty push ups, we were back in formation and then ran to the mess hall for morning chow. Morning chow was the best: eggs, bacon, toast and milk. No coffee, no soft drinks. These were very bad for you while in training. After chow, we were going to drill where we would learn to march to perfection. Wouldn’t you know it the same person that caused us to do all the morning push ups was the same one who couldn’t keep in step with the rest of us? “Everyone down!” yelled Tagalari. More push ups and more push ups.

By the end of the day we pretty much understood what marching was all about. We were finished with supper chow and were marching back to the huts when the very same screw up that had caused us all of the problems all day tripped on his own boot laces and mess up the marching. “Halt!” The order came from Tagalari. “I want everyone in formation position facing the way we were marching”. “Ready for push ups!” “Everyone first get on your knuckles and remain in the up position!” Tagalari was looking around at each one of us. “Eyes front!” he said. “Now forward march!” and we were down like we were getting ready to do push ups and we were on our knuckles on the asphalt marching or I would say crawling forward. Tagalari had a lot of enjoyment from this. We did this for what seemed like eternity. Then we were given the order to make a formation and we marched back to the camp.

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  1. Events you have written about are very similar to Ft. POLK ,La. Training Center for the Soldier to Viet Nam,greetings on the board. I was of the impression ya’ll didn’t use the expression awol and it was the 3 S’s. nevertheless Heinkel your last name is what caught my attention. Do you have 2 other brothers the older was in the scouts ? Lived in Dallas , Texas? Ben ( RVN) 69/70.

  2. Good reading and brought back memories. Our non-qualifiers didn’t start over but had fire watch every night until graduation. After graduation we were put on buses and sent immediately to Camp Geiger N.C. for several weeks of ITR training. No time for beer drinking in between. I graduated from P I in March of 68 and began a glorious tour of the Nam as an 0311 in September of that same year..

  3. I remember when the Parris Island tragedy happened in 1956 (I was on active duty in the Army at the time), which overhauled the USMC training program…which impacted all military across the board! I personally witnessed the basic training changed, at some training facilities, quite dramatically…for the better! The various drill instructors were themselves re-trained and as a result, they were able to give quality training to recruits to produce a well-rounded, well-trained, ready for combat type of individual…but having been done so with compassionate treatment which did not break the person’s spirit or humanity!

  4. Over forty years since being discharged and I still try to the best of my ability to live wrth integrity,standards,and morals.I do on occasion as we all do fall short at times.However I pick myself up and continue onward.Always go forward and never backward or sideways.When I hear the Marine Corps hymn and pledge of allegiance I still after all of these years get goosebumps.This story has taken me back many years and refreshed some old memories reminding me all over what the Corps played a large part of molding me into what I am now and what the finished man will be when my time is at an end.It also still gives me hope for our great nation knowing that we are still out there and still making Marines out of good young men and as long as that continues then we will endure and come out the other end strong.Semper Fi.

  5. No matter how your life goes, with all its’ twists and turns, once you graduate from Boot Camp, you are a Marine forever. I learned to love Ice Plant and the Grinder. Semper Fi Brothers!

  6. “Special Infiltration Course” in boot camp? LOL. Your D. I. pulled a fast one on you. There was no such thing. You were sent to the “Motivation Platoon.”

  7. Semper Fi Marines! Welcome home. Parris Island grad, Plt. 2010 August 1968. ITR at Camp Geiger and than Camp Pendleton Ca. for Artillery Schools training and staging for Viet Nam . Arrived in Nam Feb. 69 up in I Corps not to far from Da Nang. Was attached to Third Maine Division, they pulled out at end of 69 and tranfered to another firebase in 70 and with 1sMarine Division. While at Parris Island had a shot for overseas (99% of us had WestPac orders) They next morning had a reaction to the shot. Was feeling dizzy after doing the count off and a few push ups. Was just about to ask the DI for permission to use the head and blanked out. Woke up looking us at the lights and was hauled off for medical attention. My fellow recruits said i passed out an attention and turned my head as i hit the deck. Hit the side of my face but other than that returned to my platoon..later that day my DI called me to the desk in the middle of the squad bay and made me stand at attention while he chewed my ass out for NOT asking for permission to pass out. Said he would have every swinging dick in the platoon piss in their scrub bucket and try to drown my ass if that every happened again! Hard Core.

    Semper Fi Devil Dogs!

  8. mcrd s.d. april68-june68
    Rodarte, choked on his own puke while on a run. He held it in so not to display weakness, he died and the corps covered it up.
    Harris, at the rifle range caught cheating on push ups got kicked in the head several times full force his head was a mess large cuts and abrasions. Taken to the hospital and another cover up.
    I was hauled into the duty hut, a recruit was in there crying his ass off the bastard d.i. ordered me to pull out your dick crazy!! He then shouted out to the balling recruit you want out of my marine corps suck his dick!! You want out of my marine corps suck is dick!! Thankfully, he didn’t the two bastard d. i.’s then, commenced to beat the hell out of the recruit for not going along with the program!!
    Borja, kicked in the head full force with a karate type kick, because he fell asleep in the classroom.
    Borja, a non qual on pre qual day the bastards shoved his head in the shitter and told him he was nothing but a piece of shit and that he needed to be flushed down the shitter!! The expression on his face while in the shitter was a one of terror!! I was an eyewitness to this sick brutality!! This is my truthful experience of what I witnessed and then along came Nam, and you may know what went down over there.
    To this day I loathe the marine corps!! No semper from me!! Overall, it was a very dishonorable experience, what happened to keep our honor clean, what a farce!! To all of you who don’t like this, fuck ya!!


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