Marine Corps Boot Camp


There are two locations which turn men into Marines: the Recruit Training Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina, and the Recruit Training Depot at San Diego, California. Where you go depends largely upon where you enlist. Those who enlist west of the Mississippi will likely go through boot camp in San Diego, while those in the East will attend at Parris Island. There is only one boot camp to turn women into Marines and that is Parris Island.

Other than geographical differences, such as the lack of sand fleas, humidity, and better outdoor exercise weather for “Hollywood Marines,” the training is virtually identical at both locations.

Parris Island graduates more than 17,000 Marines per year. The average daily male recruit population is 3,786. The average daily female recruit population is 600. San Diego graduates more than 21,000 Marines per year. The average age of male recruits is 19.1, and female recruits is 19.3.

Without a doubt, Marine Corps boot camp is more challenging– both physically and mentally — than the basic training programs of any of the other military services. Not only are the physical requirements much tougher, but recruits are required to learn and memorize a startling amount of information in a short amount of time. There are more than 70 “training days” in a period, which is a bit longer than 12 weeks (but don’t let that fool you). There is lots of “training” going on on the “non-training days,” such as the time in Reception, the time spent in “forming,” and on Sundays and Holidays. It has been said time and time again by Marines that Marine Corps recruit training was the most difficult thing they had ever had to do in their entire lives.  The reason for this is that the Marines train as if they are at war, so that when a real war (“conflict”) comes along that ther would be no suprises in the “Fog of War”.

The more you can prepare in advance, the better off you will be.

It’s important that you get into some semblance of physical shape before boot camp. Concentrate on running three miles or more and long marches (Hikes up to 10 miles with a pack). Sit-ups and pull-ups are also important. If you are unable to perform basic exercises, you may spend a significant amount of time in PCP (the Physical Conditioning Platoon). PCP is very tough and the objective is total physical fitness, and that’s what you’ll be conentrating in while in the program. Individual remain in PCP until they can perform up to Marine Corps standards.  While it is normally a 21 day program, once you’re in, you don’t get out until you can do 3 pull ups, 40 sit ups in 2 minutes, and run 3 miles in 28:00 minutes.

If you arrive overweight, your Drill Instructor will put you on a “Diet Tray” for your meals. On the other hand, if you arrive underweight, you may be put on “double-rations” to make weight.

In Marine Corps boot camp, you’ll start drill training almost immediately.  A few hours studying basic drill and ceremony will help immensely.  As with the other services, you should memorize U.S. Marine Corps Rank structure and names.

Additionally, your recruiter should have told you to memorize the 11 General Orders for a Sentry. While not mandatory, the Marine Rifle Creed is good  to know. You should also memorize the Marine’s Hymn, all of it, if possible, but at least the first verse.  Remember that is it not a Marine Song but it is the Marine Hymn.

Wait — that’s not all (I told you it was tough). You’ll need to memorize the USMC Core Values, study Marine Corps history, and commit the characteristics of the M16A4 Rifle to memory. Round all of this out by memorizing the Code of Conduct.

If you don’t know how to swim, try to learn before you leave for boot camp. Before you graduate, you’ll have to demonstrate basic swimming skills.

The other services have lists of what you should or should not bring with you. The Marines make it simple: Don’t bring anything except your important papers (such as driver’s license, social security card, and banking information), except the clothes on your back. Everything you need will be issued to you. For non-issue items, it will be issued, and the cost taken out of your pay.

Medication. Over-the-counter medication is not allowed in basic training. If you bring any with you, it will be taken away. All prescription medication will be re-evaluated by a military doctor upon arrival. If the doctor determines that the prescription is necessary, the civilian medication will be taken away, and the recruit will be re-issued the medication by the military pharmacy. This includes birth control pills (for women). Women are usually encouraged to continue taking birth control pills during basic training, if they took them before going to basic, to ensure that their systems maintain their regular cycle.

When you graduate it will have been all worth it.  Boot Camp is temporary, but the title of a United States Marine is forever .

The famous (or infamous) Marine Corps Boot Camp

The Marine Corps has two Boot Camp locations. Recruit Training Depot Paris Island, North Carolina trains all recruits east of the Mississippi. Paris Island is the only training facilities for Marine Corps female recruits. Recruit Training Depot San Diego, California trains all recruits west of the Mississippi. You must be in great physical condition at all times while in the Marine Corps, and boot camp is definitely the starting point. If you arrive at boot camp in less than ideal physical shape you may be put into PCP (physical conditioning platoon) and put on a special diet until you can achieve all the physical standards of the Marine Corps. The Physical Fitness Test (PFT) goal is to do 20 pull-ups (not timed, but with dead hangs), 100 crunches in 2 minutes, and run 3 miles as close to 18:00 minutes as possible. If you are too skinny you will also be put on a special diet to gain weight during boot camp.
Boot camp is divided into three phases and each phase has a specific goal for the recruits. The first part of boot camp is called the Receiving Phase. This starts the minute the recruits get off the bus and places their feet on the “Yellow Footprints.” This part lasts until the time they are dropped into their Company, Series, and Platoon rotation. Recruits are offered a last chance to come forward with legal issues, recently taken drugs, or any other issues that may interfere with the training at this time. This phase keeps the recruits awake for two days doing their paperwork, getting uniforms issued, short hair cuts, teaches the recruits how to take orders and follow them, and preparing the recruits for training. This also gets the recruits on a set schedule for getting up early and going to sleep early. The recruits are also issued rifles and will bond with their rifles for the duration of boot camp. This phase acclimatizes the recruits to the San Diego weather as they are from all over the US. Shots and immunizations are also given at this time. The training Company Commander will usually talk to the recruits to set the tone as to what is expected of them while they are in training.
First Phase is about four weeks long and is the building blocks for the rest of boot camp. None of the recruits are ever referred to as a Marine during the training. Recruits are broken of their bad habits, identity, and are instead given team goals to achieve. This is accomplished by requiring the recruits to refer to themselves in third party phraseology. They learn how to wear and care for their uniform properly, core values, make their racks, polish their boots, Marine Corp rank structure and insignias, Marine Corps history, 11 General Orders, and close order drill movements. As the recruits are taught close order drill movements they learn how to work together as a team and begin to understand the importance of teamwork in all they do.
Their physical conditioning progressively gets harder on demand and is expected of them. Swimming, obstacle course, pugil sticks, boxing, rope climbing, marches, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (hand to hand combat techniques), and physical fitness testing are only a few of the things accomplished in this phase. Recruits are given fire watch and systematically rotate that responsibility to all individuals in their platoon. They are often randomly tested on their 11 General Orders, rank structure (to include the President on down), responsibilities, first aid/self aid/buddy care, history, customs and courtesies, and are disciplined on the spot for discrepancies. Individuals true test of character show through in this phase and leaders often emerge from adversity. The recruits’ ability to make sound decisions under adverse conditions occurs often in this phase.
Second Phase brings the recruits to a plateau of team mindset. The goals in second phase are geared to bring out the best in individuals and highlight them as a team effort. The initial PFT is also taken at this point to compare to the final PFT score. The first week of the second phase begins with water survival and swim test that is designed to separate the recruits by swimming skills. Recruits often encourage each other and brotherhood among the recruits is initiated. Recruits are required to pass the swimming and water survival skills test. If the recruits do not pass they will be dropped back to a platoon that has begun their first phase, so they maybe in better physical condition to pass the swimming requirements at a later date. If they are unable to pass the swimming requirements the recruit may be separated from the Marine Corps all together. It would be as if they had never served in the service at all.
The second week of second phase is dedicated to getting the recruits familiar with their rifle from the inside out. A Marine at the end of this week can break down their M16-A2 Service Rifle blindfolded and can dictate the nomenclature and function of every single piece of the rifle by touch. They can even put it together as fast as they took it apart. This week also finds the recruits snapping in with their rifle for long periods of time. This consists of aiming the rifle at targets in all the range required positions (standing, kneeling, sitting, and prone positions), so that they are engrained into muscle memory. The third week is firing week. The recruits go to the range and learn how to fire the rifle safely, pull targets, score the range, adjust for accuracy, and learn the skills to be a rifleman first. Recruits will fire their weapons from the 200, 300, and 500 yard lines on a real range, and an evolution at night for night firing with tracer rounds. The Marine Corps is the only service that requires every recruit to fire from the 500 yard line and be proficient at it. The Marines are usually the first into conflicts (wars) for the United States and may use this skill to achieve mission objectives (“First to Fight”). The mantra of, “One Shot, One Kill,” is often repeated on the range. Shooting scores are a prestigious achievement for Marines and are scored as a Marksman, Sharp Shooter, and Expert. Every recruit and later Marine strives to hold an Expert rating.
From the range the platoons are tasked with a week of services to be accomplished around the base. This includes base beautification (yard work), food services, pool duties, various guard duty tasks, and other rifle range clean up duties. This shows the recruits that they should take pride in the community they live in. This expands the idea of recruit teamwork to a sense of a bigger picture of community team work. Recruits are allowed to take care if medical and dental issues, retake tests, and get unfinished tasks done at this time. The reason for this is that the platoons will be out in the field for the following week. The recruits hike a distance to a designated bivouac sight and learn how to function out in the field. Recruits live in two man shelters (tents) in an organized fashion, they eat Meals-Ready-to-Eat, dispose of their trash (leave no trace behind), take field showers, maneuvers in open spaces, raids and patrols, land navigation, gas chamber, and much more. At the end of this field week the platoons compete against each other for bragging rights and to build up each platoon as a single functioning unit.
Third Phase finds the recruits preparing to be deployed out into the Fleet Marine Force. Leadership, mentoring, and real world core value scenarios play out for all leaders. Platoon Guide, squad leaders, team leaders, and every individual to carry on the Marine Corps traditions. Some of the things completed in this phase are the final obstacle course run, 10k march and 5k night march, fraternization, sexual assault, first term Marines & marriage, financial responsibilities, and School of Infantry & Marine Combat Training school are discussed. Final clothing issued for those recruits bound for embassy duty and for those diet recruits who need smaller sized uniforms. Testing as an individual is complete in the final PFT, and as a platoon for final drill. Preparation for family day and graduation is on the minds of every recruit, but the intensity of the Drill Instructors at this point is not tempered. Third Phase is a little more human, but freedom from Marine Corps Boot Camp is not finalized until those Drill Instructors finally address you as Marine.
Every Marine is a “rifleman” first and their designated Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) second.