1st 72 hours in the Corps

o800 hours on April 5 1961 , as requested, was standing in front of the Post Office of my home town, waiting for my recruiter to pick me up drive me to his office in Nashville Tn and complete the enlistment process. On the way I mentioned something to him that I heard they harassed you some at P I. He at first acted like he didn’t know the meaning of the word and then said maybe for the first couple days but that I shouldn’t worry about it. Easy for him say. Got to the office and met up with 3 other guys from other towns in Middle Tn. Spent the day doing paper work, getting sworn and killing time . Some time in the late afternoon we were walked to the Railroad Station, given our orders, a couple meal tickets and instructions on how to find the bus depot in Atlanta and what time we better be there. Got to Atlanta early on the morning of the 6th and several hours to kill before our bus time in late afternoon. Passed a tattoo parlor and one of the other guys decided that since we were now in the Corps he would get a Devil Dog tattoo.

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23 thoughts on “1st 72 hours in the Corps”

  1. U left me hang’n there John, there has to be more then just that! A tat. right before bootcamp! holy crap! How did that work out for him? Nick 0311 ( Former Paris Tenn. Resident) Semper Fi!

    1. He did catch a lot of extra hell . It started when got off the bus and they saw the bandage on his bicep. I assume he wasn’t the first recruit to get a Devil Dog before he earned it. As a side note I believe he was from Greenbriar Tn. Anyway after P I and ITR we both wound up in 2/8 at Lejeune. Remember he told me that he went home on Leave he was reluckant to let his Mother know he had a tatoo( remember this 1961 ) and wore a long sleeve shirt when he was in the house. On his last day before he went back to Lejeune he came down and showed her his work of art. I assume he felt that her reaction to him doing this would be tempered by his leaving home that same day.

  2. You’re right, Nick!!! If you search “John P Vaughn” in the archives, you’ll find that he has made numerous submissions going all the way back to 2001. This is probably one that Grit copied but didn’t get it all. Semper Fi!!! Top Pro

    1. My submission was somewhat longer as this just covered the first Day. I don’t know how they missed the rest of the story but I will submit the whole thing again and see if it will go thru. Several guys have commented to the effect that they liked the old system better. I completely agree with them. In case I can’t get it resubmitted I am including my email address in this note and will gladly send it direct to anyone who would like to see it. I am making the assumption that someone might like to read the rest of my story but what the hell nothing ventured nothing gained. jvaughn@comcast.net

      1. John,
        I went to PI in July 27 in 1981 . A dickhead sitting across from me at Fort Meade, Md, (where a group of us were initially sworn in before being flown down to SC) already had a high n tight and a Bulldog tattoo on his biceps. He was a portly, little fuck and very arrogant. Another guy and I were talking to each other about the fact that we were scared. This portly chap called us pussies and said that we should follow him, because he was a true leader, and that Marine boot camp was really nothing more than a big camping trip. We stupidly asked him if he was already a Marine, what with his bulldog tat and high n tight hairdo. The receiving DIs got me on his ass for the high n tight, but they did not see the tat. By the time we got assigned to our actual DIs we had already had our heads shaved. However, Krause, Ismail and Mazenko were on that fat, little turd like stink on shit when they spied that tat on the initial body inspection and they didn’t let up. He was a run-drop on our very first run and we never saw him again.
        Mike Kunkel. Platoon 2063
        Cpl. 0331. Lima 3/8. 81-85

  3. …..and the rest of his days on PI was holy HELL. DI’s from all over the island came in the dig him. Life is about decisions. Not a good one.

  4. He did not earn the right to be called a MARINE because he signed the papers he would have earned that on P.I. like the rest of us did IF he made it . SEMPER FI.

    1. Brother Schrader:
      I think he probably learned that sooner than later. I cannot even imagine the hell he was put through. Since the DI’s first thought was probably to remove the offensive limb or blasphemed area (not sure that is allowed) they may have quenched their rage on the entire class OR made the private cover the offense with tape or (?). Maybe just a trip to GIT or Happy Valley? Whatever happened, I am sure it was the stuff nightmares were made of. LOL

  5. Well, I’d think it was a character-building experience for him, and educational for the rest of the platoon. And I’ll bet the D.I.’s eventually let up on him – about the middle of the 13th week.

  6. Yeah, we had one guy who thought it would be cute to deny them cutting off his hair and got his head shaved before reporting in. That was not a good idea either. Either was having your relatives send you chewing gum in the mail during boot camp (or perfumed letters).

    1. We had a guy from Oklahoma shave his head at the airport before leaving for MCRD SD.
      When he went to get his haircut, they shaved his eyebrows. From that point on he was know as cue ball.

      1. I was an apprentice barber when I got to P.I…..got a haircut the day before I got on the bus….a real short haircut…the PI hair cutter still messed it up to the point that the guy that ran the place had to fix it up…..and yeah I gave one of the DI’s a hair cut at his insistence ..he wanted a skin tight cut…he had a home hair cut kit…the clipper didn’t get it that close..I should have used a razor on him…but I don’t think he would really trust me to that point….thank God…!!!!

  7. ……and you LIVED to write about it all these years later? If you arrived at PI with a Marine tattoo ,I would think that would be the end of earthly life as you knew it. Hell, PI was the end of life as we’d known it without a Marine tat!!!

  8. And as soon as he got to PI he learned his first immediate action drill from his DI: PLACE HEAD BETWEEN LEGS AND KISS ASS GOODBYE! BECAUSE YOUR ASS IS MINE!

  9. 1967, PI, May Plt 280. Got off the bus, said what did I get myself into. One of the recruits had a brandy new USMC tattoo
    on his right arm. My nose was pushed up against the back of his head, long hair, inline when one of the receiving DI’s saw it. He was totally pissed and dragged the kid out of line, then pushed me up to the next guy in line. Never saw him again after that night. I have and had a stuttering problem, very bad then, good now. Was rejected twice for it in Boston, but persisted and finally made it. The first night there we were lined up against a wall in the receiving barracks behind a long row of tables. I was about halfway down the line, and our senior DI came in and yelled for every swinging d–k to yell out your name. Got to me, and dead silence, my face was about to explode trying to say my name. He came running down yelling who’s the dumb MF who doesn’t know his name, saw me and grabbed my shirt front, and dragged me across the table. I finally got it out, and the rest is history. Did have a bit of a hard time after, but I wasn’t going to give in. Ended up 0351, 3/1 Nam November 67 to December 68. Born in Canada, enlisted, and became a proud Marine citizen. I eventually found my senior DI 40 years later and became good friends.

  10. Know a recruit who had an EGA tat going into boot camp 2 Aug 76. Kid from Brooklyn. Was made an example of is an understatement. At least he earned it.

  11. Growing up with a screaming and Physically abusive stepfather I found my time aT Parris Island, a piece of cake. I was use to all the SCREAMING, and I wasn’t being HIT, anymore. LIFE, WAS GOOD !
    SEMPER FI
    SGT G. E. Morton 1962 to 1967 Vietnam Vet.

  12. Before walking out the door THAT MORNING. My mother said,”don’t get a TAT, or marry a overseas girl.” OK Mom.
    PI,SC., Plt 286, F. Co. 2nd BLT. RTR. 1976.

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