I Wandered Around For A While

BOY! Do these photos bring back MEMORIES!

Too bad the few remaining huts have fallen into such disrepair. I went to the USMC Scout Sniper Association reunion a few years ago in San Diego and we as a group attended a recruit graduation. Things have really changed since I went thru MCRD in ’64. For one thing, on that grad day the recruits did not march in review like we did back then. They were marched out by platoons, lined up in front of the reviewing stand and just stood there while a Colonel gave a congratulation speech. Then they were dismissed and that was it. (R. Lee Ermey showed up and visited with some of the officers and DIs, then left without even a nod to us).

I wandered around for a while and found my old platoon street in the old 3rd RTB area. There were about a dozen huts there including the one I was in and that was it. All were being used as storage sheds and the ice plants had taken over the Drill Instructor’s Grass area in front of the huts. Not the little neat rows that we had to plant and maintain and rake lines between the rows (to show any boot prints in case someone stepped in the dirt/plant area).

And the head with all the sh-tters lined up… and the showers where the DI’s could “adjust the water temp” at the master control valves… “HOT… COLD… HOT…”


Semper Fi,

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41 thoughts on “I Wandered Around For A While”

  1. Craig – Thanks for the pic, I’m sure things have changed a lot. I was in Plt. 141 from the last week of May thru August 1964. After ITR at Camp Pendelton, I returned to MCRD SD for electronics and teletype school. If all goes well with the cardiologist, the wife and I plan to attend the Mayaguez/Koh Tang Veterans reunion next May in Las Vegas, then rent a car and drive thru 29 Palms, Camp Pendelton and on to San Diego for a week or so. Probably be the last trip I’ll take to the left coast. Semper Fi!!

    1. Semper Fi to Craig and Edd

      Sgt. R H Reiter 64-68

      I was in Plt; 250 June 64
      Over the years I been to MCRD a few times , it brings back a lot of menories.

    2. Spent my 17th + 1 day at MCRD 2/19/1956. StafSgt Becca. Just the other day I was explaining to a friend the magic of your bucket you were issued day one. Used to wash your clothes; as a stool while cleaning your M1; or just relaxing when the smoking lamp was let. And graduation day, colors flying, Sgt Becca with his sabre drawn and three platoons perfect formation going across the parade ground. You were a Marine.

    3. Hope all goes well Top”, prayers for your best health. Recall you from “Rally…”.
      In ’68 we spent a day or two in tents , then on to the qounset huts. I’m sure the same for you. Being from Mn., wasn’t prepared for July southern California heat in those tents.
      Remember the white rocks around the “grass”? At that time Lee Ermey was on the run constantly coast to coast. He might be in Ca. one day and Atlanta Motor Speedway for a three day event at NASCAR. Sad passing of a great Marine just a year ago, only 74. Semper Fi!

  2. Sgt. Robert Hougher
    Platoon 1120

    Last winter I visited MCRD last seen in 1969. There were a few quonset huts still there. They assigned a SSgt. as our guide. The Commandant was on base the day my family visited. Nothing but spit and polish. All the shit birds were in hiding.
    Many, many memories. As most experienced, being a Marine was the pivotal point in my life. I tell civilians I was glad I went through the experience. That said, I wouldn’t want to do it again. Well, maybe given a 17 year old body again I would.

    Semper Fi

    1. SO TRUE ROBERT!! In ’68 we were in formation getting ready to go the grinder when SDI SSgt J.F. Burney stepped out looking worried with that cigarette between his teeth like he so often did.
      “As soon as I drop you men I’ve got to pick up a new bunch at receiving. I got a look at them, and they’re a disaster. I need a Guide and 4 Squad Leaders that are willing to stay and go thru again.” I was shaking so bad I couldn’t run to the back of my squad. All 3 DI’s and the platoon picked up on it and laughed their a**es off at me. Never, never dawned on me they couldn’t do that.

  3. I was in Plt. 1016 in February 1975 and coming back from the Range and ITS at Camp Pendleton and we almost finished the entire 3rd phase in the “tin huts”. What I remember most is how cold they were at night and the oil heaters would always empty around 3am and no one wanted to get out of their warm rack any sooner than we had too.
    Semper Fi
    Terry Paggi

  4. Full Metal Jacket (with R. Lee Ermey) did not come out until 1987. Wikipedia says that Ermey served from 1961 to 1972. How is he showing up as a celebrity at a graduation in 1964?

    1. Hey, Dan. maybe old age has affected your reading comprehension: He says he graduated in 64 but attended a MCRD graduation “a few years back” (which could be as long as 20 years ago) … Ermey was a celeb by then.

  5. Thanks for the picture it brought back memories, I was in Platoon 257 then 271 (after a foot injury) our huts were in front of the wash racks, heads, and the tent city they had sit up for the abundance of recruits being pushed though and right across the main grinder from the Emblem Gomer Pyle would march under.

  6. U S M C it was hard every day they made man out of the guy today long hair ring in the ear don’t hit me a will tell my momma they talk bad to me I will tell on you not all little pussy go back to the old way

  7. Went back to MCRD San Diego in 2008. It had been 50 years since I left for Camp Pendleton. Quonset huts were gone. There was one hut on display in the small depot museum. In 1958 there was no reviewing stand and the recruit platoons passed in parade at graduation . Platoon 242, June-Sept 1958.

  8. I believe the gentleman said HE graduated in 1964, he returned for reunion a few years back. Further, that the recruits NO LONGER “Pass in review”

    Entirely POSSIBLE R Lee Ermy was welcomed as a “Distinuished guest”

    In 1969, when I was in the Quonset huts, it was the third battalion recruits living there, myself included…there was the “Hotel” for first battalion recruits

  9. The pic of the round top huts brings back memories of MCRD and Platoon 189 1958 mores years ago then I want to think about but it was all good. But if I could do it all over right now I would.

  10. I’m surprised that the huts still exist. I was in platoon 2059 (still remember) in 1967. During Vietnam we started boot camp in tents and graduated to the huts when the previous platoon shipped out. I will say that the tents had better ventilation, and were easier to maintain. The first night we moved in the tents Gunney Michaels had us looking for the light switch (it seemed like an hour)before the lights magically turned on. It is also disappointing to hear that the graduation ceremony has been cut back. I do assume that there are fewer platoons graduating than during the Vietnam era.

  11. Civilians cannot believe our sea stories about how 72 Recruits (Privates/Maggots) can be packed into a single Dempsty Dumpster. Today, the parade deck (Grinder) is about half the size it was in the 60’s to provide parking for POVs.

    Then there was the overnight bivouac hike to Camp Matthews Rifle Range, and the post-firing runs up Agony Hill. If you guys didn’t qualify with an M1 Garand, get issued a Vandegrift ‘battle’ jacket, wear P58 utilities, or have an Acting Sergeant [E4] for a junior DI, you’re seriously Boots.

    MCRD San Diego Plt 371 Sept-Dec 1961

    1. March 1964, Plt 328 we were the last series thru MCRD San Diego to be issued a Battle Jackets (if your size was available) the Corps was fazing them out. I happened to be one of the unlucky size’s and receive one, I found it totally useless I was not allowed to wear it while in formation or on liberty during my time at Bravo 1/1/1 or Fox 2/3/3 or Marine Barracks San Diego, CA only if I was going on leave or displaying it for junk on the bunk inspections! I found it very expensive upkeep in having new chevrons sewn on every promotion for something I couldn’t wear.

      1. Gerald, I had exactly the same experience with the ‘battle jacket.’ In fact, I got hassled at every inspection because the officer or NCO thought I was trying to be ‘salty’. They never believed I was issued the jacket in Boot Camp. It wasn’t until I made Corporal and stood Duty NCO or Guard that I wore the darned thing.

        The only more useless item we received was the horse-blanket wool overcoat; it filled our seabag and, since we were either in Okinawa, South China Sea or California, never used it.

  12. When I graduated from boot camp in March 1966 we wore our dress greens. Five years ago i went to a graduation and they wore khaki shirts and dress blue trousers. In ’66 you had to buy your dress blues after graduation.

  13. “On the road, maggots!”

    “Sir, On the road; Aye, aye, Sir!”

    Every day a holiday
    Every meal a feast
    Every payday a fortune
    Every formation a family reunion
    The Marine Corps: Just one good deal after another!

  14. In ‘53 our huts were across the street from the obstacle course, about 100 yards, or so from the fence that divided MCRD and the civilian (Lindbergh Field) airport. Maybe wrong about the airport name. After returning for the rifle range (Camp Mathews) we where housed on the second floor of the so called “hotels”. Miss those old huts but not the “o-course”, which our DI’s found so convenient for as much extra PT, as they could put us through. There was always a new, and never ending reason, for a little extra. Would I do it again…..as stated above, give me back that 17 year old attitude and there’s no question I would.

    Semper Fi!!

  15. Seen this “museum” when my son and grandson graduated many years ago, it was being maintained then, guess now its just history for those of us that were there. Time does march on, sometimes leaving a bad taste for those of us that earned the title as Marines, in those Quonset huts. Plt 381, 1961.
    MSgt R. C. Pace, 1961-1981.

  16. I remember the huts well. First Bn. Ply 1009, Dec 64-Mar 65.
    You never lingered long in the latrine as those crappers were cold. I don’t remember the hot/cold showers, just the cold.
    Semper Fi
    Richard Allemang, E-5, 64-67

  17. I remember the huts well. First Bn. Ply 1009, Dec 64-Mar 65.
    You never lingered long in the latrine as those crappers were cold. I don’t remember the hot/cold showers, just the cold.
    Semper Fi
    Richard Allemang, E-5, 64-67

  18. I went MCRD San Diego during the summer of 1974. The base was in the process of “tearing” down the huts at that time, CCP (Correctional Custody Platoon) were using sledgehammer to reduce the cement knee walls to ruble. When my platoon returned to MCRD after the rifle range and Camp Pendleton, we were billeted in the huts that remained next to the Grinder. We were moved to the ‘H’ shaped, three story barracks the last two weeks of Boot Camp.

  19. Graduated in MCRD Plt.1025 Late Oct.1956, Lived in the huts and really enjoyed them. After training I was sent to Camp Talega in Pendelton. It was once a Raider Camp and was remote from most facilities. What a surprise, all huts. We were the First engineer Batt. until late 1957 and it became the First Pioneer Batt. Haven’t met anyone since who was in that unit. I really enjoyed the camp as we were sort of off the beaten path. About 4 months ago someone sent me a current picture of the camp and it is almost exactly like when I was there. It has ti be really old and I would hope they keep it as a monument to other times. It has lived through WW2. Korea, and Vietnam. Would like to hear from anyone who was in the Pioneer Batt.from 1957 until around 1965. I don’t know if the Pioneers are still in existance.

  20. Thanks for the memories,
    I went back for a visit on my 51st anniversary when I graduated. PLT 230, 2nd RTB “G” Co.
    Commenced Apr “64” to July 1, “64”. We were right across the obstacle course and parallel to the airport runways. Gomer Pyle was being filmed at that time.
    I had just moved to PHX in 2015 and decided to show my sons where I went through Boot Camp.
    I’m wondering how you managed to go back to the area. We attempted to go to 2nd training area but were told it was off limits. So we just managed to walk on the permitted crossing area of the grinder. I can’t believe how so much of it has been “let go”. I don’t know why they are tearing it down. Where are they going to train Marines on the west coast?
    Then we went to Camp Pendleton. Our oldest son was born there at the Naval Hospital. I can’t believe how run down the area by the lake looks. So sad.
    I was very disappointed at the bad condition it has been allowed to go to waste.

  21. Thanks for the great photo, Craig. I remember waxing and buffing their old concrete floors until you (I should say “the Private”) could see your face in it. I am still collecting funny boot camp stories for my next book, so if you, or any of the above respondents, have any I’d really love to hear them for possible publication. Check out my first book “SH*TBIRD! How I Learned To Love The Corps!” If you’re interested hit me up at bootcampstories2@gmail.com and I will get one to you.
    Semper Fi
    Jim Barber
    MCRD San Diego March 6, 1958
    Platoon 324

  22. Huts were there in September 73,spent first phase there lived in the hotels at rifle range and 3rd phase.Remember the “hike to ITS”from rifle range.Platoon 2082.

  23. I went through boot camp August 69 to October 69 in the huts. Policed the area around the grass area for butts fuss or anything else that wasn’t considered Marine Corp issued.
    We graduated in khakis on the grinder full ceremony colors,band. Can’t remember if any ones family there,my parents couldn’t afford to fly to MCRDSD. We walked around the base until 4 o’clock when we had to back at the huts to pack our sea bags for ITR the next day.
    L/Cpl Reeves
    RVN 70 71

  24. Since this topic is about recruit training I have a question. Does anyone remember recruits from the east being sent to San Diego for training? or , anyone from the west being sent to PI? I could swear we had 1 from New Mexico and a couple guys from Texas at PI when I was there in 67. I have had a few discussions on this topic. One person told me that if you were granted a specific MOS by your recruiter and you were on the opposite coast for the school they would send you to boot camp on that coast even if you would normally go to boot at the closest location . I know it has been said “East of the Mississippi PI,West of the Mississippi Diego” Any thoughts? Thanks Paul.

  25. A few random flashbacks from MCRD circa 1961:

    The cement washracks behind the Quonset huts, where we hand-scrubbed skivvies and utilities, and for a ‘special treat’, did step-ups until we puked. On Really Special Days, we did step-ups in field transport packs w/rifles.

    The mini-PX located somewhere behind the theater, because we weren’t allowed near the Real Marines. Double-edge razor blades, Baribsol shaving cream, cans of Brasso; no candy, no soda, no books … Three minutes to ‘shop’, hatch-to-hatch

    While in Receiving Barracks, polishing the brass fittings on doors and windows of the offices that faced the Grinder. The years of rubbing had removed the screwhead slots …

    Being issued utilities that were three sizes too big (especially the cover that hung over our ears), flat-soled tennis shoes, web belts we weren’t allowed to cut so they wrapped around us twice, and the bright yellow sweatshirt with the big red emblem … which always drew shouts of derision [“You’ll be sorrrry!”] from ‘salty’ Recruit platoons passing with bloused boots and starched utilities.

    Joining every religion known to Man, just so we could get some sleep in the Theater on Sunday. I even considered becoming Jewish, to add another hour.

    The only movies I recall seeing were ‘Sands of iwo Jima’ and ‘Halls of Montezuma’; we were all Gung Ho after those realistic portrayals of Marines in combat.

    Our DIs were tough as woodpecker’s lips and adjusted our attitudes with laying on of hands but were not sadistic or vulgar, as portrayed by Lee Ermey in ‘Full Metal Jacket’

    Thanksgiving Day and getting pieces of hard candy at the Mess Hall, stepping outside and being confronted by the DIs who demanded you show each piece; woe to the Maggot who came up short on the count as it cost 50 push-ups for every ‘missing’ piece.

    Watching the Sea School Marines doing Close Order Drill: The sound of a platoon with rifles slapping and heels hitting the deck in perfect timing, while a sergeant called cadence like a baritone Jazz singer. Our DI reminding us we wouldn’t make a pimple on the arse of those Marines … “You silly people make Hogan’s goat look like a precision instrument. I’ve seen a soup sandwich that was more squared away than you Maggots. You clowns march like old people make love: Slow and uncertain.”

  26. Having gone through MCRDSD Boot Camp, 1st Battalion , in 1959, it sure wasn’t a surprise to see the difference in Boot Camp facilities. When my grandson returned from Iraq, we met him at Main side at Camp Pendleton. I talked to his company commander and company Gunny. One question I asked was why our Marines are carrying so much in their packs, sleeping bags and mats to sleep on (100#’s). Their answer was MOA (Mothers of America). I guess this also resulted in our boot camp training/facilities being changed. My grandson and great grandson ( both former Marines) asked me about boot camp in 1959. I told them that boot camp was quonset huts, no a/c, heaters, 3 minute showers/shaves, etc., short breakfast, lunch, dinner meals . Change happens but has our standards taken a hit?

  27. From MI and went to Dego, arriving on Halloween 67. First night in receiving, then we were in tents, and they get cold at night! Roll up the sides after breakfast. Wind blew dirt into the tents so they had to be swept out often. Once we got utilities, we slept in full uniform, except boots, to stay warm. We got nothing special for the birthday at the mess hall. Went to physical conditioning platoon for 2 weeks and that was a single story, heated building. Next platoon was in Quonset huts. No heat, but not as cold at night as the tents. On Thanksgiving and Christmas we got the holiday meal which was great, but nothing else. Then back to the real boot camp. We were allowed to buy a newspaper on Sunday after church. Had to read it during the 4 hour “free time” then back to the real boot camp. Still a great chance to “relax” a bit. We marched to the base theater for graduation, and were “dismissed” outside the theater for 4 hours of base liberty. I don’t remember passing in review but we may have. Back then a series graduated every day except Sunday. These days I think it is just one series a week. About 2005 I was in CA and went to a graduation. It was really different from what we had, with reviewing stands on one side of the grinder. The announcer asked all prior service Marines to stand at the start of the graduation ceremony. I would have liked to gone to the old 2nd. RTR area, but we weren’t allowed to wander and were restricted as to where we could go. I did get a little time in the MCRD museum. I’d like to go back again but probably won’t get to SoCAl again.

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