I arrived at MCRDSD on July 6th, 1966. We were organized into Platoon 3059 and started training almost immediately. After 3 weeks of boot camp, I was getting into the routine and I was accepting the fact that I probably would survive another 5 weeks of torture.
It is hot in San Diego in July, we had a recruit burn his hands doing push-ups on the asphalt during PT. You might remember that we wore skivvy shirts underneath our utility shirts and the utility shirts were buttoned all the way up to our necks. I’m a Nebraska lad and we know how to stay cool in July so the skivvy shirt was placed in its proper place in my foot locker. I thought I was the coolest and smartest dude in the Corps for the next 2 weeks.
The next week was the time for uniforms to be re-sized and so our Platoon was in this giant warehouse, standing at attention along the bulkhead of the building. Next came the order to remove our utility shirts. My heart started racing as I removed my utility shirt as I knew my life was over. There I was, my white skinned bare chest standing out among 74 other maggots. I was facing forward and our DI Paddy (Paddy. not his real name. Was the Platoon ass kicker) Sgt. Paddy came up on my left shoulder and in a beyond berserk voice asked me “where in the f*** was my skivvy shirt”. I knew if I asked to make a head call I would be dead meat. Next thing I remember was a blow to my left jaw, seeing stars and my knees buckling.
To this day, I am proud of the fact that I didn’t go down and that I wore a skivvy shirt for the next 3 years, even in RVN. Some lessons we remember forever.