Smoking in boot camp, NOT.

Paris Island 1963.
The first day of boot camp our DI asked us to vote whether to smoke or not. He explained how smoking would limit us physically because of the PT and of course double timing everywhere we went. Remember, “Hurry up and wait”. And all the other training, the rope clime, log PT,
the confidence course, etc…….
Our platoon overwhelmingly voted not to smoke. Of course I was not a smoker, but was pleased that everyone choose not to smoke.
At the end of bootcamp our DI gave the platoon permission to smoke.
The comment that was made by many was, “Wow, I forgot about smoking until now”.
We were so busy every day with training that the smokers did not realize that they had not smoked for 13 weeks.
Now that’s a way to give up smoking, enlist in the Marine Corps. šŸ˜‰

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38 thoughts on “Smoking in boot camp, NOT.”

    1. Started smoking in boot camp, quit when I got out of The Corps. Smokers did get more time outside. Do Not get caught smoking without the smoking lamp being lit! Nick 0311

    2. 0331 Paris Island 1966 , Smoking lamp is lit around our third week…Quite a few quit on that day…We realized quickly that that was the thing to do…I was one…However Nam 68-69 and Tet brought the nervousness back and a need to smoke…a grunt carrying an M-60 was a wanted man…Now at 73 I can say I haven’t smoked in 27 years…God bless America and the USMC…

      1. PI 1966 0311. We did not get to vote on anything. They did not let anyone smoke until later in boot camp, if at all and it was a reward. In ITR we had 3 cigarettes in our C Rations. I smoked a pipe but never cigarettes. Had corn cobs sent to me in Nam!

    3. My platoon it was not an option nor held up for a vote. Instead the DI’s took everyone’s cigarettes away for several weeks. Then they made us an offer, 5 guys share a cigarette or you could have 5 minutes in the head. I quit smoking then and there as I really wanted 5 minutes to unload. With 76 recruits, 6 toilets, and only a few minutes in the morning to do your business I have never regretted my decision that day.

    4. That’s true Bill. In 70 you could stand at attention on the hot July grinder at Parris Island or light up, at ease, with a smoke. Didn’t take but a few days to bum a Taryton smoke. SSgt Chadwick watched me inhale and turn blue and smoke the whole thing.

  1. We had smoking rights, we were told if anyone could go thru the gas chamber without any issues we would get additional smoking lamps. We had one guy from W. Virginia you went into the gas chamber and was not affected by the gas, so we got additional smoking time.

    1. When was the gas chamber at boot camp? We went through the gas at ITR. I can remember one of our DI’s putting a recruit inside a “dumpster” to smoke when he was caught. Harry 1371

      1. I think you’re right, Harry. I seem to remember the gas “choke” chamber being at Camp Pendelton. I also remember it not being as terrible as everyone thought it would be. We simply went in with masks on, took them off, sang a few lines of the Marines Hymn (just enough to make everyone inhale) turned and walked out. A few coughs and it was over. Did it probably half-a-dozen times during my 20 years. Semper Fi!!! Top Pro

        1. Went through twice,once at ITR and once at the rifle range at Camp Lejeune. We were put into the tunnels that lead to the “target pits” and tear gassed ,had our gas mask on the whole time, not a big deal. The one at ITR wasn’t that simple, lots of snot! Harry 1371

  2. I was a smoker in 69, but always remember to lock your footlocker, otherwise all locks were locked together, when leaving to go outside for that special smoke. Which took the rest of the night to unlock all locks; what would you rather do?

  3. Those of us who wanted to smoke again were allowed to do so after meals after we had completed the rifle range – but we did it “by the numbers”. We’d stand in a circle around a butt can and a DI would chant the numbers. On “1” we’d put the cigarette to our lips, on “2” we’d take a drag, on “3” we’d suck in the smoke, and on “4” we could blow the smoke out again. If the DI was feeling frisky that day, he’d pause between “3” and “4”, waiting for a wisp f smoke to escape from between some poor recruit’s lips so the DI could trash him..

    1. Mike, we had to yell at the top of our lungs as soon as the smoking circle was formed “Sir the privates request the smoking lamp be lit even though we realize that smoking may be hazardous to our health”.
      I think the hazardous to your health had just started being printed on the side of cigarette packs at the time. What we did just to get a few minutes away form the life of a boot.

  4. MCRD April 1967 – When we got to the Quonset huts the DI said the “smoking lamp is lit for 1 final butt”. After that all loose packs were collected into a GI bucket. After we won the 3rd week marching contest smokes were given back and we had smoke breaks thereafter. Since it was always for just one I purchased the ‘long version’ when we got a chance to go to the PX.

    Arrived in Vietnam during the monsoon season and quickly learned that a wet cigarette could be smoked once you got the tip burning. The heat would dry the paper as it was smoked down.

  5. I wasn’t a smoker, but my brother and cousin were. The three of us came in under the buddy plan. Well about half way through boot camp, those two got caught UA smoking. Give you one guess who paid for it? Semper Fi
    Sgt. O 0151, 0121, 1371

  6. Never got a vote on anything ! I guess all DI’s had their own system. We got to smoke but can’t remember at what point. I do remember a recruit getting caught smoking without permission and had to drink a tobacco cocktail from a bucket! Not a pretty picture! Paul 0311

  7. I remember when the DI said smoking lamp is lit .By the time you got your cigarettes and matches you were lucky if you got two puffs T(en the Audi said smoking lamp is out

  8. I think it is interesting to read all of the different versions of how a DI would use smoking as a reward or punishment for performance, especially with the proliferation of the habit in the 1950-1970 time period. It was pretty much the same for me. I didn’t smoke when I first arrived at MCRD SD, but I soon noticed that the DI would light the smoking lamp after each meal and the non-smokers would have to do squat-thrusts instead. Needless to say, I bought some cigarettes at the first PX call. In retrospect, I probably would have been better off to have done the squat thrusts. Semper Fi!!! Top Pro

  9. Things have changed, in 1968 I GySgt. Drakeford (yep, remember all of their names!) would put out the call “smokers on the road”. That would go from quonsets and all of us smokers and then that was the majority were out. Command was “front lean and rest position, huh” and we’d all assume the pushup position. He would do them with one arm, anywhere from 15-45 or so and then we could have our smoke!

  10. San Diego ’62 Platoon 158. At the rifle range one recruit (not me) thought he could sneak out after lights out and climb into the rafters in the head and smoke. Well he got caught, the next day, in front of the entire Platoon they put a bucket on his head and another bucket filled with water on the ground. They told him to smoke and drink the water with the bucket on his head. To this day I’ve never seen anyone puke so much, and the Platoon wasn’t punished!!!

  11. In 1964 we were not allowed to smoke.If we did well on the rifle range,the chief DI.promised tobacco.
    That reward turned out to be chewing tobacco.
    D.I humor
    Don Mc Avoy

  12. I actually started smoking in Infantry Training at Camp Pendleton. I remember a day of doing “creeping & crawling” exercise in the rain. When we took a break the instructor said “smoke em if you got em” and that small flame and smoke looked so inviting to my cold, wet self I decided to try a cigarette!

  13. Platoon 303, 1/64, the smoking lamp was out for our series. At A CO 1st ITR BN we could smoke but many had just quit, I smoked a little but never had a habit.

  14. MCRD 2/64 Plt. 103. Vote? We never voted on anything. I recall the smoking lamp lit for anyone that turned the civies into charity on the first day of boot camp. The guy next to me asked me for a Kool so he could stand away from the crowd for a while, as those not turning in their civies where being harassed by the DI’s. I learned to quit….LOL

  15. July 1959. Plt 149 S D MCRD. No problem smoking Di’s did not let us smoke for the first 2 weeks then when he said the smoking lamp is lit for one cigarette and one cigarette only and I will smoke it. after that he would light the smoking lamp every day when he felt like it . we carried our cigarettes in our socks if I remember correctly . also no filter tips were allowed and we had to field strip and let the tobacco float off in the air then roll the paper up and stick it in our trouser pocket. Got caught smoking at church in the head at the theater were they held services. You can imagine the hell I went through about that trick. I don’t think I went to church any more. ha ha I would do it all over again even as tough as it was back then. 13 weeks of hell… 0311 2/5– 1/9 . 7th motors. Semper Fi.

  16. Platoon 235 Jul-Sep ’61. I smoked a little before boot camp but did not smoke while there. Smokers got to smoke when the DI felt like letting them and usually not long enough to finish a smoke. Sometimes he’d light the smoking lamp and then almost immediately put it out. I smoked off and on for several years and finally gave it up for good in ’74.

  17. I didn’t smoke till I got to boot camp. Those of us who didn’t smoke were ‘allowed’ to do push-ups and squat thrusts while the smokers did their thing. I turned to the guy beside me and ‘borrowed’ a smoke. I started smoking then.

  18. To you semi-literate Marines out there that don’t remember how to spell the name of the place you went to recruit training, it’s spelled PARRIS Island. The other one is in France and Texas. I was a smoker before I went back to my hometown for training, but I stopped for my whole “boot”time, and then I smoked a Salem the day before graduation and damn near passed out. Needless to say I made it to the head before I lost my breakfast. My face was the same color as my utilities. I quit smoking for good on June 1st, 1978.

    1. Lighten up Jesse. Not everyone can spell perfectly. Many draftees didn’t have a lot of education back then. And, there is such a thing as typographical error. By the way, Vietnam Service Ribbon…Combat Action Ribbon…..Combat Infantry Badge. How did you get the CAB and CIB. I thought only Army awarded the CIB unless I missed something when I was in VN in 1966. Were you in the Marines or the Army? Just saying…RT..Vietnam 1966.

  19. We never voted on any thing, never went to the PX during boot camp! Gy Sgt Brown would let the smoking lamp after about the first week. Only a few men a first, by the end of training hell there were a lot more. I never did until Nam then only a few times, mostly cigars to kill the smell of rotting bodies. Platoon 2071 Sept-Nov 1967 Xray Co. ITR Nam May 68-69 2/27 and 1/9. Made Sgt a month before I got out, should have stayed in!

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