The Day We Were Born

Boot Camp Cattle Car

How many of us can remember the day we were born? The actual day I mean. I can with crystal clarity. Tomorrow, 30 June 2016, is my 50th birthday and I remember every detail of the occasion. I was born into the loving arms of my new family members and the legendary yellow footprints at MCRD Parris Island. Oh how well I remember the day. My new father/mother/girlfriend greeted me with love in his eyes, open arms and comforting platitudes. It was a soft, albeit hot summer southern evening with a gentle breeze carrying the gentle aroma of swamp. Ah the memories of all the wonderful things that my new life was going to bring to me. The anticipation was delicious. My favorite and most unforgettable memory of that evening long ago was the screaming inside my head that said repeatedly: “What the **** have I done?” I’m sure we all remember the terror as a new and wonderful awakening occurred. FIFTY years? How the heck did that happen… I was 19 just yesterday.

Anyone remember this picture of our comfortable and welcoming mode of mass transit?

Semper Fi my brothers, sisters and friends and happy birthday to me… I think.

Gerry Zanzalari
1966 – 1970
RVN 1968 – 1969

51 thoughts on “The Day We Were Born”

  1. Lol!! Unbelievable day!! I was 23 after college I went to be a grunt. I wrote home to my wife and said WTF!! I thought at that time I might of made a bad Decision!! But it truly was my true birth place that made me the man I am today. That was 26 years ago!! ???

  2. Who can forget the cattle car transportation. At Parris Island, the D.I. wouldn’t even let you look up to see where you were on the base. Had no idea where anything was and where you were headed. Interesting ride. A trip down memory lane 52 years ago. Semper Fi.

    1. During mess & maintenance week we rode the old cattle cars from the rifle range to mainside to work…… Parris Island, 3rd Battalion, 5 Oct 73 to 28 Dec 73

  3. My day of birth was November 3rd, 1953. I remember riding the train from either Newark nj or New York. It was a long ride. It was the first time I had ever seen a tree with fuzz hanging. When we arrived at P.I. and got off by a barracks with Sgt Grady standing on the top step. We were given a verbal indoctrination. I didn’t know that he would be my new father and mother and God. Made it through, got my PFC stripe and the rest is history. Honorably discharged as Sgt on July 22, 1960. I was an adventure I’ll never forget.

  4. 1972 may have been 44 years ago but I sure remember the cattle car, along with other memories of P.I.

    1. YUP ! Sure do remember thee ol’cattle car , Every ride the ol’ DI had us keeping our covers over our face .. LOL Went thru boot at PI Grad 14 AUG 1972 1st Bn PLY 154

  5. 1966-1969 Arrived at Parris Island 2 months after my 17th b-day. An adventure I would never forget. One of best things I did in my life. 1966-1969 3 yr hitch in at 17 out by 20. Vn 67-68.

  6. I went through the 3rd Battalion at PI but I don’t remember ever taking a Cattle Car (we took them in Lejeune) we walked or marched every where we had to go. I remember the Greyhound Bus that brought us from Charleston Airport to Parris Island, arriving at 0200 and have to get up at 0500. First few days are a blur but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world accept my family.

    1. You must have been a great recruit.In Nov. 74 cattle Car took you to Motivation Platoon or the Fat Farm to name a few

    2. Remember the bus ride from Charleston airport also. A corporal met the incoming flight from WAS, checked our “packages “, and put us on bus , about 45 of us (we all met up in WAS).
      The rest is history! I have a tee shirt that I wear to gym workouts, yellow Footprints on back! Get comments!

  7. Yes I remember my first day at MCRD San Diego. I learned what those yellow foot print were for in a hurry. June 17,1957. The most memorable 3 years of my life. I learned to be a man quick.

  8. Yeah, I remember, Even though I went to MCRD San Diego, the yellow footprints were the same, and I’m also sure the “Cattle Cars” were the same in 1966. I have my 50th High School Graduation Reunion in a couple of months. Graduated High School in June 1966. Joined the Corps in October 1966. High School to Life School. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

  9. after my haircut we couldnt tell us apart. we all looked the same. all i can see is a marine.thats the way i felt also. keep going leathernecks. god bless us all.

  10. Who could ever forget PI. Went back for my sons graduation in 2008,first time Sence 1970. It was strange not seeing the old white wooden barracks of 2nd Battalion not there. Spent many hours scrubbing those floors.

  11. I remember very well! PI Thanksgiving day 1965 got there at midnight by myself, thought I had died and gone to h_ll. Platoon 1026 1st battalion on the swamp. Spent Christmas and New Year Day at the rifle range the day we graduated it snowed ( yes it snowed in H _LL ) Sgt. USMC ( Mother Green I love you )

  12. I was one of the first recruits to fly to South Carolina for basic training. We arrived at Parris Island and had to wait a week before our DI’s came to get us. All we did for a week was eat and wait. We thought to ourselves that this was doable. Little did we know that pure hell was on the way. When S/Sgt James opened our barracks door, looked around, pulled out his saber, broke it in half across his knee and stuck the tip of the saber in the wooden floor. Yes, welcome to Parris Island. That was 56 years ago and it was the best decision I ever made. Semper FI

  13. The only time I ever rode in a cattle carrier was from Camp Lejuene to Camp Geiger for ITS. I was in 3rd Bn MCRDPI We didn’t take rides! My birthday was 05FEB81 I wish I could do it again!

  14. Arrived at Paris Island early morning on June 25 1957 a day that you will never forget next year it will be my 60 year anniversary Platoon 172 Second battalion. a lot of good memories and friends I enjoy m 28 years of service in the Marine Corps Regular and Reserve status. Semper Fi until the end.

  15. 59 yrs. ago at 3 am. getting off the train at Yemassee! Remember it like it was yesterday! We were herded on a bus and told to keep our heads down between our legs! Till we got off at PI.

  16. Train from Raleigh, NC to Yemassee, SC on July 5, 1964. First fire watch, bus to PI next morning, greeted at receiving by loving DIs. Placed all aftershave, etc gently into very clean trash containers. Met our DIs next morning and began our fun as Company B, Platoon 160, 1st Battalion. Don’t recall cattle cars until Camp Geiger. I would do it all over again! Semper Fi my Brothers and Sisters!

  17. I was born 21 June 1966 in San Diego at 17 yrs old. I remember well that fun filled day arriving with several friends who were not recognizable after the barbers styled our hair. Ah what a warm welcome from the Pfc’s who guided us on our bus ride from the airport to MCRD. Heads down and no effing talking, then those beautiful yellow welcome mats just for us. What a summer vacation that was – I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We didn’t use Cattle Cars until ITR at Camp Pendleton. Semper Fi Mike Pelucca – Sgt 1966 – 70 , Vietnam , 67-69 Artillery

  18. For me it’s been 54 years, and back then at MCRD San Diego (Plt. 166) we didn’t have cattle cars because everywhere we went was on foot either marching or running. Still a proud Marine after all these years, Semper fi to all my USMC brothers and sisters… I’ve got your back until my last breath!

  19. My intro to cattle cars was at OCS at Quantico in 1972. . My buddy and I went through the admin check in and then were put on a cattle car – when it was full, off we went to our company area. When the cattle car stopped a DI stepped aboard and said “Alright Candidates – play time is over – you have 30 seconds to clear this vehicle and the last one off belongs to me !!” I wasn’t last – but will remember how he could make the word “candidate” seem so low a creature.

  20. I went to PI in Feb59. I remember flying from NYC to Charleston and then being bused to PI. Only cattle car rides I recall were at Camp Geiger during ITR. We walked and ran to our 2nd Bn barracks from the receiving area when our recruit platoon (Plt 211) was formed.

  21. June 1961….rode a train from New Orleans to San Diego 3 days. Rode cattle car from train station to MCRD SD. Also rode cattlecar from MCRD to Camp Pendleton for ITR.

  22. Remember the good ole days ,weeks, months at P.I.. Oct. 1965 platoon 394, Sgt. Hilton, Sgt. Thornton, Sgt. Payne. We graduated 2 Dec. 1965. In country 1967 /1968, 7th. Comm. Battalion.

  23. Remember it well. Took the train from Boston to Yemassee. Boarded a bus to PI. January 1966 Plt 213, 2nd Battalion. Never road cattle cars until Camp Gieger and then at Camp Pendleton. Joining the Corps was the best thing I did besides getting married. Semper Fi till I die! 1 tour Camp Hansen , Okinawa, 1 tour MCRD PISC, 1 tour Mag-39, Quang Tri, Vietnam. Sgt E-5

  24. I remember them at P.I. 1971.1st Battalion Plt.147.Also at Camp Geiger. Not a comfortable ride,but be marching.

  25. I remember them at P.I. 1971.1st Battalion Plt.147.Also at Camp Geiger. Not a comfortable ride,but beat marching.

  26. 26June1969. Remember the cattle cars well. I was pinned on the floor under 750 other recruits. To this day I suffer from claustrophobia. But I would not change anything about my experience. Semper Fi.

  27. I was born on Oct 13 1955 PI. PLT 155. My tour guides were CPL ROBARGE JR, S.SGT MONTI, AND SGT ZYGMONT. These 3 Marines will always be there in the background taking me places I never dreamed about. Don’t remember cattle cars. Sea Duty U.S.S. Saratoga and Embassy Duty , Singapore. Never stationed on a Marine base in my 5 years of service. Happy Birth Day to all My brothers.

  28. I arrived at Parris Island on Jan. 22, 1948 and I remember it very well, even though it’s been over 65 years ago. How did I get old? Always a Marine.

    1. I was wondering what happen to all the old timers then I noticed your birth date THE OLD CORP Feb 1950 was my BD semper fi

  29. When I got to MCRD, I was screwed up and I’m glad we didn’t get our DIs for about two days. I barely remember getting my hair cut or bucket issue and linen. We were assigned to work details and just policed around receiving barracks, gave me time to get my head clear. Had some great DIs. Memories are plentiful. SEMPER FI

  30. i was born sept. 8th,1959,place of birth,mcrd san diego,,,what did i do?????,,,would never do it again,wouldn,t have missed it for the world,,,,,made many trips back over the years to attend various graduations and just be around my brothers and regain my youth for a few days.tremendous experiance,,,no one can take the pride from me.missed vietnam but took a little trip to gitmo in 62.

  31. Ah “cattle cars” I remember them well but they were not at MCRD-PI. I only saw and rode them at Camp Giger, NC after 16 weeks at Paris Island. Oh and “yellow foot prints” had not been painted at Yamasee Train station. If they were we never got to see them as we arrived at 0200 and were hand delivered to the Bus by Marine MP’s. Then on to the “Iron Mike statue” for our in processioning in what was then called Casual Barracks. Standing, facing the bunk beds, no sleeping in the bunks, or else, one recruit found out the hard way when a PFC came up the the 2nd floor we were and tossed him to the floor. So I was born on 30 June 1957.

    1. Cattle cars were there in Jan-Mar ‘71. Rode them to get M-14’s issued by Armorer in PI. Rode them from 3rd BN. Don’t remember being to told to look down during rides, but we were packed in like rush hour on NYC subway!

  32. First and only cattle car I recall was the one a bunch of us squeezed into on the ride over the Pali from Pearl Harbor to Kaneohe Bay on the day we started our two years on the rock in “61”. Standing with our sea bags and rifles, looking through the slats of the trailer and my first sight of Diamond Head in the distance and a beautiful island girl with long black hair wearing a muumuu walking barefoot along the road. Oh yeah, this is paradise says I. Palm trees, green mountains, white sandy beaches and hula girls. Never happened. Reality was the Huba Hubba Club with Gina the Italian Volcano down on Hotel Street and fifty cent Mai Tais at the e-club whenever we could get Liberty. Fond memories.

  33. I’m a ex marine form Dec 60, to March 65. But as the saying goes once a Marine always a Marine. Would like to hear from other Marines station in Kaneohe Bay, 3rd battalion H&S company.

  34. I was born 63 years ago this month. Never saw a cattle car at PI or anywhere else. We walked everywhere we went. Was in “Battle Cry” in Jan 54′ of PR with Hq-2-2. Then an observer Radio Operator on a Helicopter Carrier “U.S.S. Mendora”, HQ-12-3, on Iwo Feb 55′ for the 10th anniversary, I moved around a lot but always FMF. LeJeune, Quantico, Hawaii, Okinawa, Japan.

  35. You Devil Dogs bring back memories…I did it…done it..lived it…thx..Semper Fi till we die..

  36. My dad went through PI in 1916. Doubt if they had cattle cars back then. If they did they sure weren’t motor driven. My birthdate was 14 August 1962 when I marched down the grinder at MCRD, SDiego for final review. There were cattle cars at both SDiego and Camp Pendleton. Long, green pieces of crap with wooden benches that beat you to death. One of my DI’s was KIA in Nam, one retired as a MGySgt and one as a LtCol. Served with one of them on Oki with 3dFSR then again in KBay with the 3d Marines, 1st Marine Brigade.

  37. All these stories of young boys off to become Marines and “The first day of their life”. It just reaffirms me of the love and pride that we still have for our Corps. I thank God on a weekly basis that He allowed me to become a United States Marine.

  38. Aug. 2nd 1970 MCRD San Diego was the day I started boot camp. I remember where I first stood on the yellow footprints. I stood on that same spot when my Son graduated ,29 years later. Oh yeah I was born in Camp Lejeune when my father was in the Marines. Semper Fi to all my Brothers and Sisters.

  39. October 1966, 1 st Battalion,Plt. 105. Got so tired you could fall asleep in one till the DI caught you

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