After reading the stories about thumping in boot camp I had to tell of my experience with this, I was in plt 3047, 1979 San Diego, and we had a DI who when it was his night to have the duty he would punch each recruit in the chest after he was done inspecting him durring hygiene inspection to knock him back onto his foot locker, we all expected it and no one ever said anything about it, that is until he ruptured one recruit’s intestines, it happened because this recruit refused to fall back onto his foot locker, we called him our little wobble, he would wobble but would not fall down. Well one night when the DI punched him in the chest he went back but as usual he started to pop pack up and when he was on his way back to the position of attention the DI under cut him in the guts, later that night he was taken to sick bay and a couple hours later the DI was taken by the MP’s, we were told that we were not to talk about it outside our platoon, then we all were interviewed and the recruits that had seen it happen were held on legal hold after we graduated. I want to thank my DI’s SSgt Snow, Sgt Thames, Sgt King, I will not mention the name of the DI whom was relieved of duty, for helping to shape my life. What we thought of as sadistic back then, we laugh at now.

GySgt A.D. French 0811

16 thoughts on “Thumping”

  1. Didn’t they start weeding out those abusive types after the 1955 incident at PI… The only physical abuse our DI inflicted was double timing around the grinder, (MCRDSD) running the obstacle course and letting us know how we we’re screwing up his Marine Corps…

    1. A Mac, if they did weed out some abusive D I’s they missed a few. I was in platoon 105, January 1959, San Diego. I have a scar on the right side of my head. The result of the SDI, Sgt. Smith,adjusting my M-1 rifle at right shoulder arms. The operating rod on the M-1 coming into contact with my head. We were on the parade ground, drilling, and I made a serious mistake. A JDI ran me back to the company area, had me wash the blood off, wait for the bleeding to stop, briefed me on how I accidentally hit myself going to right shoulder arms and then we went back to the drilling. Damn that hurt……

  2. We had two DI’s that did that EVERY night but they would try to hit you in the solar plexis. I had never been hit there before and there was NO WAY to tighten up to keep it from taking your breath away,

  3. Must be a tradition. San Diego. 1956:
    Held my footlocker over my head while our Senior DI punched me in the stomach. Ahh, what great memories

  4. Plt 178, 1957. After the tidal wave thing, a bunch of Congress people came to talk to us shtbirds in SD and I was directed to answer the questions from my state of Colorado Congressman. I pulled a Sgt Shultz, I know nothing.

  5. I was kicked in the shin a couple times for not marching in step. I was punched in the stomach. I was hit in the throat because I eyeballed the DI. Wow the good old days at PI. USMC 1972 1974

  6. I went through MCRD San Diego in the early summer of 1962. YES, the DI’s hit us! I can’t think of a single recruit that wasn’t hit at one time or another. True, some were hit more than others, but everyone was generally hit. The one thing I can say, every time a DI hit us, they weren’t sadistic about it. (At least I didn’t think they were. They were correcting bad habits and behaviors. If those bad habits and behaviors were not corrected, you could end up dead or worse getting your fellow Marines killed or wounded). I can honestly say, every time a DI popped me, it was because I genuinely screwed up. And that slap, punch or kick not only got my full undivided attention, but the entire platoons. Pain was definitely a positive motivator.
    Memories fade, I don’t recall DI’s ever playing the Thump game or hitting us during nightly hygiene inspections. I do remember lots of footlocker PT sessions. Ohhhh and I do have fond memories of some recruits that even after 3 weeks or so, still couldn’t tell their right from their left… We had just been issued our M-14’s. The DI took 2 recruits. Put them back-to-back and one step apart. Made them go to right shoulder arms. Then gave them facing commands. The recruit that went the wrong way got slammed in the side of the head by his buddy’s front sight and muzzle flash suppressor. I remember this one recruit, (he didn’t make it and got cycled out) he just kept getting slammed in the head over and over, until blood started squirting out. That incident was the only entertainment we had during recruit training… Ahhhh, Good Time!

  7. Enlisted Feb 64, MCRD San Diego Plt.324. Got corrected for something ever damn day. Physical punishment was the norm. The one thing I can say is I’m 76 yrs old and the the lessons I learned at MCRD are still fresh in my mind. Stay strong Marines, Semper Fi. RVN 65/66/69.

  8. I got my serious thumping about 2 weeks before graduation and I was pulling fire watch in the wooden barracks. The Senior DI had the duty that night and instructed the first Fire Watch he wanted to get up 30 minutes early at 04:30 that morning and told him to pass the word on from 0ne watch stander to another. I was standing the duty right before the guy who was supposed to wake up the DI and my brother had the watch right before me. I relieved my brother he passes the word . At the end of my watch I go and hit the rack. Next thing I know the squad bay lights go on and the Senior DI is standing in his T shirt and Skivvies screaming ” fire watches get to my hut now you Maggots”. He proceeds to ask each recruit ” Did you pass the word Maggot ” each yells SIR YES SIR when its my turn I answer SIR I THINK SO SIR before I get the words out of mouth he laches on to me slams against the bulkhead 2 or 3 times and flips me over his rack and I land between the his rack and bulkhead .I scramble to my feet at attention he laches on to me and bull rushes back to the squad bay says” This maggot failed to pass the word in combat someone can get killed when some a!!hole fails to pass the word” He turned my screw up into a teachable moment and one I would never forget. That’s my “thump” story. The year 1957 The place MCRD Parris Island Platoon 283 .

  9. Gut punch, face slap, was common 1966 Diego. Also, observed DI beat the crap out of a “foul ball” (non hacker). Just a normal day in boot camp. Loved every minute of it! What ever it takes to maintain discipline. It prepared me for my Nam tour. Or as Disney would put it; “Adventure Land” vacation.

  10. Cpl. John Grady
    MCRD San Diego Plt. 3067 June-Sept. 1975. I was shining my boots instead of shining my brass like all the other recruits were doing. My Senior DI saw this and ordered me into his duty hut. As I was standing at attention, he began yelling and screaming about following orders while calling me by my nickname “Doggie”. He then hit me 2 times in the stomach with his fist causing me to hit the deck. After that I never disobeyed another order throughout my Marine years or my civilian career, Law Enforcement. Thumping has a time and place and at that exact moment, I deserved it. God Bless the Corps and the greatest nation on this planet.

  11. I reported to PI on 10 June 1960. My old man wanted to put the fix in so I’d be a jeep driver for a general out East & I said no. Upon which he described me in terms that I cannot repeat because I have my mother’s picture in my pocket. My recruiter was GySgt Marine. I asked him, “Really”& he laughed and said yes. it was his name. The Navy doc didn’t want to take me because of a lifesaving surgery I had at 9 months old that would interfere with wearing a pack, but I told him I had worn a pack in the boy scouts and never had a problem. He finally said okay, but told me if he let me in he wouldn’t let me out and said it’s a deal. The first few days at PI I wrote a letter to a buddy in engineering graduate school and said these drill instructors are the lowest form of life I’ve ever seen and they are morons. I was stupid and didn’t realize how great they were. We were on a smoking break in the bleachers behind the barracks and Sgt.Jimmy E. McCall, the greatest DI I ever met said, Albert in his southern drawl. (It’s actually Alpert) and I popped to my feet with a loud “Here, Sir?” He asked me how to spell moron and I was never a good speller, even in college. My buddy Scotti told me face drain ashen. I spelled it and he said to you think your drill instructor is a mowron, spelled the way he pronounced the word. I said, “NO SIR!” Mac said, “You’re a liar boy!” I was brand new and in trouble. I knew I had to square myself away or boot camp would be Hell on wheels! As soon as we went inside the barracks, I went to Sgt. McCall’s hut/room and screamed my lungs out as I pounded on the door frame as instructed. When I got permission to enter he chewed me down to a midget. Then he picked up a league ball and went into a pitcher’s wind up. I knew if I ran I’d never stop running I lowered my chin to protect my throat, tightened my 6 pack and closed my eyes. I stood in tense silence for a few moments and then opened my right eye. Mac never threw the pitch, but he said, “You college as-hole I knew more then you’ll ever know! I replied, “Yes Sir” and he chased me out. I soon got punched, kicked and slapped. The slap was always on my ear with his Marine Corps ring. The fact was I quickly learned to love the Corps no matter how much I got thumped. I volunteered every time they asked for volunteers. Then came the obstacle course competition and my senior DI, whose name I will withhold, said, “Boy you’re going to run the course for Platoon 152. If you don’t win you’ll get this size 10 (his boot) up your a-s. Four platoons & four recruits and off we went. The first obstacle was a medium sized tree trunk as I ran down it, I fell off. I could see that size 10 coming my way and I hopped back on the log and actually ran down it. I caught one guy, then another and as I left the 2nd to the last obstacle, I saw the third guy on the final one, the rope climb. He was about a 1/3 to a 1/2 way up, as best I can recall and I sprinted for the rope. Without stopping I leaped Tarzan style and decided not to use my legs in climbing because it would slow me down. I ripped my hands one after other like a swimmer in a race chopping the water with each stroke. Near the top I quickly glanced to my left and realized I had caught up and swung my right up hard and high and hit the top. All 300 hundred men in the company were screaming the whole time and it sounded like cannons going off and suddenly it went dead quiet and a DI from another platoon said his ‘turd’ had won, but my senior DI boomed out the hell he did and said I had hit the top first. I think that was the day I came into my own in boot camp. Now don’t get the wrong idea, I still got my butt kicked on a regular basis by Mac. I never resented it—ever and to this day I still feel that way. It was around that time I was made a squad leader much to my surprise. Near the end of boot camp Mac came in off the grinder one day. He had entered the barracks that way before and it really surprised us. We jumped to it and sounded off, “Platoon, Atten Hut!” I was standing in front of my bunk with Mike Elardi, my bunk mate and Mac took those usual long steps and passed right by me, stopped, walked backwards a few steps and slapped me upside the head. He said, “Albert I didn’t see you talkin’, but you always are so you must’ve been.” The platoon broke into a loud laughter (so did I) and Mac shouted “Shut-up” several times and things got quiet real fast. I had a terrible problem with laughing because it reminded me of my old man who screamed about everything. About the last week of training, we were in the chow line and feeling salty. Instead of a normal line we had to pull up close, chest to back, to the guy in front. At that moment the sand fleas descended on us. The guy in front of me had one running around his ear and he was twitching. I leaned forward just a bit and blew it off with my breath. He whispered thanks. A DI from one of our series platoons was in front of the first man in line and leaned out to one side and shouted, “Alpert, you’re laughing again, aren’tcha boy?” I responded loudly, “Yes Sir” and he said. “Boy, you must’ve been laughing when Christ was crucified.” I said, “Yes Sir” because I didn’t know what else to say. The men in line laughed out loud, but the DI didn’t say anything. I was given a stripe upon graduation and it looked so big to me I thought I’d have to put my arm in a sling to carry that stripe. Mac came looking for me on graduation day to tell me that he gave me all that “special attention” because he knew I’d make a good Marne. Wow! In 1965 I was an E-5 buck sergeant and I was walking up the long hall in the reserve center. The sun was coming through the front glass door and shining in my eyes. I saw the silhouette of a man coming toward me, but I couldn’t make out the face because of the sun’s glare. But I did say to myself it looked like Sgt. McCall’s silhouette. When the guy got right up next to me I saw it was Mac. I said, “Sir do you remember me? Buzz Alpert, Platoon 152, 19 June 1960?” He looked at my stripes and said. “Well, Sergeant you’ve done pretty well for yourself.” I started suffering that old Jewish guilt when I saw he and I were the same rank and I couldn’t let his remark stand because I could never fill his shoes. I said, “Sir, I was just lucky.” We became friends and whenever I had a moment I would stop in the armory where he was assigned and shoot the breeze. We never talked about boot camp, but life in general and I think he did now a lot more than me, but that letter of mind that he opened and read never was discussed. I found out he was only 3 years older than me, but he was one heck of a fine Marine. He went to Viet Nam and retired as a captain. In 1993 I wrote Mac, through the Commandant because I didn’t have his address, how grateful I was for him as my DI. I told him he made a man out of me. I told the Commandant in the cover letter that went with the letter to Sgt. McCall that it was fine with me if he read the letter to make sure it was acceptable. I got a very nice letter from the Commandant thanking me for taking the time to write to Mac. I didn’t mention ‘thumping’ by the way. My old man never recognized my accomplishments in the Corps and that was too bad for him. He was too young for WW1 and too old for WWII. He didn’t understand duty to one’s country even though he lost his older brother to Mustard gas in WWI. As a tribute to all the Marine vets I meet I carry a few Marine Corps flag/American flag lapel pins and I give a gift of one to every Marine I meet. I have given away a lot of them and it brings me joy to see the smile on their faces at the sight of that beautiful pin. We always give each other a firm handshake and wish each other ‘Semper Fi’ or ‘Hoorah’. The Marine Corps changed my life for the better. I am forever indebted to the Corps. I never saw combat, but the spirit of the Corps is forever in my heart. God Bless our country and all the people who served it in every branch and may we always honor those who gave their lives for freedom and think of the missing, who also never came back. Semper Fi.

    I will close on a sad note. My senior DI, whose name shall remain anonymous told us we had to pay him ‘flight pay’ to graduate. It was $20 per recruit. My buddy Scotti refused and I offered to pay it for him, but he said no. The DI also instructed us on a PX call to buy two packs of a certain cigarette, smokers and non-smokers. On the day after graduation someone reported it and a court martial took place. A Lt. Colonel was the defense lawyer and a major was the prosecuting lawyer. I didn’t like being called as a witness along with a lot of other guys from the platoon. They accused me of making the initial report and I denied that, but the colonel kept after me. So, I came out of my ‘corner’ fighting. I said the senior DI really knew his business and was a great DI, but now I feel a bit remiss as though I didn’t do my duty to the Corps and report his illegal behavior. The colonel glared at me. Then after I answered all his questions, he said that during my testimony I said the senior DI wanted ‘everyone’ and also said ‘smokers and non-smokers’ were to buy the smokes. I said yes, I did say that. He said, “Which one was it? You are saying things in your testimony that were never spoken by your senior DI. He was trying to catch me. I wasn’t on trial and I didn’t steal anything from anybody and never have so by my using two definitions of what went on he was hoping to discredit me. I responded, “Sir, would you please tell me what the difference between everyone and smoker and non-smokers is?” Whoa, his face got red from the neck up and I thought I saw smoke coming out of his ears. He took me for a stupid PFC and we had plenty of smart guys in the ranks. The colonel was silent and the prosecuting major said to me, “From now on private answer all questions yes or no.” I looked at him, but did not respond. However, I followed his order, but I sure wondered whose side he was on. He was supposed to hold up the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but those rules are based on truth and apparently the major didn’t want to hear that. As soon as I walked out of the hearing room a lieutenant collared me and ordered me to sit down at a table so he could interrogate me. I was not intimidated and looked him right in the eyes. He first accused me of starting the investigation and after I forcefully and truthfully denied it he ordered me to find out who did start it. I told him I had no way of doing that and he said, “That’s an order private.” I was not going to get backed into a corner of insubordination, which is where he was headed. I simply said I would try and he let me leave. I had no interest in it and never asked anyone. I must admit I was very disappointed in how things were done in that court martial. That said I felt sort of bad for my senior DI even though he cheated our platoon.

    1. Hi Buzz! I enjoyed reading the above! Dad was a Blowhard and physically abusive to me! I am proud you were a Marine and did not take any shit from him!!
      Your Big Sister,
      Llois Alpert Stein

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