Sunday, June 14, 2009
This has been a fascinating week. It has been three months since Ethan left for the MCRD in San Diego. We arrived at MCRD Thursday morning for family day. The MPs made us all get out and stand in front of the car while they went through the car, including under the hood, and looked through each of our bags, and had dogs sniff all over the place. We passed the inspection and soon we were wandering through the Marine Command Museum on the base, along with a few hundred others who were waiting to see their new Marines. After being yelled at by some drill instructors for awhile, we were directed to stand in the parking lot to await our first glimpse of our Marines… just returning from the Moto (motivational) Run. Ethan’s platoon is that first one you can see running in.
The Marines were released for their first Liberty in thirteen weeks. We were warned to help them keep their uniforms spotless, not to remove their uniforms (apparently there were girlfriends in the crowd), and not to leave the base. So we enjoyed Liberty on the base for about five hours. It was strange to see Ethan, who is now Private First Class, in his new uniform, with a very different bearing. He is rightfully very proud of his accomplishment. The first thing we did was go to a luncheon on the base, sponsored by the church he has been attending. There were ten new Marines from his company that were all LDS, and they attended with their families. The highlight of that luncheon was the cutting of the cake with a Marine saber, by one of the church leaders there, who had been a Marine for over 40 years. The tradition was that he fed a bite of the cake to the oldest “new Marine,” who in this case was a 26-year-old private, and he in turn fed a bite to the youngest, who was Ethan (he turned 18 during basic training). If they pronounced it edible, then everyone else could partake.
We went from there to meet Ethan’s drill instructors. Do they look scary? They should. They told us some very interesting things about Ethan and what he did to serve during basic training. He was the company scribe, and was in charge of many of the day-to-day operations of the company. Ethan told us as we walked away that they had never told him any of that (it was too complimentary, apparently) and that that was the first time he had seen them smile. I found that observation interesting, since I never detected anything that resembled a smile. Like I said, scary.
Skippy took the next four photos. It is interesting to see things from his perspective. The red and yellow emblem above the chest pocket denotes military service in time of war. The hand positioning behind the back was something that Skippy worked to perfect all weekend.
The cherry on top was meeting a member of the San Diego Marine Corp. Band, who very kindly gave us a 30-minute tour of the band building and answered every question Ethan had about his upcoming experience in music school. The nice young Marine happened to be the Drum Major the next day for graduation:
Graduation was a very imposing sight with all the new Marines in their “Bravo” uniforms, made even more so by the amazing sky that morning:
The badge on his chest is for being a “Rifle Sharpshooter.” (As always, you can click on any of the photos to view them at full size)
Yesterday was Ethan’s first day of actual “Boot Leave.” He has ten days. It has been interesting, as the stories come out little by little of what it was actually like. Ethan told us what he thought was the hardest thing about bootcamp. He said he loved the Obstacle Course. He didn’t mind the food. Even the legendary “Crucible” was just fine. He said he actually ran up the last hill. But the hardest thing of all was not swearing. It is so much a part of the culture, that it was a constant and ongoing struggle to maintain clean language. There were items of clothing and gear that were called after profanity. He had to either refrain from referring to them, or point! I have to say… this is a unique path that he has chosen.