Base Liberty and seeing the family
"They're the ones I want. They're the strugglers; they've had to cope with adversity"
-Col. John W Ripley, US Marine Corps
As I have mentioned, Boot Camp is its own separate reality. From the first day on, you
are pushed, prodded and tormented at levels that you never knew existed.
You end up more tired than should be humanly possible, more sore than many
people have ever had to be and prouder than you ever have been before.
(My answer to my mom to the question "How are you doing?" was "There
isn't a place on me that doesn't hurt." No, that wasn't an exaggeration)
Now imagine how difficult it is to adjust to the fact that you have
earned the title of Marine and that you are going to graduate.
On the Thursday morning before Graduation, we get
to put on a little show for the parents, family and friends that came out
to see us. We go on a little Motivational run. It goes for
five miles and involves the whole Company. A five-mile run may sound like an odd thing to be motivated about, but Marines aren't known for their sanity. Just remember that the five
mile run was one of the milestones we were looking forward to. It meant that we were
that much closer to graduation.
Our guests were waiting for us out on the parade
deck. We ran up to them, then came to a stop. We could see
cameras flashing at us and we felt anticipation build. Then we heard
the commands that we were waiting for.
"FORWARD...MARCH! DOUBLE TIME...MARCH!!!"
Then it began. We ran through the whole base
and got a rather scenic trip. We were calling out cadence as loud
as we could and making ourselves heard. We knew that we were almost
going home and felt the euphoria kick in. We made it back to where
our families were waiting for us about forty minutes later. I wasn't
even winded from the run, just covered in sweat. We were marched
back to the squad bay to shower and told to change over into our Deltas.
It was time for us to be turned loose on the base.
Base liberty is very disorienting for the new
Marine. You dream about it, you see other Marines enjoy it while
you are still a lowly recruit and you begin to make plans on what you are
going to do when you get it. It's shocking when you finally are allowed
to wander on your own. You can go where you want on base, the Drill
Instructors smile and congratulate you and you finally see women for the
first time in several months (Definitely one of the highlights).
My parents were waiting for me when we were dismissed
for the day. I gave them the whirlwind tour. Not too much
was a real shock to them; my father's a retired Officer and my mom loves
the kind of PT that Marines do. I showed them all the obstacles that
we had to face, the places that we had classes and everything else that
we could do in the short amount of time.
Lunch was in a restaurant that was set aside for
us. Much to the delight of my caffeine-deprived bloodstream, I had
the first cup of coffee that I had been allowed for several months.
All of the effort and sweat that we put into for the last few months was
finally showing us some results.
We had to go back to the barracks at 1630. There were preparations to make for tomorrow, and we had to be sure that everything was set up correctly. It was one of those rare days when all was right in the world.