by Wes Clark

(Written in 1991 for a friend going to Parris Island)

1. Avoid eye contact. (It's harder for a Drill Instructor to intimidate you if you're looking past or through him!)

2. Bear in mind that no matter how traumatic things seem Boot Camp is only Temporary. In fifteen or sixteen years it will seem like a dimly-remembered cruel joke.

3. Trying your damnedest to achieve something is often more impressive than actually achieving it. Drill Instructors look for motivation and spirit more than anything else. Show it to them and they'll be happy. (You do want your Drill Instructor to be happy.)

4. Don't volunteer for anything.

5. Keep your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open.

6. Doing push-ups (you'll do plenty of these) with your fingers spread and your palms off of the deck is easier than doing them with your fingers together and your palms flat. I don't know why, I just found it to be true.

7. Never, ever, ask a Drill Instructor "Why?"

8. Never smile at or near or within sight of a Drill Instructor. You have no right looking happy in boot camp, and if a Drill Instructor sees you looking this way he'll take steps to remedy the situation.

9. When you have to say something to a Drill Instructor, make sure your words are of the one or two syllable variety. That way you'll be less apt to say something that'll get you in trouble. "No, sir" or "Yes, sir" are good ones to learn.

10. Eat quickly in the mess halls. Drill Instructors will occasionally abruptly terminate the time allotted for leisurely dining. ("We're having duck for dinner - duck in and duck out.")

11. Begin every sentence with the word "sir" (i.e., "Sir, the Private requests permission to speak!").

12. When you speak, speak loudly.

13. Avoid personal pronouns ("I," "me," "you," "they," "we") when speaking to Drill Instructors.

14. Despite what you may think the Sergeants, Staff Sergeants and Gunnery Sergeants are really your friends. The Officers may or may not be. If you have to confide something to someone, tell the Drill Instructor.

15. Reserve duty outside of boot camp is nothing like active duty during boot camp. As you may suspect, this is good. And as long as we're on the subject,

16. Don't tell anyone you're a reservist unless you have to. Everybody else will be on active duty when they get out of boot camp, and misery loves a companion.

17. Don't question for one minute your decision to enlist in the Marines. It's too late to do anything about it now and it's not a productive train of thought. (Anyway, in future years you'll be proud you did it.)

18. Make damn sure your boots fit. Foot trouble in boot camp can cause serious problems - like not graduating with your platoon.

19. Don't get sick. Getting sick in boot camp can cause serious problems - like not graduating with your platoon.

20. Stay awake during the classes. You don't want the attention Drill Instructors lavish upon dozing recruits.

Other advice:

Don't get a tattoo when you get out. Judging by the number of Easyriders how-to's on getting rid of them, you'll probably regret it.

I have absolutely no advice concerning your future short experience with CS (tear gas). You're on your own.