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Boot Camp War Stories

Updated on June 22, 2015

Everybody knows someone who enlisted in a branch of the military service. When they returned from boot camp training they were brimming with “war stories” and minus a considerable amount of hair. Civilians love hearing these stories. Maybe because it’s possible they may end up undergoing the same rigors and trials. But, how much of these “war stories” are made up and how much is truth?

Not surprisingly, many of the tall tales you’ll hear are just pure bunk. Others, you might have a little trouble swallowing as truth. Scores of parents have received letters from their offspring spinning incredible accounts of their boot training. Why do recruits fabricate these yarns? Maybe it’s to impress a girl friend or just to raise their self esteem. Who really knows?

Here’s a few you may have heard in one form or another. “The world of the one minute hair cut" This is actually truth, but really closer to thirty seconds. It seems there might be a possibility of a few lost ears or other facial protrusions getting a hair cut that quickly. Not really, by sheer repetition these barbers have become extremely accurate and proficient. It’s not unusual to see a platoon (approximately sixty men) go through the process in five or six minutes. What happens to these barbers when they retire? Starting a sheep ranch might not be out of the question.

However, no matter what story you’re being regaled with there’s a good possibility there is truth to it. It’s just been exaggerated, embellished and improved upon. Take for instance the old favorite, “Guarding the grass”. This happens, but it’s mostly the time spent doing it that’s in question. You may be wondering why anyone would have to do something so silly. This type of duty is usually assigned to someone who has “screwed up”.

Down through the ages the military has invented many novel approaches of disciplining recruits having a habit of “screwing up”. The routine application of extra physical fitness exercise isn’t the only way of teaching discipline.

Here is another favorite, “Emptying the lake with a combat helmet”. If there’s a lake around it’s a safe bet many poor souls have tried and of course failed.

Others would include such tactics as a sand flea funeral, complete with dug grave and full military honors. Of course, you’ll also have to find the flea’s contact lenses before you can complete the service.

Sure, these draconian measures may seem ludicrous and asinine on the surface. But there is a method to their madness. These exercises are administered to impress the importance of following direct orders, no matter how dumb you think they are. Lives have been lost in combat because legal direct orders were not followed by someone thinking they were not important.

So far, we’ve seen a few examples of stories you may have heard where a little “polishing” of the facts was just harmless exaggeration. Some fabrications, however, have caused considerable harm.

This is a true account. One Marine recruit was in the habit of sending letters home on a regular basis relating the adventurous exploits he and his platoon members were experiencing. Apparently, the details weren’t as stimulating as he might like them. So along with his boots he also put a good shine on some of his stories sent home. This event might never have come to light except for one fact. His parent’s were close acquaintances of their congressman.

It seems he had written a tale worthy of recognition when he informed his parent’s of what took place while he and his unit were taking showers one morning. In order to speed things along a drill instructor lobbed a live hand grenade into the showers! His parents immediately called their congressman, who in turn, launched a congressional investigation. Naturally everybody was eventually cleared of any charges.

What happened to the recruit responsible? He’s probably still trying to empty a lake with his helmet.


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    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      You're probably right. I was in the army first, then Marines. My brothers were all army and dear old dad was an air force lifer. Yep, mostly over a couple of beers we tried to out do each other on who had it the worst.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Good Hub. My father was Air Force and my younger brother was Army, but they never told me and great stories from boot camp. But I was a girl and maybe that's the kind of stuff you share with your buddies and peers. :)

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      There were many I had forgotten, that was one of them. LOL

    • mquee profile image

      mquee 7 years ago from Columbia, SC

      That was pretty good and brought back some old memories from my basic training days. I took basic training at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky in the 70's. One of the drill sergeants had a member of our platoon trim the grass with fingernail clippers.