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Parris Island training versus West Point and Coast Guard Rescue

Posted by John Reed on

I was watching Weather Channel shows about plane crashes when they suddenly switched to a documentary about Parris Island Marine Basic Training. The Marines often claim to be better than the Army. If I write more books about him, my Unelected President Mike Medlock may assign the Army and Marines parallel missions in a war. The losing service in the competition ceases to exist. Thereafter, we will have a marine Corps or an Army but not both.
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Makes sense doesn’t it? If one is better, but everyone in that superior training to upgrade our overall military.
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But the Marines would not like the Army guys becoming marines, even if you made the Army guys thereafter go through the Marine training. Why not? If the training is what made you better, it will make the former Army guys better too. Isn’t that what we all want—a stronger military? Actually, it’s not. To the Marines, the Army exists for them to berate and put down, not fellow American combat troops.
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Anyway, I could not help comparing it to New Cadet Basic Training at West Point which I went through in July and August 1964 then was a senior cadet platoon sergeant training the new class of 1971 in July 1967.
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Basically, it’s the same training, but the Marine version was rather immature. One striking difference was that the Marine drill instructors (DI) kind of fall out as they teach. By that I mean they are talking to recruits who are standing at a position of attention, are being corrected by a drill instructor who is in a relaxed body position. At West Point, the upperclassman was in the same body position, at a correct position of attention, as the new cadet, setting the example. The Marine drill instructors are taunting guys who are suffering. The upperclass cadets were generally doing the same as us albeit demonstrating as we were learning.
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The DIs also affect a gravelly, low way of speaking, mimicking an angry dog type of noise. Who invented that, a 10-year old? And they also have a habit of wagging their finger in your face as they speak to you. Amy West Point upperclassman who ever did any such thing at West Point would be in big trouble. It’s demeaning. Rude. Trying doing it to a superior. Roughly speaking, the West Point upperclassmen did not talk to New Cadets in a much different way than they would speak to a superior officer. There is an element of freshman fraternity hazing in both but it is more pronounced in the marines. They should not do that.
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The basic idea at West Point what it was extremely demanding, but not demeaning. On the first day, an upperclassman asked me if I knew how to salute. I said yes. He asked me to show him. I did. He asked, “Mister, may I touch you?” “Yes. sir.” He reached up and rotated my salute hand so it was like a roof shingle that would shed rain. I did the exact same thing to a new cadet three years later. Maybe they do the same at Parris Island, but it looked like they would more likely just yell at you or grab your hand without permission.
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West Point is no less demanding. Indeed, it lasts four years not three months. And it has additional dimensions like a college engineering curriculum, an honor code, athletic requirements, leadership ratings, any of which you can flunk out on. But the DIs were demeaning and trash talking at the recruits. That is not appropriate nor does it prepare anyone for combat.
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After that Parris Island documentary, another one about training Coast Guard rescue swimmers came on. This is another so-called elite unit. The trainees were treated very similarly to West Point. They were demanding, but not demeaning.
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The marines are probably extremely reluctant to change after a century of claiming they are the greatest. But somewhere along the way they went down a wrong road where all pain, including the pain of humiliation, was deemed to be beneficial. It’s not. They should go see how the NFL, MLB, MDs, Dentists, symphony orchestras, and Broadway dancers get trained. They could learn something, unless their minds are totally closed. Don’t hold your breath.

Here is a Facebook response to this article and my response.

John T. Reed Wow! Well that is a far better “video is worth a thousand words” than my article. For viewers who do not recognize, Those are recent cadets. The one being yelled at is probably the senior platoon leader. I do not know why he is speaking at all. The father of one of my new plebes spoke to me in front of the other plebes, who was from my area and whose other son was my classmate, when we were marching back form swearing in. I ignored him which was the professional thing to do. What the heck are the DIs saying?
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The senior drew his saber, the one I commented on a couple of days ago, a couple of times. I don’t know why. You draw it to get ready to march. Holding it up in front of your face is also saluting.
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The cadets are wearing dress gray over white, my favorite uniform, but one which I heard they no longer used. They are also under arms, sort of. They are wearing chapel belts and white gloves, but also have rifles. When we carried rifles in that uniform, we would have worn cross belt with a Civil War cartridge box in back and a brass breast plate in front.
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This clip is a perfect example of the immature approach to making marines side by side with West Point cadets who can probably outperform the marines trained by that obese DI in every way. It appears they are about to march into the Army Navy Game or some such—stadium in back, Marines are part of the Navy.

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