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*** Danger Will Robinson! Salty language below! ***
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Golf Company 1
1st Battalion

2nd Infantry Training Regiment (ITR)

Camp Onofre
Camp Pendleton California

January 8 to February, 1969
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Unfortunately, I don't have any pics, other than the one on the right,  from ITR or BITS.  I never had a camera then.  The good thing about ITR and BITS was that we got liberty.  In boot camp there was no liberty and no phone calls (except for Christmas).
I do have my letters and I'll post some of those excerpts and share a few memories.
ITR was our basic infantry training.  Every Marine goes through ITR because no matter what MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) they go on to be, they are still riflemen, first and foremost.  Marines going to other fields spend about two weeks at ITR then go on to their other schools.  Marines in infantry fields spend 5 weeks in ITR, then on to BITS.
BITS (Basic Infantry Training Schools) Battalion was our advanced training for infantry specialties and included mortars, 3.5 rocket launchers (bazookas or rockets), and machine guns.  This was about 3 weeks of training. Mine was machine guns.
This was the first  "unofficial" picture of me with my hair all cut off.  Except for the boot camp pics, my family had never seen me with this little hair. I used to comb my hair to the side so, for me, long hair was being able to touch my nose with the longest strand of hair I could grab from the top. On my first "base" liberty while I was in ITR, I went to the San Onofre enlisted club and got into the 25 cent picture booth.  When we first got to ITR, we didn't get "off base" liberty for a couple weeks.
January 1969
This is an excerpt from my first letter home from ITR.
January 9, 1969
We spent our whole time in ITR living in tents.  It was cold. Down in the 30's.  And don't believe the song when he says "It never rains in Southern California."  Everyone wrote home for long underwear.
Everyone had to take turns walking guard duty around our tent area at night. 
We had to carry our rifles and if  it was raining, then we had to worry about rust spots the next day.  During rifle inspections, one thing looked for the most is rust.  Rust is a big no-no.
We wore our ponchos, so we could keep the rain out but not them moisture.  On the good side, we could sneak a smoke under our poncho, because when we blew out in just looked like steamed breath.
Now I was a kid who had never seen the ocean before I got to boot camp. I had been to Colorado when I was four and to Minnesota a couple times with my grandparents.  That was the extent of my exposure to the outside world beyond Missouri.  Boot camp was marching and exercising and learning and the only sounds were city sounds, airport sounds, and marching sounds. 
This here was all new to me.  What did I get myself into?
January 9, 1969
In these tents we had, there were eight men to a tent.  We were assigned by alphabetical order.  In mine was Manfred John Soldierwolf, Steve Tabb, Talley, Gary Tate, Phil Teer, Thorton, me, and somebody else.  This is best as I can remember. Gary Tate got killed. (See Brothers In War)
The brainwashing process has worked well.  Now, just being called "Marine" was like the greatest thing in world.  And, while the weapon shooting and mountain climbing might sound like fun, you just can't imagine.  There's a whole lot of gear that has to be carried.  And you have to keep up with the guy in front of you, even if you're going straight up a mountain.  With 250 men, the tail end of the column is like the tail of a snake always playing catchup.  And it didn't matter what the weather was like - rain or shine.  Ah, nothing like laying in a mudhole shooting blanks at the imaginary gooks.
January 9, 1969 letter.
ITR is where I met
Chuck Poe,
Dave McKee, and
Bruce Ingman, also.  They all got killed. 
(See Brothers In War.)
Aaaaaaoooooooorrrraaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!
From January 10, 1969 letter.
One time, shortly after we got to ITR, we were standing in line for something and I heard someone say, "Boy, this is really fruit."
I perked up because I hadn't heard that anywhere other than St. Louis.  I can't remember what the guy's name was, but I asked him if he was from St. Louis and he said he was.  Turns out I had met him the year before through a mutual friend,Gary.  I had driven Gary up the "home for wayward young men" or whaever you call it to pick this guy up because he got a Sunday afternoon pass.  He kept running away from home or something and they put him there.
My first base liberty.  To be able to actually touch the ocean was cool to me.  Paul Williams was a guy from the bunch I hung out with back home.  "Little" Koucher was the brother of Kenny Koucher that I hung with back home.  Kenny was in the Corps, too.  I saw him while I was in 'Nam
From January 12, 1969 letter
Right behind our tent city was a big steep mountain.  It had deep ruts in it from Marine troopies going up and down it so much.  We called it "Mount Mother Fucker".  And it was a super bitch in the rain because everyone was falling on their asses.  And one would slide and take a few others out, just like bowling pins.  And by the time you were done for the day and got back to your tent, you were cold, wet, muddy, sweaty, hungry and tired.
Really starting to feel like Marines now.
Letter from January 20, 1969
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