|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.
|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.
|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
|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
Everyone wrote home for long
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
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.
|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)
|This is an excerpt from my first letter home from ITR.
January 9, 1969
|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
|Really starting to feel like Marines now.
Letter from January 20, 1969
|One time, shortly after we got
to ITR, we were standing in
line for something and I heard
someone say, "Boy, this is
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.
|ITR is where I met
Dave McKee, and
Bruce Ingman, also.
They all got killed.
(See Brothers In War.)
|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
From January 10, 1969 letter.
|Golf Company 1
2nd Infantry Training Regiment
Camp Pendleton California
January 8 to February, 1969
|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
|*** Danger Will Robinson! Salty language below! ***