Unfortunately, I didn't take any pics in 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 mud hole shooting blanks at the imaginary VC.
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 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 the moisture.  On the good
side, we could sneak a smoke under our poncho, because when we blew out the
smoke, it 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 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 to the "home for wayward young men" or whatever 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.
I met Chuck Poe,
Dave McKee, and
Bruce Ingman, in ITR
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. They called it "Old Smoky". We called it
"Mount Mother Fucker". It was a super bitch in the rain because everyone was falling
on their asses. One would slide and take a few others out, just like bowling pins. By
the time you were done for the day and got back to your tent, you were cold, wet,
muddy, sweaty, hungry and tired.
Aaaaaaoooooooorrrraaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!
From January 10, 1969 letter.
Golf Company 1 - 1st Battalion
2nd Infantry Training Regiment
(ITR)
Camp Onofre
Camp Pendleton California
January 8 to February, 1969
Page 1
While I didn't have any pics of our training, I did get the
ones on the right. 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
*** Danger Will Robinson! Salty language below! ***
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This is what our tents looked like.  They are called
"GP Medium" because they are medium sized general
ppurpose tents.
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Grunt@sarget.com
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