Sixteen weeks of boot camp is a once in a lifetime adventure. If you aren’t an adult when you arrive, you will be before you leave. Every day starts at four thirty in the morning with a screaming drill instructor throwing empty metal garbage cans down the middle of the squad bay. If you’re not at attention in front of your bunk by the time he gets there, you will pay the price. And so it goes day in and day out. They tear you down mentally and physically, so they can rebuild you to their satisfaction. While all this is happening you are instilled with an overwhelming pride in your country and your service. Some people crack mentally, some can’t possibly attain the physical goals, and they are tossed aside as training continues. If an individual shows weakness or lack of respect they were punished, cajoled, and taunted until they overcame their problem or failed miserably. It’s a tough price to pay, but you become accustomed to the constant regimen and respect the discipline. Towards the end of boot camp there were assignments which I actually enjoyed.
Every platoon gets assigned mess duty during boot camp. When my platoon received our job assignments for mess duty I was assigned to the base bakery with two others. Mess duty jobs are normally not something a bunch of gung ho young marines would look forward to. A job in the bakery was sort of like a gift from heaven. One thing boot camp deprives you of is sweets or candy of any kind. Your mail is even checked to make sure no sticks of gum find their way in. Boxes of sweets from home caused lots of extra workouts. While somebody else ate your sweets. The bakery job was something I could handle.
Our bakery day started at three thirty in the morning and ended at three thirty in the afternoon. We had running and platoon exercises from three thirty to five thirty before dinner. The bakery work was interesting and we were always busy. Every day we had new and different assignments. We worked under the direction of the civilian bakery personnel. We worked hard and were treated with respect for our efforts. We had no restrictions on what we could eat, but we could not take anything out of the bakery. We really didn’t eat that much, but after three months with no sweets, every little bit was cherished.
My weight entering boot camp was 148 pounds. It was 182 pounds when training ended…………..none of which came from the bakery.