Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Journey back to Parris Island


Goodwill and lighthearted rapport between or among friends; comradeship.

2005 - Romy and I in the center {of course I sport PI in Hawaii, lol}

One thing about my drive to go back into the Marine Corps is the camaraderie--sometimes you will meet a few deusch bags along the way, but that is everywhere. One of the friendships that I have been privileged to maintain, dates back to boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. Where we formally met and had a moment to talk without DI's hovering over us was at medical. I can't remember why we had to go there by ourselves, but I remember us talking about our current experience at PI. She was really good at drill, and I absolutely loathed it at the time. I believe it had to do with how hot it was in the summertime, and the lack of water. (I must have chugged my canteens dry or something.) Drill to me was monotonous, and bor-ing. {For my fellow female Marines that endured Plt. 4030 with me, now you know why I was quarterdecked/pitted all the time, lol} So, the drill instructors found it in my best interest to have her help me learn how to drill. For the record, I got it down by the time I hit the fleet.

Romy and I at Hooters VA in 2008
Today, I call her Romy instead of her last name, since it has changed, and I am out if the Marine Corps. About a year later, I caught up with her in Hawaii and even got to meet her new boyfriend (now husband). Four years later, I was went to Virginia to visit my inlaws while my husband was deployed to Afghanistan, and we got to reunite and have some fun at Busch Gardens among other places. I am truly greatful that she keeps popping back up!

Took this with my phone :)
So, when she made the grand journey to become a Drill Instructor at Parris Island in January, I told her that I would make it to her graduation. Last Monday, I packed up my little girls and made the eight ride back to Parris Island. My tummy was doing flip flops, and all kinds of crazy things. I had not been back since 2004, and I felt that I must have had some kind of residual PTSD or something. As I am passing the Parris Island sign, I took a deep breath of anticipation. I imagined the surroundings as I did in the dark night on the bus entering the depot. Believe it or not, the island is breathtaking. I didn't really get to absorb the scenery when I was training, so it was kind of neat to finally peel away the tunnel vision that I once had. Arriving at the gate, I expected the Marines to be dressed in Delta's, but they were in cammies. It was just soo different this time around.

Fortunately, I had a wonderful friend from highschool that took me in her home for the week, and was able to give me a fabulous tour of PI, and I was able to give her one as well. We went by my old squadbay from Fourth Battalion, and I remininced about how the baseball field would light up at night during lights out, and I would stare at the lights through the squadbay windows before closing my eyes, and I even tried to take a picture of my old sandpit-- I even thought about getting out, but figured a current DI would come yelling at me, lol. We drove by Leatherneck Square where we did Marine Corps Martial Arts Training (MCMAP). I jumped out of the SUV, and quickly snagged a picture with myself by the sign. It was interesting because a male training platoon was very close by. I was able to explain to my friend about the slide for life obstacle that left me in the water screaming, "From the Halls of Montezuma... to the Shores of Tripoli..." We managed to squeeze behind a marching receiving platoon, and I quickly caught a picture of the yellow foot prints.

Barely grabbed a shot a Leatherneck Square

It was at that moment, that I realized that I would do it all over again. I know that may sound crazy, but I would. When my recruiter was preparing me for the drive to MEPS to ship, he told me the exact same thing. Now, I understand why. Who can say that they survived this mess, and go on to become a Marine?

At Applebees after her  DI graduation 2011

Wednesday came, and I got to see Romy graduate. I am so proud of her, and there were times she would question herself, and she pulled through. Seeing her accept her infamous campaign cover was interesting for me. It is crazy to see a girl that you went through bootcamp with, become a mean, discipline icon. I know that she will serve future recruits well, and will mold young ladies into some good Marines.

Drill Instructor Sergeant Cuppernell

I was also lucky enough to run into my Senior Drill Instructor. When I was on the island, she was a Staff Sergeant, and now she is a First Sergeant. When I saw her after the graduation, I couldn't help but to approach one of the women that has shaped me into who I am today. I was a fragile, timid mess when I arrived in 2004, and I was used to having people walk all over me. These women taught me to fight back, and to get out of my shell. They gave me to the tools to start anew. I never thought I would be saying that today, but it is true. I didn't know if 6.5 years since she had seen me, would recognize me. But, as I approached her, she goes, "G--, right?" I just couldn't help but to thank her. She told me that they tested me, and I tested them. I proceeded to tell her about my brief Marine Corps journey to the fleet, and she reminded me of an email that I had sent to her when I was at JPAC. I freaking forgot that I had emailed her while I was there!! Even though I was talking to her like anyone as I do now, my knees were slightly shaking. I have no idea what that was all about, lol.

First Sergeant Rubalcaba and I-- my former Senior Drill Instructor

By Friday, I was ready to make my trip back home, and see my husband. I missed him so much! I even got him a blue Third Battalion mug for old times sake. For the record (again), my husband has been almost 13 years since he has stepped off of PI, and it still gives him the willies to go back! lol. He is statement was, "It was just a bad time there, why would I want to go back, it was a bad time."

Congratulations Romy!! Thank you for keeping in touch with me over the years. :)

2 Amazing thoughts:

Samantha Tuesday, March 29, 2011  

Wow! Sounds like it was an amazing trip for you! Loved all the pictures! Makes me even more excited to be getting back into shape to enlist again!

Congrats to your friend!! Thats awesome!!

♥ Dani Wednesday, March 30, 2011  

What a great post! Love hearing your stories about being a former Marine. It's such an incedible accomplishment and I have so much respect for you!

See you on base at couponing today? I missed the last one... I had a big work project due, but I'll be there today. :-)