What does a drill sergeant do if a recruit arrives at the recruiting depot then realizes what he's gotten himself into and refuses to participate and demands to be sent home?

In context, “Suck it up and drive on” was the recommended strategy for getting through Basic, even if one’s intent is to pop smoke immediately afterward. The ability to do something unpleasant, but not inhumanly so, for a specific period of time is different from an endless game of “follow the leader” (which is rather an unnecessarily degrading characterization of successful military career mindset if you ask me), and is a good skill even for civilians. Especially in 2020.

If you have phrased your position in such a way that no one can disagree with you…

I recall while in basic there was a “rainbow” (someone still wearing civilian clothes who hadn’t gotten the haircut or been issued clothes and gear yet) who was being yelled at in the chow hall by a female drill instructor to stand at attention. He was standing up straight but did not have his heels together. She kept telling him to stand at attention and kicked at his feet. Eventually, he got sick of the abuse and uttered “F*** off you little b****”. He was immediately surrounded by all the other drill instructors present and was never seen again.

I don’t know what actually happened, msmith357. I only know what we were told. Yes normally it is awol and eventually desertion, but new recruits still in basic are, or were treated differently in regards to those charges at that time.

I’m not getting something. Did I do a faux pas?

“McNamara’s Morons” was a thing during the Vietnam era - inducting people who definitely wouldn’t have made it if the standards were higher. I started a thread about it a while back, when I heard about it.

One of the reasons that the Army loves people who actually have a college degree, over people who have tons of credits, but never finished, is that anyone who completed a degree has learned that there are always going to be little things you really don’t want to do, but must do, in order to accomplish a larger goal. In other words, you might major in English, but you still have to take some math and science classes, and vice-versa. People who fail out of college rarely do so in their majors classes. It’s the French major who can’t pass calculus, or the chemistry major who can’t pass freshman composition who falls out.

There were some people in my AIT unit who were in the military for the GI bill, but I could tell they weren’t going to make it through college unless they had a logarithmic leap in maturity, because this concept eluded them. They got into shouting matches with platoon leaders over doing CQ duty, even though you were allowed to sleep through morning formation when you did.

When I was in basic training in the US Air Force towards the end of the 1980s, anyone who wanted out was released without much fuss.

We had a few fellows who decided they’d made a mistake in joining up. They talked to the training instructor in charge of our flight. After a couple of days to get the paperwork done, they were gone - on their way home.

We did have one fellow, though, who straight up threw a fit and demanded to be sent home at once. I don’t know what all went on after he was taken out of our dorm, but I do know he spent most of the following month in a small room attached to the orderly room in the squadron headquarters.

When the other guys were released, they were gone and no longer part of our flight.

The guy who threw a fit remained a part of our flight, and had to be accounted for at every roll call or other function that dealt with trainees by name.

As I remember, he was sent home about the time our flight graduated from basic training.


We had another fellow who had some skill or ability that the Air Force wanted. Smart fella, unfortunately built like an egg or a pear.

He failed the confidence course (what the Army calls an obstacle course) and was moved into our flight (we had started a few days after his original flight) to re-take the confidence course.

He failed it again. And again.

We saw him several times over the next week. Each time carrying his duffle bag to the dorm of a different flight.

I know he eventually graduated, but I don’t know how many times he repeated the confidence course before he made it through.

Huh, I never knew any of this. I am now thinking back to what happened to one of my close HS friends - he joined the Army not terribly long after high school, but was home within a few weeks. Super-smart guy (he failed AP Calc because the teacher wanted him to show his work, but he did it in his head), near-perfect SATs, in good shape, but I am guessing Army life wasn’t for him. It’s really too bad, because he never did finish college due to a giant pile of family drama. The GI Bill would have been a life-changing thing for him. Someday I should ask him about it again - at the time we were all mystified that nobody ever came and dragged him back to Basic.

Maybe don’t.

At what point did the Marines start taking draftees though? Boot camp in “Full Metal Jacket” is in 1967.

It’s absolutely possible someone like Lawrence/Gomer would have volunteered. Hundred percent possible. You’d be surprised how many people volunteer who seem shockingly unsuited to it.

The opening scene made it pretty clear that he came in thinking he’d get a chance to play dress up as a soldier. Hartman quickly disabused him of that notion.

Eh, the right moment may or may not ever come up. He’s a very close friend, and this is something that happened now 30 or so years ago.

I was drafted in 1953 and took the USAF option. Everybody was motivated because if you failed basic, you went right into the Army and Korea was still iffy.

We had 2 guys drop out. One had an epileptic seizure - the only thing I ever saw panic the DI. The unfortunate man was taken to the hospital and returned just long enough to get his stuff. The other dropout was a capable, married, 19 year old from Montana, He was raised on a ranch and never learned to read and write. Wasn’t too swift on math either. Not sure if they educated him or just sent him home. But, he was gone as soon as we started classes.

From the posts above I gather that it is a different world today.

They always drafted what they needed. Nearly always that was Army because the other services filled up from volunteers for various reasons. Occasionally more Marines were needed.

When I enlisted in the late 80’s, you had to pass a reading test equivalent to an 8th grade level. I recall we had one young man who failed it and they gave it to him three more times until he finally passed it. Not sure what job he was assigned, but I imagine it wasn’t more challenging than food service or supply.

Those of you disparaging the character Gomer Pyle must have never watched the show. Gomer was naive, a hick, etc. but for all intents and purposes was a hell of a soldier. In many episodes, Gomer saved Sergeant Carter’s ass in front of the brass. The portion of Forrest Gump when he goes to Vietnam is patterned after Gomer Pyle. Forrest received the Medal of Honor for saving most of his platoon, including Lieutenant Dan!

Speaking of Gomer Pyle, I miss Jim Nabors singing at the Indy 500. It’s just not the same without him.

Semper Fidelis, Jim Nabors. You made Gomer Pyle one helluva Marine.

We are talking about the movie Full Metal Jacket, which has the character Leonard Lawrence. He is nicknamed Gomer Pyle by the bullying drill instructor. And that character really is a dangerously incompetent moron.

DSs give everyone nicknames. They called me “college,” even though there were actually six people with degrees in my unit. I happen to have a really good memory for random facts, and in the days before you could pull out a Smart phone and look something up, if a DS wanted to know some random fact, they’d ask me, and I never failed them.

Once they brought a TV into the barracks, because there was a sporting event people wanted to see (more to the point, I think, the DSs wanted to see it, so they acted like they were giving us a special treat. I went to bed early); it was the stupid “superbowl,” which I know is football just because I once had a roommate who liked that stuff. Never seen an episode myself-- anyway, there was an episode of Jeopardy on, and I knew literally (yes, NOT figuratively) every answer. People were staring at me like I’d just fallen from another planet. I didn’t know which teams were playing in their “superbowl,” but I knew what the Bayeux Tapestry was, and what SCUBA stood for (those are the only things I remember, but it was actually a pretty easy show that night).

No one escaped without a nickname, though, and I got off pretty easy.

I’ve always had a crazy memory; I could never be on Jeopardy, though, because as soon as the camera came on, I’d turn to stone.