Marck and I joined the Marines together. We were 19. For six months, we were inseparable. We trained through the summer leading to boot camp: running, pushing iron, studying military history, and cooling off with some beers. During the three months that followed at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, we were on each other’s wing. Every day.
A bus brought a load of us recruits from the airport. Somebody whispered to his seat mate, wondering if they'd give us a snack before bedtime. The bus rumbled through the gates of MCRD and pulled up to a placard that said "Receiving." The bus doors swung open and bedlam commenced. We grab-asstic civilians piled out the door and were herded onto columns and rows of yellow footprints painted on the asphalt.
Drill instructors swarmed and circled, barking and bellowing and snarling. It was like running a gauntlet of rabid shepherds and pit bulls and Dobermans, their ears laid back and their mouths foaming and their fangs bared, their chains just long enough to keep them from getting to our throats. It had begun.