Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam

By Christian G. Appy | Go to book overview

3
Basic Training

TEARING DOWN

A bus full of marine recruits pulls into boot camp. It is well past midnight, but a team of drill instructors (DIs) stands ready to pounce. As the bus rolls to a stop, one of the DIs jumps in and screams: "'You GOT THREE SECONDS TO GET OFF THIS BUS AND TWO OF 'EM ARE GONE.'" 1 The men scramble and shove their way off, ordered to stand on yellow footprints painted on the concrete parade deck. As the men line up, a second DI roars out of a nearby shed. He marches up to one of the recruits and comes so close their faces almost touch. The DI screams in the boy's ear: "'You no good fucking civilian maggot. . . . You're worthless, do you understand? And I'm gonna kill you.'" Several other men are singled out for similar abuse. Then the drill instructor addresses the whole group: "'There are eighty of you, eighty young warm bodies, eighty sweet little ladies, eighty sweetpeas, and I want you maggots to know today that you belong to me and you will belong to me until I have made you into marines.'" 2

They tore you down. They tore everything civilian out of your entire existence -- your speech, your thoughts, your sights, your memory -- anything that was civilian they tore out and then they re-built you and made you over. But they didn't build you from there up. First they made you drop down to a piece of grit on the floor. Then they built you back up to being a marine. -- Marine veteran Gene Holiday

The DI proclaims his ownership of the recruits, his civilian maggots. Screaming his taunts and in-

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Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - Facing the Wall 1
  • 1 - Working-Class War 11
  • 2 - Life before the Nam 44
  • 3 - Basic Training 86
  • 4 - Ominous Beginnings 117
  • 5 - The Terms of Battle 145
  • 6 - Drawing Fire and Laying Waste 174
  • 7 - A War for Nothing 206
  • 8 - What Are We Becoming? 250
  • 9 - Am I Right or Wrong? 298
  • Notes 323
  • Bibliography 343
  • Index 355
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