If you’ve ever served in the U.S. military, chances are you’ve been here before: It’s the first or second week of boot camp, or basic training, or whatever the Air Force calls the place where it trains new recruits (camp?), and the drill sergeants are pulling out all the stops to ensure you reach your maximum potential for human suffering. From sun up to sun down — or, as is usually the case, from sun up to sun up — life is a never-ending cycle of getting smoked, cleaning stuff that isn’t actually dirty, and trying to remember what real food tastes like.
So, yes, basic training sucks. It’s an incubator for regret and nostalgia. At night, as you lie in your bunk and stare at the ceiling (or the bottom of another bunk), listening to the guys to your left and right fart out a day’s worth of chili mac MREs, and imagining all of the beer pong tournaments you’d be winning had you decided to go to college, you think: “What the fuck am I doing here?” And also: “Should I slip off to the latrine for a little ‘me time’ right now?”
For most of us, the suck is tolerable. We join the military expecting it. But within every training platoon, there’s always that guy — the one who seems to have mistaken the recruiting station for a travel agency that specializes in exotic fun-filled adventures to the Middle East. And the author of the note posted below, which recently surfaced on Reddit under the title, “My buddy is currently at Parris Island going through boot camp and this is a letter we received from him,” is one of those guys. Behold, his heart-wrenching masterpiece.
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Marine Corps drill instructor R. Lee Ermey in his iconic role in 'Full Metal Jacket' (Warner Bros.)
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