by Cpl. Robert Lin Cook
Jan 42-Sep 45

What's it like in Boot Camp
since the days of yore?
Do they still issue you a bucket
at the Quartermaster's door?
Do they issue first a GI brush,
and then some GI soap?
A razor with a double edge
and shaving cream to tote?
And then a towel, some toothpaste
and some "Kiwi" to be sure.
For spit shines were a regimen
that you had to endure.

They issued you a tablet
and a pencil for to write and
they told you that your mama
would be worried of your plight.
And then there came the skivvies
with drawstrings on the sides,
they made you grab a bucket
that they had filled with sand.
And issued your boondockers
that fit as well as can and
then they piled the rest on
from dungarees to cap.
A belt, jacket and poncho,
a seabag for all of that,
before they pushed you out the door
they gave a few things more.
A canteen with cover,
a bayonet of steel,
a belt with first-aid packet
finished out the deal.

Oh, did I forget to mention
the mainmost item there?
It was your only friend
so give it loving care.
It had the name of "Springfield"
to war it was not new,
my father had one like it
when he was twenty-two.
It came to us in "Cosmoline"
a gooey, greasy mess,
it took most all the day
to make it look its best.
A brand new strap came with it,
it gave a snappy sound
when coming to Port Arms
on the 'ol parade ground.

I remember well the day we came,
they drove us in from town
from San Diego Station
where we first put foot aground.
It was late of evening
and the train ride
had been long,
our bellies were all empty,
growling up a song.
They fed us in a mess hall
of cold cuts and of beans,
that's when we all realized
we were there to be Marines.

We arose the next dawning
before the morning sun
to the clamor of a whistle
and a sergeant's lusty lungs.
The breakfast was a nightmare,
hard eggs and crusty toast,
I choked it down as best I could
with coffee black as most.
After we had mustered
in front of Barracks One,
they marched us to where
I wrote about,
up there in stanza one.
Then they took us to the place
where we all had a laugh
to see how funny we all looked
when of hair we were detached.

I cannot write the details
of that long and testy time,
I'm sure that all who've been there
still have them in their minds.
I cannot e'er forget them
nor do I want to do
for a Marine they made of me
as well as many of you.

 *     *     *
The author: Robert Lin Cook served with Reg. Weapons Co. (2d-2d) from 1942-44, at Guadalcanal and Tarawa during a 33-month overseas tour.

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Boot Camp, 1942