Warren Smith made a side trip to MCRD San Diego to observe a Graduation ceremony, on his way to the 2015 LTA2RVN Reunion in Long Beach. He send us some pictures.

"I started my pilgrimage to the Long Beach Reunion this year with a side trip to
San Diego, where I witnessed a graduation of new Marines at the Marine Corps
Recruit Depot. It did start with a little uneasiness associated, I am sure,
with the first time I arrived at this location. I was greeted at the gate by
about squad of determined looking young Marines all armed with side arms,
assault rifles, riot guns, and dogs. I was told "you will proceed as directed
to a particular lines of cars". I was next told "you will open your trunk,
hood, and all compartments in the interior of the vehicle, you will exit the
car immediately, and you will proceed to a line behind a designated barrier,
and you will have a photo ID ready for inspection". It was definitely different
than a civilian operation of the like. You could tell by the way these young
Marines held their weapons they were very familiar with them and I had a
feeling they were loaded.

We were told we could park near the parade grounds, "but do not walk on it as
it is sacred ground". I followed a familiar street down by the auditorium going
by buildings we got haircuts, shopped for supplies and Quonset huts that used
to stick out all along the airport fence.

I got to the "Grinder" where it seemed we spent most of our time at "boot camp"
sweating in the hot sun. At this point nothing had changed. It was ringed by
the same Spanish structure with arched hallways painted the same color. I was
now back to 1960. You could hear DIs barking orders to current recruits in the
background and the seriousness of this starting point of a Marine came
hammering home. I took a seat where I thought I would get the best view only to
be moved a couple of times as they were intended for others. Once the
Graduation Ceremony started my brain cells started firing again and I could
have been one of those proud new Marines on the Parade Ground. Their heels hit
the deck at the same time, they stood tall in their dress blue trousers, khaki
short sleeve shirt with chests pushed out, and white covered barrack cap set at
the correct angle. Most of the people around me were bursting with the same
pride as they were the parents of these fine young men. I think almost to the
word the presentation to the Marines and their parents were the same as I
remember those many years ago. "Your young men will now wear their pants above
their hips with a belt, they will have a shirt that is pressed and tucked in
those pants and they will all line up. They will walk with a sure step and look
taller with their heads held high. When they sit down to eat, they will be done
and ready to move forward in 5 minutes."

I walked away feeling very secure in the training of new Marines and that the
Corps continues to meet the requirements I remember. I was brought back to
reality when I stopped and asked a DI where all the Quonset huts were. He
looked at me and asked, "just how old are you, those were removed decades ago".
They have new multi-story barracks designed to the same architectural details
of the base. There is an obstacle coarse where the old barracks stood. I also
went down the arched hallway to the Receiving Building where yellow foot prints
are painted on the asphalt leading to the door for those getting off the bus to
stand on. I asked a Staff Sgt that was going in this building if they still had
copper pipes in the bathrooms that looked like polished gold and he told me
that was still one of the first jobs done by these scared young men. I found
myself walking just a little taller as I went to my car and sat inside thinking
how much had happened in my life from that first day, training me for success
the rest of my life. I left the base glad that I had made the effort to
experience this once again from a more mature prospective and recommend it to
all, although it will have much greater meaning and pride to Marines."

Warren R.Smith

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