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Conversation with Jeff Brumitt

Brumitt, Jeff
McCullough, Sabrina
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Overcoming obstacles
Jeff Brumitt talks about boot camp.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Sabrina McCullough interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
JB (Jeff Brumitt): In 1989, a young man, oh, March of 1989, a young man entered the United States Marine Corp boot camp, not knowing what to expect, he had no idea. He goes down to his local recruit station. They sent him down to Knoxville to be processed in the mets and he was put on the bus and they take him to an old hotel. Over there, on, on the way over there, I look over and I see everybody going to the Air Force or going to the Army, they had suitcases and tennis rackets and golf clubs. They were going to a boot camp. That's quotation marks, boot camp. I was going to a boot camp, they were going to a resort. All I was told to bring was the clothes I had on me, nothing else. I go to the motel and hanging out and a little nervous, eat dinner, uh, they prepared us up with people, I think the guys going with are normally actually going down to the, uh, uh, uh, going to, going into the Marine Corp boot camp as well. We, uh, ( ) we, uh, went up there and talked, played a little pool and went to bed kind of early 'cause we knew we was getting up early coming down and wake us early, what, four o'clock in the morning. Get us down there, eat breakfast, uh, next thing you know, they shoved us down the mets and we were waiting for the, the big, uh, for the bus to take us out to the airport. Finally the bus takes us out to the airport, we fly to Atlanta, in Atlanta, we, uh, were held over for, over there for hours just hanging out doing nothing at the airport. Finally from Atlanta they fly us into somewhere in South Carolina, I'm not exactly sure where it was and we hit in there, probably around I guess at around 11 o'clock at night. At 11 we, we, we all get off, get off the, uh, airplane, we all, uh, see these, see this Marine, Marine out there. And we go him and before we can get words out our mouths, they start screaming at us 'cause he knows who we are, what we're, why we're there. He got us all lined up and next thing I know, uh, he's in there telling people in the airport to throw paper towels on the floor and we're cleaning the head in the airport before we're even in boot camp. [Laughs] Man, then they, uh, they do everything at night so they don't want you to know how to get off the island. They bussed us in on a commercial bus, uh, into the, uh, into Paris Island with the, the bus drivers not saying anything to us, we're, we're instructed not to say a word on there, of course, we're all talking and when we get there and, and we pull up and the bus driver stops you know tries to get us to the island, but the bus driver stops, next thing you know, uh, drill instructor jumps on the bus, just starts, uh, screaming, barking these orders and nobody knows what he's saying. The only thing you could hear him say is in a loud, vicious voice, he states, "When I tell you to get off my bus, you will get off my bus, and you will have your foot, your, your feet planted on my yellow footprints. When I say move, you better fucking move." And he says, [yells] "Move." And about that time you've got about 30 just terrified [laugh] individuals fighting to get off that bus. [Laughs] People, people elbowing people there was bodies in the air, next thing I know, we're not making any headway 'cause we're all trying to get through the same hole at once. Next thing I notice, this huge hand is just grabbing and slinging them off the bus like they were paper, uh, Rag-, Raggedy Ann dolls, just slinging us off the bus like, like he was some kind of monster or something. Next thing you know we're all standing on the footprints and, and, uh, we're all just standing there, standing regularly. He said, [yells] "Stand at attention. Put your heels together," and he's screaming and cussing and he's going through and he's picking out individuals he wants to scream at, at that point, and he's just, just randomly pointing people out and he's in my face and screaming and the next thing I know he walks up to this one guy and goes, "Holy Jesus. Look who we've got here. It's Jesus himself." Some guy has long hair and big, and a long beard and he kind of resembled I guess, from the photos we have, but, uh, he was just a cussing and going on. Next thing I know he says, "When I tell you to move into my building, you will move into that building and you will sit down in a seat. Ready, move." So you've got 30 people once again trying to fit through two doors trying to cram in there and we ain't getting nowhere because we're all trying to fit through the same door at the same time. Next thing you know, here comes the big hand, just grabbing people, slinging them in there, grabbing and slinging them in, slinging them in, next, slinging them in. Next thing you know, we're all sitting in there in these little chairs, sitting in there, this time they were just terrified, terrified, I mean, just scared to death and he says, he sa-, uh, "Laying on your desk, there is a pen. You will take this pen you write this number down." ( ) assigned us to the platoons we're going to be in. So you write a, write a 1041, which is my platoon, on your, on your hand and, uh, that's so you won't forget where you are and then, uh, on your, I guess that's later, you get 1041 for platoon on your hand then they, uh, take us, and, and, there, there are times we were getting to blank out you know, because you're doing all this paperwork and beginning to get tired, and I guess, I guess we're all just doing paperwork, just piles of paperwork. Then, then they got us in this one room and assigned us equipment and gear, uh, picking that up, and one guy is in there screaming, "Pick up one canteen cup." Everybody picks up one canteen cup. "Pick up one, uh, duffel bag." So I picked up one duffel bag. "Pick up one H harness." Everybody just sat around and looked at each other. "I said pick up one H harness." Nobody knew what an H harness was. So he picks one up, [yells] and says, "It's one of these. Pick up one H harness." Everybody picks one up. And this goes on for about an hour. Then, then they get us in there and take us to the doctor. That's when they begin to inoculate us and just jab us with needles. "One on the left, one on the right, one on the left, one on the right, one on the left. Next. One on the left, one on the right, one on the left, one on the left. Next. One on the left, one on the right, one on the left, one on the right, next." Like cattle just herding us through there. And by around this time, I guess it's around six in the morning, they get us out there in the, uh, fields, and, "When I tell you to get out of my building, you'll get out of my building and put your feet, um, out there on the footprints again. Ready, move." So we all take off running for those doors again, ohh-ohh-ohh, everybody runs thru those doors, bam. We ain't going nowhere because we're all trying to fit through the same hole at the same time.
SM (Sabrina McCullough): [Laughs]
JB: So, here comes the big hand. Whoops-.
SM: // [Laughs] //
JB: // -Whoops, whoops. [Laughs] // He's taking that hand and just slinging people through there.
SM: // [Laughs] //
JB: // People hitting // the deck, people crawling on the ground. He's hollering, "Move, move, move, move, move." Everybody's just scurrying everywhere. And then we get in this one big, big huddle out there, we don't know what we're doing, one big huddle. He said, "We're going to chow." So he knows everybody's kind of hungry. He's like, "When I say forward march, you'll take a 30 step-, you'll take a 30 foot-, 30 st-, 30 inch step with the left foot. And you'll say, '30 inch step with the left foot, sir.'" "Ready," oh, I'm sorry, "Forward, march." We all took a, oh, oh I'm sorry, um, all of us in unison, "30 in-, 30 inch step with the left foot, sir. Oh, 30-, 30 inch step with the left foot, aye-aye sir." We all take the step and the next thing you know we're all out there marching. Now we didn't know how to march, but we were all marching, um, marching in case you don't know, people just marching, you know, he goes, "What in the hell are you all doing? Just fucking walk, just walk." So we all start walking. We all start walking. And he goes, [yells] "No, no, no. You don't know how to walk. Just, just, just slide, slide like that, just slide." No one knows what to slide is. He goes, "Just walk normal." And we're all walking you know and he goes, "Act like your back on the block. No, no, no, no, no, no, you, you, you, ( ) four people, no, ( ) no, ( ), there we go, ( ) you got it-.
SM: // [Laughs] //
JB: // -There, there you go, you got it, // hey, hey you, what are you doing?" ( ) So he got them back sliding, right? ( ) Not good enough and he goes, he goes, "When I say, when I say, uh, when I say move, I want everybody to move. Move." So we're all there [mooing noise] just like a bunch of cattle, "Moo, moo, going to chow. Going to chow. Yum, yum, getchya some. Moo, moo."
SM: [Laughs]
JB: So we all slide up to chow hall. He goes, "Now we're going to form two ranks," because two people don't fit in the door and he don't want a big chaos like it was trying to get through his other building. So two ranks, we all fall in you know, and, uh, he goes, he goes forward and we get in the chow hall everybody gets in there you know and we're, we're ready to eat, starved, haven't eaten in a while, you know. Get in there and get a little tray, a little food, everybody sits down. We sit down, got eggs, bacon, got a plateful. Mmm. I dig in, take a bite of eggs, dig in, take a bite of eggs, "You're done, you're stinking done." Oh, my goodness, I had but two eggs. "I have to have my eggs. I'm hungry."
SM: // [Laughs] //
JB: // "You're done, // you're done." ( ) Everybody's running out of the building. He goes, "Get out of the chow. Get out my frigging chow hall right now. Get out of my chow hall." Everybody gets out of chow, right? And we just run out of chow hall. So everybody ( ) and he goes, "You disgusting fat bodies. We're going to slide back to my barracks. Ready, slide." So we're all sliding, right? Sliding back to get back to the barracks. We're going to take some kind of test. I don't know what kind of test it was because I, I was about delirious by now and I'd been up for about 24 hours. And, so we're going to take these tests. I'm in there, and this is probably the most calm since I've been there and nobody's hollering, just taking a test, a little thing. I get in there. I'm taking this, uh, it's a, uh, what's the thing called? Ah, Mo-, Morse code test, well, Morse code is part of the test. And I'm in there just making up my own system, because you know, I'm a, I'm a pretty smart guy you know. So I make up my own system and I end up passing the Morse code part and I don't know anything about Morse code. But I passed it 'cause I was consistent. This is Morse code? Hell we got a ( ) kind of test and they run us over to the, uh, to next place. Next place is, is the haircuts. He got like 90 haircuts. He's still screaming, you know and got people up there doing jumping jacks and push-ups while waiting for every else, you know, everybody's doing ( ), you know, all this that and this, and then he goes, he comes back and, uh, everybody's you know, uh, got all their hair shaved off and I remember, I remember feeling my head and going like, "Man, you're completely bald now." Felt back there and they missed a hair. Big, long hair sticking off my head. "What hair?" So, so, uh, so we get up, we get out of the, uh, you know, of their, uh, the, uh, get the haircuts, we, after we go back to the barracks, so we grab our stuff and they take us out and we meet our drill instructors and boot camp had only begun.