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December 4th, 2009
09:24 AM ET

A Soldier's Story: 24 hours in the Army

Editor's Note: "A Soldier's Story" is a new original series by CNN's "American Morning" that will track three military recruits from their final days as civilians through deployment. Our Jason Carroll has been given unprecedented access by the Pentagon as the president outlines a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. In part two, a new recruit spends his first 24 hours in the Army.

By Adam Reiss

As 18-year-old Will McLain leaves home for the first time there are tearful goodbyes with his parents. His mother Lori certainly did not want this day to come.

Will and his recruiter Sgt. Sheldon Rivers take the two hour drive to the processing center in Los Angeles where Will registers for the Army. He is asked about his tattoo and his medical records are thoroughly checked before he heads into the seminar to learn proper procedures for standing at attention.

"Sir yes sir!" Will is taught how to keep shoulders back and his stomach tucked in.

"I'm anxious, but I'm glad it's finally starting – like one of those days you don't think it will come and like bam it's here," says Will.

"Does anyone have any doubts, reservations or restrictions about joining the military?" shouts the drill instructor. "No sir" is the response from everyone.

"When I tell you to you are going to exit this bus quickly and safely, but the key word being quickly. Do you understand!," barks drill sergeant Crystal Scott as Will's bus arrives at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. It's two hours outside of St. Louis and a world away from his home outside Los Angeles. More than 200 soldiers reported for duty with Will on his first day. 30,000 a year go through the 43rd AG Reception Station, at 600 a week.

Here he has several days of orientation before the real work sets in as he goes through thirteen weeks of basic training. There are a lot of drill sergeants screaming orders in every direction and Will appears a little dazed, if not from the new environment than certainly from the lack of sleep traveling for the past day. He will be required to give up his personal belongings, including his cell phone – his last point of contact with the outside world. Then it's time to collect his bedding, and lights out before they are back on a little more than four hours later.

Breakfast looks good – the only problem is he has less than three minutes to devour it before heading off to his next assignment. Will is 5'9" and 228 pounds, so he will definitley have to lose some weight. Drill sergeant Crystal Scott says she is sure he will lose it.

"We have ways to do it, you can be sure he will lose that weight."

Next he goes through more orientation, gets his gear, immunizations shots, and has his eyes tested. It turns out Will's eyesight is not 20/20, so he will be fitted with glasses.

Soon he is on a long line for the barber shop and the obligatory cut. He takes it like a man and can barely muster up the courage to look at himself in the mirror. It's Will in the mirror, but he's not yet the soldier he has set out to be.

"Not yet. I haven't been through boot. I won't even claim being a soldier until I'm done with that."

Filed under: A Soldier's Story • Military
soundoff (267 Responses)
  1. Brittney Cones

    Woo! Way to go McLain!! It was awesome hangin out with you yesterday and seeing you graduate today! Keep up the good work!

    March 19, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
  2. Cramblett

    It's not the Marine Corps. We call our drill instructors sir when we're recruits because we're not yet marines, show of respect. Semper Fi

    March 11, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  3. leslie

    Get your service branches straight. A Marine may (and should) call a non-comm "sir," especially when they are being braced.

    March 8, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  4. susan reinecke

    This is for TomGrant no the correct response was not No drill seargent sir the reporter had it right. I was at the swearing in for my son and that is how they said it. So don't doubt the article.

    February 23, 2010 at 7:39 am |
  5. Apelgear

    To all the parents of young soldiers joining or in BCT the Army. Don't worry, your son/daughter is being trained by one of the best Non-Commisioned Officer Corps in the World. We have all been there, done the boot camp, and then the school that follows for our individual job or MOS. We take care of our soldiers, marines, airmen, and naval operators. I know first hand as I am a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army, and now train Second Lieutenants on how to lead your soldiers. They are being taken care of, trained, and turned into responsible adults. We teach them the LDRSHIP values consisting of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. From these values, your son/daughter have a foundation and a guide to take into account in anything they do in the military and after the military.

    February 17, 2010 at 7:40 am |
  6. Karen

    Tom Grant–

    The article might be a little confusing, but it never indicates that he is replying "sir yes sir" to a sergeant. They're teaching him procedures before he arrives at FLW.

    As the article says, "he heads into the seminar to learn proper procedures for standing at attention. "Sir yes sir!" Will is taught how to keep shoulders back and his stomach tucked in."

    They were teaching him how to respond to a male officer–by saying sir and standing at attention. Likewise, they probably taught him how to stand at parade rest and respond to an NCO.

    But you must be one of those NCOs who knows everything.

    February 10, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  7. Nicole

    David: Recruiters cannot promise anything. The only things "promised" has to be in writing in the final contract. And sometimes even if it is in a written contract, some things still end up being a hassle, but I suppose that goes for all branches. Where you end up, is at the needs of the military. Everything is subject to change.

    February 9, 2010 at 9:46 pm |
  8. Nicole

    First, I just wanna say thank you and good luck to Will. It takes a special kind of person to join the military (regardless of branch) especially in a time of war.

    I am in the Army, and my basic was lead by nearly all infantry men, some of which have been in nearly 20 years already. I did basic in Fort Jackson, SC, and it isn't as "soft" as some may think. The females were treated no differently and were yelled at, smoked, and treated just the same as the males. My platoon, at least, was not given any breaks or special privleges. Heard of the stress card in some places, but was non existent in my platoon as with the whole military. Didn't need it, just sucked it up and drove on. If one can't handle someone yellin' at them, they sure aren't gonna be able to handle going downrange.

    I agree that we shouldn't be playing the who's better than who game. All branches serve a purpose as do all MOS's (whatever job one has). There's a place for every job. Without all of them, no branch would run as well as they do. We all joined to serve our country and we all fight together. It's just sad that we have to fight with those who have chips on their shoulders and have an excessive amount of pride. Instead, we should embarce the different things we all (all branches) bring to the table and fight as one. Afterall, we're all in this together and the only ones we can depend on in war are gonna be eachother.

    February 9, 2010 at 9:34 pm |
  9. Dan

    Fort Lost in the Woods! Essayons!

    February 9, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  10. U.S Army Soldier

    Regardless if your Army, Marine, Navy or Air force, we fight the same fight and die for the same country. To all my brothers and sisters is the armed forces, good luck, be careful and come home safely.

    February 8, 2010 at 7:12 pm |
  11. donna

    My prayers are with Will and his family, especially mom! I left my son at Fort Lee last week heading to OSUT at Ft. Benning. He's 18 too, but not a big guy like Will. From what I've seen and been told, it matters not their size–it's how they transform from boys to MEN! I am proud of my son's decision to serve. Scared for him–you bet! But this is his choice and I will support him and our troops! ARMY STRONG!

    February 8, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
  12. kdub

    tom grant is is sir is bootcamp, article is real. just left bootcamp a few months ago. its sir for the first 3 weeks, then you are worthy enough to call them by name

    February 7, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
  13. walter zyla

    My sign up guy did not go to Leonardwood with me?
    We got off the bus at 4 am, searched us, some went home after that.Began our new adventure into Bsic Training(U.S Army) not boot camp?
    Isn't boot camp U.S Marines?

    February 6, 2010 at 10:50 am |
  14. Jeff

    Those of you that criticize this young man: Shut your pieholes and go back to flipping burgers or whatever you do to "challenge" yourselves and "make your marks" in this world. Your cynicism is pathetic. Even in a supporting role, after multiple deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan, he will have done more for you than you will ever do for him. He has volunteered to defend this country against those radical Islamic fundamentalists who would destroy your freedoms. What are you doing? Nothing but criticizing! "Brainwashed?" Think again, punks. Your derogatory comments are thin veils for your parasitism and cowardice. Go back to your xBoxes and Wiis; the rest of us have and always will do the dirty work while you and your ilk take advantage of the efforts of true citizens of this country and the world.

    January 29, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  15. Smalls

    Well, i will soon be going off to the Navy myself. Scary thought, but I know it's what i need to do. No one likes that I'm doing it, buit they know that it isnt there choice. My mom is probably the only one backing my up on this, but doesnt like talking about it. My little brother jsut ignores me when I bring it up and then he says, "You're not going!" and then changes the subject.

    It's in my heart to go and I am very proud of Will for following through (:
    Good luck and God Bless (:

    January 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
  16. Jae Yoon

    I admire those young men and women who volunteer to serve in the US military. Its been 20 years since I went to boot camp and served in another military called the Republic of Korea Army. It is conscription for all Korean males. So whether you like it or not you are going. So those who don't like it and are unwilling to finish BT will do whatever it takes to get out : Jehovah's witnesses to nutcases, I've seen it all. They all end up going to military prison and are convicts for the rest of their lives.

    January 5, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  17. Amanda

    I agree with the people who pointed out that ANYONE who serves in ANY branch of the military is doing an important service to our country and deserves our support and should be proud of themselves! We are a team!

    I know why Will was allowed to join even though his weight is above standards as well, he probably got a waiver for it. That means that he needs to meet weight by the time he finishes basic, in addition to his other requirements!

    I joined the Army in 2008 and was sent to Ft Jackson as well. So I can support the argument that enlisted personnel DO NOT call a Drill Sergeant "Sir" in the Army. Since I am in the Army I cannot comment on other branches' customs. I also agree that the military has softened the way it trains its soldiers. Also remember that while Will has made a decision to support his country and will make sacrifices like we all do, he is not alone in that decision! There are too many people in this country who do not appreciate and take for granted the freedoms they enjoy or the people who protect them!

    I am proud to serve our country and I wish I had joined much sooner in my life, its the best decision I made!

    January 1, 2010 at 8:01 am |
  18. pvt. branyan

    been to ft. lwood, just left dec 11, had basic and ait. charlie 3-10 inf was a good life lesson. they will teach u everything u need to know. that video was nothing like basic training, i promise, it gets alot worse. the ds or drill sergaent's are not your friend. they are there to do a job and that is what they are there for. do what they say when they say and you will be alright. lookin back it was a good time and you learn alot

    December 27, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  19. Michael

    Hey, Im going on exodus right now from Ft. Leonard Wood, McLain is in my company. First off, engineers lead the way, first off I dont wanna hear anything from Marines lol. Second, basic kicks your A$$. They dont brainwash you, they dont turn you into robots. I can personally attest that the army has only ever helped me and made me 10 times stronger in the time we have all been there, and we have only been in 5 weeks! Keep up in your prayers though, as we could always use it.

    December 24, 2009 at 7:53 pm |
  20. Kim

    My only child is serving in the Army. Going into the service has been a very positive and life-changing experience for him. It's very honorable to stand up and serve our country, especially in time of war. God bless all our troops!

    December 24, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  21. Lee


    Guys, it's the reception center....

    The real training doesn't happen until they step off the transport at actual basic. Please... chill.

    December 22, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  22. sirjimjam

    This video shows you, all in 3 minutes, how incredibly laxed boot camp is for the Army...and why the majority of their service members are not in the same league as the Marines. Maybe that's why we have a Marine Corps.

    December 20, 2009 at 10:04 am |

    i was at fort leonard wood when this took place

    December 18, 2009 at 11:12 pm |
  24. Joslin

    Fort Lost In The Woods. Inprocessing was EASY. But i do miss tha place, Drill Sgt Rix is the man. Engineers all the way. Hooah.

    December 18, 2009 at 4:03 am |
  25. Kim

    I spent 6 months in FLW this year. Good luck to these new guys and hopefully they will make it through training with no injuries.

    December 17, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  26. Florence

    My son is finishing bootcamp at Ft. Leonard Wood this week, he will be flying out this Friday coming home for the holidays and then flying back on Jan 2 to complete his AIT training. We are very proud of him and I fill we were very lucky that our son was stationed at FLW. I have never seen or heard of bootcamp being so generous with the soldiers calling home and I love the Facebook web site that allowed us to see pictures our son going through bootcamp. The Sgt. done a great job keeping the family posted on what was going on throughout bootcamp. Thanks to everyone at FLW.

    December 16, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  27. Cecilia

    after reading some of the posts, so much criticizing. Every branch is different, every basic training installation is different. I know it should be uniform, but it's not. I was once a Soldier and I'm very proud of those who served and still serving.

    Everyone likes to say "mine is better". But everyone is different with different perceptions. Why can't you guys just be glad another is joining (regardless of branch). Support your troops, don't criticize them.

    December 16, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  28. Brian Hopkins

    Im going to Fort Lenard Wood 2010-02-16 for Basic And AIT looks fun haha

    December 16, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  29. Sergeant First Class

    I love to read the posting's from the Marines on this blog. You put the Army in the spot light for three weeks and what do the Marines start doing? Whine, Whine, Whine. I served along side the 1st Marine division, in Iraq, and let me tell you, there is absolutely no difference in either branch of service. In combat, we are all AMERICAN's, we all wear uniforms and carry weapons. I'm sick of the internal hatred between branches of service. I read a post on here stating that the Marines at Paris Island secure beaches IOT allow the Army to arrive safely! Really? When was the last time the Army landed on a beach Front? Hello!! Oh, by the way the ARMY RANGERS secure our beach fronts! HOOAH Airborne Rangers lead the way!! God bless ALL our soldiers, sailors, Airman, and yes, even big headed Marines!

    December 16, 2009 at 10:04 am |
  30. SGT Moore

    As a SGT currently Active Duty in the Army this brings back so many memories of basic training and inprocessing. It's so easy to say that these soldiers are being brainwashed and "fell for it". But, in truth they're teaching these soldiers to be disaplined and on point with whatever they do, in the Army or on the civilian side. As a teenager or young adult sometimes you feel like you don't know where you belong or what you want to do in life. The Army really does help you find yourself and your strengths and weakness. And some people are not military material and some people are.

    December 16, 2009 at 8:00 am |
  31. cindy Cherone

    good luck to you....
    be good to my son Charles.....he is in there with you!

    December 14, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  32. felicia

    One comment that was posted said that "that isnt the real army, real army soldiers go to ft. benning, Georgia". Well, news, flash it doesnt matter where you go to basic and AIT at your still a soldier after you finish training. And, its great that they are doing a story on this for the young people out there in the civlian world who are looking at a career in the military no matter what branch they decide to serve in, but they will never fully grasp the concept of reception or basic training till they go in themselves because the experience is different for everyone who goes in.

    December 14, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  33. Kyle

    And, for all you Marines chest-beating about how you had to go to boot uphill both ways in the snow with two broken legs, keep in mind that this is basic at Ft. Leonard Wood.

    You would be seeing a much different story had they chosen to follow a young man who enlisted for 19D or 11B. When I went through Ft. Knox Cavalry OSUT in '98 (B Trp, 5/15 Cav), I had a prior-service former Marine in my class. His comparison of Cav OSUT to Marine Corps boot was this:

    "Here, we're doing everything I did at Parris Island plus about a hundred K of road marches. At Parris, it was the same stuff, only we were up to our eyeballs in a-hole DIs telling us we weren't good enough to be Marines."

    The attitude in the Army seems relaxed to Marines because the Army is generally a meritocracy; maintain your military bearing, excel at your job, and you will rise through the ranks quickly. The focus is on whether or not you are a competent, reliable soldier, not whether or not you stood at attention with your feet at a 46 degree angle when it should be 45.

    December 14, 2009 at 1:33 am |
  34. Kyle

    @Screaming Eagle: I can understand your frustrations with the Army, but there are some things you need to take into consideration. You are on your first tour. It is 2009, six years after the start of the war. What you are experiencing now is not warfare. As members of my former brigade have put it, "OIF 2009 – No killing, just chilling." The brigades first deployment of the war was in 2004, for OIF II. That was my first deployment, and my last, as I was disabled by an IED during a patrol.

    Iraq now is very different from Iraq then. There was no Iraqi Army; we had to reconstitute it, train it, weed insurgents out of the ranks, and teach urban combat ops on the job. There was no reliable police force; we had to recruit cops, train them, weed out insurgents, and keep them from selling their issue pistols on the black market, replacing them with cheap Makarov knock-offs and pocketing the difference. Al-Sadr's Mahdi Militia held enormous strongholds throughout Baghdad, openly attacking American forces, yet we were unable to fire on them unless we were engaged first, a biting restriction for an infantry brigade. My battalion, only 770 men strong, was given six sectors of the city, including parts of Sadr City – over 2 million inhabitants all told. We participated in battles of Fallujah and An-Najaf. We were fighting America's first modern urban guerrilla war, which meant constant improvisation and adaptation in the field, under fire. I've been shot at and seen everything the enemy had – RPGs, 80mm mortars, 107mm rockets, IEDs with howitzer shells and once, somehow, a torpedo, RPKs, AK-47s, AK-74s, even an old-west style six-shooter. Let me tell you, warfighting isn't as fun as it looks in the movies.

    Contrast that very compressed description of Iraq with the country now. Except for trainers and the Green Zone, US forces have withdrawn from Iraqi cities and towns. The pace of the deployments, from my friends' correspondence, resembles garrison duty more than anything. You have to consider that a large number of the soldiers, airmen, and Marines you are serving with are on their fourth, fifth, even sixth deployment. What you see as laxity or "softness" is in reality the common attitude of veterans: whatever else your deployment is, it is a wartime deployment, and the things that matter more than stateside garrison etiquette and standards are readiness, security, and bringing everyone home.

    I realize you are young and eager for action. I was that way, too, when we first deployed. But everyone you are with who has that patch on their right shoulder, that CIB or CAB, or one or more Purple Hearts, wants nothing more than a quiet, relaxed, and safe deployment. Nothing I can say will get the idea that combat is a great experience out of your head; it's just the way it is. You won't know any better until it's too late. If you are unlucky enough to get shot at or have to shoot back, I hope it's over quickly, you're safe, and you don't kill anyone, because you will never be the same person after that experience, ever again. You do not know how daunting, haunting, and difficult it is to find out that you can kill, even if your hand is forced.

    Don't be too eager to bust your cherry and be a man. Talk to the veterans in your unit, guys like me – infantry guys and cavalry guys (I held both 19D and 11B MOS) who were there. Ask them honestly what it was like then and what they think of how it is now. The answers may not be what you expect.

    December 14, 2009 at 1:02 am |
  35. JV

    Stress Cards are a myth, they do not exist in the AF so I would be surprised that they exist in any other branch. Quit talking about them.

    December 11, 2009 at 1:51 am |
  36. SPC

    Went to Fort Wood in sometime ago for my BCT. And the times there have changed. Was back there for my husbands MEB earlier this year, these new recruits can get away with ANYTHING now. We don't need a kinder gentler Army. I remember my drill sgt that smoked my PLT for well over hour while walking the roof of the barricks telling us he hopped we came home in body bags. And I will never forget that and wouldn't be the soldier I am if it weren't for that very speech.

    December 10, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  37. 12B

    I went through Ft Lost in the Woods twenty years ago, back then all 12B (Combat Engineers) recruits went through a 15 week OSUT basic that had Drill Sergeants for the full 15 weeks. Other non-combat MOS recruits on base went through a 8 week basic that was no where near as intense, I don't think they got smacked around and cussed out on the same level as we did. I don't know if anything has changed but that's how it used to be. As for all the smack talkers on the board you need to grow up and show some respect for anyone who has ever served in any capacity

    December 9, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  38. joshua

    hey will good luck i graduated from leonard wood about 2 months ago C 3-10 hooah. hopefully u get a good comapny with good DS, stay motivated.

    December 8, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  39. Donna

    It looks good so far. I work at the Los Angeles MEPS and remember this day. I too am a soldier. The drill sergeants bring back good memories. Good Luck to all that are in and about to ship.

    December 8, 2009 at 9:50 pm |
  40. AF Blue

    Ahhhh...good old Ft. Lost in the Woods. Army boot is different then AF, yes in AF Boot we address each TI (training instructor) as Sir/Ma'am however, after being on many joint taskings with Army/Navy/Marines and going to school in FLW in a joint environment the Army soldiers address their DI's as "Yes, Drill Sergeant" I don't doubt the accuracy of this story though. Everything sounds about right. They might have toned it down a bit for the media, i'm positive there was a lot more shouting, disorganization, and confusion then portrayed.

    December 8, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  41. Lori Anderson

    I thank all of you who understand that this story is not to show one kid and one branch of the service. It is in general for all people, (men & women) who choose to join to protect the rest of us. I truly do not care which branch it is. I am proud of all of you who have joined a branch and thank you as well. As a parent, I do feel bad about loosing so many young people. Please, stop with all the put down's and simply say, Thank You !!!

    December 7, 2009 at 12:31 pm |
  42. mcqueen

    reading this brings my mind back to when i took basic training nearly forty years ago, it was in the seventies, that this old country kentucky boy was drafted into the worlds finest United States Army, i was sent to fort campbell kentucky for combat training, veitnam was hot at this time, and the drill instructers train us hard, knowing that most of us would end up in the jungles of Veitnam, i had never been out from under the shelder of my kentucky ridges , i weighed just under a hundred pounds barely qualifying for the service, its never took the Army long to build me from a slim youth to a strong fighting man,.. i was and excellent shot with the m 14 sharpshooter, i learn fast the displine assocated with the service, and it made me a better man.. you young troopes of today i commend you to obey orders and do your best to keep our forces the best fighting men in the world.. no man likes war and killing, but evil forces always lurks against our country that cannot be taken lightly... the few the proud the strong always come out the winner, well trained troops has a better chance of staying alive than men that has not been conditioned for fighting. i salute all our brothers in arms, and God bless the united states of America....

    December 7, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  43. John

    I hope to see the rest of this. It brings back old memories of 17 years ago when I was there for basic. Congrats Will you will remember it for the rest of your life. You will never enjoy another meal and always eat like a pig at a trough forever. The funny thing is he has not hit basic yet I thought that was all of it until I got off that cattle truck and them BAM!! Once you get off that cattle truck welcome to hell buddy!!!

    December 6, 2009 at 7:08 am |
  44. Carl

    You all who are bickering about "Yes sir" vs. "Yes Drill Sergeant" need to go back and read the text and watch the video. It does not say Will was taught to address his drill sergeant with "yes sir," nor does the video show him doing this. In the video the group of recruits is shown addressing what looks like a recruiting staffer dressed in civilian clothes with "yes sir." The fact that so many of the people commenting here claim to be military (Army, Marines, whatever) personnel is dismaying. I would hope to see a bit more intelligence and literacy.

    December 6, 2009 at 6:16 am |
  45. Jason

    I have read a few comments and noticed something. People keep refering to the Drill Sergeants as DIs and Drill Instructors. The Army DOES not have Drill Instructors. They are Drill Sergeants.

    In addition, this video is just reception. For those of you that keep saying, it is not the real army at this base, trust me it is. Once the soldier gets to basic, it is just as bad as Army training at any other base. Trust me, I went to basic at Fort Lost in the Woods (Fort Leonard Wood). I know that most if not all of the Army's Combat Engineers are trained there, in addition to a lot of Millitary Police.

    In addition, to the person (cant remember who) that said the Pentagon made a good choice with letting CNN film at this base cause there is less cursing... no there isnt. This is just reception. There will be a whole lot of cursing once this guy actually gets to basic.

    December 6, 2009 at 4:56 am |
  46. Brian

    oh yeh thats my brother

    December 5, 2009 at 2:47 pm |
  47. Doc

    AF_Ssgt as a former NCO in the Army you can be assured you are wrong. Unlike you "Civilians in Uniform", relaxed on disipline, Air Force (I worked along side enough of you in Iraq). You call a NCO in the Army Sir or Ma'am, you will be corrected. In BCT and AIT Drill Sergents are referred as exactly that and NCOs as SGT untill they are a 1st Sgt or higher. Stay in your lane.

    December 5, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  48. Robert

    I don't understand how some people are bad mouthing this because they were in a different branch. we are all fighting for the same thing and you sound stupid! i personally enlisted a few months ago but you all sound ridiculous i would never badmout another branch! they may be helping you one day

    -Army Strong

    December 5, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  49. Mike

    "our Marines are the ones we send in first to secure the landing zone for the Army to safely come ashore.?"

    Oh here we Marines never miss an opportunity to boast about stuff that is either not true or a serious exaggeration do you?

    In reality, we send Marines to take beaches. However, most of the world is landlocked. You want a beachhead? Call the Marines. If you want boots on the ground to secure an airfield that can bring in follow on forces to include Marines in some cases (aka an "Airhead") you call someone else.

    That would be Paratroopers and Rangers. The Army's 82nd Abn Div. and 75th Ranger Regiment. The Chambered round in Uncle Sam's sidearm.


    December 5, 2009 at 1:26 am |
  50. Corpsman

    I don't understand the importance of a recruit going to boot camp. The Army sees too much publicity. Like they're the greatest thing since cheese whiz on crackers. Yeah congrats on this kid for serving but all in all he's not showing the slightest bit of military bearing while in BCT. This kid is probably not going to recieve the proper training with all these cameras on him. This is exactly why it would take half the amount of men in the marines to complete a mission as it would for the army. They're spoiled rotten from the time they sign their name on the dotted line. They have a giant adidas logo on the back of their PT shirts for pete's sake. Soldier's, do us a favor. Stay at home and smile for the cameras while the Marines take care of buisness overseas. Ooh Rah.

    December 4, 2009 at 8:13 pm |
  51. Joe V

    Big will or should i say monster 54 ahaha.
    Wow, Seeing this guy go from a Freshman at RHS to an army recruit is unbelievable. Bro, i wish you the best of luck and i know you'll do great. Basic is going to feel long but it will be over before you know it. Just keep your head up man and don't forget about us back here in the A.V. Just don't get yourself blown up lol and stay away from that gunpowder man. As for now, just be careful and get home asap!
    Your old friend, Big joe 64

    December 4, 2009 at 7:35 pm |
  52. Erik

    Do your best Will don't let anything they tell you get you down! I passed my 1st year in the AF and it has been a fun ride. Keep working hard and be the best you can I'm rooting for you! And all of you who comment how one branch is better than the other needs to remember we all are a team working to make our country better and protect our families and friends. All of the branches have a common goal so stop thinking we all are so different!

    December 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  53. Anna

    As a mother of a new Soldier who graduated from Infantry last month, I admire these young men and women who volunteer to protect us and our Country. Where would we be without them?

    December 4, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  54. Sapper

    I did my basic at Ft. Leonard Wood, MI. How does a training facility make a solder. I am a DAV with 9 ribbons, 2 bronze stars, 2 combat patches and a French cord. I served in Desert Shield and Storm. I was also a member for the 7id(Light Infantry) 13 Engineers. We are lucky to have young men and women that are willing to fight for the freedom that allows you to speak in such an ignorant manner. Have some respect.

    Sappers, Lead the Way!

    December 4, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  55. Kayla

    I'm glad I watched this; gives me an insight to what my boyfriend is doing. He is currently at Ft.Leonard Wood for Basic Training.

    December 4, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  56. Quy

    This almost a non-story. There are many men and women who join the service everyday. What's makes him so special from the others?

    I went to Parris Island in 2005 during the hottest months of the year from April to August. I went to Fort Leonard Wood for MOS training. While I was there, the training that I observed from the Army for the Army recruits were very disturbing.

    When I was in recruit training, we were never allowed any outside contact, all of our possessions taken away during the first week. We're given them at the end of training. It was nice finding that the jeans you came with are now 3 -4 sizes bigger.

    When I was at Leonard Wood, I saw that the Army recruits were allowed weekend visits to the PX and allowed access to cell phones. The only time that we were allowed to even eat or drink freely was during Family Day which was one day before graduation and the day of graduation.

    I have talked to numerous former Army soldiers who believed that basic training for potential soldiers have degrade dramatically over the years. Old-school army soldiers were hardcore. New school army is a mere sheel of itself. On this note, you call someone from the Marines a Marine, from the Army, a soldier, from the Air Force, an airman, from the Navy, a sailor. I forgot what you call a Coast Guardsman. I guess it's just that. Collectively, we are soldiers of the U.S. military but these distinctions must be made when you are talking to the branches separately. I, and other Marines would get very pissed off if you call us soldiers.

    Let's not forget the accommodations that the different branches offer their members. The newer barracks in First and Second Battalion at PI made Third Battalion's barracks look like crap. Third Battalion's barracks were small and cramped whereas the barracks in First and Second Battalions were very spacious.

    When I moved to the Air Force barracks at Leonard Wood because we were having renovations done to ours, I discovered the world of difference between our living standards.

    If you want to join a real amphibious fighting force, join the Marines. If you want to have a good time, great education benefits, and a chance to travel the world, go join the Army. If you like the sea join the Navy and Coast Guard. If you want to fix planes, deal with planes, work with computers or fly, join the Air Force.

    December 4, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  57. Tim

    heh, can already tell the reporter doesn't know much about the military. This kid is joining the Army not the Marines. Marines say "Sir, no sir!"

    December 4, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  58. MARINE

    Must be nice to be enjoying boot camp so much and early. Thats what distinguishes the Marine Corps from other branches. From day one, every other branch bootcamp is soft! No discipline and thats what gets you killed! Come to the USMC and earn the title instead of it being given to you!

    December 4, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  59. Armygirl13W

    Everyone seems to have an opinion about this Basic Training being easier than the Marines' Boot Camp, and the Army's Ft. Benning, but you have to remember, he didn't exactly have a choice as to which Army Basic Training location he would go to. He did choose the Army, and we all know that yes, it is easier than the Marine Corps Boot Camp, BUT, he still CHOSE to enlist and should be respected for that choice. He is still completely out of his element, and though may not exaclty be physically hard, for most people it is the first time they are away from their families, and that is hard in itself. We need to stop cticizing where he went, and just wish him luck.

    December 4, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  60. Jonathon

    Yeah it's different, but fun at the same time. Good luck to all who enter.

    December 4, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  61. MC

    What Will doing is extremely commendable. Don't rag on where he is doing his basic, and don't rag on him because he is joining the Army and not your branch of choice. Everyone plays their part. The Army is just as dangerous and important as the Marine Corps is.

    December 4, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  62. Carol

    my son is 21 and is his second week in boot camp in Georgia.
    when he called home he said he was alittle tired, but well
    He joined on his own, decided he wanted to do something for his
    country. We're very PROUD of him and of all our men & women who
    are giving their time and lives for us! God Bless all of them!

    December 4, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  63. Larry

    My son is in his 3rd week at Fort Leonard Wood. I am eagerly watching this in hopes of seeing him somewhere in the video. I have not heard from him since he left. I am very proud of him and all our troops.

    December 4, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  64. Good Luck Will

    The Coast Guard?! This is an article about Military Training...try saying Coast Guard to any Marine, Soldier, Airmen or Sailor and you'll be laughed at hysterically. CG rescue jumpers and swimmers are great assets...but don't make a comparison to the REAL armed forces. That is almost disrespectful.

    And for DALE and the other DOD experts running their mouths...I don't believe that any branch officially refers to their training as boot camp anymore. I think that is for parents and movie scripts. It is Basic Military Training....Recruit Training and so on. So quit being such a downer DALE. Every branch has it's Grade A soldiers, and then has it's scum of the earth soldiers. No two ways about it friend. Back to your poo filled corn flakes!

    December 4, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  65. Lorraine

    No matter what reason you get in for, may the good Lord watch over you and keep you safe always. I thank each and every one of you. My niece is at her training right now and has no regrets. I love you Stevie.

    December 4, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  66. Robert LaSerre

    There are some details that are missing from story, there are jobs in the military where your training and AIT are all concurrent, it is referred to as OSUT, One Stop Unit Training, Engineers, MP's and Armor all conduct this style of boot camp, they just neglect to mention that. There really is no more supposrt MOS, once you hit the sand in the middle east, you are now a ground pounder, much as in the Marines, everyone is a rifleman first, whatever your field of specialization second. Ft. Leonard Wood is far from civilization, but a lot of good troops come out of there, as well as Benning, Sill, Knox, and Jackson. Quit bashing the Army for it's "soft " basic training, or saying Marines are the "elite" of the Armed Services. They all serve a unique and necessary purpose. Where would the Marine be without Air Force close support? Or Navy for that matter. Chest thumping is great in the bar on Friday night, on the battle field it is stupid and will get someone killed or hurt.

    December 4, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
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