The Navy Boot Camp Experience
Old Senior Chief 1946
One of the big things we learned at Navy boot camp was to look out for each other. We learned that we were all in it together - we had to stick together, if we expected to complete the training so we could go on to the real Navy. It taught us teamwork. We started out hating our Company Commander but by the time we finished training, we had true respect and admiration for him. Some of us even liked him. I did not have many close friendships in boot camp - I was too busy to do a lot of chit-chatting. There was a good mix of people, from all parts of the USA. It was the first time I had ever been around Negroes. I grew up in a small segregated Texas town. At first I was in awe of them - maybe a little suspicious of them. As time went by, I grew to know some of them pretty well and I learned that the color of your skin doesn't really matter. We all started looking out for each other because if one of us got in trouble and got demerits, it was bad for all of us. If we saw one of our mates doing something wrong or not looking right - we pointed it out to them. We tried to get things corrected before the Company Commander or one of the dreaded "Red Boards" saw it. The training wasn't all that hard. We were right next to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, with only a tall chain link fence separating us. We could see that the young Marines had things a lot tougher than we did. For the whole time in boot camp, we basically learned and practiced the things we would need to know on our graduation day, so we could look good on the Parade Ground when we passed in review. We practiced for graduation day! That's right - we spent ten weeks practicing for one day. The talk was rough, and some of us heard language that we had never heard before. But it was all for a good purpose and it worked for most of us. We came there as an individual and left as part of a large team - a disciplined sailor in the World's Finest Navy. It was something to be proud of back then and it still is today.