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Graduation Day - Chris Sarno Memoir

Whether black or white, the boots on Parris Island knew that their brutal days on that "asylum on the island" were almost over as graduation day arrived. The men in the three graduating platoons put on their greens and passed in review before every senior and junior officer in battalion formation. The drill instructors were tense, demanding that their graduating recruits not "screw up on battalion parade." Even the DIís were answerable to higher authority in the Marine Corps. If their platoons fouled up on this very important day, the drill instructorís proficiency would be lowered because their performance as DIís was measurable by the performance of the boots under their supervision. "They were really sweating that we were going to foul up," said Sarno. "But we didnít."

After the battalion parade, the graduating boots felt that they were real Marines. "All of us thought we were," said Sarno. "We had done everything they wanted of us and we passed. In the Marine Corps, you either pass or fail. We had passed and we were all proud of ourselves." That night, the men in Platoon 288 overheard another platoonís drill instructor still belittling his boots. "We could hear him," recalled Sarno. "He was ranting and raving, ĎYouíre going to Korea. Youíre all going to be killed. Youíre cannon fodder. You think youíre Marines? Youíre not Marines."

The next day the new Marines went their separate ways. "We got our sea bags and we were going home for ten days," recalled Sarno. "We were happy. Two DIís came down and they were still cursing us. We got on the bus and they were still cursing us. As the bus slowly pulled away, somebody said, ĎLetís tell those assholes.í We rolled the window down and yelled, ĎFók you.í Out of sight, out of mind," Sarno said, "after we went over that damn bridge, I forgot about my DI. I didnít like him, but he was no longer in my life."


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