During processing, the deck of the receiving barracks at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego is littered with a variety of personal items recruits should not bring to recruit training.
“Just about everything you could think of, I’ve seen come through the yellow footprints,” said Gunnery Sgt. Timothy G. Walker, chief drill instructor for night processing, Receiving Company, Support Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, MCRD San Diego.
Walker said recruits either hand-carry or bring bags full of additional personal objects that slow the receiving process. Civilian clothing, cell phones or other contraband items are not needed during training and are sent to one of four warehouses on the depot.
Gunnery Sgt. Richard R. Mortensen, Recruiting Station St. Louis Military Entrance Processing Station Liaison, said a recruiter should do just about everything short of a physical search of the applicant before the trip to basic training.
“The Ninety-Six-Hour Pre-Ship Brief is probably a good time to go over with them what items they won’t need,” said Mortensen. “It’s up to the recruiter to make sure applicants don’t have anything they aren’t supposed to.”
According to the Military Personnel Procurement Manual, Volume 2: Enlisted Procurement, recruiters should inform all enlistees that civilian clothing and personal effects will be placed in storage for the duration of recruit training.
Possessions causing the most annoyance to the receiving drill instructors are the expensive, battery-operated devices the average 17- to 24-year-old can’t seem to live without. MP3 and compact disc players are becoming more common among the items dumped in the red bins, creating extra paperwork; custody of receipt forms must be completed and signed before items can be stored.
“We process about 300 recruits in a night,” said Walker. “In that time we’ll see about 30 different MP3 or CD players.”
Some of the obvious contraband to avoid bringing are:
• Knives, guns, brass knuckles or anything that may be used as a weapon
• Dice, playing cards or anything that may be used to gamble
• Magazines, books, crossword puzzles or any other media that is not of a religious nature
• Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, lighters or any other tobacco products
• Large photo albums (a few photos are permitted but space is limited)
• Material that is pornographic or can be considered questionable
• Any over-the-counter medications to include vitamins and supplements
• Aerosol sprays of any kind (hairspray, deodorant, starch)
Official lists of what to bring and what not to bring to the recruit depot can be found in the MPPM and in The Making of a Marine handout, located in the poolee Welcome Aboard package. Walker, however, has compiled his own list of optional things to bring to boot camp:
• Recruiter’s business card
• Picture identification
• Social Security card
• Proof of college completion
• Bible or religious material
• A few appropriate pictures
• Small address book, or better yet, a sheet of paper with addresses
• Book of stamps
• No more than $10 in cash
• Wear trousers with a belt and a shirt tucked in.
Less is better than more.
“If a Recruit shows up with nothing, the recruiter is doing his job,” said Walker.