Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chris's 5th letter received August 30, 2010

On August 26, 2010, Chris wrote:

Parris Island really is a beautiful place. Most recruits never get the opportunity to notice.

I saw my original platoon this morning. They were marching to class, and I was coming back from making a garbage run. I was able to give a couple smiles to some old friends before my original chief drill instructor noticed me and said, "Hughes, get your broken ass away from my hogs." (Hogs are nasty phase 1 recruits) My response was a typical "Aye, sir!" It felt good to sound off again. My old platoon didn't look nearly as dysfunctional as I remembered.

10 things you hear constantly as a recruit:
  1. Aye sir/ Yes sir/ No sir
  2. Open your fat mouth!
  3. Scream!
  4. I don't care/ Nobody cares
  5. Left, right, left
  6. Die already
  7. Get some!
  8. Done sir
  9. Attack chow
  10. Aye recruit, kill
These are some of the language-appropriate ones.

Until next time...

Recruit Hughes

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chris's 4th letter received August 26, 2010

On August 23, 2010 Chris wrote:

So I'm finally out of the hospital and after being shuffled around to a few different medical platoons, I've made it to my new home for the next few months... P.E.B. (Physical Evaluation platoon). This platoon consists of around ten recruits that have various injuries that the Marine Corps considers too busted up to keep training. So all we can do now is wait until our injuries heal and the medical boards clear us to go home. The doctors say I should be here until late October or early November, which is when I was supposed to graduate anyway. The good news is that I'm still earning a decent paycheck while I'm here. I will likely receive disability compensation, and the VA will pay for 48 months of college at almost any university. Plus, I get to come back home to my amazing wife, which is the icing on the cake. The bad news is that I will likely have lasting pain and nerve damage to my right hand for the rest of my life.

The drill instructors treat us pretty well here at P.E.B., at least in comparison to regular recruits that are still training. We share our squadbay with other recruits from R.S.P. (Recruit Separation Platoon). They are the rejects of recruit training- suicide attempts, non-conformists, failed drug tests, and fraudulent enlistments. These idiots are also waiting on clearance to go home but with a less than honorable discharge. Our D.I.s treat them like crap and rightfully so. There is a lot of animosity between us, but it's fun.

But P.E.B. really isn't a bad way to spend the next few months...We get 3 hot meals a day, 8 hours of sleep per night, a lot of free time during the day to write letters, read books, and even watch a little television. Some Saturdays we get to go to the M.C.X. to buy snacks and sodas. I had my first coke in over a month last Saturday, and it was phenomenal. I can't wait to buy a Dr. Pepper this weekend. There's been talk of going bowling and eating at Subway, but it sounds like wishful thinking to me.

I appreciate all the prayers and concern from friends and family. If you have a couple minutes, write me a letter! It's all we have to look forward to. Until next time...

Rct. Hughes


Some of you have or will soon be receiving returned letters that you had written to Chris over the last two week period. Apparently, someone on base was too lazy to look up the correct address and forward on the mail. It could not have been that difficult. Anyway, if you receive returned letters, please send them to the new address posted on the blog. Chris is there to stay...at least for the next 8 weeks or so. He was a little bummed there for a while, because he wasn't receiving any mail. There should be no problem now with the mail getting straight to him! Chris is allowed to receive small packages with a few snacks, small book, magazine, articles, printouts, etc. He and the other guys in his platoon share snacks and magazines. If CK, Randall, or Drew are reading this...no, you cannot send Playboy. If you have any questions about what to send or Chris's likes/interests, just call me at 850-572-7767 or shoot an email to rcreelhughes@gmail.com.

Friday, August 20, 2010

*New mailing address*

I briefly spoke with Chris on the phone today, and he gave me his new mailing address. I replaced the old address with the new one on the righthand side of the blog page. For the next 9 weeks or so, Chris will have lots of time on his hands. He would very much appreciate any letters, newspaper articles, football updates, etc. If you think he would like it, it provides some sort of entertainment, and it doesn't take up too much space, then go ahead and send it along!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chris's 3rd letter received August 19, 2010

In hardly legible, all-caps handwriting, Chris wrote:

I'm not sure which is tougher- writing legibly with my left hand or surviving recruit training. Many of you may know by now, I broke/fractured my right thumb pretty badly which required surgery and a couple pins to repair. The doctors say that due to the nature of the injury and the time required to heal, I will not be able to continue training or earn the title of United States Marine.

This past week has likely been the most disappointing of my entire life, but I'm trying to stay positive. I'm looking forward to coming home to Rachel and figuring out what to set my sights upon next. Unfortunately, it will be a couple of months before they let me go home. I will be moved into a medical evaluation platoon on Monday with other recruits that are waiting to be released to go home as well. Hopefully they won't scream at us as much.

Some may be curious to know how I fractured my thumb...Well, on training day 6, we had pugil sticks at 0800. Pugil sticks is when two opponents face off in a circle pit with padded pugil sticks, football helmets, and other safety gear. They had a similar event on the show American Gladiators. The goal is to hit your opponent more than he hits you; aggression and speed are the key to winning each round. After watching a couple fights, I figured that quickly landing the first blow would give me the advantage. When I was up to fight, I put myself into position to get the first strike, and when the whistle blew, I swung my pugil stick at my opponent's head. My pugil stick smacked the side of his helmet, but my right hand also directly hit his face mask pretty hard, and I knew instantly my hand was damaged. I had a hard time keeping the pugil stick in my hands after that point, and I wasn't sure whether my thumb was broken or just jammed. Either way, quitting or stopping the fight wasn't an option. My opponent won the first round as I spent most of my time trying to defend myself and holding onto my pugil stick with one hand. The next round, my opponent got a cheap shot to the back of my helmet, which really set me off. I landed three consecutive blows to his grape(?), knocking him down. I won the second round, but I got screamed at for not finishing him off when he was down. Once I got back into formation, I realized that my thumb was pretty badly broken. One kid from my platoon took a look at it and almost fainted. That didn't help my morale much. Once I got xrays of my hand, I knew the results were bad because the Navy corpsmen were passing around my xrays and making smart-a$$ comments about how brutal the fracture was. Thank God for those Navy corpsmen.

So it looks like my military career will end before it ever begins. Please keep Rachel and me in your thoughts and prayers as we will be making some big changes and decisions when I return home. I appreciate all the concern, and I look forward to seeing friends and family when I get home.

Recruit Hughes

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Surgery 8/13/2010

Chris had surgery on his right hand/thumb this morning. Several pins were placed as his thumb was fractured in three places. The physician said that all went well. The pins will stay in for 5-6 weeks, and then he'll have them taken out. Chris will have to stay in Parris Island for an additional 4 weeks or so as his thumb continues to heal and he is able to have Occupational therapy. He will then be medically discharged and be able to come home.

Yes, this means that Chris's recruit training is over. He is very disappointed/upset and understandably so. He would like to be home more than anything while he recovers, but he has to stay there so that the military doctors can monitor his thumb and the healing process. I do not think he'll have much to do over the next 2-3 months, but he will certainly be able to read all cards and letters that we send to him. He will be transferred to a Rehabilitation platoon on Monday. As soon as I get a letter with that address, I will post it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chris's 2nd letter received August 11, 2010

Before I start this post, I have to share the latest information for those of you who do not already know. Chris broke his thumb yesterday during training, and he moved to the Medical platoon today. I have received conflicting information on whether or not he will be having surgery tomorrow and whether or not he will be able to stay in the Marines. All we can do is pray and send Chris encouraging cards/letters in the meantime :)

8/11/10 letter:

Greetings from Parris Island. Man, I don't even know where to start...this place is crazy! I don't even know what day it is, and we never know what time it is either. I'm pretty sure it's been almost two weeks since we pulled up to the yellow footprints. People are screaming everywhere, there's constant confusion and stress. We don't even really get a break at night either as the Drill Instructors are roaming around harassing fire watch recruits. We have 4 D.I.s that live in our "house" watching our every move. They are like barking and snarling. I tried my best to prepare myself before I got here, but there really isn't any way to prepare yourself for the shock and awe they have set up for new recruits. The first 48 hours on this island were the worst and most stressful of my entire life. We were sleep-deprived and wandering around like cattle ready for the slaughter house.

My platoon started off with nearly 70 recruits, and we are already down to 60, and that's even after picking up a couple of recruits that had been injured. So far we had 1 recruit sent home for failing his drug test, 7 recruits dropped back because of injuries, and 1 that tried to escape in the middle of the night. He was caught shortly after and will probably be here a lot longer than if he would have just tried to suck it up and get through this. My rackmate is a good dude, and we make a good team when it comes to doing things quickly. Everything we do here is timed, and if one recruit doesn't make it in time, we all suffer. Oh, and I'm pretty sure I'm in the worst platoon in history. I can't stand half of the idiots in the platoon, and some of the better recruits are getting injured and dropped. I have decided to become an anonymous blender-ender. If you volunteer for a job, you barely have any free time, which really isn't "free time" anyway, but "senior drill instructor square away time". The hour we get to ourselves is usually spent squaring away gear and shaving.

We've spent some time learning drill (which our platoon sucks at), taking apart our M16 rifles, learning USMC "knowledge", and we even spent some time on the bayonette course stabbing tire people. I really enjoyed that day. One recruit in our platoon got hit in the face with his bayonette while trying to stab a tire terrorist, and he needed 8 stitches.

It's depressing to think of how long I have left at this place, but I just try to live it one day at a time. I miss my wife and dogs so dang much. Sometimes I wonder if I have made the right decision, but I can see the "senior" recruits are pretty strong and happy to be almost done. I can't wait for that day.

That's all for now...WRITE ME LETTERS PLEASE!!!

Recruit Hughes

Friday, August 6, 2010

First letter received August 6, 2010

Chris wrote:

I have arrived safely to Parris Island. We are about to begin our training. I will write you with more information soon.

One of the Drill Instructors enclosed a letter as well and wrote:


My name is Staff Sergeant Stevens. I am the Senior Drill Instructor for Platoon 3084. I am assisted in my duties by three other Drill Instructors. We all have a long journey ahead of us until our graduation on Oct. 22nd, 2010. First of all, let me say that I hope to see as many of you at Graduation as possible. Second, I am honored to have the privilege of leading your loved one on his way to earning the title United States Marine. Recruit Training is inherently stressful and is an extremely challenging experience which most of you already know. Some of you have or will receive letters stating that your loved one is confused or homesick, both of which are perfectly normal. These young men may wish that they never came here, they might feel that this is not for them and that they made a mistake. I promise you this, come graduation your new Marine will not think of it as a mistake but as one of the best decisions of his life. He will be proud to have joined the ranks and to be able to hold the title United States Marine.

My Drill Instructors and I will be with your Recruit every day and everywhere he goes. We will demand much of them and in return we will give them all our efforts to train them to become Marines. Some of you may not recognize your new Marine when you see them for the first time on Family Day which takes place Oct 21, 2010, the day before graduation. Please let me remind you that your loved one will be going through a rigorous training regiment and will need your support. To assist your recruit I ask the following: be positive in your correspondence, let him know how proud you are of him, keep him in the loop of what is going on back home and keep in mind that he will miss home tremendously. Here are some things that you may send if you choose to further support your Recruit in his training: pictures are a plus, anything that keeps their spirits high in turn helps keep their head in the game.

(See address on the main blog page)
Please address any packages attention to Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant Stevens. Feel free to contact me via E-mail at clinton.stevens@usmc.mil

(Chris says don't send packages, so that probably means we shouldn't send emails either...just sayin)

Thank you for your time and support,

Ssgt Stevens, C.B.