6 Things to Memorize Before Marine Boot Camp

Before heading to Marine boot camp here are 6 things that a recruit should memorize before boot camp.

Marine Corps. Rank | Rifleman’s Creed | 11 General Orders | Marine Corps Core Values | The Marine’s Hymn | 14 USMC Leadership Traits

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) With & Without Dependents

air force dad with wife and three daughters

If you have spent even a day in the military you know that pay is the number one driver of happiness.  Or, at least it can be the number one driver of sadness and desperation.

Financial Tips for Military Recruits

Financial tips for Military Recruits. Above all, spend less than you earn. You will never be able to reach a comfortable standard of living if this rule is overlooked.

Managing Finances: Part 2

If you use a credit card, make sure you’re mindful about how you use it. I would suggest not using a credit card until you have your basic budget running consistently. Credit cards can be convenient, but make sure you can pay off your purchases on it at the end of the month.

“The Yellow Footprint Epidemic” Part 1

marine corps mcrd parris island yellow footprints

yellow footprintsDon Miller was a Marine Corps Drill Instructor on Parris Island before becoming Community Director of Sandboxx.

So before people go nuts and think that this is me saying anything negative about my beloved Corps, it is no such thing. My title describes the period of time where Marine “poolees” arrive on Parris Island (and although I did not serve on San Diego, I can only guess its the same) and allow the Mystical and world famous Yellow Footprints to suck every bit of common sense that they had out of there brain. Now I am no different, I was the very civilian that I will talk about. I was just as lost as everyone else when I got to Boot Camp to, but when your on the other side of it and see the complete loss of the most underrated skill a human has, it can be frustrating.

I have decided to give you a little bit of context into what I am talking about before we get into explaining what the “Epidemic” is. I can’t remember the exact date, but it had to have been late summer. I was a Senior Drill Instructor at Receiving, which I want all to know is the same name that the all Recruits will come to think of as Mommy or Daddy after they pick up with a training platoon,  but are also two entirely different positions. A Senior Drill Instructor at Receiving is more of a Supervisor of Recruits, and mentor to new Processing Drill Instructors that have just been put on Quota( not going to explain that as it would take to long and could spin off in so many directions, so just accept the fact that its different then actually training Recruits on a daily basis.) The Senior Drill Instructor that all Recruits come to idolize is much more of Role Model and overall savior of the well being of a Recruits soul.

Sorry about the detour, but I had to explain that. So here we are in what seems like the hottest place on earth trying to teach a civilian how to become a Recruit. All while making sure they pass all the necessary requirements to even become a Recruit in the first place. The platoons are always bigger ( mostly averaging 80 and 90 strong) this time of year because of what is referred to as JJAS ( figure it out), so focusing on making sure every single civilian is competently learning the process is almost impossible at this point.

So you focus on teaching the very basics on what and how a Recruit is supposed to act like. Things like saying ” This Recruit, That Recruit, Those Recruits”, ” Good Afternoon Ladies, Good Afternoon Gentlemen.”, walking in a military manner, standing and sitting up straight, not making eye contact with a Drill Instructor, or talking unless being spoken to or asked a question by a Drill Instructor. That is just some of the few of a ridiculously long list of what you would think are simple tasks to teach. If you think those are easier than how I am describing them I suggest you sign the dotted line, become a Sergeant, and go to DI School to see for your self, otherwise I guess you’re going to have to take my word for it.

So it was probably the second or third day that these civilians had been on the Depot when then SSgt Smith and I walked upstairs where the civilians were making a head call ( if you don’t know what that is, its another one of those seemingly simple tasks you have to teach a civilian to do in an orderly and timely manner.) before their next appointment they had to be at. We had just made it through the Squadbay door when we heard the most painful sound a Drill Instructor that wears a Green Belt can hear. The sound of laughter in the head.

So what do we do, as we were taught early in your training to become a good Drill Instructor, you investigate with your voice and demeanor. We take a look into the sink area of the head and see two civilians seemingly losing all touch of reality and actually visibly laughing. SSgt Smith began to very gently and with the upmost sincerity open his mouth to simply correct the civilians ( I wish there was a way to make words on paper show the extreme sarcasm when writing ) on their obvious slip of the mind in thinking that they could enjoy any time in Boot Camp. So what were the words that SSgt Smith spoke with a great presence, well it was simple.

“Uh, hey there RRREECCRRUIITTTT are we supposed to be laughing in the head?” Now this feeds into the whole idea of this article, and you will see why. That question from SSgt Smith seems like a pretty easy question to answer, does is not? Well, for this particular Recruit it might have well as been the ancient language of the Mayans, because he just stood there in complete and utter bewilderment. SSgt Smith being a pretty experienced Drill Instructor at that time realized that the civilian had no idea what to say or do, so SSgt Smith took it upon himself to help that civilian out without having him even answer. ” Let me see those teeth, ONE more time, and you WILL regret it!!” Pretty common expression I would say, wouldn’t you? I mean, SSgt Smith obviously meant don’t do it again…. Right?  So what does the civilian say back…. nothing. What he does next will last in my memory for the rest of my life. The civilian with every ounce of fear in his body showing in the 43 muscles in his face begins to and I kid you not….. Open his mouth to show his teeth to the Drill Instructor in a manner that I still have no idea how he even was able to do it. Picture the most awkward yet fearful smile of a pimple faced 18 year old kid thinking that for what ever reason a Drill Instructor just told him to show his teeth and by God he was gonna do just that.

I immediately left the area. If you are/were a keeper of traditions carrying the tremendous weight that comes with the responsibilities of wearing the cover, then you know that losing bearing in front of a Recruit is not going to happen… at least not willingly. So covering my face with my Cover while leaving was my only option.   That is just one of the many stories that helped me discover that this “Epidemic” was indeed real.

So how do we stop the “Epidemic”, or keep it from spreading. Well, the first step in any problem we face is to clearly identify the problem. This is probably the most over looked step in the process. It sounds easy right? It can actually lead you in all the wrong directions if you do not clearly state what is happening. For this instance I will use an old idea I once heard. It came from my Father. ” Boy, you look like you’re trying to put a square peg in a round hole.” I think I was trying to fix something around the house when the first of many of my father’s loving quips came out, but if you think about this thought of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, it fits perfect ( pun intended) into what happens in boot camp.

If you imagine that every single Poolee that ships to bootcamp is the “Square Peg” and the eventual goal of becoming an elite warfighter as the other side of the “Round Hole”, you can see how at first when you are Square Peg you can not fit through the round hole. After the 13 weeks of extreme widdling, molding, heating, and polishing process of Boot Camp the square peg that once existed as that Poolee has now become the seemingly perfect fitting cylinder that when pushed through the round hole glides perfectly through to the other side forging what you all see today as a U.S. Marine.

The first step that I talked about that allows the eventual goal of making the cylinder is widdling. When you widdle you are taking a knife to a piece of wood to shape it into whatever you see fit. In this case the knife is the Processing Drill Instructor and the block of wood is the Civilian getting ready to become a Recruit. The most common misconception about when a young man or woman ships to Boot Camp is that as soon as they get there they automatically become a Recruit. That is very much incorrect. That happens on Black Friday or Pick up Saturday depending on which Depot you are on. The whole first week that a new civilian is on the Depot is meant to further screen and test them to make sure that they are indeed fit to begin the world’s most respected entry level military program called Marine Corps Boot Camp. Now back to widdling. The first chance a Drill Instructor gets to widdle is during one of the most memorable moments of Recruit Training. After you get off of the Drill Instructor’s bus, you immediately start the indoctrination into our beloved Corps by receiving the spine chilling Yellow Footprints speech.

There is a running joke that Drill Instructors use. The joke is that there is a highly advanced machine directly under the yellow footprints that when activated by the voice of the Drill Instructor will suck every bit of common sense that a civilian has out. I have no doubt that their parents spent approximately 18 years trying to teach their children the life skills needed to survive, and being a parent myself I understand that the parents of these civilians might take offense to that fact. It is not easy for anyone to think that they might not have prepared their offspring enough to be able to take on the world, but that is not what I am saying. At that point in civilian’s life on the Depot all the teaching and parenting in the world that parents give would not change the inevitable outcome of the Yellow Footprints Epidemic.

Sandboxx is a mobile app that enables comms to exist throughout the military journey. The entire DOD organizational structure built into Sandboxx lets those in uniform and their families stay connected like never before possible. Sandboxx Letters continues the mission by give loved ones the ability to send physical mail to those in basic or on deployment. Learn more about how Sandboxx is revolutionising the way our military community thrives at www.sandboxx.us and download the app here, www.sandboxx.us/app.

Preparing to become a Marine Officer

superior thinking has always overwhelmed superior force

I strongly believe that leadership, fitness, and ethics play an enormous role in not only preparing to become an officer but maintaining a good status once in.

Emma 1

Ductus Exemplo translated from Latin means Lead By Example. Any leader knows that one must lead from the front to be effective and respected but those under their command. I have taken the initiative to not only continue to better myself as a person but also as a future officer by holding leadership positions, both at home and at college. I have held and organized several fundraising efforts, in various roles, for the local animal shelter and underprivileged children. I am currently the vice president of my school’s student veterans organization, which is designed to help our nation’s service members successfully transition from the battlefield to the classroom.

Maintaining and excelling physically is key not only for mission readiness and success, but also to set a good example for those I will one day lead. Nobody wants a lackluster officer that can barely meet fitness standards as their leader. I train six days a week by running and lifting weights. I target every muscle group to prepare myself for the rigors of Officer Candidates School. I will admit that my three mile run can use some improvement, but I continue to push myself to achieve the ideal run time of 21 minutes. It is perfectly okay if there are some aspects of your fitness that need help, but train hard to better yourself and never give up.

Emma 2

Ethics is just as important as being a leader and holding yourself to high physical standards. As a future leader, I have kept and continue to keep my nose clean by engaging in various activities on campus as well as in the community here at school and at home. I have kept myself out of trouble by participating in healthy actives, such as horseback riding. I grew up on a farm and would often find myself pitching in doing whatever needed to be done. My time was so occupied that I never had a chance or opportunity to get in trouble. I am incredibly grateful for such supportive parents, my two brothers and friends. I credit the way I was raised in keeping on the correct course. For those looking at joining, surround yourself with a positive support system that promotes a healthy lifestyle.

Emma Wade – Marine Officer Candidate

Sandboxx is a mobile app that enables comms to exist throughout the military journey. The entire DOD organizational structure built into Sandboxx lets those in uniform and their families stay connected like never before possible. Sandboxx Letters continues the mission by give loved ones the ability to send physical mail to those in basic or on deployment. Learn more about how Sandboxx is revolutionising the way our military community thrives at www.sandboxx.us and download the app here, www.sandboxx.us/app.

Advice from 11 years of mentoring Future Jarheads

G. Perez started Future Jarheads in 2004 by accident when an increasing number of Future Marines were asking for advice and mentoring. Now thousands of Future Jarheads use the Facebook group and website, both packed with information and real-life experiences from Perez and other Marines. Team Sandboxx asked him a few questions about his own career, Future Jarheads and the most important piece of advice that he gives every poolee.

What was your MOS?
My MOS was Radio Operator and I was stationed with an infantry unit and was assigned to a grunt company.

How long were you in & where were you based?
I served one enlistment and was stationed at MCB Hawaii with 1/3, aka The Lavadogs.

Future Jarheads

What were the best and worst parts of serving?
The best part of serving for me was getting to learn about others. Seeing others complain and break down for the simplest of things inspired me and showed me how different I was. Seeing the many Marines who ran around being fake brothers also taught me a lot about people and about myself. And of course the overall USMC experience taught me all about me, life, and it showed me what I was truly capable of. My service clearly showed me that toughness is not measured in muscles or how fast you can run but instead how you go about handling your day to day life.

The worst part for me was seeing how fake people could be, especially when they used their title of Marine to look down on others and to hide behind.

Why did you start Future Jarheads?
Future Jarheads was started by accident. In 2004 I discovered the internet and came online to ask a question about cooking food. I stumbled on to the military section and answered several questions. Soon after I was getting emails asking me for more advice and it took off from there. Future Jarheads is a result of all of those who have asked me questions and it is not something I had planned on doing. Over the years I have learned that I was born with natural mentoring skills and this is why we are now heading into our 11th year.

Future Jarheads

If you could give a Future Jarhead one piece of advice, what would it be?

Try your best to understand and accept yourself no matter how much you desire to be like someone else. Until you live your true life, you will simply be living a lie. More understanding, less judging and a whole lot more loving is what I expect and demand out of each of you. Do not let the USMC define you and never feel that by earning the title of Marine that this entitles you to anything special. KILL!!

Families can send messages and photos from the Sandboxx app to service members and recruits who are off-the-grid without their phones. Just type your message on the app, add a photo and hit send. We’ll print and send your letter and include a stamped, addressed return envelope. Sandboxx is also a great place to find and connect with your current and past units. 

Is your JROTC using Sandboxx?

why jrotc units should use the sandboxx app

Recruits can never receive enough mail while they are going through basic training or boot camp. Family and friends promise to write but often forget. Team Sandboxx was delighted to learn last month that East Forsyth High School JROTC was using Sandboxx to keep their alumni motivated. When recruits receive this support from the outside world, it can significantly help with morale.

How many of your JROTC alumni go through basic training each year?

We usually have between 10-15 cadets go to basic training after their senior year. This year we’ve had roughly 8 or 9 go to basic and a few current students are already enlisted, but waiting to graduate high school.


How are you using Sandboxx to keep in touch with alumni?

We find out where our alumni are doing basic or even where they are stationed and we go on Sandboxx to write them letters and try to keep in contact with them.


How is this easier than what you have done previously?

We actually haven’t done anything like this before. It’s nice to find a way to keep in contact with alumni while they are taking the transition from civilian to troop life.


Do current cadets send letters to former cadets?

We are new to this program, but that seems like a good idea when we have free time during classes. Right now it is between me (Erick Messer, Public Affairs Officer), our Senior Army Instructor, LTC Walter McCormick, and Army Instructor, MSG Dale Hissim.


Sandboxx is an app for service members, recruits, their families and supporters. It was created by two Marines and a Marine father who wanted to make it easier to stay in touch with family when off-the-grid without a phone and with units when they were back home. Download Sandboxx free.

10 Final Tips Before Taking The ASVAB

So you’re about to take the ASVAB and you want to do really well. To make sure that you nail the exam, we have put together a last minute ASVAB exam technique guide.



1. The Day Before the

If you are feeling nervous or worried the day
before the exam, meet up with friends or work out. It’s important to get a good
night’s sleep before the exam so that you’ll have a clear head and give
yourself the best chance of getting good results.

2. Know where you’re

Make sure to arrive at the exam hall well before
the exam. You do not need the unnecessary stress of getting delayed in traffic
or not being able to find the exam location. If possible, visit the location in
advance so that you can concentrate on your exam on the day. Obviously if you
are sitting the exam at your school this will not be a issue.

3. Ask Questions

Follow the instructions of the invigilators. If you
are uncertain of anything, do not be afraid to ask questions. They are there to
help you.

4. Know which exam
format you’re taking

As you probably know, the ASVAB can be taken in a
pencil or computer format. The format you are taking will depend on the
location of your exam. Each of these exams requires a different strategy and
has different rules.

Advice for the Pen and Paper (P&P) ASVAB

· You can skip questions and return to them with the
P&P exam. If you find a question particularly difficult, skip it and come
back to it at the end.

· If you run out of time, guess the remainder of the

· Make sure you completely erase incorrect answers
and only mark one answer.

· Throughout the exam, make sure that you are
answering the correct question. Unfortunately there are always a handful of
people who get to the end of the exam and realise they skipped a question and
have been filling the wrong answers.

Advice for the Computer

· Once you have answered a question, you are not
allowed to return to that question again. Make sure that you answer it

· The computer-based test uses adaptive testing. This
means that if you answer a question correctly then the next question is more
difficult. If you answer a question incorrectly then the next question is
easier. Just answer the question and don’t worry if it seems more difficult or

5. Read the questions

Once you sit down to
take the exam, read and listen to the instructions carefully. These will differ
depending on the type of the exam. With the CAT ASVAB for example, the keyboard
will have only a few keys that you need to use. Pressing an invalid key may disqualify your results and you may have to
return another day to resit the exam.


points are not deducted for incorrect answers – guess, but make an educational
guess. When taking a P&P format test, read through the questions, first,
and then answer the ones that are easiest for you, first. If there is time
remaining for the tougher questions, you should guess. With the CAT-ASVAB you
only get one question at a time, so you can’t leave the tougher questions to
guess at the end.

tips on how guess with the best chance of success:

· Eliminate answers that are obviously wrong.

· If you can’t eliminate any answers, then always
guess the same letter. Statistically this will increase the probably of
guessing correctly.

7. Time

should know how long to spend on each question before going into the exam. Bring
a watch with you and make sure that you do not spend too much time on any
individual question.

there is time remaining at the end of the exam review your answers. You will
not be allowed leave a P&P ASVAB until everyone has finished.

Focus on your own Exam

Don’t waste any time
and energy looking to see what others are doing. People often get worried that
others have 5 questions answered while you are finishing your second. Eyes down
and stick to your strategy. You want your complete focus and attention on your

Don’t look back

Once you finish a
question, just concentrate on the next one. This is easier to do with the
CAT-ASVAB because you can’t return to a question that you have answered. Don’t
waste any time wondering if it was right or wrong – your attention will be
better spent trying to get this one correct.

Don’t Stress

You can re-sit the ASVAB
if you don’t get the score that you need. Although it’s better to get it done
the first time, it is not the end of the world if something goes wrong on the
day. Everyone will think the worst after the exam. Like one recruit said , “I took my ASVAB
a few weeks ago and was freaking out.  I didn’t even want to open my
scores till my recruiter made me open it, I was surprised on how well I
did. ” Use the nervous energy and adrenaline to your advantage.

Best of luck from Team


Sandboxx is the military
app for service members, their families and friends. It was founded by two
veterans – Major General Ray Smith & Sgt. Sam Meek. Download Sandboxx here.