Chapter 3: Meet Mary Jane
“Your weapon is an extension of you. Master it, and it will save your life.” – Drill Sergeant Duffy
It’s around noon. We are sitting on the bus heading towards our basic training site. Inprocessing is complete. Drill Sergeant Johnson is yelling at us to keep our heads between our knees. Many of us are antsy, nervous, hell I was excited.
The bus comes to a stop. Next thing I know, we are running off the bus in a full sprint towards the bays with our huge duffel bag on our back.
So after settling down our luggage into our appropriate bays, we all come down to the company area and have a formation. I see a weapons rack next to the right of us with M16A2 Assault Rifles stacked up on it. I was full of excitement. I had never held a gun before, let alone an assault rifle. Drill Sergeant Duffy gives us instructions:
1) Always have your weapon at the low ready (see my picture from “The Beginning”, this is the low ready stance”)
2) Always have your weapon on safe.
3) Always have your weapon with you, or with a battle buddy.
4) Never flag (point at) anyone. We’re still in basic training and no you’re not shooting anybody.
5) Never forget your weapon.
6) Never forget your weapon.
After hearing this brief, he instructed us to grab an M16 off the rack. All these weapons clearly had seen better days. There it was. My weapon. I grabbed it, checked the chamber to make sure it was clear, and flipped it on safe. This was what I was waiting for. I was like a little kid on Christmas.
Immediately when we got personal time (1900-2100) I began to strip down the weapon, clean it, and oil it up. I kept it in pristine condition. I decided to name it Mary Jane, only because the irony is I can’t smoke Mary Jane. It was the one thing I could be creative with at Basic Training. Creativity and individualism was frowned upon. You never want to stick out.
When we went to the ranges, I took pride in her. I shot a 35/40, a Sharpshooter, at the range. She truly became an extension of me. When everything went to hell, and the Drill Sergeants would fuck our days up, I would relieve my stress by just cleaning her up. I could not call any friends, I could only write letters, but that only did so much. I did pushups and situps too sometimes, but I was already very good at that. Mary Jane kept me occupied, and out of trouble. While everyone was starting fights with one another, I would keep to myself. Me and Mary Jane.