Being sent to a bootcamp, or enlisting in the army can be a terrifying experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are 29 funny stories from people’s bootcamp experiences.
1. Capture the Flag
Probably the only fun night I had was basic was about in our third week. We were out in the field (doing training and staying out in the woods for a week) and one of our drill sergeants came up to us and told us he wanted us to steal the other company’s guide on (flag the company uses to identify them self in front of formations). He equipped us with duct tape and rope told us to give them hell. Once it became nightfall and soldiers had went in their tents to sleep we made our move. We sneaked through the tree line and event found their night guard. We tackled them both to the ground and duct taped their mouths shut then moved to a tree and tied them up. The search for the guide on began. We went through a bunch of tents, tie in and sacking people until we finally found it. Once we got it we ran back to our area and handed it to our drill sergeant. In reward the following Sunday of us getting back he let us sleep 2 hours in. Which is a huge thing when your always sleep deprived.
2. Recruit Jackson
We had a kid in my bootcamp platoon named Jackson. The Senior Drill Instructor was Sgt. Jackson. Poor recruit Jackson was known as ‘Recruit laundry number 38’ for the whole time because he didn’t like the name Jackson.
3. Wisdom Teeth
The first couple weeks of boot are full of medical and dental exams, and if you need a procedure, you get it done right there. Tons of guys had their wisdom teeth pulled, and we had one guy come back right before lights out with his mouth full of gauze and loopy from the drugs. Our DI called us all to the center of the room, formed us up, and then told us to sit Indian style on the floor, and that Recruit Toothy was going to tell us a bedtime story. He pulled up a chair for Toothy, and then told him to tell us the story of the battle of the Monitor and Merrimac. Toothy mumbled that he didn’t know the story, so the DI told him to just make it up, and for every fact that he got right, we’d get to sleep an extra 5 minutes in the morning. What followed was like a live episode of Drunk History, minus any factual accuracy. As best as Toothy could recall, the Monitor was British, the Merrimack was ‘Old Ironsides’, and that in the end, ‘they shot the sh-t out of each other and everybody died. The end’. We were all dying laughing, but the DI sat there stone faced. After Toothy was done, DI just stood up and said ‘That is exactly how it happened. Well done’, got up, turned off the lights, and walked out.
4. Flipping The Mattress
In the barracks where I did my basic we had ‘cubicles’ our bunks that were separated by a half wall. My bed and the bed of the troop next to me were both against that half wall. Part of our layout for inspection was a specific set of gear on the bed. One morning inspection our platoon Sgt decided that the bed layout of the troop next to me was utter things so the Sgt flipped the mattress so hard it landed on my bunk covering my layout. So after the Sgt finished reaming out the troop next to me he takes one look at my bunk and starts reaming me out because apparently I think I’m special and deserve two mattresses.
5. End of The Line
I had the pleasure of witnessing this one myself. At the end of the chow line the MTIs have a table called the Snake Pit. The MTIs randomly pull out trainees and question them on stuff we’re supposed to know. One day, they pull out one poor sap from our brother flight. It went roughly as follows:
TI: ‘Trainee! What is the insignia of the full Colonel?’ Trainee: ‘The insignia of the Colonel is the bird sir.’
TI: ‘What type of bird exactly?!’ Trainee: ‘Permission to adjust sir?’ TI: ‘…. Adjust ….’ Trainee then proceeds to SET HIS TRAY ON THEIR TABLE, put is hands up in the ‘Egyptian’ pose but with both hands outward, turns his head to the side and says ‘Like this sir.’ The onlooking TIs nearly choked on their food while the questioning TI stared at him dumbfoundedly for a few moments before yelling at him to ‘Get (his) stuff off of (their) table and get out of (their) sight’. Oh that was probably one of the best times I’ve seen a TI at a loss for words.
6. A New Hope
Brother was in basic. He was in the chow hall and witnessed a TI (authority figure) call out someone who had placed their flashlight in their belt. I guess you’re not supposed to do that. So the TI lights him up, ‘Is that where you keep your flashlight?! Is it a light saber Luke!?’ He made him stand at the end of two cafeteria lines, holding his flashlight like a light saber and striking dead the airmen that were leaving the two lines. At one point, there was a lull in traffic and the TI screams, ‘OH, SO LIGHT SABERS DON’T MAKE NOISE WHEN THEY’RE MOTIONLESS?’ So old buddy has to make the ‘bzzzzzhmmmm’ noise as he waits for his next victim”
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7. Get Low
The worst part of being there is that you can’t laugh or you get punished, too. And superiors can be some funny. When I was in boot, one of the cafeteria workers walked through the chow hall while we were eating. She was quite obese, and wearing Apple Bottom jeans. Our superior was sitting at the head of the table, and started humming ‘Get Low’. Naturally, we all laughed. So, after chow, we went back to our bunks and got smoked. A superior put Get Low on the speakers, we did jumping jacks to the beat until they sang ‘She hit the floor’, at which point we had to hit the floor and do pushups while singing. And every time we laughed, he started the song over. I still shudder when I hear it.
8. Pump Your Fist
Was toward the end of RTC, and we were playing some trivia game. We were divided up into males vs. females and it got pretty competitive. The YN1 that was keeping score saw me do a little fist pump after we got a question right that the girls missed. I ended up having to stand up and fist pump for like 40 minutes. The only reason I got to stop was because another dude got caught doing a fist pump at me jokingly. He was fist pumping for more than an hour.
9. The Final Week
Had an evening near the end of my time in Basic where there were no superiors available to watch us. The only one was on CQ duty, which mean’t that while he couldn’t watch us, he could hear us through the exceptionally sensitive address system. He warned us that if we misbehaved during our unsupervised time it would be the doom of us all. So after he left for the evening, we folded our clothes, shined our boots, then sixty guys sat on the floor next to our beds and didn’t even breath loud. After about an hour of this, the address system snapped on ‘IT’S YOUR LAST WEEK OF TRAINING! HAVE A CONVERSATION!'”
10. At Ease, Private!
Am an Army vet. One morning in Basic training, it was about midway through our 3 month cycle and we were lined up for breakfast chow. While waiting in line, we had to stand at parade rest in columns of two in our PT uniform. We couldn’t move or anything at the risk of being pointed out and screamed at. The uniform consisted of somewhat black short-shorts and a grey t-shirt that said ARMY on the front. Well, 3 guys in front of me had one of those ‘No-reason’ boners and the Drill Sergeant caught him as he was trying to move to hide it away. He pulls him off to the side and starts screaming. ‘WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PRIVATE!? WHY ARE YOUR PRIVATES SALUTING IN THE CHOW LINE!’ Of course this yelling spread to the ears of two other drills and they came over as well. ‘HEY BATTLE COME LOOK AT THIS’ ‘HEY AT EASE THAT SH-T PRIVATE!’ As this was said, they noticed and one drill sergeant bent down, face inches away from the full mast culprit and bellowed ‘AT EASE!’ ‘PRIVATE YOU BETTER GET THAT SH-T IN CHECK’ I entered into the building before I could hear anything else about it. To this day I still don’t know how the drill sergeants went through that without so much as a smirk
11. Arguing With an Idiot
After the first breakfast there we headed back up to the compartment to get ready for the day. AROC yelled, ‘Port side 5 minute pump and dump’. I whispered to my bunk mate, ‘I need a little more romance than that’. Chief overheard me somehow and got up in my face. I had to follow him to the head. Then stand in front of the mirror point at the mirror and say, ‘You’re an idiot’. Then point back at myself and then say, ‘No, I’m an idiot’. Forced to keep that up for 30 minutes. Will never forget most of the stupid stuff I did or said at basic in the Navy.
12. Hit the Ground!
A woman in my company was from Africa. She had a graduate degree in some science, so she was very smart, but some things were lost on her, especially figures of speech. When we were on the firing range we were told to keep the rifle ‘up and down range’ meaning no matter what way you were facing the end of the rifle was in the air and pointed down range. She didn’t get that and swung her rifle all over the place. Everyone hit the ground. One if the drill sergeants yelled and asked her if her brain took a dump in her head. She didn’t understand that either.
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13. I Own Your Soul
When I was on Parris Island, we were drilling on the parade deck and this one recruit kept messing up. Our drill instructor stopped us, stalked up to the recruit, and started wearing. him. out. Gave him the classic DI: screaming in both ears, spit flying, smacking him in the face with his cover. Eventually, the recruit broke down and silent tears started streaming down his face. The DI took his finger, wiped a tear from the recruits eye, and licked it, telling the recruit ‘Now I own your soul’.
14. Spoiler Alert
During my basic – the last harry potter book was coming out and a lot of people were having their parents mail them like 50 pages at a time in their letters. Eventually our instructors found out and brought the company in a room and gave away every major plot point in the book. Who died and when and just ruined the book for like hundreds of people. It was absolutely the darkest, funniest thing I’ve ever heard. To make it even funnier – when we were out in the woods and getting the trucks that brought MRE’s unloaded they made kids get sticks from the woods and have wand fights in order to see who could get eat first. It was pretty dang funny.
Also, as a fun little side story – we had this one kid in our platoon that really, really hated that they had given away the book so he decided to really get under the instructors skin and on a few occasions he really did lighten the mood and really did get the instructors pissed. A couple of examples come to mind. First being one time during PT we were doing like jumping jacks or something and right as we came to a stop he asked the instructor if he could ask a question – now at this point, the instructors knew very little of what this particular kid would turn into. So they let him ask his question…he simpled asked ‘Instructor, don’t you think it would be a good idea if we renamed the 4 platoons in our company after the 4 houses in harry potter?’ and they just ripped us a new one for that. I will admit – it was hard to be mad at the kid when we were doing push ups because I was laughing so hard. Another good example, we were watching some crappy videos about how to be good people or how to have moral character or something and the lady that did it would ask us to give examples of good moral character and the same kid kept bringing up examples of harry potter like when Ron was mean to Hermione and when harry like exhibited bravery or something. They had him forward march into a wall for like an hour for that one. He never missed a step. He was a magnificent hero. Wherever you are, I salute you…figuratively of course, I think he’s probably still enlisted.
15. Not the Right Pine Cone
Ah, yes, ‘The Pine Cone Incident’. So, I was at Basic in Fort Benning, and we were zero’ing our weapons as a company. Zero’ing a weapon is when you ensure it shoots where you want it to by shooting a paper target repeatedly. Sounds easy enough. Now, I am a terrible shot. I know this. Everyone knows this. However, I get even worse when I’m being screamed at. I spent hours on the line until, finally, there were only four of us cats who hadn’t gotten a ‘go’ in the whole company. We had three more hours of range time, and if we failed to zero, we’d be ‘recycled’. ‘Recycled’ entails having to revert to another company earlier along in Basic Training. So, not only do you lose your buddies, but you catch a couple extra weeks of training with a unit that knows you’re a screw up of some sort. So, a fate worse than death. After another unsuccessful grouping, my drill sergeant, without a word, picked me up from the prone position and stood me up. He looked at me and said ‘Go find me a pine cone’.
Confused, I took four steps, scooped up a pine cone and took it back to him. I presented him my findings, and he responded ‘Private, that’s not my pine cone, go find me my pine cone!’
Keep in mind, this is a forest in Georgia, there’s a metric sh-t ton of pine cones. So I jog off and work on my ‘mission’. This entire time, my DS is shooting all my rounds off, genuinely enjoying himself. Every pine cone I bring to him is not his pine cone. This continued for about 15 minutes while the rest of the company, sitting in a clearing eating MREs, cheered me on. Finally, I breathlessly run up and hand him another pine cone, about to jog off to grab another. He looks at me, then the pine cone, then me.
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16. The Bet You’ll Never Win
One thing that everyone must know about drill sergeants is that they are masters of wordplay. I had one who loved making bets with any soldier he could. They often were impossible to win, such as offering donuts if half the platoon scored 300 on the next PT test when the average was only about 220. But we were determined to win one of his bets before we graduated, so we took every offer he gave. One such bet he made, and I quote, ‘If we have no failures on our next PT test, I will personally make you all chocolate chip cookies.’ Eager to prove ourselves and get something other than sh-tty DFAC food for a change, we quickly agreed.
Lo and behold the day after our test he calls the platoon into the bay as he grinned evilly from ear to ear. He revealed with delight that we had no failures, and that we had won the bet. ‘So, I guess that means I’m making you chocolate chip cookies, get into PTs and report to the PT field in 5 mikes.’ We looked at each other in confusion, then looked to him for clarification, but he had already disappeared. We form up on the PT field, which was a massive pit filled with rubber chips. DS walks outside, still devilishly grinning, which was when we knew we had been duped. He puts us at attention, and walks around the side of the building for a minute, returning dragging a garden hose. He proceeds to spray the platoon as we stood helplessly at attention, soaking everyone from head to foot.
Once everyone was soaking and miserable we low crawled the PT field, up and back, up and back, on our stomachs, on our backs, on our sides, getting thoroughly covered in the rubber chips. Our commander walked out and inquired what was going on. Without skipping a beat, DS replies ‘Well sir, we made a bet that if there were no PT failures I would make them chocolate chip cookies, so now they’re chocolate chip cookies’. The CO stood and laughed for several minutes before calling out Top and a few other drill sergeants to enjoy the sight of 50 soaking wet privates miserably dragging themselves across the field. That was when we learned that you never, ever truly win a bet with a drill sergeant.
17. Shower Slip Up
Parris Island. Port side got to shower first, Starboard side next. Floor is wet from Port side. Girls in one size fits all shower shoes in various states of undress trying to rip off our bras and undies because we have less than 60 seconds left to shower. Suddenly girls start slipping on the wet floor. Once the first girl went down we all went down piling up on each other. Picture wet, naked panic with our Drill Instructor’s yelling as the background music.
18. Was That a Wave?
Went to Navy boot camp a couple of years back and we had a much older recruit going through with a relatively young group. English was clearly not his first language and he unintentionally made everyone laugh with all his idiotic shenanigans. For example, he was standing watch one night and our RDC happened to be the Duty RDC. We were given clear instructions, no less than 10 times, to pop to attention and recite whatever lines they had us memorize. Sure enough, when the Duty RDC walks into our compartment Seaman Recruit Shmuckatelly greets him with a hearty hello and a friendly wave. Our RDC’s voiced echoed through our compartment as he shouted, ‘Did you just wave at me recruit?!’
Some days after, we all go down to the pool to do our swim qual. Our RDC’s specifically told us to not wear any skivvies under our PT shorts. Again, multiple times. The aforementioned Seaman Recruit realized that he had indeed worn his skivvies and was going to be chewed out by the Dive Motivators that were running the swim qual. So he does the only rational thing that any other person in his shoes would do. He stands up in the third row of the bleachers we were in and drops trout. He then proceeds to look around nonchalantly to see if anyone noticed. I make eye contact with him as he’s looking around and give him a kind of ‘wtf dude’ look. He just kind of laughs and smiles back like his d–k isn’t 2 inches away from the dude sitting in front of him. He ended up throwing his STENCILED skivvies underneath the bleachers. None of the Dive Motivators noticed and his skivvies were never found during our time at boot camp. He currently outranks me.
19. A Salute To Nature
There are so many stories to choose from. One of the funniest is who we had to salute – every living being. Literally. So I’m walking back from a med appointment I had when a squirrel crosses my path. So I render a snappy salute and bark out a ‘Good morning, sir!’ just as an officer is walking across the street from me. He ran across the street to investigate just who the hell I was saluting. I responded, The squirrel, sir! He said, What the?? You saluted a squirrel??? Yes, sir! Who’s your company commander? Petty Officer Shanks, sir! Ok, move on dumbo. And stop saluting squirrels. Yes, sir!”
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20. Not Made for the Military
There was a recruit who I’ll call Private P. On the first day of basic training, our company was being briefed by the battalion commander and sergeant major. Private P stood up and announced that he wanted to quit. What followed was an absolute gong show, they wouldn’t let him quit, and from then on he was a target of abuse from the drill sergeants and fellow recruits. Over time his behavior became more and more concerning. He always just stared off into space, wouldn’t talk to anybody, and if anybody made fun of him/pissed him off, he’d pull out his notebook (we were all required to have one) and write something in it. One day after we had been at the rifle range to practice for qualification, we were inside the barracks conducting weapons maintenance when our senior drill sergeant told us to get outside ASAP. We were put in formation and ordered to strip down for a search/shakedown.
Obviously we asked what was going on and one of the senior drill sergeants held up a live round (live rounds are NEVER, EVER supposed to leave the range in basic training) and grabbed Private P. and brought him in front of the company. He was crying and the drill sergeants started screaming at him. We still didn’t know exactly what had happened, and then the MPs came and took him away. Turns out he had smuggled 6 live rounds, and he had written in his notebook his plan to kill his 3 platoon drill sergeants, our company commander and first sergeant, and himself. We speculated he was never going to go through with it and just wanted to get kicked out, but you never know. That was the last we saw or heard of him.
21. Hoo Yas and Giddyups
I was told to, ‘go get your handy dandy hoo ya and put it in your giddyup’. I instantly rocketed back to my rack and sincerely for about 5 seconds was panicked looking for my hoo ya. Even said it to myself as I was doing it. I then realized I had no hoo ya to find. I felt like an idiot but still was searching for my giddy up until my brain slapped itself inside my skull and forced me to realize that was not a thing either. Self Loathing I shall never forget, all in the span of about 8 seconds. Staff Sgt. Paredo, if you read this, I spent 6 years in and never got to fight a lava dragon, and never was issued a giddy up.
22. That Was Not Lotion
When I went through Infantry school at Fort Benning, there was very little to do during the small amount of down time we had. You can only write so many letters, so some people would workout, some would fight, etc. Everything was contraband, we weren’t allowed books, newspaper, anything, so we had to be pretty creative. That’s how the Battle Whack came to be. Two or more guys would go into their respective stalls, and have a jerk off race. First to finish won. And yes, you need proof. Even worse, it became a spectator sport. There would be multiple guys standing outside of the stalls, cheering. Yeah, I know. However this isn’t even the main story, so let’s get to that. So one day, there was a Battle Whack going on. I never participated, but this one caught my attention. One guy, Ski (he had a very Polish sounding last name ending in Ski), went around frantically asking for lotion. Somehow hastily gives him a dollop, and he hurries back to the latrine. I go back to my letter, but before I get very far, I hear a scream. I think there was a ‘what the f–k’ in there, but I forgot. Point is, someone was very unhappy.
See, one of the few things that wasn’t contraband was Icy Hot. And of course, that’s what they gave him. That is one of the few times I remember laughing while I was there, and I won’t soon forget it.
23. What Time Is It?
I posted this one a while back, but I think it’s worth a revisit: Marine Boot camp. We had a guy that somehow got his watch through the indoc (They take all your crap when you first get there). Well the DIs found out he had it when they saw him wearing it one day, so they put him in the squad bay trashcan and put the lid on it. Every time they walked by and kicked it he’d pop out with his watch and yell, ‘SIR THE TIME ON DECK IS ZERO-NINE-FORTY-FIVE!’ and then go back into his can like the freakin’ grouch from Sesame Street. It was really, really hard not to laugh at that.
24. Did He Mean That?
We were sitting in class one day and our PO2 comes in and tells the course senior to get everyone formed up outside. So we’re basically freaking out right now because the PO2 is the one guy on staff we don’t want to mess with. He comes out and starts marching us to a parking lot at the far side of the mega. In bitter February cold with snow falling and ice on the pavement, we proceed to do some intense quick paced drill movements. Now, every so often he’d halt us and yell at us some more. Usually because somebody was looking around instead of directly in front of them. At around the thirty minute mark, he halts us and walks out in front of us. The only thing I could hear is the sound of my platoon trying to catch their breath. Well, somebody must have looked at him because all of a sudden he screams out, ‘STOP LOOKING AT MY COCK SUCKING FACE!’ Now the only thing I could hear was the wind blowing across the parking lot. I quickly flashed my eyes towards the PO and he’s got a straight look on his face. I’m standing there quite unsure if I heard what he said correctly and I couldn’t tell by his expression if he knew what he said or not. After what felt like an eternity of silence, he turns us around and marches us back into the building. Our punishment was over and he never said anything more. My course laughed at that for the rest of basic.
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25. It’s Not Space Camp
I’ll never forget the first night, everything was super serious and there’s at least 10 MTIs yelling at everyone. I’m scared I’ll admit it, I was 18 and really confused. The guy next to me had just gotten yelled at for about 3 minutes straight and when the left him, he whispered ‘this isn’t space camp’. I’ve never had to hold back laughter harder in my life. I couldn’t bare how funny it was at that moment. The MTIs thought I was about to cry my face was so red from holding in the laughter. It was really at that moment though I realized that the MTIs really couldn’t do much to us but yell and if we just kept a positive attitude it would all work out. Anytime I got nervous, tired, or scared I would just say ‘this isn’t space camp’ to myself, laugh and continue forward.
26. No Place Like Home
My mom was at boot camp and during one of her first exercise routines where the drill sergeant was yelling at her, she started crying and said ‘I want to go home’. Overhearing her, the drill instructor ran up to here and said ‘What did you say?’ She said ‘I want to go home’. He looked at her and said ‘Spin three times and click your heels’. After she finished, he said ‘You’re mine for the next 8 weeks Dorothy. Now give me 20!’
27. Not a Friend of the Animals
I can’t remember the guy’s name, he was in my Company but a different platoon from me. Nature hated this man. One day, we were sitting down after pugil stick training to eat our MRE’s. This dude sees a raccoon and think ‘Hey, I should feed the little guy!’ So he hands a cracker to the raccoon. The raccoon first takes the cracker with his cute little hands, then bites the sh-t out of the guy’s hand and runs off. Dude didn’t need stitches, but had to get rabies shots afterwards. Fast forward a few weeks. We’re on our last ruck march, on a trail in South Carolina. I’m just trudging along, kinda zoned out, when I see some commotion up ahead and a large shadow passing through the woods. Word comes down the line, turns out that the same dude who got bit by a raccoon was run down by a deer. Thing just came out of the woods, knocked him over, and ran off. Kid swore he’d never live anywhere but the city after that.
28. Are We Friends?
After someone addressed the drill sergeant by his name, not Drill Sergeant Name, the DS screamed at him ‘Oh do you know me?! Are we friends!? Do you come over to my house on the weekend drink beer and sleep with my wife!?’ Still one of my favorites.
29. 2am Fashion Show
This one actually happened to me, I was the cause of a lot of pain. I’m a creature of sleep, and when I don’t get a decent amount my brain starts to play tricks on me when I sleep. So every night there was a CQ (the main ‘office’ for drill Sgts) and a fire guard (who just have to be awake to make sure that nobody does anything crazy at night). One night a couple weeks in, when some shift at CQ was over, there was a loudspeaker that they would talk on to warn the fireguard to wake up the next shift.
It wasn’t my shift that night, but I heard the loudspeaker which woke me up. In a sleepwalking daze, I thought it was time to wake up and go to PT. I grab my sleeping bag that I sleep in (because I didn’t want to make my bed in the morning), and start dragging it around the barracks looking for the door out. I finally found it, open it and it sets of the silent alarm to the Sergeant on duty. The first thing I actually remember is standing outside and somebody shaking me awake. 50 yards away there’s a DS doing the speed walk of death straight at me. I look down; I have my PT shirt, a pair of boxers, and a single sock on. I’m still dragging my sleeping bag behind me. The punishment? I had to wake everybody up at 2AM to have a fashion show. The drill sergeant would think of the most ridiculous outfits he could think of; belt on head, socks on arms, bed blankets tied like capes, all battle gear with a pillow tied around our heads instead of a helmet, anything. Everybody had to participate. We had to change 4 or 5 times before he was satisfied and let us go”