1/5 Life in Uniform

“So, boom! I’m in the Marine Corps. … April second, I’m at Parris Island in boot camp. And I immediately conclude that everybody down there has gotta be crazy. … And so, for me, boot camp was kind of a game. It was, you know, "Remember, Milton, you gotta hold on to your sanity, and these guys here in the Smokey the Bear hats, they are crazy as hell! So you just gotta go with the flow, but remember, you gotta get out of here still sane.”

Milton Jones, U.S. Marine Corps, Vietnam War

Certain experiences are familiar to every veteran, whether their service was in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force, or Space Force. Each branch of the military has its own customs and traditions.

These stories are about basic practices that are familiar to all military branches, including drill instructors, chow lines, and TDY—temporary duty travel. There are also branch-specific traditions, such as hammerhead stalls, trusty shellbacks, Devil Dogs, and PLFs—parachute landing falls.

Hear more veteran voices on this topic.