I walked into Recruit Separation Platoon on October 23rd 2009. As always I barely had any idea of what was going on while being at Parris Island. RSP consists of a Squad bay in the main receiving building on Parris Island. When you enter RSP you hand over most of your military equipment because you don’t need it anymore. I turned in all my digital camouflage. I was assigned to rack 89 which was right next to the drill instructor house. I was given a pair of dull green sweatpants and matching sweat shirt. I was also given a glow strap and war belt. (belt that holds two canteens). I then filled out paperwork at the tables next to the scribe desk. I filled out general information about myself and where the closest Greyhound bus station was to my house. Still being somewhat new to Parris Island I was shaky on all the rules and proper way to act. When you are in RSP you are still considered a recruit and you need to conduct yourself as such. Many new recruits who enter RSP don’t comprehend this very well.
The Standard day in RSP consists of waking up at 5:00 AM. We all then line up in front of our racks and count off. If we mess up we start over. We are then instructed to start “hygiene”. Morning hygiene is supposed to consist of brushing your teeth and shaving. However many recruits would skip the shave because while I was at RSP for my two and a half weeks we only had hygiene inspection twice. Racks are also supposed to be made “tight” in the morning. This means you need to make your bed in the marine fashion. 45 degree corners on the sheets at the head of the bed and 45 degree corners at the end of the rack on the green wool blanket. Lastly the sheet needs to be folded down from the head 18 inches. My rack looked like crap for the first few days and then I started to get the hang of it. After everyone finishes hygiene and making their racks we line up for chow. Everyone puts on their war belt and glow strap ( yellow reflective strap that goes from left shoulder to right hip.) Then we go next door to line up at the back hatch in the PEB (Physical Evaluation Board) squad bay. PEB recruits are recruits who become seriously injured and are also working on getting home except their paperwork goes to D.C. and takes them about 2-4 months (guess) to get home. We line up in columns of two in front of that hatch on average there was about 90 to 100 recruits at one time including PEB recruits. (80 RSP – 20 PEB) We would wait for a bus or two to come pick us up to bring us to chow hall. The Waiting factor in RSP is what makes you crazy and feel like you are there for an eternity. My guess is that we would be waiting in line for up 30 – 45 minutes. We all then would get on the Bus and “crush it”. crushing it consists of interlocking legs and pushing down towards the end of the bus in order to fit the most recruits possible. The busses had Plexiglas windows that were very scratched. They also had benches in the middle and edges that were parallel to the bus.
When we arrive at the chow hall we get off the bus and get into a formation of 4 columns with the 4 squad leaders at the front facing their line. We then will file ourselves off one column at a time into the chow hall. We then would usually wait in line at the chow hall for 15- 40 minutes for chow to be ready. The etiquette for getting chow is pretty simple. The guide will instruct the next 3 rows (6 recruits) to detach out ever 2 minutes or so. You will then get chow and place it at a table. Then you go up and get your drink. After chow we will head back to the squad bay and count off again. The drill instructor would then instruct us to “turn to cleanup” cleanup consists of all the RSP recruits getting cleaning equipment ( brooms, scuzz brushes, metal polish, cleaning spray, dust pans, and others.) The recruits then split up making sure they all have their war belt and glow strap on. Recruits can leave the squad bay and clean around the whole building. Cleaning will take anywhere from 15 minutes to and hour. After we finished cleaning we would head back to the RSP squad bay and sit on our foot lockers. If we have been following the rules then we will “turn to free time” If not we sit on the quarterdeck. During free time we were allowed to read, write letters, and talk quietly. During my first few days I would talk to recruits to figure out what was going on and what was going to happen. Here is what I learned
The recruit who enters RSP is only supposed to be in RSP for 7 to 10 business days once they have been cleared by medical.
A “sleep over” is a recruit in RSP who cannot go down to be cleared by medical because his medical records have not reached the medical building yet.
I was a sleep over for one week. I got cleared by medical on November 2nd. After you get cleared by medical you can try to calm down because you are pretty much going to be going home no later than 2 weeks.
After morning free time the whole process starts over again. We go to chow, come back, clean, free time, go to chow, clean , and have free time again.
About an hour before we go to bed we will do evening hygiene. Evening hygiene consists of brushing teeth, shaving and taking a shower. We would then count off and hit the rack at 8 pm as the 5 fire watch recruits are called.
One of the most depressing things about being in RSP is fire watch. I hated being woken up at 11 or 1 in the morning to stand at a post with a flashlight for an hour. You simply stand there and think “Wow it really sucks to be waiting around here like this”. We then will wake up at 5 am and the day starts over again.
I left on November 10th I was pretty relieved to finally put my civilian clothes on after wearing sweat pants for two and a half weeks.
There is barely any information on the Recruit Separation Platoon online. I am hoping this information helps anyone who is thinking about enlisting who wishes to get the most information they can about the US Marine corps .
Source: James Douglas