United States Marine Corps’ Recruit Separation Platoon

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

  • N/A

    I was stuck in RSP for 4 weeks exactly. Long story.

  • Morgan Beach

    RSP September 2013…3 weeks…fuck that place!!!!

  • Morgan Beach

    By the way the PEB guys generally go insane.

  • Vfore

    Rsp is the most depressing place to be at. I was there for about 16 days. Being the fact that i was dropped on training day 30 , it made it worse. I walked into Rsp and realized that over 90% of the drops were from receiving weeks. This was so crazy to think that people didnt make it out of receiving week, i felt so lucky to have made it as far as i did. In Rsp you meet two kinds of people those who quit and those who didnt. Many get there and decide that they dont wanna do it anymore but then theres those like me who would do anything to get back to training with my platoon.
    Every day you wake up and not know when you are going home. This feeling is literally the worst feeling. Every day unless it was sunday we would go to working parties. Which generally let me see The island from a different point of view. I was the one who gave clothing to the receiving recruits of that week. It was so different than what you see when you are the one in receiving. But besides working , we would sit on our footlockers and wait the day out. I would count the hours left until lights out and then the next day do it all over again. But if you were like me you would be tired each day from 2 hours of fire watch every day until i left, all because of falling asleep during firewatch, even though everyone did it. Fire watch in rsp was basically a joke because of the fact that we get loced in at night with alarms so there was no need for us.
    One of the worst feelings was being made fun of by other platoons and or Drill Instructors. Being from 2nd phase were generally you get yelled at when you fuck up and not for random reasons like in 1st phase it made me feel so bad about myself. Generally all the Drill Instructors label Rsp all as quitters. But the only good thing about it all was the friends i made there. We were all going through the same thing so it was easier to get along. These are friends that will last a lifetime.

    • S.
    • madmike

      Out of curiosity does ANYONE ever go from RSP back to a training plt? What happens if a recruit who quits decides he wants to go back and stick it out? We had a recruit named Albanese who took 9 months to graduate from PI since he kept getting stress fractures but the guy made it and graduated with us.

  • bonafried

    Does anyone know when the family of someone in RSP finds out the exact day they are leaving? My Girlfriend has been in RSP for two weeks now. In the past few letters I have gotten she has said she is next on the list and that she thinks she is leaving this Tuesday (today). Well it’s 5:30pm and her family hasn’t heard anything yet. I’m pretty sure she isn’t coming home today. So when will we know what day she is coming home?

    • StillintheFight

      There’s no “list,” and there’s no projected date for her to go home… she’ll be able to call you and tell you once she knows for sure.

      • bonafried

        So does that mean there is a chance we may not know until the day of?

        • StillintheFight

          You should know before the day of. Do you or her parents have any contact with the recruiting station that enlisted your girlfriend? They can call right down to RSP and ask what’s going on.

          • bonafried

            Yeah. I asked him if he knew anything and he said he would just be put on hold and wouldn’t bother calling down. He told me she is the best person to get info from. Obviously not… She thought she would be home three days ago. We were hoping for today but its 1:30 and we haven’t heard anything.

          • StillintheFight

            I’m not smart enough to know any way to private message you via disqus to try and help you more…

          • bonafried
  • RSP_for_39_days

    Greetings, I just want to add that I was also in RSP. I was a sleepover for 4 days before I was medically cleared, but I had to wait another 35 whole days (!!) before I could leave. (average time was about 7-18 days after being cleared) My paperwork was apparently ‘lost’ while I was there. Being in RSP will damn near drain the life out of you. It sucks. Everyone was unmotivated, it’s a depressing experience. But you get 3 square meals, and an extra hour of sleep compared to training companies.

    Occasionally fights would break out and the DI would disperse it. For anyone that has a family member or knows someone who is in RSP, just relax. They’re coming home and they’re fine (probably). Whether they were classified as FTA (failure to adapt), fraud, medical drop, etc. Also, since they were on active duty for less than 180 days they’ll get an ELS (Entry Level Separation discharge).

    For civilian employers it’s the equivalent of a honorable or general under honorable conditions discharge. It won’t hurt their career or college chances at all.

    However, most likely they can’t re enlist into any branch without a waiver. (see re entry codes) If they apply for a federal job the government will get to find out why you were dropped, what your re entry code is, etc.

    They’ll have 2 DD214 (discharge sheet) sheets. One for civilian employers. (less information) And one for federal employers. (they get the full scoop)

    Hope this answers a few question about RSP..

  • broman

    Man that is really depressing, but hey the bright side of the spectrum is that you’re free from the monotonous b.s. Also it doesn’t matter what the D.I.s told you about leaving and all the garbage they said because realistically their word means absolutely nothing. You can make it in life without the military.

  • SouthernScout41

    Thank you for this “article” My son is currently in RSP # Parris Island and I had ZERO clue what was going on with him. The only thing I know is he left on a Monday morning..I believe we got the 13 second phone call on Weds or Thu. On Sunday morning we received a call that the DI had called the Gunny here @ the Sub Station to say my son was failing to adapt and did not want to be in the USMC. He had not even gone to his assigned Battalion (1rst) when he made this decision..They sent him to the Naval Dr’s on Monday they said he was fine medically he simply did not want to be there. He refuses to say why just that his Dad would understand (former Marine himself) “It’s just not for me sir” “Its not what I thought sir”. Im at a complete loss as to what could have happened. His Dad is a former Marine (discharged other than honorable..the USMC really just made him a more powerful A-hole)..he knew what to expect, had been planning this for the past four years, graduated HS early so he could leave shortly after his 18th birthday. I dont get it..but let me say this..I am just as PROUD of him today as I was the day he left or any other day of his life..Im just ready to see him and talk about whatever happened..Anyway thank you again although your article is somewhat heartbreaking for me as a Mother it is also a relief to have more of an idea what his daily life is like right now.