Rites of Passage – United States Marine Corps

When new Marines join the fleet and are officially part of the United States Marine Corps they are called boots. These Marines are considered boots until they gain seniority and especially when they get junior Marines that they are put in charge of. There are various pranks and tricks played on these new Marines. When a new Marine comes to work he may be asked to find an ID-10 Tag. This Marine will then go around asking others where he might be able to locate an ID-10 Tag. Everyone is usually in on the joke because they have all been through it before and they all usually play along. They will tell the Marine random locations or send him to another Marine who will also keep the wild goose chase going. Eventually the Mane will be told, or find out, that an ID-10 Tag does not actually exist. ID-10 Tag is actually code for IDIOT.

A boot may also be sent to hunt down a PRC-E5 (pronounced prick-ee-five). This prank is a little less forgiving than others. E5 is the pay grade of a Sergeant in the Marine Corps. He is in essence being asked to find a Sergeant who is a prick. When the Marine actually finds the Sergeant and tells him he was told to ask for a PRC-E5 the Sergeant may not be too happy that some boot is calling him a prick. What often ends up happening is the Sergeant hunts down the Marine that sent the boot to him and reprimands that individual. After being scolded, the Marine usually makes it a task to somehow punish the boot that went to the Sergeant. This prank is not exclusive to Sergeants it can be used amongst Marines of any pay grade.

Usually pranks like these occur during a workday when there is not much to do and senior Marines are bored. It is uncommon for these pranks to happen during combat deployment mainly because there is not much time to initiate boots when constant danger exists. These pranks are usually conducted by senior Marines who “know the ropes.” Often someone will take pity on a boot and inform him that he is being screwed with. When I first joined my unit I was sent on a series of wild goose chases and eventually I was pulled aside by a fellow Marine and informed that I as being tricked. I actually became extremely angry because I was more eager to actually do legitimate work than participating in what I felt were sophomoric pranks. I was so angry at being duped, in fact, that I never forgave the Marine that duped me and hold a grudge against him to this very day.

Some Marines swear by the utility in playing pranks on their new Marines. They feel it teaches them to distinguish ridiculous and unfounded orders from legitimate ones. I feel that it is more important to actually do ones job properly and save the games for non-work hours. I have had any arguments with other Marines over this subject and whenever I see a boot being tricked I inform him as soon as humanly possible. This resulted in senior Marines pranking their boots only when I was not around because they knew I would spoil their fun.

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