At Marine boot camp, the drill instructor never smiles

Marine boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., is anything but funny to a 17-year-old snot-nosed kid like myself, but it did have its moments. The drill instructors always singled someone out and gave him a nickname; so it was with us. The drill instructor called a kid from West Virginia, whose real name was William Hill, Hill Billy. Every day at mail call the drill instructor screamed "Hill Billy! Get your [you know what] front and center."

"Sir! William Hill, reporting as ordered, sir!" the kid would answer.

The drill instructor would climb all over this kid about his name. After a few more days of this, the drill instructor screamed out, "Hill Billy! Front and center."

This kid, who reminded everyone of Gomer Pyle from the TV series, scrambled up in front of the drill instructor and stated in a loud, high-pitched voice, "Sir! Pvt. Hill Billy reporting as ordered, sir!"

It cracked the whole platoon up. The drill instructor, who never loses his composure, had to turn around to try and stifle his laughter.

"Shut up!" he screamed at those of us who were still grinning. Yes, it cost us some push-ups, but the old drill instructor still was grinning as he left the squad bay.

Parris Island, S.C.

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