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Marine Boot Camp: What you need to know before you go

If you’ve made your commitment to enlisting in the United States Marine Corps you have …

Recruits of Bravo Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, marches in formation during a company hike July 15, 2017, on Parris Island, S.C. Conditioning hikes, like this six-mile hike, prepare recruits for the physical rigors of the Crucible. Bravo Company is scheduled to graduate Sept. 1, 2017. Parris Island has been the site of Marine Corps recruit training since Nov. 1, 1915. Today, approximately 19,000 recruits come to Parris Island annually for the chance to become United States Marines by enduring 12 weeks of rigorous, transformative training. Parris Island is home to entry-level enlisted training for approximately 49 percent of male recruits and 100 percent of female recruits in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph Jacob)

If you’ve made your commitment to enlisting in the United States Marine Corps you have successfully taken the first step towards earning the title of United States Marine. The journey that lies ahead is not an easy one, and recruits going to boot camp will face many battles. To help you be the most successful recruit at Marine boot camp we’ve compiled a list of the top things you should know before you go.

  1. Marine Ranks
  2. Rifleman’s Creed
  3. 11 General Orders
  4. Marine Corps Core Values
  5. Marine Hymn
  6. Marine Corps Leadership Traits
  7. Military Time

Read below and begin your journey before Marine boot camp to learn exactly what you need to know about each item and our Sandboxx TIPs on how to memorize them.

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1. Marine Corps. Rank

Pay GradeTitleInsigniaSpoken Description
E-1Private (PVT)No InsigniaNo Description
E-2Private First Class (PFC) 1 stripe
E-3Lance Corporal (LCpl ) 1 stripe with crossed rifles
E-4Corporal (Cpl) 2 stripes with crossed rifles
E-5Sergeant (Sgt) 3 stripes with crossed rifles
E-6Staff Sergeant (SSgt) 3 stripes, crossed rifles and 1 rocker
E-7Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) 3 stripes, crossed rifles and 2 rockers
E-8Master Sergeant (MSgt) 3 stripes, crossed rifles and 3 rockers
E-8First Sergeant (1st Sgt) 3 stripes, diamond and 3 rockers
E-9Master Gunnery Sergeant (MGySgt) 3 stripes, exploding bomb and 4 rockers
E-9Sergeant Major (SgtMaj) 3 stripes, a star and 4 rockers
E-9Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps (SMMC) 3 stripes, 2 stars on either side of a Marine Corps emblem and 4 rockers

Memorizing the rank structure before going to Marine boot camp will help you be able to focus on all of the other material will will be required to learn at boot camp.

Sandboxx Tip: Make flash cards with the rankings on them or download the iCorps app to help you practice.

2. Rifleman’s Creed

This is my rifle.
There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My rifle is my best friend. It is my life.
I must master it as I must master my life.
Without me, my rifle is useless.
Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true.
I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me.
I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will…

My rifle and I know that what counts in war
is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make.
We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit…

My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life.
Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength,
its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel.
I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready.
We will become part of each other. We will…

Before God, I swear this creed.
My rifle and I are the defenders of my country.
We are the masters of our enemy.
We are the saviors of my life.
So be it, until victory is America’s
and there is no enemy, but peace!

Sandboxx Tip: Focus on getting the first paragraph memorized. You will have time during boot camp to get to the rest, don’t overwhelm yourself.

3. The 11 General Orders for the Sentry

  1. To take charge of this post and all government property in view.
  2. To walk my post in a military manner, keeping always on then alert and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing.
  3. To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce.
  4. To repeat all calls from posts more distant from the guardhouse than my own.
  5. To quit my post only when properly relieved.
  6. To receive, obey, and pass on the sentry who relieves me, all orders from the commanding officer, officer of the day, and officers and noncommissioned officers of the guard only.
  7. To talk to no one except in line of duty.
  8.  To give the alarm in case of fire or disorder.
  9. To call the corporal of the guard in any case not covered by instructions.
  10. To salute all officers and all colors and standards not cased.
  11. To be especially watchful at night and, during the time for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near my post and to allow no one to pass without proper authority.

Sandboxx Tip: Make flash cards with each order and have someone you know quiz you along with your rank structure flash cards.

4. Marine Corps Core Values


This is the bedrock of our character. It is the quality that empowers Marines to exemplify the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior: to never lie, cheat, or steal; to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity; to respect human dignity; and to have respect and concern for each other. It represents the maturity, dedication, trust, and dependability that commit Marines to act responsibly, be accountable for their actions, fulfill their obligations, and hold others accountable for their actions.


The heart of our Core Values, courage is the mental, moral, and physical strength ingrained in Marines that sees them through the challenges of combat and the mastery of fear, and to do what is right, to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct, to lead by example, and to make tough decisions under stress and pressure. It is the inner strength that enables a Marine to take that extra step.


This is the spirit of determination and dedication within members of a force of arms that leads to professionalism and mastery of the art of war. It promotes the highest order of discipline for unit and self and is the ingredient that instills dedication to Corps and country 24 hours a day, pride, concern for others, and an unrelenting determination to achieve a standard of excellence in every endeavor. Commitment is the value that establishes the Marine as the warrior and citizen others strive to emulate.

Sandboxx Tip: Make flashcards with these core values and what they mean. Talk to your friends and family about what Honor, Courage and Commitment mean to you. 

5. Marine Hymn:

From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marines.

Our flag’s unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.

Here’s health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we’ve fought for life
And never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.

Sandboxx Tip: Focus on one stanza at a time. Find a video on youtube that has the Marine Corps Hymn lyrics and practice along.

6. USMC Leadership Traits

1. Justice

2. Judgement

3. Dependability

4. Integrity

5. Decisiveness

6. Tact

7. Initiative

8. Endurance

9. Bearing

10. Unselfishness

11. Courage

12. Knowledge

13. Loyalty

14. Enthusiasm

Sandboxx Tip: Use the name mnemonic “JJ DID TIE BUCKLE” to memorize all fourteen traits. 

7. Military Time

While in the military you will ALWAYS refer to time on a 24 hour clock. This means you will no longer have a 5pm rather a 17:00. Military time may seem confusing but is an easy adjustment.

Learn how to Tell Military Time so you can start practicing before you get to BMT.

Sandboxx Tip: Change the time on your phone to a 24 hour clock so that you can start to get familiar with military time.

Whether you have a few weeks or months before you ship to boot camp, it is never too early or late to start preparing for Marine boot camp. You will be challenged mentally and physically, but putting in the effort to learn these now will help you be more successful when you arrive and begin your journey to earning the title of United States Marine.

While at Marine boot camp you’ll quickly learn that mail call is the best time of the day. Receiving mail will be the best morale boost while you are at training. Have your friends and family sign up for Sandboxx so that they can send you Letters and support your throughout your training. Create your account on Sandboxx now and invite them to sign up.

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The editorial team at Sandboxx.