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Nineteen-year-old Lisa Cordeiro has no idea what to do with her life. She changes her major every week at UMass Amherst, around the constant partying in college and in Boston. She never considered it before, but one day she decides to join the military. On visiting the recruiting office, a Marine recruiter convinces her to enlist active-duty in the Marine Corps. She’s headed for boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina for a thirteen-week training regime considered by many to be the most difficult military training in the world.
At Parris Island, drill instructors break recruits down as individuals and rebuild them as Marines, part of a group. It is extremely difficult for men to make it through and it’s no easier for the women. Under the relentless eyes of four women drill instructors, women recruits are challenged by a dizzying array of obstacles tearing down every inhibition and self-doubt. Every dread is exploited and every fear is confronted.
Lisa Cordeiro brings you along on an intensely personal, physical, spiritual, and sometimes comical struggle to become a Marine. Letters from family and friends allow her to temporarily escape this new world she has entered, and give readers a glimpse into her life back at home.
From choosing among the various sales pitches thrown by military recruiters to survival tactics in boot camp, Parris Island allows you to experience Marine Corps boot camp like never before.
“Get up! GET UP! Minassian, get over that wall! Your whole platoon is going to die because of you. Get over it NOW!” Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant Delaney bellowed.
I wanted to scream, What are you crazy? Of course I can’t get over this wall! But, I knew better than to question orders by then. It was the third month of boot camp and I was well-disciplined. The drill instructors were gods; we didn’t defy them.
I’m five feet tall, and the wall created by piled-up wooden structures was a foot or two higher. What did she want from me? The impossible? I was exhausted from the intense training in mock war situations. We’d run and climbed through various obstacles and my entire body ached. Gunfire exploded overhead, barbed wire lay everywhere. The skin on my knees and elbows had been scraped raw from crawling through wet sand. Dirt and sweat stung my wounds.
I didn’t think it was possible, but suddenly the situation grew worse.
Sergeant White, Staff Sergeant Gauvreau, and Sergeant Vega joined Staff Sergeant Delaney. They swarmed around me like attacking vultures. Their screaming dizzied me.
“Get over that wall!”
“You’re going to kill your whole platoon!”
“You’re going to die. Everyone is going to die because of you, Minassian!”
I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t climb over the wall, it was too high. So far in boot camp, my height hadn’t conspired against me too much and I’d always been able to handle the physical challenges, but facing that wall, I was up against the impossible. I couldn’t suddenly grow six inches, so what was I going to do? Doubts flooded my mind. What was I doing here in boot camp? I was too short. I couldn’t do it. And if I couldn’t get through this obstacle course, I couldn’t become a Marine. I had to do it. There was no such thing as “can’t” in the Marines.
Their roaring chant resonated in my ears. “Get over the wall! Get over the wall!”
I kicked the wood in frustration and some pieces splintered off. They continued to scream directly in my ear, but I forced myself to block it out. If I listened to their threats any longer, I’d lose it and shout back. I had to concentrate. I had to get over this wall.
I kicked the wall a few more times figuring I’d try to carve out a foothold. Time was working against me and I had to work quickly. Forcing a tiny indentation in the wood, I inserted the tip of my combat boot and hoisted myself over the dreaded wall. It worked, I was over! What a miracle. I landed on my feet and crouched down, leaving the bellowing of the drill instructors on the other side.
I’d made it! A fleeting moment of pride passed over me as I realized I’d accomplished something only a few seconds ago I’d thought impossible. The moment quickly passed as I realized that the wall was only the beginning.
A field full of obstacles and attacking “enemies” lay ahead. The field was a simulated battleground with the sounds of war echoing from every direction. The air shuddered with the sounds of helicopters and of weapons firing, deafening me. The weapons were firing blanks and the helicopters weren’t real, but the pounding sounds reverberating around my helmet made it seem as if I might be shot at any moment.
“Stay low,” I reminded myself and ran through the first several feet of the field repeating the mantra they taught us, “I’m up. He sees me. I’m down. Knees, hands, prone, roll.”
Once I rolled over, I got back up and went through the commands again. I reached the barbed wire and dove flat into the sand to get in a low crawling position. I held my rifle slightly off the ground so it wouldn’t get jammed with sand. As I slid on my elbows, knees, and stomach through the wet sand, I tried to ignore the agony of ripping flesh.
5 Angels! “In Lisa Cordeiro's memoir Parris Island, the reader undergoes the dread and pride of completing the Marine Corps 13-week grueling boot camp.
In her second year of college, undecided and partying every night, Lisa radically changes her life by signing up for the Marine Corp. In Parris Island, the reader experiences the mortification and agony of boot camp vicariously through Lisa. Lisa Cordeiro keenly describes the breaking down and molding process that creates a unified whole out of 32 motley individuals.
Parris Island is a study in the processes of remolding a person to discover that with the proper mental motivation you can do anything. At Parris Island, there is no "I can't." For every obstacle surmounted the recruits' find within themselves the ability to face their fears and weaknesses with an inner strength and determination previously unknown.
Lisa Cordeiro eloquently expresses the fierce desire to successfully complete boot camp while in the midst of confronting doubts, worries, and anxieties about surviving. Boot Camp may be 13 weeks of "hell," but it is 13 weeks that changes a person's life and imbues it with confidence and strength.
Parris Island is a fast paced, attention-grabbing memoir. Not only could I not put it down, but I recommend it to anyone who is thinking about joining the military. I truly believe in being forewarned. I cannot wait until Lisa Cordeiro publishes another book.” Reviewed by: Dena, Fallen Angel Reviews
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 350
Paper Weight (lb): 14.6