Recruit: Should I tell my DIs it’s my birthday?


A Marine recruit — or soon to be recruit — took to the Internet to ask for some advice about whether drill instructors care if your birthday falls during boot camp.

Here’s the question that was posted to Yahoo! Answers on Wednesday:

“What if I tell the drill instructors it’s my birthday? What if the platoon was lined up and I stepped out of line to announce to everyone it’s my 19th birthday. What’ll happen?”

One Army veteran responded that it would go down as one of the “Worst Birthdays Ever.” Another user who goes by the name Goose said, “Please do it!”

Having spent some time at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, reporting on how drill instructors make Marines, my guess is that it would land this recruit in the sand pit. The recruit would likely receive the gift of some incentive training.

The result might look something like this:

Sgt. Justin Glenn Burnside motivates a recruit with Echo Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. (Lance Cpl. David Bessey/Marine Corps)

Sgt. Justin Glenn Burnside motivates a recruit with Echo Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. (Lance Cpl. David Bessey/Marine Corps)

What’s your advice for this young recruit? Should he or she step out of line to tell the DIs it’s a special day?


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  1. I would laugh at this child’s naivete. Hmmm. Didn’t he do any research before signing on the dotted line?

  2. I stepped onto the yellow footprints the day before my Birthday and just kept my mouth closed. I also didn’t tell them that I was married. I got dug later on (late 3rd phase) for not telling them I was married. Keep you mouth shut and then say something at graduation.

  3. I had my 19th birthday 2 weeks into boot camp and tried to keep it a secret. Had an awesome bday killing once they saw the mail and realized I had a bday letter.

  4. If you enjoy incentive training please tell them. I guarantee you will never forget that birthday “party”!!

  5. Go for it….we live once we need to be awesome when it counts. If you do it you will be the most popular Recruit in the Island. You will even become the guid of your Company. Semper Fi…

  6. Whether you tell your DI’s or not, they will find out for which they have a record of all your information and when they do find out, you’re going to get your ass handed to you either way whether it’s in the sand pit or quarterdeck. It’s just they’re way of saying happy birthday.. (Their excuse as a gift to make you stronger and kill you at the same time). depending on your Senior Drill Instructor, he/she may or may not discreetly give you a friendly treat whether you could have some cake or cookies at the chow hall or buy you a meal from Mickey D’s or whatnot. But as state it all depends on the character of your Senior Drill Instructor.

  7. I kept my mouth shut about my birthday and made sure everyone back home didn’t send me anything to say it was my bday lol….didn’t want my DIs to know, didn’t want to go to the pit for my bday lol…but if he feels he needs them to know, go for it, step out of line and announce that!!

  8. Please do it!!!!!! I love hearing about recruits getting thrashed, hey maybe you’ll even get to do the island hopping tour for your birthday.

  9. Dale Hetherington on

    As we say in the South….awe, bless your heart! PLEASE do it and someone PLEASE be there to take video!

  10. Uncle Johnny on

    I stood in the yellow footprints 9days after my 19th birthday on “Pearl Harbor” day . Birhtdays are the LAST thing going through your mind.

  11. Iain Schnaible on

    I turned 18 during training week 10… I hid it from everybody. Unfortunately, my mother sent me a birthday card… Thanks, Mom!

    My birthday present from my senior was 10 Marine Corps push ups for each year of my life… 180 four-count Marine Corps push ups was the worst birthday present ever.

  12. I turned 21 in boot camp about a month in. I don’t remember anything particularly bad happening to me. It wasn’t as bad as the recruit whose friends and family’s addressed his letters with various ranks he hadn’t earned. One letter would be to Sgt Recruit Name, the next was GySgt Recruit Name, and then Gen. Recruit Name. He was given a lot of incentive during boot camp.

    But go ahead and let them know. More than likely they will find out anyway and “reward” you accordingly.

  13. cheri hamilton on

    my son 22nd bday was on the 8th of July and I did ask friends and family to send cards of wishes and support …i just hope he didnt spend it being drilled into the ground…I love you Curtis!

  14. Do it. It will be fun. Also when you tell your DI it’s your birthday ask him if he has a present for you

  15. The recruit should most definitely inform the DI’s that it is his or her birthday, preferably before evening chow so that he or she will be allowed to be the first one inside the chow hall and have ample time to enjoy his or her birthday dinner and then top off the special day with some good ol TLC in the form of an IT session!

  16. Do it!! Please for the love of God, Stand LOUD and PROUD and announce that it is your birthday in a highly motivated Marine Corps manner!!!

  17. Having been in training when my birthday came around in basic

    No one needed to know that it was my birthday. mail call came at 1800 with at least six cards from family members no one needed my in put at all. got a special gift from the D.I.’s however. an extra two hours of guard duty but fire watch as well. so in closing you won’t need to say one word.

  18. Cory Thompson on

    I was in the marines for eight years and several recruits had birthdays while they were in bootcamp while I was there. Youre best bet is to keep your mouth shut. They still might find out and wear you out anyways but just try to skate by quietly for your own sake.

  19. Knowing what I know now, if it were me I’d do it. I mean, c’mon, what’s the worst a DI is going to do to you? Yell at you and break you off a bit? It will be funny and all of your platoon mates including your DI’s will look back on it and laugh.

  20. Recruit should keep his pie hole shut! Acknowledging his birthday is individualism, and there’s no room for that in recruit training. Special attention is not a good thing in boot. Speak on it and the recruit will quickly find out how “special” he is. LOL

  21. Dave sturgeon on

    Absolutey tell your DI it’s your very special day. They’ll probably throw you some sorta party and give you the day off:)

  22. Assume that they know when your birthday is; they have personnel files on all recruits. They knew my birthday was in October, while I was in boot, and called all us lucky birthday girls out. We then had to pick a number…any number over 25. That number ended up being how many pushups I had to do while my DI wished me a happy birthday between each four count. Be smart, pick a number under 100, but over 30. DI’s always know. ALWAYS.

  23. Had my 18th Birthday in Boot…One of my fellow Recruits told my DI when I was on the Slide for Life…Drop I did….Later at Mail call…Well I’ll just say that was Fun…After Mail call DI said to the Platoon…I know your going to give him a good Birthday present and when to bed… Door was shut…I ran to the back corner of the Squad Bay…And held my Position.. And Never got over run…Semper Fi “Do or Die”

  24. Patrick Ellis on

    He should politely tell the Drill Instructor that he feels like sleeping in today, its his birthday. I am sure the DI will silently back away and let the recruit rest. 🙂

    1stBN A Company Platoon 1034! Semper Fi!

  25. Semper Fi 84-89 on

    Sure, if he wants special trips to the sand pit or quarterdeck. If not say nothing. I had my 19th birthday at PI and said not a word.

  26. My son is a recruit at MCRD San Diego right now, his birthday was 2 weeks ago. He did not say a word, but his DI knew this anyway and let him call home for 2 minutes. It made my day to hear his voice. I can tell that is different for everybody.

  27. Go ahead and tell him. See what happens…the one thing I did not do was tell everyone to NOT send me birthday cards. Most memorable birthday EVER I must say.

  28. This is coming from the son of a marine who was a D.I. , I would highly suggest not doing it for the simple fact that it would be detremental to ones health if you stepped out of line in a Marines Boot Camp, the D.I. would be the least of your worries not to mention if you go down, so does the rest of your bunk mates……And then the “HELL” would ensue …

  29. Absolutely Recruit! How else do you think that your Drill Instructors will know that this special day should be a memory you will never forget? My advice would be to announce it at morning formation for chow! That way you’ll not only be first in line, but have the rest of the day to be treated special! WHAT THE HELL IS MY BELOVED CORPS COMING TOO?

  30. Patrick OLeary on

    Tell your DI and the day before your birthday tell the Marines at the chow hall because they will make sure you get a cake you can share with the rest of the platoon !

  31. Look forward to getting strong, you’ll be doing push-ups for every DI that you run across, while marching to and from different places your DI will stop every DI he runs into announces you birthday and you’ll do push-ups for that DI also

  32. Momof2Marines on

    Sure! While you’re at it, ask all your relatives to send you birthday cards full of glitter! DIs LOVE GLITTER!!

  33. do it. I had my 19th in the gas chamber and it went off great. I got to keep my gas mask on while the rest of the platoon sang happy birthday to me with snot hanging to the floor. and then they kicked the shit out of me that night. Go for it.

  34. Stacy Golden on

    I spent my 19th birthday in boot camp on Parris Island. My DI’s had no idea it was my birthday and I still started the day off doing brain busters! Needless to say it was the worst birthday ever! So I would love to see him tell his DI’s it’s his birthday! It would be great entertainment for everybody else!

  35. Yep, first step forward out of formation and announce ‘I’ve got something to say!’
    Then quickly before you can be interpreted announce ‘Its my birthday, bitches!’

    Please post the results when you can.

  36. larry van zant on

    the only cure in the world for the common cold is the gas chamber . so if you have one, tell DI it’s you’re Bday

  37. Every recruit should taste the sweet torture of a boot camp birthday bash from a drill instructor, its a treat to see and and a hell of a story to tell for the years to come amongst their new brothers. Dont take it as a punishment, take it and roll with it as a sign of love from your DI’s.

  38. Go right on ahead. They’ll name a sand pit after you because you’re going to be in so much. Then you’ll be the heavy hat’s target for the remaining time you’re there.

  39. My birthday is the same as the Marine Corps, November 10, but I sure didn’t tell anybody at PI. It would be a huge mistake.

  40. Shannon Dodson on

    If he wants it to be the worst birthday of his life, yeah buddy, go for it…if you enjoy pain and humiliation.

  41. Oh Yes please do!!! My husband is a DI at MCRD San Diego telling them it’s your Birthday is like throwing blood in Shark infested waters!! They will give you a Party you will never forget!

  42. If you want to Learn what the “Drill” really means in “Drill Instructor”, then By All Means – Announce your Birthday!

  43. I remember when I was at MCRD San Diego and it was a recruit ‘ s birthday. The DIs each had fun smoking him out on the quarter deck. By the time they were done, the recruit had a giant puddle of sweat. That was during mail call.

  44. DI’s ARE the pinnacle predators of boot camp. So… the less visible you are… the less likely it is that they make a meal out of you.

    You won’t have a DI take you to the sandpit… you will have MULTIPLE DI’s jump in for the kill on a Birthday.

  45. HM3 Franklin on

    Go ahead recruit be confident and tell everyone that its your birthday and you are ready to go in the sand pit, which will be funny to me and challenging at the same time!!! As a “Marine” I will suggest that you take the challenge in any given day. Have a memorable birthday party!

  46. I made that same mistake. At the time, it was the worst day of my life. But I remember, with vivid detail, every bit of it. And on July 13th, 1993 I watched from a pull – up bar in MCRD San Diego a rocket being launched into space. I thought to myself that it was the coolest birthday present ever. It was also the most memorable birthday party. So if you are willing to get a little bit stronger, then please let the D.I’s know that it is your birthday. Maybe you can celebrate with your whole platoon.

  47. I think you should, but don’t think you will get special treatment, well special treatment of sorts you will get.
    But your a marine it’s all good and share with your bro’s!

  48. A birthday is individual. There are no individuals in boot camp, only platoons. There is no I, Me, My. You are “this recruit. ” birthdays have no place in boot. That’s the way its always been, I think that’s the way it should stay.

  49. As a former Marine Drill Instructor at MCRD, San Diego, all I can say is this recruit would probably have the worse birthday of his life. If he has a few friends at boot, share it with them. Tell his mom to send NOTHING in the way of cookies or cake or candy, and no birthday card, just a hand written note to wish him a happy birthday. The ONLY thing any recruit should want to share with a DI is his passion and motivation for God, family, country, and Corps.

  50. My son turned 18 in boot. He told us before he left. Do not send me any mail the week before or after. No one found out and he was grateful for that…lol

  51. Please feel free if you enjoy your parties in the pit. San Diego or PI its gonna suck either way. Cpl of Marines 93-97.

  52. Chances are high you are going to get severely punished at least once that day anyways. Own that shit loud and proud, take your thrashing like a man, and keep on asking for more. Try and get the DIs bored of punishing you before you drop.

    I remember after range week we were getting thrashed as a platoon, the p punishment was rediculous and I can’t even remember what the infraction was. Wee about 45 minutes into holding our racks off the ground someone started laughing, then someone else, and then another. Before you knew it the entire platoon was bawling from the absurdity of it. The DIs threw a shit storm which just caused us to laugh harder…4 hours later the DIs were taking shifts going outside to hide their laughter as we were doing the most absurd punishments in august…in a stifling hot barracks…shit was like a sauna.

  53. If you tell the it’s your birthday, I guarantee you, your birthday gift will be an invitation to the “Rose Garden”!

  54. Not only NO! but HELL NO! You do not want any birthday present that a DI can think up. It will not not be fun nor enjoyable but it will be remembered. The only thing worse would be that your DI is from the same hometown and your parents know each other!

    Semper Fi

  55. Your DI does not give a damn about your personal life. Keep your mouth shut or the whole platoon might be doing pushups if you announce your birthday, then they will all be pissed at you! Someway you will suffer the consequences!

  56. Retired WM W3 on

    This is a joke…right? No one can be that…… dare I say stupid? Best advice I ever got was, “Volunteer for nothing, but don’t be afraid to lead; keep your mouth shut, but make sure you’re heard when you speak; and never, ever think your DI’s give a $#it about your personal crap.”

  57. Well, I was a corpsman that served with the Marines so I can not speak to their training methods. I will say this: what ever number you give will be your future evolution multiplier. It is okay though, they will think of other creative opportunities for motivation…….ah to be young and full of piss and saltwater for that brief nanosecond before you grasp the program 🙂

  58. lcpl. williams on

    Please for the love of God DO IT tell him its your birthday it will be fine what’s the worst that could happen I turned 18 on black Friday it wasn’t so bad

  59. Oh no don’t do it! I sent my son a birthday card when he was in boot camp with a balloon that inflated upon opening it! He said it landed him in the sand pit and……. Worse Birthday ever!

  60. SevenSSTrooper on

    I turned 18 during 2nd phase on Alpha Shelf at Camp San Onofre, I didn’t say a thing….,..if I did say something about it being my birthday I would’ve been in the pit for a very long time, so I say go ahead and experience what happens

  61. Kathleen Murphy on

    I turned 20 a few days before boot camp graduation. And no, I did not advertise or celebrate my birthday. The only birthday that mattered was that of my beloved Corps a month before. Ooh rah, and Semper Fi.

  62. robert krisinger on

    No I would not tell him being a marine my self , your there to learn how to function a team, learn discipline, hard work, and self sacrifice.ssgt usmc Semper other words don’t give them any to single you out.

  63. Staff Sgt (USAF) on

    It’s been my experience that trainees want to have an easy day when it’s their birthday. We enjoy when they think that, because we make them work much harder. You in training as a team you’ll be treated as a team. So if you want an easy day for you birthday, forget it.

  64. If I was his DI I would take the platoon outside and have the “birthday recruit” stand in front of the platoon and then IT the rest of the platoon and have them sing happy birthday to the “birthday recruit” while being IT’d

  65. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha I just love all that wonderful advise it makes for fun reading my grandson just signed up i’m not sure if I should show this to him ha ha ha his b’day is in novv ,LOL.

  66. When I was a Hat, each cycle I would make it a point to IT everyone that had a birthday during the cycle. We have everyones information, we know. Its whether or not we “Care” enough to recognize it.

  67. Some of these comments are freaking hilarious,I can just see this nut steeping out of line and saying “Permission to speak sir!?,It’s my BIRTHDAY!”.Go ahead and do it recruit.I bet you will not forget that memory there Private Joker.

  68. In second phase of Basic Training at PI, we had a recruit’s mother somehow have a cake delivered to our squad bay. I was in 1st Bn. Alpha Co. The only part of that day that I remember is running in the squad bay with my Platoon, getting on line and seeing out Company Commander, Series Chief Drill Instructor, and our Senior Drill Instructor standing in front of the quarterdeck with a cake on a cart. The recruits mom had put our Drill Instructor’s ranks and names on the cake with some cheesy “thank you” message. To make a bad situation worse, our Senior Drill instructor, who was a Staff Sgt. Was written in Icing as a Sgt. That day we all got in line as the Series Chief cut pieces of cake, dumped them in our bare hands and said “EAT.” We spent the rest of the day in the pit, covered in sweat, sand, and icing. When it got dark we returned to the squad bay and the extra “conditioning” went on for most of the night. No one cares if it’s your birthday when you’re a recruit. It’s just another year in your life that you spent not being a Marine. My advice, age quietly.

  69. First off, I definitely would say “Don’t do it”. Celebrate once you earn the title United States Marine. Keep in mind your “new” birthday is 10 Nov 1775.

    As a former Marine Corps recruiter, I have to ask why didn’t he ask his recruiter this question? His recruiter is should be preparing him for Recruit training. Yes, I said recruit training (we weren’t allowed to say Boot Camp, when I was a recruiter from 98-01)

  70. My son is planning to enlist after high school next year, so any information I see that would assist him on this website I usually froward to him. This looks like a one of those times…..And for me to be sure not to send cards, gifts, ect for his birthday!

    P.S. Some of your comments are really cracking me up today!!

  71. USMCRD San Diego, Spring, 1968: Thanks for the laugh out loud.

    That’s what I did when I saw the question. I’m still chuckling.

  72. Terry Westbrooks on

    Yes!!By all means you should tell him. I’m sure it will be the most special birthday of your life to date!!

  73. I had my 19th birthday while in boot camp. I didn’t say a thing, and nothing came of it since it was BWT and we were on the range getting acquainted with and firing the M60E3 machine gun. That much I remember from the notes in my green monster. It would be funny to watch what happens though. 🙂

  74. Jeff Howards on

    Sure, go ahead. And while you’re at it have Mom send you a nice birthday cake with candles so everybody can share your birthday with you and sing happy birthday! Don’t forget to ask for the day off, too. After all, it is your birthday!

  75. Steve Norman on

    I have seen this, you will get thrashed while the platoon sings happy birthday, and then later the platoon will get thrashed while you read your mom’s birthday card out loud. also cake.

  76. Charles Terven on

    For God’s sake do not have your Mother send you cookies, etc. a cake equals 30 push-ups and a cake 50 if you are lucky if not the platoon may find themselves with doing them with you. Not a thing that would endure your platoon to

  77. I had my birthday during boot camp. Never told a DI. One day the DI called me into his duty hut. I received a MARS message from my girlfriend wishing me a happy birthday. The message was 5 days late. The DI asked how old I was. I said “19 sir”. He said 19×5=95, start pushing. I had to do 95 pushups in order to get the message! I will never forget it! LOL!

  78. Rodney Sexton on

    One thing this young man needs to learn is that the last thing on earth he should do is bring attention to himself. As a matter of fact, DIs might just punish the entire platoon for this kid’s stupidity. The DI’s job is to make Marines, not coddle little boys. If he is worried about his birthday, maybe he should forget about the Marine Corps.

  79. I can tell you from experience keep your trap shut. When I went through Boot Camp back in 1993 my at the time girlfriend sent me a birthday card and written on the outside of the envelope in pink marker was “Happy Birthday Sweethart”. Yeah no good. It was one week before graduation and as a “Birthday gift” the DI’s took turns making me strong. In the sand pit back on the quarterdeck back in the sand pit ect. This went on all day. When she came to my graduation the DI’s had a good chuckle she had no idea why. I didn’t tell her of my pain b/c in the end it just didn’t matter and she did what she thought was a nice gesture.

  80. defint NOT, I turned 19 in boot camp… 1991 oh I got seriously “BENT”… SDI Sgt Harrison thrashed me lol (plt 1015 MCRD San Diego 1991)

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