Boot camp: It’s better with generals at his side, rather than a drill instructor, says ex-marine Elder Perry

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve recently joined religious and civic leaders from Idaho and Utah on a tour of Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base near Carlsbad, Calif., and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at San Diego, Calif.

"The purpose of this trip was to impress upon religious and civic leaders the modifications being made in the Marine Corps to upgrade the caliber of men going through," Elder Perry told the Church News. "Now there are no drugs or smoking allowed among recruits and no bad language allowed among drill instructors while Marines are in basic training."

During the trip, from May 22-24, Elder Perry toured the Schools Battalion at Camp Pendleton where Marines receive in-class instruction, and drove a Marine AMTRAK, an amphibious troop transport vehicle. He also visited with Brig. Gen. Richard Neal, commanding general of Camp Pendleton; and with Marine and Navy chaplains, including U.S. Navy Chap. (Capt.) Don Krabbe, who is the head chaplain for the Marine Corps; and Chap. (Lt. Cmdr.) Curtis Schmidtlein, an LDS Navy chaplain currently assigned to Camp Pendleton. The Marine Corps utilizes Navy chaplains and medical personnel.

At the recruit depot, Elder Perry reviewed about 400 new Marines during graduation exercises. He also had lunch at the recruit mess hall with privates from the Salt Lake area, toured the Family Service Center and Child Care Center at the depot and spoke to a platoon of new recruits about his experiences serving as a Marine during World War II.

Elder Perry concluded the day at the recruit depot by being honored at a dinner with Maj. Gen. John S. Grinalds, commanding general of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot/Western Recruiting Region, and other dignitaries at the general's quarters.

Visiting the recruit depot was memorable for Elder Perry, who graduated as a Marine from here some 47 years ago. During World War II, he served in the Headquarters and Service Battery with the 10th Marines, 2nd Marines Division.

"I think the Marine Corps made two contributions in my life," commented Elder Perry. "The first is it taught me I have a greater physical capacity than I thought possible.

"Second, it gave me a mental toughness that has been extremely valuable to me in my life," he said.

But, he explained, "It was much more enjoyable this time having two generals standing at my side rather than a drill instructor."