Square Away Time

Sergeant Kenneth Morgan, senior drill instructor, Platoon 3078, Lima Co., 3rd RTBn., inspects his squadbay as his recruits stand on line before they hit the rack Monday.

What was moments earlier a calm, quiet squad bay, now bustled with the more than 60 Marine Corps recruits rushing back after another fast-paced day of training.

After a brief from their senior drill instructor, Sgt. Kenneth Morgan, on their upcoming final drill evaluation, the recruits of Platoon 3078, Lima Co., 3rd RTBn., secured their rifles and rushed back on line as they prepared for their evening basic daily routine Monday.

A recruit spends well over half his time during recruit training on his feet, marching from here to there and completing countless training evolutions. Little time is afforded them to sit down for even a couple of minutes, but each night they have about an hour or so to do just that, among other personal matters.

Morgan said this time is important to a recruit’s well being, especially at the beginning of a training cycle.

“It gives them a chance to de-program and allows them to interact with other recruits,” he said. “It helps them develop teamwork themselves, rather than us having to push it on them.”

During this hour of “square away time,” recruits generally start off by shaving, brushing their teeth and hitting the showers. Once their personal hygiene is complete, they will each find their way back to their racks and tie up loose ends in preparation for the next day.

Recruit Matthew Lewis, Platoon 3078, Lima Co., 3rd RTBn., along with several other members of his platoon, write home to their families for the last time during ‘square away time,’ Monday evening. Lima Co. graduates Sept. 2.

Many will read any mail they received that day and write home to loved ones, while others might brush a day’s worth of recruit training off their combat boots.

The majority of recruits from Platoon 3078 took a special interest in their personal appearance and physical fitness. Rather than read letters or gaze at photos of their former civilian lives, they looked ahead to their new ones in the Marine Corps and spent a good amount of time doing pull-ups, crunches and even lifting weights on the quarterdeck.

While a small group practiced rifle manual, a few others spent what seemed like almost the entire hour trimming loose threads or perfecting the sleeve-rolls of their MARPAT camouflage utility uniforms, all in effort to look their best during the final drill competition.

Once their “free hour” was complete, they hurried back on-line to await Morgan’s next command.

After a brief security check of all footlockers and rifles, a few minutes were set aside for evening devotion, then they prepared to hit the rack. As they stood silent and still, Morgan gave them one of their final commands of the evening, and with that, each recruit hopped onto their beds.

The playing of “Taps” signaled the end of another arduous day of recruit training, but though they enjoy “the night off,” most recruits will say they look forward to the next day – it puts them one step closer to becoming a Marine.

Recruit Justin Southern, Platoon 3078, gets a quick shave in during ‘square away time’ Monday evening. Recruits are afforded this time regularly throughout the training cycle to allow them to adjust to their new lifestyle and tend to personal matters such as uniform maintenance, writing and reading letters and showering.

Recruit Michael Ibsen, Platoon 3078, receives mail from his senior drill instructor, Sgt. Kenneth Morgan, during mail call Monday.

Recruit Jeremy Guillette, Platoon 3078, brushes his teeth during ‘square away time’ Monday evening.

A recruit standing ‘fire watch’ from Platoon 3078, Lima Co., 3rd RTBn., renders a salute as ‘Taps’ sounds, signaling the end of another grueling day of training Monday. To prepare for the next day, recruits are given an hour each night to tend to personal hygiene and correspondence matters.