Making Marines: The Arrival

This is the first set of photos in a series, “Making Marines,” which attempts to show a glimpse into what the Marine Corps boot camp is like. My colleague Dan and I were invited to San Diego along with a group of educators from the Midwest to see what Marine boot camp is like. We went off a little on our own, and this is right when the recruits arrive to the USO at the San Diego airport before boarding the buses to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot to begin their three-month training. These are just a couple of my favorite.






Anybody that brought a bag was again “reminded” that they had come with too much.








Recruits were instructed to just make sure they had one shirt on, and if they were wearing any Marine clothing were told to turn it inside out for they hadn’t earned it yet.



As many as six drill instructors will greet the new recruits, who will stand on the iconic Yellow Footprints. They will endure near constant yelling for the next three months to break the down so they can be built back up.















The recruits were told to read the military conduct, which they were now under military law.
















A controlled chaos is created to disorient the recruits.









All of the recruits’ belongings are went through and taken. Medicine is even taken and distributed by the DIs.







They make one scripted call home, which they are being yelled at the whole time. They won’t contact home for several weeks, which will be by letter.































Everything is now done as a team. Heads are shaved to take away individuality. It’s now about the sum.









About chrisdillmannphotography

Photographer, lover of food, lover of travel - together it's what life is all about.
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18 Responses to Making Marines: The Arrival

  1. Tawnya Vongunten says:

    I wanted to say a BIG THANK YOU for the wonderful Job that you did taking pictures of our boys in San Diego boot camp!! The anticipation of looking through 73 photo’s was very high for me! I would be lying if I did not tell you that I did not cry when I could not find my son. However, I am LOOKING FORWARD to seeing more picture posts soon! Keep up the good work! Every little bit helps for the family who sit and wonder what our children are going though. Sincerely, Proud Indiana Marine Mom Plt 3226

    • You are more than welcome!! Thank you very much for the compliments, it was an honor being able to be there and witness it. I’m glad it gives some insight as to what goes on. I can only imagine what it feels like to wonder. I hope to have another post by the end of the week/weekend. It is something I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life, and can’t express my thanks enough for their service!

      • Tawnya Vongunten says:

        🙂 (very exciting!)

      • bugdin says:

        hello i am a marine mom and my son is in platoon 2130 and got there on the 23 of january will you be placing pics of this platoon anytime soon, i would lovew to see my son. thank you sincerely bugdin

  2. gittsov says:

    Absolutely awesome photography!

  3. Emma says:

    Are you going to have more to come?

    • Emma, Yes I will have more hopefully by the end of the week/weekend. We are doing this in installments. Next section will be the middle phases of training, though it won’t be as in depth since we were with the educators most of the week. After that it will focus on the emblem ceremony and graduation. Keep looking for more! Thank you very much for following!

  4. Ann says:

    Thank you so much for the great stories and photos. Although you have an idea what it is like you never really know. You took care of that for this mom while capturing our children arriving in MCRD San Diego. Thank you from this soon to be Marine Mom.

  5. Tawnya Vongunten says:


  6. barry donahue says:

    as the dad of a former Marine who did two deployments to the ‘stan in 2008 and 2010 and a news photographer myself i just want to say GREAT JOB on the pics of the boots from the left coast!
    barry donahue

  7. Marlys says:

    Chris, thanks for the photos, my son just finished boot camp and you actually have 2 photos of him, wondering if I could purchase a copy of them? Marlys

    • Mary,
      Congratulations to your son. After I get all the pictures posted I’m going to talk to my editors to see how I can distribute the photos. We have had a lot of requests and I want to make sure everybody gets photos.

  8. Lee Anne says:

    Thank you so much for all the pictures! Seeing my son in some of them made my day! I look forward to the next article and pictures!

  9. Angi Hayes says:

    Dan and Chris,

    I am from Oklahoma and my son was in phase II while you were there. We have a closed FB group for the families of our company and we have almost 100 members strong! We have been following your series and are very excited to see more photos from Pendleton (I know you said you only had few from there but please hurry and post them)!!! This is where our recruits were during your visit. You can’t possibly know what a mother would give for just a glimpse of her son during this very difficult time. We ALL want to thank you for the experience that you have helped bring to the public. Most people have no idea the impact that this journey can have, not only on the recruits but the families as well! It is an experience that can never be put into words. It is one that must be experienced first hand. We have seen a transformation from ordinary to hero in our recruits in the letters we have received since their departure! You, have done a beautiful job of illustrating that first hand experience! Again, we can’t thank you enough for highlighting the heroes of this great nation and their transformation to greatness! We can’t wait to see our brand new marines!!!

    Families of Mike Co.

    • Angi,
      Thank you very much! I’m so glad I can help provide some access and reassurance. I can speak personally I walked away as a different person, and I wasn’t even immersed. There is a sense of pride that can’t really be described. I wish we had more time to document at Pendleton more, though only one day doesn’t cover much ground. I send my best to your son! Thank you very much for following our series, it’s been an honor to have the opportunity to do this.

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