Battle Rattle

Marine recruit’s viral email from boot camp raises questions

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An email supposedly sent by a Marine Corps recruit from boot camp and posted by Gawker alleges that drill instructors regularly use gay and racist slurs when talking to recruits. But the fact that an email could be sent from boot camp at all raises questions of its legitimacy.
(Cpl. J. Nava/Marine Corps)

A Marine Corps recruit’s supposed account of his boot camp experience is an entertaining read, but raises a few questions — including how he was apparently able to send an email to his buddies.

The recruit, apparently currently attending boot camp at one of the Marine Corps’ training depots, is supposedly telling all his friends about how they’re called gay slurs by their drill instructors between 10 and 50 times per day. He also states that anyone with “brown-skin” is referred to as a “terrorist” and is the butt of consistent racist jokes.

But he’s apparently telling them via email, which caught my attention.

The email from the recruit was posted by Gawker in its entirety Tuesday, and has been gaining some serious online traffic. Gawker claims to have verified the email, but they also refer to Marine recruits as “cadets” and lists the commandant as “Gen. John Amos.”

The Marine Corps did not provide an immediate response when I asked about the report, but a public affairs officer at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif., confirmed my suspicions that recruits there are not afforded access to email. They do things the slow and painful way you’d expect at boot camp — they hand-write any letters they send out.

That raises questions about the validity of the recruit’s message. I know my recent visit to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., didn’t yield any trips to recruits’ computer labs.

Still, the recruit’s account of boot camp seems fair enough in other areas. He explains the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program — or as he likes to call it, “Karate and ninja training” — to his buddies. He tells them about their CrossFit-style workouts, which are likely High Intensity Tactical Training workouts — the Marine Corps’ brand of CrossFit. And he swears a lot about drill, calling it stupid and likening it to “some synchronized swimming sh–,” which many Marines might agree with.

But the troubling part is back to his claim that the DIs routinely refer to them by gay slurs and that while Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell might have been repealed, he claims the Corps has not adapted. He wrote that when they do anything wrong, it’s likened to same-sex relations. And he’s not just hearing this from his enlisted drill instructors — he said his captain made similar statements during an ethics class.

Equally troubling is his claim that recruits with dark skin are the butt of racist jokes about bombs and anthrax attacks.

But to be clear, the recruit doesn’t appear to be bothered by any of it. He appears to enjoy most aspects of boot camp, even going so far as to say it’s impossible to remember all of the funny stuff  that happens and that his DIs are hilarious every day.

One of the funny moments he references is when another recruit in his squad bay killed a bug while they were cleaning. One of the drill instructors saw him do it, he wrote, and immediately asked him why he killed the bug.

“Was that your bug?” the drill instructor asked. “No! That was the senior drill instructor’s bug. You just killed the [senior] DI’s bug. You better find him another one.”

I had the opportunity to spend several days aboard Parris Island a few months ago. I saw recruits in their squad bays, completing the Crucible, practicing MCMAP, taking combat fitness tests and being incentive trained. Of course I was armed with a photographer, pen, notebook and recorder, but any interactions between DIs and recruits I witnessed was as professional as you’d expect at boot camp.

Did I see some recruits get picked on for being too slow or because they had a funny last name? I did. But I never saw or heard anything inappropriate or racist when I was there.

Of course what happens when a reporter isn’t watching what’s going down at a recruit depot isn’t always perfect. Marine Corps Times reported last summer that a drill instructor faced a special court-martial for allegedly mistreating eight recruits in San Diego. As seen in that case, what’s considered hazing in the Corps is different than what might be allowed at boot camp where incentive training is allowed.

So it’s not immediately clear if this recruit’s allegations are true. To me, it’s not even immediately clear how an email could have even been sent from a training depot at all.

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Comments

  1. Panda Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I used to always sneak into the area on MCRD with all the computers and shit, it was so fucken easy. I was in MRP or some shit like that, where you go when your injured and DI’s need a break. Theres a working party list, all you would need to do is write your name on that list and leave. So yes you can send Emails from boot camp.

  2. me Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    you go there for that specific reason… if your sneaking around and doing shit you should its a disgrace to the core.

  3. Logic Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Obviously, who ever wrote it had been through boot camp (and most likely did not finish) but if he did, and is legitimately butthurt over the use of various slurs or connotations, then you need to step out of the way and let the men and women train.

  4. Becky Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I think pansies need to leave the military alone if they’re not military material. You don’t like it? Don’t let the door hit ya. Don’t try to change it to suit your softness.

  5. Really Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Alot of these folks here posting about the military and who shouldnt be in it are likely to never have deployed let alone laced up a pair of combat boots.

  6. ELGIN CLARK Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    MY DAD WAS A MARINE IN WWII. HE WENT THROUGH PARIS ISLAND MCRP AND AFTER BOOT CAMP WENT STRAIGHT TO THE SOUTH PACIFIC TO FIGHT IN SOME OF THE WORST CAMPAIGNS OF THE WAR. AS A CHILD, MY DAD EXPOUNDED FREQUENTLY ABOUT HIS TIME IN THE CORPS. HE SPENT A LOT OF TIME DISCUSSING THE TIME SPENT AT PARIS ISLAND AND THE TRAINING THEY RECEIVED. HE TOLD ME OF THE MANY THINGS THE RECRUITS ARE CALLED AND THE SOMETIMES BRUTAL METHODS BY WHICH THE DI’S BREAK DOWN THE RECRUIT PRIOR TO HONING THEM INTO A WEAPON. NEVER ONCE DID I EVER HEAR A NEGATIVE THING ABOUT THE MARINE CORPS COME OUT OF MY DADS MOUTH. THE MARINES ARE ABOUT BUILDING FIGHTING MEN. MEN WHO FACE DEATH WITHOUT FEAR. THE DI’S, WHO MOLD THESE MEN, USE THE METHOD’S THEY SEE FIT TO MAKE A MARINE. SO THEY INSULT THEM, SO THEY SMACK THEM. SO THEY PT THEM PAST MOST PEOPLES ENDURANCE. THE END PRODUCT IS THE TOUGHEST FIGHTING FORCE ON THE PLANET. IF THIS WHINY RECRUIT (NOT WHAT I REALLY WANTED TO CALL HIM) IS NOT HAPPY, THEN HE SHOULD TAKE HIS LEAVE FROM THE CORPS (WHERE IT IS EVIDENT HE DOES NOT BELONG) AND MAYBE JOIN THE PASCIFISTIC PEACE CORPS. PERSONALLY, I DO NOT WANT THIS PERSON DEFENDING MY COUNTRY OR MY FREEDOM. NOR WOULD I WANT HIM SERVING NEXT TO MY SON WHO IS IN THE CORPS NOW. THE CORPS IS BASED ON HONOR AND INTEGRITY, AS IT HAS BEEN FOR OVER 230 YEARS. LET’S LEAVE ALONE WHAT WORKS. WEED OUT THE NON HACKERS, AND LET THE MARINES DO WHAT THEY DO BEST, PROTECT THIS GREAT NATION FROM ALL THREATS.

    ELGIN CLARK

  7. Brian Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    When I was in PI, in 2004, a recruit snuck a phone into the squad bay and was never ever caught. He hid it in an extra-large toothpaste tube and the charger was in his little personal bag that DI’s are not allowed to search. He charged it at night when on fire watch and shared phone calls with the few people who knew. So yes, a recruit with a smartphone could send an email from bootcamp.

  8. Josh Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    While i was in boot camp, yea people got picked on, i cant recall any racial or sexual orientation slurs ever from any person in my company. I am hispanic and I look like it, I got picked on because of my last name and my DI’s gave me a new name, but it was nothing degrading. If any racial or sexual orientation slurs like that were said either it did affect me or i had more important trash to do than be upset about some of those comments.

  9. Walter Wilson Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Fist off.. I call BS on these “emails” Cadets are AirForce, need I go on? Marine recruits are slime balls.. then later maggots.. then turds and so forth until graduation day. We march across that parade deck and called Marines. I went to PI MCRD back in 1994. It was the toughest thing I hve ever done. It is meant to be. You are broken down to a lump of clay, and molded by the instruction of the Drill Instructors into a Marine. If you go to Boot Camp to sneak around, you got on the wrong bus. Take that crap to the Air Force, or the Army. Bootcamp is 50/50 mental and physical. Its not intended to be romper room folks. MARINES are made there, not soldiers. The Marine Corps is not all about rainbows and puppy dogs folks. Unless you have served any branch, shut your yap. Unless your a Marine ESPECIALLY shut your yap. Things will be said, things will be done. Its how it is. You either learn and adapt, or you break. You are being trained for war, not kindergarden. Just my $0.02

  10. Rhino Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Complete BS Story, Been there done that for 23 years. Whomever it is claiming to be a recruit is full of crap. NEVER WILL THIS HAPPEN IN BOOTCAMP.

  11. VNVet Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Thanks in large part to the media as a whole, the Corps has been toned down some since I was in at the height of the Vietnam war. It closely parallels society in the ‘politically correct’ era we live in now. If you wipe your butt in the wrong direction there is a special interest group that will raise holy hell about it! I lived the first half of Full Metal Jacket…the most realistic film about boot camp ever made. We took crap , we got knocked around, degraded no matter our preferences or skin color. It did not make any difference what race you were you were put to shame on a daily basis. Guess what? We came out of it ok. It didn’t HURT us, it made us better Marines. We learned how to cope with any situation that was thrown at us. It’s a way of life and it IS what sets Marines apart from the rest. We are a very proud breed. If this guy was using a computer, I hope if he is still in boot camp as you state that he gets caught. As well as the other slime mentioned in some of the comments by others. If you are not fit to be a MARINE, then you better not join. PERIOD

  12. Robert Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Even if he did sneak an email (I know it’s a lie), so what if he heard DIs use gay commentary and all.
    Everything that is wrong in today’s society, stems from all this soft PC hippy generation BS. It’s not working out for California, why do you want to integrate it into the Marines. Why are you trying to weaken the Marines? You need to ask yourself that. Stop being such a bitch, and grow up. If I were still in, I probably be Court-Martialed because I wasn’t sensitive to someone’s needs. We pride ourselves on being tougher mentally and physically, and that starts will being able to knock out this stygmatism called P.C. Fuck PC. And fuck you if I hurt your feelings

    -Semper Fi

  13. John Allison Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    I’ve been out for 18 years but don’t believe a word of this recruit’s email. Like the other poster said above, this is probably a washout who couldn’t make the cut to wear the EGA. Semper Fi Marines! As long as the scumbags are trying to take down our beloved Corps, I’d say it’s still the envy of all those who tried and couldn’t make it along with those who didn’t have the guts to try.

  14. Tony D Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    When I went through PI in ’67 we were called all kinds of names; negro, spic, whoop, mick, etc. It would really piss us off but the DIs continued. What it taught us was how to deal with stress without blowing up. We were also taught all Marines are green and there is no color barrier because in combat the color of a man’s skin or his ethinic background doesn’t matter. You have to have each other’s backs. Only those liiking for trouble would center their attention on this issue.

  15. John W Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    As a former Marine it makes me sick how people get all bent out of shape about how people are treated in boot camp.Its boot camp not candy land!!!Its hard for many reasons one of which is to help Marines function in highly stressful functions i.e. WAR!!! If you cant take the heat get out of the kitchen its Marine Corp boot camp and its no big secret how hard it is!!!!!

  16. Kazseam Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 12:59 am

    lots of lingo used by this so called recruit, that is not Marine Corps lingo. Lots of fakes and wanna be’s out here. I Busted a guy out at my job. He was tellingpeople he had served in the Corps … EOD tech and a sniper .. BLAH BLAH BLAH. I asked where he went to boot camp, replies withthe name of an army base. So I blew his story apsrt with the first question. Needless to say, people at the job know he’s a lying sack of crap. Just like this guy is a lying sack of crap
    Marine Corps Boot Camp stresses, the mind and body. If you can’t hack it, then step aside.

  17. Pogtastic Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 2:20 am

    hey “me” its Corps dumbass

  18. Parafrog0321 Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 4:27 am

    Who cares? Recruits are supposed to feel belittled or offended. DIs should be able to use whatever insult hits the hardest. Who joins the Corps expecting to be coddled or to change it? This is the Marines! Political correctness has no place. Marines exist to kill bad guys or to support other Marines who kill bad guys. If you want something else there are other branches of the military. And by the way…The Marine Corps publicly resisted the “don’t ask don’t tell policy” from the commandant on down. That was mandated by outsiders. I’m guessing my comment will not be shown or be removed because it is true.

  19. Real Deal Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 4:35 am

    Seriously? Remember sticks and stones my break my bones but words will never hurt me? I learned that when I was a child. And unless you are really weak its true. If it bothers you to be called a name, then its probably true.

    You can be killed by bullets and frag, but it doesn’t hurt to be called a fag.

  20. GunzRunner Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 6:39 am

    Leave it to the media. Wonder if the originator of the story bothered to check if the originating IP address even came out of SD. Or if it was from a recruit at all for that matter.
    It’s MAGGOTS…. get your ears checked recruit!

  21. Joseph Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    One time at Band Camp…

    Damn, it’s Marine Corps Boot Camp! You want scared rabbits in combat? Or do you want someone who can withstand the stress? Let Marines train Marine Recruits and leave the crying to obama.

  22. Parafrog0321 Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Who cares? Recruits are supposed to feel belittled or offended. DIs should be able to use whatever insult hits the hardest. Who joins the Corps expecting to be coddled or to change it? This is the Marines! Political correctness has no place. Marines exist to kill bad guys or to support other Marines who kill bad guys. If you want something else there are other branches of the military. And by the way…The Marine Corps publicly resisted the “don’t ask don’t tell policy” from the commandant on down. That was mandated by outsiders. I’m guessing my comment will not be shown or be removed because it is true…Written from Afghanistan for the second time because I got censored the first time.

  23. Edward Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    The part about the bug being killed, is from a Jack Webb movie, called ‘The DI’. It sounds to me that, this person was either discharged from boot camp for not being able to hack it, or he knows someone that went through boot camp. either way, he is a sorry excuse for a human, he lower than amphibian s**t, for sending out that email and thrashing the Marine Corps.

  24. redmaet.n Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    WOW!!! grow some thick skin!! and how the heck would he know if Corps even adapted to the policy… he hasn’t even made it there yet. Damn shower shoe!! still smellin like cash sales and making a ruccus. If he spent half as much time training as he did whining about name calling he’d be good to go. Besides, what do you think our enemies call us?? oh wait, they don’t, they just torture and kill us. Suck it up and grow a pair.

  25. Larry Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    We are a soft nation.

  26. John Connally Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    I call BULLSHIT!!! My 90 year old mother could have written that just by watching THE MAKING MARINES
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0414254/ which has been on The Military Channel many times over the years. The other parts were probably just some poser trying to impress someone, and should GO FUCK HIMSELF!

    If you want warm and fuzzy, join the fuckin’ AIR FORCE!

  27. Rick Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    I think the email is phony. The use of the word “Cadets” is never used in the Marine Corps, recruits are always referred to as Recruits. I went through MCRD San Diego during the summer of 1970. We were called all sorts of names and each person was equally picked on, regularly. Sometimes DIs were physical with us, but we knew this was part of the training to become Marines. They always called us names while screaming in our ears at close range. It was the toughest 13 weeks of my life and I stayed in the Corps for more than 6 years, getting out as a SSgt. OOH RAH!

  28. Purported Marine recruit’s email from boot camp goes viral — Off Duty Plus Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    [...] Click here to read more. [...]

  29. James Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    I believe it could happen, but lets be serious… the beats you down to nothing, and molds you in to a Prideful, combating, constitution protecting Marine… If you cant handle it then get out, seriously my drill instructor beat me down all the time, called me names, and made me feel like i wasnt worth his time or even belonging in the corp… after boot camp was over he went to talk to my family and said i made it and was outstanding… that i never once gave up… i pushed to prove him wrong and surpassed his expectations… and that he would fight next to me any day… complete bootcamp and it gives you a sense of accomplishment that nothing else can give you… its sad to see how entitled recruits are nowadays, and how soft the corp has gotten… whether this supposed email is true or not, i side with the corp…

  30. Lance Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    ALOT of problems with this supposed “email from bootcamp”. While a lot of the terms are correct; there’s some glaringly incorrect ones.

    1. No Marine has ever referred to themselves as “Cadet”. Ever.

    2. You don’t call DI’s “sir”, it’s Sgt X, SSGT X, etc. Typical response if you did, “Don’t call me Sir – I work for a living. Now get on your face and push until I get tired”

    3. So he went through OCS (Officer Candidacy School) – but now he’s in boot camp to become an enlisted Marine? WTF, OVER?

  31. Corey Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    when i was in bootcamp we called our DI’s Sir until the last two weeks then we called them by there rank. unless it was an officer that you were greeting

  32. Jamie Bubba Vaughan Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Get that recruit a box of tissues. Welcome to the Marine Corps. Send him home he doesn’t have what it takes to earn the title Marine. He’s crying because he was called a name. Trust me if he was in boot camp with me and the Marines I was in with, lets just say pillow party….Seper Fi.

  33. Jon Rodgers Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    During our range time at Pendleton, we had a Mexican recruit who was shooting at the wrong target. The PMI, who was Italian, asked him if the Tijuana government sent him over to sabotage “his” Marine Corps. We all laughed, but he laughed the hardest at himself because he knew the racial slurs would toughen his skin. Rather than feel sorry for himself, he dug in and qualified Expert.

  34. Fresh50 Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    I am a Marine from 1970. If you are thin skinned and easily offended the Corps is not for you. The Marines do not promise you a rose garden. They are preparing and building warriors not pansies. War is hell and then there’s the Marines, Semper Fi!

  35. Anthony Nelson Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Ok I understand a lot of people are saying boot camp is suppose to be hard and train you and break you…Yes it is but how calling people gay and racial slurs is making a man out of someone and preparing them for war is an idiot! There is a fine line to being called names to down right inappropriate. And Cadets are for Air Force Academy guys not BMT trainees.

  36. Paramarine Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    God forbid we had a tough Marine Corps.

  37. anon776 Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    When I went through bootcamp email wasn’t widely available as it is now but there were still ways to goof off because we couldn’t be watched 24×7. And what does one expect? we were away from our families and friends and stuck in a routine that was more than stressful.

    As far as the namecalling and what-not, totally legit. African americans were called dark green marines. As far as racism, didn’t really see any of that but yes very rampant with homophobic jokes.

    The point the namecalling is not really meant to disparage specific groups of people but to get under the skin of the recruit and make him mess up. The point of bootcamp is to train recruits not to let stupid things like namecalling mess him up. But that was when I went through, so who knows.

  38. Mike Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    I say, stop being a fag. USMC. Let me know if you need a 35 year old with some fucking balls. :-)

    If its real (I hope not) this boy has got to go.

  39. mark Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Marines; the gov is fully guilty of tyranny. We the people rely on your oath to this nation and it’s constitution to serve and protect. Please, please, please…realize that the powers that be are working to a new world order and that this nation must be destroyed to accomplish that. If you are asked to disarm American’s, or to work side by side with UN forces in the US, you will size up your situation and then act wisely, for America.

  40. Alan Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Um I’m a former active duty Marine and I did my boot camp at Parris Island and I can tell you that what this “recruit” is saying is complete and utter B.S. The Drill Instructors do not use gay or racial slurs in the slightest. In fact the Marine Corps illustrates on numerous occasions that racial inequality will not be tolerated. They teach recruits that skin color and sexual preference doesn’t matter. We were all there to do our part and defend our nation and it doesn’t matter what race or sexual preference you are as long as you are all pulling the trigger at the same enemy. And I can tell you that if a true Marine witnessed this kid spewing this B.S. about the Marine Corps he would probably be tempted to beat seven shades of shit out of this wanna be Marine.

  41. David Says:
    May 23rd, 2013 at 2:14 am

    Semper Fi! My guess would be that this douche bag is an idiot that got dropped halfway through training. It’s been 13 years since I went to boot camp, but I don’t recall my DIs ever cussing, much less having any kind of homosexual or racial comments.

  42. SEN Says:
    May 23rd, 2013 at 9:44 am

    WOW — P.C. has no place in the Marines! These are hard charging fighting machines! Yes DIs yell and scream and belittle you, but it’s nothing personal. No one is offended, if you are, they send your pansy azz walking

  43. 3801972 Says:
    May 23rd, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    The opening scenes of Full Metal Jacket. Gunny Hartman. I can close my eyes, listen to his “welcome”, and swear I was back on the Island. His welcome is almost verbatim what I heard on pick up day.

  44. Virgil Hilts Says:
    May 23rd, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Note that the alleged Marine Recruit referred to the location of his Basic Training as MCRD. OK…was that MCRD PI or MCRD SD ? REAL recruits would have that correct.

  45. Former Marine Says:
    May 29th, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Any idiot can tell you that this goes on in boot camp. At least when I went six years ago it did. A stink only comes up when it gets leaked to the press so we can pretend that the military has caught up with the rest of society, otherwise people are happy to let it go on.

  46. Secret Agent Recruit Says:
    May 30th, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    I attended MCRD San Diego. I was a scribe and had regular access to my DI’s computer in the duty hut. I was often left unattended to do his online home work, fill out paper work for recruits and what ever else the DIs came up with. I would use my hotmail account to sent out letters to friends. It was not hard at all. I don’t know if the letter is true or false. It sounds like something that would go on at boot camp. It’s totally possible for recruits in special billets to gain access to computers and email. The window is limited and offers no consistency but it’s there. DIs are busy and cut corners when they find a recruit they can trust. It happens every cycle.

  47. anthony Says:
    June 5th, 2013 at 11:00 am

    That was the senior drill instructors bug. Lmao.. My killhat made gay slurs all the time called our scribe a faggot mutiple times because he couldnt stop looking him charging through squadbay. Made fun of the the appeal of dont ask dont tell policy a lot.

  48. LCpl SPAWN Says:
    June 11th, 2013 at 3:17 am

    YOU CAN CALL 800-MFN-WAAA

  49. CWO JR, Ret Says:
    September 5th, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Gee, what kind of pansy MC boot camp would it be without swearing and name calling? During boot camp it was routine for our DIs to curse and call us names and I expected nothing less. The whole idea is stress and discomfort. No one was offended by cursing, yelling, screaming, and being called a queer, fag, homo, or whatever. Male MC boot camp is for young men and not for sissys or fairy boys. What’s next, kumbaya and hugs? LOL

  50. mike Says:
    September 6th, 2013 at 1:49 am

    Wow, Bootcamp has really pussified since I was in decades ago.