PFC Sensing, USMC

A proud dad blogs about his son, recently graduated from Parris Island: One Hand Clapping

Here is one of the newest US Marines, my son, PFC Stephen Sensing. He graduated yesterday from Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island. It was a fantastic day! Behind him is the Iwo Jima memorial on the base, next to the parade deck (parade field for all us dogfaces).

Eight platoons of new Marines graduated, including two platoons of women. Unlike the Army, the Marines segregate initial-entry training of men and women. However, the requirements are the same for both sexes.

Like most recruits, Stephen lost weight during boot camp, almost 25 pounds. He also dropped several minutes off his three-mile run time, more than quadrupled the number of pullups he can do, and almost doubled the number of situps (the Marines call them “crunches,” he did 138 in two minutes a weeks or so before he left, with a drill instructor counting).

Excellent proud parent stuff, and I would be, too.

Of course, there’s a downside to this much stress and sudden weight loss: immune system dysfunction.

Unfortunately, my son has a large and deep suppurating wound on his left forearm (hence the bandage) for which he was hospitalized from Sunday evening to late Thursday morning in Beaufort Naval Hospital. The whole time he was on IV antibiotics and still has three stout oral antibiotics to take now. The wound probably was caused by an insect bite becoming infected during the Crucible which took several days to develop into an abscess.

Hence, while Stephen has graduated from boot camp, he has not been released from Parris Island and will have to return there when his leave expires Oct. 31. He’ll be on medical hold at PI until the doctor certifies his wound has healed. The Navy physician told us it will take at least one week after his return, probably more. Eventually, Stephen will go to Marine Combat Training at Camp Lejeune, NC, then he assigned to another school where he’ll learn his specific job in the Marine Corps.

I recall that Army Ranger and BUD (SEAL) students have been studied extensively, and they have severely depressed immunity during this kind of intense and stressful training, and this no doubt contributed to his forearm abscess. I’m not saying that this training is bad or should be changed, just that we need to recognise the physical costs and be prepared to deal with them.

I’m betting the PFC here rebounds very nicely with a low-stress environment and home cooking. Good luck, PFC Sensing, and Well Done, Dad, for having raised such a fine young man.


  1. Thank you for your kind words! Much appreciated.

  2. Nurse Kelley says:

    Interestingly… the son of a friend who just finished Marine combat training is going through the same thing with an ulcer on his back caused by the pack he wore on a 3-day march. So he is also waiting in Medical for his wound to heal. I hadn’t thought about his immune system being depressed, although it stands to reason. When I saw him after BT he had lost a lot of weight, too.

  3. Nurse Kelley says:

    Oh, yeah, and thanks for being on our side! ;)

  4. I was hoping “infection and immunology” was going to go away after this semester…oh well…it appears it has practical value.

    Argh…I guess I should go study then.