"I'm sorry I took my family for granted," Daryl said. "I was a problem child. I didn't realize at the time that they were there for me." Daryl's mother, Kymmer Crookston, said her son had apologized.
Afterward, Denial blistered the recruits with a high-octane chewing out. They were a disgrace, he screamed. The dressing-down could be heard across the parade field, where recruits were drilling.
The three friends stood stiffly at attention, the captain's florid face inches from theirs. He ordered them back to their squad bay, double time.
Denial explained later that it wasn't what the recruits said. It was the fact that they lost all military bearing. That was inexcusable, he said.
The three bolted from the office to face their drill instructor.
The recruits were indoctrinated into the very ethos of what it meant to be a Marine. By implication, other military services, and certainly civilians, did not measure up to the Marine mystique. Recruits were required to live and breathe Honor, Courage, Commitment -- the values so ingrained that they seemed to exist only in capital letters.
At the same time, their weapons instruction began the process of molding trained, disciplined killers from cowed teenagers. Each recruit was taught ways to kill a man with his hands, his bayonet, his M-16.
One afternoon, during the fifth week, a Navy chaplain, Lt. Wayne Tomasek, addressed the platoon during a session called Values Training.
"You joined the Marine Corps because you wanted something bigger and greater than yourself!" Tomasek screamed at the recruits. "If you wanted to be average, you would have joined something else. You joined the elite organization of the United States Marine Corps!"
"Yes, sir!" the recruits responded.
The chaplain described what he called warrior spirit.
"When you go to combat, you may have some fears, and that's OK," he said. "But overcoming your fears, facing your fears, that's what makes the warrior. You can no longer be a little boy. You have to act like a man."
That same week, Hibbs gathered Platoon 2103 for a "foot locker" chat. "I'll take the platoon away from the drill instructors just to get them relaxed and out of that atmosphere of somebody yelling at them," Hibbs said.
The topic this day turned to the rules of war. Hibbs, who has served in Iraq, told the platoon that insurgents don't comply with the rules that govern Marines' behavior.
"If you're a POW held by America, you're not going to get tortured," Hibbs said. "You're going to get fed, get mail, all that stuff. You're going to have rights."
He did not mention detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the recruits did not ask. Hibbs did advise them to do everything possible to avoid capture in Iraq.
"Say I run out of rounds. What am I going to do?" Hibbs asked.