Marine boot camp hygiene inspection, 1951.

Marine boot camp hygiene inspection, 1951.

Drill instructors perform a hygiene inspection to ensure recruits have adequately showered, shaved and have no medical issues. This was done to make sure that recruits had no health problems that can affect them from training.

Back then the recruits had full body naked inspections called hygiene inspections to make sure they didn’t had ingrown hairs, staph, etc. It was really weird, 200 guys all standing naked at attention, and then the company commander would come through to take a look at everyone, all the recruits had to spin around like a ballerina so the commander could inspect the whole body, and all of this is done in front of everyone. They would line up the troops when they got home and in assembly line fashion spray them with pesticides. This kept the troops healthy and clean. The pesticide used was DDT, a colorless, crystalline, tasteless and almost odorless organochlorine known for its insecticidal properties and environmental impacts.

Another reason why the hygiene inspections were done was because in the Marine training the recruits would pile all their laundry together and they would never get their particular shorts, socks and shirts back. They ended up with everyone else’s stuff and by checking everyone like that it reduced the chance of spreading infections. It was done in a professional manner, quickly, thoroughly and without any hint of sexual connotation.

Interesting fact:

  • In militaries, the term “short-arm inspection” refers to the medical inspection of male soldiers’ penises (euphemistically referred to as the “short arm”) for signs of sexually transmitted diseases and other medical problems. The precise origin of the term is uncertain; however, Australian troops are known to have used the term during the First World War.

(Photo credit: Mark Kauffman / LIFE magazine).