A great amount of knowledge was compressed into about 11 hours as the U.S. Marine Corps poured information about the recruit training process into 60 educators from Ohio and the Washington, DC area at the USMC Recruit Depot at Parris Island today.
We began the day on the Yellow Footprints, where every recruit begins his transformation to a Marine. Drill instructors gave us a good glimpse of how the process begins. We were “treated” to a first-hand taste of how the Marines eliminate individual and attitudes and replace them with a mental discipline, physical discipline and physical discipline aimed at core values of honor, courage and commitment and the emergence of a team-before-self ethos.
The Marines could not have been more open and transparent in their explanation of their goals with recruits and recruit training. We received a comprehensive overview from commanding general Brig. Gen. Austin “Sparky” Renforth, who began his military career when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1982 right out of high school. He gave us a terrific explanation of the challenges of recruiting today, and the tremendous opportunities which are available for those who make the grade and become Marines.
At the other end of the spectrum, I was privileged to have lunch with Marine Recruit Michael Diaz. Recruit Diaz was thrilled that he had completed his swimming qualifications earlier this week. He misses his parents and family in Woodbridge, Virginia. He’s a member of the 1st Marine Recruit Battalion 2nd Platoon, and has eight weeks remaining in his training.
We also learned about opportunities with the Marine Corps bands and a variety of higher education options (Marines can receive more than $100,000 in benefits to pay for college). After lunch, we visited the marksmanship training simulator and then finished the afternoon at the Khe Sahn firing range, where we got to fire the M16-A4 rifle. (For the record, Cleveland outscored Frederick, Md., at hitting targets.)
Next we moved to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort, where we heard from a roundtable of non-commissioned officers and an F-18 Super Hornet pilot about careers in the Air Wing of the Marines. We concluded with dinner in the Officer’s Club at the MCAS.
One fact stayed with me throughout the day. The “target age” for recruits for Marines is ages 17-21. More than 70 percent of all young adults in this target to not meet USMC entrance requirements and cannot become a Marine.
Tomorrow I hope to write more about this, and to cover the crucible and other “Phase III” parts of basic training where recruits complete their indoctrination and become Marines.