Instructors teaching recruits — impressive!

April 7, 2017

Events in Syria this week provided a stark reminder of how dangerous our world is. Perhaps Syrian’s brutal Bashar al-Assad thought he could continue to get away murdering his own innocent women, men and children with chemical weapons. North Korea’s threat continues to grow. Against that global backdrop, our Educators Workshop had its third day of activities at the USMC Recruit Depot at Parris Island on Thursday.



Instructors aided us excellently at every activity during our time at USMC Parris Island, including here during our try at marksmanship at the Khe Sanh rifle range.

It was another jam-packed day for the educators from the Recruit Station Cleveland and the Recruit Station Frederick districts. We saw Marine recruits undergoing physical training at 6:30 a.m, and also a “Moto” (for motivation) Run of three miles for the members of the 1st Battalion, Alpha Company, who are graduating tomorrow.


We also:

  • Visited the Marine Corp Museum
  • Watched as nine foreign-born Marine recruits became U.S. citizens in a touching ceremony just before all the graduating recruits received six hours of well-deserved liberty.
  • Tried our hand on the obstacle course and the rappel tower.
  • Strived to maximize our teamwork and collaborative skills by repeating some of the puzzles and challenges which Marine recruits face in the Crucible near the end of their training.
  • Shared dinner with a representative group of Marines on base … and also made a brief stop at the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX).


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A “blackshirt” instructor assisting one of my fellow educators, Darla Wagner, at the rifle range.

Many of us were impressed with the high quality of the teaching we have witnessed at Parris Island. If the “blackshirts” instructors who guided us are any indication, there are some terrific sensei helping young men and women seeking to become Marines master all seven of the requirements needed to get to graduation day.


“It’s evident that, no matter where we were on Parris Island, the knowledge conveyed to the recruits produces a very impressive quality of young men and women who are ready to fight, to think, and also someday lead,” says Kevin Fourman, associate principal at Bucyrus High School.

Today is our last day in the Educators Workshop. There will be more on this blog about the entire experience on Saturday.

NOTE: I was able to upload some video which I took during the Motivation Run on Thursday. It was uplifting for the recruits to see so many family members and loved ones lining the Boulevard de France, cheering for their sons, boyfriends, and husbands. Here’s a link:


Yellow footprints & seeing it from top to bottom at Parris Island

April 6, 2017

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.



Educators undergo some IT in a sand box at USMC Recruit Depot, Parris Island.

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.



Three of my colleagues and some USMC marksman instructors on the Khe Sanh firing range.

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.

Preparing warriors and leaders

April 5, 2017

 We will make Marines

We will win our nation’s battles

We will develop strong citizens

Those are the three key premises of An Educator’s Guide to the Marine Corps, a brochure which the Marines of Recruit Station Cleveland provided to the teachers and counselors on the Educator’s Workshop to Parris Island.

20170404_192119About five dozen other educators and I will see the “Make Marines” aspect of this first-hand over the next few days. A couple of sentences from this brochure are really powerful: “Since so much is expected of our Marine Corps, recruits must naturally come to expect much of themselves. During …training, Marine recruits are tested in extraordinary ways, emerging as completely transformed individuals.”

20170404_192038Recruit training here consists of 13 very demanding and challenging weeks. “They are literally transformed” the brochure says.  “along the way, they develop new confidence in themselves and the certainty that they will be able to overcome whatever challenges they encounter.”

From what we’ve learned so far in many email communications from Sgt. Stephen Himes, those challenges are immense. Objectives for Marine recruits at the conclusion of their training include:

  • Character Development
  • Discipline
  • Espirit de Corps
  • Military Bearing
  • Combat Basic Tasks
  • Physical Fitness

20170404_192028The workshop took us to a restaurant named “Traditions” at the Recruit Depot. Many Marines shared their stories and career in the Corps with us. We get a first-hand look at these challenges, and how recruits rise to meet them, beginning Wednesday at 6 a.m. when our bus leaves to take us to the USMC Recruit Depot at Parris Island.

Off we go …

April 4, 2017

Our Marine Educators Workshop is traveling today, flying from CLE to Savannah, Ga., then on to Parris Island SC via bus for our first day at the Recruit Depot. We have dinner scheduled at Traditions, a restaurant at Parris Island, where we will hear from Marine Corps Public Affairs.

We had an excellent briefing and overview of our trip Monday. Major Shawn Meier, head of the Marine Corp recruiting station in Cleveland, and Staff Sgt. Kevin Osborne, gave us an explanation of what we will be seeing and doing during our stay there.

Many of us were impressed with the rigorous entry requirements for Marines today. He or she must be very competent mentally, physically, and orally, and also gain a good score on entrance battery exams. Drugs or an arrest record means you won’t meet entrance requirements.

It’s a super exciting trip for Jordan, one of our educators. Jordan teaches English at Caldwell High School, and today she is taking her first plane flight. Many of take so much for granted in 2017. I’ve lost count of the number of times and the different types of planes in which I’ve flown. For everything, there is a first time. Jordan’s first time is today. Hope we all have the best kind of flights — the uneventful kind — as we head to the USMC Recruit Depot today.

Parris Island: Where the Corps makes Marines

March 31, 2017

It was 99 years ago in France when a brigade of U.S. Marines helped a combined U.S.-French force check, then later completely repel, a major German offensive. “The deadliest weapon in the world is a United States Marine and his rifle,” said General John Pershing, commander of American forces in France, after the battle of Belleau Wood, which helped turned the tide in World War I. (See note below!)

Like their counterparts in other branches of the military, enlistees in the Marine Corps sign a contract to give everything – including their lives – in defense of the U.S. and the Constitution which governs it. Next week I am privileged to be part of a Marine Corps Educators’ Workshop which will take teachers from about 50 schools and colleges to Parris Island to show us how the Corps makes Marines.

In a society today which seems to say that everything is relative, the US Marines remain steadfast in their approach to training new recruits. A sentence from the Parris Island Graduation Ceremony program says it eloquently: “At the very time when a host of factors tend to undermine character development in society, Marines are facing an operational environment that requires stronger character and moral virtue.”

Standard are very high. It’s easier to get into many colleges in the U.S. than to become a Marine. Drug screenings, challenging physical and mental training, and a frank ‘here’s what Recruit Training is like’ strategy removes some applicants from the “pool” of potential Marines.  But there’s a payoff: More than 90 percent of the recruits going to Parris Island now make it through the training process. The intense preparation works.

Parris Island was the site for training of Marines a century ago, and it still has the same purpose today. Candidates sacrifice virtually every comfort for their 13 weeks of Recruit Training. They surrender their cell phones. No Netflix, tablets, or video games. They are in active training from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week for their entire time on Parris Island. Every aspect of their daily lives falls under the constant scrutiny of a squad of drill instructors who have but one goal, a three-word entrance sign to the USMC Recruit Depot: We Make Marines.


marital arts

Martial arts combat is a component of Recruit Training for all seeking to become U.S. Marines.

The physical training (PT) is extremely demanding. Most Marines leave Parris Island about 15-20 pounds lighter than when they arrived due to the intensive PT. They must pass a vigorous Combat Fitness Test (CFT) which requires them to simulate saving a wounded fellow Marine in a realistic battle-type situation. They must also pass a shooting range challenge at seven different distances. Marine recruits spend two weeks mastering marksmanship. We may have remotely-piloted drones and cruise missiles in our arsenal today, but – just as in 1918 – every Marine is first and foremost a rifleman.

That term – rifleman – applies to both women and men at Parris Island. More than 7 percent of today’s U.S. Marine Corps is comprised of women, and female recruits there find the training and education program every bit as challenging as for the guys.



A Marine recruit records where her shot hit the target during firing week at the USMC Recruit Depot, Parris Island.

Lately, the Marine Corps has come under scrutiny due to a scandal involving inappropriate sharing of women military members’ personal photographs. No organization is perfect, including the USMC. However, the NCIS is investigating, and Marines who have violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice will be punished. “A true warrior carries himself with a sense of decency and compassion, but is always ready for the fight,” said Major Clark Carpenter of Marine Public Affairs about this scandal. “Those who hide in the dark corners of the internet with a shield of anonymity and purport to be warriors are nothing of the sort — they are nothing more than cowards.”

Major Carpenter is so right. Those who call themselves First to Fight create an indomitable “espirit de corps” which is unmatched in any branch of military service anywhere. The Marine Corps will remove the offenders, right the wrongs, and emerge from this scandal stronger than before.

Little wonder that China, South Korea, and many other nations around the globe call their most elite fighting force marines. They can imitate the name, but not the process, which makes about 180,000 women and men active duty members of the U.S. Marine Corps.

I will blog a few times from Parris Island next week, hoping to provide more information and details about the recruit training process along the way. These posts will aim — perhaps in a very small way — to help elaborate on a quote from Defense Secretary and Marine James Mattis:   “Demonstrate to the world there is ‘No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy’ than a U.S. Marine.”

It begins at Parris Island.

NOTE: An intercepted German report, which originated from the front at Belleau Wood, compared the Marines’ fighting spirit to dogs owned by the devil, or Devil’s Dogs. That became one of the Corps’ nicknames. “Come on Devil Dogs” is a frequent rallying cry for the Marines.

US Marine Corps website
NY Times, March 6, 2017
Photos are from the U.S. Marine Corps websites


Modern Day Journalism: How Social Media Have Shaped the Twenty-Four Hour News Cycle

March 21, 2017

This is brief – but strong and good — insight from one of my social media students at Cuyahoga Community College. Well done!

Paige By Paige

In today’s day and age, society revolves around social media. Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have billions of users and accumulate new ones every single day. It is no wonder why these networks have become leading sources of news journalism. With millions of people constantly visiting these platforms, social media have become one of the most important ways for information to be communicated to the public.

One of the greatest appeals of social media is that it is instantaneous. A Twitter user can compose a tweet and immediately post it. An Instagram photograph can be shared within seconds. It is this quickness, combined with the vast reach of social media, that allows them to thrive. People like being able to know about events as they unfold and promptly express their opinions on them. Therefore, quick, social media-centered journalism is critical to the 21st century. As social media make it easier and…

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MEDIA MEMO NO. 3: For the media and President Trump

February 22, 2017

Having heard some of President Donald J. Trump’s news conference on February 16, and having seen and read dozens of media stories about the first month of President Trump’s presidency, here five words of advice for both parties.

Stop fighting. Get along. Collaborate.

First – to the managers, directors, editors, publishers and reporters who comprise the media in 2017: To turn one of Brooke Gladstone’s phases a bit, you have the government you deserve. Public opinion survey after survey shows that distrust of the media, and a belief that the media is biased, are both at all-time highs. President Trump’s election came about, in part, as a result of that distrust. So if you’re unhappy about the outcome, you’ll find one leading cause for it just by looking at a mirror.

A lot of media analysts have stated this as well, as have countless editors and reporters working within the profession. One is Derek Thomspon, senior editor of The Atlantic and author of Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction. Below is a link to his article citing four main reasons for the distrust. There are more reasons, but this is a strong starting point.

Billy Graham has been on the Gallup Polls as one of the “Ten most admired men in the world” for the past 60 years. His son, Franklin Graham, has a blunt assessment that concurs with President Trump: The media is lying. When the occupant of the White House and major religious leaders agree on an issue as important as this, the owners and managers of newspapers, television news-gathering divisions, and news-based websites had better take notice and change their ways.

Let’s also admit the obvious:  All too often, today’s media has become the pawn (willing or unwitting) of special interests. The WikiLeaks revelations from John Podesta’s emails included the existence of a lengthy list of media members who were “friendly” to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign. It also revealed details about a huge party which dozens of media on her “friendly” list attended, around the time Clinton announced her candidacy for President in Spring 2015. Gallup and other polls show that the public believes the media supports the Democratic Party, by a margin of 3.5 to 1.



A screen shot of Fox News’ coverage of President Trump’s speech on August 16, 2016

One way the media could begin to redeem itself is to change its direction and focus. Don’t be overly concerned about the White House, but instead look at the plight of the average Jane and Jose in our land. It’s quite telling that Margaret Sullivan, public editor of The New York Times, admits that her newspaper made a mistake by not thoroughly covering the Flint, Michigan, water contamination crisis.

Part of what made journalism great in the last quarter of the 20th century was its ability to focus on what Ed Murrow and Fred Friendly (creators of “See it Now,” the first in-depth television news program) called the little picture. This concept of “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable,” as stated in a column in the Chicago Evening Post 125 years ago, is something still taught in journalism colleges and universities across the country.

It’s time to refocus. How many more Flints are out there in the nation? If the media returned to a vital role of being a champion of the little people, its reputation would improve.

Now, let’s look at what’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in the Executive Office Building, and elsewhere in the Trump Administration, with respect to the media and the practice of journalism.

Mr. President: You gave a prescient speech about six months ago on the campaign trail. On August 16, in Wisconsin, you said this:

Every day you pick up a newspaper, or turn on the nightly news, and you hear about some self-interest banker or some discredited Washington insider says they oppose our campaign. Or some encrusted old politician says they oppose our campaign. Or some big time lobbyist says they oppose our campaign.

“I wear their opposition as a badge of honor. Because it means I am fighting for REAL change, not just partisan change. I am fighting – all of us across the country are fighting – for peaceful regime change in our own country. The media-donor-political complex that’s bled this country dry has to be replaced with a new government of, by and for the people.
(Emphasis added.)

You not only won the election, you defeated the very complex which you eloquently identified on the campaign trail. Now you face a new challenge – Working with at least a portion of the enemies you conquered. Some of them are political. Some are donors. And some are members of the media.


The editorial page “spoof” describing the beginning of (what it hoped would be a fictional) Trump Presidency. This was published as a mock front page in The Boston Globe in April 2016.

Whether or not the media deserves it (in my humble opinion, most don’t), as a statesman and the leader of the world’s greatest democracy, you need the media to report, accurately and fairly, upon your administration and its accomplishments. If democracy is to grow and thrive around the world, then the U.S. media is in a unique position — has a unique responsibility — to broadcast truth and light in places where all too often there are only messages of hate and doom.

They don’t get it. They don’t understand that your usage of Twitter belongs in the same category at John Kennedy’s employment of live TV news conferences or FDR’s radio fireside chats. You are utilizing a newer medium to communicate directly to improve the lives of the people – the oppressed, the downtrodden, and those who seemingly have had no voice and no way to improve their own lives.

Because they don’t get it, you need to exhibit both exceptional leadership and exceptional restraint in showing them a path towards some degree of collaboration and respect for each other.

Here’s a suggestion – Try some one-on-ones. Invite new NBC News President executive Noah Oppenheim to the White House. Have dinner with the New York Times’ Dean Baquet.  Do a two-for and have both Marty Baron (executive editor) and Jeff Bezos (owner) of The Washington Post over for a conversation.

Let them realize that you understand the business challenges and pressures they face. Give them an opportunity to have an exclusive and see if they are willing to work with you or continuously write or broadcast story after story which attacks you.

You have proven that you don’t need the media to campaign and win an election. However, governing is easier if the public isn’t divided and walled off into dozens of “echo chambers” where everyone is seeing and hearing nothing but their own point of view.

Something beyond winning or losing an election is at stake here. E Pluribus Unum should be more than just a motto.  Extend an olive branch from your position as the victor. Media leaders would be wise to accept that offer. Then, just maybe, we can obtain some equilibrium in a land that’s becoming increasingly less civil and more hostile.

Our first president could have been a king, but he wanted a democratic republic to govern the land. George Washington said, “While a courteous behavior is due to all, select the most deserving only for your friendships.”

Try imitating President Washington’s advice, at least for a while, with respect to the media, President Trump. Give them some courtesy, and offer an opportunity for them to change course. It’s in everyone’s best interests – including the nation — that this happens.

shamina merchant john kerezy

John Kerezy with Ohio State University student Shamina Merchant at a presentation at Cuyahoga Community College in spring 2015

I am an associate professor of journalism/mass communications at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C). These views are my own, and not those of Tri-C.


Hanson, Ralph, “Mass Communication,” Sage Publications, sixth edition, pages 127-128