Marines, standing at the poolside, stare into unforgiving training grounds. Yesterday was not easy, and today will be no better. The frigid water below taunts them, as if to say “I am going to kick you in the face.” The Marines take one last breath, jump feet first and begin their grueling one-mile warm-up exercise to start another challenging day.
Overcoming more than fatigue and cold water, they swim to try and become one of fewer than 600 who hold the title of Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival. (continue reading…)
The violence in Iraq was reaching its pinnacle in 2004 when Chris Taylor received his deployment orders to Al-Anbar province. Marines had just bloodied their way through the first Battle of Fallujah and insurgency within the country was beginning to expand as sectarian clashes divided the nation.
At the time, Taylor was newly married and just learning how to balance his life with his wife Angela. He had recently graduated the Defense Language Institute as an Arabic linguist and was just getting settled into their new home in Jacksonville, N.C., when he found out his unit, 2nd Radio Battalion, was to deploy.
Angela was speechless. Taylor comforted his wife the best he could, but anticipation, fear, and excitement gripped his own thoughts. As a corporal, Taylor had never deployed before and didn’t know what to expect. But as a young noncommissioned officer, he knew he needed to be in Iraq. (continue reading…)
When shots rang out and flames burst through the Afghan sky over Camp Bastion last September, a lot of things changed for many people.
Marines who thought they might never see combat from their flight line roles as fuel specialists, mechanics, information technology specialists, engineers and myriad support jobs suddenly found themselves under attack and engaging the enemy.
Sgt. Efrain Melecio, an aviation logistics information management support specialist, then with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16 (Forward), was walking out of the showers after a long day at work when he and his fellow Marines saw the attack.
“It was the biggest flame I’ve ever seen in my life,” said the Chicago native. “We had a lot of Marines who were involved in combat. Seeing the affect it had on them, I wanted to one day be able to help somebody who is going through something like that.” (continue reading…)
The sky was gray. It was raining, muddy and cold. I’m tired. Everyone else must have been tired, too, but the Royal Marine Commandos are elite – they weren’t showing it.
“That’s what we do, we yomp,” said Sgt. Noel Connelly, of the groups’ hiking with packs.. “Just like the Falklands in ‘82. We’re bootnecks. That’s what bootnecks do… yomp.”
We stopped and rested on the side of the road. Reports over the radio were saying the tanks couldn’t get through because insurgents have dug ditches in the road. The tanks had to find a new route and that would take time. So we waited and endured the mud and cold rain.
“Hey USMC, do you want a smoke,” said Connelly, platoon sergeant for Royal Marine’s 9th Troop, “L” Company, 42 Commando, as he took out some English cigarettes. “These are healthy cigarettes.”
For three months the recruits of Company C have overcome obstacles, swim qualification, the confidence course and countless other challenges. August 5 they overcame their biggest challenge to date.
The depot’s rappel tower shoots 60 feet into the San Diego skyline terrifying those afraid of heights and giving recruits exciting Marine Corps training.
“It’s just like the pool, some are afraid of water (and) others are afraid of heights,” said Sgt. Christopher Blas, drill instructor, Company C, 1st Recruit Training Battalion. “The tower teaches them that they need to trust their equipment and their leaders. It allows them to overcome their fears, and with that confidence, they can increase what they do through a better mindset.”
The recruits of Company C got used to the tower by fast roping before their rappelling classes. Fast roping is a method for quick insertion on an objective from a helicopter. The recruits slide down a 15-foot rope, grabbing it with both hands and using the inner portion of their boot to control their descent. After hitting the ground, they run to collect a length of rope, a carabineer and gloves. (continue reading…)
Many say that everything is bigger in Texas, to include dreams. One Texan baseball player’s biggest dream, to become a U.S. Marine, has become a reality.
Pvt. Ben W. Reed, Platoon 2128, Company F, grew up in Graham, Texas, a considerably large town that was known for its baseball.
No one in Reed’s family played baseball, but he shined at the sport among his peers in school, he said. He discovered his abilities like most kids, by just trying them out.
“My friends and I would always play baseball,” Reed said. “It just seemed like a natural habit.”
Reed had an early start with his baseball career, beginning with Tee Ball when he was 6 years old.
When he attended Kilgore High School, Reed played for the district champions, the Kilgore Bulldogs. He was awarded 1st Team All District, and was nominated to play on the North Texas High School Baseball Coaches’ Association All Star Team. (continue reading…)
Marines pride themselves on being the toughest of all military branches. According to a “Times Magazine” article that came o
ut earlier this month, the United States Marine Corps basic training is the most “bone crushing” basic training in all the United States Armed Forces.
Data contained in military reports from 2004 to 2010 show Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego has broken 688 recruits’ tibias and fibulas, in the past six years. That makes more lower leg breaks than any other U.S. military training facility. Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island follows closely behind with 613 recruits.
The article in the “Times Magazine” also shows the Marine Corps current status, which is on a decline when it comes to stress fractures. The intent of the Marine Corps basic training isn’t to break recruits, but to prepare them for the rigorous physical fitness requirements they will encounter in the fleet and combat. (continue reading…)
It’s 7:30 a.m. and if someone is standing in one spot for even half a moment too long he’ll feel the warmth of southern California’s August sun. Good thing the recruits of Company B won’t be standing still for their final Physical Fitness Test
The PFT is administered the first six months of the year, to be accompanied by the newly incorporated combat fitness test which is administered within the remaining six months of the year.
The PFT in the Marine Corps is more rigorous than our sister services with a three mile run, crunches and pull-ups instead of push-ups. The basic requirements for male recruits is set at a minimum of running three miles in less than 28 minutes; completing at least three pull-ups and performing at least 50 crunches in two minutes. Most Marines, however, strive for a perfect score of 300 points which requires running three miles in 18 minutes or less; completing a maximum of 20 pull-ups, and performing 100 crunches in two minutes. (continue reading…)
The sound of a whistle blow brings two Marine recruits charging into the middle of a dirt ring in one of the training areas of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. Other than the grunts and groans from the fighters, drill instructors can be heard yelling at the recruits to hit here, or slash there. The two men continue raining blows on each other waiting to hear the merciful whistle blow once again. The signal that their match is over.
The recruits of Company E performed their final pugil sticks training, Sept. 25, to hone their skills with bayonets before leaving the depot to conduct the crucible.
“Pugil sticks are a part of bayonet training,” said Sgt. Rudy Moctezuma, Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor Trainer, Instructional Training Company, Recruit Training Regiment. “The sticks are marked to tell the difference between where the bayonet of the rifle would be, which is the red end. The butt of the rifle is the black end.”
The pugil sticks are padded on both ends, and have hockey gloves attached to the stick to protect the recruits’ hands, said Moctezuma. (continue reading…)
With 30-pound ammunition cans in each hand, recruits of Company C, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, use what energy is left to sprint across the finish line without dropping them.This is just one requirement of the Combat Fitness Test. The CFT is an annual test required between July 1 and December 31 each year.
According to the Marine Corps Training and Education Command, the purpose of the CFT is to test a Marine’s ability in high-powered, short-burst events that reflect operational demands. (continue reading…)
From learning discipline through practicing drill to learning to focus in chaos at the rifle range, Marine recruits are constantly saturated with information and skills to help them become well-rounded warriors who can maintain the standards set by Marines from the past and present.
As training progresses, recruits are required to learn and exhibit more lessons and skills they acquired through 12 weeks of training and apply them to their final test, the Crucible.
The Marines of Company L, who have overcome every challenge Marine Corps recruit training has presented thus far, can attest to the Corps’ progressive nature of training.
The Crucible is a 54-hour training event held at Edson Range, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., which requires Marine recruits to overcome mentally and physically-demanding obstacles as a team. They undergo a simulated combat stress which consists of food and sleep deprivation before, claiming the title, Marine.
“From time to time, infantry will advance farther than the supply lines have,” said Sgt. Trent R. Topolski, drill instructor, Platoon 3248. “Marines won’t always have everything they might expect and need to be able to ration their gear and adapt to overcome those kinds of situations.” (continue reading…)
The U.S. Marine Corps is made up of people that come from all over the world, from every clime and place. Recruit Cvetomir V. Cvetkov, Platoon 1074, Company D., 1st Recruit Training Battalion is a native of Bulgaria, who joined the Marine Corps because he said he wanted to be one of the best.While getting his degree in accounting at the National and Worth Economy School in Bulgaria, Cvetkov began to work on coming to America on a student visa during the summer of 2003.
Cvetkov traveled to America to earn extra money by working a summer job at Six Flags Great America, in Chicago with some of his fellow classmates from his school. On their advice that he took the opportunity to earn extra money during the summer, improve his English, and explore new things.
“I decided I wanted to stay in America because there is still a lot of corruption in Bulgaria, and my younger brother is also here in the United States,” he said.
In 2006, after he obtained his degree, Cvetkov decided to immigrate to America. Since his degree was not recognized in the U.S., and the Corps wouldn’t recognize a student visa in order to enlist, he took up a job as a bartender and a limo driver, with intensions to eventually start college in the states. (continue reading…)
The brutal physical conditioning, constant mental stress and desolation of emotional distance is enough to make the experience of Mar
ine Corps recruit training hard. Pvt. Jonathan Dean, however, had two more reasons to stress during his time aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.Dean arrived at MCRD on Dec. 13, 2010. Just two weeks later, after spending Christmas apart from his family and his wife of nearly two years, Dean learned that his wife had given birth to twins.
“I received a Red Cross message the night of December 27,” said Dean. “Obviously, I knew they were going to be born while I was here (aboard MCRD), but it still came as quite a shock.”
After Dean received the news, he had a hard time concentrating on his training, according to Gunnery Sgt. Michael Blua, senior drill instructor, platoon 2171, Company H. (continue reading…)
Recruits demonstrate their understanding of this trait during the ninth week of recruit training, when platoons face off in a competition called Final Drill.
“Drill is the foundation of discipline,” said Staff Sgt. Jorge Guerrero, the senior drill instructor for Platoon 1012, Bravo Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion. “It shows the recruits’ abilities to follow orders no matter the circumstance.”
From the moment recruits arrive on Parris Island, they are taught the basic fundamentals of drill.
Guerrero said there is an overwhelming difference between recruits competing in Initial Drill, their first test of proficiency and Final Drill.
“Their precision and attention to detail has improved a great deal by that time,” said Guerrero, of Harlingen, Texas. “During week nine, the transformation from civilian to Marine is almost complete. You don’t see that during the week of Initial Drill.” (continue reading…)
Once World War II came to a close, Marine Barracks, Parris Island was renamed Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island in September 1946, according to Eugene Alvarez, a researcher for the Marine Corps Historical Division.
Alvarez writes that along with the name change, women were allowed to return to the Corps on a permanent basis.
President Harry S. Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act in 1948, which caused the reactivation of 3rd Recruit Training Battalion for training women Marines, Alvarez writes. (continue reading…)
Some of them join the Armed Forces, which can also accelerate the process of gaining their citizenship and earning the right to stay.
Erbol Bekmuratov, a recruit with Platoon 2012, Fox Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, and an immigrant from Almaty, Kazakhstan, said he joined the Marine Corps for several reasons.
“I chose the Marines because when I moved here, I heard they were the best this country had, and I wanted to belong to it,” Bekmuratov said.
“I joined because I wanted to earn my citizenship quickly and get money for school once I get out,” Bekmuratov added.
Bekmuratov moved from his country to Philadelphia when he was 16, after his father received a job in the city. Once Bekmuratov was old enough to join the Corps, he spoke with a recruiter.
While citizenship can be a motivating factor to the decision to join the military, other reasons exist as well. (continue reading…)
Two recruits yell at the top of their lungs as they rush into the small wooden ring. Both tired and hungry, they give everything they have left to come out on top.
Mixed martial artists and the Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters from the Victory Fitness Center, Point Loma, came to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego’s martial arts satellite school, Oct. 1, to teach servicemembers additional martial arts techniques.
Mixed martial artists and the Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters from the Victory Fitness Center, Point Loma, came to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego’s martial arts satellite school, Oct. 1, to teach servicemembers additional martial arts techniques.“There are many military members that come to Victory Fitness Center,” said Elias Gallagos, an MMA instructor at the Victory Fitness Center. “I feel that by coming here we are giving back to them.”
Military members and their families who took time to go to the “dojo” learned a few different techniques from three different categories: striking from standing, take downs, and submissions.
“This is an awesome experience,” said Staff Sgt. James McFaline, martial arts instructor, Instructional Training Company, Support Battalion. “It’s a little extra knowledge for our ‘tool belt.’ It builds on what we already know and teaches us additional moves.”
It expands on the Marine Corps’ training, according to Gunnery Sgt. Francisco Galvan, martial arts instructor, ITC, Support Bn. It sparks interest outside of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, and gives a chance to grow as a martial artist. We get a chance to see where the MCMAP techniques originate.”
The instructors and fighters were interested to see each other’s commonalities. “It’s good to learn martial arts and to constantly be a learner,” said Shannon Gugerty, a UFC fighter from the Victory Fitness Center. “It’s awesome to see that the Marines train the same as we do.”
While the Marines were happy to see the instructors and fighters, the guests seemed more excited that they got to spend time here with servicemembers.
“This is awesome,” said Tony Palafox, an MMA instructor at the Victory Fitness Center. “It’s amazing what we can do to help these guys in any situation, it’s tremendous.”
The guests were allowed to use the dojo’s training equipment before their class started during a mini-lesson from the Marines, according to Palafox.
The techniques that they taught the Marines seemed pretty effective, even in the practice stages, according to Sgt. Charles Roche, a MCMAP Instructor Trainer with ITC.
“The best part about coming here is the after affects,” said Gallegos. “Showing attendees they learned something, and the satisfaction that they know it and can use it to save their lives.”
When the session was over, attendees had more tools for their tool belts, and the instructors and fighters were able to see the results of their training.
“We are honored to come out here and help out our servicemembers,” said Palafox. “There is no speech I can make for it, we are just honored that you let us come here. With the military members being out there protecting us, we like to give back. It makes us feel like we are.”