When Esra D. Mullner was taken to a doctor for consistent back pain he had no idea doctors would find a tumor in his spine.
At the time, he was just 11 years old and doctors advised against the surgery because of the high risk and low success rate of the procedure.
“I remember my mom told me and at the time I didn’t understand what a tumor was,” said Mullner. “I just remember my mom was mad that the neurosurgeon was going on vacation right after he told us that. That’s how I knew it was bad.”
Recruit Mullner, Platoon 3269, Mike Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, said doctors told him that if they were able to remove 80 percent of the tumor he would have a 50 percent survival rate.
Marines are trained to be ready for any situation. Part of being ready is having a back-up plan, as a bayonet attached to a rifle in case of weapons malfunctions or no ammunition.Recruits of Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion learned confidence and combat readiness during Pugil Sticks III at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Aug. 26.
Prior to the Pugil Sticks event, recruits were briefed about and then ran through the Bayonet Assault Couse. The course was comprised of different obstacles ranging from shallow trenches to crawling under barbed wire.
“The recruits run through the Bayonet Assault Course because it gives them that combat mindset, and it makes them apply everything that they have learned under a more stressful situation,” said Sgt. Christopher S. Merrill, drill instructor, Platoon 3223.
As Pvt. Joel A. Lopez, Platoon 3263, Mike Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, made his way through each event of the Crucible, he knew he was getting one step closer to becoming a part of the Marine Corps’ brotherhood.
Eighteen-year-old Lopez, a Houston native, joined the Corps to find a better way of life for himself and his brothers.
Lopez lived in a rough neighborhood in Northeast Houston that had a high gang-related crime rate. His family’s monthly income was unstable, but his parents always ensured that at leat the kids’ basic necessities were met.
Lopez’s parents divorced when he was 12, leaving him and his brothers split up into each home.
“The divorce was hard on me and my brothers. My brothers bounced back and forth between homes while I stayed with my mother,” said Lopez. “Both of my parents fought for guardianship, so it made things rough for us.” (continue reading…)
Marines of Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, used teamwork and dependability to complete the Leadership Reaction Course, or 12 Stalls, during the Crucible at Edson Range, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 27.
The Crucible is a 54-hour test of endurance where recruits must conquer more than 30 different obstacles while they experience food and sleep deprivation. During the Crucible, recruits utilize small unit leadership skills they’ve acquired throughout training.
“The recruits do the 12 Stalls event in the Crucible so they can learn how to work together as a team,” said Sgt. Ryan R. Ayers, field instructor, Field Company, Weapons and Field Training Battalion. “They learn how to utilize and create unit cohesion to accomplish the mission.” (continue reading…)
Recruits of India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, displayed their bearing during their senior drill instructor’s inspection. Only 16 days into training, the recruits were also tested on Marine Corps knowledge, uniforms and rifle manual at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Sept. 5.
The purpose of the SDI inspection was to test the recruits, while under the pressure of drill instructors, on what they’ve learned in recruit training.
“The senior drill instructor inspection shows us where the baseline is for the recruits’ confidence and bearing,” said Gunnery Sgt. Cornell S. Cornish, drill instructor, Platoon 3209. “It shows the drill instructors what they’ve instilled in their recruits and what they need to work on.” (continue reading…)
Military cadence is a traditional call that is used as a song during running and marching formations. Cadences are used to instill teamwork, build camaraderie and to boost the morale of a unit.
Cadence commands such as “left foot, right foot” keep the platoon synchronized while in a running formation. However, there is more to cadence than to just stay instep. Military cadence is also used to motivate and inspire military personnel to push through fatigue.
“When you’re out training and running with your unit to cadences it gives you a sense of pride, keeps you and your fellow Marines motivated and builds up camaraderie with the people you train with everyday,” said Staff Sgt. Glen E. Allen, drill instructor, Platoon 2129, Company F, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion. “Morale is always important to keep high within a unit. Cadence is one of those things used to keep it high.” (continue reading…)
After witnessing death and tragedy at a young age and turning down a dark path, one young man used the later losses of his two brothers to change his goals for life and join the Marine Corps to become part of a loyal family of thousands.
In 2004, Rct. Jordan McAlexander’s life overturned when the then 11-year-old was caught in the middle of his grandfather’s murder. The assailant, a former neighbor, killed three others before seeing young McAlexander and his grandfather pulling into the driveway.
His grandfather told McAlexander to stay in the vehicle. Yet once a gun was drawn and yelling began, the boy ran inside to alert his grandmother who was on the phone with his mother. Realizing what her distraught grandson was saying, she dialed 911 while McAlexander’s mother called his stepfather, a sheriff’s sergeant, who was nearby. (continue reading…)
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…)