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.”
One Crucible event, Janson’s Thrust, a bayonet assault course, is an example of the Corps’ efficient training style.
The event begins as the recruits are called to gather around their drill instructor to hear the Medal of Honor citation in which the event is based.
Gunnery Sgt. Ernest A. Janson was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in France, June 6, 1918, at hill 182. Janson used his team to attack potential ambushers and sound the alarm while he alone, killed two enemy leaders, driving the attackers away and preventing a potentially devastating attack on their position.
“Every scenario we go through is a simulation of what an actual human went through,” said Recruit Tomas F. Zuniga, fire team leader, Platoon 3247, Co. L. “Following their footsteps is inspiring and lets us (new Marines) know what we have to do to fill their shoes.”
Immediately after reading the citation, the recruits go over the scenario with their Platoon sergeant, Topolski.
“Basically, the recruits have to move in their fire teams from point A to point B and eliminate all the simulated tire-enemies in between,” said Topolski.
Prior to engaging the tire enemies, recruits donned flak vests and real bayonets to annihilate their opposition in a realistic fashion.
“We (Marine Corps) are the only ones who use live bayonets during fire and maneuver,” Topolski said. “It’s because we train like we fight that we are one of the most effective fighting forces in the world.”
Once everyone was prepared and ready for the course, the recruits were split into random fire teams to further push them out of their comfort zones and help them build teamworking skills.
“It really makes you work on your confidence with your team,” Zuniga said. “It’s good to learn this leadership early; I think it helps us take the initiative and step up to accomplish any mission given to us.”
Besides the traits that will assist them throughout their Marine Corps careers, the course also prepares them for combat, should the recruits end up in a hostile situation, said Topolski.
“Jansen’s Thrust is follow-on training to the close quarters combat skills they learned during the prior 12 weeks,” said Topolski. “Once you enter a house in combat− which happens a lot− you ever know if it will turn into a hand-to-hand situation.”
Topolski added that training recruits do during their time on the depot and Edson Range also incorporates core values to ensure other important aspects of being a Marine are not forgotten.
“All of the events we do here (at the Crucible) incorporate at least one core value,” Topolski said. “They teach the recruits to be committed to each other and maintain fire team integrity to ensure everyone comes back safe and that the Marine Corps remains the renowned force it is today.”