U.S. Marines – United States Marine Corps

Marine Corps Training

Poolees Get Marksmanship Training

Blue skies, birds chirping and a cool breeze may be an ideal morning for most people, but add in the smell of gun powder and the crack of a hammer hitting a primer and sending rounds down range is what perks up most Marines.

On recruiting duty, Marines are exempt from attending the rifle range, but for Recruiting Station Milwaukee that does not mean poolees are not offered the opportunity to learn basic Marine Corps marksmanship and gain some familiarity firing the civilian version of the M-16A2 service rifle, the AR-15.

Nine of the 13 recruiting substations with RS Milwaukee each received half a day of marksmanship training, live fire, cover and concealment classes, M240B Medium machine gun familiarization, a partial Initial Strength Test and a Meal Ready to Eat lunch at Stone Bank Sportman’s Club between August 4-7. (continue reading…)

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Why Do Marines Drill?

Gunnery Sgt. Michael S. Pevehouse takes his hat off to his platoon  after they successfully completed a difficult drill maneuver.

Gunnery Sgt. Michael S. Pevehouse takes his hat off to his platoon after they successfully completed a difficult drill maneuver.

Why do Marines drill?

There are perhaps no other services in the world more proud of their service than Marines.

Just ask them.

They have their own language, sharp uniforms and snazzy commercials. Before equality became formality in the U.S. armed forces, they developed catchy slogans that clued in on how separate they viewed themselves.

�A few good men.�

�The few, the proud, the Marines.�

Marines like to look good and want everyone to take notice. Even when they walk together in groups.

A civilian would call it marching. They call it drill.

When a Marine begins his first days at boot camp, he is taught everything all over again. As if his parents did not do a good job of teaching him to walk, talk, cloth, and feed himself, his new daddy is quick to provide instruction.

Perhaps none of the above instructions are more important than drill.

At first, Marines are filed into platoon formations, looking like green eggs staked neatly in a carton. They begin to master the �box.� Then they �slime� their way around the depot; a gaggle of geese ditty bopping to the familiar sounds of their drill instructor�s voice. Eventually they are taught the simpler drill movements: Position of attention, saluting, left and right faces.

Perhaps the most important is putting their feet in front of the other in unison. This might sound like a hard thing to do, but when there are 50 or more people trying to be on the same page, things get complicated.

The  setting sun is the only thing that really stops drill upon the depot.  From dawn to dusk, Marines practice drill on all grinders.

The setting sun is the only thing that really stops drill upon the depot. From dawn to dusk, Marines practice drill on all grinders.

Evolution of footwear is also an important step to understanding Marine drill.

Marines are first required to wear sneakers with their camouflaged utilities. Here the basic drill movements are repeated until Marine have a fair understanding of what are basic drill movements. Their pant legs are rolled down and cuffed like a kindergartner wearing his older brother�s jeans.

But then they are issued combat boots. This is like handing a drummer a set of really good sticks. They roll their trousers over their boots and blouse them with green elastic cords. Now the young Marines have reached a new goal. Now the Marines are expected to bring what drill instructors call �thunder.�

After long days under the grueling heat and sand fleas of Paris Island or roaring jet engines of a nearby airport of San Diego, the recruits have grasped the understanding of drill. While they might not be masters, they do gain confidence and discipline through a memorized routine.

What the Marines like to call �instant obedience to orders.�

Sgt. Luis A. Mercado demonstrates the proper technique on marching  with a rifle to his platoon.

Sgt. Luis A. Mercado demonstrates the proper technique on marching with a rifle to his platoon.

It is through drill that Marines at any rank can go back to the basics. A junior Marine leading a platoon formation is something to be admired in the Corps when a senior Marine is expected.

Drill is used as confidence builder in this instance. Much like civilians with a fear of public speaking, putting a young Marine in front of a platoon of his peers can be slightly uncomfortable. They mumble or stutter their commands, loose focus, and generally do a bad job. Any resemblance of the confident Marine on the boot camp grinder is gone. After some remedial instruction, and egging on by the drill�ees, the young Marine gains confidence. Soon, he�s barking orders and singing cadence like a hard-nosed, barreled-chested, square-jawed drill instructor. Like a Marine.

And is this why Marines drill.

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Who Makes a Marine a Rifleman

Sgt. Michael A. Hauck, the platoon sergeant for Wire Platoon,  Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, watches Marines fire on  the rifle range. Marines are required to qualify with the rifle once  every year.

Sgt. Michael A. Hauck, the platoon sergeant for Wire Platoon, Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, watches Marines fire on the rifle range. Marines are required to qualify with the rifle once every year.

?Lightweight, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed, shoulder-fired assault weapon,? these words are embedded in the minds of all Marines. It is the textbook description of the weapon used by modern-day Marines.

The M-16 A4, an upgraded version of the eight pound weapon adopted by the Marine Corps as the standard issue assault rifle in 1983, is useless without trained individuals to properly use it. Marines like Sgt. Michael A. Hauck ensure every rifle is in skilled hands.

Hauck, the platoon sergeant for Wire Platoon, Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, has taught Marines how to improve their shooting skills as a primary marksmanship instructor since 2003.

The Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran was introduced to firing a weapon in basic training, and fell in love with it.

?I love instructing because I am helping Marines advance in their careers,? Hauck said.
Teaching Marines how to fire more accurately eventually gave Hauck the desire to improve his own skills and led to him join a competitive shooting team.

His first exposure to competitive marksmanship was while stationed in Okinawa, where he competed on the Combat Assault Battalion intramural team. Hauck credits his success to the fact that before the Corps, he never shot a weapon.

?I was like a sponge in bootcamp, soaking up all my teachers had to give me. That?s what made me the platoon high shooter,? the Arlington, Texas native said.

From the first day in basic training, Marines are taught the importance of discipline in everything they do. Marksmanship is no exception.

?Discipline is everything,? said the 1998 Noland Catholic High School graduate. ?It takes extreme discipline to hold these uncomfortable positions, to not jerk the trigger, to look at the front sight post when it?s so easy to focus on the target instead.?

Hauck earned ?Coach of the Week? for his outstanding performance as a marksmanship instructor during the week of Aug. 14 through 18. He compared watching the Marines he coached do well on qualification day, to the look on a child?s face Christmas morning.

?When you see that Marine get expert for the first time, it makes you feel like you just gave them an early Christmas present,? he said.

Santa?s reward for his gifts is milk and cookies, but Hauck receives something he cherishes much more, chevrons.

It is a tradition when shooters either score an expert rating for the first time, or believe their coach helped them score high enough to rate it again, they give the coach one of their rank insignia. Hauck places the chevrons of memorable shooters on the daypack he uses at the rifle range and the rest go into a jar he keeps at his house.

?He helped me a lot,? said Cpl. Nancy E. Burchell, a Marine with Headquarters Company. ?I was having trouble with my stance, and I used to box, so he told me to view it as a boxing match. I shot the best I?ve ever shot.?

Hauck said he looks forward to helping Marines in the future, and hopes to join more competitive shooting teams.

At the end of qualification day, the sun beat down on the 93 Headquarters Company Marines as they left the rifle range and headed toward the bus. Hauck reached into his pocket for his ?milk and cookies,? – three lieutenant bars, three sergeant chevrons, and a Navy ?RP? rate insignia.

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USMC Family Day

Family Day, the day before recruit graduation, is a time allotted for recruits to sport around the depot in their new Marine Corps issued uniforms and haircuts after they receive their eagle, globe and anchor emblems.

This is the only day in training where recruits and their visitors may walk the depot freely with few restrictions placed by drill instructors. On this day, recruits will have their final physical training session as a company and receive their eagle, globe and anchors, making them Marines.

The first thing many visitors see is their loved one practicing in the early morning for the following day?s graduation.

Until 9 a.m., recruits do not give any attention to the families observing them; only at the motivational run will recruits be able to face the visitors, after receiving the order ?left face? from their senior drill instructors.

Not being able to see his step son for more than eight months, Leroy Heinrich saw him for the first time April 6 at India Company?s motivational run, which was held prior to the Eagle, Globe and Anchor Ceremony.

Many parents were flabbergasted at the changes that took place while their loved ones were in training.

?His whole attitude, his whole being has changed,? said Heinrich, Pfc. Noah Hardt?s step-father. ?We can see it in his letters. We saw it happen here.?

Though proud their family members are graduating, some are skeptical at first. Because the United States is a nation at war, a few mothers have been apprehensive to send their sons to boot camp.

Ken Kypietz said Hardt?s mother, Corrine Hardt, didn?t want to see her son leave for training. Since seeing him in his Marine Corps service ?C? uniform, Corrine fears have turned to pride in her son?s accomplishments, according to Kypietz.

At the conclusion of the moto run, families gathered in front of McDougal Hall, the depot theater, where Brig. Gen. John M. Paxton Jr., commanding general, MCRD San Diego and the Western Recruiting Region, acknowledged recruits for their efforts and recognized their families for raising men who would volunteer for the duties that distinguish a Marine.

Following the moto run, recruits cleaned up while family members moved to the theater to watch recruit training video to get better understanding of what their loved ones experienced at boot camp.

Shortly after the video, visitors gathered on the bleachers at Shepherd Memorial Drill Field where they witnessed their recruit turn into a Marine during the Eagle, Globe and Anchor Ceremony. After the ceremony, recruits spent time with their visitors until 5 p.m.

One of the recruits who received his Marine Corps emblem and was set free for the day didn?t have any visitors who could make it to his graduation. Even though he didn?t have any visitors, he was elated to have some time to himself.

?I was on cloud nine,? said Pvt. Tebuteb Sidro. Because Sidro?s family is from Saipan, they were not able to fly out for his graduation, but Sidro spent his liberty calling friends and family. Sidro flew home after graduation to see his family in Saipan.

Marines welcome visitors and families to take part in Family Days and recruit graduation ceremonies throughout the year.

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USMC Choking Techniques

Close combat instructor Sgt. Oliver Schiess gives Company M men a  safety brief about choke holds, and he warns the recruits of the risks  if proper techniques aren't used.

Close combat instructor Sgt. Oliver Schiess gives Company M men a safety brief about choke holds, and he warns the recruits of the risks if proper techniques aren’t used.

Recruit Wayne Robinson, Platoon 3073, M Company, cringed when Sgt. Oliver Schiess wrapped him in a python-like blood choke.

“When he squeezed, I felt tingling around my brain,” said Robinson, red in the face. “I got really light headed.”

Fortunately, this was only training. There are two chokes that recruits must learn – the rear choke and the figure-4 variation – in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program beginner syllabus, according to Staff Sgt. Roger A. Taylor, close-combat instructor, Instructional Training Company.
“They’re basically the same chokes,” said Taylor. “The difference between the two is the placement of the hands.”

To perform a rear choke, the choker wraps his bicep and forearm around the opponent’s neck, clasps his hands together and squeezes. The figure-4 variation is a similar move, except the hand on the choking arm is placed on the opposite bicep, and the other hand goes behind the opponent’s head.

These two chokes are in a category called blood chokes, which means pressure on the carotid artery stops blood from flowing to the brain. Air chokes, which block breathing, are another story.

“We teach blood chokes because they incapacitate the enemy faster,” said Taylor. “A blood choke usually takes eight to 13 seconds to work, but an air choke takes between 30 seconds and one minute usually.”

A blood choke’s speediness becomes viable in any combat situation, said Taylor, but especially when fighting multiple opponents.

“It’s much better to incapacitate someone in eight seconds than to fight another attacker off for a minute while you wait for the air choke to work,” said Taylor.

Close-combat instructor Sgt. Oliver Schiess demonstrates the  figure-4 variation choke on Recruit Wayne Robinson, Platoon 3079,  Company M.

Close-combat instructor Sgt. Oliver Schiess demonstrates the figure-4 variation choke on Recruit Wayne Robinson, Platoon 3079, Company M.
These techniques are dangerous, but recruits must apply them in training to confirm mastery. To counter any accidents, ITC experts and the drill instructors make sure safety is paramount, according to Taylor.

Before the recruits take on the chokes, instructors give a safety brief and demonstration, and the recruits must slowly practice “by the numbers.” Once off the number system, recruits go live with the choking. For training purposes, they apply slow, steady pressure to their opponents’ necks. This would not be the case in actual combat.

We apply slow pressure in training because a jolting, crushing squeeze could collapse the trachea,” said Taylor. “But in combat, a jolting squeeze is ideal.”

Company M recruits kick each other's outer thighs in a  body-hardening warm-up before receiving their lesson on chokes.

Company M recruits kick each other’s outer thighs in a body-hardening warm-up before receiving their lesson on chokes.

If a recruit feels endangered by a constricting arm around his neck, he can safeguard himself with a tap.

“When we teach any chokes or holds, the tap-out rule always applies,” said Taylor.

In accordance with this rule, the choke victim can yell “Tap tap tap!” when the pressure sets in, or he can tap his body or the choker’s body with his hand, like in professional wrestling. Another precaution ITC experts take is that recruits aren’t allowed to hold the choke for more than five seconds.

Drill instructors keep close eyes on the training and walk through the ranks to ensure recruits are following the safety rules.

Platoon 3075 guide Recruit Timothy Palmer pops open an eye after  platoon mate Recruit Kale Minkie releases his rear choke. The rear choke  and the figure-4 variation choke are the first chokes Marines master.

Platoon 3075 guide Recruit Timothy Palmer pops open an eye after platoon mate Recruit Kale Minkie releases his rear choke. The rear choke and the figure-4 variation choke are the first chokes Marines master.
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Transformation into Marines – Receiving

Eighteen unnaturally quiet individuals sit motionless as their clothes gather pools of nervous sweat, which echoes their unanimous belief that they made a terrible mistake. Questions such as, “What have you done?” and “When can we leave?” occupy their thoughts, while the driver smiles as if he enjoys their trepidation.

The bus slices through the primal darkness and blinding fog like an osprey with a tail wind. The passengers sense that their conveyance thrives on fear and relishes haste.

Thirteen weeks from now they will laugh, recalling their first hours on the island with a smile, but 13 weeks is 91 days and 91 days can seem like an eternity at 2 a.m.
As the bus jerks to a halt, the four tires and 18 hearts stop. The front door folds open and the silence screams “run.”

One of the first items that recruits will receive is a Smart Card,  which is similar to an Automatic Teller Machine card. It is one of the  only forms of money that recruits are allowed to use during recruit  training.

One of the first items that recruits will receive is a Smart Card, which is similar to an Automatic Teller Machine card. It is one of the only forms of money that recruits are allowed to use during recruit training.

Confident footsteps are heard approaching as the most intimidating person the young men have ever seen enters the bus like a statue on wheels. “Get off my bus,” screams Mr. Strangehat. For a second no one moves, as if salvation lies within their dampened seats.

Recruiting commercials and fire breathing monsters dance through their heads, as their new friend shows no signs of slowing down or shutting up. The confused passengers stumble into the moonlit street to find another statue directing them to stand on sets of yellow footprints that are worn from years of devil pups’ first steps.

Recruits are given time to make one phone call home as soon as they  arrive aboard The Depot. The short call must follow strict guidelines.  'This is recruit Smith. I arrived safely on Parris Island. Do not send  any food or bulky items. I will contact you in three to five days via  postcard with my address. Bye.'

Recruits are given time to make one phone call home as soon as they arrive aboard The Depot. The short call must follow strict guidelines. ‘This is recruit Smith. I arrived safely on Parris Island. Do not send any food or bulky items. I will contact you in three to five days via postcard with my address. Bye.’
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Transformation begins here

Their stomachs twist and turn as the bus rolls to a halt in front of the yellow footprints. They are dead silent. The recruits are just moments away from the inevitable collision of civilian and drill instructor.

The turbulent transformation begins when they step onto the yellow footprints, and a drill instructor begins his speech with a simple greeting, “Congratulations on your decision to become a United States Marine. It is a decision you will never regret.”

They make their way through a one-way door adorned with the infamous eagle, globe and anchor. That is where the recruits take their first steps of the training they signed up for.

Their minds are blank as they turn on auto pilot. When told to do something, they seem to do it without thinking.

The hard-learned lessons of the Corps are beginning to soak into their minds.

As their time at receiving begins to slowly creep into the early morning hours, they have already had a haircut, been given nearly all of their gear and are beginning to show signs of sleep deprivation. This is when they will be given the chance to put on their Marine Pattern camouflage utility uniforms for the first time.

Finally, their second day on Parris Island is here. However, the week-long process is not complete, they still have medical in-processing and field gear issue to undergo before their training cycle begins.

Receiving Drill Instructor Staff Sgt. Kendall Jones appears from  the darkness as he prepares to welcome the Corps newest recruits to the  Depot's Recruit Processing Center March 13.

Receiving Drill Instructor Staff Sgt. Kendall Jones appears from the darkness as he prepares to welcome the Corps newest recruits to the Depot’s Recruit Processing Center March 13.
Nicholaus Tiger, Big Cypress Reservation, Fla., looks at the phone  in front of him as he receives instructions to call home.

Nicholaus Tiger, Big Cypress Reservation, Fla., looks at the phone in front of him as he receives instructions to call home..
A group  of new recruits stare blankly at Receiving Barber Tootie Whitehead as  they wait for the inevitable - their first Marine haircuts.

A group of new recruits stare blankly at Receiving Barber Tootie Whitehead as they wait for the inevitable – their first Marine haircuts.
A group  of new recruits stare blankly at Receiving Barber Tootie Whitehead as  they wait for the inevitable - their first Marine haircuts.

A group of new recruits stare blankly at Receiving Barber Tootie Whitehead as they wait for the inevitable – their first Marine haircuts,
After a  long night at the Recruit Processing Center, Recruit Lebron Massey,  Ringgold, Ga., checks the fit of his new cover.

After a long night at the Recruit Processing Center, Recruit Lebron Massey, Ringgold, Ga., checks the fit of his new cover.
Recruits stand at attention as they are welcomed aboard the Depot.  This is the first of many steps they will go through on the road to  becoming a United States Marine.

Recruits stand at attention as they are welcomed aboard the Depot. This is the first of many steps they will go through on the road to becoming a United States Marine.
Receiving Drill Instructor Staff Sgt. Kendall Jones orders a new  recruit to open the silver hatches at the Recruit Processing Center. The  hatches are a 'one way trip,' which symbolize the beginning of the  transformation from civilian to United States Marine. Once the receiving  process has begun, recruits will spend the rest of their night  finalizing paperwork, getting haircuts, turning in all civilian clothing  and belongings and are issued their first Marine Corps uniforms.

Receiving Drill Instructor Staff Sgt. Kendall Jones orders a new recruit to open the silver hatches at the Recruit Processing Center. The hatches are a ‘one way trip,’ which symbolize the beginning of the transformation from civilian to United States Marine. Once the receiving process has begun, recruits will spend the rest of their night finalizing paperwork, getting haircuts, turning in all civilian clothing and belongings and are issued their first Marine Corps uniforms.
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Square Away Time

Sergeant Kenneth Morgan, senior drill instructor, Platoon 3078,  Lima Co., 3rd RTBn., inspects his squadbay as his recruits stand on line  before they hit the rack Monday.

Sergeant Kenneth Morgan, senior drill instructor, Platoon 3078, Lima Co., 3rd RTBn., inspects his squadbay as his recruits stand on line before they hit the rack Monday.

What was moments earlier a calm, quiet squad bay, now bustled with the more than 60 Marine Corps recruits rushing back after another fast-paced day of training.

After a brief from their senior drill instructor, Sgt. Kenneth Morgan, on their upcoming final drill evaluation, the recruits of Platoon 3078, Lima Co., 3rd RTBn., secured their rifles and rushed back on line as they prepared for their evening basic daily routine Monday.

A recruit spends well over half his time during recruit training on his feet, marching from here to there and completing countless training evolutions. Little time is afforded them to sit down for even a couple of minutes, but each night they have about an hour or so to do just that, among other personal matters.

Morgan said this time is important to a recruit’s well being, especially at the beginning of a training cycle.

“It gives them a chance to de-program and allows them to interact with other recruits,” he said. “It helps them develop teamwork themselves, rather than us having to push it on them.”

During this hour of “square away time,” recruits generally start off by shaving, brushing their teeth and hitting the showers. Once their personal hygiene is complete, they will each find their way back to their racks and tie up loose ends in preparation for the next day.

Recruit Matthew Lewis, Platoon 3078, Lima Co., 3rd RTBn., along  with several other members of his platoon, write home to their families  for the last time during 'square away time, Monday evening. Lima Co.  graduates Sept. 2.

Recruit Matthew Lewis, Platoon 3078, Lima Co., 3rd RTBn., along with several other members of his platoon, write home to their families for the last time during ‘square away time, Monday evening. Lima Co. graduates Sept. 2.

Many will read any mail they received that day and write home to loved ones, while others might brush a day’s worth of recruit training off their combat boots.

The majority of recruits from Platoon 3078 took a special interest in their personal appearance and physical fitness. Rather than read letters or gaze at photos of their former civilian lives, they looked ahead to their new ones in the Marine Corps and spent a good amount of time doing pull-ups, crunches and even lifting weights on the quarterdeck.

While a small group practiced rifle manual, a few others spent what seemed like almost the entire hour trimming loose threads or perfecting the sleeve-rolls of their MARPAT camouflage utility uniforms, all in effort to look their best during the final drill competition.

Once their “free hour” was complete, they hurried back on-line to await Morgan’s next command.

After a brief security check of all footlockers and rifles, a few minutes were set aside for evening devotion, then they prepared to hit the rack. As they stood silent and still, Morgan gave them one of their final commands of the evening, and with that, each recruit hopped onto their beds.

The playing of “Taps” signaled the end of another arduous day of recruit training, but though they enjoy “the night off,” most recruits will say they look forward to the next day – it puts them one step closer to becoming a Marine.

Recruit  Justin Southern, Platoon 3078, gets a quick shave in during 'square  away time' Monday evening. Recruits are afforded this time regularly  throughout the training cycle to allow them to adjust to their new  lifestyle and tend to personal matters such as uniform maintenance,  writing and reading letters and showering.

Recruit Justin Southern, Platoon 3078, gets a quick shave in during ‘square away time’ Monday evening. Recruits are afforded this time regularly throughout the training cycle to allow them to adjust to their new lifestyle and tend to personal matters such as uniform maintenance, writing and reading letters and showering.
Recruit  Michael Ibsen, Platoon 3078, receives mail from his senior drill  instructor, Sgt. Kenneth Morgan, during mail call Monday.

Recruit Michael Ibsen, Platoon 3078, receives mail from his senior drill instructor, Sgt. Kenneth Morgan, during mail call Monday.
Recruit  Jeremy Guillette, Platoon 3078, brushes his teeth during 'square away  time' Monday evening.

Recruit Jeremy Guillette, Platoon 3078, brushes his teeth during ‘square away time’ Monday evening.
A  recruit standing 'fire watch' from Platoon 3078, Lima Co., 3rd RTBn.,  renders a salute as 'Taps' sounds, signaling the end of another grueling  day of training Monday. To prepare for the next day, recruits are given  an hour each night to tend to personal hygiene and correspondence  matters.

A recruit standing ‘fire watch’ from Platoon 3078, Lima Co., 3rd RTBn., renders a salute as ‘Taps’ sounds, signaling the end of another grueling day of training Monday. To prepare for the next day, recruits are given an hour each night to tend to personal hygiene and correspondence matters.

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San Diego has Something Parris Island Doesn’t

Among the coastal hills at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., the Reaper rises from purgatory and ascends toward a promised land where every Marine recruit on the West Coast wants to be.

Each man can see his title from the crest of the Reaper.

At 700 feet, it climbs approximately 150 feet higher than Mount Suribachi, the famed Iwo Jima volcano upon which five Marines and one sailor hoisted the American flag in 1945 during bloody World War II fighting. Though smaller, that volcano’s spirit oozes through the Reaper’s veins like magma.

Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego recruits traditionally contend that by marching together to the summit. They tip the scales in boot camp comparisons with MCRD Parris Island, S.C., which has its own trials but no discerning landmark like the Reaper.

After hiking about seven miles in the Crucible’s final hours – culminating the 54-hour severe test of will – recruits approach the Reaper’s scythe exhausted and hungry. Sleep and food have been minimal, but a warrior’s breakfast sizzles beyond the summit.

Pfc.  Jeremy Eason, guide, Platoon 3099, Company I, leads his platoon up the  last hill of the 700-foot Reaper. The Reaper is the largest obstacle  recruits face in training on the West Coast, and its completion is a  right of passage.

Pfc. Jeremy Eason, guide, Platoon 3099, Company I, leads his platoon up the last hill of the 700-foot Reaper. The Reaper is the largest obstacle recruits face in training on the West Coast, and its completion is a right of passage.

Dawn breaks and daylight exposes the challenge ahead: a third of a mile with an average incline of 25 degrees. On paper, the climb draws out like a suspension cable ascending a Golden Gate Bridge tower.

Sports drinks and apples offer pre-climb nourishment as the company first sergeant gives a history lesson on something that took place on a battlefield far away, long ago. This makes the Reaper seem a little smaller.

“This is nothing. It’s a hill,” said a I Company drill instructor to his platoon waiting at the base. “We don’t stop until we reach the top of the hill. We never stop, because there is no top!”

On  the Crucible, drill instructors give recruits time to change into a  fresh pair of socks and check their feet for any wounds or blisters.

On the Crucible, drill instructors give recruits time to change into a fresh pair of socks and check their feet for any wounds or blisters.

With packs and rifles weighing them down, the company steps off by platoons in one-minute intervals. They stay formed as tight as possible, each man whittling his distance to the top. Hopes dim as the morning fog thickens in the ascent. Pack straps dig deep into shoulders and boots hit the dirt harder. Platoons start to spread out as drill instructors shepherd formations.

A few brief plateaus taunt the climbers until they approach the last stretch and surge to the top.

At the peak, the recruits find pictures of Medal of Honor recipients mounted in wooden frames and drill instructors congratulate the men on their accomplishment. After marching almost 40 miles, the Crucible is over.

With a couple more miles back to garrison, it’s all downhill from there.

Company I drill instructors and recruits ascend to the summit of  the Reaper at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Company I drill instructors and recruits ascend to the summit of the Reaper at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Pvt.  Timothy Shelton, Platoon 3099, Company I, and his platoon march three  miles back to the barracks and a warrior's breakfast, the first hot meal  in a few days, awaits them.

Pvt. Timothy Shelton, Platoon 3099, Company I, and his platoon march three miles back to the barracks and a warrior’s breakfast, the first hot meal in a few days, awaits them.
Marines from Weapons and Field Training Battalion supply recruits  with fruit and sports drinks to fuel them on their climb to the Reaper's  peak.

Marines from Weapons and Field Training Battalion supply recruits with fruit and sports drinks to fuel them on their climb to the Reaper’s peak.
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Recruits Learn Hand to Hand Combat with Pugil Sticks

Pvt. Joshua Dover, Platoon 1099, Company B, prepares for an  upcoming bout, in which recruits wear football helmets and other  protection.

Pvt. Joshua Dover, Platoon 1099, Company B, prepares for an upcoming bout, in which recruits wear football helmets and other protection.

With a helmet, some pads and a cushioned stick, recruits from B Company battled one another as they honed their skills to be named the victors of pugil sticks.

Every Marine in boot camp undergoes this exercise. During this event, which simulates fighting with an M-16A2 service rifle with fixed bayonets, recruits were shown proper techniques and execution with the weapon.

Though this combat simulation is a part of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, it serves a different purpose.

?It is a designed inoculation of violence,? said Sgt. Sergio Esquivel, martial arts instructor. ?A lot of recruits have never been put in a situation where people try to attack them. This introduces them to a different spectrum of violence.?

Two  Company B recruits stare each other down before a pugil stick bout

Two Company B recruits stare each other down before a pugil stick bout

Before the fight began, recruits were given safety gear to avoid injury. Their safety gear included a helmet with full face mask, groin protection and flak jacket with a neck roll. The stick they used was also padded around their hands to circumvent broken phalanges.

To ensure the recruits executed moves properly, a Martial Arts Instructor was present.

For the recruits to pass this intense training, they must demonstrate proficient skill in three stages, which takes place over the last three weeks of first phase.

During the first stage, B Company, drill instructors and Instructional Training Company instructors demonstrated fighting techniques and then had recruits practice it on a flat dirt surface near the depot?s war-fighting infiltration course, which is included in bayonet training. In the course, recruits low-crawl under barbed wire and through tunnels, jump walls and cross ropes in firing teams of four.

A  Company B recruit scores a finishing blow during a Thunder Dome pugil  stick match.

A Company B recruit scores a finishing blow during a Thunder Dome pugil stick match.

Once recruits showed instructors they knew what they were doing, they were given their first opportunity to fight.

?I liked it,? said Recruit Jeremy Jones, E Company. ?The feel of fighting and having the other recruits screaming for you. Even if you are scared, the recruits around you make you want to win.?

The thought of defeating another recruit from a different platoon in a pugil stick bout intensified the combat, especially when the drill instructors watched and encouraged the fierce battles, according to Jones.

After the first fight, a third man was thrown into the mix. Between the three recruits, each took a turn defending against two recruits and then teaming up to attack one recruit.

Staff Sgt. Michael Bass, drill instructor, Company B, encourages  his recruits to give full effort in the Thunder Dome.

Staff Sgt. Michael Bass, drill instructor, Company B, encourages his recruits to give full effort in the Thunder Dome.

The final stage of combat is fought in the Thunder Dome. Already fatigued from completing an infiltration course, recruits geared up and screamed down a path leading into a padded room. In this dome, recruits fought the final bout with drill instructors and company staff motivating them.

The purpose of this training went beyond bragging rights and platoon rivalry.

?It trains Marines to function when faced with stress and violence,? according to pugil Sticks training guide, MA?1.05. ?It prepares Marines to deliver a blow and take a blow.?

Loud cheers and hard blows kept recruits fighting in the ring. Now experienced with their simulated rifle and bayonet, recruits are able to fight their enemies at a close range.

Drill instructor Staff Sgt. Elijah Buchanan lends some pre-bout  motivation to Pvt. Tamir Zera, Platoon 1095, Company B, before his pugil  stick match.

Drill instructor Staff Sgt. Elijah Buchanan lends some pre-bout motivation to Pvt. Tamir Zera, Platoon 1095, Company B, before his pugil stick match.

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Company B recruits viciously tussle in the Thunder Dome, an  enclosed area in which recruits practice close bayonet techniques.

Company B recruits viciously tussle in the Thunder Dome, an enclosed area in which recruits practice close bayonet techniques.
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Recruits Get a Taste of Gas

A  group of recruits from Alpha Co., 1st RTBn., walk with their arms spread  out to their sides as Staff Sgt. Christopher Farrell, an Alpha Co., 1st  RTBn., drill instructor, barks orders at them at the Depot Gas Chamber.

A group of recruits from Alpha Co., 1st RTBn., walk with their arms spread out to their sides as Staff Sgt. Christopher Farrell, an Alpha Co., 1st RTBn., drill instructor, barks orders at them at the Depot Gas Chamber.

Barely into their third week of training, dozens of nervous recruits file off from their squads into a Weapons and Field Training classroom and wait for the inevitable – the Gas Chamber.

In the classroom, the recruits are educated on how to use a gas mask and how it can save their lives on the battlefield if used properly and to help build their confidence about being in an environment with a potentially hazardous substance.

The gas used in the Gas Chamber is chlorobenzylidene malonitrile, or CS Gas, a non-lethal substance that is used in all branches of the military and police departments as a riot control agent.

Recruit Joshua Heap, Alpha Co., 1st RTBn., tries to expel the gas  as it seems to overtake every fiber of his lungs.

Recruit Joshua Heap, Alpha Co., 1st RTBn., tries to expel the gas as it seems to overtake every fiber of his lungs.

Each recruit spends approximately 3-5 minutes, perhaps the longest 3-5 minutes of their life, in the chamber – depending on how well they want to cooperate.

The terrified recruits enter the Gas Chamber with their masks donned and clear, but once the doors are sealed, the masks come off. The first exercise they must execute is to break the seal of their mask, which will allow them to breathe in a little of the gas, but just as the tearing eyes and the coughing sets in, they are instructed to put their masks back on.

The next step is to break the seal again, but only this time, they will set the mask on top of their heads. It is at this time that some recruits feel that they have lost control and panic begins to set in. The recruits’ eyes are now full of tears and the coughing gets worse because the gas is in their lungs.

Ensuring their masks are fitted properly, recruits stand in line as  they prepare to enter the Gas Chamber Sept. 21.

Ensuring their masks are fitted properly, recruits stand in line as they prepare to enter the Gas Chamber Sept. 21.

The gas also burns the skin a little too, similar to a sunburn. Some of the recruits refuse to take off their masks because they see the other recruits’ reaction to the gas and they fear that they will not be able to put their mask back on again. However, they quickly realize they will not be able to leave the smoke-filled room until they complete the exercise and they regain some of their sanity.

Once their masks are donned and cleared for a second time, they must then remove their masks completely and hold them straight out in front if them, but by this time, most of the recruits have a little more faith in their masks. They know that the faster they take them off, the quicker they will be able to put the masks back on and be able to breathe again.

Once this step is completed, they file out of the Gas Chamber with arms spread out to their sides. Their eyes water like they just stepped out of a shower, and they cough uncontrollably as they pray that they will never have to go through anything like that again.

Happy  to be breathing oxygen again, recruit James Bois, Alpha Co., 1st RTBn.,  concentrates on clearing his airway of phlegm at the Depot Gas Chamber  Sept. 21. Recruits are required to go through the gas chamber before  they graduate and is often the most-feared event. The point of the  experience is not to scare the recruits too much, but to instill  confidence in them that they could handle a situation that requires them  to wear the gas mask.

Happy to be breathing oxygen again, recruit James Bois, Alpha Co., 1st RTBn., concentrates on clearing his airway of phlegm at the Depot Gas Chamber Sept. 21. Recruits are required to go through the gas chamber before they graduate and is often the most-feared event. The point of the experience is not to scare the recruits too much, but to instill confidence in them that they could handle a situation that requires them to wear the gas mask.

Their fears are overcome and the recruits now believe in their gas mask and that it will protect them. For those with lingering fear, there is always next year when they will be required to do it again as part of their annual training.

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Recruit field day – a Sunday ritual

Mops, brooms, brushes, brass cleaner, and countless mixtures of cleaning solutions. These items are the tools recruits use each week to ensure that their squad bays are cleaner than the day they were built.

Following religious services each Sunday, recruits assemble back at their “homes” for the weekly field day and following a quick sweep of the floor with their “scuz” brushes, the chaos of cleanup begins.

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Drill instructors from Platoon 2018, Echo Co., 2nd RTBn., conduct a quick inspection of their freshly-mopped squadbay following field day Sunday.

In an example of teamwork, dozens of recruits scatter to their designated areas, which are often determined by their squad leaders and the hour-long process starts.

Footlockers, shoe displays and any other items found on the deck are quickly and orderly tossed up on each bottom rack. Almost instantly, another group of recruits make their way down the aisles, spreading water and cleaning solutions in preparation for mop recruits to come through.

Once the decks are complete, windows are wiped down and footlockers and shoes are quickly and carefully placed back in their positions by each rack. The racks are then tightened and inspected to make sure each sports a perfect, 45-degree-angle fold.

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Recruit Richard Ledford, Platoon 2018, Echo Co., 2nd RTBn., fixes a fellow recruit’s shoe display during field day Sunday. Recruits must have their shoes, boots and footlockers perfectly aligned prior to field day inspection.
With time running out, a drill instructor informs the platoon that five-minutes of field day remains. With that warning, recruits rush around the squad-bay making sure that each little detail is complete and to ensure that all cleaning gear is properly stowed in its correct location in the gear locker.

At the two-minute warning, some members of the platoon take one last sweep of the squad bay and while others hurry back to their respected racks to get on line.
After a quick, but thorough walk through by the drill instructors, the chaos of field day is complete … until next week.

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Rappel tower tests recruits will and guts

A  drill instructor with Company H holds the rope for a recruit to ensure  his safety as he slides down the depot?s rappel tower.

A drill instructor with Company H holds the rope for a recruit to ensure his safety as he slides down the depot?s rappel tower.

As a young recruit peeks over the rappel tower?s edge, his forehead begins to perspire and his limbs begin to shake. The recruit knows he must face his fear of heights as he knows the only way off this obstacle is straight down.

He gets into position with his toes on the edge and his heels facing away from the tower. In a matter of seconds, he rappels safely to the ground.

With a little more than a week left until graduation, recruits are challenged with the depot?s 60-foot-tall rappel tower. Recruits get the opportunity to become familiar with rappelling through a basic course.

?During this training evolution, the recruits learn the basics of rappelling,? said Staff Sgt. Rafael Trevino, an instructor with instructional training company. ?This also helps some of them overcome their fear of heights, and it allows them to gain trust in their equipment. This obstacle is definitely a confidence builder.?

Recruits learn the proper techniques for rappelling as well as how to create the safety harness that will hold them safely when rappelling.

The harness is made using a six-foot rope that is wrapped around the legs and hips. Then it is secured by a series of square knots.

On the modern battlefield, wars are fought in urban areas. The best way to secure a building is from the top to the bottom as it throws the enemy off, according to Sgt. Juan Lopez, an instructor with Instructional Training Company.

Recruits get the opportunity to learn several different rappelling techniques. Fast roping, wall rappelling and descending a simulated helicopter hell hole are the three different training scenarios featured on the tower.

Fast roping, a method used for quick insertion on an objective from a helicopter, is the first technique recruits learn during this training phase. Sliding down 15 feet of rope to the ground, the fast technique is similar to the way a fire fighter slides down a pole during an emergency.

The recruits must do their part when sliding down the rope to quickly clear the landing zone to prevent being landed on by the following recruit.

Each recruit has the opportunity to experience fast roping during boot camp; however, they may not have the chance to do both of the other methods due to the short amount of time for the training evolution, according to Trevino.

Like the fast rope technique, the hell hole is used for fast insertion from a helicopter. The term hell hole refers to the hole in a helicopter?s fuselage. But unlike fast roping, hell hole insertion is used with safety equipment and is done at a higher altitude. This version of rappelling is a vertical drop from the top of the tower.

The other technique recruits may learn is the wall rappel. This method is also used with safety equipment, and simulates rappelling down the side of a building.

Recruits are issued the respective safety gear prior to the training evolution. With the assistance of a tactical helmet, gloves, ropes, carabiner and a spotter, recruits make their descent safely to the ground.

Although this training only gives recruits the basics, it will benefit them later when they continue this training while they are in the Fleet Marine Force, according Trevino.

During the one-day course, recruits learn three different techniques of rappelling. Although some recruits will not be in combat units, there?s always a chance they may be called to fulfill the duty of every Marine and be a rifleman.

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Personal Limits Tested during the Crucible

Pvt. Terry Ranker, Platoon 2039, Company H, enjoys a Meal, Ready to  Eat during a short break in training. During the Crucible, recruits  must make three MREs last three days while hiking and negotiating  obstacles.

Pvt. Terry Ranker, Platoon 2039, Company H, enjoys a Meal, Ready to Eat during a short break in training. During the Crucible, recruits must make three MREs last three days while hiking and negotiating obstacles.

During the Crucible, a 54-hour event that tests everything recruits have learned throughout training, recruits are evaluated on their skills and knowledge by completing numerous team-building obstacles at Edson Range, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The confidence course, along with every other obstacle in the Crucible, is comprised of several events that allow the recruits to compose a plan before pursuing a timed mission.

�We have a similar confidence course on the depot, but it doesn�t have all of the obstacles we have here,� said Staff Sgt. Chad R. Kiehl, drill instructor, Platoon 2037, Company H. �Their only mission is to get across.

�Here, they have to transport ammo cans and five gallon jugs in a timed situation with simulated casualties,� continued Kiehl. �It forces them to think for themselves for the first time in recruit training and come up with a solution to accomplish the task.�

If a recruit steps in a red zone or falls off of an obstacle, he  must drag �Fred,� a life-size dummy, to simulate emergency casualty  evacuation from a combat zone.

If a recruit steps in a red zone or falls off of an obstacle, he must drag �Fred,� a life-size dummy, to simulate emergency casualty evacuation from a combat zone.

During the Crucible, recruits are only required to get four hours of sleep per night and have to stretch three proportioned meals to last three days. Sleep and food deprivation are a crucial aspect of the Crucible because it helps the recruits experience a combat situation, said Kiehl.

Although tired, hungry, and mentally and physically exhausted, the recruits still have to come together and accomplish the assignment set before them, said Kiehl, a native of Richfield, Minn.

The confidence course on the depot is designed to help recruits overcome their fear of heights and prove to themselves that even though their minds tell them they cannot do something, anything is possible, said Kiehl. The confidence course here goes a little further and forces the recruits to work as a team, which leaves no time for individual fears.

The recruits are made to solve their problems together with no guidance from the drill instructors. Each recruit has a turn developing plans to complete each obstacle on the confidence course.

Company H recruits are required to cross the two-line bridge. Their  mission is to get every member in their squad, along with five  ammunition cans across the bridge within a set time limit.

Company H recruits are required to cross the two-line bridge. Their mission is to get every member in their squad, along with five ammunition cans across the bridge within a set time limit.

�I think the (confidence course) helps us to build teamwork, self-confidence and shows us the true meaning of honor, courage and commitment,� said Pvt. Anthony D. Lanza, Platoon 2037.

He said he learned honor by helping out his team, courage by doing something even though it was challenging, and commitment by not quitting what he started.

The recruits gained a better understanding of the importance of being open to suggestions when tasked with a mission. When a recruit had a good idea, whether he was leading the mission or not, his idea helped the rest of the recruits in conducting the obstacle within the time limit.

They used the knowledge the drill instructors gave them prior to the Crucible, and added it to their common sense to complete each mission set in front of them.

�We had the bigger recruits hold security on the two-line bridge while the smaller recruits went across first,� said Lanza, who is from Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Recruits provide security as their platoon completes the Weaver, an  obstacle that requires them to climb under and over alternating logs.

Recruits provide security as their platoon completes the Weaver, an obstacle that requires them to climb under and over alternating logs.

After they crossed, the bigger recruits followed with the ammo cans, while the smaller recruits held security on the other side of the bridge, said Lanza.

Kiehl said when his platoon left the Crucible, they were different recruits. The confidence they gained by going through the Crucible became apparent when they returned to the depot as third-phase recruits.

�We make the most elite war fighter of world,� said Kiehl. �Besides being tired and worn out, the recruits feel good about their accomplishments and returned to the depot as role models for the junior recruits, whether they realized it or not.�

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More Team Work During Crucible

Recruit  Danny Lerma provides simulated covering fire as a team member  low-crawls under barbed wire. This is the last obstacle before the team  rallies and engages the enemy at the course's end.

Recruit Danny Lerma provides simulated covering fire as a team member low-crawls under barbed wire. This is the last obstacle before the team rallies and engages the enemy at the course’s end.

From behind a gutted amphibious assault vehicle, the men charge to their first rally point. There’s no time to discuss tactics or make a game plan and they have to find a way to work together. Their orders are simple: finish as a team.

Weary from training, the recruits of Company M traverse the recently remodeled daytime infiltration course in four-man teams during the 54-hour Crucible at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The course changes add more teamwork drills in the Crucible. Recruits run the course in fire teams, moving in synchronized efforts through barbed wire, across an open road, over a wall and through a tunnel into a skirmisher’s trench. The fire team regroups and concludes the course with an organized rush on a stationary target.

The new renovations include a hill for taking cover and a skirmisher’s trench that recruits lie in and provide simulated cover fire for fellow team members to advancing to the next obstacle.

The course changed to make recruits more tactically proficient in combat situations, according to Sgt. William F. Cerny, a Weapons and Field Training Battalion instructor.

Cerny said the course modifies to fit the situations recruits are more likely to see in combat.

Without direction from drill instructors, recruits move from cover, negotiating as a team to the next cover spot. In the previous course, recruits moved individually, incorporating low-crawling, high-crawling and rushing a target.

“We combined the skills we were teaching … with fire team skills,” said Capt. Robert Richardson, Field Company commander, WFT Bn.

Combining the three techniques taught during the Crucible is an introduction to assaulting an objective as a team, he said.

Throughout the new course, the fire team reunites at designated cover positions after each obstacle. The fire team leader yells, “Follow me,” and his team rushes to the next cover point. This builds leadership and unit cohesion.

In the previous infiltration course, recruits simulated infiltrating an encampment enclosed by barriers. The renovated course teaches recruits how to infiltrate such objects and minimize harm in the process.

“It took teamwork to do this,” said Danny Lerma, a recruit from Plaino, Texas, after finishing the course, “And a lot of motivation and a lot of heart.”

More  Team Work During Crucible

More Team Work During Crucible
More  Team Work During Crucible

More Team Work During Crucible
Recruit  Danny Lerma rushes to the team providing covering fire in the  foreground. From left are recruits Miguel Cifuentes,

Recruit Danny Lerma rushes to the team providing covering fire in the foreground. From left are recruits Miguel Cifuentes,
Platoon  3112 recruits move together through the daytime infiltration course at  Edson Range, Camp Pendleton, Calif. Once an individual effort, the  course recently changed to incorporate teamwork with tactical  movements.

Platoon 3112 recruits move together through the daytime infiltration course at Edson Range, Camp Pendleton, Calif. Once an individual effort, the course recently changed to incorporate teamwork with tactical movements.
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More Educated, the Harder Bootcamp Will Be

Pfc.  Josiah F. Schultz's drill instructors made his training exceptionally  challenging because his maturity and intellect stood out.

Pfc. Josiah F. Schultz’s drill instructors made his training exceptionally challenging because his maturity and intellect stood out.

Three years into earning a biology degree, Josiah F. Schultz had it made as a college student and was about to graduate. But something was missing, which Schultz knew couldn’t be found in any college classroom.

After Schultz had finished most of his credits and was planning for post-graduation life, serving in the military came to mind.

The El Paso, Texas, native decided to enlist after graduation, and he said he had no problem deciding which branch of service he wanted to join.

“It wasn’t really a question; I knew that I wanted to be a Marine,” said Schultz. “I wanted to conquer my fears. I signed up for the (infantry) field, and I figured that anything I was afraid of would be cured there.”

Schultz shared his decision with his mom and dad.

“We were very surprised,” said Suzanne Schultz, Josiah’s mother. “We told him that if this was his choice, we were proud of him and we supported him.”

They were very supportive, according to Schultz, who said the news surprised his family because no one before him had served in the military.

Schultz told his parents he felt there were freedoms he enjoyed, and it was his turn to fight for his parents’ freedoms, according to Suzanne. “I thought that was admirable,” she said.

Schultz shipped off to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego wanting a challenge, but he soon learned that in recruit training, some challenges are hard to predict.

His maturity and intelligence helped him stand out among the other recruits, according to Staff Sgt. Pedro R. Hernandez, drill instructor, Platoon 3067, Company I.

Drill instructors first chose Schultz to be the platoon’s guide, but that leadership position came too soon and became too hard to bear.

“Being thrown into a place like this at such a fast pace and not knowing what to expect was a little stressful,” said Schultz, who found that even marching with a guidon was difficult. “I just had so many problems with that stick.”

Schultz held the position for only two weeks.

“He did all right,” said Hernandez. “The transition was hard for him, so we gave the position to someone else,” said Hernandez.

Pfc. Jonathan R. Hiller – a recruit who served four years in the Army National Guard as a Black Hawk helicopter engineer – assumed the guide position.

“Around the fourth week, (Schultz) realized this is how it is. He kicked it on from there … 110 percent.”

Schultz experienced the conundrum that everyone wants to be the guide, but nobody wants to be the guide. The guide has the most leadership authority among recruits, but he also answers to practically every mistake they make.

“We really gave it to him,” said Hernandez. “We knew that he was one of the smarter recruits, and that made him a target (worth challenging).”

After losing his position as guide, Schultz’s drill instructors still gave him leadership responsibilities as one of four squad leaders. Recruit squad leaders generally direct about 15 to 20 recruits, so Schultz still had his challenges.

He said his earliest leadership experiences began in El Paso as a teenager on the baseball diamond – experience that has helped him put his leadership theories in perspective.

“It just helps to see everything on the field so you know how everything goes best where,” said Schultz. “In sports, you can’t lead from the back, and leaders have to be on top of their stuff.”

As a squad leader, Schultz finally found his groove, and the training became more natural. He said leading a squad was something he could handle.

When Co. I arrived at Camp Pendleton during the second phase of recruit training, for field exercises and weapons training, Schultz found his niche with the other recruits.

According to Schultz, the biggest challenge during second phase was waking up in the cold air when sleeping outdoors – something all infantrymen must learn.

“During the second phase, it’s not necessarily worse, but it is a little more complicated,” said Schultz. “The new stress didn’t faze me because I knew how to handle it, but the environment was different.”

On a whim, drill instructors can relieve a guide of his duty. In Schultz’s platoon, the position was still within reach. Drill instructors pitted Schultz and Hiller in a physical training competition, but Hiller won and held his title.

“It was too hard to choose because they were both perfect for the position, so I just worked them out until there was only one left,” said Hernandez. “They both have great characteristics about them. (Hiller) has that leadership experience and Schultz is a brainiac.”

Nevertheless, Hiller and Schultz continued to work together within the platoon.

“They compliment each other very well,” said Hernandez, adding that though Schultz did not graduate training as the guide, the entire platoon respected him.

According to Hernandez, Schultz exudes something more than smarts.

“He has got a self discipline, not the forced discipline,” said Hernandez. “He doesn’t just lock up for the drill instructors and wait for them to leave. He is disciplined when we are not around.”

Schultz’s goals exceed becoming a Marine. He hopes to one day become a commissioned officer, but he felt the right way to go about that was to enlist first.

Hernandez asked Schultz why he wanted to be enlisted instead of going straight to Officer Candidate School, and Schultz gave a mature answer.

“He told me that he wanted to learn leadership from the Marine Corps before he became commissioned so that he would be able to lead Marines,” said Hernandez. “I think he found his leadership.”

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Marksmanship Training – Marine Basics

As  recruits aim and fire on targets, others prepare ammunition into  magazines and wait their turns. Range officials walk the line, ensuring a  safe environment.

As recruits aim and fire on targets, others prepare ammunition into magazines and wait their turns. Range officials walk the line, ensuring a safe environment.

The Marine Corps is full of administrative clerks, combat photographers, supply chiefs and so on, but just like infantrymen, all Marines must become riflemen first.

After four weeks training at the depot, recruits move 40-miles north to Edson Range, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., for field and weapons training.

Much of the marksmanship training is conducted with classes formed in half circles in which recruits practice aiming in on palm-sized targets. Instructors coach recruits through shooting positions and procedures. All the while, instructors casually preach weapons safety. They want recruits to relax.

“One of the first things we tell recruits or Marines to remember when shooting is to relax,” said Sgt. Matthew J. Maruster, primary marksmanship instructor. “Once you relax, you can apply what you learned a lot better than if you were stressed out.”

To relax while shooting, Recruit Micah S. Parsons, Platoon 1065, Company D, said he used breath control: “The slow, steady breathing really helped slow me down.”

Before actual firing takes place, recruits must become familiar with the M-16 A2, a rifle they carried for the first month of training. Before second phase, however, that rifle has only been a drilling tool to them. The first week of second phase recruits learn weapons handling, safety, functions and marksmanship. Instructors also throw in their own two-cents.

Before recruits look through their rifle sights, marksmanship  instructors teach proper weapons handling and techniques

Before recruits look through their rifle sights, marksmanship instructors teach proper weapons handling and techniques

“We give advice on our own experiences,” said Maruster. “Show them some tricks of the trade.”

Different shooting positions are a big part of the syllabus. Recruits learn four: the prone – lying flat on the stomach, the kneeling, the standing, and the sitting.

Maruster said kneeling is the best position to learn because it is used most frequently on the range and in combat.

“Most of the time when you engage your enemy, you don’t have enough time to get down on the deck, so you just go to the kneeling or sitting position,” said Maruster.

“The prone was the easiest position for me,” said Parsons. “Being able to steady the weapon helped me to take my time. I had a little trouble in the standing.”

Marksmanship instructors make sure recruits are familiar with three carrying positions and four weapon conditions because range officials do not tolerate unsafe weapon handling.

“Safety is important, obviously,” said Maruster. “You never want to lose or injure a recruit when it could have been prevented. Most of the time, it is easy enough. The safety is already in their head. It is engrained through boot camp.”

Drill instructors, coaches and marksmanship instructors keep a constant watch on the recruits, who are given no room for error.

“Coaches and drill instructors were always on the alert,” said Parsons. “Making sure your weapon was cleared and on safe after you were done firing – everything was pretty locked on according to safety.”

“Marksmanship in general should be taken very seriously,” said Maruster. “Whether you are an (administrative Marine) or an (intelligence Marine), no matter what military occupational specialty, you should have the ability to put rounds down range in a particular direction and be able to hit a target. The past few years have shown that you don’t necessarily have to be an (infantryman) to be a rifle man.”

With  rifles in a tactical carry, recruits wait on the firing line for orders  from the sound cart operator. Recruits fire from the standing, kneeling  and prone positions before they advance to the next firing line.

With rifles in a tactical carry, recruits wait on the firing line for orders from the sound cart operator. Recruits fire from the standing, kneeling and prone positions before they advance to the next firing line.
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Marines Learn to Defend Against NBC Attacks

Company E recruits fit their gas masks on their heads to ensure a  proper fit before going into the confidence chamber during field  training at Edson Range, Camp Pendleton, Calif. The confidence chamber  is designed to build the recruits� confidence in their gas masks.

Company E recruits fit their gas masks on their heads to ensure a proper fit before going into the confidence chamber during field training at Edson Range, Camp Pendleton, Calif. The confidence chamber is designed to build the recruits� confidence in their gas masks.

The Marines of Company E stood around the inner-perimeter of the dark, empty bunker illuminated by a single, rickety fluorescent light, anxious for what would happen next.

�Gas! Gas! Gas!� shouted Cpl. Jason Parks, nuclear, biological, chemical defense instructor, Weapons and Field Training Battalion, Edson Range, Camp Pendleton Calif.

They were just introduced to chlorobenzylidene malononitrile, commonly known as CS, during field exercises in the second phase of boot camp.

Company E Marines gathered together in the confidence chamber where they became familiar with and gained trust for their gas masks.

Pvt. J. D. Lopezluna, Platoon 2102, Company E, feels the burn after  being introduced to CS gas and emerging from the confidence chamber in  Edson Range, Camp Pendleton, Calif. CS gas is used as a riot control  agent and causes irritation of the eyes, skin and throat. It causes  coughing and excess mucous production.

Pvt. J. D. Lopezluna, Platoon 2102, Company E, feels the burn after being introduced to CS gas and emerging from the confidence chamber in Edson Range, Camp Pendleton, Calif. CS gas is used as a riot control agent and causes irritation of the eyes, skin and throat. It causes coughing and excess mucous production.

The gas used to train Marines with their masks is used as a riot control agent similar to tear gas. Parks said the Marines Corps uses this to train recruits and Marines because it is non-lethal. However, he said that individuals who come in contact with the gas definitely feel its presence.

The Marines learned every aspect of their mask, how to don and clear their mask to ensure they were breathing clean air and most of all, they learned that if used properly it can save their lives.

�I was kind of excited about going in the confidence chamber because of all the stories I heard about it before boot camp,� said Pvt. Eric S. Engleking, Platoon 2101, Company E. �I was a little skeptical about the equipment at first because it seemed so simple, but I saw what a difference it made when we had to take it off inside the chamber.�

Engleking said going through the confidence chamber and experiencing it first-hand boosted his confidence in his gear and agrees that it is vital for each Marine to go through the training.

Recruits inspect every part of their masks before entering the  confidence chamber to ensure there are no rips or tears that will result  in a leak.

Recruits inspect every part of their masks before entering the confidence chamber to ensure there are no rips or tears that will result in a leak.

�Going through NBC training is a major milestone recruits look forward to completing in boot camp,� said Parks. �It gives them a basic knowledge of NBC which they will need in the case of NBC warfare.�

When introduced to CS gas, an individual may experience burning skin, irritation of the nose and throat, coughing, excess mucous and watery eyes.

Recruits from Company E submerge their gas masks in water after  emerging from the confidence chamber in an effort to rinse off excess CS  residue.

Recruits from Company E submerge their gas masks in water after emerging from the confidence chamber in an effort to rinse off excess CS residue.

Company E Marines remained in the confidence chamber for about 10 minutes with their mask off for a total of about two minutes throughout their three exercises.

With NBC behind them, the Marines of Company E leave recruit training with the confidence and education to survive chemical attacks. NBC training is one of many factors that builds a well-rounded Marine, versatile enough to withstand almost any threat he is faced with.

A  Company E drill instructor helps a recruit create a seal on his mask  inside the chamber. Without a proper seal, CS leaks into the mask  causing discomfort and irritation of the skin and sinuses.

A Company E drill instructor helps a recruit create a seal on his mask inside the chamber. Without a proper seal, CS leaks into the mask causing discomfort and irritation of the skin and sinuses.

With NBC training behind them, the Marines of Company E graduate today, ready for new challenges and experiences that are imminent in their

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Marines Build Confidence

Pvt.  Michael Johnson finishes the Slide for Life. After scaling across the  first 12-feet of the cables, Marines are told to hang by their hands,  face the end of the pool, lift their legs up and around the cable, and  to slide across the remainder of the rope.

Pvt. Michael Johnson finishes the Slide for Life. After scaling across the first 12-feet of the cables, Marines are told to hang by their hands, face the end of the pool, lift their legs up and around the cable, and to slide across the remainder of the rope.

As his bus arrived on the depot, the first thing he saw through the windows was the confidence course.

�The Marine Corps is known for its difficult training and challenging obstacle courses, so I knew that I would have to complete it eventually,� said Pvt. Michael Johnson, Platoon 2132, Company F.

One week before traveling north to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., for the rifle range and field training, the Marines with Company F tackled Confidence Course II.

With  his peers watching, Pvt. Mahomad Luckett leaps to the final log on the  Dirty Name obstacle. Marines are told to ensure their hips hit the log  as they pull themselves up in order to successfully make it over the  obstacle.

With his peers watching, Pvt. Mahomad Luckett leaps to the final log on the Dirty Name obstacle. Marines are told to ensure their hips hit the log as they pull themselves up in order to successfully make it over the obstacle.

Completing the course develops confidence in their abilities and make them face fears they are forced to overcome, said Staff Sgt. David Lopez, senior drill instructor, Platoon 2132.

Company F Marines were faced with three high obstacles during Confidence Course II: the Confidence Climb, A-Frame and the Slide for Life. They also took on the lower obstacles that they are already conquered in Confidence Course I, a week prior.

Wet  boots dry after the Marine wearing them fell into the pool during the  Slide for Life.

Wet boots dry after the Marine wearing them fell into the pool during the Slide for Life.

The Confidence Climb is a log ladder that ascends 30-feet into the sky. Marines climb to the top, swing over to the other side, and then climb back to the ground.

The A-Frame begins with a rope the Marines from Company F had to climb to reach the first level. Once there, they walked 20-feet across a series of logs to an A-shaped structure. They climbed to the top of it and then descended to the ground while swinging on a rope.

�I had the most difficulty scaling with the ropes, but once I learned the technique of using my feet as brakes to pull myself up, instead of my arms, it was simple,� said Johnson, a Riverside, Calif., native.

The Slide for Life was the final obstacle. It is composed of three cables angled over a pool of water from a 25-foot tower to the ground. Marines lay down on the cables and pull themselves across 12-feet of the length of the cable. Their drill instructors then ordered them to hang by their hands, face the end of the pool, lift their legs up and around the cable and then slide across the remainder of the rope.

�Those who have a weak mid-section usually have difficulties kicking their legs up to catch the cable,� said Lopez, a Houston native. �If they fall during the first 12-feet, netting will catch them and they are ordered to roll off into the water. Otherwise, they fall directly into the water.�

If they fall into the water they are done with training and are sent back to their squad bay to change clothes, said Lopez.

Company F Marines scale the Stairway to Heaven. To overcome the  obstacle, Marines must climb to the top log, roll over to the other  side, and then climb back to the ground.

Company F Marines scale the Stairway to Heaven. To overcome the obstacle, Marines must climb to the top log, roll over to the other side, and then climb back to the ground.

Johnson said that one of his biggest fears was falling into the water in front of his platoon because his goal was to complete every obstacle successfully.

�A senior drill instructor is positioned at every high obstacle to ensure that it is being executed properly and to give positive motivation,� said Lopez. �Some of the recruits have a fear of heights; but if one freezes on an obstacle, we give every effort to slowly talk him through it.�

Pvt.  James Forrestieri, left, and Pvt. Kevin Martin swing over a trench.

Pvt. James Forrestieri, left, and Pvt. Kevin Martin swing over a trench.

Company F Marines may encounter the confidence course again while in the Fleet Marine Force during Marine Corps Martial Arts Program training.

�When I leave the depot and drive by the confidence course, I will see it not as a challenge, but as conquered territory. I believe that I am now prepared to overcome any obstacles in my way,� said Johnson.

Pvt.  Daniel Nusse pulls himself over the final log on the Dirty Name. During  this obstacle, Marines must jump from a five-foot high log to a  nine-foot high log and then drop safely to the ground.

Pvt. Daniel Nusse pulls himself over the final log on the Dirty Name. During this obstacle, Marines must jump from a five-foot high log to a nine-foot high log and then drop safely to the ground.
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Marine Corp Martial Arts Program

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hester supervises Pfc. Doug R. McLarty (left)  and Pvt. Matthew T. Owen, Platoon 3117, Company K, while they perform  wrist-locks to counter choke holds. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Dorian Gardner	 Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hester supervises Pfc. Doug R. McLarty (left) and  Pvt. Matthew T. Owen, Platoon 3117, Company K, while they perform  wrist-locks to counter choke holds.

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hester supervises Pfc. Doug R. McLarty (left) and Pvt. Matthew T. Owen, Platoon 3117, Company K, while they perform wrist-locks to counter choke holds. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Dorian Gardner Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hester supervises Pfc. Doug R. McLarty (left) and Pvt. Matthew T. Owen, Platoon 3117, Company K, while they perform wrist-locks to counter choke holds.

Before combat comes combat training. Aboard the depot, drill instructors give recruits a course integrated with the rest of recruit training that teaches recruits about close-hand combat.

The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program is exactly that – a program that compiles different techniques with different weapons, including the M-16 A2 service rifle with a bayonet. There is also a weapons of opportunity class.

The program was introduced into the Marine Corps and became a part of recruit training in early 2000. According to Sgt. Sergio Esquivel, Instructional Training Company close combat drill instructor, the program is proficient.

“Because it is basic motor skills, it is something the Marines can remember,” said Esquivel. “The program also takes into consideration the gear we will be wearing in combat. Even under the physical and mental stress of combat, Marines can remember the moves.”

From the basic warrior stance to the angles of movement to leg sweeps and chokes, safety is always taken into consideration. ITC instructors observe training to make sure recruits execute the moves using the proper techniques and safety precautions.

Sgt.  Oliver Schiess, close combat instructor, goes over proper martial arts  techniques with Company K recruits before final testing.

Sgt. Oliver Schiess, close combat instructor, goes over proper martial arts techniques with Company K recruits before final testing.

“Safety always depends on what the event is,” said Staff Sgt. John Johnson, ITC drill instructor. “We take into consideration the type of ground if we are doing break-falls, to mouth pieces, helmets and flak vests. There is always a corpsman and a safety vehicle standing by.”

In order to receive a tan belt, recruits must meet the minimum requirements of 27.5 hours in MCMAP training. To facilitate the process of obtaining their belts, the hours are augmented into other parts of recruit training.

On the obstacle course, recruits run a number of different low and high obstacles. While waiting to move onto the next obstacle, recruits practice pad drills to help retain moves.

During the third phase of boot camp, recruits are tested on their knowledge of the program. For three hours, a series of recruits will go through different stations to demonstrate the proper techniques. Passing the MCMAP test is a graduation requirement.
“(Its purpose is) to sustain recruit training,” according to Esquivel. “MCMAP does not only teach close combat, but develops mental character and physical discipline.”

Once recruits graduate with their tan belts, they will be able to train for higher-level belts. The gray belt follows the tan belt, but Marines will not be able to proceed higher than a gray belt until they become noncommissioned officers.

Privates First Class Daniel Divas and Esteban Ramirez, Platoon  3117, Company K, execute leg sweep take-downs.

Privates First Class Daniel Divas and Esteban Ramirez, Platoon 3117, Company K, execute leg sweep take-downs.
Pvt. Daniel W. Russell, Platoon 3117, Company K, performs an  arm-bar on Pfc. Justin Hayes, Platoon 3119, during testing for their tan  belts.

Pvt. Daniel W. Russell, Platoon 3117, Company K, performs an arm-bar on Pfc. Justin Hayes, Platoon 3119, during testing for their tan belts.
Pvt. Daniel J. Carrillo, Platoon 3118, Company K, withstands a  figure-four blood choke during Marine Corps Martial Arts Program  testing. All recruits must pass a MCMAP test to earn their tan belts and  graduate from recruit training.

Pvt. Daniel J. Carrillo, Platoon 3118, Company K, withstands a figure-four blood choke during Marine Corps Martial Arts Program testing. All recruits must pass a MCMAP test to earn their tan belts and graduate from recruit training.
Pvt. Christopher D. Rainey, Platoon 3117, Company K, demonstrates a  slash techniques with the M-16 A2 service rifle. Recruits learn several  smashes, slashes and defensive motions with the rifle.

Pvt. Christopher D. Rainey, Platoon 3117, Company K, demonstrates a slash techniques with the M-16 A2 service rifle. Recruits learn several smashes, slashes and defensive motions with the rifle.
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