The sounds of the quiet streets of Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., were overtaken by the thundering roar of the Marines, future Marines, friends and families of Recruiting Station Phoenix who were gathering to conduct their annual pool function March 28.
The event allowed those who are currently in the Delayed Entry Program to gain more insight as to what recruit training is going to be like.
“The event was everything I had hoped it would be,” said Michael Rose, a 17-year-old poolee from Recruiting Substation Tempe. “Everything about the event was amazing; I didn’t like the fact that it had to end.”
After Maj. Thomas Hodge received the report from Sgt. Maj. Anthony Martinez, RS Phoenix sergeant major, Hodge took a moment to address the more than 100 family members who gathered to support their future Marine. During his speech, Hodge emphasized the importance of having a solid foundation of support for their future Marines.
“Supporting your future Marine in what he or she is about to go through, be it boot camp, job, school or a deployment,” said the RS Phoenix commanding officer. “Now is the time to push yourself and prove to the command that you want the opportunity to earn the title of U.S. Marine,” he concluded.
Following the station CO’s remarks, the 12 staff non-commissioned-officers-in-charge of RS Phoenix took their platoons to the first event of the day, the initial strength test. The team that scored the highest average on the initial strength test earned maximum points towards earning the Sergeant Majors’ Pool Function Champions Trophy. In addition to the initial strength test, points were earned on the percentage of each pools attendance, the fastest time in the relay race, and tug-of-war.
While each platoon waited for the events, each guide, a poolee selected by the SNCOIC to lead the platoon, conducted stretching exercises to prepare his platoon for the initial strength test. Having the guides lead the platoon builds a sense of confidence and helps build leadership traits before the recruits are shipped to bootcamp.
The poolees were in the company of three special guest Marines who helped keep them motivated throughout the event, drill instructors from Marine Corps Recruit Depots San Diego and Parris Island, SC. The drill instructors helped acclimate the poolees to what the atmosphere will be like once they enter recruit training.
The drill instructors throughout the day, got in the faces and yelled at the poolees who weren’t moving fast enough or responding as loud as they could. If they didn’t do either to the standard set by the drill instructor, the poolee or the platoon underwent incentive training, used to instill urgency and discipline in recruits.
“The purpose of giving incentive training to a group is to teach the concept that they are a team that must work together,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Chavez, a senior drill instructor for Lima Co., 3rd Battalion at MCRD San Diego. “We will never give up on a recruit even after they have given up on themselves. Drill instructors do everything they legally can to ensure recruits graduate after 13 weeks.”
After the drill instructors finished speaking with the recruits, they answered questions from families and friends of the drill instructors.
Before the tug-of-war event began, Marines and families were introduced to different weapons and vehicles used by Marines in the operating forces. Recruiters who were infantrymen before volunteering for recruiting duty explained the nomenclature and use of the M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon, M-240B medium machine gun, MRK-19 grenade launcher and M2 .50 caliber heavy machine gun.
After the static display, each team selected 20 members from their RSS to compete in the tug-of-war. From the first match, RSS Chandler looked to walk away with the tug-of-war event. In the final match, Gunnery Sgt. Tommy Belone’s poolees from RSS Flagstaff, defeated Chandler in a battle that started out as a stalemate between two strong teams.
Awards were given out to the top male and female performers of the day. The top performers were Rachel Grimes, from RSS Paradise Valley, and Nathaniel Manygoats, from Flagstaff. Both scored the maximum amount of points on their ISTs. They received plaques and coins from the commanding officer and sergeant major for their accomplishments.
Although the day was designed as a competition, the theme of the day revolved around the fact that teamwork is the only way to accomplish a mission.
“As is typical with the Marine Corps, everything is a competition,” said Chandler SNCOIC Gunnery Sgt. Donald McClendon, who also took home the pool function championship. “Events like this are really made to build camaraderie between the Marines and poolees and their families. Some of these guys are going to go through boot camp together and it’s important for them to develop that relationship before they ship out.”