View Full Version : It's A Long Journey From Recruit To Marine

02-26-04, 09:11 AM
It's A Long Journey From Recruit To Marine

By Shannon Davidson

(PARRIS ISLAND, S.C., February 25th, 2004, 3 p.m.) -- Recruiting the world's finest is no easy job, but that responsibility falls on the shoulders of marines who are looking for the "best of the best." In 12 weeks' time, recruits endure countless mental and physical challenges that in the end prepare them for combat. WAVE 3's Shannon Davidson followed some local recruits at Parris Island, where marines are made.

The life of a marine corps recruit begins abruptly in the cover of darkness, with a light at the end of a very long 12-week tunnel.

A drill sergeant yells at a new batch of recruits, letting them know they've left their individuality behind to become part of something greater. "The word 'I,' 'me,' 'mine' -- or any other third person word is no longer in your vocabulary!"

Another drill sergeant yells: "Let's go! Double time! You're walking fast, you're not running!"

The time it takes to strip all signs of former identity away? Twenty seconds per head.

By the 14th day, recruits are working on several different training exercises, like the Pugil Sticks. It's a hand-to-hand combat exercise on a bridge that calls for strength, balance, and determination.

From the bridge to the water -- if a recruit can't swim, his dream of becoming a Marine is over, as one Marine tells a group of recruits. "If nobody's ever said it before, the Marines are an amphibious force, and if you can't swim, then there's no reason to be around."

Lesson number one at boot camp: Every Marine is a rifleman.

"In the things we do as Marines, we have to know how to shoot, it's important," says Warrant Officer Mario Heikell.

Trained Marines are literally looking over the recruits' shoulders...like big brothers, watching their every move and correcting every mistake.

For their part, most recruits seemed to get the message. "If you want to come to Parris Island and be a Marine, you have to be mentally prepared," says recruit Leamon Cameron from Lincoln Co., Kentucky.

"If you don't have a positive mental attitude toward everything, it would be very hard for you to make it through Boot Camp," says recruit Robert Cardwell of Louisville.

"It reminds me of home because of the cold weather, and this recruit, he loves it," says Justin Collett of Hyden, Kentucky.

Recruits can't let the weather...or the fear of being sent to war, affect their training. "If they need me on the front lines, this recruit will be there, no hesitations, to serve my country," says recruit Jason Collett of Hyden, Kentucky.

And when graduation day finally arrives, the reality of what may lie ahead sets in.

"I feel more disciplined and more confident, having succeeded," says Levi Brisco, U.S. Marine.

And to the new Marines, the previous 12 weeks now seem worth it. "If you want to join the fighting services of America, be a Marine -- the Army, the Navy, they don't have anything on us," says U.S. Marine Cardwell.

To these young men and women, being a Marine means being the best of the best.

"Why does this recruit want to be a Marine? Respect," says James Wallace of Florence, Kentucky.

"There ain't nothing no better than a Marine," says recruit Jason Collett.

Last year, about 18,000 men and women went to boot camp at Parris Island to become Marines. Of those, nearly 2,000 didn't make it to graduation day.





The Drifter

02-26-04, 09:13 AM
Educators Endure Marine Boot Camp

By Shannon Davidson

(PARRIS ISLAND, S.C., February 24th, 2004, 6 p.m.) -- Every day, teachers and schools administrators face a multitude of obstacles. They're responsible for challenging students and pushing them to do their best. Well there are a few educators right here in Kentuckiana who were recently put to the test -- a test of strength, will-power, and determination. As WAVE 3's Shannon Davidson learned, the classroom is a piece of cake compared to Marine Corps Boot Camp.

Its landscape is refreshing, almost inviting.

When you get to the gates at Parris Island, the place where Marines are made, you feel safe.

And then, you get off the bus.

If you're a new recruit getting off the bus, drill sergeants will be on hand to guide you, and the routine goes a little like this: "Get off the bus! Get off the bus! Get over here right now! Get on my yellow footprints right now!"

Recruits go through what is called "receiving" at midnight their first day, where their former civilian life ends, and a new life begins.

And every recruit hears the same speech while standing on the infamous yellow footprints.

"You are now aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. You have taken the first step in becoming a member of the world's finest fighting force: the United States Marine Corps."

But for a group of "pseudo recruits" at Boot Camp, getting yelled at isn't what they're used to. They're teachers and school administrators from all over the country, including Kentucky, there to learn what Boot Camp is all about so they can better inform their students back home about making one of the biggest decisions of their lives.

"It has to be the right type of student, they have to have the self discipline to become a Marine," says Jeffersontown High School Assistant Principal Paul Gambert.

For three days, educators are able to observe the different training courses Marine recruits must pass in order to graduate. They even get some hands-on training with an M-16, just like the recruits do.

"I hit one target about 200 yards away," said Male High School Assistant Principal Jackie Wisman. Some of my friends are going to laugh about that, but I'm glad I hit the one."

No matter how many targets they hit or miss, a lesson is never too far away.

"I didn't know it was a 12-week training course," Wisman said. "Most basic training is eight weeks. And I didn't know they had to do as much physically as they do."

Perhaps the most memorable moments are when the educators get to talk one-on-one with recruits. Some even manage to find kids from their hometown.

For Principal Martha Hall and recruit James Wallace, both from Florence, Kentucky, a little visit from home goes a long way. "The emotion on his face, just seeing someone from the area, it was wonderful," Hall said.

The program is deemed a success by most of the educators. "I think this week has helped me maybe locate those students a little better than I would've been able to find them before I came here," Gambert said.

At the very least, it's a glimpse into a world where young men and women come to create a safer world for the rest of us.




The Drifter