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02-08-09, 06:47 AM
Educator workshops a longstanding tradition
Lauren Gregory (Contact

The idea of using educators isn’t unique to the Marine Corps, according to the commanding officer of the Recruit Training Regiment at Parris Island, S.C.

“All of the services basically do it in one way or another,” said Col. Andrew Solgere.

Tours and workshops for educators started around the same time that the nation’s military draft was abolished in 1973, said Douglas Smith, spokesman for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky.

They have become more important in recent years, he said, but not because of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, Mr. Smith said, they provide a new generation f teachers with exposure to the realities of the service.

“As everyone is aging, there are fewer and fewer people in the educational community who were exposed to the Army by way of the draft,” he said. “It’s important that they have firsthand knowledge of what they’re talking about.”

Primarily, Mr. Smith said, military leaders want to dispel the myth that students can choose either the service or college.

“We say that it’s not an either/or. You can do both,” he said. In addition to GI Bill benefits after leaving the service, “we make sure that there are plenty of educational opportunities for soldiers while they are in the Army.”

Critics question whether targeting teachers is an underhanded way of accessing students who have not yet reached the legal recruiting age of 17.

Mr. Smith says that is not even an issue.

“We have no strategy to reach out to people who aren’t of recruitment age,” he said. “We certainly will not withhold information from somebody not eligible to enlist, but our main thrust is to get people in who are eligible now.”

And — after more than seven years in Afghanistan and nearly six in Iraq — all branches of the service are doing fine with that, according to Department of Defense statistics.

The Marine Corps is not hurting for recruits, said Maj. Marty Steimle, operations branch head at Parris Island. Though, unlike other branches, the Marines do not offer upfront enlistment bonuses, it is about two years ahead of recruiting goals, he said.

The 75,000-member force had set out to expand to 202,000 by 2011, Maj. Steimle said, but that goal is expected to be met sometime this year.

The Corps is looking ahead at its needs since most Marines sign on for only four-year contracts rather than making a career out of military service.

In addition, said Col. Solgere, the Marine Corps wants to keep the military accountable and in the public eye.

“We do this for the same reason we do air shows,” the colonel said. “We do it so you can see some of the capability you’re paying for with your tax dollars.”

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By the numbers

24: Number of workshops held each year between Parris Island, S.C. and Camp Pendleton, Calif.

2,000 to 2,400: Number of educators across the county who participate in workshops annually

68: Number of Marine recruiters in Tennessee


02-09-09, 06:53 AM
A human face for the Corps <br />
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By: <br />
Lauren Gregory (Contact <br />
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Wilder Lee always advised his students against joining the Marine Corps. <br />
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“They’re just moving targets,” the Memphis high school...

02-11-09, 07:07 AM
Marines offer basic training in Meals, Ready-to-Eat

Lauren Gregory (Contact)
Wednesday, February 11, 2009

PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. — If you think Marines are good with rifles, wait until you see one rip into an MRE.

There’ll be no simple frank and beans for them. Whether stuck in a desert halfway across the world or just in basic training at Parris Island, S.C., Marines are going to whip their Meals, Ready-to-Eat into something much more palatable — well, to them at least.

“I like to crumble up my cookies and mix them with raisins, and take eggs, ketchup and mayo — everything in my box chow — and mix it all together,” said Pvt. James Woodard of Greensboro, Tenn.

“It’s good!” he insisted, grinning widely.

Though Pvt. Woodard has only just graduated from boot camp at Parris Island, he says he’s already an expert at the art of battlefield gourmet.

The egg-based amalgamation is just one of his special recipes.

“They feed you the same thing, day in and day out, and it gets kind of monotonous,” Pvt. Woodard explained. “You’ve got to get a new taste in your mouth. It all goes with the mood.”

Other favorites include “pudding” — hot cocoa or cappuccino mix with a bit of water — and a variation on Jell-O using fruit drink powder and water.

The MREs certainly give Pvt. Woodard and his fellow Marines plenty of ingredients to work with. There are 24 main menu items ranging from cheese tortellini to beef enchiladas, and each has a number of snacks, side items and desserts within a portable package containing an average of about 1,300 calories.

Accessories for additional flavor include mini bottles of Tabasco sauce, sweetener and coffee creamer.

Menu items are switched in and out periodically for greater variety, said Maj. Marty Steimle, operations branch head at Parris Island.

A few years back when the MRE menu included a rock-hard oatmeal cookie bar, that became a key ingredient in “cheesecake,” Maj. Steimle said. The recipe was simple: Crush up the cookie bar; mix with white cheese, sugar and coffee creamer; top with jelly, if desired.

Sgt. Jason Smith of Cleveland, Tenn., is an air frames mechanic at the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. His favorite MRE recipe:

“I like to take the jalapeno cheese and peanut butter on bread and eat it,” he said, adding proudly, “I call it the PB and cheese sammy.”

Those who like to get a little more advanced can use a special heater pack included in each MRE that, when water is added, starts a chemical reaction that can heat pouches of food. But Pvt. Dustin Pope of Pulaski, Tenn., prefers not to take the time.

He eats everything from barbecue sandwiches on special, shelf-stable bread to cheese omelets and hash browns cold.

“It’s all good,” he said.

There’s pretty much only one standard MRE rule to which everyone adheres, according to Staff Sgt. Carlos Enriquez, a Parris Island drill sergeant: Don’t use your napkin right away.

“Save it for the next time you see that food,” he said, “if you know what I mean.”