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04-17-12, 02:23 PM #1
Drill instructors are brothers in arms
Military culture breeds conformity, but even in uniform the McBride brothers always stood out. Lukhma and Bakhit McBride are staff sergeants from the impoverished African nation of Chad who enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Their background set them apart, but so has their dedication to the job and determination to succeed, their supervisors said.
Far from being a hindrance, their international upbringing as sons of an American father and Chadian mother helped them excel as Marines, said Lukhma, 30, and Bakhit, 27.
Until recently both were instructors in the elite schoolhouse billet at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, training future drill instructors to transform civilians into Marines. Lukhma has been selected for additional education and commissioning as an officer. Bakhit’s bosses wouldn’t be surprised if he followed in his big brother’s footsteps.
“The McBride brothers are top notch,” said 1st Sgt. Ronald Garrett, as Lukhma prepared to transfer to Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. “They are the ultimate professionals in everything they do.”
The San Diego recruit depot has been making Marines since 1923. Its twin boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., has been training enlisted men since 1915 and women since 1949.
Today the San Diego depot has about 450 drill instructors on staff to train about 3,200 to 7,400 recruits at a time. It is a demanding assignment, even by Marine Corps standards, because of round-the-clock hours during each 12-week cycle of training.
After proving themselves as drill instructors, six to 10 move across the street to the schoolhouse. The 11-week course they teach future drill instructors includes seminars and role playing in a mock squad bay of bunk beds and foot lockers.
“The odds of making it over here are not that good. Then they get brothers over here. The odds have got to be crazy on that one,” Garrett said.
Lukhma and Bakhit are naturalized U.S. citizens who grew up in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena. Their father, Leslie McBride, moved to Chad in 1975 as a Peace Corps volunteer after a back problem disqualified him from military service during the Vietnam War.
He still lives there today, working for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Leslie McBride and his wife, Onokidi, have five children. All joined the U.S. military. Besides the McBride brothers, one sister also chose the Marines: Staff Sgt. Mediya Abakar, who is stationed at Camp Pendleton and currently deployed to Afghanistan.
The other sisters joined the Navy. Layla McBride finished her service and returned to Africa. Chief Petty Officer Samira McBride is stationed at Naval Base San Diego.
Their father’s example as a public servant and their weekends hanging out at the U.S. embassy in Chad inspired their military careers.
The McBride brothers befriended the Marine security guards and became regulars at the annual Marine birthday ball. Their Arabic skills, as well as French and English, later came in handy during deployments to Iraq.
That was just one way their upbringing served them as Marines.
Selflessness and generosity, courtesy and respect for elders, it all translated easily for them to Marine life. Starting in boot camp, recruits are taught there is no “I” in team, the needs of the Corps are paramount. Rank will be respected. The heritage of the Corps must endure.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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